Сборники Художественной, Технической, Справочной, Английской, Нормативной, Исторической, и др. литературы.

THE MUCKER by Edgar Rice Burroughs


THE MUCKER: Originally published serially in
All-Story Cavalier Weekly.  Copyright (c) 1914,
by The Frank A. Munsey Co.

Originally published serially in All-Story Weekly.
Copyright (c) 1916, by The Frank A. Munsey Co.

First Ballantine Edition:  January, 1966

Manufactured in the United States of America

101 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10003


Part I



BILLY BYRNE was a product of the streets and alleys of
Chicago's great West Side.  From Halsted to Robey, and
from Grand Avenue to Lake Street there was scarce a bartender
whom Billy knew not by his first name.  And, in
proportion to their number which was considerably less, he
knew the patrolmen and plain clothes men equally as well,
but not so pleasantly.

His kindergarten education had commenced in an alley
back of a feed-store.  Here a gang of older boys and men
were wont to congregate at such times as they had naught
else to occupy their time, and as the bridewell was the only
place in which they ever held a job for more than a day or
two, they had considerable time to devote to congregating.

They were pickpockets and second-story men, made and
in the making, and all were muckers, ready to insult the
first woman who passed, or pick a quarrel with any stranger
who did not appear too burly.  By night they plied their real
vocations.  By day they sat in the alley behind the feedstore
and drank beer from a battered tin pail.

The question of labor involved in transporting the pail,
empty, to the saloon across the street, and returning it, full,
to the alley back of the feed-store was solved by the presence
of admiring and envious little boys of the neighborhood who
hung, wide-eyed and thrilled, about these heroes of their
childish lives.

Billy Byrne, at six, was rushing the can for this noble
band, and incidentally picking up his knowledge of life and
the rudiments of his education.  He gloried in the fact that
he was personally acquainted with "Eddie" Welch, and that
with his own ears he had heard "Eddie" tell the gang how
he stuck up a guy on West Lake Street within fifty yards
of the Twenty-eighth Precinct  Police Station.

The kindergarten period lasted until Billy was ten; then
he commenced "swiping" brass faucets from vacant buildings
and selling them to a fence who ran a junkshop on Lincoln
Street near Kinzie.

From this man he obtained the hint that graduated him
to a higher grade, so that at twelve he was robbing freight
cars in the yards along Kinzie Street, and it was about this
same time that he commenced to find pleasure in the feel of
his fist against the jaw of a fellow-man.

He had had his boyish scraps with his fellows off and on
ever since he could remember; but his first real fight came
when he was twelve.  He had had an altercation with an
erstwhile pal over the division of the returns from some
freight-car booty.  The gang was all present, and as words
quickly gave place to blows, as they have a habit of doing
in certain sections of the West Side, the men and boys formed
a rough ring about the contestants.

The battle was a long one.  The two were rolling about
in the dust of the alley quite as often as they were upon their
feet exchanging blows.  There was nothing fair, nor decent,
nor scientific about their methods.  They gouged and bit and
tore.  They used knees and elbows and feet, and but for
the timely presence of a brickbat beneath his fingers at the
psychological moment Billy Byrne would have gone down to
humiliating defeat.  As it was the other boy went down, and
for a week Billy remained hidden by one of the gang pending
the report from the hospital.

When word came that the patient would live, Billy felt an
immense load lifted from his shoulders, for he dreaded arrest
and experience with the law that he had learned from
childhood to deride and hate.  Of course there was the loss
of prestige that would naturally have accrued to him could
he have been pointed out as the "guy that croaked Sheehan";
but there is always a fly in the ointment, and Billy only
sighed and came out of his temporary retirement.

That battle started Billy to thinking, and the result of that
mental activity was a determination to learn to handle his
mitts scientifically--people of the West Side do not have
hands; they are equipped by Nature with mitts and dukes.
A few have paws and flippers.

He had no opportunity to realize his new dream for several
years; but when he was about seventeen a neighbor's
son surprised his little world by suddenly developing from an
unknown teamster into a locally famous light-weight.

The young man never had been affiliated with the gang, as
his escutcheon was defiled with a record of steady employment.
So Billy had known nothing of the sparring lessons his
young neighbor had taken, or of the work he had done at
the down-town gymnasium of Larry Hilmore.

Now it happened that while the new light-weight was unknown
to the charmed circle of the gang, Billy knew him fairly
well by reason of the proximity of their respective parental
back yards, and so when the glamour of pugilistic success
haloed the young man Billy lost no time in basking in the
light of reflected glory.

He saw much of his new hero all the following winter.
He accompanied him to many mills, and on one glorious occasion
occupied a position in the coming champion's corner.
When the prize fighter toured, Billy continued to hang around
Hilmore's place, running errands and doing odd jobs, the
while he picked up pugilistic lore, and absorbed the spirit of the
game along with the rudiments and finer points of its science,
almost unconsciously.  Then his ambition changed.  Once he
had longed to shine as a gunman; now he was determined
to become a prize fighter; but the old gang still saw much of
him, and he was a familiar figure about the saloon corners
along Grand Avenue and Lake Street.

During this period Billy neglected the box cars on Kinzie
Street, partially because he felt that he was fitted for more
dignified employment, and as well for the fact that the railroad
company had doubled the number of watchmen in the yards;
but there were times when he felt the old yearning for
excitement and adventure.  These times were usually coincident
with an acute financial depression in Billy's change pocket,
and then he would fare forth in the still watches of the
night, with a couple of boon companions and roll a souse,
or stick up a saloon.

It was upon an occasion of this nature that an event
occurred which was fated later to change the entire course
of Billy Byrne's life.  Upon the West Side the older gangs are
jealous of the sanctity of their own territory.  Outsiders
do not trespass with impunity.  From Halsted to Robey, and
from Lake to Grand lay the broad hunting preserve of Kelly's
gang, to which Billy had been almost born, one might say.
Kelly owned the feed-store back of which the gang had loafed
for years, and though himself a respectable businessman his
name had been attached to the pack of hoodlums who held
forth at his back door as the easiest means of locating and
identifying its motley members.

The police and citizenry of this great territory were the
natural enemies and prey of Kelly's gang, but as the kings
of old protected the deer of their great forests from poachers,
so Kelly's gang felt it incumbent upon them to safeguard
the lives and property which they considered theirs by divine
right.  It is doubtful that they thought of the matter in just
this way, but the effect was the same.

And so it was that as Billy Byrne wended homeward alone
in the wee hours of the morning after emptying the cash
drawer of old Schneider's saloon and locking the weeping
Schneider in his own ice box, he was deeply grieved and
angered to see three rank outsiders from Twelfth Street beating
Patrolman Stanley Lasky with his own baton, the while
they simultaneously strove to kick in his ribs with their
heavy boots.

Now Lasky was no friend of Billy Byrne; but the officer
had been born and raised in the district and was attached
to the Twenty-eighth Precinct Station on Lake Street near
Ashland Avenue, and so was part and parcel of the natural
possession of the gang.  Billy felt that it was entirely ethical
to beat up a cop, provided you confined your efforts to
those of your own district; but for a bunch of yaps from
south of Twelfth Street to attempt to pull off any such
coarse work in his bailiwick--why it was unthinkable.

A hero and rescuer of lesser experience than Billy Byrne
would have rushed melodramatically into the midst of the
fray, and in all probability have had his face pushed completely
through the back of his head, for the guys from
Twelfth Street were not of the rah-rah-boy type of hoodlum
--they were bad men, with an upper case B. So Billy crept
stealthily along in the shadows until he was quite close to
them, and behind them.  On the way he had gathered up a
cute little granite paving block, than which there is nothing
in the world harder, not even a Twelfth Street skull.  He was
quite close now to one of the men--he who was wielding
the officer's club to such excellent disadvantage to the officer
--and then he raised the paving block only to lower it
silently and suddenly upon the back of that unsuspecting head
--"and then there were two."

Before the man's companions realized what had happened
Billy had possessed himself of the fallen club and struck one
of them a blinding, staggering blow across the eyes.  Then
number three pulled his gun and fired point-blank at Billy.
The bullet tore through the mucker's left shoulder.  It would
have sent a more highly organized and nervously inclined
man to the pavement; but Billy was neither highly organized
nor nervously inclined, so that about the only immediate
effect it had upon him was to make him mad--before he
had been but peeved--peeved at the rank crust that had
permitted these cheap-skates from south of Twelfth Street
to work his territory.

Thoroughly aroused, Billy was a wonder.  From a long
line of burly ancestors he had inherited the physique of a
prize bull.  From earliest childhood he had fought, always
unfairly, so that he knew all the tricks of street fighting.
During the past year there had been added to Billy's natural
fighting ability and instinct a knowledge of the scientific end
of the sport.  The result was something appalling--to the
gink from Twelfth Street.

Before he knew whether his shot had killed Billy his gun
had been wrenched from his hand and flung across the street;
he was down on the granite with a hand as hard as the paving
block scrambling his facial attractions beyond hope of

By this time Patrolman Lasky had staggered to his feet,
and most opportunely at that, for the man whom Billy had
dazed with the club was recovering.  Lasky promptly put
him to sleep with the butt of the gun that he had been unable
to draw when first attacked, then he turned to assist Billy.
But it was not Billy who needed assistance--it was the
gentleman from Bohemia.  With difficulty Lasky dragged
Billy from his prey.

"Leave enough of him for the inquest," pleaded Lasky.

When the wagon arrived Billy had disappeared, but
Lasky had recognized him and thereafter the two had nodded
pleasantly to each other upon such occasions as they chanced
to meet upon the street.

Two years elapsed before the event transpired which proved
a crisis in Billy's life.  During this period his existence had
been much the same as before.  He had collected what was
coming to him from careless and less muscular citizens.  He
had helped to stick up a half-dozen saloons.  He had robbed
the night men in two elevated stations, and for a while had
been upon the pay-roll of a certain union and done strong
arm work in all parts of the city for twenty-five dollars a

By day he was a general utility man about Larry Hilmore's
boxing academy, and time and time again Hilmore
urged him to quit drinking and live straight, for he saw
in the young giant the makings of a great heavy-weight;
but Billy couldn't leave the booze alone, and so the best that
he got was an occasional five spot for appearing in preliminary
bouts with third- and fourth-rate heavies and has-beens; but
during the three years that he had hung about Hilmore's he had
acquired an enviable knowledge of the manly art of self-defense.

On the night that things really began to happen in the
life of Billy Byrne that estimable gentleman was lolling in
front of a saloon at the corner of Lake and Robey.  The
dips that congregated nightly there under the protection of
the powerful politician who owned the place were commencing
to assemble.  Billy knew them all, and nodded to them
as they passed him.  He noted surprise in the faces of several
as they saw him standing there.  He wondered what it
was all about, and determined to ask the next man who
evinced even mute wonderment at his presence what was
eating him.

Then Billy saw a harness bull strolling toward him from
the east.  It was Lasky.  When Lasky saw Billy he too opened
his eyes in surprise, and when be came quite close to the
mucker he whispered something to him, though he kept his
eyes straight ahead as though he had not seen, Billy at all.

In deference to the whispered request Billy presently
strolled around the corner toward Walnut Street, but at the
alley back of the saloon he turned suddenly in.  A hundred
yards up the alley he found Lasky in the shadow of a telephone

"Wotinell are you doin' around here? asked the patrolman.
"Didn't you know that Sheehan had peached?"

Two nights before old man Schneider, goaded to desperation
by the repeated raids upon his cash drawer, had shown
fight when he again had been invited to elevate his hands,
and the holdup men had shot him through the heart.  Sheehan
had been arrested on suspicion.

Billy had not been with Sheehan that night.  As a matter
of fact he never had trained with him, for, since the boyish
battle that the two had waged, there had always been ill
feeling between them; but with Lasky's words Billy knew
what had happened.

"Sheehan says I done it, eh?" he questioned.

"That's what he says."

"I wasn't within a mile of Schneider's that night," protested

"The Lieut thinks different," said Lasky.  "He'd be only
too glad to soak you; for you've always been too slick to
get nicked before.  Orders is out to get you, and if I were
you I'd beat it and beat it quick.  I don't have to tell you
why I'm handing you this, but it's all I can do for you.
Now take my advice and make yourself scarce, though
you'll have to go some to make your get-away now--every
man on the force has your description by this time."

Billy turned without a word and walked east in the alley
toward Lincoln Street.  Lasky returned to Robey Street.  In
Lincoln Street Billy walked north to Kinzie.  Here he entered
the railroad yards.  An hour later he was bumping out of
town toward the West on a fast freight.  Three weeks later
he found himself in San Francisco.  He had no money, but
the methods that had so often replenished his depleted
exchequer at home he felt would serve the same purpose here.

Being unfamiliar with San Francisco, Billy did not know
where best to work, but when by accident he stumbled upon
a street where there were many saloons whose patrons were
obviously seafaring men Billy was distinctly elated.  What
could be better for his purpose than a drunken sailor?

He entered one of the saloons and stood watching a game
of cards, or thus he seemed to be occupied.  As a matter
of fact his eyes were constantly upon the alert, roving, about
the room to wherever a man was in the act of paying for
a round of drinks that a fat wallet might be located.

Presently one that filled him with longing rewarded his
careful watch.  The man was sitting at a table a short distance
from Billy.  Two other men were with him.  As he
paid the waiter from a well-filled pocketbook he looked up to
meet Billy's eyes upon him.

With a drunken smile he beckoned to the mucker to join
them.  Billy felt that Fate was overkind to him, and he lost
no time in heeding her call.  A moment later he was sitting
at the table with the three sailors, and had ordered a drop
of red-eye.

The stranger was very lavish in his entertainment.  He
scarcely waited for Billy to drain one glass before he ordered
another, and once after Billy had left the table for a moment
he found a fresh drink awaiting him when he returned--his
host had already poured it for him.

It was this last drink that did the business.



WHEN Billy opened his eyes again he could not recall, for
the instant, very much of his recent past.  At last he remembered
with painful regret the drunken sailor it had been his
intention to roll.  He felt deeply chagrined that his rightful
prey should have escaped him.  He couldn't understand how
it had happened.

"This Frisco booze must be something fierce," thought

His head ached frightfully and he was very sick.  So sick
that the room in which he lay seemed to be rising and falling
in a horribly realistic manner.  Every time it dropped it
brought Billy's stomach nearly to his mouth.

Billy shut his eyes.  Still the awful sensation.  Billy groaned.
He never had been so sick in all his life before, and, my, how
his poor head did hurt.  Finding that it only seemed to make
matters worse when he closed his eyes Billy opened them

He looked about the room in which he lay.  He found it a
stuffy hole filled with bunks in tiers three deep around the
sides.  In the center of the room was a table.  Above the table a
lamp hung suspended from one of the wooden beams of the

The lamp arrested Billy's attention.  It was swinging back
and forth rather violently.  This could not be a hallucination.
The room might seem to be rising and falling, but that lamp
could not seem to be swinging around in any such manner if
it were not really and truly swinging.  He couldn't account for
it. Again he shut his eyes for a moment.  When he opened
them to look again at the lamp he found it still swung as

Cautiously he slid from his bunk to the floor.  It was with
difficulty that he kept his feet.  Still that might be but the
effects of the liquor.  At last he reached the table to which he
clung for support while he extended one hand toward the

There was no longer any doubt!  The lamp was beating
back and forth like the clapper of a great bell.  Where was he?
Billy sought a window.  He found some little round, glass-covered
holes near the low ceiling at one side of the room.  It
was only at the greatest risk to life and limb that he managed
to crawl on all fours to one of them.

As he straightened up and glanced through he was appalled
at the sight that met his eyes.  As far as he could see there was
naught but a tumbling waste of water.  And then the truth of
what had happened to him broke upon his understanding.

"An' I was goin' to roll that guy!" he muttered in helpless
bewilderment.  "I was a-goin' to roll him, and now look here
wot he has done to me!"

At that moment a light appeared above as the hatch was
raised, and Billy saw the feet and legs of a large man descending
the ladder from above.  When the newcomer reached the
floor and turned to look about his eyes met Billy's, and Billy
saw that it was his host of the previous evening.

"Well, my hearty, how goes it?" asked the stranger.

"You pulled it off pretty slick," said Billy.

"What do you mean?" asked the other with a frown.

"Come off," said Billy; "you know what I mean."

"Look here," replied the other coldly.  "Don't you forget
that I'm mate of this ship, an' that you want to speak
respectful to me if you ain't lookin' for trouble.  My name's
MR. Ward, an' when you speak to me say SIR.  Understand?"

Billy scratched his head, and blinked his eyes.  He never
before had been spoken to in any such fashion--at least not
since he had put on the avoirdupois of manhood.  His head
ached horribly and he was sick to his stomach--frightfully
sick.  His mind was more upon his physical suffering than
upon what the mate was saying, so that quite a perceptible
interval of time elapsed before the true dimensions of the
affront to his dignity commenced to percolate into the befogged
and pain-racked convolutions of his brain.

The mate thought that his bluster had bluffed the new
hand.  That was what he had come below to accomplish.  
Experience had taught him that an early lesson in discipline
and subordination saved unpleasant encounters in the future.  
He also had learned that there is no better time to put a bluff
of this nature across than when the victim is suffering from
the after-effects of whiskey and a drug--mentality, vitality,
and courage are then at their lowest ebb.  A brave man often
is reduced to the pitiful condition of a yellow dog when
nausea sits astride his stomach.

But the mate was not acquainted with Billy Byrne of Kelly's
gang.  Billy's brain was befuddled, so that it took some time
for an idea to wriggle its way through, but his courage was all
there, and all to the good.  Billy was a mucker, a hoodlum, a
gangster, a thug, a tough.  When he fought, his methods would
have brought a flush of shame to the face of His Satanic
Majesty.  He had hit oftener from behind than from before.  He
had always taken every advantage of size and weight and
numbers that he could call to his assistance.  He was an
insulter of girls and women.  He was a bar-room brawler, and
a saloon-corner loafer.  He was all that was dirty, and mean,
and contemptible, and cowardly in the eyes of a brave man,
and yet, notwithstanding all this, Billy Byrne was no coward.  
He was what he was because of training and environment.  He
knew no other methods; no other code.  Whatever the meager
ethics of his kind he would have lived up to them to the
death.  He never had squealed on a pal, and he never had left
a wounded friend to fall into the hands of the enemy--the

Nor had he ever let a man speak to him, as the mate had
spoken, and get away with it, and so, while he did not act as
quickly as would have been his wont had his brain been clear,
he did act; but the interval of time had led the mate into an
erroneous conception of its cause, and into a further rash
show of authority, and had thrown him off his guard as well.

"What you need," said the mate, advancing toward Billy,
"is a bash on the beezer.  It'll help you remember that you
ain't nothin' but a dirty damn landlubber, an' when your
betters come around you'll--"

But what Billy would have done in the presence of his
betters remained stillborn in the mate's imagination in the
face of what Billy really did do to his better as that worthy
swung a sudden, vicious blow at the mucker's face.

Billy Byrne had not been scrapping with third- and fourth-
rate heavies, and sparring with real, live ones for nothing.  
The mate's fist whistled through empty air; the blear-eyed
hunk of clay that had seemed such easy prey to him was
metamorphosed on the instant into an alert, catlike bundle
of steel sinews, and Billy Byrne swung that awful right with
the pile-driver weight, that even The Big Smoke himself had
acknowledged respect for, straight to the short ribs of his

With a screech of surprise and pain the mate crumpled in
the far corner of the forecastle, rammed halfway beneath a
bunk by the force of the terrific blow.  Like a tiger Billy
Byrne was after him, and dragging the man out into the
center of the floor space he beat and mauled him until his
victim's blood-curdling shrieks echoed through the ship from
stem to stern.

When the captain, followed by a half-dozen seamen rushed
down the companionway, he found Billy sitting astride the
prostrate form of the mate.  His great fingers circled the man's
throat, and with mighty blows he was dashing the fellow's
head against the hard floor.  Another moment and murder
would have been complete.

"Avast there!" cried the captain, and as though to punctuate
his remark he swung the heavy stick he usually carried
full upon the back of Billy's head.  It was that blow that
saved the mate's life, for when Billy came to he found himself
in a dark and smelly hole, chained and padlocked to a
heavy stanchion.

They kept Billy there for a week; but every day the
captain visited him in an attempt to show him the error of
his way.  The medium used by the skipper for impressing
his ideas of discipline upon Billy was a large, hard stick.  
At the end of the week it was necessary to carry Billy above
to keep the rats from devouring him, for the continued beatings
and starvation had reduced him to little more than an
unconscious mass of raw and bleeding meat.

"There," remarked the skipper, as he viewed his work by
the light of day, "I guess that fellow'll know his place next
time an officer an' a gentleman speaks to him."

That Billy survived is one of the hitherto unrecorded
miracles of the power of matter over mind.  A man of intellect,
of imagination, a being of nerves, would have succumbed to the
shock alone; but Billy was not as these.  He
simply lay still and thoughtless, except for half-formed ideas
of revenge, until Nature, unaided, built up what the captain
had so ruthlessly torn down.

Ten days after they brought him up from the hold Billy
was limping about the deck of the Halfmoon doing light
manual labor.  From the other sailors aboard he learned
that he was not the only member of the crew who had been
shanghaied.  Aside from a half-dozen reckless men from the
criminal classes who had signed voluntarily, either because
they could not get a berth upon a decent ship, or desired to
flit as quietly from the law zone of the United States as
possible, not a man was there who had been signed regularly.

They were as tough and vicious a lot as Fate ever had
foregathered in one forecastle, and with them Billy Byrne
felt perfectly at home.  His early threats of awful vengeance
to be wreaked upon the mate and skipper had subsided with
the rough but sensible advice of his messmates.  
The mate, for his part, gave no indication of harboring
the assault that Billy had made upon him other than to
assign the most dangerous or disagreeable duties of the ship
to the mucker whenever it was possible to do so; but the
result of this was to hasten Billy's nautical education, and
keep him in excellent physical trim.

All traces of alcohol had long since vanished from the
young man's system.  His face showed the effects of his
enforced abstemiousness in a marked degree.  The red, puffy,
blotchy complexion had given way to a clear, tanned skin;
bright eyes supplanted the bleary, bloodshot things that had
given the bestial expression to his face in the past.  His
features, always regular and strong, had taken on a peculiarly
refined dignity from the salt air, the clean life, and
the dangerous occupation of the deep-sea sailor, that would
have put Kelly's gang to a pinch to have recognized their
erstwhile crony had he suddenly appeared in their midst in
the alley back of the feed-store on Grand Avenue.

With the new life Billy found himself taking on a new
character.  He surprised himself singing at his work--he
whose whole life up to now bad been devoted to dodging
honest labor--whose motto bad been: The world owes me
a living, and it's up to me to collect it.  Also, he was
surprised to discover that he liked to work, that he took keen
pride in striving to outdo the men who worked with him, and
this spirit, despite the suspicion which the captain entertained
of Billy since the episode of the forecastle, went far
to making his life more endurable on board the Halfmoon,
for workers such as the mucker developed into are not to be
sneezed at, and though he had little idea of subordination
it was worth putting up with something to keep him in condition
to work.  It was this line of reasoning that saved
Billy's skull on one or two occasions when his impudence had
been sufficient to have provoked the skipper to a personal
assault upon him under ordinary conditions; and Mr. Ward,
having tasted of Billy's medicine once, had no craving for
another encounter with him that would entail personal conflict.

The entire crew was made up of ruffians and unhung murderers,
but Skipper Simms had had little experience with
seamen of any other ilk, so he handled them roughshod, using
his horny fist, and the short, heavy stick that he habitually
carried, in lieu of argument; but with the exception of Billy
the men all had served before the mast in the past, so that
ship's discipline was to some extent ingrained in them all.

Enjoying his work, the life was not an unpleasant one
for the mucker.  The men of the forecastle were of the kind
he had always known--there was no honor among them, no
virtue, no kindliness, no decency.  With them Billy was at
home--he scarcely missed the old gang.  He made his
friends among them, and his enemies.  He picked quarrels,
as had been his way since childhood.  His science and his
great strength, together with his endless stock of underhand
tricks brought him out of each encounter with fresh laurels.  
Presently he found it difficult to pick a fight--his messmates
had had enough of him.  They left him severely alone.

These ofttimes bloody battles engendered no deep-seated
hatred in the hearts of the defeated.  They were part of
the day's work and play of the half-brutes that Skipper
Simms had gathered together.  There was only one man
aboard whom Billy really hated.  That was the passenger,
and Billy hated him, not because of anything that the man
had said or done to Billy, for he had never even so much
as spoken to the mucker, but because of the fine clothes and
superior air which marked him plainly to Billy as one of that
loathed element of society--a gentleman.

Billy hated everything that was respectable.  He had hated
the smug, self-satisfied merchants of Grand Avenue.  He had
writhed in torture at the sight of every shiny, purring automobile
that had ever passed him with its load of well-groomed
men and women.  A clean, stiff collar was to Billy as a red
rag to a bull.  Cleanliness, success, opulence, decency, spelled
but one thing to Billy--physical weakness; and he hated
physical weakness.  His idea of indicating strength and manliness
lay in displaying as much of brutality and uncouthness
as possible.  To assist a woman over a mud hole would have
seemed to Billy an acknowledgement of pusillanimity--to
stick out his foot and trip her so that she sprawled full
length in it, the hall mark of bluff manliness.  And so he
hated, with all the strength of a strong nature, the immaculate,
courteous, well-bred man who paced the deck each day smoking
a fragrant cigar after his meals.

Inwardly he wondered what the dude was doing on board
such a vessel as the Halfmoon, and marveled that so weak
a thing dared venture among real men.  Billy's contempt
caused him to notice the passenger more than he would have
been ready to admit.  He saw that the man's face was handsome,
but there was an unpleasant shiftiness to his brown
eyes; and then, entirely outside of his former reasons for
hating him, Billy came to loathe him intuitively, as one who
was not to be trusted.  Finally his dislike for the man became
an obsession.  He haunted, when discipline permitted,
that part of the vessel where he would be most likely to
encounter the object of his wrath, hoping, always hoping, that
the "dude" would give him some slight pretext for "pushing
in his mush," as Billy would so picturesquely have worded it.

He was loitering about the deck for this purpose one
evening when he overheard part of a low-voiced conversation
between the object of his wrath and Skipper Simms--just
enough to set him to wondering what was doing, and to show
him that whatever it might be it was crooked and that the
immaculate passenger and Skipper Simms were both "in on

He questioned "Bony" Sawyer and "Red" Sanders, but
neither had nearly as much information as Billy himself, and
so the Halfmoon came to Honolulu and lay at anchor some
hundred yards from a stanch, trim, white yacht, and none
knew, other than the Halfmoon's officers and her single
passenger, the real mission of the harmless-looking little brigantine.



NO SHORE leave was granted the crew of the Halfmoon while
the vessel lay off Honolulu, and deep and ominous were the
grumblings of the men.  Only First Officer Ward and the
second mate went ashore.  Skipper Simms kept the men busy
painting and holystoning as a vent for their pent emotions.

Billy Byrne noticed that the passenger had abandoned his
daylight strolls on deck.  In fact he never once left his cabin
while the Halfmoon lay at anchor until darkness had fallen;
then he would come on deck, often standing for an hour at a
time with eyes fastened steadily upon the brave little yacht
from the canopied upper deck of which gay laughter and soft
music came floating across the still water.

When Mr. Ward and the second mate came to shore a
strange thing happened.  They entered a third-rate hotel near
the water front, engaged a room for a week, paid in advance,
were in their room for half an hour and emerged clothed in
civilian raiment.

Then they hastened to another hostelry--a first-class one
this time, and the second mate walked ahead in frock coat
and silk hat while Mr. Ward trailed behind in a neat, blue
serge sack suit, carrying both bags.

At the second hotel the second mate registered as Henri
Theriere, Count de Cadenet, and servant, France.  His first act
thereafter was to hand a note to the clerk asking that it be
dispatched immediately.  The note was addressed to Anthony
Harding, Esq., On Board Yacht Lotus.

Count de Cadenet and his servant repaired immediately to
the count's rooms, there to await an answer to the note.  Henri
Theriere, the second officer of the Halfmoon, in frock coat
and silk hat looked every inch a nobleman and a gentleman.
What his past had been only he knew, but his polished
manners, his knowledge of navigation and seamanship, and
his leaning toward the ways of the martinet in his dealings
with the men beneath him had led Skipper Simms to assume
that he had once held a commission in the French Navy, from
which he doubtless had been kicked--in disgrace.

The man was cold, cruel, of a moody disposition, and
quick to anger.  He had been signed as second officer for this
cruise through the intervention of Divine and Clinker.  He had
sailed with Simms before, but the skipper had found him too
hard a customer to deal with, and had been on the point of
seeking another second when Divine and Clinker discovered
him on board the Halfmoon and after ten minutes' conversation
with him found that he fitted so perfectly into their
scheme of action that they would not hear of Simms' releasing

Ward had little use for the Frenchman, whose haughty
manner and condescending airs grated on the sensibilities of
the uncouth and boorish first officer.  The duty which necessitated
him acting in the capacity of Theriere's servant was
about as distasteful to him as anything could be, and only
served to add to his hatred for the inferior, who, in the
bottom of his heart, he knew to be in every way, except upon
the roster of the Halfmoon, his superior; but money can work
wonders, and Divine's promise that the officers and crew of
the Halfmoon would have a cool million United States dollars
to divide among them in case of the success of the venture
had quite effectually overcome any dislike which Mr. Ward
had felt for this particular phase of his duty.

The two officers sat in silence in their room at the hotel
awaiting an answer to the note they had dispatched to Anthony
Harding, Esq.  The parts they were to act had been
carefully rehearsed on board the Halfmoon many times.  Each
was occupied with his own thoughts, and as they had nothing
in common outside the present rascality that had brought
them together, and as that subject was one not well to discuss
more than necessary, there seemed no call for conversation.

On board the yacht in the harbor preparations were being
made to land a small party that contemplated a motor trip up
the Nuuanu Valley when a small boat drew alongside, and a
messenger from the hotel handed a sealed note to one of the

From the deck of the Halfmoon Skipper Simms witnessed
the transaction, smiling inwardly.  Billy Byrne also saw it, but
it meant nothing to him.  He had been lolling upon the deck
of the brigantine glaring at the yacht Lotus, hating her and
the gay, well-dressed men and women he could see laughing
and chatting upon her deck.  They represented to him the
concentrated essence of all that was pusillanimous, disgusting,
loathsome in that other world that was as far separated from
him as though he had been a grubworm in the manure pile
back of Brady's livery stable.

He saw the note handed by the sailor to a gray-haired,
smooth-faced man--a large, sleek, well-groomed man.  Billy
could imagine the white hands and polished nails of him.  The
thought was nauseating.

The man who took and opened the note was Anthony
Harding, Esq.  He read it, and then passed it to a young
woman who stood near-by talking with other young people.

"Here, Barbara," he said, "is something of more interest to
you than to me.  If you wish I'll call upon him and invite him
to dinner tonight."

The girl was reading the note.

Anthony Harding, Esq.
 On Board Yacht Lotus,
My dear Mr. Harding:

This will introduce a very dear friend of mine, Count de
Cadenet, who expects to be in Honolulu about the time that
you are there.  The count is traveling for pleasure, and as he is
entirely unacquainted upon the islands any courtesies which
you may show him will he greatly appreciated.


                            L. CORTWRITE DIVINE.

The girl smiled as she finished perusing the note.

"Larry is always picking up titles and making dear friends
of them," she laughed.  "I wonder where he found this one."

"Or where this one found him," suggested Mr. Harding.  
"Well, I suppose that the least we can do is to have him
aboard for dinner.  We'll be leaving tomorrow, so there won't
be much entertaining we can do."

"Let's pick him up on our way through town now,"
suggested Barbara Harding, "and take him with us for the
day.  That will be settling our debt to friendship, and dinner
tonight can depend upon what sort of person we find the
count to be."

"As you will," replied her father, and so it came about that
two big touring cars drew up before the Count de Cadenet's
hotel half an hour later, and Anthony Harding, Esq., entered
and sent up his card.

The "count" came down in person to greet his caller.  
Harding saw at a glance that the man was a gentleman, and
when he had introduced him to the other members of the
party it was evident that they appraised him quite as had their
host.  Barbara Harding seemed particularly taken with the
Count de Cadenet, insisting that he join those who occupied
her car, and so it was that the second officer of the Halfmoon
rode out of Honolulu in pleasant conversation with the object
of his visit to the island.

Barbara Harding found De Cadenet an interesting man.  
There was no corner of the globe however remote with which
he was not to some degree familiar.  He was well read, and
possessed the ability to discuss what he had read intelligently
and entertainingly.  There was no evidence of moodiness in
him now.  He was the personification of affability, for was he
not monopolizing the society of a very beautiful, and very
wealthy young lady?

The day's outing had two significant results.  It put into the
head of the second mate of the Halfmoon that which would
have caused his skipper and the retiring Mr. Divine acute
mental perturbation could they have guessed it; and it put De
Cadenet into possession of information which necessitated his
refusing the urgent invitation to dine upon the yacht, Lotus,
that evening--the information that the party would sail the following
morning en route to Manila.

