The Armendariz name alone was introduction enough. The reporters were well acquainted with the name of the rich and powerful rancher from Mexico, but most had never seen him in person. And, as evident from the whispers in the crowd, those who did not know the name where quickly enlightened by the many who did. The photographers clamored to get his photo. As one photographer whispered to another, “This will delight the ladies.”
After posing for the photographers, Armendariz proceeded to the dais. His imposing stature made the dais seem redundant, but he took his place on it. Mr. Griffith then asked him how he had come to know Heyes and Curry.
“Three years ago, yes. We met when they did not rob me.”
A loud murmur ran through the crowd. Sheriff Trevors hushed the gallery.
“Did not rob you?” Mr. Griffith queried.
“Indeed. But, I see I must clarify this for you. For years, there was a private dispute between my neighbor, Señor McCreedy, and myself. This is now all in the past. He is now my brother-in-law, something that Señor Heyes and Señor Curry were helpful in bringing about, but that is another matter,” he waived a hand dismissively.
"At the time, there was an object, a bust of Julius Caesar that was claimed by both of us. I will not bother you with the details of the dispute; as I said, that is the past. What matters is that Señor Heyes and Señor Curry were engaged by Señor McCreedy to recover what they believed was rightfully his and had been," he gave a deep, rich chuckle at the thought, “stolen by me. Of course, this was not the case, but Señor Heyes and Señor Curry did not know the whole story at that time."
Another murmur ran through the crowd.
“You are wondering no doubt why I am telling you this. Yes, it is true, they took or, as they thought, recovered, the bust in question, but this is not important. As I said, a private matter. It is what they did not take that is of significance. In that safe there were many valuable jewels, items of greater value than the bust, and large sums of money. None of that was touched. Nothing but the item that they were sent to retrieve, which they believed not to belong to me, was removed. Now I ask you, does this sound like the actions of outlaws? How many of you would be able to resist such temptation? Not many, I would think. Only men of integrity would act so.
"I expressed this to them, when they returned to my home. I allowed that I was much impressed by their dedication to their friend, though I explained the deception, and their forbearance in retrieving only the bust. They replied that it was only the bust they were to retrieve; no other thought crossed their minds.
"I have met men of all kinds in my time; the scoundrels, the scholars, the rich, the poor. Señor Heyes and Señor Curry, these two, these are honorable men. The charming Señora who preceded me has already stated how they helped her and without thought of personal gain. Such men should be rewarded, should they not? Is not your governor an honorable man? Should he not be a man of his word and give them what has been promised?”
“Thank you, Señor Armendariz. Will you also be available to answer questions later at the courthouse for the reporters?” Mr. Griffith asked.
“Of course. Anything to help these gentlemen,” Señor Armendariz said with an engaging smile and took his place next to Mary.