The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 196

correctly may or may not have been the fact. He
stood looking straight into Byrne's eyes for a full minute. His face
denoted neither baffled rage nor contemplated revenge. Presently a slow
smile raised his heavy mustache and revealed his strong, white teeth.

"You have done well, Captain Byrne," he said. "You are a man after my
own heart," and he extended his hand.

A half-hour later Billy walked slowly back to his own blankets, and to
say that he was puzzled would scarce have described his mental state.

"I can't quite make that gink out," he mused. "Either he's a mighty good
loser or else he's a deep one who'll wait a year to get me the way he
wants to get me."

And Pesita a few moments later was saying to Captain Rozales:

"I should have shot him if I could spare such a man; but it is seldom I
find one with the courage and effrontery he possesses. Why think of it,
Rozales, he kills eight of my men, and lets my prisoners escape, and
then dares to come back and tell me about it when he might easily have
gotten away. Villa would have made him an officer for this thing, and
Miguel must have told him so. He found out in some way about your little
plan and he turned the tables on us. We can use him, Rozales, but we
must watch him. Also, my dear captain, watch his right hand and when he
slips it into his shirt be careful that you do not draw on him--unless
you happen to be behind him."

Rozales was not inclined to take his chief's view of Byrne's value to
them. He argued that the man was guilty of disloyalty and therefore a
menace. What he thought, but did not advance as an argument, was of
a different nature. Rozales was filled with rage to think that the
newcomer had outwitted him, and beaten him at his own game, and he was
jealous, too, of the man's ascendancy in the esteem of Pesita; but he
hid his personal feelings beneath a cloak of seeming acquiescence in his
chief's views, knowing that some day his time would come when he might
rid himself of the danger of this obnoxious rival.

"And tomorrow," continued Pesita, "I am sending him to Cuivaca. Villa
has considerable funds in bank there, and this stranger can learn what I
want to know about the size of the detachment holding the town, and the
habits of the garrison."


THE manager of El Orobo Rancho was

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