The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 268

for the north side of the house; but when Bridge
dropped the first of them before he had taken ten steps from the office
building and wounded a second the others retreated for shelter.

Time and again as the afternoon wore away Pesita made attempts to get
men close up to the house; but in each instance they were driven back,
until at last they desisted from their efforts to fire the house or rush
it, and contented themselves with firing an occasional shot through the
windows opposite them.

"They're waiting for dark," said Bridge to Mr. Harding during a
temporary lull in the hostilities, "and then we're goners, unless the
boys come back from across the river in time."

"Couldn't we get away after dark?" asked the Easterner.

"It's our only hope if help don't reach us," replied Bridge.

But when night finally fell and the five men made an attempt to leave
the house upon the side away from the office building they were met
with the flash of carbines and the ping of bullets. One of the Mexican
defenders fell, mortally wounded, and the others were barely able to
drag him within and replace the barricade before the door when five
of Pesita's men charged close up to their defenses. These were finally
driven off and again there came a lull; but all hope of escape was gone,
and Bridge reposted the defenders at the upper windows where they might
watch every approach to the house.

As the hours dragged on the hopelessness of their position grew upon the
minds of all. Their ammunition was almost gone--each man had but a few
rounds remaining--and it was evident that Pesita, through an inordinate
desire for revenge, would persist until he had reduced their fortress
and claimed the last of them as his victim.

It was with such cheerful expectations that they awaited the final
assault which would see them without ammunition and defenseless in the
face of a cruel and implacable foe.

It was just before daylight that the anticipated rush occurred. From
every side rang the reports of carbines and the yells of the bandits.
There were scarcely more than a dozen of the original twenty left; but
they made up for their depleted numbers by the rapidity with which they
worked their firearms and the loudness and ferocity of their savage

And this time they reached the shelter of the veranda and commenced
battering at the door.

At the report of the rifle so close to them Billy Byrne shoved Barbara
quickly to one side and leaped forward to close with the man who

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