The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 223

with the other struck him
across the face.

Grayson dropped her arm, and as he did so she drew herself to her full
height and looked him straight in the eyes.

"You may go now," she said, her voice like ice. "I shall never speak of
this to anyone--provided you never attempt to repeat it."

The man made no reply. The blow in the face had cooled his ardor
temporarily, but had it not also served another purpose?--to crystallize
it into a firm and inexorable resolve.

When he had departed Barbara turned and entered the house.


IT WAS nearly ten o'clock the following morning when Barbara, sitting
upon the veranda of the ranchhouse, saw her father approaching from the
direction of the office. His face wore a troubled expression which the
girl could not but note.

"What's the matter, Papa?" she asked, as he sank into a chair at her

"Your self-sacrifice of last evening was all to no avail," he replied.
"Bridge has been captured by Villistas."

"What?" cried the girl. "You can't mean it--how did you learn?"

"Grayson just had a phone message from Cuivaca," he explained. "They
only repaired the line yesterday since Pesita's men cut it last month.
This was our first message. And do you know, Barbara, I can't help
feeling sorry. I had hoped that he would get away."

"So had I," said the girl.

Her father was eyeing her closely to note the effect of his announcement
upon her; but he could see no greater concern reflected than that which
he himself felt for a fellow-man and an American who was doomed to death
at the hands of an alien race, far from his own land and his own people.

"Can nothing be done?" she asked.

"Absolutely," he replied with finality. "I have talked it over with
Grayson and he assures me that an attempt at intervention upon our part
might tend to antagonize Villa, in which case we are all as good as
lost. He is none too fond of us as it is, and Grayson believes, and
not without reason, that he would welcome the slightest pretext for
withdrawing the protection of his favor. Instantly he did that we should
become the prey of every marauding band that infests the mountains. Not
only would Pesita swoop down upon us, but those companies of freebooters
which acknowledge nominal loyalty to Villa would be about our ears in no
time. No, dear, we may do nothing. The young man has made his bed, and
now I am afraid that he will have to lie in it

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