The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 271

are. You fellows
have fought splendidly. Wish I could give you something more substantial
than thanks; but that's all I have now and shortly Pesita won't even
leave me that much."

"Allee light," replied Sing cheerfully, and a second later he was
clambering through the window in the wake of the loyal Mexican.

And then the door crashed in and half a dozen troopers followed by
Pesita himself burst into the room.

Bridge was standing at the foot of the stairs, his carbine clubbed, for
he had just spent his last bullet. He knew that he must die; but he was
determined to make them purchase his life as dearly as he could, and to
die in defense of Anthony Harding, the father of the girl he loved, even
though hopelessly.

Pesita saw from the American's attitude that he had no more ammunition.
He struck up the carbine of a trooper who was about to shoot Bridge
down.

"Wait!" commanded the bandit. "Cease firing! His ammunition is gone.
Will you surrender?" he asked of Bridge.

"Not until I have beaten from the heads of one or two of your friends,"
he replied, "that which their egotism leads them to imagine are brains.
No, if you take me alive, Pesita, you will have to kill me to do it."

Pesita shrugged. "Very well," he said, indifferently, "it makes little
difference to me--that stairway is as good as a wall. These brave
defenders of the liberty of poor, bleeding Mexico will make an excellent
firing squad. Attention, my children! Ready! Aim!"

Eleven carbines were leveled at Bridge. In the ghastly light of early
dawn the sallow complexions of the Mexicans took on a weird hue. The
American made a wry face, a slight shudder shook his slender frame, and
then he squared his shoulders and looked Pesita smilingly in the face.

The figure of a man appeared at the window through which the Chinaman
and the loyal Mexican had escaped. Quick eyes took in the scene within
the room.

"Hey!" he yelled. "Cut the rough stuff!" and leaped into the room.

Pesita, surprised by the interruption, turned toward the intruder before
he had given the command to fire. A smile lit his features when he saw
who it was.

"Ah!" he exclaimed, "my dear Captain Byrne. Just in time to see a
traitor and a spy pay the penalty for his crimes."

"Nothin' doin'," growled Billy Byrne, and then he threw his carbine to
his shoulder and took careful aim at Pesita's face.

How easy it would have been to have hesitated a moment in the window
before he made his presence known--just

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