Adventure Comes Smiling





Luck, in the course of his enthusiastic picture making, reached the

point where he must find a bank that was willing to be robbed--in broad

daylight and for screen purposes only. If you know anything at all about

our financial storehouses, you know that they are sensitive about being

robbed, or even having it appear that they are being subjected to so

humiliating a procedure. What Luck needed was a bank that was not only

willing, but one that faced the sun as well. He was lucky, as usual. The

Bernalillo County Bank stands on a corner facing east and south. It is

an unpretentious little bank of the older style of architecture, and

might well be located in the centre of any small range town and hold the

shipping receipts of a cattleman who was growing rich as he grew old.



Luck stopped across the street and looked the bank over, and saw how the

sun would shine in at the door and through the wide windows during the

greater part of the afternoon, and hoped that the cashier was a human

being and would not object to a fake robbery. Not liking suspense,

he stepped off the pavement and dodged a jitney, and hurried over to

interview the cashier.



You never know what secret ambitions hide behind the impassive courtesy

of the average business man. This cashier, for instance, wore a green

eyeshade whenever his hat was not on his, head. His hair was thin and

his complexion pasty and his shoulders were too stooped for a man of

his age. You never would have suspected, just to look at him through the

fancy grating of his window, how he thirsted for that kind of adventure

which fiction writers call red-blooded. He had never had an adventure

in his life; but at night, after he had gone to bed and adjusted the

electric light at his head, and his green eyeshade, and had put two

pillows under the back of his neck, he read--you will scarcely believe

it, but it is true--he read about the James boys and Kit. Carson and

Pawnee Bill, and he could tell you--only he wouldn't mention it, of

course--just how many Texans were killed in the Alamo. He loved gun

catalogues, and he frequently went out of his way to pass a store that

displayed real, business-looking stock-saddles and quirts and spurs and

things. He longed to be down in Mexico in the thick of the scrap there,

and he knew every prominent Federal leader and every revolutionist that

got into the papers; knew them by spelling at least, even if he couldn't

pronounce the names correctly.



He had come to Albuquerque for his lungs' sake a few years ago, and he

still thrilled at the sight of bright-shawled Pueblo Indians padding

along the pavements in their moccasins and queer leggings that looked

like joints of whitewashed stove-pipe; while to ride in an automobile

out to Isleta, which is a terribly realistic Indian village of adobe

huts, made the blood beat in his temples and his fingers tremble upon

his knees. Even Martinez Town with its squatty houses and narrow streets

held for him a peculiar fascination.



You can imagine, maybe, how his weak eyes snapped with excitement under

that misleading green shade when Luck Lindsay walked in and smiled at

him through the wicket, and explained who he was and what was the favor

he had come to ask of the bank. You can, perhaps, imagine how he stood

and made little marks on a blotter with his pencil while Luck explained

just what he would want; and how he clung to the noncommittal manner

which is a cashier's professional shield, while Luck smiled his smile

to cover his own feeling of doubt and stated that he merely wanted two

Mexicans to enter, presumably overpower the cashier, and depart with a

bag or two of gold.



The cashier made a few more pencil marks and said that it might be

arranged, if Luck could find it convenient to make the picture just

after the bank's closing time. Obviously the cashier could not permit

the bank's patrons to be disturbed in any way--but what he really wanted

was to have the thrill of the adventure all to himself.



With the two of them anxious to have the pictured robbery take place,

of course they arranged it after a polite sparring on the part of the

cashier, whose craving for adventure was carefully guarded as a guilty

secret.



At three o'clock the next day, then--although Luck would have greatly

preferred an earlier hour--the cashier had the bank cleared of patrons

and superfluous clerks, and was watching, with his nerves all atingle

and the sun shining in upon him through a side window, while Pete Lowry

and Bill Holmes fussed outside with the camera, getting ready for the

arrival of those realistic bandits, Ramon Chavez and Luis Rojas. On

the street corner opposite, the Happy Family foregathered clannishly,

waiting until they were called into the street-fight scene which Luck

meant to make later.



The cashier's cheeks were quite pink with excitement when finally Ramon

and the Rojas villain walked past the window and looked in at him before

going on to the door. He was disappointed because they were not masked,

and because they did not wear bright sashes with fringe and striped

serapes draped across their shoulders, and the hilts of wicked knives

showing somewhere. They did not look like bandits at all--thanks to

Luck's sure knowledge and fine sense of realism. Still, they answered

the purpose, and when they opened the door and came in the cashier got

quite a start from the greedy look in their eyes when they saw the gold

he had stacked in profusion on the counter before him.



They made the scene twice--the walking past the window and coming in at

the door; and the second time Luck swore at them because they stopped

too abruptly at the window and lingered too long there, looking in at

the cashier and his gold, and exchanging meaning glances before they

went to the door.



Later, there was an interior scene with reflectors almost blinding the

cashier while he struggled self-consciously and ineffectually with Ramon

Chavez. The gold that Ramon scraped from the cashier's keeping into his

own was not, of course, the real gold which the bandits had seen through

the window. Luck, careful of his responsibilities, had waited while the

cashier locked the bank's money in the vault, and had replaced it with

brass coins that looked real--to the camera.