"I cannot tell you," he said to Mr. Harding, "how much I
regret the circumstance that must rob me of the pleasure of
accepting your invitation.  Only absolute necessity, I assure
you, could prevent me being with you as long as possible,"
and though he spoke to the girl's father he looked directly
into the eyes of Barbara Harding.

A young woman of less experience might have given some
outward indication of the effect of this speech upon her, but
whether she was pleased or otherwise the Count de Cadenet
could not guess, for she merely voiced the smiling regrets that
courtesy demanded.

They left De Cadenet at his hotel, and as he bid them
farewell the man turned to Barbara Harding with a low aside.

"I shall see you again, Miss Harding," he said, "very, very

She could not guess what was in his mind as he voiced this
rather, under the circumstances, unusual statement.  Could she
have, the girl would have been terror-stricken; but she saw that
in his eyes which she could translate, and she wondered many
times that evening whether she were pleased or angry with the
message it conveyed.

The moment De Cadenet entered the hotel he hurried to
the room where the impatient Mr. Ward awaited him.

"Quick!" he cried.  "We must bundle out of here posthaste.  
They sail tomorrow morning.  Your duties as valet have been
light and short-lived; but I can give you an excellent recommendation
should you desire to take service with another gentleman."

"That'll be about all of that, Mr. Theriere," snapped the
first officer, coldly.  "I did not embark upon this theatrical
enterprise for amusement--I see nothing funny in it, and I
wish you to remember that I am still your superior officer."

Theriere shrugged.  Ward did not chance to catch the ugly
look in his companion's eye.  Together they gathered up their
belongings, descended to the office, paid their bill, and a few
moments later were changing back to their sea clothes in the
little hotel where they first had engaged accommodations.  Half
an hour later they stepped to the deck of the Halfmoon.

Billy Byrne saw them from where he worked in the vicinity
of the cabin.  When they were not looking he scowled maliciously
at them.  They were the personal representatives of
authority, and Billy hated authority in whatever guise it might
be visited upon him.  He hated law and order and discipline.

"I'd like to meet one of dem guys on Green Street some
night," he thought.

He saw them enter the captain's cabin with the skipper, and
then he saw Mr. Divine join them.  Billy noted the haste
displayed by the four and it set him to wondering.  The scrap
of conversation between Divine and Simms that he had overheard
returned to him.  He wanted to hear more, and as Billy
was not handicapped by any overly refined notions of the
ethics which frown upon eavesdropping he lost no time in
transferring the scene of his labors to a point sufficiently close
to one of the cabin ports to permit him to note what took
place within.

What the mucker beard of that conversation made him
prick up his ears.  He saw that something after his own heart
was doing--something crooked, and he wondered that so
pusillanimous a thing as Divine could have a hand in it.  It
almost changed his estimate of the passenger of the Halfmoon.

The meeting broke up so suddenly that Billy had to drop
to his knees to escape the observation of those within the
cabin.  As it was, Theriere, who had started to leave a second
before the others, caught a fleeting glimpse of a face that
quickly had been withdrawn from the cabin skylight as
though its owner were fearful of detection.

Without a word to his companions the Frenchman left the
cabin, but once outside he bounded up the companionway to
the deck with the speed of a squirrel.  Nor was he an instant
too soon, for as he emerged from below he saw the figure of
a man disappearing forward.

"Hey there, you!" he cried.  "Come back here."

The mucker turned, a sulky scowl upon his lowering countenance,
and the second officer saw that it was the fellow who
had given Ward such a trimming the first day out.

"Oh, it's you is it, Byrne?" he said in a not unpleasant
tone.  "Come to my quarters a moment, I want to speak with
you," and so saying he wheeled about and retraced his way
below, the seaman at his heels.

"My man," said Theriere, once the two were behind the
closed door of the officer's cabin, "I needn't ask how much
you overheard of the conversation in the captain's cabin.  If
you hadn't overheard a great deal more than you should you
wouldn't have been so keen to escape detection just now.  
What I wanted to say to you is this.  Keep a close tongue in
your head and stick by me in what's going to happen in the
next few days.  This bunch," he jerked his thumb in the
direction of the captain's cabin, "are fixing their necks for
halters, an' I for one don't intend to poke my head through
any noose of another man's making.  There's more in this
thing if it's handled right, and handled without too many men
in on the whack-up than we can get out of it if that man
Divine has to be counted in.  I've a plan of my own, an' it
won't take but three or four of us to put it across.

"You don't like Ward," he continued, "and you may be
almighty sure that Mr. Ward ain't losing any sleep nights over
love of you.  If you stick to that bunch Ward will do you out
of your share as sure as you are a foot high, an' the chances
are that he'll do you out of a whole lot more besides--as a
matter of fact, Byrne, you're a mighty poor life insurance risk
right now, with a life expectancy that's pretty near minus as
long as Bender Ward is on the same ship with you.  Do you
understand what I mean?"

"Aw," said Billy Byrne, "I ain't afraid o' that stiff.  Let him
make any funny crack at me an' I'll cave in a handful of slats
for him--the piker."

"That's all right too, Byrne," said Theriere.  "Of course you
can do it if anybody can, provided you get the chance; but
Ward isn't the man to give you any chance.  There may be
shooting necessary within the next day or so, and there's
nothing to prevent Ward letting you have it in the back,
purely by accident; and if he don't do it then there'll be all
kinds of opportunities for it before any of us ever see a white
man's port again.  He'll get you, Byrne, he's that kind.

"Now, with my proposition you'll be shut of Ward, Skipper
Simms, and Divine.  There'll be more money in it for you, an'
you won't have to go around expecting a bullet in the small
of your back every minute.  What do you say?  Are you game,
or shall I have to go back to Skipper Simms and Ward and
tell them that I caught you eavesdropping?"

"Oh, I'm game," said Billy Byrne, "if you'll promise me a
square deal on the divvy."

The Frenchman extended his hand.

"Let's shake on it," he said.

Billy took the proffered palm in his.

"That's a go," he said; "but hadn't you better wise me to
wot's doin'?"

"Not now," said Theriere, "someone might overhear just as
you did.  Wait a bit until I have a better opportunity, and I'll
tell you all there is to know.  In the meantime think over
who'd be the best men to let into this with us--we'll need
three or four more besides ourselves.  Now go on deck about
your duties as though nothing had happened, and if I'm a bit
rougher than usual with you you'll understand that it's to
avert any possible suspicion later."

"I'm next," said Billy Byrne.



BY DUSK the trim little brigantine was scudding away toward
the west before a wind that could not have suited her better
had it been made to order at the special behest of the devil
himself to speed his minions upon their devil's work.

All hands were in the best of humor.  The crew had
forgotten their recent rancor at not having been permitted
shore leave at Honolulu in the expectancy of adventure in the
near future, for there was that in the atmosphere of the
Halfmoon which proclaimed louder than words the proximity
of excitement, and the goal toward which they had been
sailing since they left San Francisco.

Skipper Simms and Divine were elated at the luck which
had brought them to Honolulu in the nick of time, and at the
success of Theriere's mission at that port.  They had figured
upon a week at least there before the second officer of the
Halfmoon could ingratiate himself sufficiently into the
goodwill of the Hardings to learn their plans, and now they were
congratulating themselves upon their acumen in selecting so fit
an agent as the Frenchman for the work he had handled so
expeditiously and so well.

Ward was pleased that he had not been forced to prolong
the galling masquerade of valet to his inferior officer.  He was
hopeful, too, that coming events would bring to the fore an
opportunity to satisfy the vengeance he had inwardly sworn
against the sailor who had so roughly manhandled him a few
weeks past--Theriere had not been in error in his estimate of
his fellow-officer.

Billy Byrne, the arduous labor of making sail over for the
time, was devoting his energies to the task of piecing out from
what Theriere had told him and what he had overheard
outside the skipper's cabin some sort of explanation of the
work ahead.

As he pondered Theriere's proposition he saw the wisdom
of it.  It would give those interested a larger amount of the
booty for their share.  Another feature of it was that it was
underhanded and that appealed strongly to the mucker.  Now,
if he could but devise some scheme for double-crossing Theriere
the pleasure and profit of the adventure would be tripled.

It was this proposition that was occupying his attention
when he caught sight of "Bony" Sawyer and "Red" Sanders
emerging from the forecastle.  Billy Byrne hailed them.

When the mucker had explained the possibilities of profit
that were to be had by entering the conspiracy aimed at
Simms and Ward the two seamen were enthusiastically for it.

"Bony" Sawyer suggested that the black cook, Blanco, was
about the only other member of the crew upon whom they
could depend, and at Byrne's request "Bony" promised to
enlist the cooperation of the giant Ethiopian.

From early morning of the second day out of Honolulu
keen eyes scanned the eastern horizon through powerful glasses,
until about two bells of the afternoon watch a slight
smudge became visible about two points north of east.  Immediately
the course of the Halfmoon was altered so that she
bore almost directly north by west in an effort to come safely
into the course of the steamer which was seen rising rapidly
above the horizon.

The new course of the brigantine was held as long as it
seemed reasonably safe without danger of being sighted under
full sail by the oncoming vessel, then her head was brought
into the wind, and one by one her sails were lowered and
furled, as the keen eyes of Second Officer Theriere announced
that there was no question but that the white hull in the
distance was that of the steam pleasure yacht Lotus.

Upon the deck of the unsuspecting vessel a merry party
laughed and chatted in happy ignorance of the plotters in
their path.  It was nearly half an hour after the Halfmoon had
come to rest, drifting idly under bare poles, that the lookout
upon the Lotus sighted her.

"Sailin' vessel lyin' to, west half south," he shouted, "flyin'
distress signals."

In an instant guests and crew had hurried to points of
vantage where they might obtain unobstructed view of the
stranger, and take advantage of this break in the monotony of
a long sea voyage.

Anthony Harding was on the bridge with the captain, and
both men had leveled their glasses upon the distant ship.

"Can you make her out?" asked the owner.

"She's a brigantine," replied the officer, "and all that I can
make out from here would indicate that everything was shipshape
about her.  Her canvas is neatly furled, and she is
evidently well manned, for I can see a number of figures
above deck apparently engaged in watching us.  I'll alter our
course and speak to her--we'll see what's wrong, and give
her a hand if we can."

"That's right," replied Harding; "do anything you can for

A moment later he joined his daughter and their guests to
report the meager information he had.

"How exciting," exclaimed Barbara Harding.  "Of course it's
not a real shipwreck, but maybe it's the next thing to it.  The
poor souls may have been drifting about here in the center of
the Pacific without food or water for goodness knows how
many weeks, and now just think how they must be lifting
their voices in thanks to God for his infinite mercy in guiding
us to them."

"If they've been drifting for any considerable number of
weeks without food or water," hazarded Billy Mallory, "about
the only things they'll need'll be what we didn't have the
foresight to bring along--an undertaker and a preacher."

"Don't be horrid, Billy," returned Miss Harding.  "You
know perfectly well that I didn't mean weeks--I meant days;
and anyway they'll be grateful to us for what we can do for
them.  I can scarcely wait to hear their story."

Billy Mallory was inspecting the stranger through Mr.
Harding's glass.  Suddenly he gave an exclamation of dismay.

"By George!" he cried.  "It is serious after all.  That ship's
afire.  Look, Mr. Harding," and he passed the glass over to his

And sure enough, as the owner of the Lotus found the
brigantine again in the center of his lens he saw a thin column
of black smoke rising amidships; but what he did not see was
Mr. Ward upon the opposite side of the Halfmoon's cabin
superintending the burning by the black cook of a bundle of
oily rags in an iron boiler.

"By Jove!" exclaimed Mr. Harding.  "This is terrible.  The
poor devils are panic-stricken.  Look at 'em making for the
boats!" and with that he dashed back to the bridge to confer
with his captain.

"Yes," said that officer, "I noticed the smoke about the
same time you did--funny it wasn't apparent before.  I've
already signaled full speed ahead, and I've instructed Mr.
Foster to have the boats in readiness to lower away if we find
that they're short of boats on the brigantine.

"What I can't understand," he added after a moment's
silence, "is why they didn't show any signs of excitement
about that fire until we came within easy sight of them--it
looks funny."

"Well, we'll know in a few minutes more," returned Mr.
Harding.  "The chances are that the fire is just a recent
addition to their predicament, whatever it may be, and that
they have only just discovered it themselves."

"Then it can't have gained enough headway," insisted the
captain, "to cause them any such immediate terror as would
be indicated by the haste with which the whole ship's crew is
tumbling into those boats; but as you say, sir, we'll have their
story out of them in a few minutes now, so it's idle speculating

The officers and men of the Halfmoon, in so far as those
on board the Lotus could guess, had all entered the boats at
last, and were pulling frantically away from their own ship
toward the rapidly nearing yacht; but what they did not guess
and could not know was that Mr. Divine paced nervously to
and fro in his cabin, while Second Officer Theriere tended the
smoking rags that Ward and Blanco had resigned to him that
they might take their places in the boats.

Theriere had been greatly disgusted with the turn events
had taken for he had determined upon a line of action that he
felt sure would prove highly remunerative to himself.  It had
been nothing less than a bold resolve to call Blanco, Byrne,
"Bony," and "Red" to his side the moment Simms and Ward
revealed the true purpose of their ruse to those on board the
Lotus, and with his henchmen take sides with the men of the
yacht against his former companions.

As he had explained it to Billy Byrne the idea was to
permit Mr. Harding to believe that Theriere and his companions
had been duped by Skipper Simms--that they had had
no idea of the work that they were to be called upon to
perform until the last moment and that then they had done
the only thing they could to protect the passengers and crew
of the Lotus.

"And then," Theriere had concluded, "when they think we
are a band of heroes, and the best friends they have on earth
we'll just naturally be in a position to grab the whole lot of
them, and collect ransoms on ten or fifteen instead of just

"Bully!" exclaimed the mucker.  "You sure got some bean,

As a matter of fact Theriere had had no intention of
carrying the matter as far as he had intimated to Billy except
as a last resort.  He had been mightily smitten by the face and
fortune of Barbara Harding and had seen in the trend of
events a possible opportunity of so deeply obligating her
father and herself that when he paid court to her she might
fall a willing victim to his wiles.  In this case he would be
obliged to risk nothing, and could make away with his accomplices
by explaining to Mr. Harding that he had been compelled to
concoct this other scheme to obtain their assistance
against Simms and Ward; then they could throw the three
into irons and all would be lovely; but now that fool Ward
had upset the whole thing by hitting upon this asinine fire
hoax as an excuse for boarding the Lotus in force, and had
further dampened Theriere's pet scheme by suggesting to Skipper
Simms the danger of Theriere being recognized as they
were boarding the Lotus and bringing suspicion upon them all

They all knew that a pleasure yacht like the Lotus was well
supplied with small arms, and that at the first intimation of
danger there would be plenty of men aboard to repel assault,
and, in all probability, with entire success.

That there were excellent grounds for Theriere's belief that
he could win Barbara Harding's hand with such a flying start
as his daring plan would have assured him may not be
questioned, for the man was cultivated, polished and, in a
sinister way, good-looking.  The title that he had borne upon
the occasion of his visit to the yacht, was, all unknown to his
accomplices, his by right of birth, so that there was nothing
other than a long-dead scandal in the French Navy that might
have proved a bar to an affiance such as he dreamed of.  And
now to be thwarted at the last moment!  It was unendurable.  
That pig of a Ward had sealed his own death warrant, of that
Theriere was convinced.

The boats were now quite close to the yacht, which had
slowed down almost to a dead stop.  In answer to the query
of the Lotus' captain Skipper Simms was explaining their

"I'm Captain Jones," he shouted, "of the brigantine
Clarinda, Frisco to Yokohama with dynamite.  We disabled our
rudder yesterday, an' this afternoon fire started in the hold.  
It's makin' headway fast now, an'll reach the dynamite most
any time.  You'd better take us aboard, an' get away from
here as quick as you can.  'Tain't safe nowhere within five
hun'erd fathom of her."

"You'd better make haste, Captain, hadn't you?" suggested
Mr. Harding.

"I don't like the looks of things, sir," replied that officer.  
"She ain't flyin' any dynamite flag, an' if she was an' had a
hold full there wouldn't be any particular danger to us, an'
anyone that has ever shipped dynamite would know it, or
ought to.  It's not fire that detonates dynamite, it's concussion.  
No sir, Mr. Harding, there's something queer here--I don't
like the looks of it.  Why just take a good look at the faces of
those men.  Did you ever see such an ugly-looking pack of
unhung murderers in your life, sir?"

"I must admit that they're not an overly prepossessing
crowd, Norris," replied Mr. Harding.  "But it's not always
either fair or safe to judge strangers entirely by appearances.  
I'm afraid that there's nothing else for it in the name of
common humanity than to take them aboard, Norris.  I'm sure
your fears are entirely groundless."

"Then it's your orders, sir, to take them aboard?" asked
Captain Norris.

"Yes, Captain, I think you'd better," said Mr. Harding.

"Very good, sir," replied the officer, turning to give the
necessary commands.

The officers and men of the Halfmoon swarmed up the sides
of the Lotus, dark-visaged, fierce, and forbidding.

"Reminds me of a boarding party of pirates," remarked
Billy Mallory, as he watched Blanco, the last to throw a leg
over the rail, reach the deck.

"They're not very pretty, are they?" murmured Barbara
Harding, instinctively shrinking closer to her companion.

"'Pretty' scarcely describes them, Barbara," said Billy; "and
do you know that somehow I am having difficulty in imagining
them on their knees giving up thanks to the Lord for their
rescue--that was your recent idea of 'em, you will recall."

"If you have purposely set yourself the task of being more
than ordinarily disagreeable today, Billy," said Barbara sweetly,
"I'm sure it will please you to know that you are succeeding."

"I'm glad I'm successful at something then," laughed the
man.  "I've certainly been unsuccessful enough in another

"What, for example?" asked Barbara, innocently.

"Why in trying to make myself so agreeable heretofore that
you'd finally consent to say 'yes' for a change."

"Now you are going to make it all the worse by being
stupid," cried the girl petulantly.  "Why can't you be nice, as
you used to be before you got this silly notion into your

"I don't think it's a silly notion to be head over heels in
love with the sweetest girl on earth," cried Billy.

"Hush!  Someone will hear you."

"I don't care if they do.  I'd like to advertise it to the whole
world.  I'm proud of the fact that I love you; and you don't
care enough about it to realize how really hard I'm hit--why
I'd die for you, Barbara, and welcome the chance; why--My
God!  What's that?"

"O Billy!  What are those men doing?" cried the girl.  
"They're shooting.  They're shooting at papa!  Quick, Billy!  Do
something.  For heaven's sake do something."

On the deck below them the "rescued" crew of the "Clarinda"
had surrounded Mr. Harding, Captain Norris, and most
of the crew of the Lotus, flashing quick-drawn revolvers from
beneath shirts and coats, and firing at two of the yacht's men
who showed fight.

"Keep quiet," commanded Skipper Simms, "an' there won't
none of you get hurted."

"What do you want of us?" cried Mr. Harding.  "If it's
money, take what you can find aboard us, and go on your
way.  No one will hinder you."

Skipper Simms paid no attention to him.  His eyes swept
aloft to the upper deck.  There he saw a wide-eyed girl and a
man looking down upon them.  He wondered if she was the
one they sought.  There were other women aboard.  He could
see them, huddled frightened behind Harding and Norris.  
Some of them were young and beautiful; but there was
something about the girl above him that assured him she
could be none other than Barbara Harding.  To discover the
truth Simms resorted to a ruse, for he knew that were he to
ask Harding outright if the girl were his daughter the chances
were more than even that the old man would suspect something
of the nature of their visit and deny her identity.

"Who is that woman you have on board here?" he cried in
an accusing tone of voice.  "That's what we're a-here to find

"Why she's my daughter, man!" blurted Harding.  "Who did

"Thanks," said Skipper Simms, with a self-satisfied grin.  
"That's what I wanted to be sure of.  Hey, you, Byrne!
You're nearest the companionway--fetch the girl."

At the command the mucker turned and leaped up the
stairway to the upper deck.  Billy Mallory had overheard the
conversation below and Simms' command to Byrne.  Disengaging
himself from Barbara Harding who in her terror had
clutched his arm, he ran forward to the head of the stairway.

The men of the Lotus looked on in mute and helpless rage.  
All were covered by the guns of the boarding party--the still
forms of two of their companions bearing eloquent witness to
the slenderness of provocation necessary to tighten the trigger
fingers of the beasts standing guard over them.

Billy Byrne never hesitated in his rush for the upper deck.  
The sight of the man awaiting him above but whetted his
appetite for battle.  The trim flannels, the white shoes, the natty
cap, were to the mucker as sufficient cause for justifiable
homicide as is an orange ribbon in certain portions of the
West Side of Chicago on St. Patrick's Day.  As were "Remember
the Alamo," and "Remember the Maine" to the fighting
men of the days that they were live things so were the habiliments
of gentility to Billy Byrne at all times.

Billy Mallory was an older man than the mucker--twenty-four
perhaps--and fully as large.  For four years he had
played right guard on a great eastern team, and for three he
had pulled stroke upon the crew.  During the two years since
his graduation he had prided himself upon the maintenance of
the physical supremacy that had made the name of Mallory
famous in collegiate athletics; but in one vital essential he was
hopelessly handicapped in combat with such as Billy Byrne,
for Mallory was a gentleman.

As the mucker rushed upward toward him Mallory had all
the advantage of position and preparedness, and had he done
what Billy Byrne would have done under like circumstances
he would have planted a kick in the midst of the mucker's
facial beauties with all the power and weight and energy at his
command; but Billy Mallory could no more have perpetrated
a cowardly trick such as this than he could have struck a

Instead, he waited, and as the mucker came on an even
footing with him Mallory swung a vicious right for the man's
jaw.  Byrne ducked beneath the blow, came up inside Mallory's
guard, and struck him three times with trip-hammer
velocity and pile-driver effectiveness--once upon the jaw and
twice--below the belt!

The girl, clinging to the rail, riveted by the paralysis of
fright, saw her champion stagger back and half crumple to the
deck.  Then she saw him make a brave and desperate rally, as,
though torn with agony, he lurched forward in an endeavor
to clinch with the brute before him.  Again the mucker struck
his victim--quick choppy hooks that rocked Mallory's head
from side to side, and again the brutal blow below the belt;
but with the tenacity of a bulldog the man fought for a hold
upon his foe, and at last, notwithstanding Byrne's best efforts,
he succeeded in closing with the mucker and dragging him to
the deck.

Here the two men rolled and tumbled, Byrne biting, gouging,
and kicking while Mallory devoted all of his fast-waning
strength to an effort to close his fingers upon the throat of his
antagonist.  But the terrible punishment which the mucker had
inflicted upon him overcame him at last, and as Byrne felt the
man's efforts weakening he partially disengaged himself and
raising himself upon one arm dealt his now almost unconscious
enemy a half-dozen frightful blows upon the face.

With a shriek Barbara Harding turned from the awful sight
as Billy Mallory's bloody and swollen eyes rolled up and set,
while the mucker threw the inert form roughly from him.  
Quick to the girl's memory sprang Mallory's recent declaration,
which she had thought at the time but the empty, and
vainglorious boasting of the man in love--"Why I'd die for
you, Barbara, and welcome the chance!"

"Poor boy!  How soon, and how terribly has the chance
come!" moaned the girl.

Then a rough hand fell upon her arm.

"Here, youse," a coarse voice yelled in her ear.  "Come out
o' de trance," and at the same time she was jerked roughly
toward the companionway.

Instinctively the girl held back, and then the mucker, true to
his training, true to himself, gave her arm a sudden twist that
wrenched a scream of agony from her white lips.

"Den come along," growled Billy Byrne, "an' quit dis
monkey business, or I'll sure twist yer flipper clean off'n yeh."

With an oath, Anthony Harding sprang forward to protect
his daughter; but the butt of Ward's pistol brought him
unconscious to the deck.

"Go easy there, Byrne," shouted Skipper Simms; "there
ain't no call to injure the hussy--a corpse won't be worth
nothing to us."

In mute terror the girl now permitted herself to be led to
the deck below.  Quickly she was lowered into a waiting boat.  
Then Skipper Simms ordered Ward to search the yacht and
remove all firearms, after which he was to engage himself to
navigate the vessel with her own crew under armed guard of
half a dozen of the Halfmoon's cutthroats.

These things attended to, Skipper Simms with the balance
of his own crew and six of the crew of the Lotus to take the
places upon the brigantine of those left as a prize crew aboard
the yacht returned with the girl to the Halfmoon.

The sailing vessel's sails were soon hoisted and trimmed,
and in half an hour, followed by the Lotus, she was scudding
briskly southward.  For forty-eight hours this course was held
until Simms felt assured that they were well out of the lane of
regular trans-Pacific traffic.

During this time Barbara Harding had been kept below,
locked in a small, untidy cabin.  She had seen no one other
than a great Negro who brought her meals to her three times
daily--meals that she returned scarcely touched.

Now the Halfmoon was brought up into the wind where
she lay with flapping canvas while Skipper Simms returned to
the Lotus with the six men of the yacht's crew that he had
brought aboard the brigantine with him two days before, and
as many more of his own men.

Once aboard the Lotus the men were put to work with
those already on the yacht.  The boat's rudder was unshipped
and dropped into the ocean; her fires were put out; her
engines were attacked with sledges until they were little better
than so much junk, and to make the slender chances of
pursuit that remained to her entirely nil every ounce of coal
upon her was shoveled into the Pacific.  Her extra masts and
spare sails followed the way of the coal and the rudder, so
that when Skipper Simms and First Officer Ward left her with
their own men that had been aboard her she was little better
than a drifting derelict.

From her cabin window Barbara Harding had witnessed
the wanton wrecking of her father's yacht, and when it was
over and the crew of the brigantine had returned to their own
ship she presently felt the movement of the vessel as it got
under way, and soon the Lotus dropped to the stern and
beyond the range of her tiny port.  With a moan of hopelessness
and terror the girl sank prostrate across the hard berth
that spanned one end of her prison cell.

How long she lay there she did not know, but finally she
was aroused by the opening of her cabin door.  As she sprang
to her feet ready to defend herself against what she felt might
easily be some new form of danger her eyes went wide in
astonishment as they rested on the face of the man who stood
framed in the doorway of her cabin.

"You?" she cried.



"YES, Barbara, it is I," said Mr. Divine; "and thank God
that I am here to do what little any man may do against this
band of murdering pirates."

"But, Larry," cried the girl, in evident bewilderment, "how
did you come to be aboard this ship?  How did you get here?
What are you doing amongst such as these?"

"I am a prisoner," replied the man, "just as are you.  I think
they intend holding us for ransom.  They got me in San
Francisco.  Slugged me and hustled me aboard the night before
they sailed."

"Where are they going to take us?" she asked.

"I do not know," he replied, "although from something I
have overheard of their conversations I imagine that they have
in mind some distant island far from the beaten track of
commerce.  There are thousands such in the Pacific that are
visited by vessels scarce once in a century.  There they will
hold us until they can proceed with the ship to some point
where they can get into communication with their agents in
the States.  When the ransom is paid over to these agents they
will return for us and land us upon some other island where
our friends can find us, or leaving us where we can divulge
the location of our whereabouts to those who pay the ransom."

The girl had been looking intently at Mr. Divine during
their conversation.

"They cannot have treated you very badly, Larry," she said.  
"You are as well groomed and well fed, apparently, as ever."

A slight flush mounting to the man's face made the girl
wonder a bit though it aroused no suspicion in her mind.

"Oh, no," he hastened to assure her, "they have not treated
me at all badly--why should they?  If I die they can collect no
ransom on me.  It is the same with you, Barbara, so I think
you need apprehend no harsh treatment."

"I hope you are right, Larry," she said, but the hopelessness
of her air rather belied any belief that aught but harm could
come from captivity with such as those who officered and
manned the Halfmoon.

"It seems so remarkable," she went on, "that you should be
a prisoner upon the same boat.  I cannot understand it.  Why
only a few days ago we received and entertained a friend of
yours who brought a letter from you to papa--the Count de

Again that telltale flush mantled the man's cheek.  He cursed
himself inwardly for his lack of self-control.  The girl would
have his whole secret out of him in another half-hour if he
were not more careful.

"They made me do that," he said, jerking his thumb in the
general direction of Skipper Simms' cabin.  "Maybe that
accounts for their bringing me along.  The 'Count de Cadenet' is
a fellow named Theriere, second mate of this ship.  They sent
him to learn your plans; when you expected sailing from
Honolulu and your course.  They are all crooks and villains.  If
I hadn't done as they bid they would have killed me."

The girl made no comment, but Divine saw the contempt in
her face.

"I didn't know that they were going to do this.  If I had I'd
have died before I'd have written that note," he added rather

The girl was suddenly looking very sad.  She was thinking
of Billy Mallory who had died in an effort to save her.  The
mental comparison she was making between him and Mr.
Divine was not overly flattering to the latter gentleman.

"They killed poor Billy," she said at last.  "He tried to
protect me."

Then Mr. Divine understood the trend of her thoughts.  He
tried to find some excuse for his cowardly act; but with the
realization of the true cowardliness and treachery of it that the
girl didn't even guess he understood the futility of seeking to
extenuate it.  He saw that the chances were excellent that after
all he would be compelled to resort to force or threats to win
her hand at the last.

"Billy would have done better to have bowed to the inevitable
as I did," he said.  "Living I am able to help you now.  
Dead I could not have prevented them carrying out their
intentions any more than Billy has, nor could I have been
here to aid you now any more than he is.  I cannot see that
his action helped you to any great extent, brave as it was."

"The memory of it and him will always help me," she
answered quietly.  "They will help me to bear whatever is
before me bravely, and, when the time comes, to die bravely;
for I shall always feel that upon the other side a true, brave
heart is awaiting me."

The man was silent.  After a moment the girl spoke again.  
"I think I would rather be alone, Larry," she said.  "I am
very unhappy and nervous.  Possibly I could sleep now."

With a bow he turned and left the cabin.

For weeks the Halfmoon kept steadily on her course, a little
south of west.  There was no material change in the relations
of those aboard her.  Barbara Harding, finding herself unmolested,
finally acceded to the repeated pleas of Mr. Divine, to
whose society she had been driven by loneliness and fear, and
appeared on deck frequently during the daylight watches.  
Here, one afternoon, she came face to face with Theriere for
the first time since her abduction.  The officer lifted his cap
deferentially; but the girl met his look of expectant recognition
with a cold, blank stare that passed through and beyond him
as though he had been empty air.

A tinge of color rose to the man's face, and he continued
on his way for a moment as though content to accept her
rebuff; but after a step or two he turned suddenly and
confronted her.

"Miss Harding," he said, respectfully, "I cannot blame you
for the feeling of loathing and distrust you must harbor
toward me; but in common justice I think you should hear
me before finally condemning."

"I cannot imagine," she returned coldly, "what defense
there can be for the cowardly act you perpetrated."

"I have been utterly deceived by my employers," said
Theriere, hastening to take advantage of the tacit permission to
explain which her reply contained.  "I was given to understand
that the whole thing was to be but a hoax--that I was taking
part in a great practical joke that Mr. Divine was to play
upon his old friends, the Hardings and their guests.  Until they
wrecked and deserted the Lotus in mid-ocean I had no idea
that anything else was contemplated, although I felt that the
matter, even before that event, had been carried quite far
enough for a joke.

"They explained," he continued, "that before sailing you
had expressed the hope that something really exciting and
adventurous would befall the party--that you were tired of
the monotonous humdrum of twentieth-century existence--
that you regretted the decadence of piracy, and the expunging
of romance from the seas.

"Mr. Divine, they told me, was a very wealthy young man,
to whom you were engaged to be married, and that he could
easily afford the great expense of the rather remarkable hoax
we were supposed to be perpetrating.  I saw no harm in taking
part in it, especially as I knew nothing of the supposititious
purpose of the cruise until just before we reached Honolulu.  
Before that I had been led to believe that it was but a pleasure
trip to the South Pacific that Mr. Divine intended.

"You see, Miss Harding, that I have been as badly deceived
as you.  Won't you let me help to atone for my error by being
your friend?  I can assure you that you will need one whom
you can trust amongst this shipload of scoundrels."

"Who am I to believe?" cried the girl.  "Mr.  Divine assures
me that he, too, has been forced into this affair, but by threats
of death rather than deception."

The expression on Mr. Theriere's face was eloquent of
sarcastic incredulity.

"How about the note of introduction that I carried to your
father from Mr. Divine?" asked Theriere.

"He says that he was compelled to write it at the point of a
revolver," replied the girl.

"Come with me, Miss Harding," said the officer.  "I think
that I may be able to convince you that Mr. Divine is not on
any such bad terms with Skipper Simms as would be the case
were his story to you true."

As he spoke he started toward the companionway leading
to the officers' cabins.  Barbara Harding hesitated at the top of
the stairway.

