The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 122

they stopped and hallooed. Almost instantly three
figures rushed from the interior of the island to the shore before
them--two men and a woman.

"Barbara!" cried Anthony Harding. "O my daughter! My daughter!"

Norris and Foster hastened through the river and brought the two men
to the island. Barbara Harding threw herself into her father's arms. A
moment later she had grasped Mallory's outstretched hands, and then she
looked beyond them for another.

"Mr. Byrne?" she asked. "Where is Mr. Byrne?"

"He is dead," said Anthony Harding.

The girl looked, wide-eyed and uncomprehending, at her father for a full
minute.

"Dead!" she moaned, and fell unconscious at his feet.



CHAPTER XVII. HOME AGAIN

BILLY BYRNE continued to fire intermittently for half an hour after the
two men had left him. Then he fired several shots in quick succession,
and dragging himself to his hands and knees crawled laboriously and
painfully back into the jungle in search of a hiding place where he
might die in peace.

He had progressed some hundred yards when he felt the earth give way
beneath him. He clutched frantically about for support, but there
was none, and with a sickening lunge he plunged downward into Stygian
darkness.

His fall was a short one, and he brought up with a painful thud at the
bottom of a deer pit--a covered trap which the natives dig to catch
their fleet-footed prey.

The pain of his wounds after the fall was excruciating. His head whirled
dizzily. He knew that he was dying, and then all went black.

When consciousness returned to the mucker it was daylight. The sky above
shone through the ragged hole that his falling body had broken in the
pit's covering the night before.

"Gee!" muttered the mucker; "and I thought that I was dead!"

His wounds had ceased to bleed, but he was very weak and stiff and sore.

"I guess I'm too tough to croak!" he thought.

He wondered if the two men would reach Barbara in safety. He hoped so.
Mallory loved her, and he was sure that Barbara had loved Mallory. He
wanted her to be happy. No thought of jealousy entered his mind. Mallory
was her kind. Mallory "belonged." He didn't. He was a mucker. How would
he have looked training with her bunch. She would have been ashamed of
him, and he couldn't have stood that. No, it was better as it had turned
out. He'd squared himself for the beast he'd been to her, and he'd
squared himself with Mallory, too. At least they'd have only decent
thoughts of him, dead; but alive, that would be an entirely different
thing. He

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