The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 71

with Bony Sawyer, should be left behind
on the morrow to hold the cliff top while the others were searching for
clews to the whereabouts of Barbara Harding. They were to relieve each
other at guard duty during the balance of the night.

Scarce had the first suggestion of dawn lightened the eastern sky than
Divine, who was again on guard, awakened Theriere. In a moment the
others were aroused, and a hasty raid on the cached provisions made. The
lack of water was keenly felt by all, but it was too far to the spring
to chance taking the time necessary to fetch the much-craved fluid and
those who were to forge into the jungle in search of Barbara Harding
hoped to find water farther inland, while it was decided to dispatch
Bony Sawyer to the spring for water for those who were to remain on
guard at the cliff top.

A hurried breakfast was made on water-soaked ship's biscuit. Theriere
and his searching party stuffed their pockets full of them, and a moment
later the search was on. First the men traversed the trail toward the
spring, looking for indications of the spot where Barbara Harding had
ceased to follow them. The girl had worn heelless buckskin shoes at the
time she was taken from the Lotus, and these left little or no spoor
in the well-tramped earth of the narrow path; but a careful and minute
examination on the part of Theriere finally resulted in the detection of
a single small footprint a hundred yards from the point they had struck
the trail after ascending the cliffs. This far at least she had been
with them.

The men now spread out upon either side of the track--Theriere and Red
Sanders upon one side, Byrne and Wison upon the other. Occasionally
Theriere would return to the trail to search for further indications of
the spoor they sought.

The party had proceeded in this fashion for nearly half a mile when
suddenly they were attracted by a low exclamation from the mucker.

"Here!" he called. "Here's Miller an' the Swede, an' they sure have
mussed 'em up turrible."

The others hastened in the direction of his voice, to come to a
horrified halt at the sides of the headless trunks of the two sailors.

"Mon Dieu!" exclaimed the Frenchman, reverting to his mother tongue as
he never did except under the stress of great excitement.

"Who done it?" queried Red Sanders, looking suspiciously at the mucker.

"Head-hunters," said Theriere. "God! What an awful fate for that poor
girl!"

Billy Byrne went white.

"Yeh don't mean dat dey've lopped off

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