The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 190

it will not be our fault. We will swear
vengeance upon Villa, and the Captain Byrne will hate him as a good
Pesitista should."

"You have the cunning of the Coyote, my captain," cried Pesita. "It
shall be done as you suggest. Go now, and I will send for Captain Byrne,
and give him his orders for the morning."

As Rozales strolled away a figure rose from the shadows at the side of
Pesita's tent and slunk off into the darkness.



CHAPTER VIII. BILLY'S FIRST COMMAND

AND so it was that having breakfasted in the morning Bridge and Miguel
started downward toward the valley protected by an escort under Captain
Billy Byrne. An old service jacket and a wide-brimmed hat, both donated
by brother officers, constituted Captain Byrne's uniform. His mount was
the largest that the picket line of Pesita's forces could produce. Billy
loomed large amongst his men.

For an hour they rode along the trail, Billy and Bridge conversing upon
various subjects, none of which touched upon the one uppermost in the
mind of each. Miguel rode, silent and preoccupied. The evening before he
had whispered something to Bridge as he had crawled out of the darkness
to lie close to the American, and during a brief moment that morning
Bridge had found an opportunity to relay the Mexican's message to Billy
Byrne.

The latter had but raised his eyebrows a trifle at the time, but later
he smiled more than was usual with him. Something seemed to please him
immensely.

Beside him at the head of the column rode Bridge and Miguel. Behind them
trailed the six swarthy little troopers--the picked men upon whom Pesita
could depend.

They had reached a point where the trail passes through a narrow dry
arroyo which the waters of the rainy season had cut deep into the
soft, powdery soil. Upon either bank grew cacti and mesquite, forming a
sheltering screen behind which a regiment might have hidden. The place
was ideal for an ambuscade.

"Here, Senor Capitan," whispered Miguel, as they neared the entrance to
the trap.

A low hill shut off from their view all but the head of the cut, and it
also hid them from the sight of any possible enemy which might have been
lurking in wait for them farther down the arroyo.

At Miguel's words Byrne wheeled his horse to the right away from the
trail which led through the bottom of the waterway and around the base
of the hill, or rather in that direction, for he had scarce deviated
from the direct way before one of the troopers spurred to his side,
calling out in

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