The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 121

He shook his

"There is something familiar about your face," he said; "but I cannot
place you. Nor does it make any difference who you are--you have risked
your life to save ours and I shall not leave you. Let Mr. Harding go--it
is not necessary for both to stay."

"You will both go," insisted Byrne; "and you will find that it does
make a big difference who I am. I hadn't intended telling you, but I see
there is no other way. I'm the mucker that nearly killed you on board
the Lotus, Mallory. I'm the fellow that man-handled Miss Harding until
even that beast of a Simms made me quit, and Miss Harding has been alone
with me on this island for weeks--now go!"

He turned away so that they could no longer see his face, with the
mental anguish that he knew must be writ large upon it, and commenced
firing toward the natives once more.

Anthony Harding stood with white face and clinched hands during Byrne's
recital of his identity. At its close he took a threatening step toward
the prostrate man, raising his long sword, with a muffled oath. Billy
Mallory sprang before him, catching his upraised arm.

"Don't!" he whispered. "Think what we owe him now. Come!" and the two
men turned north into the jungle while Billy Byrne lay upon his belly
in the tall grass firing from time to time into the direction from which
came an occasional spear.

Anthony Harding and Billy Mallory kept on in silence along their dismal
way. The crack of the mucker's revolver, growing fainter and fainter, as
they drew away from the scene of conflict, apprised the men that their
rescuer still lived.

After a time the distant reports ceased. The two walked on in silence
for a few minutes.

"He's gone," whispered Mallory.

Anthony Harding made no response. They did not hear any further firing
behind them. On and on they trudged. Night turned to day. Day rolled
slowly on into night once more. And still they staggered on, footsore
and weary. Mallory suffered excruciating agony from his wound. There
were times when it seemed that it would be impossible for him to
continue another yard; but then the thought that Barbara Harding was
somewhere ahead of them, and that in a short time now they must be with
her once more kept him doggedly at his painful task.

They had reached the river and were following slowly down its bank. The
moon, full and gorgeous, flooded the landscape with silvery light.

"Look!" exclaimed Mallory. "The island!"

"Thank God!" whispered Harding, fervently.

On the bank opposite

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