The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 258

from its location evidently led directly up to the village. "We
ain't far from 'em now, an' if they get us they'll get us about here."

As though to punctuate his speech with the final period a rifle cracked
above them. Eddie jumped spasmodically and clutched his breast.

"I'm hit," he said, quite unemotionally.

Billy Byrne's revolver had answered the shot from above them, the bullet
striking where Billy had seen a puff of smoke following the rifle shot.
Then Billy turned toward Eddie.

"Hit bad?" he asked.

"Yep, I guess so," said Eddie. "What'll we do? Hide up here, or ride
back after the others?"

Another shot rang out above them, although Billy had been watching for
a target at which to shoot again--a target which he had been positive he
would get when the man rose to fire again. And Billy did see the fellow
at last--a few paces from where he had first fired; but not until the
other had dropped Eddie's horse beneath him. Byrne fired again, and this
time he had the satisfaction of seeing a brown body rise, struggle a
moment, and then roll over once upon the grass before it came to rest.

"I reckon we'll stay here," said Billy, looking ruefully at Eddie's
horse.

Eddie rose and as he did so he staggered and grew very white. Billy
dismounted and ran forward, putting an arm about him. Another shot came
from above and Billy Byrne's pony grunted and collapsed.

"Hell!" exclaimed Byrne. "We gotta get out of this," and lifting his
wounded comrade in his arms he ran for the shelter of the bluff from the
summit of which the snipers had fired upon them. Close in, hugging the
face of the perpendicular wall of tumbled rock and earth, they were
out of range of the Indians; but Billy did not stop when he had reached
temporary safety. Farther up toward the direction in which lay the
village, and halfway up the side of the bluff Billy saw what he took to
be excellent shelter. Here the face of the bluff was less steep and
upon it lay a number of large bowlders, while others protruded from the
ground about them.

Toward these Billy made his way. The wounded man across his shoulder
was suffering indescribable agonies; but he bit his lip and stifled the
cries that each step his comrade took seemed to wrench from him, lest he
attract the enemy to their position.

Above them all was silence, yet Billy knew that alert, red foemen were
creeping to the edge of the bluff in search of their prey.

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