"Have no fear, Miss Harding," Theriere reassured her.
"Remember that I am your friend and that I am merely attempting
to prove it to your entire satisfaction.  You owe it to
yourself to discover as soon as possible who your friends are
aboard this ship, and who your enemies."

"Very well," said the girl.  "I can be in no more danger one
place aboard her than another."

Theriere led her directly to his own cabin, cautioning her to
silence with upraised forefinger.  Softly, like skulking criminals,
they entered the little compartment.  Then Theriere turned and
closed the door, slipping the bolt noiselessly as he did so.
Barbara watched him, her heart beating rapidly with fear and

"Here," whispered Theriere, motioning her toward his
berth.  "I have found it advantageous to know what goes on
beyond this partition.  You will find a small round hole near
the head of the berth, about a foot above the bedding.  Put
your ear to it and listen--I think Divine is in there now."

The girl, still frightened and fearful of the man's intentions,
did, nevertheless, as he bid.  At first she could make out
nothing beyond the partition but a confused murmur of
voices, and the clink of glass, as of the touch of the neck of a
bottle against a goblet.  For a moment she remained in tense
silence, her ear pressed to the tiny aperture.  Then, distinctly,
she heard the voice of Skipper Simms.

"I'm a-tellin' you, man," he was saying, "that there wan't
nothin' else to be done, an' I'm a-gettin' damn sick o' hearin'
you finding fault all the time with the way I been a-runnin' o'
this little job."

"I'm not finding fault, Simms," returned another voice
which the girl recognized immediately as Divine's; "although I
do think that it was a mistake to so totally disable the Lotus
as you did.  Why, how on earth are we ever to return to
civilization if that boat is lost?  Had she been simply damaged
a little, in a way that they could themselves have fixed up, the
delay would have been sufficient to permit us to escape, and
then, when Miss Harding was returned in safety to her father,
after our marriage, they would have been so glad to be
reunited that he easily could have been persuaded to drop the
matter.  Then another thing; you intended to demand a ransom
for both Miss Harding and myself, to carry out the
fiction of my having been stolen also--how can you do that if
Mr. Harding be dead?  And do you suppose for a moment
that Miss Harding will leave a single stone unturned to bring
the guilty to justice if any harm has befallen her father or his
guests?  If so you do not know her as well as I."

The girl turned away from the partition, her face white and
drawn, her eyes inexpressibly sad.  She rose to her feet, facing

"I have heard quite enough, thank you, Mr. Theriere," she

"You are convinced then that I am your friend?" he asked.

"I am convinced that Mr. Divine is not," she replied

She took a step toward the door.  Theriere stood looking at
her.  She was unquestionably very good to look at.  He could
not remember ever having seen a more beautiful girl.  A great
desire to seize her in his arms swept over the man.  Theriere
had not often made any effort to harness his desires.  What
he wanted it had been his custom to take--by force if
necessary.  He took a step toward Barbara Harding.  There was
a sudden light in his eyes that the girl had not before seen
there, and she reached quickly toward the knob of the door.

Theriere was upon her, and then, quickly, he mastered
himself, for he recalled his coolly thought-out plan based on
what Divine had told him of that clause in the will of the
girl's departed grandparent which stipulated that the man who
shared the bequest with her must be the choice of both herself
and her father.  He could afford to bide his time, and play the
chivalrous protector before he essayed the role of lover.

Barbara had turned a half-frightened look toward him as
he advanced--in doubt as to his intentions.

"Pardon me, Miss Harding," he said; "the door is bolted--
let me unlatch it for you," and very gallantly he did so,
swinging the portal wide that she might pass out.  "I feared
interruption," he said, in explanation of the bolt.

In silence they returned to the upper deck.  The intoxication
of sudden passion now under control, Theriere was again
master of himself and ready to play the cold, calculating,
waiting game that he had determined upon.  Part of his plan
was to see just enough of Miss Harding to insure a place in
her mind at all times; but not enough to suggest that he was
forcing himself upon her.  Rightly, he assumed that she would
appreciate thoughtful deference to her comfort and safety
under the harrowing conditions of her present existence more
than a forced companionship that might entail too open
devotion on his part.  And so he raised his cap and left her,
only urging her to call upon him at any time that he might be
of service to her.

Left alone the girl became lost in unhappy reflections, and
in the harrowing ordeal of attempting to readjust herself to
the knowledge that Larry Divine, her lifelong friend, was the
instigator of the atrocious villainy that had been perpetrated
against her and her father.  She found it almost equally difficult
to believe that Mr. Theriere was so much more sinned against
than sinning as he would have had her believe.  And yet, did
his story not sound even more plausible than that of Divine
which she had accepted before Theriere had made it possible
for her to know the truth?  Why, then, was it so difficult for
her to believe the Frenchman?  She could not say, but in the
inmost recesses of her heart she knew that she mistrusted and
feared the man.

As she stood leaning against the rail, buried deep in
thought, Billy Byrne passed close behind her.  At sight of her a
sneer curled his lip.  How he hated her!  Not that she ever had
done aught to harm him, but rather because she represented
to him in concrete form all that he had learned to hate and
loathe since early childhood.

Her soft, white skin; her shapely hands and well-cared-for
nails; her trim figure and perfectly fitting suit all taunted him
with their superiority over him and his kind.  He knew that she
looked down upon him as an inferior being.  She was of the
class that addressed those in his walk of life as "my man."
Lord, how he hated that appellation!

The intentness of his gaze upon her back had the effect so
often noted by the observant, and suddenly aroused from the
lethargy of her misery the girl swung around to meet the
man's eyes squarely upon her.  Instantly she recognized him as
the brute who had killed Billy Mallory.  If there had been hate
in the mucker's eyes as he looked at the girl, it was as nothing
by comparison with the loathing and disgust which sprang to
hers as they rested upon his sullen face.

So deep was her feeling of contempt for this man, that the
sudden appearance of him before her startled a single exclamation
from her.

"Coward!" came the one word, involuntarily, from her lips.

The man's scowl deepened menacingly.  He took a threatening
step toward her.

"Wot's dat?" he growled.  "Don't get gay wit me, or I'll
black dem lamps fer yeh," and he raised a heavy fist as
though to strike her.

The mucker had looked to see the girl cower before his
threatened blow--that would have been ample atonement for
her insult, and would have appealed greatly to his Kelly-gang
sense of humor.  Many a time had he threatened women thus,
for the keen enjoyment of hearing their screams of fright and
seeing them turn and flee in terror.  When they had held their
ground and opposed him, as some upon the West Side had
felt sufficiently muscular to do, the mucker had not hesitated
to "hand them one."  Thus only might a man uphold his
reputation for bravery in the vicinage of Grand Avenue.

He had looked to see this girl of the effete and effeminate
upper class swoon with terror before him; but to his intense
astonishment she but stood erect and brave before him, her
head high held, her eyes cold and level and unafraid.  And
then she spoke again.

"Coward!" she said.

Billy almost struck her; but something held his hand.  What,
he could not understand.  Could it be that he feared this
slender girl?  And at this juncture, when the threat of his
attitude was the most apparent, Second Officer Theriere came
upon the scene.  At a glance he took in the situation, and with
a bound had sprung between Billy Byrne and Barbara Harding.



"WHAT has this man said to you, Miss Harding?" cried Theriere.
"Has he offered you harm?"

"I do not think that he would have dared strike me,"
replied the girl, "though he threatened to do so.  He is the
coward who murdered poor Mr. Mallory upon the Lotus.  He
might stoop to anything after that."

Theriere turned angrily upon Byrne.

"Go below!" he shouted.  "I'll attend to you later.  If Miss
Harding were not here I'd thrash you within an inch of your
life now.  And if I ever hear of your speaking to her again, or
offering her the slightest indignity I'll put a bullet through you
so quick you won't know what has struck you."

"T'ell yeh will!" sneered Billy Byrne.  "I got your number,
yeh big stiff; an' yeh better not get gay wit me.  Dey ain't no
guy on board dis man's ship dat can hand Billy Byrne dat
kin' o' guff an' get away with it--see?" and before Theriere
knew what had happened a heavy fist had caught him upon
the point of the chin and lifted him clear off the deck to drop
him unconscious at Miss Harding's feet.

"Yeh see wot happens to guys dat get gay wit me?" said the
mucker to the girl, and then stooping over the prostrate form
of the mate Billy Byrne withdrew a huge revolver from Theriere's
hip pocket.

"I guess I'll need dis gat in my business purty soon," he

Then he planted a vicious kick in the face of the unconscious
man and went his way to the forecastle.

"Now maybe she'll tink Billy Byrne's a coward," he
thought, as he disappeared below.

Barbara Harding stood speechless with shock at the brutality
and ferocity of the unexpected attack upon Theriere.  Never
in all her life had she dreamed that there could exist upon the
face of the earth a thing in human form so devoid of honor,
and chivalry, and fair play as the creature that she had just
witnessed threatening a defenseless woman, and kicking an
unconscious man in the face; but then Barbara Harding had
never lived between Grand Avenue and Lake Street, and
Halsted and Robey, where standards of masculine bravery are
strange and fearful.

When she had recovered her equanimity she hastened to the
head of the cabin companionway and called aloud for help.  
Instantly Skipper Simms and First Officer Ward rushed on
deck, each carrying a revolver in readiness for the conflict
with their crew that these two worthies were always expecting.

Barbara pointed out the still form of Theriere, quickly
explaining what had occurred.

"It was the fellow Byrne who did it," she said.  "He has
gone into the forecastle now, and he has a revolver that he
took from Mr. Theriere after he had fallen."

Several of the crew had now congregated about the
prostrate officer.

"Here you," cried Skipper Simms to a couple of them; "you
take Mr. Theriere below to his cabin, an' throw cold water in
his face.  Mr. Ward, get some brandy from my locker, an' try
an' bring him to.  The rest of you arm yourselves with crowbars
and axes, an' see that that son of a sea cook don't get
out on deck again alive.  Hold him there 'til I get a couple of
guns.  Then we'll get him, damn him!"

Skipper Simms hastened below while two of the men were
carrying Theriere to his cabin and Mr. Ward was fetching the
brandy.  A moment later Barbara Harding saw the skipper
return to the upper deck with a rifle and two revolvers.  The
sailors whom he had detailed to keep Byrne below were
gathered about the hatchway leading to the forecastle.  Some
of them were exchanging profane and pleasant badinage with
the prisoner.

"Yeh better come up an' get killed easy-like;" one called
down to the mucker.  "We're apt to muss yeh all up down
there in the dark with these here axes and crowbars, an' then
wen we send yeh home yer pore maw won't know her little
boy at all."

"Yeh come on down here, an' try mussin' me up," yelled
back Billy Byrne.  "I can lick de whole gang wit one han' tied
behin' me--see?"

"De skipper's gorn to get his barkers, Billy," cried Bony
Sawyer.  "Yeh better come up an' stan' trial if he gives yeh the

"Stan' nothin'," sneered Billy.  "Swell chanct I'd have wit
him an' Squint Eye holdin' court over me.  Not on yer life,
Bony.  I'm here, an' here I stays till I croaks, but yeh better
believe me, I'm goin, to croak a few before I goes, so if any
of you ginks are me frien's yeh better keep outen here so's yeh
won't get hurted.  An' anudder ting I'm goin' to do afore I
cashes in--I'm goin' to put a few of dem ginks in de cabin
wise to where dey stands wit one anudder.  If I don't start
something before I goes out me name's not Billy Byrne."

At this juncture Skipper Simms appeared with the three
weapons he had gone to his cabin to fetch.  He handed one to
Bony Sawyer, another to Red Sanders and a third to a man
by the name of Wison.

"Now, my men," said Skipper Simms, "we will go below
and bring Byrne up.  Bring him alive if you can--but bring

No one made a move to enter the forecastle.

"Go on now, move quickly," commanded Skipper Simms

"Thought he said 'we'," remarked one of the sailors.

Skipper Simms, livid with rage, turned to search out the
offender from the several men behind him.

"Who was that?" he roared.  "Show me the blitherin' swab.  
Jes' show him to me, I tell you, an I'll learn him.  Now you,"
he yelled at the top of his voice, turning again to the men he
had ordered into the forecastle after Billy Byrne, "you cowardly
landlubbers you, get below there quick afore I kick you

Still no one moved to obey him.  From white he went to
red, and then back to white again.  He fairly frothed at the
mouth as he jumped up and down, cursing the men, and
threatening.  But all to no avail.  They would not go.

"Why, Skipper," spoke up Bony Sawyer, "it's sure death for
any man as goes below there.  It's easier, an' safer, to starve
him out."

"Starve nothin'," shrieked Skipper Simms.  "Do you reckon
I'm a-goin' to sit quiet here for a week an' let any blanked
wharf rat own that there fo'c's'le just because I got a lot o'
white-livered cowards aboard?  No sir!  You're a-goin' down
after that would-be bad man an' fetch him up dead or alive,"
and with that he started menacingly toward the three who
stood near the hatch, holding their firearms safely out of range
of Billy Byrne below.

What would have happened had Skipper Simms completed
the threatening maneuver he had undertaken can never be
known, for at this moment Theriere pushed his way through
the circle of men who were interested spectators of the
impending tragedy.

"What's up, sir?" he asked of Simms.  "Anything that I can
help you with?"

"Oh!" exclaimed the skipper; "so you ain't dead after all,
eh?  Well that don't change the looks of things a mite.  We
gotta get that man outa there an' these flea-bitten imitations of
men ain't got the guts to go in after him."

"He's got your gun, sir," spoke up Wison, "an' Gawd
knows he be the one as'ud on'y be too glad for the chanct to
use it."

"Let me see if I can't handle him, sir," said Theriere to
Skipper Simms.  "We don't want to lose any men if we can
help it."

The skipper was only too glad to welcome this unexpected
rescue from the predicament in which he had placed himself.  
How Theriere was to accomplish the subjugation of the mutinous
sailor he could not guess, nor did he care so long as it
was done without risk to his own skin.

"Now if you'll go away, sir," said Theriere, "and order the
men away I'll see what I can do."

Skipper Simms did as Theriere had requested, so that
presently the officer stood alone beside the hatch.  Across the
deck, amidships, the men had congregated to watch Theriere's
operations, while beyond them stood Barbara Harding held
fascinated by the grim tragedy that was unfolding before her
upon this accursed vessel.

Theriere leaned over the open hatch, in full view of the
waiting Byrne, ready below.  There was the instant report of a
firearm and a bullet whizzed close past Theriere's head.

"Avast there, Byrne!" he shouted.  "It's I, Theriere.  Don't
shoot again, I want to speak to you."

"No monkey business now," growled the mucker in reply.  
"I won't miss again."

"I want to talk with you, Byrne," said Theriere in a low
tone.  "I'm coming down there."

"No you ain't, cul," returned Byrne; "leastways yeh ain't
a-comin' down here alive."

"Yes I am, Byrne," replied Theriere, "and you don't want
to be foolish about it.  I'm unarmed.  You can cover me with
your gun until you have satisfied yourself as to that.  I'm the
only man on the ship that can save your life--the only man
that has any reason to want to; but we've got to talk it over
and we can't talk this way where there's a chance of being
overheard.  I'll be on the square with you if you will with me,
and if we can't come to terms I'll come above again and you
won't be any worse off than you are now.  Here I come," and
without waiting for an acceptance of his proposition the
second officer of the Halfmoon slipped over the edge of the
hatchway and disappeared from the sight of the watchers

That he was a brave man even Billy Byrne had to admit,
and those above who knew nothing of the relations existing
between the second mate and the sailor, who had so recently
felled him, thought that his courage was little short of
marvelous.  Theriere's stock went up by leaps and bounds
in the estimation of the sailors of the Halfmoon, for degraded
though they were they could understand and appreciate
physical courage of this sort, while to Barbara Harding the
man's act seemed unparalleled in its utter disregard of the
consequences of life and death to himself that it entailed.  She
suddenly was sorry that she had entertained any suspicions
against Theriere--so brave a man could not be other than the
soul of honor, she argued.

Once below Theriere found himself covered by his own
revolver in the hands of a very desperate and a very unprincipled
man.  He smiled at Byrne as the latter eyed him suspiciously.

"See here, Byrne," said Theriere.  "It would be foolish for
me to say that I am doing this for love of you.  The fact is
that I need you.  We cannot succeed, either one of us, alone.  I
think you made a fool play when you hit me today.  You
know that our understanding was that I was to be even a
little rougher with you than usual, in order to avoid suspicion
being attached to any seeming familiarity between us, should
we be caught conferring together.  I had the chance to bawl
you out today, and I thought that you would understand that
I was but taking advantage of the opportunity which it
afforded to make it plain to Miss Harding that there could be
nothing other than hatred between us--it might have come in
pretty handy later to have her believe that.

"If I'd had any idea that you really intended hitting me
you'd have been a dead man before your fist reached me,
Byrne.  You took me entirely by surprise; but that's all in the
past--I'm willing to let bygones be bygones, and help you out
of the pretty pickle you've got yourself into.  Then we can go
ahead with our work as though nothing had happened.  What
do you say?"

"I didn't know yeh was kiddin," replied the mucker, "or I
wouldn't have hit yeh.  Yeh acted like yeh meant it."

"Very well, that part's understood," said Theriere.  "Now
will you come out if I can square the thing with the skipper
so's you won't get more than a day or so in irons--he'll have
to give you something to save his own face; but I promise that
you'll get your food regularly and that you won't be beaten
up the way you were before when he had you below.  If he
won't agree to what I propose I give you my word to tell you

"Go ahead," said Billy Byrne; "I don't trust nobody wen I
don't have to; but I'll be dinged if I see any other way out of

Theriere returned to the deck and seeking out the skipper
drew him to one side.

"I can get him up peaceably if I can assure him that he'll
only get a day or so in the cooler, with full rations and no
beatings.  I think, sir, that that will be the easiest way out of it.  
We cannot spare a man now--if we want to get the fellow
later we can always find some pretext."

"Very well, Mr. Theriere," replied the skipper, "I'll leave the
matter entirely in your hands--you can do what you want
with the fellow; it's you as had your face punched."

Theriere returned immediately to the forecastle, from which
he presently emerged with the erstwhile recalcitrant Byrne, and
for two days the latter languished in durance vile, and that
was the end of the episode, though its effects were manifold.  
For one thing it implanted in the heart of Theriere a personal
hatred for the mucker, so that while heretofore his intention of
ridding himself of the man when he no longer needed him was
due purely to a matter of policy, it was now reinforced by a
keen desire for personal revenge.  The occurrence had also had
its influence upon Barbara Harding, in that it had shown her
Mr. Theriere in a new light--one that reflected credit upon
him.  She had thought his magnanimous treatment of the sailor
little short of heroic; and it had deepened the girl's horror of
Billy Byrne until it now amounted to little short of an obsession.
So vivid an impression had his brutality made upon her
that she would start from deep slumber, dreaming that she
was menaced by him.

After Billy was released for duty following his imprisonment,
he several times passed the girl upon deck.  He noticed
that she shrank from him in disgust and terror; but what
surprised him was that instead of the thrill of pride which he
formerly would have felt at this acknowledgment of his toughness,
for Billy prided himself on being a tough, he now felt a
singular resentment against the girl for her attitude, so that he
came to hate her even more than he had before hated.  
Formerly he had hated her for the things she stood for, now
he hated her for herself.

Theriere was often with her now, and, less frequently,
Divine; for at the second officer's suggestion Barbara had not
acquainted that gentleman with the fact that she was aware of
his duplicity.

"It is just as well not to let him know," said Theriere.  "It
gives you an advantage that would be wanting should he
suspect the truth, so that now you are always in a position to
be warned in plenty of time against any ulterior suggestion he
may make.  Keep me posted as to all he tells you of his plans,
and in this way we can defeat him much more easily than as
though you followed your natural inclinations and refused to
hold communication of any sort with him.  It might be well,
Miss Harding, even to encourage him in the hope that you
will wed him voluntarily.  I think that that would throw him
entirely off his guard, and pave the way for your early

"Oh, I doubt if I could do that, Mr. Theriere," exclaimed
the girl.  "You cannot imagine how I loathe the man now that
I know him in his true colors.  For years he has importuned
me to marry him, and though I never cared for him in that
way at all, and never could, I felt that he was a very good
friend and that his constancy demanded some return on my
part--my friendship and sympathy at least; but now I shiver
whenever he is near me, just as I would were I to find a
snake coiled close beside me.  I cannot abide treachery."

"Nor I, Miss Harding," agreed Theriere glibly.  "The man
deserves nothing but your contempt, though for policy's sake
I hope that you will find it possible to lead him on until his
very treachery proves the means of your salvation, for believe
me, if he has been false to you how much more quickly will
he be false to Simms and Ward!  He would ditch them in a
minute if the opportunity presented itself for him to win you
without their aid.  I had thought it might be feasible to lead
him into attempting to take the ship by force, and return you
to San Francisco, or, better still possibly, to the nearest
civilized port.

"You might, with propriety suggest this to him, telling him
that you believe that I would stand ready to assist in the
undertaking.  I can promise you the support of several of the
men--quite a sufficient number with Divine and myself, easily
to take the Halfmoon away from her present officers."

"I will think over your suggestion, Mr. Theriere," replied
Barbara, "and I thank you for the generous impulse that has
prompted you to befriend me--heaven knows how badly I
need a friend now among so many enemies.  What is it,
Mr. Theriere?  What is the matter?"

The officer had turned his eyes casually toward the southeast
as the girl spoke, and just now he had given a sudden
exclamation of surprise and alarm.

"That cloud, Miss Harding," he answered.  "We're in for a
bad blow, and it'll be on us in a minute," and with that he
started forward on a run, calling back over his shoulder,
"you'd better go below at once."



THE storm that struck the Halfmoon took her entirely
unaware.  It had sprung, apparently, out of a perfectly clear sky.  
Both the lookout and the man at the wheel were ready to take
oath that they had scanned the horizon not a half-minute
before Second Mate Theriere had come racing forward bellowing
for all hands on deck and ordering a sailor below to
report the menacing conditions to Captain Simms.

Before that officer reached the deck Theriere had the entire
crew aloft taking in sail; but though they worked with the
desperation of doomed men they were only partially successful
in their efforts.

The sky and sea had assumed a sickly yellowish color,
except for the mighty black cloud that raced toward them, low
over the water.  The low moaning sound that had followed the
first appearance of the storm, gave place to a sullen roar, and
then, of a sudden, the thing struck the Halfmoon, ripping her
remaining canvas from her as if it had been wrought from tissue
paper, and with the flying canvas, spars, and cordage went
the mainmast, snapping ten feet above the deck, and crashing
over the starboard bow with a noise and jar that rose above
the bellowing of the typhoon.

Fully half the crew of the Halfmoon either went down with
the falling rigging or were crushed by the crashing weight of
the mast as it hurtled against the deck.  Skipper Simms rushed
back and forth screaming out curses that no one heeded, and
orders that there was none to fill.

Theriere, on his own responsibility, looked to the hatches.  
Ward with a handful of men armed with axes attempted to
chop away the wreckage, for the jagged butt of the fallen
mast was dashing against the ship's side with such vicious
blows that it seemed but a matter of seconds ere it would
stave a hole in her.

With the utmost difficulty a sea anchor was rigged and
tumbled over the Halfmoon's pitching bow into the angry sea,
that was rising to more gigantic proportions with each succeeding
minute.  This frail makeshift which at best could but
keep the vessel's bow into the wind, saving her from instant
engulfment in the sea's trough, seemed to Theriere but a sorry
means of prolonging the agony of suspense preceding the
inevitable end.  That nothing could save them was the second
officer's firm belief, nor was he alone in his conviction.  Not
only Simms and Ward, but every experienced sailor on the
ship felt that the life of the Halfmoon was now but a matter
of hours, possibly minutes, while those of lesser experience
were equally positive that each succeeding wave must mark
the termination of the lives of the vessel and her company.

The deck, washed now almost continuously by hurtling
tons of storm-mad water, as one mountainous wave followed
another the length of the ship, had become entirely impossible.  
With difficulty the men were attempting to get below between
waves.  All semblance of discipline had vanished.  For the most
part they were a pack of howling, cursing, terror-ridden
beasts, fighting at the hatches with those who would have held
them closed against the danger of each new assault of the sea.

Ward and Skipper Simms had been among the first to seek
the precarious safety below deck.  Theriere alone of the officers
had remained on duty until the last, and now he was exerting
his every faculty in the effort to save as many of the men as
possible without losing the ship in the doing of it.  Only
between waves was the entrance to the main cabins negotiable,
while the forecastle hatch had been abandoned entirely after it
had with difficulty been replaced following the retreat of three
of the crew to that part of the ship.

The mucker stood beside Theriere as the latter beat back
the men when the seas threatened.  It was the man's first
experience of the kind.  Never had he faced death in the
courage-blighting form which the grim harvester assumes when
he calls unbridled Nature to do his ghastly bidding.  The
mucker saw the rough, brawling bullies of the forecastle
reduced to white-faced, gibbering cowards, clawing and fighting
to climb over one another toward the lesser danger of the
cabins, while the mate fought them off, except as he found it
expedient to let them pass him; he alone cool and fearless.

Byrne stood as one apart from the dangers and hysteric
strivings of his fellows.  Once when Theriere happened to glance
in his direction the Frenchman mentally ascribed the mucker's
seeming lethargy to the paralysis of abject cowardice.  "The
fellow is in a blue funk," thought the second mate; "I did not
misjudge him--like all his kind he is a coward at heart."

Then a great wave came, following unexpectedly close upon
the heels of a lesser one.  It took Theriere off his guard, threw
him down and hurtled him roughly across the deck, landing
him in the scuppers, bleeding and stunned.  The next wave
would carry him overboard.

Released from surveillance the balance of the crew pushed
and fought their way into the cabin--only the mucker remained
without, staring first at the prostrate form of the mate
and then at the open cabin hatch.  Had one been watching
him he might reasonably have thought that the man's mind
was in a muddle of confused thoughts and fears; but such was
far from the case.  Billy was waiting to see if the mate would
revive sufficiently to return across the deck before the next
wave swept the ship.  It was very interesting--he wondered
what odds O'Leary would have laid against the man.

In another moment the wave would come.  Billy glanced at
the open cabin hatch.  That would never do--the cabin would
be flooded with tons of water should the next wave find the
hatch still open.  Billy closed it.  Then he looked again toward
Theriere.  The man was just recovering consciousness--and the
wave was coming.

Something stirred within Billy Byrne.  It gripped him and
made him act quickly as though by instinct to do something
that no one, Billy himself least of all, would have suspected
that the Grand Avenue mucker would have been capable of.

Across the deck Theriere was dragging himself painfully to
his hands and knees, as though to attempt the impossible feat
of crawling back to the cabin hatch.  The wave was almost
upon Billy.  In a moment it would engulf him, and then rush
on across him to tear Theriere from the deck and hurl him
beyond the ship into the tumbling, watery, chaos of the sea.

The mucker saw all this, and in the instant he launched
himself toward the man for whom he had no use, whose kind
he hated, reaching him as the great wave broke over them,
crushing them to the deck, choking and blinding them.

For a moment they were buried in the swirling maelstrom,
and then as the Halfmoon rose again, shaking the watery
enemy from her back, the two men were disclosed--Theriere
half over the ship's side--the mucker clinging to him with one
hand, the other clutching desperately at a huge cleat upon the

Byrne dragged the mate to the deck, and then slowly and
with infinite difficulty across it to the cabin hatch.  Through it
he pushed the man, tumbling after him and closing the aperture
just as another wave swept the Halfmoon.

Theriere was conscious and but little the worse for his
experience, though badly bruised.  He looked at the mucker in
astonishment as the two faced each other in the cabin.

"I don't know why you did it," said Theriere.

"Neither do I," replied Billy Byrne.

"I shall not forget it, Byrne," said the officer.

"Yeh'd better," answered Billy, turning away.

The mucker was extremely puzzled to account for his act.  
He did not look upon it at all as a piece of heroism; but
rather as a "fool play" which he should be ashamed of.  The
very idea!  Saving the life of a gink who, despite his brutal
ways, belonged to the much-despised "highbrow" class.  Billy
was peeved with himself.

Theriere, for his part, was surprised at the unexpected
heroism of the man he had long since rated as a cowardly
bully.  He was fully determined to repay Byrne in so far as he
could the great debt he owed him.  All thoughts of revenge for
the mucker's former assault upon him were dropped, and he
now looked upon the man as a true friend and ally.

For three days the Halfmoon plunged helplessly upon the
storm-wracked surface of the mad sea.  No soul aboard her
entertained more than the faintest glimmer of a hope that the
ship would ride out the storm; but during the third night the
wind died down, and by morning the sea had fallen sufficiently
to make it safe for the men of the Halfmoon to venture
upon deck.

There they found the brigantine clean-swept from stem to
stern.  To the north of them was land at a league or two,
perhaps.  Had the storm continued during the night they
would have been dashed upon the coast.  God-fearing men
would have given thanks for their miraculous rescue; but not
so these.  Instead, the fear of death removed, they assumed
their former bravado.

Skipper Simms boasted of the seamanship that had saved
the Halfmoon--his own seamanship of course.  Ward was
cursing the luck that had disabled the ship at so crucial a
period of her adventure, and revolving in his evil mind various
possible schemes for turning the misfortune to his own advantage.
Billy Byrne, sitting upon the corner of the galley table,
hobnobbed with Blanco.  These choice representatives of the
ship's company were planning a raid on the skipper's brandy
chest during the disembarkation which the sight of land had
rendered not improbable.

The Halfmoon, with the wind down, wallowed heavily in
the trough of the sea, but even so Barbara Harding, wearied
with days of confinement in her stuffy cabin below, ventured
above deck for a breath of sweet, clean air.

Scarce had she emerged from below than Theriere espied
her, and hastened to her side.

"Well, Miss Harding," he exclaimed, "it seems good to see
you on deck again.  I can't tell you how sorry I have felt for
you cooped up alone in your cabin without a single woman
for companionship, and all those frightful days of danger, for
there was scarce one of us that thought the old hooker would
weather so long and hard a blow.  We were mighty fortunate
to come through it so handily."

"Handily?" queried Barbara Harding, with a wry smile,
glancing about the deck of the Halfmoon.  "I cannot see that
we are either through it handily or through it at all.  We have
no masts, no canvas, no boats; and though I am not much of
a sailor, I can see that there is little likelihood of our effecting
a landing on the shore ahead either with or without boats---it
looks most forbidding.  Then the wind has gone down, and
when it comes up again it is possible that it will carry us away
from the land, or if it takes us toward it, dash us to pieces at
the foot of those frightful cliffs."

"I see you are too good a sailor by far to be cheered by
any questionable hopes," laughed Theriere; "but you must
take the will into consideration--I only wished to give you a
ray of hope that might lighten your burden of apprehension.  
However, honestly, I do think that we may find a way to
make a safe landing if the sea continues to go down as it has
in the past two hours.  We are not more than a league from
shore, and with the jury mast and sail that the men are setting
under Mr. Ward now we can work in comparative safety
with a light breeze, which we should have during the afternoon.
There are few coasts, however rugged they may appear
at a distance, that do not offer some foothold for the wrecked
mariner, and I doubt not but that we shall find this no
exception to the rule."

"I hope you are right, Mr. Theriere," said the girl, "and yet
I cannot but feel that my position will be less safe on land
than it has been upon the Halfmoon.  Once free from the
restraints of discipline which tradition, custom, and law
enforce upon the high seas there is no telling what atrocities
these men will commit.  To be quite candid, Mr. Theriere, I
dread a landing worse than I dreaded the dangers of the
storm through which we have just passed."

"I think you have little to fear on that score, Miss Harding,"
said the Frenchman.  "I intend making it quite plain
that I consider myself your protector once we have left the
Halfmoon, and I can count on several of the men to support
me. Even Mr. Divine will not dare do otherwise.  Then we can
set up a camp of our own apart from Skipper Simms and his
faction where you will be constantly guarded until succor may
be obtained."

Barbara Harding had been watching the man's face as he
spoke.  The memory of his consideration and respectful treatment
of her during the trying weeks of her captivity had done
much to erase the intuitive feeling of distrust that had tinged
her thoughts of him earlier in their acquaintance, while his
heroic act in descending into the forecastle in the face of the
armed and desperate Byrne had thrown a glamour of romance
about him that could not help but tend to fascinate a girl of
Barbara Harding's type.  Then there was the look she had seen
in his eyes for a brief instant when she had found herself
locked in his cabin on the occasion that he had revealed to
her Larry Divine's duplicity.  That expression no red-blooded
girl could mistake, and the fact that he had subdued his
passion spoke eloquently to the girl of the fineness and chivalry
of his nature, so now it was with a feeling of utter
trustfulness that she gladly gave herself into the keeping of
Henri Theriere, Count de Cadenet, Second Officer of the

"O Mr. Theriere," she cried, "if you only can but arrange it
so, how relieved and almost happy I shall be.  How can I ever
repay you for all that you have done for me?"

