The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 79

she felt about the smaller apartment
for some heavy object with which to barricade herself; but her search
was fruitless. Finally she bethought herself of the corpse. That would
hold the door against the accident of a child or dog pushing it open--it
would be better than nothing, but could she bring herself to touch the
loathsome thing?

The instinct of self-preservation will work wonders even with a frail
and delicate woman. Barbara Harding steeled herself to the task, and
after several moments of effort she succeeded in rolling the dead man
against the door. The scraping sound of the body as she dragged it into
position had sent cold shivers running up her spine.

She had removed the man's long sword and armor before attempting to move
him, and now she crouched beside the corpse with both the swords beside
her--she would sell her life dearly. Theriere's words came back to her
now as they had when she was struggling in the water after the wreck of
the Halfmoon: "but, by George, I intend to go down fighting." Well, she
could do no less.

She could hear the movement of several persons in the next room now. The
voices of women and children came to her distinctly. Many of the words
were Japanese, but others were of a tongue with which she was not

Presently her own chamber began to lighten. She looked over her shoulder
and saw the first faint rays of dawn showing through a small aperture
near the roof and at the opposite end of the room. She rose and moved
quickly toward it. By standing on tiptoe and pulling herself up a trifle
with her hands upon the sill she was able to raise her eyes above the
bottom of the window frame.

Beyond she saw the forest, not a hundred yards away; but when she
attempted to crawl through the opening she discovered to her chagrin
that it was too small to permit the passage of her body. And then there
came a knocking on the door she had just quitted, and a woman's voice
calling her lord and master to his morning meal.

Barbara ran quickly across the chamber to the door, the long sword
raised above her head in both hands. Again the woman knocked, this time
much louder, and raised her voice as she called again upon Oda Yorimoto
to come out.

The girl within was panic-stricken. What should she do? With but a
little respite she might enlarge the window sufficiently to permit her
to escape into the forest, but the woman at the door evidently would

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