The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 259

If he could
but reach the shelter of the bowlders before the Pimans discovered them!

The minutes that were consumed in covering the hundred yards seemed as
many hours to Billy Byrne; but at last he dragged the fainting cowboy
between two large bowlders close under the edge of the bluff and found
himself in a little, natural fortress, well adapted to defense.

From above they were protected from the fire of the Indians upon the
bluff by the height of the bowlder at the foot of which they lay, while
another just in front hid them from possible marksmen across the canyon.
Smaller rocks scattered about gave promise of shelter from flank fire,
and as soon as he had deposited Eddie in the comparative safety of their
retreat Byrne commenced forming a low breastwork upon the side facing
the village--the direction from which they might naturally expect
attack. This done he turned his attention to the opening upon the
opposite side and soon had a similar defense constructed there, then he
turned his attention to Eddie, though keeping a watchful eye upon both
approaches to their stronghold.

The Kansan lay upon his side, moaning. Blood stained his lips and
nostrils, and when Billy Byrne opened his shirt and found a gaping wound
in his right breast he knew how serious was his companion's injury. As
he felt Billy working over him the boy opened his eyes.

"Do you think I'm done for?" he asked in a tortured whisper.

"Nothin' doin'," lied Billy cheerfully. "Just a scratch. You'll be all
right in a day or two."

Eddie shook his head wearily. "I wish I could believe you," he said. "I
ben figgerin' on goin' back to see maw. I ain't thought o' nothin' else
since you told me 'bout how she missed me. I ken see her right now just
like I was there. I'll bet she's scrubbin' the kitchen floor. Maw was
always a-scrubbin' somethin'. Gee! but it's tough to cash in like this
just when I was figgerin' on goin' home."

Billy couldn't think of anything to say. He turned to look up and down
the canyon in search of the enemy.

"Home!" whispered Eddie. "Home!"

"Aw, shucks!" said Billy kindly. "You'll get home all right, kid. The
boys must a-heard the shootin' an' they'll be along in no time now. Then
we'll clean up this bunch o' coons an' have you back to El Orobo an'
nursed into shape in no time."

Eddie tried to smile as he looked up into the other's face. He reached a
hand out and laid it on Billy's arm.


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