The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 100

was the mucker, and at sight of him there swept over the girl the
terrible peril of her position--alone in the savage mountains of a
savage island with the murderer of Billy Mallory--the beast that had
kicked the unconscious Theriere in the face--the mucker who had insulted
and threatened to strike her! She shuddered at the thought. And then
she recalled the man's other side, and for the life of her she could not
tell whether to be afraid of him or not--it all depended upon what mood
governed him. It would be best to propitiate him. She called a pleasant
good morning.

Byrne turned. She was shocked at the pallor of his haggard face.

"Good morning," he said. "How did yeh sleep?"

"Oh, just splendidly, and you?" she replied.

"So-so," he answered.

She looked at him searchingly as he approached her.

"Why I don't believe that you have slept at all," she cried.

"I didn't feel very sleepy," he replied evasively.

"You sat up all night on guard!" she exclaimed. "You know you did."

"De Chinks might o' been shadowin' us--it wasn't safe to sleep," he
admitted; "but I'll tear off a few dis mornin' after we find a feed of
some kind."

"What can we find to eat here?" she asked.

"Dis crick is full o' fish," he explained, "an' ef youse got a pin I
guess we kin rig up a scheme to hook a couple."

The girl found a pin that he said would answer very nicely, and with a
shoe lace for a line and a big locust as bait the mucker set forth to
angle in the little mountain torrent. The fish, unwary, and hungry thus
early in the morning proved easy prey, and two casts brought forth two
splendid specimens.

"I could eat a dozen of dem minnows," announced the mucker, and he cast
again and again, until in twenty minutes he had a goodly mess of plump,
shiny trout on the grass beside him.

With his pocketknife he cleaned and scaled them, and then between two
rocks he built a fire and passing sticks through the bodies of his catch
roasted them all. They had neither salt, nor pepper, nor butter, nor any
other viand than the fish, but it seemed to the girl that never in her
life had she tasted so palatable a meal, nor had it occurred to her
until the odor of the cooking fish filled her nostrils that no food had
passed her lips since the second day before--no wonder that the two ate
ravenously, enjoying every mouthful of their repast.

"An' now," said Billy Byrne,

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