The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 226

stretched forth a clawlike hand for
the money.

"Good!" exclaimed Barbara. "Now start at once," and she dropped the
silver coins into the old man's palm.


It was dusk when Captain Billy Byrne was summoned to the tent of Pesita.
There he found a weazened, old Indian squatting at the side of the
outlaw.

"Jose," said Pesita, "has word for you."

Billy Byrne turned questioningly toward the Indian.

"I have been sent, Senor Capitan," explained Jose, "by the beautiful
senorita of El Orobo Rancho to tell you that your friend, Senor Bridge,
has been captured by General Villa, and is being held at Cuivaca, where
he will doubtless be shot--if help does not reach him before tomorrow
morning."

Pesita was looking questioningly at Byrne. Since the gringo had returned
from Cuivaca with the loot of the bank and turned the last penny of it
over to him the outlaw had looked upon his new captain as something just
short of superhuman. To have robbed the bank thus easily while Villa's
soldiers paced back and forth before the doorway seemed little short of
an indication of miraculous powers, while to have turned the loot
over intact to his chief, not asking for so much as a peso of it, was
absolutely incredible.

Pesita could not understand this man; but he admired him greatly and
feared him, too. Such a man was worth a hundred of the ordinary run of
humanity that enlisted beneath Pesita's banners. Byrne had but to ask a
favor to have it granted, and now, when he called upon Pesita to
furnish him with a suitable force for the rescue of Bridge the brigand
enthusiastically acceded to his demands.

"I will come," he exclaimed, "and all my men shall ride with me. We will
take Cuivaca by storm. We may even capture Villa himself."

"Wait a minute, bo," interrupted Billy Byrne. "Don't get excited. I'm
lookin' to get my pal outen' Cuivaca. After that I don't care who
you capture; but I'm goin' to get Bridgie out first. I ken do it with
twenty-five men--if it ain't too late. Then, if you want to, you can
shoot up the town. Lemme have the twenty-five, an' you hang around the
edges with the rest of 'em 'til I'm done. Whaddaya say?"

Pesita was willing to agree to anything, and so it came that half an
hour later Billy Byrne was leading a choice selection of some two dozen
cutthroats down through the hills toward Cuivaca. While a couple of
miles in the rear followed Pesita with the balance of his band.

Billy rode until the few remaining lights of

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