The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 60

me. You can make the start now, Larry,
by walking over and placing yourself at Mr. Theriere's disposal. He has
promised to help and protect me."

A deep flush mounted to the man's neck and face. He did not turn about
to face the girl he had so grievously wronged--for the life of him he
could not have met her eyes. Slowly he turned, and with gaze bent upon
the ground walked quickly toward Theriere.

Ward was quick to recognize the turn events had taken, and to see that
it gave Theriere the balance of power, with two guns and nine men in his
party against their two guns and seven men. It also was evident to him
that to the other party the girl would naturally gravitate since Divine,
an old acquaintance, had cast his lot with it; nor had the growing
intimacy between Miss Harding and Theriere been lost upon him.

Ward knew that Simms was an arrant coward, nor was he himself overly
keen for an upstanding, man-to-man encounter such as must quickly follow
any attempt upon his part to uphold the authority of Simms, or their
claim upon the custody of the girl.

Intrigue and trickery were more to Mr. Ward's liking, and so he was
quick to alter his plan of campaign the instant that it became evident
that Divine had elected to join forces with the opposing faction.

"I reckon," he said, directing his remarks toward no one in particular,
"that we've all been rather hasty in this matter, being het up as we
were with the strain of what we been through an' so it seems to me,
takin' into consideration that Mr. Theriere really done his best to save
the ship, an' that as a matter of fact we was all mighty lucky to come
out of it alive, that we'd better let bygones be bygones, for the time
bein' at least, an' all of us pitch in to save what we can from the
wreckage, hunt water, rig up a camp, an' get things sort o' shipshape
here instid o' squabblin' amongst ourselves."

"Suit yourself," said Theriere, "it's all the same to us," and his use
of the objective pronoun seemed definitely to establish the existence of
his faction as a separate and distinct party.

Simms, from years of experience with his astute mate, was wont to
acquiesce in anything that Ward proposed, though he had not the brains
always to appreciate the purposes that prompted Ward's suggestions. Now,
therefore, he nodded his approval of Squint Eye's proposal, feeling that
whatever was in Ward's mind would be

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