The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 103

some questionable act.

"I suppose so," he said; "this ain't no place to spend the night--it's
too open. We gotta find a sort o' hiding place if we can, dat a fellow
kin barricade wit something."

Again they took up their seemingly hopeless march--an aimless wandering
in search of they knew not what. Away from one danger to possible
dangers many fold more terrible. Barbara's heart was very heavy, for
again she feared and mistrusted the mucker.

They followed down the little brook now to where it emptied into a river
and then down the valley beside the river which grew wider and more
turbulent with every mile. Well past mid-afternoon they came opposite a
small, rocky island, and as Byrne's eyes fell upon it an exclamation of
gratification burst from his lips.

"Jest de place!" he cried. "We orter be able to hide dere forever."

"But how are we to get there?" asked the girl, looking fearfully at the
turbulent river.

"It ain't deep," Byrne assured her. "Come ahead; I'll carry yeh acrost,"
and without waiting for a reply he gathered her in his arms and started
down the bank.

What with the thoughts that had occupied his mind off and on during the
afternoon the sudden and close contact of the girl's warm young body
close to his took Billy Byrne's breath away, and sent the hot blood
coursing through his veins. It was with the utmost difficulty that he
restrained a mad desire to crush her to him and cover her face with

And then the fatal thought came to him--why should he restrain himself?
What was this girl to him? Had he not always hated her and her kind? Did
she not look with loathing and contempt upon him? And to whom did
her life belong anyway but to him--had he not saved it twice? What
difference would it make? They'd never come out of this savage world
alive, and if he didn't take her some monkey-faced Chink would get her.

They were in the middle of the stream now. Byrne's arms already had
commenced to tighten upon the girl. With a sudden tug he strove to pull
her face down to his; but she put both hands upon his shoulders and held
his lips at arms' length. And her wide eyes looked full into the glowing
gray ones of the mucker. And each saw in the other's something that held
their looks for a full minute.

Barbara saw what she had feared, but she saw too something else that
gave her a quick, pulsing hope--a look of honest love, or could she

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