The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 225

of Pesita and
his retainers. Here each little adobe dwelling, and they were scattered
at intervals of a mile or more along the river, contained a rabid
partisan of Pesita, or it contained no one--Pesita had seen to this
latter condition personally.

At last the young lady drew rein before a squalid and dilapidated hut.
Eddie gasped. It was Jose's, and Jose was a notorious scoundrel whom old
age alone kept from the active pursuit of the only calling he ever had
known--brigandage. Why should the boss's daughter come to Jose? Jose was
hand in glove with every cutthroat in Chihuahua, or at least within a
radius of two hundred miles of his abode.

Barbara swung herself from the saddle, and handed her bridle reins to
Eddie.

"Hold him, please," she said. "I'll be gone but a moment."

"You're not goin' in there to see old Jose alone?" gasped Eddie.

"Why not?" she asked. "If you're afraid you can leave my horse and ride
along home."

Eddie colored to the roots of his sandy hair, and kept silent. The girl
approached the doorway of the mean hovel and peered within. At one end
sat a bent old man, smoking. He looked up as Barbara's figure darkened
the doorway.

"Jose!" said the girl.

The old man rose to his feet and came toward her.

"Eh? Senorita, eh?" he cackled.

"You are Jose?" she asked.

"Si, senorita," replied the old Indian. "What can poor old Jose do to
serve the beautiful senorita?"

"You can carry a message to one of Pesita's officers," replied the girl.
"I have heard much about you since I came to Mexico. I know that there
is not another man in this part of Chihuahua who may so easily reach
Pesita as you." She raised her hand for silence as the Indian would have
protested. Then she reached into the pocket of her riding breeches and
withdrew a handful of silver which she permitted to trickle, tinklingly,
from one palm to the other. "I wish you to go to the camp of Pesita,"
she continued, "and carry word to the man who robbed the bank at
Cuivaca--he is an American--that his friend, Senor Bridge has been
captured by Villa and is being held for execution in Cuivaca. You must
go at once--you must get word to Senor Bridge's friend so that help may
reach Senor Bridge before dawn. Do you understand?"

The Indian nodded assent.

"Here," said the girl, "is a payment on account. When I know that you
delivered the message in time you shall have as much more. Will you do
it?"

"I will try," said the Indian, and

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