The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 29

Mr. Divine; "and thank God that I am
here to do what little any man may do against this band of murdering
pirates."

"But, Larry," cried the girl, in evident bewilderment, "how did you come
to be aboard this ship? How did you get here? What are you doing amongst
such as these?"

"I am a prisoner," replied the man, "just as are you. I think they
intend holding us for ransom. They got me in San Francisco. Slugged me
and hustled me aboard the night before they sailed."

"Where are they going to take us?" she asked.

"I do not know," he replied, "although from something I have overheard
of their conversations I imagine that they have in mind some distant
island far from the beaten track of commerce. There are thousands such
in the Pacific that are visited by vessels scarce once in a century.
There they will hold us until they can proceed with the ship to some
point where they can get into communication with their agents in the
States. When the ransom is paid over to these agents they will return
for us and land us upon some other island where our friends can find us,
or leaving us where we can divulge the location of our whereabouts to
those who pay the ransom."

The girl had been looking intently at Mr. Divine during their
conversation.

"They cannot have treated you very badly, Larry," she said. "You are as
well groomed and well fed, apparently, as ever."

A slight flush mounting to the man's face made the girl wonder a bit
though it aroused no suspicion in her mind.

"Oh, no," he hastened to assure her, "they have not treated me at all
badly--why should they? If I die they can collect no ransom on me. It
is the same with you, Barbara, so I think you need apprehend no harsh
treatment."

"I hope you are right, Larry," she said, but the hopelessness of her air
rather belied any belief that aught but harm could come from captivity
with such as those who officered and manned the Halfmoon.

"It seems so remarkable," she went on, "that you should be a prisoner
upon the same boat. I cannot understand it. Why only a few days ago we
received and entertained a friend of yours who brought a letter from you
to papa--the Count de Cadenet."

Again that telltale flush mantled the man's cheek. He cursed himself
inwardly for his lack of self-control. The girl would have his whole
secret out of him in another half-hour if he were not more careful.

"They made me do that,"

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