The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 83

the most powerful chief; but he wished to
verify his deductions if possible. He knew that a direct question as to
the whereabouts of the girl would call forth either a clever oriental
evasion or an equally clever oriental lie.

"Does Oda Yorimoto intend slaying the white woman that was brought to
his house last night?" asked Theriere.

"How should the son know the intentions of his father?" replied the boy.

"Is she still alive?" continued Theriere.

"How should I know, who was asleep when she was brought, and only heard
the womenfolk this morning whispering that Oda Yorimoto had brought home
a new woman the night before."

"Could you not see her with your own eyes?" asked Theriere.

"My eyes cannot pass through the door of the little room behind, in
which they still were when I left to gather firewood a half hour since,"
retorted the youth.

"Wot's de Chink sayin'?" asked Billy Byrne, impatient of the
conversation, no word of which was intelligible to him.

"He says, in substance," replied Theriere, with a grin, "that Miss
Harding is still alive, and in the back room of that largest hut in the
center of the village street; but," and his face clouded, "Oda Yorimoto,
the chief of the tribe, is with her."

The mucker sprang to his feet with an oath, and would have bolted for
the village had not Theriere laid a detaining hand upon his shoulder.

"It is too late, my friend," he said sadly, "to make haste now. We
may, if we are cautious, be able to save her life, and later, possibly,
avenge her wrong. Let us act coolly, and after some manner of plan, so
that we may work together, and not throw our lives away uselessly. The
chance is that neither of us will come out of that village alive, but
we must minimize that chance to the utmost if we are to serve Miss
Harding."

"Well, wot's de word?" asked the mucker, for he saw that Theriere was
right.

"The jungle approaches the village most closely on the opposite
side--the side in rear of the chief's hut," pointed out Theriere. "We
must circle about until we can reach that point undetected, then we may
formulate further plans from what our observations there develop."

"An' dis?" Byrne shoved a thumb at Oda Iseka.

"We'll take him with us--it wouldn't be safe to let him go now."

"Why not croak him?" suggested Byrne.

"Not unless we have to," replied Theriere; "he's just a boy--we'll
doubtless have all the killing we want among the men before we get out
of this."

"I never did have no

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