The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 99

loss of blood, strode
sturdily upward while the marveling girl followed close behind him. A
hundred yards above the spring they came upon a little level spot, and
here with the two swords of Oda Yorimoto which they still carried they
scooped a shallow grave in which they placed all that was mortal of the
Count de Cadenet.

Barbara Harding whispered a short prayer above the new-made grave, while
the mucker stood with bowed head beside her. Then they turned to their
flight again up the wild face of the savage mountain. The moon came up
at last to lighten the way for them, but it was a rough and dangerous
climb at best. In many places they were forced to walk hand in hand for
considerable distances, and twice the mucker had lifted the girl bodily
in his arms to bear her across particularly dangerous or difficult

Shortly after midnight they struck a small mountain stream up which they
followed until in a natural cul-de-sac they came upon its source and
found their farther progress barred by precipitous cliffs which rose
above them, sheer and unscalable.

They had entered the little amphitheater through a narrow, rocky pass in
the bottom of which the tiny stream flowed, and now, weak and tired, the
mucker was forced to admit that he could go no farther.

"Who'd o' t'ought dat I was such a sissy?" he exclaimed disgustedly.

"I think that you are very wonderful, Mr. Byrne," replied the girl. "Few
men could have gone through what you have today and been alive now."

The mucker made a deprecatory gesture.

"I suppose we gotta make de best of it," he said. "Anyhow, dis ought to
make a swell joint to defend."

Weak as he was he searched about for some soft grasses which he threw in
a pile beneath a stunted tree that grew well back in the hollow.

"Here's yer downy," he said, with an attempt at jocularity. "Now you'd
better hit de hay, fer youse must be dead fagged."

"Thanks!" replied the girl. "I AM nearly dead."

So tired was she that she was asleep almost as soon as she had found
a comfortable position in the thick mat of grass, so that she gave no
thought to the strange position in which circumstance had placed her.

The sun was well up the following morning before the girl awakened, and
it was several minutes before she could readjust herself to her strange
surroundings. At first she thought that she was alone, but finally she
discerned a giant figure standing at the opening which led from their
mountain retreat.


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