The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 68

father will reward you
fabulously. Ten thousand koku he would gladly give to have me returned
to him safely."

Oda Yorimoto but shook his head.

"Twenty thousand koku!" cried the girl.

Still the daimio shook his head negatively.

"A hundred thousand--name your own price, if you will but not harm me."

"Silence!" growled the man. "What are even a million koku to me who only
know the word from the legends of my ancestors. We have no need for koku
here, and had we, my hills are full of the yellow metal which measures
its value. No! you are my woman. Come!"

"Not here! Not here!" pleaded the girl. "There is another room--away
from all these women," and she turned her eyes toward the door at the
opposite side of the chamber.

Oda Yorimoto shrugged his shoulders. That would be easier than a fight,
he argued, and so he led the girl toward the doorway that she had
indicated. Within the room all was dark, but the daimio moved as one
accustomed to the place, and as he moved through the blackness the girl
at his side felt with stealthy fingers at the man's belt.

At last Oda Yorimoto reached the far side of the long chamber.

"Here!" he said, and took her by the shoulders.

"Here!" answered the girl in a low, tense voice, and at the instant that
she spoke Oda Yorimoto, Lord of Yoka, felt a quick tug at his belt, and
before he guessed what was to happen his own short sword had pierced his

A single shriek broke from the lips of the daimio; but it was so high
and shrill and like the shriek of a woman in mortal terror that the
woman in the next room who heard it but smiled a crooked, wicked smile
of hate and turned once more upon her pallet to sleep.

Again and again Barbara Harding plunged the sword of the brown man into
the still heart, until she knew beyond peradventure of a doubt that her
enemy was forevermore powerless to injure her. Then she sank, exhausted
and trembling, upon the dirt floor beside the corpse.

When Theriere came to the realization that Barbara Harding was gone he
jumped to the natural conclusion that Ward and Simms had discovered
the ruse that he had worked upon them just in time to permit them to
intercept Miller and Swenson with the girl, and carry her back to the
main camp.

The others were prone to agree with him, though the mucker grumbled that
"it listened fishy." However, all hands returned cautiously down the
face of the cliff,

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