The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 70

first opportunity to return Miss Harding to
civilization unharmed and without the payment of a penny to anyone. The
reason for my change of heart is my own affair. In all probability
you wouldn't believe the sincerity or honesty of my motives should
I disclose them. I am only telling you these things because you have
accused me of double dealing, and I do not want the man who saved my
life at the risk of his own to have the slightest grounds to doubt my
honesty with him. I've been a fairly bad egg, Byrne, for a great many
years; but, by George! I'm not entirely rotten yet."

Byrne was silent for a few moments. He, too, had recently come to the
conclusion that possibly he was not entirely rotten either, and had in
a vague and half-formed sort of way wished for the opportunity to
demonstrate the fact, so he was willing to concede to another that which
he craved for himself.

"Yeh listen all right, cul," he said at last; "an' I'm willin' to take
yeh at yer own say-so until I learn different."

"Thanks," said Theriere tersely. "Now we can work together in the search
for Miss Harding; but where, in the name of all that's holy, are we to
start?"

"Why, where we seen her last, of course," replied the mucker. "Right
here on top of dese bluffs."

"Then we can't do anything until daylight," said the Frenchman.

"Not a ting, and at daylight we'll most likely have a scrap on our hands
from below," and the mucker jerked his thumb in the direction of the
cove.

"I think," said Theriere, "that we had better spend an hour arming
ourselves with sticks and stones. We've a mighty good position up here.
One that we can defend splendidly from an assault from below, and if we
are prepared for them we can stave 'em off for a while if we need the
time to search about up here for clews to Miss Harding's whereabouts."

And so the party set to work to cut stout bludgeons from the trees about
them, and pile loose fragments of rock in handy places near the cliff
top. Theriere even went so far as to throw up a low breastwork across
the top of the trail up which the enemy must climb to reach the summit
of the cliff. When they had completed their preparations three men could
have held the place against ten times their own number.

Then they lay down to sleep, leaving Blanco and Divine on guard, for it
had been decided that these two,

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