Again she saw the light leap to the man's eyes--the light of
a love that would not be denied much longer other than
through the agency of a mighty will.  Love she thought it; but
the eye-light of love and lust are twin lights between which it
takes much worldly wisdom to differentiate, and Barbara
Harding was not worldly-wise in the ways of sin.

"Miss Harding," said Theriere, in a voice that he evidently
found it difficult to control, "do not ask me now how you
may repay me; I--;" but what he would have said he
checked, and with an effort of will that was almost appreciable
to the eye he took a fresh grip upon himself, and continued:
"I am amply repaid by being able to serve you, and thus
to retrieve myself in your estimation--I know that you have
doubted me; that you have questioned the integrity of my acts
that helped to lead up to the unfortunate affair of the Lotus.  
When you tell me that you no longer doubt--that you accept
me as the friend I would wish to be, I shall be more than
amply repaid for anything which it may have been my good
fortune to have been able to accomplish for your comfort and

"Then I may partially repay you at once," exclaimed the
girl with a smile, "for I can assure you that you possess my
friendship to the fullest, and with it, of course, my entire
confidence.  It is true that I doubted you at first--I doubted
everyone connected with the Halfmoon.  Why shouldn't I?  But
now I think that I am able to draw a very clear line between
my friends and my enemies.  There is but one upon the right
side of that line--you, my friend," and with an impulsive little
gesture Barbara Harding extended her hand to Theriere.

It was with almost a sheepish expression that the Frenchman
took the proffered fingers, for there had been that in the
frank avowal of confidence and friendship which smote upon
a chord of honor in the man's soul that had not vibrated in
response to a chivalrous impulse for so many long years that
it had near atrophied from disuse.

Then, of a sudden, the second officer of the Halfmoon
straightened to his full height.  His head went high, and he
took the small hand of the girl in his own strong, brown one.

"Miss Harding," he said, "I have led a hard, bitter life.  I
have not always done those things of which I might be most
proud: but there have been times when I have remembered
that I am the grandson of one of Napoleon's greatest field
marshals, and that I bear a name that has been honored by a
mighty nation.  What you have just said to me recalls these
facts most vividly to my mind--I hope, Miss Harding, that
you will never regret having spoken them," and to the bottom
of his heart the man meant what he said, at the moment; for
inherent chivalry is as difficult to suppress or uproot as is
inherent viciousness.

The girl let her hand rest in his for a moment, and as their
eyes met she saw in his a truth and honesty and cleanness
which revealed what Theriere might have been had Fate
ordained his young manhood to different channels.  And in
that moment a question sprang, all unbidden and unforeseen
to her mind; a question which caused her to withdraw her
hand quickly from his, and which sent a slow crimson to her

Billy Byrne, slouching by, cast a bitter look of hatred upon
the two.  The fact that he had saved Theriere's life had not
increased his love for that gentleman.  He was still much
puzzled to account for the strange idiocy that had prompted
him to that act; and two of his fellows had felt the weight of
his mighty fist when they had spoken words of rough praise
for his heroism--Billy had thought that they were kidding

To Billy the knocking out of Theriere, and the subsequent
kick which he had planted in the unconscious man's face,
were true indications of manliness.  He gauged such matters by
standards purely Grand Avenuesque and now it enraged him
to see that the girl before whose very eyes he had demonstrated
his superiority over Theriere should so look with
favor upon the officer.

It did not occur to Billy that he would care to have the girl
look with favor upon him.  Such a thought would have sent
him into a berserker rage; but the fact remained that Billy felt
a strong desire to cut out Theriere's heart when he saw him
now in close converse with Barbara Harding--just why he felt
so Billy could not have said.  The truth of the matter is that
Billy was far from introspective; in fact he did very little
thinking.  His mind had never been trained to it, as his muscles
had been trained to fighting.  Billy reacted more quickly to
instinct than to the processes of reasoning, and on this account
it was difficult for him to explain any great number of
his acts or moods--it is to be doubted, however, that Billy
Byrne had ever attempted to get at the bottom of his soul, if
he possessed one.

Be that as it may, had Theriere known it he was very near
death that moment when a summons from Skipper Simms
called him aft and saved his life.  Then the mucker, unseen by
the officer, approached the girl.  In his heart were rage and
hatred, and as the girl turned at the sound of his step behind
her she saw them mirrored in his dark, scowling face.



INSTANTLY Barbara Harding looked into the face of the
mucker she read her danger.  Why the man should hate her so
she could not guess; but that he did was evidenced by the
malevolent expression of his surly countenance.  For a moment
he stood glaring at her, and then he spoke.

"I'm wise to wot youse an' dat guy was chinnin' about," he
growled, "an' I'm right here to tell youse dat you don't wanta
try an' put nothin' over on me, see?  Youse ain't a-goin' to
double-cross Billy Byrne.  I gotta good notion to han' youse
wot's comin' to you.  If it hadn't been fer youse I wouldn't
have been here now on dis Gawd-forsaken wreck.  Youse is de
cause of all de trouble.  Wot youse ought to get is croaked an'
den dere wouldn't be nothin' to bother any of us.  You an' yer
bunch of kale, dey give me a swift pain.  Fer half a cent I'd
soak youse a wallop to de solar plexus dat would put youse
to sleep fer de long count, you--you--" but here words failed

To his surprise the girl showed not the slightest indication
of fear.  Her head was high, and her level gaze never wavered
from his own eyes.  Presently a sneer of contempt curled her

"You coward!" she said quietly.  "To insult and threaten a
woman!  You are nothing but an insufferable bully, and a
cowardly murderer.  You murdered a man on the Lotus whose
little finger held more true manhood, bravery, and worth than
the whole of your great, hulking carcass.  You are only fit to
strike from behind, or when your victim is unsuspecting, as
you did Mr. Theriere that other day.  Do you think I fear a
THING such as you--a beast without honor that kicks an
unconscious man in the face?  I know that you can kill me.  I
know that you are coward enough to do it because I am a
defenseless woman; and though you may kill me, you never
can make me show fear for you.  That is what you wish to
do--that is your idea of manliness.  I had never imagined
that such a thing as you lived in the guise of man; but I have
read you, Mr. Byrne, since I have had occasion to notice you,
and I know now that you are what is known in the great
cities as a mucker.  The term never meant much to me before,
but I see now that it fits your kind perfectly, for in it is all the
loathing and contempt that a real man--a gentleman--must
feel for such as you."

As she spoke Billy Byrne's eyes narrowed; but not with the
cunning of premeditated attack.  He was thinking.  For the first
time in his life he was thinking of how he appeared in the
eyes of another.  Never had any human being told Billy Byrne
thus coolly and succinctly what sort of person he seemed to
them.  In the heat of anger men of his own stamp had applied
vile epithets to him, describing him luridly as such that by the
simplest laws of nature he could not possibly be; but this girl
had spoken coolly, and her descriptions had been explicit--
backed by illustrations.  She had given real reasons for her
contempt, and somehow it had made that contempt seem very

One who had known Billy would have expected him to fly
into a rage and attack the girl brutally after her scathing
diatribe.  Billy did nothing of the sort.  Barbara Harding's
words seemed to have taken all the fight out of him.  He stood
looking at her for a moment--it was one of the strange
contradictions of Billy Byrne's personality that he could hold
his eyes quite steady and level, meeting the gaze of another
unwaveringly--and in that moment something happened to
Billy Byrne's perceptive faculties.  It was as though scales
which had dimmed his mental vision had partially dropped
away, for suddenly he saw what he had not before seen--a
very beautiful girl, brave and unflinching before the brutal
menace of his attitude, and though the mucker thought that
he still hated her, the realization came to him that be must not
raise a hand against her--that for the life of him he could
not, nor ever again against any other woman.  Why this
change, Billy did not know, he simply knew that it was so,
and with an ugly grunt he turned his back upon her and
walked away.

A slight breeze had risen from the southwest since Theriere
had left Barbara Harding and now all hands were busily
engaged in completing the jury rigging that the Halfmoon
might take advantage of the wind and make the shore that
rose abruptly from the bosom of the ocean but a league away.

Before the work was completed the wind increased rapidly,
so that when the tiny bit of canvas was hoisted into position it
bellied bravely, and the Halfmoon moved heavily forward
toward the land.

"We gotta make a mighty quick run of it," said Skipper
Simms to Ward, "or we'll go to pieces on them rocks afore
ever we find a landing."

"That we will if this wind rises much more," replied Ward;
"and's far as I can see there ain't no more chance to make a
landing there than there would be on the side of a house."

And indeed as the Halfmoon neared the towering cliffs it
seemed utterly hopeless that aught else than a fly could find a
foothold upon that sheer and rocky face that rose abruptly
from the ocean's surface.

Some two hundred yards from the shore it became evident
that there was no landing to be made directly before them,
and so the course of the ship was altered to carry them along
parallel to the shore in an effort to locate a cove, or beach
where a landing might safely be effected.

The wind, increasing steadily, was now whipping the sea
into angry breakers that dashed resoundingly against the
rocky barrier of the island.  To drift within reach of those
frightful destroyers would mean the instant annihilation of the
Halfmoon and all her company, yet this was precisely what
the almost unmanageable hulk was doing at the wheel under
the profane direction of Skipper Simms, while Ward and
Theriere with a handful of men altered the meager sail from
time to time in an effort to keep the ship off the rocks for a
few moments longer.

The Halfmoon was almost upon the cliff's base when a
narrow opening showed some hundred fathoms before her
nose, an opening through which the sea ran in long, surging
sweeps, rolling back upon itself in angry breakers that filled
the aperture with swirling water and high-flung spume.  To
have attempted to drive the ship into such a place would have
been the height of madness under ordinary circumstances.  No
man knew what lay beyond, nor whether the opening carried
sufficient water to float the Halfmoon, though the long,
powerful sweep of the sea as it entered the opening denoted
considerable depth.

Skipper Simms, seeing the grim rocks rising close beside his
vessel, realized that naught could keep her from them now.  He
saw death peering close to his face.  He felt the icy breath of
the Grim Reaper upon his brow.  A coward at heart, he lost
every vestige of his nerve at this crucial moment of his life.  
Leaping from the wheelhouse to the deck he ran backward
and forward shrieking at the top of his lungs begging and
entreating someone to save him, and offering fabulous rewards
to the man who carried him safely to the shore.

The sight of their captain in a blue funk had its effect upon
the majority of the crew, so that in a moment a pack of
screaming, terror-ridden men had supplanted the bravos and
bullies of the Halfmoon.

From the cabin companionway Barbara Harding looked
upon the disgusting scene.  Her lip curled in scorn at the sight
of these men weeping and moaning in their fright.  She saw
Ward busy about one of the hatches.  It was evident that he
intended making a futile attempt to utilize it as a means of
escape after the Halfmoon struck, for he was attaching ropes
to it and dragging it toward the port side of the ship, away
from the shore.  Larry Divine crouched beside the cabin and

When Simms gave up the ship Barbara Harding saw the
wheelmen, there had been two of them, desert their post, and
almost instantly the nose of the Halfmoon turned toward the
rocks; but scarcely had the men reached the deck than Theriere
leaped to their place at the wheel.

Unassisted he could do little with the heavy helm.  Barbara
saw that he alone of all the officers and men of the brigantine
was making an attempt to save the vessel.  However futile the
effort might be, it at least bespoke the coolness and courage
of the man.  With the sight of him there wrestling with death
in a hopeless struggle a little wave of pride surged through the
girl.  Here indeed was a man!  And he loved her--that she
knew.  Whether or no she returned his love her place was
beside him now, to give what encouragement and physical aid
lay in her power.

Quickly she ran to the wheelhouse.  Theriere saw her and

"There's no hope, I'm afraid," he said; "but, by George, I
intend to go down fighting, and not like those miserable
yellow curs."

Barbara did not reply, but she grasped the spokes of the
heavy wheel and tugged as he tugged.  Theriere made no effort
to dissuade her from the strenuous labor--every ounce of
weight would help so much, and the man had a wild, mad
idea that he was attempting to put into effect.

"What do you hope to do?" asked the girl.  "Make that
opening in the cliffs?"

Theriere nodded.

"Do you think me crazy?" he asked.

"It is such a chance as only a brave man would dare to
take," she replied.  "Do you think that we can get her to take

"I doubt it," he answered.  "With another man at the wheel
we might, though."

Below them the crew of the Halfmoon ran hither and
thither along the deck on the side away from the breakers.  
They fought with one another for useless bits of planking and
cordage.  The giant figure of the black cook, Blanco, rose
above the others.  In his hand was a huge butcher knife.  When
he saw a piece of wood he coveted in the hands of another he
rushed upon his helpless victim with wild, bestial howls, menacing
him with his gleaming weapon.  Thus he was rapidly
accumulating the material for a life raft.

But there was a single figure upon the deck that did not
seem mad with terror.  A huge fellow he was who stood leaning
against the capstan watching the wild antics of his fellows with
a certain wondering expression of incredulity, the while a
contemptuous smile curled his lips.  As Barbara Harding chanced
to look in his direction he also chanced to turn his eyes
toward the wheelhouse.  It was the mucker.

The girl was surprised that he, the greatest coward of them
all, should be showing no signs of cowardice now--probably
he was paralyzed with fright.  The moment that the man saw
the two who were in the wheelhouse and the work that they
were doing he sprang quickly toward them.  At his approach
the girl shrank closer to Theriere.

What new outrage did the fellow contemplate?  Now he was
beside her.  The habitual dark scowl blackened his expression.  
He laid a heavy hand on Barbara Harding's arm.

"Come out o' dat," he bellowed.  "Dat's no kind o' job fer
a broiler."

And before either she or Theriere could guess his intention
the mucker had pushed Barbara aside and taken her place at
the wheel.

"Good for you, Byrne!" cried Theriere.  "I needed you

"Why didn't yeh say so den?" growled the man.

With the aid of Byrne's Herculean muscles and great weight
the bow of the Halfmoon commenced to come slowly around
so that presently she almost paralleled the cliffs again, but now
she was much closer in than when Skipper Simms had deserted her
to her fate--so close that Theriere had little hope of
being able to carry out his plan of taking her opposite the
opening and then turning and running her before the wind
straight into the swirling waters of the inlet.

Now they were almost opposite the aperture and between
the giant cliffs that rose on either side of the narrow entrance
a sight was revealed that filled their hearts with renewed hope
and rejoicing, for a tiny cove was seen to lie beyond the
fissure--a cove with a long, wide, sandy beach up which the
waves, broken at the entrance to the little haven, rolled with
much diminished violence.

"Can you hold her alone for a second, Byrne?" asked
Theriere.  "We must make the turn in another moment and
I've got to let out sail.  The instant that you see me cut her
loose put your helm hard to starboard.  She'll come around
easy enough I imagine, and then hold her nose straight for
that opening.  It's one chance in a thousand; but it's the only
one.  Are you game?"

"You know it, cul--go to 't," was Billy Byrne's laconic

As Theriere left the wheel Barbara Harding stepped to the
mucker's side.

"Let me help you," she said.  "We need every hand that we
can get for the next few moments."

"Beat it," growled the man.  "I don't want no skirts in my

With a flush, the girl drew back, and then turning watched
Theriere where he stood ready to cut loose the sail at the
proper instant.  The vessel was now opposite the cleft in the
cliffs.  Theriere had lashed a new sheet in position.  Now he
cut the old one.  The sail swung around until caught in
position by the stout line.  The mucker threw the helm hard to
starboard.  The nose of the brigantine swung quickly toward
the rocks.  The sail filled, and an instant later the ship was
dashing to what seemed her inevitable doom.

Skipper Simms, seeing what Theriere had done after it was
too late to prevent it, dashed madly across the deck toward
his junior.

"You fool!" he shrieked.  "You fool!  What are you doing?
Driving us straight for the rocks--murdering the whole lot of
us!" and with that he sprang upon the Frenchman with
maniacal fury, bearing him to the deck beneath him.

Barbara Harding saw the attack of the fear-demented man,
but she was powerless to prevent it.  The mucker saw it too,
and grinned--he hoped that it would be a good fight; there
was nothing that he enjoyed more.  He was sorry that he
could not take a hand in it, but the wheel demanded all his
attention now, so that he was even forced to take his eyes
from the combatants that he might rivet them upon the
narrow entrance to the cove toward which the Halfmoon was
now plowing her way at constantly increasing speed.

The other members of the ship's company, all unmindful of
the battle that at another time would have commanded their
undivided attention, stood with eyes glued upon the wild
channel toward which the brigantine's nose was pointed.  They
saw now what Skipper Simms had failed to see--the little
cove beyond, and the chance for safety that the bold stroke
offered if it proved successful.

With steady muscles and giant sinews the mucker stood by
the wheel--nursing the erratic wreck as no one might have
supposed it was in him to do.  Behind him Barbara Harding
watched first Theriere and Simms, and then Byrne and the
swirling waters toward which he was heading the ship.

Even the strain of the moment did not prevent her from
wondering at the strange contradictions of the burly young
ruffian who could at one moment show such traits of cowardliness
and the next rise so coolly to the highest pinnacles
of courage.  As she watched him occasionally now she noted
for the first time the leonine contour of his head, and she was
surprised to note that his features were regular and fine, and
then she recalled Billy Mallory and the cowardly kick that she
had seen delivered in the face of the unconscious Theriere--
with a little shudder of disgust she turned away from the man
at the wheel.

Theriere by this time had managed to get on top of Skipper
Simms, but that worthy still clung to him with the desperation
of a drowning man.  The Halfmoon was rising on a great
wave that would bear her well into the maelstrom of the
cove's entrance.  The wind had increased to the proportions of
a gale, so that the brigantine was fairly racing either to her
doom or her salvation--who could tell which?

Halfway through the entrance the wave dropped the ship,
and with a mighty crash that threw Barbara Harding to her
feet the vessel struck full amidships upon a sunken reef.  Like
a thing of glass she broke in two with the terrific impact, and
in another instant the waters about her were filled with
screaming men.

Barbara Harding felt herself hurtled from the deck as
though shot from a catapult.  The swirling waters engulfed her.  
She knew that her end had come, only the most powerful of
swimmers might hope to win through that lashing hell of
waters to the beach beyond.  For a girl to do it was too
hopeless even to contemplate; but she recalled Theriere's
words of so short a time ago: "There's no hope, I'm afraid;
but, by George, I intend to go down fighting," and with the
recollection came a like resolve on her part--to go down
fighting, and so she struck out against the powerful waters
that swirled her hither and thither, now perilously close to the
rocky sides of the entrance, and now into the mad chaos of
the channel's center.  Would to heaven that Theriere were near
her, she thought, for if any could save her it would be he.

Since she had come to believe in the man's friendship and
sincerity Barbara Harding had felt renewed hope of eventual
salvation, and with the hope had come a desire to live which
had almost been lacking for the greater part of her detention
upon the Halfmoon.

Bravely she battled now against the awful odds of the
mighty Pacific, but soon she felt her strength waning.  More
and more ineffective became her puny efforts, and at last she
ceased almost entirely the futile struggle.

And then she felt a strong hand grasp her arm, and with a
sudden surge she was swung over a broad shoulder.  Quickly
she grasped the rough shirt that covered the back of her
would-be rescuer, and then commenced a battle with the
waves that for many minutes, that seemed hours to the frightened
girl, hung in the balance; but at last the swimmer
beneath her forged steadily and persistently toward the sandy
beach to flounder out at last with an unconscious burden in
his mighty arms.

As the man staggered up out of reach of the water Barbara
Harding opened her eyes to look in astonishment into the face
of the mucker.



ONLY four men of the Halfmoon's crew were lost in the
wreck of the vessel.  All had been crowded in the bow when
the ship broke in two, and being far-flung by the forward part
of the brigantine as it lunged toward the cove on the wave
following the one which had dropped the craft upon the reef,
with the exception of the four who had perished beneath the
wreckage they had been able to swim safely to the beach.

Larry Divine, who had sat weeping upon the deck of the
doomed ship during the time that hope had been at its lowest,
had recovered his poise.  Skipper Simms, subdued for the
moment, soon commenced to regain his bluster.  He took
Theriere to task for the loss of the Halfmoon.

"An' ever we make a civilized port," he shouted, "I'll prefer
charges ag'in' you, you swab you; a-losin' of the finest bark
as ever weathered a storm.  Ef it hadn't o' been fer you a-mutinyin'
agin' me I'd a-brought her through in safety an'
never lost a bloomin' soul."

'Stow it!" admonished Theriere at last; "your foolish bluster
can't hide the bald fact that you deserted your post in time
of danger.  We're ashore now, remember, and there is no more
ship for you to command, so were I you I'd be mighty careful
how I talked to my betters."

"What's that!" screamed the skipper.  "My betters!  You
frog-eatin' greaser you, I'll teach you.  Here, some of you, clap
this swab into irons.  I'll learn him that I'm still captain of this
here bunch."

Theriere laughed in the man's face; but Ward and a couple
of hands who had been shown favoritism by the skipper and
first mate closed menacingly toward the second officer.

The Frenchman took in the situation at a glance.  They
were ashore now, where they didn't think that they needed
him further and the process of elimination had commenced.  
Well, it might as well come to a showdown now as later.

"Just a moment," said Theriere, raising his hand.  "You're
not going to take me alive, and I have no idea that you
want to anyhow, and if you start anything in the killing line
some of you are going to Davy Jones' locker along with me.  
The best thing for all concerned is to divide up this party now
once and for all."

As he finished speaking he turned toward Billy Byrne.

"Are you and the others with me, or against me?" he

"I'm ag'in' Simms," replied the mucker non-committally.

Bony Sawyer, Red Sanders, Blanco, Wison, and two others
drew in behind Billy Byrne.

"We all's wid Billy," announced Blanco.

Divine and Barbara Harding stood a little apart.  Both were
alarmed at the sudden, hostile turn events had taken.  Simms,
Ward, and Theriere were the only members of the party
armed.  Each wore a revolver strapped about his hips.  All were
still dripping from their recent plunge in the ocean.

Five men stood behind Skipper Simms and Ward, but there
were two revolvers upon that side of the argument.  Suddenly
Ward turned toward Divine.

"Are you armed, Mr. Divine?" he asked.

Divine nodded affirmatively.

"Then you'd better come over with us--it looks like we
might need you to help put down this mutiny," said Ward.

Divine hesitated.  He did not know which side was more
likely to be victorious, and he wanted to be sure to be on the
winning side.  Suddenly an inspiration came to him.

"This is purely a matter to be settled by the ship's officers,"
he said.  "I am only a prisoner, call me a passenger if you
like--I have no interest whatever in the matter, and shall
not take sides."

"Yes you will," said Mr. Ward, in a low, but menacing
tone.  "You're in too deep to try to ditch us now.  If you don't
stand by us we'll treat you as one of the mutineers when we're
through with them, and you can come pretty near a-guessin'
what they'll get."

Divine was about to reply, and the nature of his answer
was suggested by the fact that he had already taken a few
steps in the direction of Simms' faction, when he was stopped
by the low voice of the girl behind him.

"Larry," she said, "I know all--your entire connection with
this plot.  If you have a spark of honor or manhood left you
will do what little you can to retrieve the terrible wrong you
have done me, and my father.  You can never marry me.  I
give you my word of honor that I shall take my own life if
that is the only way to thwart your plans in that direction,
and so as the fortune can never be yours it seems to me that
the next best thing would be to try and save me from the
terrible predicament in which your cupidity has placed me.  
You can make the start now, Larry, by walking over and
placing yourself at Mr. Theriere's disposal.  He has promised to
help and protect me."

A deep flush mounted to the man's neck and face.  He did
not turn about to face the girl he had so grievously
wronged--for the life of him he could not have met her
eyes.  Slowly he turned, and with gaze bent upon the ground
walked quickly toward Theriere.

Ward was quick to recognize the turn events had taken,
and to see that it gave Theriere the balance of power, with
two guns and nine men in his party against their two guns
and seven men.  It also was evident to him that to the other
party the girl would naturally gravitate since Divine, an old
acquaintance, had cast his lot with it; nor had the growing
intimacy between Miss Harding and Theriere been lost upon

Ward knew that Simms was an arrant coward, nor was he
himself overly keen for an upstanding, man-to-man encounter
such as must quickly follow any attempt upon his part to
uphold the authority of Simms, or their claim upon the
custody of the girl.

Intrigue and trickery were more to Mr. Ward's liking, and
so he was quick to alter his plan of campaign the instant that
it became evident that Divine had elected to join forces with
the opposing faction.

"I reckon," he said, directing his remarks toward no one in
particular, "that we've all been rather hasty in this matter,
being het up as we were with the strain of what we been
through an' so it seems to me, takin' into consideration that
Mr. Theriere really done his best to save the ship, an' that as
a matter of fact we was all mighty lucky to come out of it
alive, that we'd better let bygones be bygones, for the time
bein' at least, an' all of us pitch in to save what we can from
the wreckage, hunt water, rig up a camp, an' get things sort o'
shipshape here instid o' squabblin' amongst ourselves."

"Suit yourself," said Theriere, "it's all the same to us," and
his use of the objective pronoun seemed definitely to establish
the existence of his faction as a separate and distinct party.

Simms, from years of experience with his astute mate, was
wont to acquiesce in anything that Ward proposed, though he
had not the brains always to appreciate the purposes that
prompted Ward's suggestions.  Now, therefore, he nodded his
approval of Squint Eye's proposal, feeling that whatever was
in Ward's mind would be more likely to work out to Skipper
Simms' interests than some unadvised act of Skipper Simms

"Supposin'," continued Ward, "that we let two o' your men
an' two o' ourn under Mr. Divine, shin up them cliffs back o'
the cove an' search fer water an' a site fer camp--the rest o'
us'll have our hands full with the salvage."

"Good," agreed Theriere.  "Miller, you and Swenson will
accompany Mr. Divine."

Ward detailed two of his men, and the party of five began
the difficult ascent of the cliffs, while far above them a little
brown man with beady, black eyes set in narrow fleshy slits
watched them from behind a clump of bushes.  Strange, medieval
armor and two wicked-looking swords gave him a most
warlike appearance.  His temples were shaved, and a broad
strip on the top of his head to just beyond the crown.  His
remaining hair was drawn into an unbraided queue, tied
tightly at the back, and the queue then brought forward to
the top of the forehead.  His helmet lay in the grass at his feet.  
At the nearer approach of the party to the cliff top the
watcher turned and melted into the forest at his back.  He was
Oda Yorimoto, descendant of a powerful daimio of the Ashikaga
Dynasty of shoguns who had fled Japan with his faithful
samurai nearly three hundred and fifty years before upon the
overthrow of the Ashikaga Dynasty.

Upon this unfrequented and distant Japanese isle the exiles
had retained all of their medieval military savagery, to which
had been added the aboriginal ferocity of the head-hunting
natives they had found there and with whom they had intermarried.
The little colony, far from making any advances in
arts or letters had, on the contrary, relapsed into primeval
ignorance as deep as that of the natives with whom they had
cast their lot--only in their arms and armor, their military
training and discipline did they show any of the influence of
their civilized progenitors.  They were cruel, crafty, resourceful
wild men trapped in the habiliments of a dead past, and
armed with the keen weapons of their forbears.  They had not
even the crude religion of the Malaysians they had absorbed
unless a highly exaggerated propensity for head-hunting might
be dignified by the name of religion.  To the tender mercies of
such as these were the castaways of the Halfmoon likely to be
consigned, for what might sixteen men with but four revolvers
among them accomplish against near a thousand savage

Theriere, Ward, Simms, and the remaining sailors at the
beach busied themselves with the task of retrieving such of the
wreckage and the salvage of the Halfmoon as the waves had
deposited in the shallows of the beach.  There were casks of
fresh water, kegs of biscuit, clothing, tinned meats, and a
similar heterogeneous mass of flotsam.  This arduous labor
consumed the best part of the afternoon, and it was not until it
had been completed that Divine and his party returned to the

They reported that they had discovered a spring of fresh
water some three miles east of the cove and about half a mile
inland, but it was decided that no attempt be made to transport
the salvage of the party to the new camp site until the
following morning.

Theriere and Divine erected a rude shelter for Barbara
Harding close under the foot of the cliff, as far from the water
as possible, while above them Oda Yorimoto watched their
proceedings with beady, glittering eyes.  This time a half-dozen
of his fierce samurai crouched at his side.  Besides their two
swords these latter bore the primitive spears of their mothers'
savage tribe.

Oda Yorimoto watched the white men upon the beach.  
Also, he watched the white girl--even more, possibly, than he
watched the men.  He saw the shelter that was being built, and
when it was complete he saw the girl enter it, and he knew
that it was for her alone.  Oda Yorimoto sucked in his lips
and his eyes narrowed even more than nature had intended
that they should.

A fire burned before the rude domicile that Barbara Harding
was to occupy, and another, larger fire roared a hundred
yards to the west where the men were congregated about
Blanco, who was attempting to evolve a meal from the miscellany
of his larder that had been cast up by the sea.  There
seemed now but little to indicate that the party was divided
into two bitter factions, but when the meal was over Theriere
called his men to a point midway between Barbara's shelter
and the main camp fire.  Here he directed them to dispose
themselves for the night as best they could, building a fire of
their own if they chose, for with the coming of darkness the
chill of the tropical night would render a fire more than

All were thoroughly tired and exhausted, so that darkness
had scarce fallen ere the entire camp seemed wrapped in
slumber.  And still Oda Yorimoto sat with his samurai upon
the cliff's summit, beady eyes fixed upon his intended prey.

For an hour he sat thus in silence, until, assured that all
were asleep before him, he arose and with a few whispered
instructions commenced the descent of the cliff toward the
cove below.  Scarce had he started, however, with his men
stringing in single file behind him, than he came to a sudden
halt, for below him in the camp that lay between the girl's
shelter and the westerly camp a figure had arisen stealthily
from among his fellows.

It was Theriere.  Cautiously he moved to a sleeper nearby
whom he shook gently until he had awakened him.

"Hush, Byrne," cautioned the Frenchman. "It is I, Theriere.
Help me awaken the others--see that there is no noise."

"Wot's doin'?" queried the mucker.

"We are going to break camp, and occupy the new location
before that bunch of pirates can beat us to it," whispered
Theriere in reply; "and," he added, "we're going to take the
salvage and the girl with us."

The mucker grinned.

"Gee!" he said.  "Won't dey be a sore bunch in de mornin'?"

The work of awakening the balance of the party required
but a few minutes and when the plan was explained to them,
all seemed delighted with the prospect of discomfiting Skipper
Simms and Squint Eye.  It was decided that only the eatables
be carried away on the first trip, and that if a second trip was
possible before dawn the clothing, canvas, and cordage that
had been taken from the water might then be purloined.

Miller and Swenson were detailed to bring up the rear with
Miss Harding, assisting her up the steep side of the cliff.  
Divine was to act as guide to the new camp, lending a hand
wherever necessary in the scaling of the heights with the loot.

Cautiously the party, with the exception of Divine, Miller,
and Swenson, crept toward the little pile of supplies that were
heaped fifty or sixty feet from the sleeping members of Simms'
faction.  The three left behind walked in silence to Barbara
Harding's shelter.  Here Divine scratched at the piece of sail
cloth which served as a door until he had succeeded in
awakening the sleeper within.  And from above Oda Yorimoto
watched the activity in the little cove with intent and unwavering eyes.

The girl, roused from a fitful slumber, came to the doorway
of her primitive abode, alarmed by this nocturnal summons.

"It is I, Larry," whispered the man.  "Are you dressed?"

"Yes," replied the girl, stepping out into the moonlight.  
"What do you want?  What has happened?"

"We are going to take you away from Simms--Theriere
and I," replied the man, "and establish a safe camp of our
own where they cannot molest you.  Theriere and the others
have gone for the supplies now and as soon as they return we
further preparations to make, Barbara, please make haste, as
we must get away from here as quickly as possible.  Should
any of Simms' people awaken there is sure to be a fight."

The girl turned back into the shelter to gather together a
handful of wraps that had been saved from the wreck.

Down by the salvage Theriere, Byrne, Bony Sawyer, Red
Sanders, Blanco, and Wison were selecting the goods that they
wished to carry with them.  It was found that two trips would
be necessary to carry off the bulk of the rations, so Theriere
sent the mucker to summon Miller and Swenson.

"We'll carry all that eight of us can to the top of the cliffs,"
he said "hide it there and then come back for the balance.  
We may be able to get it later if we are unable to make two
trips to the camp tonight."

While they were waiting for Byrne to return with the two
recruits one of the sleepers in Simms' camp stirred.  Instantly
the five marauders dropped stealthily to the ground behind the
boxes and casks.  Only Theriere kept his eyes above the level
of the top of their shelter that he might watch the movements
of the enemy.

The figure sat up and looked about.  It was Ward.  Slowly
be arose and approached the pile of salvage.  Theriere drew
his revolver, holding it in readiness for an emergency.  Should
the first mate look in the direction of Barbara Harding's
shelter he must certainly see the four figures waiting there in
the moonlight.  Theriere turned his own head in the direction
of the shelter that he might see how plainly the men there
were visible.  To his delight he saw that no one was in sight.  
Either they had seen Ward, or for the sake of greater safety
from detection had moved to the opposite side of the shelter.

