The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 192

they espied two Indians, carbines
in hand, standing in evident consternation because of the unexpected
fusillade of shots which they had just heard and which they were unable
to account for.

At the sight of the three the sharpshooters dropped behind cover and
fired. Billy's horse stumbled at the first report, caught himself,
reared high upon his hind legs and then toppled over, dead.

His rider, throwing himself to one side, scrambled to his feet and fired
twice at the partially concealed men. Miguel and Bridge rode in rapidly
to close quarters, firing as they came. One of the two men Pesita
had sent to assassinate his "guests" dropped his gun, clutched at his
breast, screamed, and sank back behind a clump of mesquite. The other
turned and leaped over the edge of the bank into the arroyo, rolling and
tumbling to the bottom in a cloud of dry dust.

As he rose to his feet and started on a run up the bed of the dry
stream, dodging a zigzag course from one bit of scant cover to another
Billy Byrne stepped to the edge of the washout and threw his carbine to
his shoulder. His face was flushed, his eyes sparkled, a smile lighted
his regular features.

"This is the life!" he cried, and pulled the trigger.

The man beneath him, running for his life like a frightened jackrabbit,
sprawled forward upon his face, made a single effort to rise and then
slumped limply down, forever.

Miguel and Bridge, dismounted now, came to Byrne's side. The Mexican was
grinning broadly.

"The captain is one grand fighter," he said. "How my dear general would
admire such a man as the captain. Doubtless he would make him a colonel.
Come with me Senor Capitan and your fortune is made."

"Come where?" asked Billy Byrne.

"To the camp of the liberator of poor, bleeding Mexico--to General
Francisco Villa."

"Nothin' doin'," said Billy. "I'm hooked up with this Pesita person now,
an' I guess I'll stick. He's given me more of a run for my money in the
last twenty-four hours than I've had since I parted from my dear old
friend, the Lord of Yoka."

"But Senor Capitan," cried Miguel, "you do not mean to say that you are
going back to Pesita! He will shoot you down with his own hand when he
has learned what has happened here."

"I guess not," said Billy.

"You'd better go with Miguel, Billy," urged Bridge. "Pesita will not
forgive you this. You've cost him eight men today and he hasn't any
more men than he needs at best. Besides you've made a monkey of

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