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Friends in San Rosario
by [?]

The west-bound train stopped at San Rosario on time at 8.20 A.M. A man with a thick black-leather wallet under his arm left the train and walked rapidly up the main street of the town. There were other passengers who also got off at San Rosario, but they either slouched limberly over to the railroad eating-house or the Silver Dollar saloon, or joined the groups of idlers about the station.

Indecision had no part in the movements of the man with the wallet. He was short in stature, but strongly built, with very light, closely- trimmed hair, smooth, determined face, and aggressive, gold-rimmed nose glasses. He was well dressed in the prevailing Eastern style. His air denoted a quiet but conscious reserve force, if not actual authority.

After walking a distance of three squares he came to the centre of the town’s business area. Here another street of importance crossed the main one, forming the hub of San Rosario’s life and commerce. Upon one corner stood the post-office. Upon another Rubensky’s Clothing Emporium. The other two diagonally opposing corners were occupied by the town’s two banks, the First National and the Stockmen’s National. Into the First National Bank of San Rosario the newcomer walked, never slowing his brisk step until he stood at the cashier’s window. The bank opened for business at nine, and the working force was already assembled, each member preparing his department for the day’s business. The cashier was examining the mail when he noticed the stranger standing at his window.

“Bank doesn’t open ’til nine,” he remarked curtly, but without feeling. He had had to make that statement so often to early birds since San Rosario adopted city banking hours.

“I am well aware of that,” said the other man, in cool, brittle tones. “Will you kindly receive my card?”

The cashier drew the small, spotless parallelogram inside the bars of his wicket, and read:

J.F.C Nettlewick
National Bank Examiner

“Oh–er–will you walk around inside, Mr.–er–Nettlewick. Your first visit–didn’t know your business, of course. Walk right around, please.”

The examiner was quickly inside the sacred precincts of the bank, where he was ponderously introduced to each employee in turn by Mr. Edlinger, the cashier–a middle-aged gentleman of deliberation, discretion, and method.

“I was kind of expecting Sam Turner round again, pretty soon,” said Mr. Edlinger. “Sam’s been examining us now, for about four years. I guess you’ll find us all right, though, considering the tightness in business. Not overly much money on hand, but able to stand the storms, sir, stand the storms.”

“Mr. Turner and I have been ordered by the Comptroller to exchange districts,” said the examiner, in his decisive, formal tones. “He is covering my old territory in Southern Illinois and Indiana. I will take the cash first, please.”

Perry Dorsey, the teller, was already arranging his cash on the counter for the examiner’s inspection. He knew it was right to a cent, and he had nothing to fear, but he was nervous and flustered. So was every man in the bank. There was something so icy and swift, so impersonal and uncompromising about this man that his very presence seemed an accusation. He looked to be a man who would never make nor overlook an error.

Mr. Nettlewick first seized the currency, and with a rapid, almost juggling motion, counted it by packages. Then he spun the sponge cup toward him and verified the count by bills. His thin, white fingers flew like some expert musician’s upon the keys of a piano. He dumped the gold upon the counter with a crash, and the coins whined and sang as they skimmed across the marble slab from the tips of his nimble digits. The air was full of fractional currency when he came to the halves and quarters. He counted the last nickle and dime. He had the scales brought, and he weighed every sack of silver in the vault. He questioned Dorsey concerning each of the cash memoranda–certain checks, charge slips, etc., carried over from the previous day’s work –with unimpeachable courtesy, yet with something so mysteriously momentous in his frigid manner, that the teller was reduced to pink cheeks and a stammering tongue.