The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 211

and that the wealth which he had been detailed to guard had
been taken while he slept, he tore his hair and promised that the sentry
should be shot at dawn.

By the time they had returned to the street all the male population of
Cuivaca was there and most of the female.

"One-thousand dollars," cried the bank president, "to the man who stops
the thief and returns to me what the villain has stolen."

A detachment of soldiers was in the saddle and passing the bank as the
offer was made.

"Which way did he go?" asked the captain. "Did no one see him leave?"

Bridge was upon the point of saying that he had seen him and that he had
ridden north, when it occurred to him that a thousand dollars--even a
thousand dollars Mex--was a great deal of money, and that it would carry
both himself and Billy to Rio and leave something for pleasure beside.

Then up spoke a tall, thin man with the skin of a coffee bean.

"I saw him, Senor Capitan," he cried. "He kept his horse in my corral,
and at night he came and took it out saying that he was riding to visit
a senorita. He fooled me, the scoundrel; but I will tell you--he rode
south. I saw him ride south with my own eyes."

"Then we shall have him before morning," cried the captain, "for there
is but one place to the south where a robber would ride, and he has not
had sufficient start of us that he can reach safety before we overhaul
him. Forward! March!" and the detachment moved down the narrow street.
"Trot! March!" And as they passed the store: "Gallop! March!"

Bridge almost ran the length of the street to the corral. His pony must
be rested by now, and a few miles to the north the gringo whose capture
meant a thousand dollars to Bridge was on the road to liberty.

"I hate to do it," thought Bridge; "because, even if he is a bank
robber, he's an American; but I need the money and in all probability
the fellow is a scoundrel who should have been hanged long ago."

Over the trail to the north rode Captain Billy Byrne, secure in the
belief that no pursuit would develop until after the opening hour of
the bank in the morning, by which time he would be halfway on his return
journey to Pesita's camp.

"Ol' man Pesita'll be some surprised when I show him what I got for
him," mused Billy. "Say!" he exclaimed suddenly and aloud,

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