The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 261

the matter seriously there came a staccato report and Billy
Byrne fell forward in a heap.

"God!" cried Eddie. "They got him now, they got him."

Byrne stirred and struggled to rise.

"Like'll they got me," he said, and staggered to his knees.

Over the breastwork he saw a half-dozen Indians running rapidly toward
the shelter--he saw them in a haze of red that was caused not by blood
but by anger. With an oath Billy Byrne leaped to his feet. From his
knees up his whole body was exposed to the enemy; but Billy cared not.
He was in a berserker rage. Whipping his carbine to his shoulder he let
drive at the advancing Indians who were now beyond hope of cover. They
must come on or be shot down where they were, so they came on, yelling
like devils and stopping momentarily to fire upon the rash white man who
stood so perfect a target before them.

But their haste spoiled their marksmanship. The bullets zinged and
zipped against the rocky little fortress, they nicked Billy's shirt and
trousers and hat, and all the while he stood there pumping lead into
his assailants--not hysterically; but with the cool deliberation of a
butcher slaughtering beeves.

One by one the Pimans dropped until but a single Indian rushed
frantically upon the white man, and then the last of the assailants
lunged forward across the breastwork with a bullet from Billy's carbine
through his forehead.

Eddie Shorter had raised himself painfully upon an elbow that he might
witness the battle, and when it was over he sank back, the blood welling
from between his set teeth.

Billy turned to look at him when the last of the Pimans was disposed
of, and seeing his condition kneeled beside him and took his head in the
hollow of an arm.

"You orter lie still," he cautioned the Kansan. "Tain't good for you to
move around much."

"It was worth it," whispered Eddie. "Say, but that was some scrap. You
got your nerve standin' up there against the bunch of 'em; but if you
hadn't they'd have rushed us and some of 'em would a-got in."

"Funny the boys don't come," said Billy.

"Yes," replied Eddie, with a sigh; "it's milkin' time now, an' I
figgered on goin' to Shawnee this evenin'. Them's nice cookies, maw.
I--"

Billy Byrne was bending low to catch his feeble words, and when the
voice trailed out into nothingness he lowered the tousled red head to
the hard earth and turned away.

Could it be that the thing which glistened on the eyelid of the toughest
guy on the West

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