Ward was quite close to the boxes upon the other side of
which crouched the night raiders.  Theriere's finger found the
trigger of his revolver.  He was convinced that the mate had
been disturbed by the movement in camp and was investigating.
The Frenchman knew that the search would not end
upon the opposite side of the salvage--in a moment Ward
would be upon them.  He was sorry--not for Ward, but because
he had planned to carry the work out quietly and he
hated to have to muss things up with a killing, especially on
Barbara's account.

Ward stopped at one of the water casks.  He tipped it up,
filling a tin cup with water, took a long drink, set the cup
back on top of the cask, and, turning, retraced his steps to
his blanket.  Theriere could have hugged himself.  The man had
suspected nothing.  He merely had been thirsty and come over
for a drink--in another moment he would be fast asleep
once more.  Sure enough, before Byrne returned with Miller
and Swenson, Theriere could bear the snores of the first mate.

On the first trip to the cliff top eight men carried heavy
burdens, Divine alone remaining to guard Barbara Harding.  
The second trip was made with equal dispatch and safety.  No
sound or movement came from the camp of the enemy, other
than that of sleeping men.  On the second trip Divine and
Theriere each carried a burden up the cliffs, Miller and Swenson
following with Barbara Harding, and as they came Oda
Yorimoto and his samurai slunk back into the shadows that
their prey might pass unobserving.

Theriere had the bulk of the loot hidden in a rocky crevice
just beyond the cliff's summit.  Brush torn from the mass of
luxuriant tropical vegetation that covered the ground was
strewn over the cache.  All had been accomplished in safety
and without detection.  The camp beneath them still lay
wrapped in silence.

The march toward the new camp, under the guidance of
Divine, was immediately undertaken.  On the return trip after
the search for water Divine had discovered a well-marked trail
along the edge of the cliffs to a point opposite the spring, and
another leading from the main trail directly to the water.  In
his ignorance he had thought these the runways of animals,
whereas they were the age-old highways of the head-hunters.

Now they presented a comparatively quick and easy approach
to the destination of the mutineers, but so narrow a
one as soon to convince Theriere that it was not feasible for
him to move back and forth along the flank of his column.  
He had tried it once, but it so greatly inconvenienced and
retarded the heavily laden men that he abandoned the effort,
remaining near the center of the cavalcade until the new camp
was reached.

Here he found a fair-sized space about a clear and plentiful
spring of cold water.  Only a few low bushes dotted the grassy
clearing which was almost completely surrounded by dense
and impenetrable jungle.  The men had deposited their burdens,
and still Theriere stood waiting for the balance of his
party--Miller and Swenson with Barbara Harding.

But they did not come, and when, in alarm, the entire party
started back in search of them they retraced their steps to the
very brink of the declivity leading to the cove before they
could believe the testimony of their own perceptions--Barbara
Harding and the two sailors had disappeared.



WHEN Barbara Harding, with Miller before and Swenson
behind her, had taken up the march behind the loot-laden
party seven dusky, noiseless shadows had emerged from the
forest to follow close behind.

For half a mile the party moved along the narrow trail
unmolested.  Theriere had come back to exchange a half-dozen
words with the girl and had again moved forward toward the
head of the column.  Miller was not more than twenty-five feet
behind the first man ahead of him, and Miss Harding and
Swenson followed at intervals of but three or four yards.

Suddenly, without warning, Swenson and Miller fell, pierced
with savage spears, and at the same instant sinewy fingers
gripped Barbara Harding, and a silencing hand was clapped
over her mouth.  There had been no sound above the muffled
tread of the seamen.  It had all been accomplished so quickly
and so easily that the girl did not comprehend what had
befallen her for several minutes.

In the darkness of the forest she could not clearly distinguish
the forms or features of her abductors, though she
reasoned, as was only natural, that Skipper Simms' party had
become aware of the plot against them and had taken this
means of thwarting a part of it; but when her captors turned
directly into the mazes of the jungle, away from the coast, she
began first to wonder and then to doubt, so that presently
when a small clearing let the moonlight full upon them she
was not surprised to discover that none of the members of the
Halfmoon's company was among her guard.

Barbara Harding had not circled the globe half a dozen
times for nothing.  There were few races or nations with whose
history, past and present, she was not fairly familiar, and so
the sight that greeted her eyes was well suited to fill her with
astonishment, for she found herself in the hands of what
appeared to be a party of Japanese warriors of the fifteenth or
sixteenth century.  She recognized the medieval arms and armor,
the ancient helmets, the hairdressing of the two-sworded
men of old Japan.  At the belts of two of her captors dangled
grisly trophies of the hunt.  In the moonlight she saw that they
were the heads of Miller and Swenson.

The girl was horrified.  She had thought her lot before as bad
as it could be, but to be in the clutches of these strange, fierce
warriors of a long-dead age was unthinkably worse.  That she
could ever have wished to be back upon the Halfmoon would
have seemed, a few days since, incredible; yet that was precisely
what she longed for now.

On through the night marched the little, brown men--grim
and silent--until at last they came to a small village in a valley
away from the coast--a valley that lay nestled high among
lofty mountains.  Here were cavelike dwellings burrowed half
under ground, the upper walls and thatched roofs rising scarce
four feet above the level.  Granaries on stilts were dotted here
and there among the dwellings.

Into one of the filthy dens Barbara Harding was dragged.  
She found a single room in which several native and halfcaste
women were sleeping, about them stretched and curled and
perched a motley throng of dirty yellow children, dogs, pigs,
and chickens.  It was the palace of Daimio Oda Yorimoto,
Lord of Yoka, as his ancestors had christened their new island

Once within the warren the two samurai who had guarded
Barbara upon the march turned and withdrew--she was
alone with Oda Yorimoto and his family.  From the center of
the room depended a swinging shelf upon which a great pile
of grinning skulls rested.  At the back of the room was a door
which Barbara had not at first noticed--evidently there was
another apartment to the dwelling.

The girl was given little opportunity to examine her new
prison, for scarce had the guards withdrawn than Oda Yorimoto
approached and grasped her by the arm.

"Come!" he said, in Japanese that was sufficiently similar to
modern Nippon to be easily understood by Barbara Harding.  
With the word he drew her toward a sleeping mat on a raised
platform at one side of the room.

One of the women awoke at the sound of the man's voice.  
She looked up at Barbara in sullen hatred--otherwise she
gave no indication that she saw anything unusual transpiring.
It was as though an exquisite American belle were a daily
visitor at the Oda Yorimoto home.

"What do you want of me?" cried the frightened girl, in

Oda Yorimoto looked at her in astonishment.  Where had
this white girl learned to speak his tongue?

"I am the daimio, Oda Yorimoto," he said.  "These are my
wives.  Now you are one of them.  Come!"

"Not yet--not here!" cried the girl clutching at a straw.  
"Wait.  Give me time to think.  If you do not harm me my
father will reward you fabulously.  Ten thousand koku he
would gladly give to have me returned to him safely."

Oda Yorimoto but shook his head.

"Twenty thousand koku!" cried the girl.

Still the daimio shook his head negatively.

"A hundred thousand--name your own price, if you will
but not harm me."

"Silence!" growled the man.  "What are even a million koku
to me who only know the word from the legends of my
ancestors.  We have no need for koku here, and had we, my
hills are full of the yellow metal which measures its value.  No!
you are my woman.  Come!"

"Not here!  Not here!" pleaded the girl.  "There is another
room--away from all these women," and she turned her eyes
toward the door at the opposite side of the chamber.

Oda Yorimoto shrugged his shoulders.  That would be
easier than a fight, he argued, and so he led the girl toward
the doorway that she had indicated.  Within the room all was
dark, but the daimio moved as one accustomed to the place,
and as he moved through the blackness the girl at his side felt
with stealthy fingers at the man's belt.

At last Oda Yorimoto reached the far side of the long

"Here!" he said, and took her by the shoulders.

"Here!" answered the girl in a low, tense voice, and at the
instant that she spoke Oda Yorimoto, Lord of Yoka, felt a
quick tug at his belt, and before he guessed what was to
happen his own short sword had pierced his breast.

A single shriek broke from the lips of the daimio; but it
was so high and shrill and like the shriek of a woman in
mortal terror that the woman in the next room who heard it
but smiled a crooked, wicked smile of hate and turned once
more upon her pallet to sleep.

Again and again Barbara Harding plunged the sword of
the brown man into the still heart, until she knew beyond
peradventure of a doubt that her enemy was forevermore
powerless to injure her.  Then she sank, exhausted and trembling,
upon the dirt floor beside the corpse.

When Theriere came to the realization that Barbara Harding
was gone he jumped to the natural conclusion that Ward
and Simms had discovered the ruse that he had worked upon
them just in time to permit them to intercept Miller and
Swenson with the girl, and carry her back to the main camp.

The others were prone to agree with him, though the
mucker grumbled that "it listened fishy."  However, all hands
returned cautiously down the face of the cliff, expecting
momentarily to be attacked by the guards which they felt sure
Ward would post in expectation of a return of the mutineers,
the moment they discovered that the girl had been taken from
them; but to the surprise of all they reached the cove without
molestation, and when they had crept cautiously to the vicinity
of the sleepers they discovered that all were there, in peaceful
slumber, just as they had left them a few hours before.

Silently the party retraced its steps up the cliff.  Theriere and
Billy Byrne brought up the rear.

"What do you make of it anyway, Byrne?" asked the

"If you wanta get it straight, cul," replied the mucker,
"I tink youse know a whole lot more about it dan you'd
like to have de rest of us tink."

"What do you mean, Byrne?" cried Theriere.  "Out with it

"Sure I'll out wid it.  You didn't tink I was bashful didja?
Wot fer did you detail dem two pikers, Miller and Swenson,
to guard de skirt fer if it wasn't fer some special frame-up of
yer own?  Dey never been in our gang, and dats just wot you
wanted 'em fer.  It was easy to tip dem off to hike out wid de
squab, and de first chanct you get you'll hike after dem, while
we hold de bag.  Tought you'd double-cross us easy, didn't
yeh?  Yeh cheap-skate!"

"Byrne," said Theriere, and it was easy to see that only
through the strength of his will-power did he keep his temper,
"you may have cause to suspect the motives of everyone
connected with this outfit.  I can't say that I blame you; but I
want you to remember what I say to you now.  There was a
time when I fully intended to 'double-cross' you, as you say--
that was before you saved my life.  Since then I have been on
the square with you not only in deed but in thought as well.  I
give you the word of a man whose word once meant
something--I am playing square with you now except in one
thing, and I shall tell you what that is at once.  I do not know
where Miss Harding is, or what has happened to her, and
Miller, and Swenson.  That is God's truth.  Now for the one
thing that I just mentioned.  Recently I changed my intentions
relative to Miss Harding.  I was after the money the same as
the rest--that I am free to admit; but now I don't give a
rap for it, and I had intended taking advantage of the first
opportunity to return Miss Harding to civilization unharmed
and without the payment of a penny to anyone.  The reason
for my change of heart is my own affair.  In all probability
you wouldn't believe the sincerity or honesty of my motives
should I disclose them.  I am only telling you these things
because you have accused me of double dealing, and I do not
want the man who saved my life at the risk of his own to
have the slightest grounds to doubt my honesty with him.  I've
been a fairly bad egg, Byrne, for a great many years; but, by
George!  I'm not entirely rotten yet."

Byrne was silent for a few moments.  He, too, had recently
come to the conclusion that possibly he was not entirely rotten
either, and had in a vague and half-formed sort of way
wished for the opportunity to demonstrate the fact, so he was
willing to concede to another that which he craved for himself.

"Yeh listen all right, cul," he said at last; "an' I'm willin' to
take yeh at yer own say-so until I learn different."

"Thanks," said Theriere tersely.  "Now we can work together
in the search for Miss Harding; but where, in the name of
all that's holy, are we to start?"

"Why, where we seen her last, of course," replied the
mucker.  "Right here on top of dese bluffs."

"Then we can't do anything until daylight," said the

"Not a ting, and at daylight we'll most likely have a scrap
on our hands from below," and the mucker jerked his thumb
in the direction of the cove.

"I think," said Theriere, "that we had better spend an hour
arming ourselves with sticks and stones.  We've a mighty good
position up here.  One that we can defend splendidly from an
assault from below, and if we are prepared for them we can
stave 'em off for a while if we need the time to search about
up here for clews to Miss Harding's whereabouts."

And so the party set to work to cut stout bludgeons from
the trees about them, and pile loose fragments of rock in
handy places near the cliff top.  Theriere even went so far as to
throw up a low breastwork across the top of the trail up
which the enemy must climb to reach the summit of the cliff.  
When they had completed their preparations three men could
have held the place against ten times their own number.

Then they lay down to sleep, leaving Blanco and Divine on
guard, for it had been decided that these two, with Bony
Sawyer, should be left behind on the morrow to hold the cliff
top while the others were searching for clews to the whereabouts
of Barbara Harding.  They were to relieve each other at
guard duty during the balance of the night.

Scarce had the first suggestion of dawn lightened the eastern
sky than Divine, who was again on guard, awakened
Theriere.  In a moment the others were aroused, and a hasty
raid on the cached provisions made.  The lack of water was
keenly felt by all, but it was too far to the spring to chance
taking the time necessary to fetch the much-craved fluid and
those who were to forge into the jungle in search of Barbara
Harding hoped to find water farther inland, while it was
decided to dispatch Bony Sawyer to the spring for water for
those who were to remain on guard at the cliff top.

A hurried breakfast was made on water-soaked ship's biscuit.
Theriere and his searching party stuffed their pockets full
of them, and a moment later the search was on.  First the men
traversed the trail toward the spring, looking for indications of
the spot where Barbara Harding had ceased to follow them.  
The girl had worn heelless buckskin shoes at the time she was
taken from the Lotus, and these left little or no spoor in the
well-tramped earth of the narrow path; but a careful and
minute examination on the part of Theriere finally resulted in
the detection of a single small footprint a hundred yards from
the point they had struck the trail after ascending the cliffs.  
This far at least she had been with them.

The men now spread out upon either side of the track--
Theriere and Red Sanders upon one side, Byrne and Wison
upon the other.  Occasionally Theriere would return to the trail
to search for further indications of the spoor they sought.

The party had proceeded in this fashion for nearly half a
mile when suddenly they were attracted by a low exclamation
from the mucker.

"Here!" he called.  "Here's Miller an' the Swede, an' they
sure have mussed 'em up turrible."

The others hastened in the direction of his voice, to come
to a horrified halt at the sides of the headless trunks of the
two sailors.

"Mon Dieu!" exclaimed the Frenchman, reverting to his
mother tongue as he never did except under the stress of great

"Who done it?" queried Red Sanders, looking suspiciously
at the mucker.

"Head-hunters," said Theriere.  "God!  What an awful fate
for that poor girl!"

Billy Byrne went white.

"Yeh don't mean dat dey've lopped off her block?" he
whispered in an awed voice.  Something strange rose in the
mucker's breast at the thought he had just voiced.  He did not
attempt to analyze the sensation; but it was far from joy at
the suggestion that the woman he so hated had met a horrible
and disgusting death at the hands of savages.

"I'm afraid not, Byrne," said Theriere, in a voice that none
there would have recognized as that of the harsh and masterful
second officer of the Halfmoon.

"Yer afraid not!" echoed Billy Byrne, in amazement.

"For her sake I hope that they did," said Theriere; "for
such as she it would have been a far less horrible fate than the
one I fear they have reserved her for."

"You mean--" queried Byrne, and then he stopped, for the
realization of just what Theriere did mean swept over him
quite suddenly.

There was no particular reason why Billy Byrne should
have felt toward women the finer sentiments which are so
cherished a possession of those men who have been gently
born and raised, even after they have learned that all women
are not as was the feminine ideal of their boyhood.

Billy's mother, always foul-mouthed and quarrelsome, had
been a veritable demon when drunk, and drunk she had been
whenever she could, by hook or crook, raise the price of
whiskey.  Never, to Billy's recollection, had she spoken a word
of endearment to him; and so terribly had she abused him
that even while he was yet a little boy, scarce out of babyhood,
he had learned to view her with a hatred as deeprooted
as is the affection of most little children for their mothers.

When he had come to man's estate he had defended himself
from the woman's brutal assaults as he would have defended
himself from another man--when she had struck, Billy had
struck back; the only thing to his credit being that he never
had struck her except in self-defense.  Chastity in woman was
to him a thing to joke of--he did not believe that it existed;
for he judged other women by the one he knew best--his
mother.  And as he hated her, so he hated them all.  He had
doubly hated Barbara Harding since she not only was a
woman, but a woman of the class he loathed.

And so it was strange and inexplicable that the suggestion
of the girl's probable fate should have affected Billy Byrne as
it did.  He did not stop to reason about it at all--he simply
knew that he felt a mad and unreasoning rage against the
creatures that had borne the girl away.  Outwardly Billy
showed no indication of the turmoil that raged within his

"We gotta find her, bo," he said to Theriere.  "We gotta
find the skirt."

Ordinarily Billy would have blustered about the terrible
things he would do to the objects of his wrath when once he
had them in his power; but now he was strangely quiet--only
the firm set of his strong chin, and the steely glitter of his gray
eyes gave token of the iron resolution within.

Theriere, who had been walking slowly to and fro about
the dead men, now called the others to him.

"Here's their trail," he said.  "If it's as plain as that all the
way we won't be long in overhauling them.  Come along."

Before he had the words half out of his mouth the mucker
was forging ahead through the jungle along the well-marked
spoor of the samurai.

"Wot kind of men do you suppose they are?" asked Red

"Malaysian head-hunters, unquestionably," replied Theriere.

Red Sanders shuddered inwardly.  The appellation had a
most gruesome sound.

"Come on!" cried Theriere, and started off after the mucker,
who already was out of sight in the thick forest.

Red Sanders and Wison took a few steps after the Frenchman.
Theriere turned once to see that they were following
him, and then a turn in the trail hid them from his view.  Red
Sanders stopped.

"Damme if I'm goin' to get my coconut hacked off on any
such wild-goose chase as this," he said to Wison.

"The girl's more'n likely dead long ago," said the other.

"Sure she is," returned Red Sanders, "an' if we go buttin'
into that there thicket we'll be dead too.  Ugh!  Poor Miller.  
Poor Swenson.  It's orful.  Did you see wot they done to 'em
beside cuttin' off their heads?"

"Yes," whispered Wison, looking suddenly behind him.

Red Sanders gave a little start, peering in the direction that
his companion had looked.

"Wot was it?" he whimpered.  "Wot did you do that fer?"

"I thought I seen something move there," replied Wison.  
"Fer Gawd's sake let's get outen this," and without waiting
for a word of assent from his companion the sailor turned
and ran at breakneck speed along the little path toward the
spot where Divine, Blanco, and Bony Sawyer were stationed.  
When they arrived Bony was just on the point of setting out
for the spring to fetch water, but at sight of the frightened,
breathless men he returned to hear their story.

"What's up?" shouted Divine.  "You men look as though
you'd seen a ghost.  Where are the others?"

"They're all murdered, and their heads cut off," cried Red
Sanders.  "We found the bunch that got Miller, Swenson, and
the girl.  They'd killed 'em all and was eatin' of 'em when we
jumps 'em.  Before we knew wot had happened about a
thousand more of the devils came runnin' up.  They got us
separated, and when we seen Theriere and Byrne kilt we jest
natch'rally beat it.  Gawd, but it was orful."

"Do you think they will follow you?" asked Divine.

At the suggestion every head turned toward the trail down
which the two panic-stricken men had just come.  At the same
moment a hoarse shout arose from the cove below and the
five looked down to see a scene of wild activity upon the
beach.  The defection of Theriere's party had been discovered,
as well as the absence of the girl and the theft of the

Skipper Simms was dancing about like a madman.  His
bellowed oaths rolled up the cliffs like thunder.  Presently
Ward caught a glimpse of the men at the top of the cliff
above him.

"There they are!" he cried.

Skipper Simms looked up.

"The swabs!" he shrieked.  "A-stealin' of our grub, an'
abductin' of that there pore girl.  The swabs!  Lemme to 'em, I
say; jest lemme to 'em."

"We'd all better go to 'em," said Ward.  "We've got a fight
on here sure.  Gather up some rocks, men, an' come along.  
Skipper, you're too fat to do any fightin' on that there hillside,
so you better stay here an' let one o' the men take your gun,"
for Ward knew so well the mettle of his superior that he much
preferred his absence to his presence in the face of real
fighting, and with the gun in the hands of a braver man it
would be vastly more effective.

Ward himself was no lover of a fight, but he saw now that
starvation might stare them in the face with their food gone,
and everything be lost with the loss of the girl.  For food and
money a much more cowardly man than Bender Ward would
fight to the death.

Up the face of the cliff they hurried, expecting momentarily
to be either challenged or fired upon by those above them.  
Divine and his party looked down with mixed emotions upon
those who were ascending in so threatening a manner.  They
found themselves truly between the devil and the deep sea.

Ward and his men were halfway up the cliff, yet Divine had
made no move to repel them.  He glanced timorously toward
the dark forest behind from which he momentarily expected to
see the savage, snarling faces of the head-hunters appear.

"Surrender!  You swabs," called Ward from below, "or we'll
string the last mother's son of you to the yardarm."

For reply Blanco hurled a heavy fragment of rock at the
assaulters.  It grazed perilously close to Ward, against whom
Blanco cherished a keen hatred.  Instantly Ward's revolver
barked, the bullet whistling close by Divine's head.  L.
Cortwrite Divine, cotillion leader, ducked behind Theriere's
breastwork, where he lay sprawled upon his belly, trembling in

Bony Sawyer and Red Sanders followed the example of
their commander.  Blanco and Wison alone made any attempt
to repel the assault.  The big Negro ran to Divine's side and
snatched the terror-stricken man's revolver from his belt.  Then
turning he fired at Ward.  The bullet, missing its intended
victim, pierced the heart of a sailor directly behind him, and as
the man crumpled to the ground, rolling down the steep
declivity, his fellows sought cover.

Wison followed up the advantage with a shower of well-aimed
missiles, and then hostilities ceased temporarily.

"Have they gone?" queried Divine, with trembling lips,
noticing the quiet that followed the shot.

"Gone nothin'," yo big cowahd," replied Blanco.  "Do yo
done suppose dat two men is a-gwine to stan' off five?  Ef yo
white-livered skunks 'ud git up an' fight we might have a
chanct.  I'se a good min' to cut out yo cowahdly heart fer yo,
das wot I has--a-lyin' der on yo belly settin' dat kin' o'
example to yo men!"

Divine's terror had placed him beyond the reach of contumely
or reproach.

"What's the use of fighting them?" he whimpered.  "We
should never have left them.  It's all the fault of that fool
Theriere.  What can we do against the savages of this awful
island if we divide our forces?  They will pick us off a few at a
time just as they picked off Miller and Swenson, Theriere and
Byrne.  We ought to tell Ward about it, and call this foolish
battle off."

"Now you're talkin'," cried Bony Sawyer.  "I'm not a-goin'
to squat up here any longer with my friends a-shootin' at me
from below an' a lot of wild heathen creeping down on me
from above to cut off my bloomin' head."

"Same here!" chimed in Red Sanders.

Blanco looked toward Wison.  For his own part the Negro
would not have been averse to returning to the fold could the
thing be accomplished without danger of reprisal on the part
of Skipper Simms and Ward; but he knew the men so well
that he feared to trust them even should they seemingly
acquiesce to any such proposal.  On the other hand, he
reasoned, it would be as much to their advantage to have the
deserters return to them as it would to the deserters themselves,
for when they had heard the story told by Red Sanders
and Wison of the murder of the others of the party they too
would realize the necessity for maintaining the strength of the
little company to its fullest.

"I don't see that we're goin' to gain nothin' by fightin'
'em," said Wison.  "There ain't nothin' in it any more nohow
for nobody since the girl's gorn.  Let's chuck it, an' see wot
terms we can make with Squint Eye."

"Well," grumbled the Negro, "I can't fight 'em alone; What
yo doin' dere, Bony?"

During the conversation Bony Sawyer had been busy with
a stick and a piece of rag, and now as he turned toward his
companions once more they saw that he had rigged a white
flag of surrender.  None interfered as he raised it above the
edge of the breastwork.

Immediately there was a hail from below.  It was Ward's

"Surrenderin', eh?  Comin' to your senses, are you?" he

Divine, feeling that immediate danger from bullets was past,
raised his head above the edge of the earthwork.

"We have something to communicate, Mr. Ward," he called.

"Spit it out, then; I'm a-listenin'," called back the mate.

"Miss Harding, Mr. Theriere, Byrne, Miller, and Swenson
have been captured and killed by native head-hunters," said

Ward's eyes went wide, and he blew out his cheeks in
surprise.  Then his face went black with an angry scowl.

"You see what you done now, you blitherin' fools, you!"
he cried, "with your funny business?  You gone an' killed the
goose what laid the golden eggs.  Thought you'd get it all,
didn't you? and now nobody won't get nothin', unless it is the
halter.  Nice lot o' numbskulls you be, an' whimperin' 'round
now expectin' of us to take you back--well, I reckon not, not
on your measly lives," and with that he raised his revolver to
fire again at Divine.

The society man toppled over backward into the pit behind
the breastwork before Ward had a chance to pull the trigger.

"Hol' on there mate!" cried Bony Sawyer; "there ain't no
call now fer gettin' excited.  Wait until you hear all we gotta
say.  You can't blame us pore sailormen.  It was this here fool
dude and that scoundrel Theriere that put us up to it.  They
told us that you an' Skipper Simms was a-fixin' to doublecross
us all an' leave us here to starve on this Gawd-forsaken
islan'.  Theriere said that he was with you when you planned
it. That you wanted to git rid o' as many of us as you could
so that you'd have more of the ransom to divide.  So all we
done was in self-defense, as it were.

"Why not let bygones be bygones, an' all of us join forces
ag'in' these murderin' heathen?  There won't be any too many
of us at best--Red an' Wison seen more'n two thousan' of
the man-eatin' devils.  They're a-creepin' up on us from behin'
right this minute, an' you can lay to that; an' the chances are
that they got some special kind o' route into that there cove,
an' maybe they're a-watchin' of you right now!"

Ward turned an apprehensive glance to either side.  There
was logic in Bony's proposal.  They couldn't spare a man now.  
Later he could punish the offenders at his leisure--when he
didn't need them any further.

"Will you swear on the Book to do your duty by Skipper
Simms an' me if we take you back?" asked Ward.

"You bet," answered Bony Sawyer.

The others nodded their heads, and Divine sprang up and
started down toward Ward.

"Hol' on you!" commanded the mate.  "This here arrangement
don' include you--it's jes' between Skipper Simms an'
his sailors.  You're a rank outsider, an' you butts in an' starts
a mutiny.  Ef you come back you gotta stand trial fer that--see?"
 "You better  duck,  mister,"  advised  Red  Sanders;  "they'll
hang you sure."

Divine went white.  To face trial before two such men as
Simms and Ward meant death, of that he was positive.  To flee
into the forest meant death, almost equally certain, and much
more horrible.  The man went to his knees, lifting supplicating
hands to the mate.

"For God's sake, Mr. Ward," he cried, "be merciful.  I was
led into this by Theriere.  He lied to me just as he did to the
men.  You can't kill me--it would be murder--they'd hang
you for it."

"We'll hang for this muss you got us into anyway, if we're
ever caught," growled the mate.  "Ef you hadn't a-carried the
girl off to be murdered we might have had enough ransom
money to have got clear some way, but now you gone and
cooked the whole goose fer the lot of us."

"You can collect ransom on me," cried Divine, clutching at
a straw.  "I'll pay a hundred thousand myself the day you set
me down in a civilized port, safe and free."

Ward laughed in his face.

"You ain't got a cent, you four-flusher," he cried.  "Clinker
put us next to that long before we sailed from Frisco."

"Clinker lies," cried Divine.  "He doesn't know anything
about it--I'm rich."

"Wot's de use ob chewin' de rag 'bout all dis," cried
Blanco, seeing where he might square himself with Ward and
Simms easily.  "Does yo' take back all us sailormen, Mr. Ward,
an' promise not t' punish none o' us, ef we swear to stick by
yo' all in de future?"

"Yes," replied the mate.

Blanco took a step toward Divine.

"Den yo come along too as a prisoner, white man," and
the burly black grasped Divine by the scruff of the neck and
forced him before him down the steep trail toward the cove,
and so the mutineers returned to the command of Skipper
Simms, and L. Cortwrite Divine went with them as a prisoner,
charged with a crime the punishment for which has been
death since men sailed the seas.



FOR several minutes Barbara Harding lay where she had
collapsed after the keen short sword of the daimio had freed
her from the menace of his lust.

She was in a half-stupor that took cognizance only of a
freezing terror and exhaustion.  Presently, however, she became
aware of her contact with the corpse beside her, and with a
stifled cry she shrank away from it.

Slowly the girl regained her self-control and with it came
the realization of the extremity of her danger.  She rose to a
sitting posture and turned her wide eyes toward the doorway
to the adjoining room--the women and children seemed yet
wrapped in slumber.  It was evident that the man's scream had
not disturbed them.

Barbara gained her feet and moved softly to the doorway.  
She wondered if she could cross the intervening space to the
outer exit without detection.  Once in the open she could flee
to the jungle, and then there was a chance at least that she
might find her way to the coast and Theriere.

She gripped the short sword which she still held, and took
a step into the larger room.  One of the women turned and
half roused from sleep.  The girl shrank back into the darkness
of the chamber she had just quitted.  The woman sat up and
looked around.  Then she rose and threw some sticks upon the
fire that burned at one side of the dwelling.  She crossed to a
shelf and took down a cooking utensil.  Barbara saw that she
was about to commence the preparation of breakfast.

All hope of escape was thus ended, and the girl cautiously
closed the door between the two rooms.  Then 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 familiar.

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 not be denied.  Suddenly an
inspiration came to her.  It was a forlorn hope, but well worth
putting to the test.

"Hush!" she hissed through the closed door.  "Oda Yorimoto
sleeps.  It is his wish that he be not disturbed."

For a moment there was silence beyond the door, and then
the woman grunted, and Barbara heard her turn back, muttering
to herself.  The girl breathed a deep sigh of relief--she
had received a brief reprieve from death.

Again she turned to the window, where, with the short
sword, she commenced her labor of enlarging it to permit the
passage of her body.  The work was necessarily slow because
of the fact that it must proceed with utter noiselessness.

For an hour she worked, and then again came an interruption
at the door.  This time it was a man.

"Oda Yorimoto still sleeps," whispered the girl.  "Go away
and do not disturb him.  He will be very angry if you awaken

But the man would not be put off so easily as had the
woman.  He still insisted.

"The daimio has ordered that there shall be a great hunt
today for the heads of the sei-yo-jin who have landed upon
Yoka," persisted the man.  "He will be angry indeed if we do
not call him in time to accomplish the task today.  Let me
speak with him, woman.  I do not believe that Oda Yorimoto
still sleeps.  Why should I believe one of the sei-yo-jin?  It may
be that you have bewitched the daimio," and with that he
pushed against the door.

The corpse gave a little, and the man glued his eyes to the
aperture.  Barbara held the sword behind her, and with her
shoulder against the door attempted to reclose it.

"Go away!" she cried.  "I shall be killed if you awaken Oda
Yorimoto, and, if you enter, you, too, shall be killed."

The man stepped back from the door, and Barbara could
hear him in low converse with some of the women of the
household.  A moment later he returned, and without a word
of warning threw his whole weight against the portal.  The
corpse slipped back enough to permit the entrance of the
man's body, and as he stumbled into the room the long sword
of the Lord of Yoka fell full and keen across the back of his
brown neck.

Without a sound he lunged to the floor, dead; but the
women without had caught a fleeting glimpse of what had
taken place within the little chamber, even before Barbara
Harding could slam the door again, and with shrieks of
rage and fright they rushed into the main street of the village
shouting at the tops of their voices that Oda Yorimoto and
Hawa Nisho had been slain by the woman of the sei-yo-jin.

Instantly, the village swarmed with samurai, women, children,
and dogs.  They rushed toward the hut of Oda Yorimoto, filling
the outer chamber where they jabbered excitedly for
several minutes, the warriors attempting to obtain a coherent
story from the moaning women of the daimio's household.

Barbara Harding crouched close to the door, listening.  She
knew that the crucial moment was at hand; that there were at
best but a few moments for her to live.  A silent prayer rose
from her parted lips.  She placed the sharp point of Oda
Yorimoto's short sword against her breast, and waited--
waited for the coming of the men from the room beyond,
snatching a few brief seconds from eternity ere she drove the
weapon into her heart.

Theriere plunged through the jungle at a run for several
minutes before he caught sight of the mucker.

"Are you still on the trail?" he called to the man before

"Sure," replied Byrne.  "It's dead easy.  They must o' been at
least a dozen of 'em.  Even a mutt like me couldn't miss it."

