The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 98

career. In his death
he had atoned for many sins.

And in those last few days he had transferred, all unknown to himself
or the other man, a measure of the gentility and chivalry that were his
birthright, for, unrealizing, Billy Byrne was patterning himself after
the man he had hated and had come to love.

After the girl's announcement the mucker had continued to sit with bowed
head staring at the ground. Afternoon had deepened into evening, and
now the brief twilight of the tropics was upon them--in a few moments it
would be dark.

Presently Byrne looked up. His eyes wandered about the tiny clearing.
Suddenly he staggered to his feet. Barbara Harding sprang up, startled
by the evident alarm in the man's attitude.

"What is it?" she whispered. "What is the matter?"

"De Chink!" he cried. "Where is de Chink?"

And, sure enough, Oda Iseka had disappeared!

The youthful daimio had taken advantage of the preoccupation of his
captors during the last moments of Theriere to gnaw in two the grass
rope which bound him to the mucker, and with hands still fast bound
behind him had slunk into the jungle path that led toward his village.

"They will be upon us again now at any moment," whispered the girl.
"What can we do?"

"We better duck," replied the mucker. "I hates to run away from a bunch
of Chinks, but I guess it's up to us to beat it."

"But poor Mr. Theriere?" asked the girl.

"I'll have to bury him close by," replied the mucker. "I don't tink I
could pack him very fer tonight--I don't feel jest quite fit agin yet.
You wouldn't mind much if I buried him here, would you?"

"There is no other way, Mr. Byrne," replied the girl. "You mustn't
think of trying to carry him far. We have done all we can for poor
Mr. Theriere--you have almost given your life for him already--and it
wouldn't do any good to carry his dead body with us."

"I hates to tink o' dem head-huntin' Chinks gettin' him," replied Byrne;
"but maybe I kin hide his grave so's dey won't tumble to it."

"You are in no condition to carry him at all," said the girl. "I doubt
if you can go far even without any burden."

The mucker grinned.

"Youse don't know me, miss," he said, and stooping he lifted the body of
the Frenchman to his broad shoulder, and started up the hillside through
the trackless underbrush.

It would have been an impossible feat for an ordinary man in the pink
of condition, but the mucker, weak from pain and

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