The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 108

don't go very far--I shall be terribly lonely and frightened
while you are away."

"Maybe you'd better come along," suggested Billy.

"No, I should be in the way--you can't hunt deer with a gallery, and get
any."

"Well, I'll stay within hailing distance, and you can look for me back
any time between now and sundown. Good-bye," and he picked his way down
the bank into the river, while from behind a bush upon the mainland two
wicked, black eyes watched his movements and those of the girl on the
shore behind him while a long, sinewy, brown hand closed more tightly
upon a heavy war spear, and steel muscles tensed for the savage spring
and the swift throw.

The girl watched Billy Byrne forging his way through the swift rapids.
What a mighty engine of strength and endurance he was! What a man! Yes,
brute! And strange to relate Barbara Harding found herself admiring the
very brutality that once had been repellent to her. She saw him leap
lightly to the opposite bank, and then she saw a quick movement in a
bush close at his side. She did not know what manner of thing had caused
it, but her intuition warned her that behind that concealing screen lay
mortal danger to the unconscious man.

"Billy!" she cried, the unaccustomed name bursting from her lips
involuntarily. "In the bush at your left--look out!"

At the note of warning in her voice Byrne had turned at her first
word--it was all that saved his life. He saw the half-naked savage and
the out-shooting spear arm, and as he would, instinctively, have ducked
a right-for-the-head in the squared circle of his other days, he ducked
now, side stepping to the right, and the heavy weapon sped harmlessly
over his shoulder.

The warrior, with a growl of rage, drew his sharp parang, leaping to
close quarters. Barbara Harding saw Byrne whip Theriere's revolver from
its holster, and snap it in the face of the savage; but to her horror
the cartridge failed to explode, and before he could fire again the
warrior was upon him.

The girl saw the white man leap to one side to escape the furious cut
aimed at him by his foe, and then she saw him turn with the agility of a
panther and spring to close quarters with the wild man. Byrne's left arm
went around the Malay's neck, and with his heavy right fist he rained
blow after blow upon the brown face.

The savage dropped his useless parang--clawing and biting at the mighty
creature in whose power he found himself; but never once

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