"We want to go carefully, Byrne," cautioned Theriere.  "I've
had experience with these fellows before, and I can tell you
that you never know when one of 'em is near you till you feel
a spear in your back, unless you're almighty watchful.  We've
got to make all the haste we can, of course, but it won't help
Miss Harding any if we rush into an ambush and get our
heads lopped off."

Byrne saw the wisdom of his companion's advice and tried
to profit by it; but something which seemed to dominate him
today carried him ahead at reckless, breakneck speed--the
flight of an eagle would have been all too slow to meet the
requirements of his unaccountable haste.

Once he found himself wondering why he was risking his
life to avenge or rescue this girl whom be hated so.  He tried
to think that it was for the ransom--yes, that was it, the
ransom.  If he found her alive, and rescued her he should
claim the lion's share of the booty.

Theriere too wondered why Byrne, of all the other men
upon the Halfmoon the last that he should have expected to
risk a thing for the sake of Miss Harding, should be the
foremost in pursuit of her captors.

"I wonder how far behind Sanders and Wison are," he
remarked to Byrne after they had been on 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

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 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

"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 use fer Chinks," said the mucker, as
though in extenuation of his suggestion that they murder the
youth.  For some unaccountable reason he had felt a sudden
compunction because of his thoughtless remark.  What in the
world was coming over him, he wondered.  He'd be wearing
white pants and playing lawn tennis presently if he continued
to grow much softer and more unmanly.

So the three set out through the jungle, following a trail
which led around to the north of the village.  Theriere walked
ahead with the boy's arm in his grasp.  Byrne followed closely
behind.  They reached their destination in the rear of Oda
Yorimoto's "palace" without interruption or detection.  Here
they reconnoitered through the thick foliage.

"Dere's a little winder in de back of de house," said Byrne.  
"Dat must be where dem guys cooped up de little broiler."

"Yes," said Theriere, "it would be in the back room which
the boy described.  First let's tie and gag this young heathen,
and then we can proceed to business without fear of alarm
from him," and the Frenchman stripped a long, grass rope
from about the waist of his prisoner, with which he was
securely trussed up, a piece of his loin cloth being forced into
his mouth as a gag, and secured there by another strip, torn
from the same garment, which was passed around the back of
the boy's head.

"Rather uncomfortable, I imagine," commented Theriere;
"but not particularly painful or dangerous--and now to business!"

"I'm goin' to make a break fer dat winder," announced the
mucker, "and youse squat here in de tall grass wid yer gat an'
pick off any fresh guys dat get gay in back here.  Den, if I
need youse you can come a-runnin' an' open up all over de
shop wid de artillery, or if I gets de lizzie outen de jug an' de
Chinks push me too clost youse'll be here where yeh can pick
'em off easy-like."

"You'll be taking all the risk that way, Byrne," objected
Theriere, "and that's not fair."

"One o' us is pretty sure to get hurted," explained the
mucker in defense of his plan, "an, if it's a croak it's a lot
better dat it be me than youse, fer the girl wouldn't be crazy
about bein' lef' alone wid me--she ain't got no use fer the
likes o' me.  Now youse are her kin, an' so youse stay here
w'ere yeh can help her after I git her out--I don't want
nothing to do wid her anyhow.  She gives me a swift pain,
and," he added as though it were an after-thought, "I ain't
got no use fer dat ransom eider--youse can have dat, too."

"Hold on, Byrne," cried Theriere; "I have something to say,
too.  I do not see how I can expect you to believe me; but
under the circumstances, when one of us and maybe both are
pretty sure to die before the day is much older, it wouldn't be
worth while lying.  I do not want that damned ransom any
more, either.  I only want to do what I can to right the wrong
that I have helped to perpetrate against Miss Harding.  I--I--
Byrne, I love her.  I shall never tell her so, for I am not the
sort of man a decent girl would care to marry; but I did want
the chance to make a clean breast to her of all my connection
with the whole dirty business, and get her forgiveness if I
could; but first I wanted to prove my repentance by helping
her to civilization in safety, and delivering her to her friends
without the payment of a cent of money.  I may never be able
to do that now; but if I die in the attempt, and you don't, I
wish that you would tell her what I have just told you.  Paint
me as black as you can--you couldn't commence to make me
as black as I have been--but let her know that for love of her
I turned white at the last minute.  Byrne, she is the best girl that
you or I ever saw--we're not fit to breathe the same air that
she breathes.  Now you can see why I should like to go first."

"I t'ought youse was soft on her," replied the mucker, "an'
dat's de reason w'y youse otter not go first; but wot's de use
o' chewin', les flip a coin to see w'ich goes an w'ich stays--
got one?"

Theriere felt in his trousers' pocket, fishing out a dime.

"Heads, you go; tails, I go," he said and spun the silver
piece in the air, catching it in the flat of his open palm.

"It's heads," said the mucker, grinning.  "Gee!  Wot's de

Both men turned toward the village, where a jabbering mob
of half-caste Japanese had suddenly appeared in the streets,
hurrying toward the hut of Oda Yorimoto.

"Somepin doin', eh?" said the mucker.  "Well, here goes--
s'long!"  And he broke from the cover of the jungle and
dashed across the clearing toward the rear of Oda Yorimoto's



BARBARA HARDING heard the samurai in the room beyond her
prison advancing toward the door that separated them from
her.  She pressed the point of the daimio's sword close to her
heart.  A heavy knock fell upon the door and at the same
instant the girl was startled by a noise behind her--a noise
at the little window at the far end of the room.

Turning to face this new danger, she was startled into a
little cry of surprise to see the head and shoulders of the
mucker framed in the broken square of the half-demolished

The girl did not know whether to feel renewed hope or
utter despair.  She could not forget the heroism of her rescue
by this brutal fellow when the Halfmoon had gone to pieces
the day before, nor could she banish from her mind his
threats of violence toward her, or his brutal treatment of
Mallory and Theriere.  And the question arose in her mind as
to whether she would be any better off in his power than in
the clutches of the savage samurai.

Billy Byrne had heard the knock upon the door before
which the girl knelt.  He had seen the corpses of the dead men
at her feet.  He had observed the telltale position of the sword
which the girl held to her breast and he had read much of the
story of the impending tragedy at a glance.

"Cheer up, kid!" he whispered.  "I'll be wid youse in a
minute, an' Theriere's out here too, to help youse if I can't do
it alone."

The girl turned toward the door again.

"Wait," she cried to the samurai upon the other side, "until
I move the dead men, then you may come in, their bodies bar
the door now."

All that kept the warriors out was the fear that possibly
Oda Yorimoto might not be dead after all, and that should
they force their way into the room without his permission
some of them would suffer for their temerity.  Naturally none
of them was keen to lose his head for nothing, but the
moment that the girl spoke of the dead "men" they knew that
Oda Yorimoto had been slain, too, and with one accord they
rushed the little door.

The girl threw all her weight against her side, while the
dead men, each to the extent of his own weight, aided the
woman who had killed them in her effort to repulse their
fellows; and behind the three Billy Byrne kicked and tore at
the mud wall about the window in a frantic effort to enlarge
the aperture sufficiently to permit his huge bulk to pass
through into the little room.

The mucker won to the girl's side first, and snatching Oda
Yorimoto's long sword from the floor he threw his great
weight against the door, and commanded the girl to make for
the window and escape to the forest as quickly as she could.

"Theriere is waiting dere," he said.  "He will see youse de
moment yeh reach de window, and den youse will be safe."

"But you!" cried the girl.  "What of you?"

"Never yeh mind me," commanded Billy Byrne.  "Youse jes'
do as I tells yeh, see?  Now, beat it," and he gave her a rough
shove toward the window.

And then, between the combined efforts of the samurai
upon one side and Billy Byrne of Kelly's gang upon the other
the frail door burst from its rotten hinges and fell to one side.

The first of the samurai into the little room was cleft from
crown to breast bone with the keen edge of the sword of the
Lord of Yoka wielded by the mighty arm of the mucker.  The
second took the count with a left hook to the jaw, and then
all that could crowd through the little door swarmed upon the
husky bruiser from Grand Avenue.

Barbara Harding took one look at the carnage behind her
and then sprang to the window.  At a short distance she saw
the jungle and at its edge what she was sure was the figure of
a man crouching in the long grass.

"Mr.  Theriere!" she cried.  "Quick!  They are killing Byrne,"
and then she turned back into the room, and with the short
sword which she still grasped in her hand sprang to the side
of the mucker who was offering his life to save her.

Byrne cast a horrified glance at the figure fighting by his

"Fer de love o' Mike!  Beat it!" he cried.  "Duck!  Git out o'

But the girl only smiled up bravely into his face and
kept her place beside him.  The mucker tried to push her
behind him with one hand while he fought with the other, but
she drew away from him to come up again a little farther
from him.

The samurai were pushing them closely now.  Three men at
a time were reaching for the mucker with their long swords.  
He was bleeding from numerous wounds, but at his feet lay
two dead warriors, while a third crawled away with a mortal
wound in his abdomen.

Barbara Harding devoted her energies to thrusting and
cutting at those who tried to press past the mucker, that they
might take him from behind.  The battle could not last long, so
unequal were the odds.  She saw the room beyond filled with
surging warriors all trying to force their way within reach of
the great white man who battled like some demigod of old in
the close, dark, evil warren of the daimio.

She shot a side glance at the man.  He was wonderful!  The
fire of battle had transformed him.  No longer was he the
sullen, sulky, hulking brute she had first known upon the
Halfmoon.  Instead, huge, muscular, alert, he towered above
his pygmy antagonists, his gray eyes gleaming, a half-smile
upon his strong lips.

She saw the long sword, wielded awkwardly in his unaccustomed
hands, beat down the weapons of his skilled foemen by
the very ferocity of its hurtling attack.  She saw it pass through
a man's shoulder, cleaving bone and muscle as if they had
been cheese, until it stopped two-thirds across its victim's body,
cutting him almost in two.

She saw a samurai leap past her champion's guard in an
attempt to close upon him with a dagger, and when she had
rushed forward to thwart the fellow's design she had seen
Byrne swing his mighty left to the warrior's face with a blow
that might well have felled an ox.  Then another leaped into
closer quarters and she saw Byrne at the same instant bury his
sword in the body of a dark-visaged devil who looked more
Malay than Jap, and as the stricken man fell she saw the hilt
of the mucker's blade wrenched from his grip by the dead
body of his foe.  The samurai who had closed upon Byrne at
that instant found his enemy unarmed, and with a howl of
delight he struck full at the broad chest with his long, thin

But Billy Byrne was not to be dispatched so easily.  With his
left forearm he struck up the hand that wielded the menacing
blade, and then catching the fellow by the shoulder swung
him around, grasped him about the waist and lifting him
above his head hurled him full in the faces of the swordsmen
who were pressing through the narrow doorway.

Almost simultaneously a spear shot through a tiny opening
in the ranks before Billy Byrne, and with a little gasp of
dismay the huge fellow pitched forward upon his face.  At the
same instant a shot rang out behind Barbara Harding, and
Theriere leaped past her to stand across the body of the fallen

With the sound of the shot a samurai sank to the floor,
dead, and the others, unaccustomed to firearms, drew back in
dismay.  Again Theriere fired point-blank into the crowded
room, and this time two men fell, struck by the same bullet.  
Once more the warriors retreated, and with an exultant yell
Theriere followed up his advantage by charging menacingly
upon them.  They stood for a moment, then wavered, turned
and fled from the hut.

When Theriere turned back toward Barbara Harding he
found her kneeling beside the mucker.

"Is he dead?" asked the Frenchman.

"No.  Can we lift him together and get him through that

"It is the only way," replied Theriere, "and we must try it."

They seized upon the huge body and dragged it to the far
end of the room, but despite their best efforts the two were
not able to lift the great, inert mass of flesh and bone and
muscle and pass it through the tiny opening.

"What shall we do?" cried Theriere.

"We must stay here with him," replied Barbara Harding.  "I
could never desert the man who has fought so noble a fight
for me while a breath of life remained in him."

Theriere groaned.

"Nor I," he said; "but you--he has given his life to save
yours.  Should you render his sacrifice of no avail now?"

"I cannot go alone," she answered simply, "and I know
that you will not leave him.  There is no other way--we must

At this juncture the mucker opened his eyes.

"Who hit me?" he murmured.  "Jes' show me de big stiff."
Theriere could not repress a smile.  Barbara Harding again
knelt beside the man.

"No one hit you, Mr. Byrne," she said.  "You were struck
by a spear and are badly wounded."

Billy Byrne opened his eyes a little wider, turning them until
they rested on the beautiful face of the girl so close to his.

"MR. Byrne!" he ejaculated in disgust.  "Forget it.  Wot do
youse tink I am, one of dose paper-collar dudes?"

Then he sat up.  Blood was flowing from a wound in his
chest, saturating his shirt, and running slowly to the earth
floor.  There were two flesh wounds upon his head--one
above the right eye and the other extending entirely across the
left cheek from below the eye to the lobe of the ear--but
these he had received earlier in the fracas.  From crown to heel
the man was a mass of blood.  Through his crimson mask he
looked at the pile of bodies in the far end of the room, and a
broad grin cracked the dried blood about his mouth.

"Wot we done to dem Chinks was sure a plenty, kiddo,"
he remarked to Miss Harding, and then he came to his feet,
seemingly as strong as ever, shaking himself like a great bull.  
"But I guess it's lucky youse butted in when you did, old
pot," he added, turning toward Theriere; "dey jest about had
me down fer de long count."

Barbara Harding was looking at the man in wide-eyed
amazement.  A moment before she had been expecting him,
momentarily, to breathe his last--now he was standing before
her talking as unconcernedly as though he had not received a
scratch--he seemed totally unaware of his wounds.  At least he
was entirely indifferent to them.

"You're pretty badly hurt, old man," said Theriere.  "Do
you feel able to make the attempt to get to the jungle?  The
Japs will be back in a moment."

"Sure!" cried Billy Byrne.  "Come ahead," and he sprang
for the window.  "Pass de kid up to me.  Quick!  Dey're comin'
from in back."

Theriere lifted Barbara Harding to the mucker who drew
her through the opening.  Then Billy extended a hand to the
Frenchman, and a moment later the three stood together
outside the hut.

A dozen samurai were running toward them from around
the end of the "Palace."  The jungle lay a hundred yards
across the clearing.  There was no time to be lost.

"You go first with Miss Harding," cried Theriere.  "I'll cover
our retreat with my revolver, following close behind you."

The mucker caught the girl in his arms, throwing her across
his shoulder.  The blood from his wounds smeared her hands
and clothing.

"Hang tight, kiddo," he cried, and started at a brisk trot
toward the forest.

Theriere kept close behind the two, reserving his fire until it
could be effectively delivered.  With savage yells the samurai
leaped after their escaping quarry.  The natives all carried the
long, sharp spears of the aboriginal head-hunters.  Their swords
swung in their harness, and their ancient armor clanked as
they ran.

It was a strange, weird picture that the oddly contrasted
party presented as they raced across the clearing of this
forgotten isle toward a jungle as primitive as when "the
evening and the morning were the third day."  An American
girl of the highest social caste borne in the arms of that most
vicious of all social pariahs--the criminal mucker of the slums
of a great city--and defending them with drawn revolver, a
French count and soldier of fortune, while in their wake
streamed a yelling pack of half-caste demons clothed in the
habiliments of sixteenth century Japan, and wielding the
barbarous spears of the savage head-hunting aborigines whose
fierce blood coursed in their veins with that of the descendants
of Taka-mi-musu-bi-no-kami.

Three-quarters of the distance had been covered in safety
before the samurai came within safe spear range of the trio.  
Theriere, seeing the danger to the girl, dropped back a few
paces hoping to hold the brown warriors from her.  The
foremost of the pursuers raised his weapon aloft, carrying his
spear hand back of his shoulder for the throw.  Theriere's
revolver spoke, and the man pitched forward, rolling over and
over before he came to rest.

A howl of rage went up from the samurai, and a half-dozen
spears leaped at long range toward Theriere.  One of the
weapons transfixed his thigh, bringing him to earth.  Byrne was
at the forest's edge as the Frenchman fell--it was the girl,
though, who witnessed the catastrophe.

"Stop!" she cried.  "Mr. Theriere is down."

The mucker halted, and turned his head in the direction of
the Frenchman, who had raised himself to one elbow and was
firing at the advancing enemy.  He dropped the girl to her feet.

"Wait here!" he commanded and sprang back toward Theriere.

Before he reached him another spear had caught the man
full in the chest, toppling him, unconscious, to the earth.  The
samurai were rushing rapidly upon the wounded officer--it
was a question who would reach him first.

Theriere had been nipped in the act of reloading his revolver.
It lay beside him now, the cylinder full of fresh cartridges.  
The mucker was first to his side, and snatching the weapon
from the ground fired coolly and rapidly at the advancing
Japanese.  Four of them went down before that deadly fusillade;
but the mucker cursed beneath his breath because of his
two misses.

Byrne's stand checked the brown men momentarily, and in
the succeeding lull the man lifted the unconscious Frenchman
to his shoulder and bore him back to the forest.  In the shelter
of the jungle they laid him upon the ground.  To the girl it
seemed that the frightful wound in his chest must prove fatal
within a few moments.

Byrne, apparently unmoved by the seriousness of Theriere's
condition, removed the man's cartridge belt and buckled it
about his own waist, replacing the six empty shells in the
revolver with six fresh ones.  Presently he noticed the bound
and gagged Oda Iseka lying in the brush behind them where
he and Theriere had left him.  The samurai were now sneaking
cautiously toward their refuge.  A sudden inspiration came to
the mucker.

"Didn't I hear youse chewin' de rag wit de Chinks wen I
hit de dump over dere?" he asked of Barbara.

The girl, oddly, understood him.  She nodded her head,

"Youse savvy deyre lingo den, eh?"

"A little."

"Tell dis gazimbat to wise his pals to de fact dat I'll croak
'im, if dey don't beat it, an' let us make our get-away.  
Theriere says as how he's kink when his ole man croaks, an'
his ole man was de guy youse put to sleep in de chicken
coop," explained the mucker lucidly; "so dis slob's kink hisself

Barbara Harding was quick to see the strength of the man's
suggestion.  Stepping to the edge of the clearing in full view of
the advancing enemy, with the mucker at her side, revolver in
hand, she called to them in the language of their forbears to
listen to her message.  Then she explained that they held the
son of Oda Yorimoto prisoner, and that his life would be the
price of any further attack upon them.

The samurai conferred together for a moment, then one of
them called out that they did not believe her, that Oda Iseka,
son of Oda Yorimoto, was safe in the village.

"Wait!" replied the girl.  "We will show him to you," and
turning to Byrne she asked him to fetch the youth.

When the white man returned with the boy in his arms, a
wail of mingled anguish and rage rose from the natives.

"If you molest us no further we shall not harm him," cried
Barbara, "and when we leave your island we shall set him
free; but renew your attack upon us and this white man who
holds him says that he will cut out his heart and feed it to the
fox," which was rather a bloodthirsty statement for so gentle a
character as Barbara Harding; but she knew enough of the
superstitious fears of the ancient Japanese to feel confident
that this threat would have considerable weight with the
subjects of the young Lord of Yoka.

Again the natives conferred in whispers.  Finally he who
had acted as spokesman before turned toward the strangers.

"We shall not harm you," he said, "so long as you do not
harm Oda Iseka; but we shall watch you always until you
leave the island, and if harm befalls him then shall you never
leave, for we shall kill you all."

Barbara translated the man's words to the mucker.

"Do youse fall fer dat?" he asked.

"I think they will be careful to make no open assault upon
us," replied the girl; "but never for an instant must we cease
our watchfulness for at the first opportunity I am sure that
they will murder us."

They turned back to Theriere now.  The man still lay,
unconscious and moaning, where Byrne had deposited him.  
The mucker removed the gag from Oda Iseka's mouth.

"Which way is water?  Ask him," he said to Barbara.

The girl put the question.

"He says that straight up this ravine behind us there is a
little spring," translated the girl.

Byrne lifted Theriere in his arms, after loosening Oda Iseka's
feet and tethering him to his own belt with the same grass
rope; then he motioned the youth up the ravine.

"Walk beside me," he said to Barbara Harding, "an' keep
yer lamps peeled behind."

Thus, in silence, the party commenced the ascent of the trail
which soon became rough and precipitous, while behind them,
under cover of the brush, sneaked four trailing samurai.

After half an hour of the most arduous climbing the mucker
commenced to feel the effects of loss of blood from his
many wounds.  He coughed a little now from the exertion, and
when he did the blood spurted anew from the fresh wound in
his breast.

Yet there was no wavering or weakness apparent to the girl
who marched beside him, and she wondered at the physical
endurance of the man.  But when at last they came to a clear
pool of water, half hidden by overhanging rocks and long
masses of depending mosses, in the midst of a natural grotto
of enchanting loveliness, and Oda Iseka signaled that their
journey was at an end, Byrne laid Theriere gently upon the
flower-starred sward, and with a little, choking gasp collapsed,
unconscious, beside the Frenchman.

Barbara Harding was horror-stricken.  She suddenly realized
that she had commenced to feel that this giant of the slums
was invulnerable, and with the thought came another--that to
him she had come to look more than to Theriere for eventual
rescue; and now, here she found herself in the center of a
savage island, surrounded as she felt confident she was by
skulking murderers, with only two dying white men and a
brown hostage as companions.

And now Oda Iseka took in the situation, and with a grin
of triumph raised his voice in a loud halloo.

"Come quickly, my people!" he cried; "for both the white
men are dying," and from the jungle below them came an
answering shout.

"We come, Oda Iseka, Lord of Yoka!  Your faithful samurai come!"



AT THE sound of the harsh voices so close upon her Barbara
Harding was galvanized into instant action.  Springing to
Byrne's side she whipped Theriere's revolver from his belt,
where it reposed about the fallen mucker's hips, and with it
turned like a tigress upon the youth.

"Quick!" she cried.  "Tell them to go back--that I shall kill
you if they come closer."

The boy shrank back in terror before the fiery eyes and
menacing attitude of the white girl, and then with the terror
that animated him ringing plainly in his voice he screamed to
his henchmen to halt.

Relieved for a moment at least from immediate danger
Barbara Harding turned her attention toward the two unconscious
men at her feet.  From appearances it seemed that either
might breathe his last at any moment, and as she looked at
Theriere a wave of compassion swept over her, and the tears
welled to her eyes; yet it was to the mucker that she first
ministered--why, she could not for the life of her have explained.

She dashed cold water from the spring upon his face.  She
bathed his wrists, and washed his wounds, tearing strips from
her skirt to bandage the horrid gash upon his breast in an
effort to stanch the flow of lifeblood that welled forth with the
man's every breath.

And at last she was rewarded by seeing the flow of blood
quelled and signs of returning consciousness appear.  The
mucker opened his eyes.  Close above him bent the radiant
vision of Barbara Harding's face.  Upon his fevered forehead
he felt the soothing strokes of her cool, soft hand.  He closed
his eyes again to battle with the effeminate realization that he
enjoyed this strange, new sensation--the sensation of being
ministered to by a gentle woman--and, perish the thought, by
a gentlewoman!

With an effort he raised himself to one elbow, scowling at

"Gwan," he said; "I ain't no boob dude.  Cut out de mush.  
Lemme be.  Beat it!"

Hurt, more than she would have cared to admit, Barbara
Harding turned away from her ungrateful and ungracious
patient, to repeat her ministrations to the Frenchman.  The
mucker read in her expression something of the wound his
words had inflicted, and he lay thinking upon the matter for
some time, watching her deft, white fingers as they worked
over the scarce breathing Theriere.

He saw her wash the blood and dirt from the ghastly
wound in the man's chest, and as he watched he realized what
a world of courage it must require for a woman of her stamp
to do gruesome work of this sort.  Never before would such a
thought have occurred to him.  Neither would he have cared at
all for the pain his recent words to the girl might have
inflicted.  Instead he would have felt keen enjoyment of her

And now another strange new emotion took possession of
him.  It was none other than a desire to atone in some way for
his words.  What wonderful transformation was taking place in
the heart of the Kelly gangster?

"Say!" he blurted out suddenly.

Barbara Harding turned questioning eyes toward him.  In
them was the cold, haughty aloofness again that had marked
her cognizance of him upon the Halfmoon--the look that had
made his hate of her burn most fiercely.  It took the mucker's
breath away to witness it, and it made the speech he had
contemplated more difficult than ever--nay, almost impossible.  
He coughed nervously, and the old dark, lowering scowl
returned to his brow.

"Did you speak?" asked Miss Harding, icily.

Billy Byrne cleared his throat, and then there blurted from
his lips not the speech that he had intended, but a sudden,
hateful rush of words which seemed to emanate from another
personality, from one whom Billy Byrne once had been.

"Ain't dat boob croaked yet?" he growled.

The shock of that brutal question brought Barbara Harding
to her feet.  In horror she looked down at the man who had
spoken thus of a brave and noble comrade in the face of
death itself.  Her eyes blazed angrily as hot, bitter words
rushed to her lips, and then of a sudden she thought of
Byrne's self-sacrificing heroism in returning to Theriere's side
in the face of the advancing samurai--of the cool courage he
had displayed as be carried the unconscious man back to the
jungle--of the devotion, almost superhuman, that had sustained
him as he struggled, uncomplaining, up the steep
mountain path with the burden of the Frenchman's body the
while his own lifeblood left a crimson trail behind him.

Such deeds and these words were incompatible in the same
individual.  There could be but one explanation--Byrne must
be two men, with as totally different characters as though they
had possessed separate bodies.  And who may say that her
hypothesis was not correct--at least it seemed that Billy Byrne
was undergoing a metamorphosis, and at the instant there was
still a question as to which personality should eventually

Byrne turned away from the reproach which replaced the
horror in the girl's eyes, and with a tired sigh let his head fall
upon his outstretched arm.  The girl watched him for a moment,
a puzzled expression upon her face, and then returned
to work above Theriere.

The Frenchman's respiration was scarcely appreciable, yet
after a time he opened his eyes and looked up wearily.  At
sight of the girl he smiled wanly, and tried to speak, but a fit
of coughing flecked his lips with bloody foam, and again he
closed his eyes.  Fainter and fainter came his breathing, until it
was with difficulty that the girl detected any movement of his
breast whatever.  She thought that he was dying, and she was
afraid.  Wistfully she looked toward the mucker.  The man still
lay with his head buried in his arm, but whether he were
wrapped in thought, in slumber, or in death the girl could not
tell.  At the final thought she went white with terror.

Slowly she approached the man, and leaning over placed
her hand upon his shoulder.

"Mr. Byrne!" she whispered.

The mucker turned his face toward her.  It looked tired and

"Wot is it?" he asked, and his tone was softer than she had
ever heard it.

"I think Mr. Theriere is dying," she said, "and I--I--  Oh, I
am so afraid."

The man flushed to the roots of his hair.  All that he could
think of were the ugly words he had spoken a short time
before--and now Theriere was dying!  Byrne would have
laughed had anyone suggested that he entertained any other
sentiment than hatred toward the second officer of the
Halfmoon--that is he would have twenty-four hours before;
but now, quite unexpectedly, he realized that he didn't want
Theriere to die, and then it dawned upon him that a new
sentiment had been born within him--a sentiment to which he
had been a stranger all his hard life--friendship.

He felt friendship for Theriere!  It was unthinkable, and yet
the mucker knew that it was so.  Painfully he crawled over to
the Frenchman's side.

"Theriere!" he whispered in the man's ear.

The officer turned his head wearily.

"Do youse know me, old pal?" asked the mucker, and
Barbara Harding knew from the man's voice that there were
tears in his eyes; but what she did not know was that they
welled there in response to the words the mucker had just
spoken--the nearest approach to words of endearment that
ever had passed his lips.

Theriere reached up and took Byrne's hand.  It was evident
that he too had noted the unusual quality of the mucker's

"Yes, old man," he said very faintly, and then "water,

Barbara Harding brought him a drink, holding his head
against her knee while he drank.  The cool liquid seemed to
give him new strength for presently he spoke, quite strongly.

"I'm going, Byrne," he said; "but before I go I want to tell
you that of all the brave men I ever have known I have
learned within the past few days to believe that you are the
bravest.  A week ago I thought you were a coward--I ask
your forgiveness."

"Ferget it," whispered Byrne, "fer a week ago I guess I
was a coward.  Dere seems to be more'n one kind o' nerve--
I'm jest a-learnin' of the right kind, I guess."

"And, Byrne," continued Theriere, "don't forget what I
asked of you before we tossed up to see which should enter
Oda Yorimoto's house."

"I'll not ferget," said Billy.

"Good-bye, Byrne," whispered Theriere.  "Take good care
of Miss Harding."

"Good-bye, old pal," said the mucker.  His voice broke, and
two big tears rolled down the cheeks of "de toughest guy on
de Wes' Side."

Barbara Harding stepped to Theriere's side.

"Good-bye, my friend," she said.  "God will reward you for
your friendship, your bravery, and your devotion.  There must
be a special honor roll in heaven for such noble men as you."
Theriere smiled sadly.

"Byrne will tell you all," he said, "except who I am--he
does not know that"

"Is there any message, my friend," asked the girl, "that you
would like to have me deliver?"

Theriere remained silent for a moment as though thinking.

"My name," he said, "is Henri Theriere.  I am the Count de
Cadenet of France.  There is no message, Miss Harding, other
than you see fit to deliver to my relatives.  They lived in Paris
the last I heard of them--my brother, Jacques, was a deputy."

His voice had become so low and weak that the girl could
scarce distinguish his words.  He gasped once or twice, and
then tried to speak again.  Barbara leaned closer, her ear
almost against his lips.

"Good-bye--dear."  The words were almost inaudible, and
then the body stiffened with a little convulsive tremor, and
Henri Theriere, Count de Cadenet, passed over into the keeping
of his noble ancestors.

"He's gone!" whispered the girl, dry-eyed but suffering.  She
had not loved this man, she realized, but she had learned to
think of him as her one true friend in their little world of
scoundrels and murderers.  She had cared for him very
much--it was entirely possible that some day she might
have come to return his evident affection for her.  She knew
nothing of the seamy side of his hard life.  She had guessed
nothing of the scoundrelly duplicity that had marked his first
advances toward her.  She thought of him only as a true,
brave gentleman, and in that she was right, for whatever
Henri Theriere might have been in the past the last few days
of his life had revealed him in the true colors that birth and
nature had intended him to wear through a brilliant 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

"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
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 newmade
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 stretches.

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

"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

"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.

It was the mucker, and at sight of him there swept over the
girl the terrible peril of her position--alone in the savage
mountains of a savage island with the murderer of Billy
Mallory--the beast that had kicked the unconscious Theriere
in the face--the mucker who had insulted and threatened to
strike her!  She shuddered at the thought.  And then she
recalled the man's other side, and for the life of her she could
not tell whether to be afraid of him or not--it all depended
upon what mood governed him.  It would be best to propitiate
him.  She called a pleasant good morning.

Byrne turned.  She was shocked at the pallor of his haggard

"Good morning," he said.  "How did yeh sleep?"

"Oh, just splendidly, and you?" she replied.

"So-so," he answered.

She looked at him searchingly as he approached her.

"Why I don't believe that you have slept at  all,"  she  cried.

"I didn't feel very sleepy," he replied evasively.

"You sat up all night on guard!" she exclaimed.  "You
know you did."

"De Chinks might o' been shadowin' us--it wasn't safe to
sleep," he admitted; "but I'll tear off a few dis mornin' after
we find a feed of some kind."

"What can we find to eat here?" she asked.

"Dis crick is full o' fish," he explained, "an' ef youse got a
pin I guess we kin rig up a scheme to hook a couple."

The girl found a pin that he said would answer very nicely,
and with a shoe lace for a line and a big locust as bait the
mucker set forth to angle in the little mountain torrent.  The
fish, unwary, and hungry thus early in the morning proved
easy prey, and two casts brought forth two splendid specimens.

"I could eat a dozen of dem minnows," announced the
mucker, and he cast again and again, until in twenty minutes
he had a goodly mess of plump, shiny trout on the grass
beside him.

With his pocketknife he cleaned and scaled them, and then
between two rocks he built a fire and passing sticks through
the bodies of his catch roasted them all.  They had neither salt,
nor pepper, nor butter, nor any other viand than the fish, but
it seemed to the girl that never in her life had she tasted so
palatable a meal, nor had it occurred to her until the odor of
the cooking fish filled her nostrils that no food had passed her
lips since the second day before--no wonder that the two ate
ravenously, enjoying every mouthful of their repast.

"An' now," said Billy Byrne, "I tink I'll poun' my ear fer a
few.  You kin keep yer lamps peeled fer de Chinks, an' de
first fony noise youse hears, w'y be sure to wake me up," and
with that he rolled over upon the grass, asleep almost on the

The girl, to while away the time, explored their rock-bound
haven.  She found that it had but a single means of ingress, the
narrow pass through which the brook found outlet.  Beyond
the entrance she did not venture, but through it she saw,
beneath, a wooded slope, and twice deer passed quite close to
her, stopping at the brook to drink.

