The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 111

around saloon corners rushing the can
and insulting women--I didn't want to be decent--not until I met you,
and learned to--to," he hesitated, stammering, and the red blood crept
up his neck and across his face, "and learned to want your respect."

It wasn't what he had intended saying and the girl knew it. There sprang
into her mind a sudden wish to hear Billy Byrne say the words that he
had dared not say; but she promptly checked the desire, and a moment
later a qualm of self-disgust came over her because of the weakness that
had prompted her to entertain such a wish in connection with a person of
this man's station in life.

Days ran into weeks, and still the two remained upon their little island
refuge. Byrne found first one excuse and then another to delay the march
to the sea. He knew that it must be made sooner or later, and he knew,
too, that its commencement would mark the beginning of the end of his
association with Miss Harding, and that after that was ended life would
be a dreary waste.

Either they would be picked up by a passing vessel or murdered by the
natives, but in the latter event his separation from the woman he loved
would be no more certain or absolute than in her return to her own
people, for Billy Byrne knew that he "didn't belong" in any society that
knew Miss Barbara Harding, and he feared that once they had regained
civilization there would be a return on the girl's part to the old
haughty aloofness, and that again he would be to her only a creature of
a lower order, such as she and her kind addressed with a patronizing air
as, "my man."

He intended, of course, to make every possible attempt to restore her to
her home; but, he argued, was it wrong to snatch a few golden hours of
happiness in return for his service, and as partial recompense for the
lifetime of lonely misery that must be his when the woman he loved had
passed out of his life forever? Billy thought not, and so he tarried on
upon "Manhattan Island," as Barbara had christened it, and he lived in
the second finest residence in town upon the opposite side of "Riverside
Drive" from the palatial home of Miss Harding.

Nearly two months had passed before Billy's stock of excuses and
delay ran out, and a definite date was set for the commencement of the
journey.

"I believe," Miss Harding had said, "that you do not wish to be

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