The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 124

the likes of me; but if I can't live with her, I can live for
her--as she'd want me to live, and, s'help me, those words'll keep me
straight. If she ever hears of Billy Byrne again it won't be anything
to make her ashamed that she had her arms around him, kissing him, and
telling him that she loved him."

At the river's edge across from the little island Billy came to a halt.
He had reached the point near midnight, and hesitated to cross over and
disturb the party at that hour. At last, however, he decided to cross
quietly, and lie down near HER hut until morning.

The crossing was most difficult, for he was very weak, but at last he
came to the opposite bank and drew himself up to lie panting for a few
minutes on the sloping bank. Then he crawled on again up to the top, and
staggering to his feet made his way cautiously toward the two huts. All
was quiet. He assumed that the party was asleep, and so he lay down
near the rude shelter he had constructed for Barbara Harding, and fell
asleep.

It was broad daylight when he awoke--the sun was fully three hours high,
and yet no one was stirring. For the first time misgivings commenced to
assail Billy's mind. Could it be possible? He crossed over to his own
hut and entered--it was deserted. Then he ran to Barbara's--it, too, was
unoccupied. They had gone!

All during the painful trip from the village to the island Billy had
momentarily expected to meet a party of rescuers coming back for him. He
had not been exactly disappointed, but a queer little lump had risen to
his throat as the days passed and no help had come, and now this was the
final blow. They had deserted him! Left him wounded and dying on this
savage island without taking the trouble to assure themselves that he
really was dead! It was incredible!

"But was it?" thought Billy. "Didn't I tell them that I was dying?
I thought so myself, and there is no reason why they shouldn't have
thought so too. I suppose I shouldn't blame them, and I don't; but I
wouldn't have left them that way and not come back. They had a warship
full of blue jackets and marines--there wouldn't have been much danger
to them."

Presently it occurred to him that the party may have returned to the
coast to get the marines, and that even now they were searching for
him. He hastened to return to the mainland, and

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