The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 227

Cuivaca shone but a short
distance ahead and they could hear plainly the strains of a grating
graphophone from beyond the open windows of a dance hall, and the voices
of the sentries as they called the hour.

"Stay here," said Billy to a sergeant at his side, "until you hear
a hoot owl cry three times from the direction of the barracks and
guardhouse, then charge the opposite end of the town, firing off your
carbines like hell an' yellin' yer heads off. Make all the racket you
can, an' keep it up 'til you get 'em comin' in your direction, see? Then
turn an' drop back slowly, eggin' 'em on, but holdin' 'em to it as long
as you can. Do you get me, bo?"

From the mixture of Spanish and English and Granavenooish the sergeant
gleaned enough of the intent of his commander to permit him to salute
and admit that he understood what was required of him.

Having given his instructions Billy Byrne rode off to the west, circled
Cuivaca and came close up upon the southern edge of the little village.
Here he dismounted and left his horse hidden behind an outbuilding,
while he crept cautiously forward to reconnoiter.

He knew that the force within the village had no reason to fear attack.
Villa knew where the main bodies of his enemies lay, and that no force
could approach Cuivaca without word of its coming reaching the garrison
many hours in advance of the foe. That Pesita, or another of the several
bandit chiefs in the neighborhood would dare descend upon a garrisoned
town never for a moment entered the calculations of the rebel leader.

For these reasons Billy argued that Cuivaca would be poorly guarded. On
the night he had spent there he had seen sentries before the bank, the
guardhouse, and the barracks in addition to one who paced to and fro in
front of the house in which the commander of the garrison maintained his
headquarters. Aside from these the town was unguarded.

Nor were conditions different tonight. Billy came within a hundred yards
of the guardhouse before he discovered a sentinel. The fellow lolled
upon his gun in front of the building--an adobe structure in the rear
of the barracks. The other three sides of the guardhouse appeared to be
unwatched.

Billy threw himself upon his stomach and crawled slowly forward stopping
often. The sentry seemed asleep. He did not move. Billy reached the
shadow at the side of the structure and some fifty feet from the soldier
without detection. Then he rose to his feet directly beneath

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