The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 277

loomed the giant
figure of a man in nondescript garb which more closely resembled the
apparel of the Pesitistas than it did the uniforms of the American
soldiery, yet it was with them he fought. Barbara's eyes were the first
to detect him.

"There's Mr. Byrne," she cried. "It must have been he who brought the
troops."

"Why, he hasn't had time to reach the border yet," remonstrated one of
the Clark boys, "much less get back here with help."

"There he is though," said Mr. Harding. "It's certainly strange. I can't
understand what American troops are doing across the border--especially
under the present administration."

The Pesitistas held their ground for but a moment then they wheeled and
fled; but not before Pesita himself had forced his pony close to that of
Billy Byrne.

"Traitor!" screamed the bandit. "You shall die for this," and fired
point-blank at the American.

Billy felt a burning sensation in his already wounded left arm; but his
right was still good.

"For poor, bleeding Mexico!" he cried, and put a bullet through Pesita's
forehead.


Under escort of the men of the Thirteenth Cavalry who had pursued
Villa's raiders into Mexico and upon whom Billy Byrne had stumbled by
chance, the little party of fugitives came safely to United States soil,
where all but one breathed sighs of heartfelt relief.

Bridge was given first aid by members of the hospital corps, who assured
Billy that his friend would not die. Mr. Harding and Barbara were taken
in by the wife of an officer, and it was at the quarters of the latter
that Billy Byrne found her alone in the sitting-room.

The girl looked up as he entered, a sad smile upon her face. She was
about to ask him of his wound; but he gave her no opportunity.

"I've come for you," he said. "I gave you up once when I thought it was
better for you to marry a man in your own class. I won't give you up
again. You're mine--you're my girl, and I'm goin' to take you with me.
Were goin' to Galveston as fast as we can, and from there we're goin' to
Rio. You belonged to me long before Bridge saw you. He can't have you.
Nobody can have you but me, and if anyone tries to keep me from taking
you they'll get killed."

He took a step nearer that brought him close to her. She did not
shrink--only looked up into his face with wide eyes filled with wonder.
He seized her roughly in his arms.

"You are my girl!" he cried hoarsely. "Kiss me!"

"Wait!" she said. "First

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