The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 275

the house when Bridge lunged forward
from his saddle. The Clark boys had dismounted and were leading their
ponies inside the house. Billy alone noted the wounding of his friend.
Without an instant's hesitation he slipped from his saddle, ran back
to where Bridge lay and lifted him in his arms. Bullets were pattering
thick about them. A horseman far in advance of his fellows galloped
forward with drawn saber to cut down the gringos.

Billy, casting an occasional glance behind, saw the danger in time to
meet it--just, in fact, as the weapon was cutting through the air toward
his head. Dropping Bridge and dodging to one side he managed to escape
the cut, and before the swordsman could recover Billy had leaped to his
pony's side and seizing the rider about the waist dragged him to the
ground.

"Rozales!" he exclaimed, and struck the man as he had never struck
another in all his life, with the full force of his mighty muscles
backed by his great weight, with clenched fist full in the face.

There was a spurting of blood and a splintering of bone, and Captain
Guillermo Rozales sank senseless to the ground, his career of crime and
rapine ended forever.

Again Billy lifted Bridge in his arms and this time he succeeded in
reaching the ranchhouse without opposition though a little crimson
stream trickled down his left arm to drop upon the face of his friend as
he deposited Bridge upon the floor of the house.

All night the Pesitistas circled the lone ranchhouse. All night they
poured their volleys into the adobe walls and through the barricaded
windows. All night the little band of defenders fought gallantly for
their lives; but as day approached the futility of their endeavors was
borne in upon them, for of the nine one was dead and three wounded, and
the numbers of their assailants seemed undiminished.

Billy Byrne had been lying all night upon his stomach before a window
firing out into the darkness at the dim forms which occasionally showed
against the dull, dead background of the moonless desert.

Presently he leaped to his feet and crossed the floor to the room in
which the horses had been placed.

"Everybody fire toward the rear of the house as fast as they can," said
Billy. "I want a clear space for my getaway."

"Where you goin?" asked one of the Clark brothers.

"North," replied Billy, "after some of Funston's men on the border."

"But they won't cross," said Mr. Harding. "Washington won't let them."

"They gotta," snapped Billy Byrne, "an' they will when they know there's
an American

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