The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 267

is stay here and use it. Will you men stand by us?" he addressed the
Chinaman and the two Mexicans, who assured him that they had no love for
Pesita and would fight for Anthony Harding in preference to going over
to the enemy.

"Good!" exclaimed Bridge, "and now for upstairs. They'll be howling
around here in about five minutes, and we want to give them a reception
they won't forget."

He led the way to the second floor, where the five took up positions
near the front windows. A short distance from the ranchhouse they could
see the enemy, consisting of a detachment of some twenty of Pesita's
troopers riding at a brisk trot in their direction.

"Pesita's with them," announced Bridge, presently. "He's the little
fellow on the sorrel. Wait until they are close up, then give them a few
rounds; but go easy on the ammunition--we haven't any too much."

Pesita, expecting no resistance, rode boldly into the ranchyard. At the
bunkhouse and the office his little force halted while three or four
troopers dismounted and entered the buildings in search of victims.
Disappointed there they moved toward the ranchhouse.

"Lie low!" Bridge cautioned his companions. "Don't let them see you, and
wait till I give the word before you fire."

On came the horsemen at a slow walk. Bridge waited until they were
within a few yards of the house, then he cried: "Now! Let 'em have it!"
A rattle of rifle fire broke from the upper windows into the ranks of
the Pesitistas. Three troopers reeled and slipped from their saddles.
Two horses dropped in their tracks. Cursing and yelling, the balance of
the horsemen wheeled and galloped away in the direction of the office
building, followed by the fire of the defenders.

"That wasn't so bad," cried Bridge. "I'll venture a guess that Mr.
Pesita is some surprised--and sore. There they go behind the office.
They'll stay there a few minutes talking it over and getting up their
courage to try it again. Next time they'll come from another direction.
You two," he continued, turning to the Mexicans, "take positions on
the east and south sides of the house. Sing can remain here with Mr.
Harding. I'll take the north side facing the office. Shoot at the first
man who shows his head. If we can hold them off until dark we may be
able to get away. Whatever happens don't let one of them get close
enough to fire the house. That's what they'll try for."

It was fifteen minutes before the second attack came. Five dismounted
troopers made a dash

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