The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 66

they did not come, and when, in alarm, the entire party started back
in search of them they retraced their steps to the very brink of the
declivity leading to the cove before they could believe the testimony
of their own perceptions--Barbara Harding and the two sailors had
disappeared.



CHAPTER X. BARBARA CAPTURED BY HEAD-HUNTERS

WHEN Barbara Harding, with Miller before and Swenson behind her, had
taken up the march behind the loot-laden party seven dusky, noiseless
shadows had emerged from the forest to follow close behind.

For half a mile the party moved along the narrow trail unmolested.
Theriere had come back to exchange a half-dozen words with the girl and
had again moved forward toward the head of the column. Miller was not
more than twenty-five feet behind the first man ahead of him, and Miss
Harding and Swenson followed at intervals of but three or four yards.

Suddenly, without warning, Swenson and Miller fell, pierced with savage
spears, and at the same instant sinewy fingers gripped Barbara Harding,
and a silencing hand was clapped over her mouth. There had been no sound
above the muffled tread of the seamen. It had all been accomplished so
quickly and so easily that the girl did not comprehend what had befallen
her for several minutes.

In the darkness of the forest she could not clearly distinguish the
forms or features of her abductors, though she reasoned, as was only
natural, that Skipper Simms' party had become aware of the plot against
them and had taken this means of thwarting a part of it; but when her
captors turned directly into the mazes of the jungle, away from the
coast, she began first to wonder and then to doubt, so that presently
when a small clearing let the moonlight full upon them she was not
surprised to discover that none of the members of the Halfmoon's company
was among her guard.

Barbara Harding had not circled the globe half a dozen times for
nothing. There were few races or nations with whose history, past and
present, she was not fairly familiar, and so the sight that greeted
her eyes was well suited to fill her with astonishment, for she found
herself in the hands of what appeared to be a party of Japanese warriors
of the fifteenth or sixteenth century. She recognized the medieval arms
and armor, the ancient helmets, the hairdressing of the two-sworded men
of old Japan. At the belts of two of her captors dangled grisly trophies
of the hunt. In the moonlight she saw that they were the heads of Miller
and Swenson.

The girl was

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