The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 246

Languidly he gathered up the reins and mounted, and then
unconcernedly as though he were an honored guest departing by daylight
he rode out of the ranchyard and turned Brazos' head north up the river
road.

And as Billy disappeared in the darkness toward the north Barbara
Harding walked slowly toward the ranchhouse, while from a little group
of men and horses a hundred yards away three men detached themselves
and crept toward her, for they had seen her in the moonlight as she left
Billy outside the office and strolled slowly in the direction of the
house.

They hid in the shadow at the side of the house until the girl had
turned the corner and was approaching the veranda, then they ran quickly
forward and as she mounted the steps she was seized from behind and
dragged backward. A hand was clapped over her mouth and a whispered
threat warned her to silence.

Half dragging and half carrying her the three men bore her back to where
their confederates awaited them. A huge fellow mounted his pony and
Barbara was lifted to the horn of the saddle before him. Then the others
mounted and as silently as they had come they rode away, following the
same path.

Barbara Harding had not cried out nor attempted to, for she had seen
very shortly after her capture that she was in the hands of Indians and
she judged from what she had heard of the little band of Pimans who held
forth in the mountains to the east that they would as gladly knife her
as not.

Jose was a Piman, and she immediately connected Jose with the
perpetration, or at least the planning of her abduction. Thus she felt
assured that no harm would come to her, since Jose had been famous in
his time for the number and size of the ransoms he had collected.

Her father would pay what was demanded, she would be returned and, aside
from a few days of discomfort and hardship, she would be none the worse
off for her experience. Reasoning thus it was not difficult to maintain
her composure and presence of mind.

As Barbara was borne toward the east, Billy Byrne rode steadily
northward. It was his intention to stop at Jose's hut and deliver the
message which Pesita had given him for the old Indian. Then he would
disappear into the mountains to the west, join Pesita and urge a new
raid upon some favored friend of General Francisco Villa, for Billy had
no love for Villa.

He should have been glad to pay his respects to El

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