The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 58

last the swimmer beneath
her forged steadily and persistently toward the sandy beach to flounder
out at last with an unconscious burden in his mighty arms.

As the man staggered up out of reach of the water Barbara Harding opened
her eyes to look in astonishment into the face of the mucker.


ONLY four men of the Halfmoon's crew were lost in the wreck of the
vessel. All had been crowded in the bow when the ship broke in two,
and being far-flung by the forward part of the brigantine as it lunged
toward the cove on the wave following the one which had dropped the
craft upon the reef, with the exception of the four who had perished
beneath the wreckage they had been able to swim safely to the beach.

Larry Divine, who had sat weeping upon the deck of the doomed ship
during the time that hope had been at its lowest, had recovered his
poise. Skipper Simms, subdued for the moment, soon commenced to regain
his bluster. He took Theriere to task for the loss of the Halfmoon.

"An' ever we make a civilized port," he shouted, "I'll prefer charges
ag'in' you, you swab you; a-losin' of the finest bark as ever weathered
a storm. Ef it hadn't o' been fer you a-mutinyin' agin' me I'd a-brought
her through in safety an' never lost a bloomin' soul."

"Stow it!" admonished Theriere at last; "your foolish bluster can't
hide the bald fact that you deserted your post in time of danger. We're
ashore now, remember, and there is no more ship for you to command, so
were I you I'd be mighty careful how I talked to my betters."

"What's that!" screamed the skipper. "My betters! You frog-eatin'
greaser you, I'll teach you. Here, some of you, clap this swab into
irons. I'll learn him that I'm still captain of this here bunch."

Theriere laughed in the man's face; but Ward and a couple of hands
who had been shown favoritism by the skipper and first mate closed
menacingly toward the second officer.

The Frenchman took in the situation at a glance. They were ashore now,
where they didn't think that they needed him further and the process of
elimination had commenced. Well, it might as well come to a showdown now
as later.

"Just a moment," said Theriere, raising his hand. "You're not going to
take me alive, and I have no idea that you want to anyhow, and if you
start anything in the killing line some of you are going to Davy Jones'
locker along with me.

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