The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 252

the skyline of the low bluffs beyond. The
others looked. A horseman was just visible urging his mount upward to
the crest, the two stood in silhouette against the morning sky pink with
the new sun.

"That's him," said Eddie.

"Let him go," said Billy Byrne. "He won't never come back and he ain't
worth chasin'. Not while we got Miss Barbara to look after. My horse
is down there with yours. I'm goin' down to get him. Will you come,
Shorter? I may need help--I ain't much with a rope yet."

He started off without waiting for a reply, and all the Americans
followed. Together they circled the horses and drove them back to the
corral. When Billy had saddled and mounted he saw that the others had
done likewise.

"We're goin' with you," said one of the men. "Miss Barbara b'longs to
us."

Billy nodded and moved off in the direction of the ranchhouse. Here he
dismounted and with Eddie Shorter and Mr. Harding commenced circling
the house in search of some manner of clue to the direction taken by
the abductors. It was not long before they came upon the spot where the
Indians' horses had stood the night before. From there the trail led
plainly down toward the river. In a moment ten Americans were following
it, after Mr. Harding had supplied Billy Byrne with a carbine, another
six-shooter, and ammunition.

Through the river and the cut in the barbed-wire fence, then up the face
of the bluff and out across the low mesa beyond the trail led. For a
mile it was distinct, and then disappeared as though the riders had
separated.

"Well," said Billy, as the others drew around him for consultation,
"they'd be goin' to the hills there. They was Pimans--Esteban's tribe.
They got her up there in the hills somewheres. Let's split up an'
search the hills for her. Whoever comes on 'em first'll have to do
some shootin' and the rest of us can close in an' help. We can go in
pairs--then if one's killed the other can ride out an' lead the way back
to where it happened."

The men seemed satisfied with the plan and broke up into parties of two.
Eddie Shorter paired off with Billy Byrne.

"Spread out," said the latter to his companions. "Eddie an' I'll ride
straight ahead--the rest of you can fan out a few miles on either side
of us. S'long an' good luck," and he started off toward the hills, Eddie
Shorter at his side.

Back at the ranch the Mexican vaqueros lounged about, grumbling. With no
foreman there was nothing to

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