"Then you go back to the bar, not looking at Pedro at all. See? He's insulted your mother, and you've resented it in a nice, dignified, gentlemanly way. Try it."
Pedro sat at the table and picked up his cards. He was a foul- looking Mexican and seemed capable even of the enormity he was about to commit. The scene was rehearsed to Baird's satisfaction, then shot. The weeping old lady, blinded by her tears, awkward with her mop, the brutal Mexican, his prompt punishment.
The old lady was especially pathetic as she glared at her insulter from where she lay sprawled on the floor, and muttered, "Carramba, huh? I dare you to come outside and say that to me!"
"Good work," applauded Baird when the scene was finished. "Now we're getting into the swing of it. In about three days here we'll have something that exhibitors can clean up on, see if we don't."
The three days passed in what for Merton Gill was a whirlwind of dramatic intensity. If at times he was vaguely disquieted by a suspicion that the piece was not wholly serious, he had only to remember the intense seriousness of his own part and the always serious manner of Baird in directing his actors. And indeed there were but few moments when he was even faintly pricked by this suspicion. It seemed a bit incongruous that Hoffmeyer, the delicatessen merchant, should arrive on a bicycle, dressed in cowboy attire save for a badly dented derby hat, and carrying a bag of golf clubs; and it was a little puzzling how Hoffmeyer should have been ruined by his son's mad act, when it would have been shown that the money was returned to him. But Baird explained carefully that the old man had been ruined some other way, and was demented, like the poor old mother who had gone over the hills after her children had left the home nest. And assuredly in Merton's own action he found nothing that was not deeply earnest as well as strikingly dramatic. There was the tense moment when a faithful cowboy broke upon the festivities with word that a New York detective was coming to search for the man who had robbed the Hoffmeyer establishment. His friends gathered loyally about Merton and swore he would never be taken from them alive. He was induced to don a false mustache until the detective had gone. It was a long, heavy black mustache with curling tips, and in this disguise he stood aloof from his companions when the detective entered.
The detective was the cross-eyed man, himself now disguised as Sherlock Holmes, with a fore-and-aft cloth cap and drooping blond mustache. He smoked a pipe as he examined those present. Merton was unable to overlook this scene, as he had been directed to stand with his back to the detective. Later it was shown that he observed in a mirror the Mexican whom he had punished creeping forward to inform the detective of his man's whereabouts. The coward's treachery cost him dearly. The hero, still with his back turned, drew his revolver and took careful aim by means of the mirror.
This had been a spot where for a moment he was troubled. Instead of pointing the weapon over his shoulder, aiming by the mirror, he was directed to point it at the Mexican's reflection in the glass, and to fire at this reflection. "It's all right," Baird assured him. "It's a camera trick, see? It may look now as if you were shooting into the mirror but it comes perfectly right on the film. You'll see. Go on, aim carefully, right smack at that looking-glass--fire!" Still somewhat doubting, Merton fired. The mirror was shattered, but a dozen feet back of him the treacherous Mexican threw up his arms and fell lifeless, a bullet through his cowardly heart. It was a puzzling bit of trick-work, he thought, but Baird of course would know what was right, so the puzzle was dismissed. Buck Benson, silent man of the open, had got the scoundrel who would have played him false.
A thrilling struggle ensued between Merton and the hellhound of justice. Perceiving who had slain his would-be informant, the detective came to confront Merton. Snatching off his cap and mustache he stood revealed as the man who had not dared to arrest him at the scene of his crime. With another swift movement he snatched away the mustache that had disguised his quarry. Buck Benson, at bay, sprang like a tiger upon his antagonist. They struggled while the excited cowboys surged about them. The detective proved to be no match for Benson. He was borne to earth, then raised aloft and hurled over the adjacent tables.