The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 229

a low whisper, came a familiar voice:

"There ain't no roses in my hair, but there's a barker in my shirt,
an' another at me side. Here's one of 'em. They got kisses beat a city
block. How's the door o' this thing fastened?" The speaker was quite
close to the window now, his face but a few inches from Bridge's.

"Billy!" ejaculated the condemned man.

"Surest thing you know; but about the door?"

"Just a heavy bar on the outside," replied Bridge.

"Easy," commented Billy, relieved. "Get ready to beat it when I open
the door. I got a pony south o' town that'll have to carry double for a
little way tonight."

"God bless you, Billy!" whispered Bridge, fervently.

"Lay low a few minutes," said Billy, and moved away toward the rear of
the guardhouse.

A few minutes later there broke upon the night air the dismal hoot of
an owl. At intervals of a few seconds it was repeated twice. The sentry
before the guardhouse shifted his position and looked about, then he
settled back, transferring his weight to the other foot, and resumed his
bovine meditations.

The man at the rear of the guardhouse moved silently along the side
of the structure until he stood within a few feet of the unsuspecting
sentinel, hidden from him by the corner of the building. A heavy
revolver dangled from his right hand. He held it loosely by the barrel,
and waited.

For five minutes the silence of the night was unbroken, then from the
east came a single shot, followed immediately by a scattering fusillade
and a chorus of hoarse cries.

Billy Byrne smiled. The sentry resumed indications of quickness. From
the barracks beyond the guardhouse came sharp commands and the sounds
of men running. From the opposite end of the town the noise of battle
welled up to ominous proportions.

Billy heard the soldiers stream from their quarters and a moment later
saw them trot up the street at the double. Everyone was moving toward
the opposite end of the town except the lone sentinel before the
guardhouse. The moment seemed propitious for his attempt.

Billy peered around the corner of the guardhouse. Conditions were
just as he had pictured they would be. The sentry stood gazing in the
direction of the firing, his back toward the guardhouse door and Billy.

With a bound the American cleared the space between himself and the
unsuspecting and unfortunate soldier. The butt of the heavy revolver
fell, almost noiselessly, upon the back of the sentry's head, and the
man sank to the ground without even a moan.

Turning to the door Billy

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