The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 27

clinch with the brute before him. Again the
mucker struck his victim--quick choppy hooks that rocked Mallory's head
from side to side, and again the brutal blow below the belt; but with
the tenacity of a bulldog the man fought for a hold upon his foe, and at
last, notwithstanding Byrne's best efforts, he succeeded in closing with
the mucker and dragging him to the deck.

Here the two men rolled and tumbled, Byrne biting, gouging, and kicking
while Mallory devoted all of his fast-waning strength to an effort to
close his fingers upon the throat of his antagonist. But the terrible
punishment which the mucker had inflicted upon him overcame him at last,
and as Byrne felt the man's efforts weakening he partially disengaged
himself and raising himself upon one arm dealt his now almost
unconscious enemy a half-dozen frightful blows upon the face.

With a shriek Barbara Harding turned from the awful sight as Billy
Mallory's bloody and swollen eyes rolled up and set, while the mucker
threw the inert form roughly from him. Quick to the girl's memory sprang
Mallory's recent declaration, which she had thought at the time but the
empty, and vainglorious boasting of the man in love--"Why I'd die for
you, Barbara, and welcome the chance!"

"Poor boy! How soon, and how terribly has the chance come!" moaned the
girl.

Then a rough hand fell upon her arm.

"Here, youse," a coarse voice yelled in her ear. "Come out o' de
trance," and at the same time she was jerked roughly toward the
companionway.

Instinctively the girl held back, and then the mucker, true to his
training, true to himself, gave her arm a sudden twist that wrenched a
scream of agony from her white lips.

"Den come along," growled Billy Byrne, "an' quit dis monkey business, or
I'll sure twist yer flipper clean off'n yeh."

With an oath, Anthony Harding sprang forward to protect his daughter;
but the butt of Ward's pistol brought him unconscious to the deck.

"Go easy there, Byrne," shouted Skipper Simms; "there ain't no call to
injure the hussy--a corpse won't be worth nothing to us."

In mute terror the girl now permitted herself to be led to the deck
below. Quickly she was lowered into a waiting boat. Then Skipper Simms
ordered Ward to search the yacht and remove all firearms, after which
he was to engage himself to navigate the vessel with her own crew under
armed guard of half a dozen of the Halfmoon's cutthroats.

These things attended to, Skipper Simms with the balance of his own crew
and six of the crew of the Lotus

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