The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 34

did so, swinging the portal wide that
she might pass out. "I feared interruption," he said, in explanation of
the bolt.

In silence they returned to the upper deck. The intoxication of sudden
passion now under control, Theriere was again master of himself and
ready to play the cold, calculating, waiting game that he had determined
upon. Part of his plan was to see just enough of Miss Harding to insure
a place in her mind at all times; but not enough to suggest that he was
forcing himself upon her. Rightly, he assumed that she would appreciate
thoughtful deference to her comfort and safety under the harrowing
conditions of her present existence more than a forced companionship
that might entail too open devotion on his part. And so he raised his
cap and left her, only urging her to call upon him at any time that he
might be of service to her.

Left alone the girl became lost in unhappy reflections, and in the
harrowing ordeal of attempting to readjust herself to the knowledge that
Larry Divine, her lifelong friend, was the instigator of the atrocious
villainy that had been perpetrated against her and her father. She found
it almost equally difficult to believe that Mr. Theriere was so much
more sinned against than sinning as he would have had her believe. And
yet, did his story not sound even more plausible than that of Divine
which she had accepted before Theriere had made it possible for her to
know the truth? Why, then, was it so difficult for her to believe the
Frenchman? She could not say, but in the inmost recesses of her heart
she knew that she mistrusted and feared the man.

As she stood leaning against the rail, buried deep in thought, Billy
Byrne passed close behind her. At sight of her a sneer curled his lip.
How he hated her! Not that she ever had done aught to harm him, but
rather because she represented to him in concrete form all that he had
learned to hate and loathe since early childhood.

Her soft, white skin; her shapely hands and well-cared-for nails;
her trim figure and perfectly fitting suit all taunted him with their
superiority over him and his kind. He knew that she looked down upon him
as an inferior being. She was of the class that addressed those in his
walk of life as "my man." Lord, how he hated that appellation!

The intentness of his gaze upon her back had the effect so often noted
by the observant, and suddenly aroused from the lethargy of her

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