The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 125

once more he took up his
wearisome journey.

That night he reached the coast. Early the next morning he commenced
his search for the man-of-war. By walking entirely around the island he
should find her he felt sure.

Shortly after noon he scaled a high promontory which jutted out into the
sea. From its summit he had an unobstructed view of the broad Pacific.
His heart leaped to his throat, for there but a short distance out were
a great battleship and a trim white yacht--the Alaska and the Lotus!
They were steaming slowly out to sea.

He was just in time! Filled with happiness the mucker ran to the point
of the promontory and stripping off his shirt waved it high above his
head, the while he shouted at the top of his lungs; but the vessels kept
on their course, giving no answering signal.

For half an hour the man continued his futile efforts to attract the
attention of someone on board either craft, but to his dismay he saw
them grow smaller and smaller until in a few hours they passed over the
rim of the world, disappearing from his view forever.

Weak, wounded, and despairing, Billy sank to the ground, burying his
face in his arms, and there the moon found him when she rose, and he was
still there when she passed from the western sky.


For three months Billy Byrne lived his lonely life upon the wild island.
The trapping and fishing were good and there was a plentiful supply of
good water. He regained his lost strength, recovering entirely from
his wounds. The natives did not molest him, for he had stumbled upon a
section of the shore which they considered bewitched and to which none
of them would come under any circumstances.

One morning, at the beginning of his fourth month of solitude, the
mucker saw a smudge of smoke upon the horizon. Slowly it increased
in volume and the speck beneath it resolved itself into the hull of a
steamer. Closer and closer to the island it came.

Billy gathered together a quantity of dry brush and lighted a signal
fire on the lofty point from which he had seen the Alaska and the Lotus
disappear. As it commenced to blaze freely he threw fresh, green boughs
upon it until a vertical column of smoke arose high above the island.

In breathless suspense Billy watched the movements of the steamer. At
first it seemed that she would pass without taking notice of his signal,
but at last he saw that she was changing her course and moving directly
toward

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