The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 243

it was safely in place she
breathed a deep sigh of relief and throwing her arms about his neck
pressed her cheek to his.

"You dear old Brazos," she whispered.

The horse stood quietly while the girl wriggled herself to his back,
and then at a word and a touch from her heels moved off at a walk in the
direction of the ford. The crossing this time was one of infinite ease,
for Barbara let the rope lie loose and Brazos take his own way.

Through the willows upon the opposite bank he shouldered his path,
across the meadow still at a walk, lest they arouse attention, and
through a gate which led directly from the meadow into the ranchyard.
Here she tied him to the outside of the corral, while she went in search
of saddle and bridle. Whose she took she did not know, nor care, but
that the saddle was enormously heavy she was perfectly aware long before
she had dragged it halfway to where Brazos stood.

Three times she essayed to lift it to his back before she succeeded in
accomplishing the Herculean task, and had it been any other horse upon
the ranch than Brazos the thing could never have been done; but the
kindly little pony stood in statuesque resignation while the heavy
Mexican tree was banged and thumped against his legs and ribs, until a
lucky swing carried it to his withers.

Saddled and bridled Barbara led him to the rear of the building and
thus, by a roundabout way, to the back of the office building. Here she
could see a light in the room in which Billy was confined, and after
dropping the bridle reins to the ground she made her way to the front of
the structure.

Creeping stealthily to the porch she peered in at the window. Eddie was
stretched out in cramped though seeming luxury in an office chair.
His feet were cocked up on the desk before him. In his lap lay his
six-shooter ready for any emergency. Another reposed in its holster at
his belt.

Barbara tiptoed to the door. Holding her breath she turned the knob
gently. The door swung open without a sound, and an instant later she
stood within the room. Again her eyes were fixed upon Eddie Shorter.
She saw his nerveless fingers relax their hold upon the grip of his
revolver. She saw the weapon slip farther down into his lap. He did not
move, other than to the deep and regular breathing of profound slumber.

Barbara crossed the room to his side.

Behind the ranchhouse three figures

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