The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 61

more likely to work out to Skipper
Simms' interests than some unadvised act of Skipper Simms himself.

"Supposin'," continued Ward, "that we let two o' your men an' two o'
ourn under Mr. Divine, shin up them cliffs back o' the cove an' search
fer water an' a site fer camp--the rest o' us'll have our hands full
with the salvage."

"Good," agreed Theriere. "Miller, you and Swenson will accompany Mr.
Divine."

Ward detailed two of his men, and the party of five began the difficult
ascent of the cliffs, while far above them a little brown man with
beady, black eyes set in narrow fleshy slits watched them from behind a
clump of bushes. Strange, medieval armor and two wicked-looking swords
gave him a most warlike appearance. His temples were shaved, and a broad
strip on the top of his head to just beyond the crown. His remaining
hair was drawn into an unbraided queue, tied tightly at the back, and
the queue then brought forward to the top of the forehead. His helmet
lay in the grass at his feet. At the nearer approach of the party to the
cliff top the watcher turned and melted into the forest at his back.
He was Oda Yorimoto, descendant of a powerful daimio of the Ashikaga
Dynasty of shoguns who had fled Japan with his faithful samurai nearly
three hundred and fifty years before upon the overthrow of the Ashikaga
Dynasty.

Upon this unfrequented and distant Japanese isle the exiles had retained
all of their medieval military savagery, to which had been added the
aboriginal ferocity of the head-hunting natives they had found there and
with whom they had intermarried. The little colony, far from making any
advances in arts or letters had, on the contrary, relapsed into primeval
ignorance as deep as that of the natives with whom they had cast
their lot--only in their arms and armor, their military training
and discipline did they show any of the influence of their civilized
progenitors. They were cruel, crafty, resourceful wild men trapped in
the habiliments of a dead past, and armed with the keen weapons of their
forbears. They had not even the crude religion of the Malaysians they
had absorbed unless a highly exaggerated propensity for head-hunting
might be dignified by the name of religion. To the tender mercies of
such as these were the castaways of the Halfmoon likely to be consigned,
for what might sixteen men with but four revolvers among them accomplish
against near a thousand savage samurai?

Theriere, Ward, Simms, and the remaining sailors at the beach busied
themselves with the task of

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