The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 46

the
man he had long since rated as a cowardly bully. He was fully determined
to repay Byrne in so far as he could the great debt he owed him. All
thoughts of revenge for the mucker's former assault upon him were
dropped, and he now looked upon the man as a true friend and ally.

For three days the Halfmoon plunged helplessly upon the storm-wracked
surface of the mad sea. No soul aboard her entertained more than the
faintest glimmer of a hope that the ship would ride out the storm; but
during the third night the wind died down, and by morning the sea had
fallen sufficiently to make it safe for the men of the Halfmoon to
venture upon deck.

There they found the brigantine clean-swept from stem to stern. To
the north of them was land at a league or two, perhaps. Had the storm
continued during the night they would have been dashed upon the coast.
God-fearing men would have given thanks for their miraculous rescue;
but not so these. Instead, the fear of death removed, they assumed their
former bravado.

Skipper Simms boasted of the seamanship that had saved the Halfmoon--his
own seamanship of course. Ward was cursing the luck that had disabled
the ship at so crucial a period of her adventure, and revolving in his
evil mind various possible schemes for turning the misfortune to his
own advantage. Billy Byrne, sitting upon the corner of the galley
table, hobnobbed with Blanco. These choice representatives of the ship's
company were planning a raid on the skipper's brandy chest during the
disembarkation which the sight of land had rendered not improbable.

The Halfmoon, with the wind down, wallowed heavily in the trough of the
sea, but even so Barbara Harding, wearied with days of confinement in
her stuffy cabin below, ventured above deck for a breath of sweet, clean
air.

Scarce had she emerged from below than Theriere espied her, and hastened
to her side.

"Well, Miss Harding," he exclaimed, "it seems good to see you on deck
again. I can't tell you how sorry I have felt for you cooped up alone
in your cabin without a single woman for companionship, and all those
frightful days of danger, for there was scarce one of us that thought
the old hooker would weather so long and hard a blow. We were mighty
fortunate to come through it so handily."

"Handily?" queried Barbara Harding, with a wry smile, glancing about
the deck of the Halfmoon. "I cannot see that we are either through it
handily or through it at all. We have no masts,

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