The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 25

to make myself so agreeable heretofore that you'd finally
consent to say 'yes' for a change."

"Now you are going to make it all the worse by being stupid," cried the
girl petulantly. "Why can't you be nice, as you used to be before you
got this silly notion into your head?"

"I don't think it's a silly notion to be head over heels in love with
the sweetest girl on earth," cried Billy.

"Hush! Someone will hear you."

"I don't care if they do. I'd like to advertise it to the whole world.
I'm proud of the fact that I love you; and you don't care enough about
it to realize how really hard I'm hit--why I'd die for you, Barbara, and
welcome the chance; why--My God! What's that?"

"O Billy! What are those men doing?" cried the girl. "They're shooting.
They're shooting at papa! Quick, Billy! Do something. For heaven's sake
do something."

On the deck below them the "rescued" crew of the "Clarinda" had
surrounded Mr. Harding, Captain Norris, and most of the crew of the
Lotus, flashing quick-drawn revolvers from beneath shirts and coats, and
firing at two of the yacht's men who showed fight.

"Keep quiet," commanded Skipper Simms, "an' there won't none of you get
hurted."

"What do you want of us?" cried Mr. Harding. "If it's money, take what
you can find aboard us, and go on your way. No one will hinder you."

Skipper Simms paid no attention to him. His eyes swept aloft to the
upper deck. There he saw a wide-eyed girl and a man looking down upon
them. He wondered if she was the one they sought. There were other women
aboard. He could see them, huddled frightened behind Harding and Norris.
Some of them were young and beautiful; but there was something about
the girl above him that assured him she could be none other than Barbara
Harding. To discover the truth Simms resorted to a ruse, for he knew
that were he to ask Harding outright if the girl were his daughter the
chances were more than even that the old man would suspect something of
the nature of their visit and deny her identity.

"Who is that woman you have on board here?" he cried in an accusing tone
of voice. "That's what we're a-here to find out."

"Why she's my daughter, man!" blurted Harding. "Who did you--"

"Thanks," said Skipper Simms, with a self-satisfied grin. "That's what
I wanted to be sure of. Hey, you, Byrne! You're nearest the
companionway--fetch the girl."

At the command the mucker turned and leaped up the stairway to

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