The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 242

thrown herself in, she was in the channel swimming for her life.

The trend of the current there was back in the direction of the bank she
had but just quitted, yet so strong was her determination to succeed for
Billy Byrne's sake that she turned her face toward the opposite shore
and fought to reach the seemingly impossible goal which love had set for
her. Again and again she was swept under by the force of the current.
Again and again she rose and battled, not for her own life; but for
the life of the man she once had loathed and whom she later had come to
love. Inch by inch she won toward the shore of her desire, and inch by
inch of her progress she felt her strength failing. Could she win? Ah!
if she were but a man, and with the thought came another: Thank God that
I am a woman with a woman's love which gives strength to drive me into
the clutches of death for his sake!

Her heart thundered in tumultuous protest against the strain of her
panting lungs. Her limbs felt cold and numb; but she could not give
up even though she was now convinced that she had thrown her life away
uselessly. They would find her body; but no one would ever guess what
had driven her to her death. Not even he would know that it was for
his sake. And then she felt the tugging of the channel current suddenly
lessen, an eddy carried her gently inshore, her feet touched the sand
and gravel of the bottom.

Gasping for breath, staggering, stumbling, she reeled on a few paces
and then slipped down clutching at the river's bank. Here the water was
shallow, and here she lay until her strength returned. Then she urged
herself up and onward, climbed to the top of the bank with success at
last within reach.

To find the horses now required but a few minutes' search. They stood
huddled in a black mass close to the barbed-wire fence at the extremity
of the pasture. As she approached them they commenced to separate
slowly, edging away while they faced her in curiosity. Softly she
called: "Brazos! Come, Brazos!" until a unit of the moving mass detached
itself and came toward her, nickering.

"Good Brazos!" she cooed. "That's a good pony," and walked forward to
meet him.

The animal let her reach up and stroke his forehead, while he muzzled
about her for the expected tidbit. Gently she worked the hackamore
over his nose and above his ears, and when

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