The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 222

love to your daughter."

The older man laughed. "Don't be a fool, Grayson," he said, and walked
away.

An hour later Barbara was strolling up and down before the ranchhouse
in the cool and refreshing air of the Chihuahua night. Her mind was
occupied with disquieting reflections of the past few hours. Her pride
was immeasurably hurt by the part impulse had forced her to take in the
affair at the office. Not that she regretted that she had connived in
the escape of Bridge; but it was humiliating that a girl of her position
should have been compelled to play so melodramatic a part before Grayson
and his Mexican vaqueros.

Then, too, was she disappointed in Bridge. She had looked upon him as
a gentleman whom misfortune and wanderlust had reduced to the lowest
stratum of society. Now she feared that he belonged to that substratum
which lies below the lowest which society recognizes as a part of
itself, and which is composed solely of the criminal class.

It was hard for Barbara to realize that she had associated with a
thief--just for a moment it was hard, until recollection forced upon her
the unwelcome fact of the status of another whom she had known--to whom
she had given her love. The girl did not wince at the thought--instead
she squared her shoulders and raised her chin.

"I am proud of him, whatever he may have been," she murmured; but she
was not thinking of the new bookkeeper. When she did think again of
Bridge it was to be glad that he had escaped--"for he is an American,
like myself."

"Well!" exclaimed a voice behind her. "You played us a pretty trick,
Miss Barbara."

The girl turned to see Grayson approaching. To her surprise he seemed to
hold no resentment whatsoever. She greeted him courteously.

"I couldn't let you turn an American over to General Villa," she said,
"no matter what he had done."

"I liked your spirit," said the man. "You're the kind o' girl I ben
lookin' fer all my life--one with nerve an' grit, an' you got 'em both.
You liked thet bookkeepin' critter, an' he wasn't half a man. I like you
an' I am a man, ef I do say so myself."

The girl drew back in astonishment.

"Mr. Grayson!" she exclaimed. "You are forgetting yourself."

"No I ain't," he cried hoarsely. "I love you an' I'm goin' to have you.
You'd love me too ef you knew me better."

He took a step forward and grasped her arm, trying to draw her to him.
The girl pushed him away with one hand, and

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