The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 250

Grayson covered as he replied to the request of Harding.

"This guy hires a bunch of Pimans to steal Miss Barbara," he said. "I
got it straight from the fellow he paid the money to for gettin' him the
right men to pull off the job. He wants her it seems," and Billy shot
a look at the ranch foreman that would have killed if looks could. "She
can't have been gone long. I seen her after midnight, just before I made
my getaway, so they can't have taken her very far. This thing here can't
help us none neither, for he don't know where she is any more'n we do.
He thinks he does; but he don't. The siwashes framed it on him, an'
they've doubled-crossed him. I got that straight too; but, Gawd! I don't
know where they've taken her or what they're goin' to do with her."

As he spoke he turned his eyes for the first time away from Grayson and
looked full in Anthony Harding's face. The latter saw beneath the strong
character lines of the other's countenance the agony of fear and doubt
that lay heavy upon his heart.

In the brief instant that Billy's watchful gaze left the figure of the
ranch foreman the latter saw the opportunity he craved. He was standing
directly in the doorway--a single step would carry him out of range of
Byrne's gun, placing a wall between it and him, and Grayson was not slow
in taking that step.

When Billy turned his eyes back the Texan had disappeared, and by the
time the former reached the doorway Grayson was halfway to the office
building on the veranda of which stood the four soldiers of Villa
grumbling and muttering over the absence of their prisoner of the
previous evening.

Billy Byrne stepped out into the open. The ranch foreman called aloud to
the four Mexicans that their prisoner was at the ranchhouse and as they
looked in that direction they saw him, revolver in hand, coming slowly
toward them. There was a smile upon his lips which they could not see
because of the distance, and which, not knowing Billy Byrne, they would
not have interpreted correctly; but the revolver they did understand,
and at sight of it one of them threw his carbine to his shoulder. His
finger, however, never closed upon the trigger, for there came the sound
of a shot from beyond Billy Byrne and the Mexican staggered forward,
pitching over the edge of the porch to the ground.

Billy turned his head in the direction from which the shot

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