It was an ideal spot, one whose beauties appealed to her
even under the harrowing conditions which had forced her to
seek its precarious safety.  In another land and with companions
of her own kind she could well imagine the joy of a
fortnight spent in such a sylvan paradise.

The thought aroused another--how long would the mucker
remain a safe companion?  She seemed to be continually falling
from the frying pan into the fire.  So far she had not been
burned, but with returning strength, and the knowledge of
their utter isolation could she expect this brutal thug to place
any check upon his natural desires?

Why there were few men of her own station in life with
whom she would have felt safe to spend a fortnight alone
upon a savage, uncivilized island!  She glanced at the man
where he lay stretched in deep slumber.  What a huge fellow
he was!  How helpless would she be were he to turn against
her!  Yet his very size; yes, and the brutality she feared, were
her only salvation against every other danger than he himself.  
The man was physically a natural protector, for he was able
to cope with odds and dangers to which an ordinary man
would long since have succumbed.  So she found that she was
both safer and less safe because the mucker was her companion.

As she pondered the question her eyes roved toward the
slope beyond the opening to the amphitheater.  With a start
she came to her feet, shading her eyes with her hand and
peering intently at something that she could have sworn
moved among the trees far below.  No, she could not be
mistaken--it was the figure of a man.

Swiftly she ran to Byrne, shaking him roughly by the

"Someone is coming," she cried, in response to his sleepy



TOGETHER the girl and the mucker approached the entrance
to the amphitheater.  From behind a shoulder of rock they
peered down into the forest below them.  For several minutes
neither saw any cause for alarm.

"I guess youse must o' been seein' things," said Byrne, drily.

"Yes," said the girl, "and I see them again.  Look!  Quick!
Down there--to the right."

Byrne looked in the direction she indicated.

"Chinks," he commented.  "Gee!  Look at 'em comin'.  Dere
must be a hundred of 'em."

He turned a rueful glance back into the amphitheater.

"I dunno as dis place looks as good to me as it did," he
remarked.  "Dose yaps wid de toad stabbers could hike up on
top o' dese cliffs an' make it a case o' 'thence by carriages to
Calvary' for ours in about two shakes."

"Yes," said the girl, "I'm afraid it's a regular cul-de-sac."

"I dunno nothin' about dat," replied the mucker; "but I do
know dat if we wants to get out o' here we gotta get a hump
on ourselves good an' lively.  Come ahead," and with his
words he ran quickly through the entrance, and turning
squarely toward the right skirted the perpendicular cliffs that
extended as far as they could see to be lost to view in the
forest that ran up to meet them from below.

The trees and underbrush hid them from the head-hunters.  
There had been danger of detection but for the brief instant
that they passed through the entrance of the hollow, but at
the time they had chosen the enemy had been hidden in a
clump of thick brush far down the slope.

For hours the two fugitives continued their flight, passing
over the crest of a ridge and downward toward another
valley, until by a small brook they paused to rest, hopeful that
they had entirely eluded their pursuers.

Again Byrne fished, and again they sat together at a
one-course meal.  As they ate the man found himself looking at the
girl more and more often.  For several days the wonder of her
beauty had been growing upon him, until now he found it
difficult to take his eyes from her.  Thrice she surprised him in
the act of staring intently at her, and each time he had
dropped his eyes guiltily.  At length the girl became nervous,
and then terribly frightened--was it coming so soon?

The man had talked but little during this meal, and for the
life of her Barbara Harding could not think of any topic with
which to distract his attention from his thoughts.

"Hadn't we better be moving on?" she asked at last.

Byrne gave a little start as though surprised in some
questionable act.

"I suppose so," he said; "this ain't no place to spend the
night--it's too open.  We gotta find a sort o' hiding place if we
can, dat a fellow kin barricade wit something."

Again they took up their seemingly hopeless march--an
aimless wandering in search of they knew not what.  Away
from one danger to possible dangers many fold more terrible.  
Barbara's heart was very heavy, for again she feared and
mistrusted the mucker.

They followed down the little brook now to where it
emptied into a river and then down the valley beside the river
which grew wider and more turbulent with every mile.  Well
past mid-afternoon they came opposite a small, rocky island,
and as Byrne's eyes fell upon it an exclamation of gratification
burst from his lips.

"Jest de place!" he cried.  "We orter be able to hide dere

"But how are we to get there?" asked the girl, looking
fearfully at the turbulent river.

"It ain't deep," Byrne assured her.  "Come ahead; I'll carry
yeh acrost," and without waiting for a reply he gathered her
in his arms and started down the bank.

What with the thoughts that had occupied his mind off and
on during the afternoon the sudden and close contact of the
girl's warm young body close to his took Billy Byrne's breath
away, and sent the hot blood coursing through his veins.  It
was with the utmost difficulty that he restrained a mad desire
to crush her to him and cover her face with kisses.

And then the fatal thought came to him--why should he
restrain himself?  What was this girl to him?  Had he not
always hated her and her kind?  Did she not look with
loathing and contempt upon him?  And to whom did her life
belong anyway but to him--had he not saved it twice?  What
difference would it make?  They'd never come out of this
savage world alive, and if he didn't take her some monkey-faced
Chink would get her.

They were in the middle of the stream now.  Byrne's arms
already had commenced to tighten upon the girl.  With a
sudden tug he strove to pull her face down to his; but she put
both hands upon his shoulders and held his lips at arms'
length.  And her wide eyes looked full into the glowing gray
ones of the mucker.  And each saw in the other's something
that held their looks for a full minute.

Barbara saw what she had feared, but she saw too something
else that gave her a quick, pulsing hope--a look of
honest love, or could she be mistaken?  And the mucker saw
the true eyes of the woman he loved without knowing that he
loved her, and he saw the plea for pity and protection in

"Don't," whispered the girl.  "Please don't, you frighten

A week ago Billy Byrne would have laughed at such a plea.  
Doubtless, too, he would have struck the girl in the face for
her resistance.  He did neither now, which spoke volumes for
the change that was taking place within him, but neither did
he relax his hold upon her, or take his burning eyes from her
frightened ones.

Thus he strode through the turbulent, shallow river to
clamber up the bank onto the island.  In his soul the battle still
raged, but he had by no means relinquished his intention to
have his way with the girl.  Fear, numb, freezing fear, was in
the girl's eyes now.  The mucker read it there as plain as print,
and had she not said that she was frightened?  That was what
he had wanted to accomplish back there upon the Halfmoon
--to frighten her.  He would have enjoyed the sight, but he
had not been able to accomplish the thing.  Now she not only
showed that she was frightened--she had admitted it, and it
gave the mucker no pleasure--on the contrary it made him
unaccountably uncomfortable.

And then came the last straw--tears welled to those lovely
eyes.  A choking sob wracked the girl's frame--"And just
when I was learning to trust you so!" she cried.

They had reached the top of the bank, now, and the man,
still holding her in his arms, stood upon a mat of jungle grass
beneath a great tree.  Slowly he lowered her to her feet.  The
madness of desire still gripped him; but now there was another
force at work combating the evil that had predominated

Theriere's words came back to him: "Good-bye, Byrne;
take good care of Miss Harding," and his admission to the
Frenchman during that last conversation with the dying man:
"--a week ago I guess I was a coward.  Dere seems to be
more'n one kind o' nerve--I'm just a-learnin' of the right
kind, I guess."

He had been standing with eyes upon the ground, his heavy
hand still gripping the girl's arm.  He looked into her face
again.  She was waiting there, her great eyes upon his filled with
fear and questioning, like a prisoner before the bar awaiting
the sentence of her judge.

As the man looked at Barbara Harding standing there
before him he saw her in a strange new light, and a sudden
realization of the truth flashed upon him.  He saw that he
could not harm her now, or ever, for he loved her!

And with the awakening there came to Billy Byrne the
withering, numbing knowledge that his love must forever be a
hopeless one--that this girl of the aristocracy could never be
for such as he.

Barbara Harding, still looking questioningly at him, saw the
change that came across his countenance--she saw the swift
pain that shot to the man's eyes, and she wondered.  His
fingers released their grasp upon her arm.  His hands fell limply
to his sides.

"Don't be afraid," he said.  "Please don't be afraid o' me.  I
couldn't hurt youse if I tried."

A deep sigh of relief broke from the girl's lips--relief and
joy; and she realized that its cause was as much that the man
had proved true to the new estimate she had recently placed
upon him as that the danger to herself had passed.

"Come," said Billy Byrne, "we'd better move in a bit out o'
sight o' de mainland, an' look fer a place to make camp.  I
reckon we'd orter rest here for a few days till we git in shape
ag'in.  I know youse must be dead beat, an' I sure am, all
right, all right."

Together they sought a favorable site for their new home,
and it was as though the horrid specter of a few moments
before had never risen to menace them, for the girl felt that a
great burden of apprehension had been lifted forever from her
shoulders, and though a dull ache gnawed at the mucker's
heart, still he was happier than he had ever been before--
happy to be near the woman he loved.

With the long sword of Oda Yorimoto, Billy Byrne cut
saplings and bamboo and the fronds of fan palms, and with
long tough grasses bound them together into the semblance of
a rude hut.  Barbara gathered leaves and grasses with which
she covered the floor.

"Number One, Riverside Drive," said the mucker, with a
grin, when the work was completed; "an' now I'll go down
on de river front an' build de Bowery."

"Oh, are you from New York?" asked the girl.

"Not on yer life," replied Billy Byrne.  "I'm from good ol'
Chi; but I been to Noo York twict wit de Goose Island Kid,
an' so I knows all about it.  De roughnecks belongs on de
Bowery, so dat's wot we'll call my dump down by de river.  
You're a highbrow, so youse gotta live on Riverside Drive,
see?" and the mucker laughed at his little pleasantry.

But the girl did not laugh with him.  Instead she looked

"Wouldn't you rather be a 'highbrow' too?" she asked,
"and live up on Riverside Drive, right across the street from

"I don't belong," said the mucker gruffly.

"Wouldn't you rather belong?" insisted the girl.

All his life Billy had looked with contempt upon the hated,
pusillanimous highbrows, and now to be asked if he would
not rather be one!  It was unthinkable, and yet, strange to
relate, he realized an odd longing to be like Theriere, and Billy
Mallory; yes, in some respects like Divine, even.  He wanted to
be more like the men that the woman he loved knew best.

"It's too late fer me ever to belong, now," he said ruefully.  
"Yeh gotta be borned to it.  Gee!  Wouldn't I look funny
in wite pants, an' one o' dem dinky, little 'Willie-off-de-yacht'

Even Barbara had to laugh at the picture the man's words
raised to her imagination.

"I didn't mean that," she hastened to explain.  "I didn't
mean that you must necessarily dress like them; but BE like
them--act like them--talk like them, as Mr. Theriere did, you
know.  He was a gentleman."

"An' I'm not," said Billy.

"Oh, I didn't mean THAT," the girl hastened to explain.

"Well, whether youse meant it or not, it's so," said the
mucker.  "I ain't no gent--I'm a mucker.  I have your word for
it, you know--yeh said so that time on de Halfmoon, an' I
ain't fergot it; but youse was right--I am a mucker.  I ain't
never learned how to be anything else.  I ain't never wanted to
be anything else until today.  Now, I'd like to be a gent; but it's
too late."

"Won't you try?" asked the girl.  "For my sake?"

"Go to't," returned the mucker cheerfully; "I'd even wear
side whiskers fer youse."

"Horrors!" exclaimed Barbara Harding.  "I couldn't look at
you if you did."

"Well, then, tell me wot youse do want me to do."

Barbara discovered that her task was to be a difficult one if
she were to accomplish it without wounding the man's feelings;
but she determined to strike while the iron was hot and
risk offending him--why she should be interested in the
regeneration of Mr. Billy Byrne it never once occurred to her
to ask herself.  She hesitated a moment before speaking.

"One of the first things you must do, Mr. Byrne," she said,
"is to learn to speak correctly.  You mustn't say 'youse' for
'you,' or 'wot' for 'what'---you must try to talk as I talk.  No
one in the world speaks any language faultlessly, but there are
certain more or less obvious irregularities of grammar and
pronunciation that are particularly distasteful to people of
refinement, and which are easy to guard against if one be

"All right," said Billy Byrne, "youse--you kin pitch in an'
learn me wot--whatever you want to an' I'll do me best to
talk like a dude--fer your sake."

And so the mucker's education commenced, and as there
was little else for the two to do it progressed rapidly, for once
started the man grew keenly interested, spurred on by the
evident pleasure which his self-appointed tutor took in his
progress--further it meant just so much more of close
companionship with her.

For three weeks they never left the little island except to
gather fruit which grew hard by on the adjacent mainland.  
Byrne's wounds had troubled him considerably--at times he
had been threatened with blood poisoning.  His temperature
had mounted once to alarming heights, and for a whole night
Barbara Harding had sat beside him bathing his forehead and
easing his sufferings as far as it lay within her power to do;
but at last the wonderful vitality of the man had saved him.  
He was much weakened though and neither of them had
thought it safe to attempt to seek the coast until he had fully
regained his old-time strength.

So far but little had occurred to give them alarm.  Twice
they had seen natives on the mainland--evidently hunting
parties; but no sign of pursuit had developed.  Those whom
they had seen had been pure-blood Malays--there had been
no samurai among them; but their savage, warlike appearance
had warned the two against revealing their presence.

They had subsisted upon fish and fruit principally since
they had come to the island.  Occasionally this diet had been
relieved by messes of wild fowl and fox that Byrne bad been
successful in snaring with a primitive trap of his own invention;
but lately the prey had become wary, and even the fish
seemed less plentiful.  After two days of fruit diet, Byrne
announced his intention of undertaking a hunting trip upon
the mainland.

"A mess of venison wouldn't taste half bad," he remarked.

"Yes," cried the girl, "I'm nearly famished for meat--it
seems as though I could almost eat it raw."

"I know that I could," stated Billy.  "Lord help the deer
that gets within range of this old gat of Theriere's, and you
may not get even a mouthful--I'm that hungry I'll probably
eat it all, hoof, hide, and horns, before ever I get any of it
back here to you."

"You'd better not," laughed the girl.  "Good-bye and good
luck; but please don't go very far--I shall be terribly lonely
and frightened while you are away."

"Maybe you'd better come along," suggested Billy.

"No, I should be in the way--you can't hunt deer with a
gallery, and get any."

"Well, I'll stay within hailing distance, and you can look for
me back any time between now and sundown.  Good-bye,"
and he picked his way down the bank into the river, while
from behind a bush upon the mainland two wicked, black
eyes watched his movements and those of the girl on the shore
behind him while a long, sinewy, brown hand closed more
tightly upon a heavy war spear, and steel muscles tensed for
the savage spring and the swift throw.

The girl watched Billy Byrne forging his way through the
swift rapids.  What a mighty engine of strength and endurance
he was!  What a man!  Yes, brute!  And strange to relate
Barbara Harding found herself admiring the very brutality that
once had been repellent to her.  She saw him leap lightly to
the opposite bank, and then she saw a quick movement in a
bush close at his side.  She did not know what manner of
thing had caused it, but her intuition warned her that behind
that concealing screen lay mortal danger to the unconscious

"Billy!" she cried, the unaccustomed name bursting from
her lips involuntarily.  "In the bush at your left--look out!"

At the note of warning in her voice Byrne had turned at
her first word--it was all that saved his life.  He saw the
half-naked savage and the out-shooting spear arm, and as he
would, instinctively, have ducked a right-for-the-head in the
squared circle of his other days, he ducked now, side stepping
to the right, and the heavy weapon sped harmlessly over his

The warrior, with a growl of rage, drew his sharp parang,
leaping to close quarters.  Barbara Harding saw Byrne whip
Theriere's revolver from its holster, and snap it in the face of
the savage; but to her horror the cartridge failed to explode,
and before he could fire again the warrior was upon him.

The girl saw the white man leap to one side to escape the
furious cut aimed at him by his foe, and then she saw him
turn with the agility of a panther and spring to close quarters
with the wild man.  Byrne's left arm went around the Malay's
neck, and with his heavy right fist he rained blow after blow
upon the brown face.

The savage dropped his useless parang--clawing and biting
at the mighty creature in whose power he found himself; but
never once did those terrific, relentless blows cease to fall upon
his unprotected face.

The sole witness to this battle primeval stood spellbound at
the sight of the fierce, brutal ferocity of the white man, and
the lion-like strength he exhibited.  Slowly but surely he was
beating the face of his antagonist into an unrecognizable
pulp--with his bare hands he had met and was killing an
armed warrior.  It was incredible!  Not even Theriere or Billy
Mallory could have done such a thing.  Billy Mallory!  And she
was gazing with admiration upon his murderer!



AFTER Byrne had dropped the lifeless form of his enemy
to the ground he turned and retraced his steps toward the
island, a broad grin upon his face as he climbed to the girl's

"I guess I'd better overhaul this gat," he said, "and stick
around home.  It isn't safe to leave you alone here--I can
see that pretty plainly.  Gee, supposin' I'd got out of sight
before he showed himself!"  And the man shuddered visibly
at the thought.

The girl had not spoken and the man looked up suddenly,
attracted by her silence.  He saw a look of horror in her
eyes, such as he had seen there once before when he had
kicked the unconscious Theriere that time upon the Halfmoon.

"What's the matter?" he asked, alarmed.  "What have I
done now?  I had to croak the stiff--he'd have got me sure
if I hadn't, and then he'd have got you, too.  I had to do
it for your sake--I'm sorry you saw it."

"It isn't that," she said slowly.  "That was very brave,
and very wonderful.  It's Mr. Mallory I'm thinking of. O
Billy!  How could you do it?"

The man hung his head.

"Please don't," he begged.  "I'd give my life to bring him
back again, for your sake.  I know now that you loved
him, and I've tried to do all I could to atone for what I did
to him; just as I tried to play white with Theriere when I
found that he loved you, and intended to be on the square
with you.  He was your kind, and I hoped that by helping him
to win you fairly it might help to wipe out what I had done
to Mallory.  I see that nothing ever can wipe that out.  I've
got to go through life regretting it because you have taught
me what a brutal, cowardly thing I did.  If it hadn't been for
you I'd always have been proud of it--but you and Theriere
taught me to look at things in a different way than I ever
had learned to before.  I'm not sorry for that--I'm glad, for
if remorse is a part of my punishment I'll take it gladly and
welcome the chance to get a little of what's coming to
me. Only please don't look at me that way any more--it's
more than I can stand, from you."

It was the first time that the man ever had opened his heart
in any such whole-souled way to her, and it touched the
girl more than she would have cared to admit.

"It would be silly to tell you that I ever can forget that
terrible affair," she said; "but somehow I feel that the man
who did that was an entirely different man from the man who
has been so brave and chivalrous in his treatment of me
during the past few weeks."

"It was me that did it, though," he said; "you can't get
away from that.  It'll always stick in your memory, so that
you can never think of Mr. Mallory without thinking of the
damned beast that murdered him--God! and I thought it

"But you have no idea how I was raised, Miss Harding,"
he went on.  "Not that that's any excuse for the thing I did;
but it does make it seem a wonder that I ever could
have made a start even at being decent.  I never was well
acquainted with any human being that wasn't a thief, or a
pickpocket, or a murderer--and they were all beasts, each
in his own particular way, only they weren't as decent as
dumb beasts.

"I wasn't as crafty as most of them, so I had to hold
my own by brute force, and I did it; but, gad, how I accomplished
it.  The idea of fighting fair," he laughed at the thought,
"was utterly unknown to me.  If I'd ever have tried it I'd
have seen my finish in a hurry.  No one fought fair in my
gang, or in any other gang that I ever ran up against.  It
was an honor to kill a man, and if you accomplished it by
kicking him to death when he was unconscious it detracted
nothing from the glory of your exploit--it was WHAT you did,
not HOW you did it, that counted.

"I could have been decent, though, if I'd wanted to.  Other
fellows who were born and raised near me were decent
enough.  They got good jobs and stuck to them, and lived
straight; but they made me sick--I looked down on them,
and spent my time hanging around saloon corners rushing
the can and insulting women--I didn't want to be decent--
not until I met you, and learned to--to," he hesitated,
stammering, and the red blood crept up his neck and across
his face, "and learned to want your respect."

It wasn't what he had intended saying and the girl knew it.
There sprang into her mind a sudden wish to hear Billy Byrne
say the words that he had dared not say; but she promptly
checked the desire, and a moment later a qualm of self-disgust
came over her because of the weakness that had
prompted her to entertain such a wish in connection with a
person of this man's station in life.

Days ran into weeks, and still the two remained upon their
little island refuge.  Byrne found first one excuse and then
another to delay the march to the sea.  He knew that it must
be made sooner or later, and he knew, too, that its commencement
would mark the beginning of the end of his association with
Miss Harding, and that after that was ended life
would be a dreary waste.

Either they would be picked up by a passing vessel or
murdered by the natives, but in the latter event his separation
from the woman he loved would be no more certain or
absolute than in her return to her own people, for Billy
Byrne knew that he "didn't belong" in any society that knew
Miss Barbara Harding, and he feared that once they had
regained civilization there would be a return on the girl's
part to the old haughty aloofness, and that again he would
be to her only a creature of a lower order, such as she
and her kind addressed with a patronizing air as, "my

He intended, of course, to make every possible attempt
to restore her to her home; but, he argued, was it wrong to
snatch a few golden hours of happiness in return for his
service, and as partial recompense for the lifetime of lonely
misery that must be his when the woman he loved had passed
out of his life forever?  Billy thought not, and so he tarried
on upon "Manhattan Island," as Barbara had christened it,
and he lived in the second finest residence in town upon the
opposite side of "Riverside Drive" from the palatial home of
Miss Harding.

Nearly two months had passed before Billy's stock of
excuses and delay ran out, and a definite date was set for
the commencement of the journey.

"I believe," Miss Harding had said, "that you do not wish
to be rescued at all.  Most of your reasons for postponing
the trip have been trivial and ridiculous--possibly you are
afraid of the dangers that may lie before us," she added,

"I'm afraid you've hit it off about right," he replied with
a grin.  "I don't want to be rescued, and I am very much
afraid of what lies before--me."

"Before YOU?"

"I'm going to lose you, any way you look at it, and--
and--oh, can't you see that I love you?" he blurted out,
despite all his good intentions.

Barbara Harding looked at him for a moment, and then
she did the one thing that could have hurt him most--she

The color mounted to Billy Byrne's face, and then he went
very white.

The girl started to say something, and at the same instant
there came faintly to them from the mainland the sound of
hoarse shouting, and of shots.

Byrne turned and started on a run in the direction of the
firing, the girl following closely behind.  At the island's edge
he motioned her to stop.

"Wait here, it will be safer," he said.  "There may be white
men there--those shots sound like it, but again there may
not.  I want to find out before they see you, whoever they

The sound of firing had ceased now, but loud yelling was
distinctly audible from down the river.  Byrne took a step
down the bank toward the water.

"Wait!" whispered the girl.  "Here they come now, we can
see them from here in a moment," and she dragged the
mucker down behind a bush.

In silence the two watched the approaching party.

"They're the Chinks," announced Byrne, who insisted on
using this word to describe the proud and haughty samurai.

"Yes, and there are two white men with them," whispered
Barbara Harding, a note of suppressed excitement in her

"Prisoners," said Byrne.  "Some of the precious bunch from
the Halfmoon doubtless."

The samurai were moving straight up the edge of the river.
In a few minutes they would pass within a hundred feet of
the island.  Billy and the girl crouched low behind their shelter.

"I don't recognize them," said the man.

"Why--why--O Mr. Byrne, it can't be possible!" cried the
girl with suppressed excitement.  "Those two men are Captain
Norris and Mr. Foster, mate of the Lotus!"

Byrne half rose to his feet.  The party was opposite their
hiding place now.

"Sit tight," he whispered.  "I'm goin' to get 'em," and then,
fiercely "for your sake, because I love you--now laugh,"
and he was gone.

He ran lightly down the river bank unnoticed by the
samurai who had already passed the island.  In one hand he
bore the long war spear of the head-hunter be had slain.  At
his belt hung the long sword of Oda Yorimoto, and in its
holster reposed the revolver of the Count de Cadenet

Barbara Harding watched him as be forded the river, and
clambered up the opposite bank.  She saw him spring rapidly
after the samurai and their prisoners.  She saw his spear hand
go up, and then from the deep lungs of the man rose a
savage yell that would have done credit to a whole tribe of

The warriors turned in time to see the heavy spear flying
toward them and then, as he dashed into their midst, Billy
Byrne drew his revolver and fired to right and left.  The two
prisoners took advantage of the consternation of their
guards to grapple with them and possess themselves of weapons.

There had been but six samurai in the party, two had fallen
before Byrne's initial onslaught, but the other four, recovered
from their first surprise, turned now to battle with all
the terrific ferocity of their kind.

Again, at a crucial moment, had Theriere's revolver missed
fire, and in disgust Byrne discarded it, falling back upon
the long sword with which he was no match for the samurai.  
Norris snatched Byrne's spear from the ground, and ran it
through the body of one of the Japs who was pressing Byrne
too closely.  Odds were even now--they fought three against

Norris still clung to the spear--it was by far the most
effective weapon against the long swords of the samurai.  With
it he killed his antagonist and then rushed to the assistance
of Foster.

Barbara Harding from the island saw that Byrne's foe
was pressing him closely.  The white man had no chance
against the superior swordsmanship of the samurai.  She saw
that the mucker was trying to get past the Jap's guard and
get his hands upon him, but it was evident that the man
was too crafty and skilled a fighter to permit of that.  There
could be but one outcome to that duel unless Byrne had
assistance, and that mighty quickly.  The girl grasped the short
sword that she constantly wore now, and rushed into the river.  
She had never before crossed it except in Byrne's arms.  She
found the current swift and strong.  It almost swept her off
her feet before she was halfway across, but she never for an
instant thought of abandoning her effort.

After what seemed an eternity she floundered out upon
the mainland, and when she reached the top of the bank she
saw to her delight that Byrne was still on his feet, fighting.  
Foster and Norris were pushing their man back--they were
in no danger.

Quickly she ran toward Byrne and the samurai.  She saw
a wicked smile upon the brown face of the little warrior, and
then she saw his gleaming sword twist in a sudden feint, and
as Byrne lunged out awkwardly to parry the expected blow
the keen edge swerved and came down upon his head.

She was an instant too late to save, but just in time to
avenge--scarcely had the samurai's sword touched the mucker
than the point of Oda Yorimoto's short sword, wielded by the
fair hand of Barbara Harding, plunged into his heart.  With
a shriek he collapsed beside the body of his victim.

Barbara Harding threw herself beside Byrne.  Apparently life
was extinct.  With a little cry of horror the girl put her ear
close to the man's lips.  She could hear nothing.

"Come back!  Come back!" she wailed.  "Forgive me that
cruel laugh.  O Billy!  Billy!  I love you!" and the daughter of
old Anthony Harding, multimillionaire and scion of the oldest
aristocracy that America boasts, took the head of the Grand
Avenue mucker in her arms and covered the white, bloody
face with kisses--and in the midst of it Billy Byrne opened his

She was caught in the act.  There was no escape, and as a
crimson flush suffused her face Billy Byrne put his arms about
her and drew her down until their lips met, and this time she
did not put her hands upon his shoulders and push him away.  
"I love you, Billy," she said simply.

"Remember who and what I am," he cautioned, fearful lest
this great happiness be stolen away from him because she
had forgotten for the moment.

"I love you Billy," she answered, "for what you ARE."


"Until death do us part!"

And then Norris and Foster, having dispatched their man,
came running up.

"Is he badly hurt, madam?" cried Captain Norris.

"I don't know," replied Miss Harding; "I'm just trying to
help him up, Captain Norris," she laboriously explained in an
effort to account for her arms about Billy's neck.

Norris gave a start of surprise at hearing his name.

"Who are you?" he cried.  "How do you know me?" and as
the girl turned her face toward him, "Miss Harding!  Thank
God, Miss Harding, you are safe."

"But where on earth did you come from?" asked Barbara.

"It's a long story, Miss Harding," replied the officer, "and
the ending of it is going to be pretty hard on you--you must
try to bear up though."

"You don't mean that father is dead?" she asked, a look of
terror coming to her eyes.

"Not that--we hope," replied Norris.  "He has been taken
prisoner by these half-breed devils on the island.  I doubt if
they have killed him--we were going to his rescue when we
ourselves were captured.  He and Mr. Mallory were taken three
days ago."

"Mallory!" shouted Billy Byrne, who had entirely recovered
from the blow that had merely served to stun him for a
moment.  "Is Mallory alive?"

"He was yesterday," replied Norris; "these fellows from
whom you so bravely rescued us told us that much."

"Thank God!" whispered Billy Byrne.

"What made you think he was dead?" inquired the officer,
looking closely at Byrne as though trying to place him.

Another man might have attempted to evade the question
but the new Billy Byrne was no coward in any department of
his moral or physical structure.

"Because I thought that I had killed him," he replied, "the
day that we took the Lotus."

Captain Norris looked at the speaker in undisguised horror.

"You!" he cried.  "You were one of those damned cut-throats!
You the man that nearly killed poor Mr. Mallory!
Miss Harding, has he offered you any indignities?"

"Don't judge him rashly, Captain Norris," said the girl.  
"But for him I should have been dead and worse than dead
long since.  Some day I will tell you of his heroism and his
chivalry, and don't forget, Captain, that he has just saved you
and Mr. Foster from captivity and probable death."

"That's right," exclaimed the officer, "and I want to thank
him; but I don't understand about Mallory."

"Never mind about him now," said Billy Byrne.  "If he's
alive that's all that counts--I haven't got his blood on my
hands.  Go on with your story."

"Well, after that gang of pirates left us," continued the
captain, "we rigged an extra wireless that they didn't know we
had, and it wasn't long before we raised the warship Alaska.  
Her commander put a crew on board the Lotus with machinists
and everything necessary to patch her up--coaled and
provisioned her and then lay by while we got her in running
order.  It didn't take near as long as you would have imagined.  
Then we set out in company with the warship to search for
the 'Clarinda,' as your Captain Simms called her.  We got on
her track through a pirate junk just north of Luzon--he said
he'd heard from the natives of a little out-of-the-way island
near Formosa that a brigantine had been wrecked there in the
recent typhoon, and his description of the vessel led us to
believe that it might be the 'Clarinda,' or Halfmoon.

"We made the island, and after considerable search found
the survivors.  Each of 'em tried to lay the blame on the
others, but finally they all agreed that a man by the name of
Theriere with a seaman called Byrne, had taken you into the
interior, and that they had believed you dead until a few days
since they had captured one of the natives and learned that
you had all escaped, and were wandering in some part of the
island unknown to them.

"Then we set out with a company of marines to find you.  
Your father, impatient of the seeming slowness of the officer
in command, pushed ahead with Mr. Mallory, Mr. Poster, and
myself, and two of the men of the Lotus whom he had
brought along with us.

"Three days ago we were attacked and your father and Mr.
Mallory taken prisoners.  The rest of us escaped, and endeavored
to make our way back to the marines, but we became
confused and have been wandering aimlessly about the island
ever since until we were surprised by these natives a few
moments ago.  Both the seamen were killed in this last fight
and Mr. Foster and myself taken prisoners--the rest you

Byrne was on his feet now.  He found his sword and
revolver and replaced them in his belt.

"You men stay here on the island and take care of Miss
Harding," he said.  "If I don't come back the marines will find
you sooner or later, or you can make your way to the coast,
and work around toward the cove.  Good-bye, Miss Harding."

"Where are you going?" cried the girl.

"To get your father--and Mr. Mallory," said the mucker.



THROUGH the balance of the day and all during the long
night Billy Byrne swung along his lonely way, retracing the
familiar steps of the journey that had brought Barbara Harding
and himself to the little island in the turbulent river.

Just before dawn he came to the edge of the clearing
behind the dwelling of the late Oda Yorimoto.  Somewhere
within the silent village he was sure that the two prisoners lay.

During the long march he had thrashed over again and
again all that the success of his rash venture would mean to
him.  Of all those who might conceivably stand between him
and the woman he loved--the woman who had just acknowledged
that she loved him--these two men were the most to be

Billy Byrne did not for a moment believe that Anthony
Harding would look with favor upon the Grand Avenue
mucker as a prospective son-in-law.  And then there was
Mallory!  He was sure that Barbara had loved this man, and
now should he be restored to her as from the grave there
seemed little doubt but that the old love would be aroused in
the girl's breast.  The truth of the matter was that Billy Byrne
could not conceive the truth of the testimony of his own
ears--even now he scarce dared believe that the wonderful
Miss Harding loved him--him, the despised mucker!

But the depth of the man's love for the girl, and the
genuineness of his new-found character were proven beyond
question by the relentless severity with which he put away
every thought of himself and the consequences to him in the
matter he had undertaken.

FOR HER SAKE! had become his slogan.  What though
the results sent him to a savage death, or to a life of lonely
misery, or to the arms of his beloved!  In the face of duty the
result was all the same to Billy Byrne.

