The next day the ranche was deserted save by the four conspirators, who made preparations for the robbery of Swanson’s money which was to take place that night. The picture was tried until the proper point for touching the hidden spring was found. A supply of food was quietly secreted in a bag and hid near the divide. Some heavy flour sacks made of canvas were ripped open and suitable bags for carrying the money were made from the pieces. All these preparations were made without interruption or discovery, and excepting a long ride which Scip made in the afternoon, ostensibly for the purpose of exercising his horse but really that he might again see the detectives who were acting as cowboys, the day wore along without any incident out of the ordinary way.
The robbery—Cummings’ narrow escape—the capture of Moriarity—Jim Cummings slips from the toils—Mr. Pinkerton takes A hand.
The ranche was asleep. Heavy breathing and deep snores from the sleeping-rooms indicated that slumber had fallen on all the inmates. Swanson, who had been repeatedly urged to drink by Cummings and Moriarity and had accepted every invitation, was stretched on his back a drunken mass of stupidity.
The stamping of the horses and distant movements of the thousands of head of cattle alone broke the silence of the night and the darkness had cast its pall over the entire place.
In the large room Scip and the Doctor coolly and calmly awaited the hour of their triumph. Fear was a stranger to both, and as they quietly conversed in whispered accents it would be difficult to believe that they were about to engage in a most desperate enterprise. In another room lay Cummings and Moriarity, completely dressed. The former, with his habitual sang froid, was whispering to Moriarity, who, somewhat excited, was calmed by his companion’s nonchalance, and as the hour for the work drew near became like him. A stealthy step, noiseless as an Indian’s, interrupted the conversation, and the faint rap on the door gave them the long-looked-for signal.
Creeping on their hands and knees down the hall past Swanson’s door, through which his hoarse breathing could be heard, the two men entered the room in which the treasure was stored. The dying embers in the fire-place created a dull glow, showing the Doctor and Scip, booted and spurred, standing in the center of the room. Softly Cummings approached the picture, his finger found the spring through the canvas and, pressing it hard, the frame swung slowly forward as if reluctant to give up its precious charge.
Rapidly taking one bag after another from the cavity Cummings passed them to Moriarity, who placed them in the bags prepared for them.
The Doctor and Scip had gone outside and now brought the four horses nearer the door. This they did that they might have as little to do with the robbery as possible, and they had so managed it that Jim and Dan had done the actual theft.