“See you next week,” he said quietly, and turned his horse toward the Twin Star ranch.
From the wash where the sink of the Mimbres edges close to Noches two riders emerged in mid-afternoon of a day that shimmered under the heat of a blazing sun. They travelled in silence, the core of an alkali dust cloud that moved with them and lay thick upon them. Well down over their eyes were drawn the broad-rimmed hats. One of them wore sun goggles and both of them had their lower faces covered by silk bandannas as if to keep out the thick dust their ponies stirred. For the rest their costumes were the undistinguished chaps, spurs, shirt, neckerchiefs, and gauntlets of the range.
With one distinction, however: these were better armed than the average cow-puncher jaunting to town for the quarterly spree. Revolver butts peeped from the holsters of their loosely hung cartridge belts. Moreover, their rifles were not strapped beneath the stirrup leathers, but were carried across the pommels of the saddles.
The bell in the town hall announced three o’clock as they reached the First National Bank at the corner of San Miguel and Main Streets. Here one of the riders swung from the saddle, handed the reins and his rifle to the other man, and jingled into the bank. His companion took the horses round to the side entrance of the building, and waited there in such shade as two live oaks offered.
He had scarce drawn rein when two other riders joined him, having come from a direction at right angles to that followed by him. One of them rode an iron-gray, the other a roan with white stockings. Both of these dismounted, and one of them passed through the side door into the bank. Almost instantly he reappeared and nodded to his comrade, who joined him with his own rifle and that of the first man that had gone in.
There was an odd similarity in arms, manner, and dress between these and the first arrivals. Once inside the building, each of them slipped a black mask over his face. Then one stepped quickly to the front door and closed and locked it, while the other simultaneously covered the teller with a revolver.
The cashier, busy in conversation with the first horseman about a loan the other had said he wanted, was sitting with his back to the cage of the teller. The first warning he had of anything unusual was the closing of the door by a masked man. One glance was enough to tell him the bank was about to be robbed.
His hand moved swiftly toward the drawer in his desk which contained a weapon, but stopped halfway to its destination. For he was looking squarely into the rim of a six-shooter less than a foot from his forehead. The gun was in the hands of the client with whom he had been talking.
“Don’t do that,” the man advised him brusquely. Then, more sharply: “Reach for the roof. No monkeying.”