The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 245

of Barbara
Harding's life, she thought--before the knots gave to her efforts; but
at last the rope fell to the floor and Billy Byrne was free.

He started to speak, to thank her, and, perhaps, to scold her for the
rash thing she had undertaken for him; but she silenced him again, and
with a whispered, "Come!" turned toward the door.

As she opened it a crack to reconnoiter she kept the revolver pointed
straight ahead of her into the adjoining room. Eddie, however, still
slept on in peaceful ignorance of the trick which was being played upon
him.

Now the two started forward for the door which opened from the office
upon the porch, and as they did so Barbara turned again toward Billy
to caution him to silence for his spurs had tinkled as he moved. For a
moment their eyes were not upon Eddie Shorter and Fate had it that at
that very moment Eddie awoke and opened his own eyes.

The sight that met them was so astonishing that for a second the Kansan
could not move. He saw Barbara Harding, a revolver in her hand,
aiding the outlaw to escape, and in the instant that surprise kept him
motionless Eddie saw, too, another picture--the picture of a motherly
woman in a little farmhouse back in Kansas, and Eddie realized that this
man, this outlaw, had been the means of arousing within him a desire and
a determination to return again to those loving arms. Too, the man had
saved his mother from injury, and possible death.

Eddie shut his eyes quickly and thought hard and fast. Miss Barbara
had always been kind to him. In his boyish heart he had loved her,
hopelessly of course, in a boyish way. She wanted the outlaw to escape.
Eddie realized that he would do anything that Miss Barbara wanted, even
if he had to risk his life at it.

The girl and the man were at the door. She pushed him through ahead of
her while she kept the revolver leveled upon Eddie, then she passed out
after him and closed the door, while Eddie Shorter kept his eyes tightly
closed and prayed to his God that Billy Byrne might get safely away.

Outside and in the rear of the office building Barbara pressed the
revolver upon Billy.

"You will need it," she said. "There is Brazos--take him. God bless and
guard you, Billy!" and she was gone.

Billy swallowed bard. He wanted to run after her and take her in his
arms; but he recalled Bridge, and with a sigh turned toward the patient
Brazos.

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