The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 115

that father is dead?" she asked, a look of terror coming
to her eyes.

"Not that--we hope," replied Norris. "He has been taken prisoner by
these half-breed devils on the island. I doubt if they have killed
him--we were going to his rescue when we ourselves were captured. He and
Mr. Mallory were taken three days ago."

"Mallory!" shouted Billy Byrne, who had entirely recovered from the blow
that had merely served to stun him for a moment. "Is Mallory alive?"

"He was yesterday," replied Norris; "these fellows from whom you so
bravely rescued us told us that much."

"Thank God!" whispered Billy Byrne.

"What made you think he was dead?" inquired the officer, looking closely
at Byrne as though trying to place him.

Another man might have attempted to evade the question but the new
Billy Byrne was no coward in any department of his moral or physical
structure.

"Because I thought that I had killed him," he replied, "the day that we
took the Lotus."

Captain Norris looked at the speaker in undisguised horror.

"You!" he cried. "You were one of those damned cut-throats! You the man
that nearly killed poor Mr. Mallory! Miss Harding, has he offered you
any indignities?"

"Don't judge him rashly, Captain Norris," said the girl. "But for him
I should have been dead and worse than dead long since. Some day I will
tell you of his heroism and his chivalry, and don't forget, Captain,
that he has just saved you and Mr. Foster from captivity and probable
death."

"That's right," exclaimed the officer, "and I want to thank him; but I
don't understand about Mallory."

"Never mind about him now," said Billy Byrne. "If he's alive that's
all that counts--I haven't got his blood on my hands. Go on with your
story."

"Well, after that gang of pirates left us," continued the captain, "we
rigged an extra wireless that they didn't know we had, and it wasn't
long before we raised the warship Alaska. Her commander put a crew on
board the Lotus with machinists and everything necessary to patch her
up--coaled and provisioned her and then lay by while we got her in
running order. It didn't take near as long as you would have imagined.
Then we set out in company with the warship to search for the
'Clarinda,' as your Captain Simms called her. We got on her track
through a pirate junk just north of Luzon--he said he'd heard from the
natives of a little out-of-the-way island near Formosa that a brigantine
had been wrecked there in the recent typhoon, and his description of the
vessel led us to believe that

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