The cashier lived then the biggest moments of his life. He was forced

upon his back across a desk that had been carefully cleared of the

bank's papers and as carefully strewn with worthless ones which Luck

had brought. A realistically uncomfortable gag had been forced into the

mouth of the cashier--where it brought twinges from some fresh dental

work, by the way--and the bandits had taken everything in sight that

they fancied.



Ramon and Luis Rojas had proven themselves artists in this particular

line of work, and the cashier, when it was all over and the camera and

company were busily at work elsewhere, lived it in his imagination

and felt that he was at least tasting the full flavor of red-blooded

adventure without having to pay the usual price of bitterness and bodily

suffering. He was mistaken, of course--as I am going to explain. What

the cashier had taken part in was not the adventure itself but merely a

rehearsal and general preparation for the real performance.



This had been on Wednesday, just after three o'clock in the afternoon.

On Saturday forenoon the cashier was called upon the phone and asked

if a part of that robbery stuff could be retaken that day. The cashier

thrilled instantly at the thought of it. Certainly, they could retake as

much as they pleased. Lucks voice--or a voice very like Luck's--thanked

him and said that they would not need to retake the interior stuff. What

he wanted was to get the approach to the bank the entrance and going

back to the cashier. That part of the negative was under-timed, said the

voice. And would the cashier make a display of gold behind the wicket,

so that the camera could register it through the window? The cashier

thought that he could. "Just stack it up good and high," directed the

voice. "The more the better. And clear the bank--have the clerks out,

and every thing as near as possible to what it was the other day. And

you take up the same position. The scene ends where Ramon comes back and

grabs you."



"And listen! You did so well the other day that I'm going to leave this

to you, to see that they get it the same. I can't be there myself--I've

got to catch some atmosphere stuff down here in Old Town. I'm just

sending my assistant camera man and the two heavies and my scenic

artist for this retake. It won't be much--but be sure you have the bank

cleared, old man--because it would ruin the following scenes to have

extra people registered in this; see? You did such dandy work in that

struggle that I want it to stand. Boy, your work's sure going to stand

out on the screen!"



Can you blame the cashier for drinking in every word of that, and for

emptying the vault of gold and stacking it up in beautiful, high piles

where the sun shone on it through the window--and where it would be

within easy reach, by the way!--so that the camera could "register" it?



At ten minutes past twelve he had gotten rid of patrons and clerks, and

he had the gold out and his green eyeshade adjusted as becomingly as a

green eyeshade may be adjusted. He looked out and saw that the street

was practically empty, because of the hour and the heat that was almost

intolerable where the sun shone full. He saw a big red machine drive up

to the corner and stop, and he saw a man climb out with camera already

screwed, to the tripod. He saw the bandits throw away their cigarettes

and follow the camera man, and then he hurried back and took up his

station beside the stacks of gold, and waited in a twitter of excitement

for this unhoped-for encore of last Wednesday's glorious performance.

Through the window he watched the camera being set up, and he watched

also, from under his eyeshade, the approach of the two bandits.



From there on a gap occurs in the cashier's memory of that day.



Ramon and Luis went into the bank, and in a few minutes they came out

again burdened with bags of specie and pulled the door shut with the

spring lock set and the blinds down that proclaimed the bank was closed.

They climbed into the red automobile, the camera and its operator

followed, and the machine went away down the street to the post-office,

turned and went purring into the Mexican quarter which spreads itself

out toward the lower bridge that spans the Rio Grande. This much a dozen

persons could tell you. Beyond that no man seemed to know what became of

the outfit.



In the bank, the cashier lay back across a desk with a gag in his mouth

and his hands and feet tied, and with a welt on the side of his head

that swelled and bled sluggishly for a while and then stopped and became

an angry purple. Where the gold had been stacked high in the sunshine

the marble glistened whitely, with not so much as a five-dollar piece

to give it a touch of color. The window blinds were drawn down--the bank

was closed. And people passed the windows and never guessed that within

there lay a sickly young man who had craved adventure and found it, and

would presently awake to taste its bitter flavor.



Away off across the mesa, sweltering among the rocks in Bear Canon,

Luck Lindsay panted and sweated and cussed the heat and painstakingly

directed his scenes, and never dreamed that a likeness of his voice had

beguiled the cashier of the Bernalillo County Bank into consenting to be

robbed and beaten into oblivion of his betrayal.



And--although some heartless teller of tales might keep you in the

dark about this--the red automobile, having dodged hurriedly into a

high-boarded enclosure behind a Mexican saloon, emerged presently and

went boldly off across the bridge and up through Atrisco to the sand

hills which is the beginning of the desert off that way. But another

automobile, bigger and more powerful and black, slipped out of this same

enclosure upon another street, and turned eastward instead of west. This

machine made for the mesa by a somewhat roundabout course, and emerged,

by way of a rough trail up a certain draw in the edge of the tableland,

to the main road where it turns the corner of the cemetery. From there

the driver drove as fast as he dared until he reached the hill that

borders Tijeras Arroyo. There being no sign of pursuit to this point, he

crossed the Arroyo at a more leisurely pace. Then he went speeding away

into the edge of the mountains until they reached one of those deep,

deserted dry washes that cut the foothills here and there near Coyote

Springs. There his passengers left him and disappeared up the dry wash.



Before the wound on the cashier's head had stopped bleeding, the black

automobile was returning innocently to town and no man guessed what

business had called it out upon the mesa.





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