The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 112

rescued
at all. Most of your reasons for postponing the trip have been trivial
and ridiculous--possibly you are afraid of the dangers that may lie
before us," she added, banteringly.

"I'm afraid you've hit it off about right," he replied with a grin.
"I don't want to be rescued, and I am very much afraid of what lies
before--me."

"Before YOU?"

"I'm going to lose you, any way you look at it, and--and--oh, can't you
see that I love you?" he blurted out, despite all his good intentions.

Barbara Harding looked at him for a moment, and then she did the one
thing that could have hurt him most--she laughed.

The color mounted to Billy Byrne's face, and then he went very white.

The girl started to say something, and at the same instant there came
faintly to them from the mainland the sound of hoarse shouting, and of
shots.

Byrne turned and started on a run in the direction of the firing, the
girl following closely behind. At the island's edge he motioned her to
stop.

"Wait here, it will be safer," he said. "There may be white men
there--those shots sound like it, but again there may not. I want to
find out before they see you, whoever they are."

The sound of firing had ceased now, but loud yelling was distinctly
audible from down the river. Byrne took a step down the bank toward the
water.

"Wait!" whispered the girl. "Here they come now, we can see them from
here in a moment," and she dragged the mucker down behind a bush.

In silence the two watched the approaching party.

"They're the Chinks," announced Byrne, who insisted on using this word
to describe the proud and haughty samurai.

"Yes, and there are two white men with them," whispered Barbara Harding,
a note of suppressed excitement in her voice.

"Prisoners," said Byrne. "Some of the precious bunch from the Halfmoon
doubtless."

The samurai were moving straight up the edge of the river. In a few
minutes they would pass within a hundred feet of the island. Billy and
the girl crouched low behind their shelter.

"I don't recognize them," said the man.

"Why--why--O Mr. Byrne, it can't be possible!" cried the girl with
suppressed excitement. "Those two men are Captain Norris and Mr. Foster,
mate of the Lotus!"

Byrne half rose to his feet. The party was opposite their hiding place
now.

"Sit tight," he whispered. "I'm goin' to get 'em," and then, fiercely
"for your sake, because I love you--now laugh," and he was gone.

He ran lightly down the river bank unnoticed by the samurai who had
already passed the island. In

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