The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 82

the trail for the better part of an hour. "Hadn't
we better wait for them to catch up with us? Four can do a whole lot
more than two."

"Not wen Billy Byrne's one of de two," replied the mucker, and continued
doggedly along the trail.

Another half-hour brought them suddenly in sight of a native village,
and Billy Byrne was for dashing straight into the center of it and
"cleaning it up," as he put it, but Theriere put his foot down firmly on
that proposition, and finally Byrne saw that the other was right.

"The trail leads straight toward that place," said Theriere, "so I
suppose here is where they brought her, but which of the huts she's in
now we ought to try to determine before we make any attempt to rescue
her. Well, by George! Now what do you think of that?"

"Tink o' wot?" asked the mucker. "Wot's eatin' yeh?"

"See those three men down there in the village, Byrne?" asked the
Frenchman. "They're no more aboriginal headhunters than I am--they're
Japs, man. There must be something wrong with our trailing, for it's as
certain as fate itself that Japs are not head-hunters."

"There ain't been nothin' fony about our trailin', bo," insisted Byrne,
"an' whether Japs are bean collectors or not here's where de ginks dat
copped de doll hiked fer, an if dey ain't dere now it's because dey went
t'rough an' out de odder side, see."

"Hush, Byrne," whispered Theriere. "Drop down behind this bush. Someone
is coming along this other trail to the right of us," and as he spoke he
dragged the mucker down beside him.

For a moment they crouched, breathless and expectant, and then the slim
figure of an almost nude boy emerged from the foliage close beside and
entered the trail toward the village. Upon his head he bore a bundle of
firewood.

When he was directly opposite the watchers Theriere sprang suddenly
upon him, clapping a silencing hand over the boy's mouth. In Japanese he
whispered a command for silence.

"We shall not harm you if you keep still," he said, "and answer our
questions truthfully. What village is that?"

"It is the chief city of Oda Yorimoto, Lord of Yoka," replied the youth.
"I am Oda Iseka, his son."

"And the large hut in the center of the village street is the palace of
Oda Yorimoto?" guessed Theriere shrewdly.

"It is."

The Frenchman was not unversed in the ways of orientals, and he guessed
also that if the white girl were still alive in the village she would be
in no other hut than that of

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