The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 52

diatribe. Billy did nothing
of the sort. Barbara Harding's words seemed to have taken all the fight
out of him. He stood looking at her for a moment--it was one of the
strange contradictions of Billy Byrne's personality that he could
hold his eyes quite steady and level, meeting the gaze of another
unwaveringly--and in that moment something happened to Billy Byrne's
perceptive faculties. It was as though scales which had dimmed his
mental vision had partially dropped away, for suddenly he saw what he
had not before seen--a very beautiful girl, brave and unflinching before
the brutal menace of his attitude, and though the mucker thought that
he still hated her, the realization came to him that he must not raise a
hand against her--that for the life of him he could not, nor ever again
against any other woman. Why this change, Billy did not know, he simply
knew that it was so, and with an ugly grunt he turned his back upon her
and walked away.

A slight breeze had risen from the southwest since Theriere had left
Barbara Harding and now all hands were busily engaged in completing the
jury rigging that the Halfmoon might take advantage of the wind and make
the shore that rose abruptly from the bosom of the ocean but a league
away.

Before the work was completed the wind increased rapidly, so that when
the tiny bit of canvas was hoisted into position it bellied bravely, and
the Halfmoon moved heavily forward toward the land.

"We gotta make a mighty quick run of it," said Skipper Simms to Ward,
"or we'll go to pieces on them rocks afore ever we find a landing."

"That we will if this wind rises much more," replied Ward; "and's far as
I can see there ain't no more chance to make a landing there than there
would be on the side of a house."

And indeed as the Halfmoon neared the towering cliffs it seemed utterly
hopeless that aught else than a fly could find a foothold upon that
sheer and rocky face that rose abruptly from the ocean's surface.

Some two hundred yards from the shore it became evident that there was
no landing to be made directly before them, and so the course of the
ship was altered to carry them along parallel to the shore in an effort
to locate a cove, or beach where a landing might safely be effected.

The wind, increasing steadily, was now whipping the sea into angry
breakers that dashed resoundingly against the rocky barrier of the
island. To drift within reach of those

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