For a moment he stood looking at the moon-bathed village,
listening for any sign of wakefulness or life, then with all the
stealth of an Indian, and with the trained wariness of the thief
that he had been, the mucker slunk noiselessly across the
clearing to the shadows of the nearest hut.

He listened beneath the window through which he and
Barbara and Theriere had made their escape a few weeks
before.  There was no sound from within.  Cautiously he raised
himself to the sill, and a moment later dropped into the inky
darkness of the interior.

With groping hands he felt about the room--it was unoccupied.
Then he passed to the door at the far end.  Cautiously
he opened it until a narrow crack gave him a view of the
dimly lighted chamber beyond.  Within all seemed asleep.  The
mucker pushed the door still further open and stepped
within--so must he search every hut within the village until
he had found those he sought?

They were not there, and on silent feet that disturbed not
even the lightly slumbering curs the man passed out by the
front entrance into the street beyond.

Through a second and third hut he made his precarious
way.  In the fourth a man stirred as Byrne stood upon the
opposite side of the room from the door--with a catlike
bound the mucker was beside him.  Would the fellow awake?
Billy scarce breathed.  The samurai turned restlessly, and then,
with a start, sat up with wide-open eyes.  At the same instant
iron fingers closed upon his throat and the long sword of his
dead daimio passed through his heart.

Byrne held the corpse until he was positive that life was
extinct, then he dropped it quietly back upon its pallet, and
departed to search the adjoining dwelling.  Here he found a
large front room, and a smaller chamber in the rear--an
arrangement similar to that in the daimio's house.

The front room revealed no clue to the missing men.  Within
the smaller, rear room Byrne heard the subdued hum of
whispered conversation just as he was about to open the
door.  Like a graven image he stood in silence, his ear glued to
the frail door.  For a moment he listened thus and then his
heart gave a throb of exultation, and he could have shouted
aloud in thanksgiving--the men were conversing in English!

Quietly Byrne pushed open the door far enough to admit
his body.  Those within ceased speaking immediately.  Byrne
closed the door behind him, advancing until he felt one of the
occupants of the room.  The man shrank from his touch.

"I guess we're done for, Mallory," said the man in a low
tone; "they've come for us."

"Sh-sh," warned the mucker.  "Are you and Mallory

"Yes--for God's sake who are you and where did you
come from?" asked the surprised Mr. Harding.

"Be still," admonished Byrne, feeling for the cords that he
knew must bind the captive.

He found them presently and with his jackknife cut them
asunder.  Then he released Mallory.

"Follow me," he said, "but go quietly.  Take off your shoes
if you have 'em on, and hang 'em around your neck--tie the
ends of the laces together."

The men did as he bid and a moment later he was leading
them across the room, filled with sleeping men, women, children,
and domestic animals.  At the far side stood a rack filled
with long swords.  Byrne removed two without the faintest
suspicion of a noise.  He handed one to each of his companions,
cautioning them to silence with a gesture.

But neither Anthony Harding nor Billy Mallory had had
second-story experience, and the former struck his weapon
accidentally against the door frame with a resounding clatter
that brought half the inmates of the room, wide-eyed, to sitting
postures.  The sight that met the natives' eyes had them on
their feet, yelling like madmen, and dashing toward their
escaping prisoners, in an instant.

"Quick!" shouted Billy Byrne.  "Follow me!"

Down the village street the three men ran, but the shouts of
the natives had brought armed samurai to every door with a
celerity that was uncanny, and in another moment the fugitives
found themselves surrounded by a pack of howling warriors who
cut at them with long swords from every side,
blocking their retreat and hemming them in in every direction.

Byrne called to his companions to close in, back to back,
and thus, the gangster in advance, the three slowly fought
their way toward the end of the narrow street and the jungle
beyond.  The mucker fought with his long sword in one hand
and Theriere's revolver in the other--hewing a way toward
freedom for the two men whom he knew would take his love
from him.

Beneath the brilliant tropic moon that lighted the scene
almost as brilliantly as might the sun himself the battle waged,
and though the odds were painfully uneven the white men
moved steadily, though slowly, toward the jungle.  It was
evident that the natives feared the giant white who led the
three.  Anthony Harding, familiar with Japanese, could translate
sufficient of their jargon to be sure of that, had not the
respectful distance most of them kept from Byrne been ample

Out of the village street they came at last into the clearing.  
The warriors danced about them, yelling threats and taunts
the while they made occasional dashes to close quarters that
they might deliver a swift sword cut and retreat again before
the great white devil could get them with the sword that had
been Oda Yorimoto's, or the strange fire stick that spoke in
such a terrifying voice.

Fifty feet from the jungle Mallory went down with a spear
through the calf of his leg.  Byrne saw him fall, and dropping
back lifted the man to his feet, supporting him with one arm
as the two backed slowly in front of the onpressing natives.

The spears were flying thick and fast now, for the samurai
all were upon the same side of the enemy and there was no
danger of injuring one of their own number with their flying
weapons as there had been when the host entirely surrounded
the three men, and when the whites at last entered the tall
grasses of the jungle a perfect shower of spears followed them.

With the volley Byrne went down--he had been the principal
target for the samurai and three of the heavy shafts had
pierced his body.  Two were buried in his chest and one in his

Anthony Harding was horrified.  Both his companions were
down, and the savages were pressing closely on toward their
hiding place.  Mallory sat upon the ground trying to tear the
spear from his leg.  Finally he was successful.  Byrne, still
conscious, called to Harding to pull the three shafts from him.

"What are we to do?" cried the older man.  "They will get
us again as sure as fate."

"They haven't got us yet," said Billy.  "Wait, I got a scheme.  
Can you walk, Mallory?"

Mallory staggered to his feet.

"I'll see," he said, and then: "Yes, I can make it."

"Good," exclaimed Byrne.  "Now listen.  Almost due north,
across this range of hills behind us is a valley.  In the center of
the valley is a river.  It is a good fifteen-hour march for a well
man--it will take Mallory and you longer.  Follow down the
river till you come to a little island--it should be the first one
from where you strike the river.  On that island you will find
Miss Harding, Norris, and Foster.  Now hurry."

"But you, man!" exclaimed Mallory.  "We can't leave you."

"Never!" said Anthony Harding.

"You'll have to, though," replied Billy.  "That's part of the
scheme.  It won't work any other way."  He raised his revolver
and fired a single shot in the direction of the howling savages.  
"That's to let 'em know we're still here," he said.  "I'll keep
that up, off and on, as long as I can.  It'll fool 'em into
thinking that we're all here, and cover your escape.  See?"

"I won't do it," said Mallory.

"Yes you will," replied the mucker.  "It's not any of us that
counts--it's Miss Harding.  As many as can have got to get
back to her just as quick as the Lord'll let us.  I can't, so you
two'll have to.  I'm done for--a blind man could see that.  It
wouldn't do a bit of good for you two to hang around here
and get killed, waitin' for me to die; but it would do a lot of
harm, for it might mean that Miss Harding would be lost

"You say my daughter is on this island you speak of, with
Norris and Foster--is she quite safe and well?" asked Harding.

"Perfectly," said Byrne; "and now beat it--you're wasting a
lot of precious time."

"For Barbara's sake it looks like the only way," said
Anthony Harding, "but it seems wicked and cowardly to
desert a noble fellow like you, sir."

"It is wicked," said Billy Mallory.  "There must be some
other way.  By the way, old man, who are you anyhow, and
how did you happen to be here?"

Byrne turned his face upward so that the full moon lighted
his features clearly.

"There is no other way, Mallory," he said.  "Now take a
good look at me--don't you recognize me?"

Mallory gazed intently at the strong face looking into his.  
He shook his head.

"There is something familiar about your face," he said; "but
I cannot place you.  Nor does it make any difference who you
are--you have risked your life to save ours and I shall not
leave you.  Let Mr. Harding go--it is not necessary for both to

"You will both go," insisted Byrne; "and you will find that
it does make a big difference who I am.  I hadn't intended
telling you, but I see there is no other way.  I'm the mucker
that nearly killed you on board the Lotus, Mallory.  I'm the
fellow that man-handled Miss Harding until even that beast of
a Simms made me quit, and Miss Harding has been alone
with me on this island for weeks--now go!"

He turned away so that they could no longer see his face,
with the mental anguish that he knew must be writ large upon
it, and commenced firing toward the natives once more.

Anthony Harding stood with white face and clinched hands
during Byrne's recital of his identity.  At its close he took a
threatening step toward the prostrate man, raising his long
sword, with a muffled oath.  Billy Mallory sprang before him,
catching his upraised arm.

"Don't!" he whispered.  "Think what we owe him now.  
Come!" and the two men turned north into the jungle while
Billy Byrne lay upon his belly in the tall grass firing from time
to time into the direction from which came an occasional

Anthony Harding and Billy Mallory kept on in silence
along their dismal way.  The crack of the mucker's revolver,
growing fainter and fainter, as they drew away from the scene
of conflict, apprised the men that their rescuer still lived.

After a time the distant reports ceased.  The two walked on
in silence for a few minutes.

"He's gone," whispered Mallory.

Anthony Harding made no response.  They did not hear
any further firing behind them.  On and on they trudged.
Night turned to day.  Day rolled slowly on into night once
more.  And still they staggered on, footsore and weary.  Mallory
suffered excruciating agony from his wound.  There were times
when it seemed that it would be impossible for him to continue
another yard; but then the thought that Barbara Harding
was somewhere ahead of them, and that in a short time now
they must be with her once more kept him doggedly at his
painful task.

They had reached the river and were following slowly down
its bank.  The moon, full and gorgeous, flooded the landscape
with silvery light.

"Look!" exclaimed Mallory.  "The island!"

"Thank God!" whispered Harding, fervently.

On the bank opposite they stopped and hallooed.  Almost
instantly three figures rushed from the interior of the island to
the shore before them--two men and a woman.

"Barbara!" cried Anthony Harding.  "O my daughter!  My

Norris and Foster hastened through the river and brought
the two men to the island.  Barbara Harding threw herself into
her father's arms.  A moment later she had grasped Mallory's
outstretched hands, and then she looked beyond them for

"Mr. Byrne?" she asked.  "Where is Mr. Byrne?"

"He is dead," said Anthony Harding.

The girl looked, wide-eyed and uncomprehending, at her
father for a full minute.

"Dead!" she moaned, and fell unconscious at his feet.



BILLY BYRNE continued to fire intermittently for half an hour
after the two men had left him.  Then he fired several shots in
quick succession, and dragging himself to his hands and knees
crawled laboriously and painfully back into the jungle in
search of a hiding place where he might die in peace.

He had progressed some hundred yards when he felt the
earth give way beneath him.  He clutched frantically about for
support, but there was none, and with a sickening lunge he
plunged downward into Stygian darkness.

His fall was a short one, and he brought up with a painful
thud at the bottom of a deer pit--a covered trap which the
natives dig to catch their fleet-footed prey.

The pain of his wounds after the fall was excruciating.  His
head whirled dizzily.  He knew that he was dying, and then all
went black.

When consciousness returned to the mucker it was daylight.  
The sky above shone through the ragged hole that his falling
body had broken in the pit's covering the night before.

"Gee!" muttered the mucker; "and I thought that I was

His wounds had ceased to bleed, but he was very weak and
stiff and sore.

"I guess I'm too tough to croak!" he thought.

He wondered if the two men would reach Barbara in
safety.  He hoped so.  Mallory loved her, and he was sure that
Barbara had loved Mallory.  He wanted her to be happy.  No
thought of jealousy entered his mind.  Mallory was her kind.  
Mallory "belonged."  He didn't.  He was a mucker.  How would
he have looked training with her bunch.  She would have been
ashamed of him, and he couldn't have stood that.  No, it was
better as it had turned out.  He'd squared himself for the beast
he'd been to her, and he'd squared himself with Mallory, too.  
At least they'd have only decent thoughts of him, dead; but
alive, that would be an entirely different thing.  He would be in
the way.  He would be a constant embarrassment to them all,
for they would feel that they'd have to be nice to him in
return for what he had done for them.  The thought made the
mucker sick.

"I'd rather croak," he murmured.

But he didn't "croak"--instead, he waxed stronger, and
toward evening the pangs of hunger and thirst drove him to
consider means for escaping from his hiding place, and searching
for food and water.

He waited until after dark, and then he crawled, with
utmost difficulty, from the deep pit.  He had heard nothing of
the natives since the night before, and now, in the open, there
came to him but the faint sounds of the village life across the

Byrne dragged himself toward the trail that led to the
spring where poor Theriere had died.  It took him a long time
to reach it, but at last he was successful.  The clear, cold water
helped to revive and strengthen him.  Then he sought food.  
Some wild fruit partially satisfied him for the moment, and he
commenced the laborious task of retracing his steps toward
"Manhattan Island."

The trail that he had passed over in fifteen hours as he had
hastened to the rescue of Anthony Harding and Billy Mallory
required the better part of three days now.  Occasionally he
wondered why in the world he was traversing it anyway.  
Hadn't he wanted to die, and leave Barbara free?  But life is
sweet, and the red blood still flowed strong in the veins of the

"I can go my own way," he thought, "and not bother her;
but I'll be dinged if I want to croak in this God-forsaken
hole--Grand Avenue for mine, when it comes to passing in
my checks.  Gee! but I'd like to hear the rattle of the Lake
Street 'L' and see the dolls coming down the station steps by
Skidmore's when the crowd comes home from the Loop at

Billy Byrne was homesick.  And then, too, his heart was
very heavy and sad because of the great love he had found--
a love which he realized was as hopeless as it was great.  He
had the memory, though, of the girl's arms about his neck,
and her dear lips crushed to his for a brief instant, and her
words--ah, those words!  They would ring in Billy's head
forever: "I love you, Billy, for what you ARE."

And a sudden resolve came into the mucker's mind as he
whispered those words over and over again to himself.  "I
can't have her," he said.  "She isn't for the likes of me; but if I
can't live with her, I can live for her--as she'd want me to
live, and, s'help me, those words'll keep me straight.  If she
ever hears of Billy Byrne again it won't be anything to make
her ashamed that she had her arms around him, kissing him,
and telling him that she loved him."

At the river's edge across from the little island Billy came to
a halt.  He had reached the point near midnight, and hesitated
to cross over and disturb the party at that hour.  At last,
however, he decided to cross quietly, and lie down near HER
hut until morning.

The crossing was most difficult, for he was very weak, but
at last he came to the opposite bank and drew himself up to
lie panting for a few minutes on the sloping bank.  Then he
crawled on again up to the top, and staggering to his feet
made his way cautiously toward the two huts.  All was quiet.  
He assumed that the party was asleep, and so he lay down
near the rude shelter he had constructed for Barbara Harding,
and fell asleep.

It was broad daylight when he awoke--the sun was fully
three hours high, and yet no one was stirring.  For the first
time misgivings commenced to assail Billy's mind.  Could it be
possible?  He crossed over to his own hut and entered--it was
deserted.  Then he ran to Barbara's--it, too, was unoccupied.  
They had gone!

All during the painful trip from the village to the island
Billy had momentarily expected to meet a party of rescuers
coming back for him.  He had not been exactly disappointed,
but a queer little lump had risen to his throat as the days
passed and no help had come, and now this was the final
blow.  They had deserted him!  Left him wounded and dying
on this savage island without taking the trouble to assure
themselves that he really was dead!  It was incredible!

"But was it?" thought Billy.  "Didn't I tell them that I was
dying?  I thought so myself, and there is no reason why they
shouldn't have thought so too.  I suppose I shouldn't blame
them, and I don't; but I wouldn't have left them that way and
not come back.  They had a warship full of blue jackets and
marines--there wouldn't have been much danger to them."

Presently it occurred to him that the party may have
returned to the coast to get the marines, and that even now
they were searching for him.  He hastened to return to the
mainland, and once more he took up his wearisome journey.

That night he reached the coast.  Early the next morning he
commenced his search for the man-of-war.  By walking entirely
around the island he should find her he felt sure.

Shortly after noon he scaled a high promontory which
jutted out into the sea.  From its summit he had an unobstructed
view of the broad Pacific.  His heart leaped to his
throat, for there but a short distance out were a great battleship
and a trim white yacht--the Alaska and the Lotus!  They
were steaming slowly out to sea.

He was just in time!  Filled with happiness the mucker ran
to the point of the promontory and stripping off his shirt
waved it high above his head, the while he shouted at the top
of his lungs; but the vessels kept on their course, giving no
answering signal.

For half an hour the man continued his futile efforts to
attract the attention of someone on board either craft, but to
his dismay he saw them grow smaller and smaller until in a
few hours they passed over the rim of the world, disappearing
from his view forever.

Weak, wounded, and despairing, Billy sank to the ground,
burying his face in his arms, and there the moon found him
when she rose, and he was still there when she passed from
the western sky.

For three months Billy Byrne lived his lonely life upon the
wild island.  The trapping and fishing were good and there was
a plentiful supply of good water.  He regained his lost strength,
recovering entirely from his wounds.  The natives did not
molest him, for he had stumbled upon a section of the shore
which they considered bewitched and to which none of them
would come under any circumstances.

One morning, at the beginning of his fourth month of
solitude, the mucker saw a smudge of smoke upon the horizon.
Slowly it increased in volume and the speck beneath it
resolved itself into the hull of a steamer.  Closer and closer to
the island it came.

Billy gathered together a quantity of dry brush and lighted
a signal fire on the lofty point from which he had seen the
Alaska and the Lotus disappear.  As it commenced to blaze
freely he threw fresh, green boughs upon it until a vertical
column of smoke arose high above the island.

In breathless suspense Billy watched the movements of the
steamer.  At first it seemed that she would pass without taking
notice of his signal, but at last he saw that she was changing
her course and moving directly toward the island.

Close in she came, for the sea was calm and the water
deep, and when Billy was sure that those on board saw him
and his frantic waving, he hurried, stumbling and falling,
down the steep face of the cliff to the tiny beach at its foot.

Already a boat had been lowered and was putting in for
land.  Billy waded out to the end of the short shelving beach
and waited.

The sight that met the eyes of the rescuers was one that
filled them with awe, for they saw before them a huge, giant
of a white man, half-naked except for a few tattered rags, who
wore the long sword of an ancient samurai at his side, a
modern revolver at his hip, and bore in his brawny hand the
heavy war spear of a head-hunter.  Long black hair, and a
huge beard covered the man's head and face, but clean gray
eyes shone from out of the tangle, and a broad grin welcomed them.

"Oh, you white men!" shouted the mucker.  "You certainly
do look good to me."

Six months later a big, smooth-faced giant in ill-fitting sea
togs strolled up Sixth Avenue.  It was Billy Byrne--broke, but
happy; Grand Avenue was less than a thousand miles away!

"Gee!" he murmured; "but it's good to be home again!"

There were places in New York where Billy would find
acquaintances.  One in particular he recalled--a little,
third-floor gymnasium not far distant from the Battery.  Thither he
turned his steps now.  As he entered the stuffy room in which
two big fellows, stripped to the waist, were sparring, a stout,
low-browed man sitting in a back-tilted chair against one wall
looked up inquiringly.  Billy crossed over to him, with
outstretched hand.

"Howdy, Professor!" he said.

"Yeh got me, kid," replied Professor Cassidy, taking the
proffered hand.

"I was up here with Larry Hilmore and the Goose Island
Kid a year or so ago--my name's Byrne," exclaimed Billy.

"Sure," said the professor; "I gotcha now.  You're de guy
'at Larry was a tellin' me about.  He said you'd be a great
heavy if you'd leave de booze alone."

Billy smiled and nodded.

"You don't look much like a booze fighter now," remarked

"And I ain't" said the mucker.  "I've been on the wagon for
most a year, and I'm never comin' down."

"That's right, kid," said the professor; "but wots the good
word?  Wot you doin' in little ol' Noo York?"

"Lookin' for a job," said Billy.

"Strip!" commanded Professor Cassidy.  "I'm lookin' for
sparrin' partners for a gink dat's goin' to clean up de Big
Smoke--if he'll ever come back an' scrap."

"You're on," said Billy, commencing to divest himself of his
outer clothing.

Stripped to the waist he displayed as wondrous a set of
muscles as even Professor Cassidy had ever seen.  The man
waxed enthusiastic over them.

"You sure ought to have some wallop up your sleeve," he
said, admiringly.  He then introduced Billy to the Harlem
Hurricane, and Battling Dago Pete.  "Pete's de guy I was tellin'
you about," explained Professor Cassidy.  "He's got such a
wallop dat I can't keep no sparrin' partners for him.  The
Hurricane here's de only bloke wit de guts to stay wit him--
he's a fiend for punishment, Hurricane is; he jest natchrly eats

"If you're broke I'll give you your keep as long as you stay
wit Pete an' don't get cold feet, an' I'll fix up a mill for you
now an' then so's you kin pull down a little coin fer yourself.  
Are you game?"

"You know it," said Billy.

"All to the good then," said the professor gaily; "now you
put on the mitts an' spell Hurricane for a couple o' rounds."

Billy slipped his huge hands into the tight-fitting gloves.

"It's been more'n a year since I had these on," he said, "an'
I may be a little slow an' stale at first; but after I get warmed
up I'll do better."

Cassidy grinned and winked at Hurricane.  "He won't never
get warmed up," Hurricane confided; "Pete'll knock his block
off in about two minutes," and the men settled back to watch
the fun with ill-concealed amusement written upon their faces.

What happened within the next few minutes in the stuffy
little room of Professor Cassidy's third-floor "gymnasium"
marks an epoch in the professor's life--he still talks of it, and
doubtless shall until the Great Referee counts him out in the
Last Round.

The two men sparred for a moment, gaging one another.  
Then Battling Dago Pete swung a vicious left that landed
square on Billy's face.  It was a blow that might have felled an
ox; but Billy only shook his head--it scarce seemed to jar
him.  Pete had half lowered his hands as he recovered from the
blow, so sure he was that it would finish his new sparring
partner, and now before he could regain his guard the mucker
tore into him like a whirlwind.  That single blow to the face
seemed to have brought back to Billy Byrne all that he ever
had known of the manly art of self-defense.

Battling Dago Pete landed a few more before the fight was
over, but as any old fighter will tell you there is nothing more
discouraging than to discover that your most effective blows
do not feeze your opponent, and only the knowledge of what
a defeat at the hands of a new sparring partner would mean
to his future, kept him plugging away at the hopeless task of
attempting to knock out this mountain of bone and muscle.

For a few minutes Billy Byrne played with his man, hitting
him when and where he would.  He fought, crouching, much
as Jeffries used to fight, and in his size and strength was much
that reminded Cassidy of the fallen idol that in his heart of
hearts he still worshiped.

And then, like a panther, the mucker sprang in with a
vicious left hook to the jaw, followed, with lightning rapidity,
by a right upper cut to the chin that lifted Battling Dago Pete
a foot from the floor to drop him, unconscious, against the
foot of the further wall.

It was a clean knock-out, and when Cassidy and Hurricane
got through ministering to the fallen man, and indications of
returning consciousness were apparent, the professor turned to

"Got any more 'hopes' lyin' around loose?" asked the
mucker with a grin.  "I guess the big dinge's safe for a while

"Not if you'll keep on stayin' away from the booze, kid,"
said Professor Cassidy, "an' let me handle you."

"I gotcha Steve," said Billy; "go to it; but first, stake me to
a feed.  The front side of my stomach's wrapped around my
back bone."



FOR three months Billy met has-beens, and third- and fourth-rate
fighters from New York and its environs.  He thrashed
them all--usually by the knockout route and finally local
sports commenced talking about him a bit, and he was
matched up with second-raters from other cities.

These men he cleaned up as handily as he had the others,
so that it was apparent to fight fandom that the big, quiet
"unknown" was a comer; and pretty soon Professor Cassidy
received an offer from another trainer-manager to match Billy
against a real "hope" who stood in the forefront of hopedom.

This other manager stated that he thought the mill would
prove excellent practice for his man who was having difficulty
in finding opponents.  Professor Cassidy thought so too, and
grinned for two hours straight after reading the challenge.

The details of the fight were quickly arranged.  In accordance
with the state regulations it was to be a ten round, no
decision bout--the weight of the gloves was prescribed by

The name of the "white hope" against whom Billy was to
go was sufficient to draw a fair house, and there were some
there who had seen Billy in other fights and looked for a
good mill.  When the "coming champion," as Billy's opponent
was introduced, stepped into the ring he received a hearty
round of applause, whereas there was but a scattered ripple
of handclapping to greet the mucker.  It was the first time he
ever had stepped into a ring with a first-rate fighter, and
as he saw the huge muscles of his antagonist and recalled the
stories he had heard of his prowess and science, Billy, for the
first time in his life, felt a tremor of nervousness.

His eyes wandered across the ropes to the sea of faces
turned up toward him, and all of a sudden Billy Byrne went
into a blue funk.  Professor Cassidy, shrewd and experienced,
saw it even as soon as Billy realized it--he saw the fading of
his high hopes--he saw his castles in Spain tumbling in ruins
about his ears--he saw his huge giant lying prone within that
squared circle as the hand of the referee rose and fell in
cadence to the ticking of seconds that would count his man

"Here," he whispered, "take a swig o' this," and he pressed
a bottle toward Billy's lips.

Billy shook his head.  The stuff had kept him down all his
life--he had sworn never to touch another drop of it, and he
never would, whether he lost this and every other fight he ever
fought.  He had sworn to leave it alone for HER sake!  And then
the gong called him to the center of the ring.

Billy knew that he was afraid--he thought that he was
afraid of the big, trained fighter who faced him; but Cassidy
knew that it was a plain case of stage fright that had gripped
his man.  He knew, too, that it would be enough to defeat Billy's
every chance for victory, and after the big "white hope" had
felled Billy twice in the first minute of the first round Cassidy
knew that it was all over but the shouting.

The fans, many of them, were laughing, and yelling derogatory
remarks at Billy.

"Stan' up an' fight, yeh big stiff!" and "Back to de farm fer
youse!" and then, high above the others a shrill voice cried
"Coward!  Coward!"

The word penetrated Billy's hopeless, muddled brain.  Coward!
SHE had called him that once, and then she had changed
her mind.  Theriere had thought him a coward, yet as he died
he had said that he was the bravest man he ever had known.  
Billy recalled the yelling samurai with their keen swords and
terrible spears.  He saw the little room in the "palace" of Oda
Yorimoto, and again he faced the brown devils who had
hacked and hewed and stabbed at him that day as he fought
to save the woman he loved.  Coward!  What was there in this
padded ring for a man to fear who had faced death as Billy
had faced it, and without an instant's consciousness of the
meaning of the word fear?  What was wrong with him, and
then the shouts and curses and taunts of the crowd smote
upon his ears, and he knew.  It was the crowd!  Again the
heavy fist of the "coming champion" brought Billy to the mat,
and then, before further damage could be done him, the gong
saved him.

It was a surprised and chastened mucker that walked with
bent head to his corner after the first round.  The "white
hope" was grinning and confident, and so he returned to the
center of the ring for the second round.  During the short
interval Billy had thrashed the whole thing out.  The crowd
had gotten on his nerves.  He was trying to fight the whole
crowd instead of just one man--he would do better in this
round; but the first thing that happened after he faced his
opponent sent the fans into delirious ecstasies of shouting and

Billy swung his right for his foe's jaw--a terrible blow that
would have ended the fight had it landed--but the man side-stepped
it, and Billy's momentum carried him sprawling upon
his face.  When he regained his feet the "white hope" was
waiting for him, and Billy went down again to lie there, quite
still, while the hand of the referee marked the seconds: One.  
Two.  Three.  Four.  Five.  Six.  Billy opened his eyes.  Seven.  
Billy sat up.  Eight.  The meaning of that monotonous count
finally percolated to the mucker's numbed perceptive faculties.  
He was being counted out!  Nine!  Like a flash he was on his
feet.  He had forgotten the crowd.  Rage--cool, calculating rage
possessed him--not the feverish, hysterical variety that takes
its victim's brains away.

They had been counting out the man whom Barbara Harding
had once loved!--the man she had thought the bravest
in the world!--they were making a monkey and a coward of
him!  He'd show them!

The "white hope" was waiting for him.  Billy was scarce off
his knees before the man rushed at him wickedly, a smile
playing about his lips.  It was to be the last of that smile,
however.  Billy met the rush with his old familiar crouch, and
stopped his man with a straight to the body.

Cassidy saw it and almost smiled.  He didn't think that Billy
could come back--but at least he was fighting for a minute in
his old form.

The surprised "hope" rushed in to punish his presuming
foe.  The crowd was silent.  Billy ducked beneath a vicious left
swing and put a right to the side of the "hope's" head that sent
the man to his knees.  Then came the gong.

In the third round Billy fought carefully.  He had made up
his mind that he would show this bunch of pikers that he knew
how to box, so that none might say that he had won with a
lucky punch, for Billy intended to win.

The round was one which might fill with delight the soul of
the fan who knows the finer points of the game.  And when it
was over, while little damage had been done on either side, it
left no shadow of a doubt in the minds of those who knew
that the unknown fighter was the more skilful boxer.

Then came the fourth round.  Of course there was no
question in the minds of the majority of the spectators as to
who would win the fight.  The stranger had merely shown one
of those sudden and ephemeral bursts of form that occasionally
are witnessed in every branch of sport; but he couldn't last
against such a man as the "white hope'!--they looked for a
knock-out any minute now.  Nor did they look in vain.

Billy was quite satisfied with the work he had done in the
preceding round.  Now he would show them another style of
fighting!  And he did.  From the tap of the gong he rushed his
opponent about the ring at will.  He hit him when and where
he pleased.  The man was absolutely helpless before him.  With
left and right hooks Billy rocked the "coming champion's"
head from side to side.  He landed upon the swelling optics of
his victim as he listed.

Thrice he rushed him to the ropes, and once the man fell
through them into the laps of the hooting spectators--only
now they were not hooting Billy.  Until the gong Billy played
with his man as a cat might play with a mouse; yet not once
had he landed a knock-out blow.

"Why didn't you finish him?" cried Professor Cassidy, as
Billy returned to his corner after the round.  "You had 'im
goin' man--why in the world didn't yeh finish him?"

"I didn't want to," said Billy; "not in that round.  I'm
reserving the finish for the fifth round, and if you want to win
some money you can take the hunch!"

"Do you mean it?" asked Cassidy.

"Sure," said Billy.  "You might make more by laying that
I'd make him take the count in the first minute of the
round--you can place a hundred of mine on that, if you
will, please."

Cassidy took the hunch, and a moment later as the two
men faced each other he regretted his act, for to his surprise
the "white hope" came up for the fifth round smiling and
confident once more.

"Someone's been handin' him an earful," grumbled Cassidy,
"an' it might be all he needed to take 'im through the first
minute of the round, and maybe the whole round--I've seen
that did lots o' times."

As the two men met the "white hope" was the aggressor.  
He rushed in to close quarters aiming a stinging blow at
Billy's face, and then to Cassidy's chagrin and the crowd's
wonder, the mucker lowered his guard and took the wallop
full on the jaw.  The blow seemed never to jar him the least.  
The "hope" swung again, and there stood Billy Byrne, like a
huge bronze statue taking blow after blow that would have
put an ordinary man down for the count.

The fans saw and appreciated the spectacular bravado of
the act, and they went wild.  Cheer on cheer rose, hoarse and
deafening, to the rafters.  The "white hope" lost his self-control
and what little remained of his short temper, and deliberately
struck Billy a foul blow, but before the referee could interfere
the mucker swung another just such blow as he had missed
and fallen with in the second round; but this time he did not
miss--his mighty fist caught the "coming champion" on the
point of the chin, lifted him off his feet and landed him
halfway through the ropes.  There he lay while the referee
tolled off the count of ten, and as the official took Billy's hand
in his and raised it aloft in signal that he had won the fight
the fickle crowd cheered and screamed in a delirium of joy.

Cassidy crawled through the ropes and threw his arms
around Billy.

"I knew youse could do it, kid!" he screamed.  "You're as
good as made now, an' you're de next champ, or I never seen

The following morning the sporting sheets hailed "Sailor"
Byrne as the greatest "white hope" of them all.  Flashlights of
him filled a quarter of a page.  There were interviews with him.  
Interviews with the man he had defeated.  Interviews with
Cassidy.  Interviews with the referee.  Interviews with everybody,
and all were agreed that he was the most likely heavy
since Jeffries.  Corbett admitted that, while in his prime he
could doubtless have bested the new wonder, he would have
found him a tough customer.

Everyone said that Byrne's future was assured.  There was
not a man in sight who could touch him, and none who had
seen him fight the night before but would have staked his last
dollar on him in a mill with the black champion.

Cassidy wired a challenge to the Negro's manager, and
received an answer that was most favorable.  The terms were,
as usual, rather one-sided but Cassidy accepted them, and it
seemed before noon that a fight was assured.

Billy was more nearly happy again than he had been since
the day he had renounced Barbara Harding to the man he
thought she loved.  He read and re-read the accounts in the
papers, and then searching for more references to himself off
the sporting page he ran upon the very name that had been
constantly in his thoughts for all these months--Harding.

Persistent rumor has it that the engagement of the beautiful
Miss Harding to Wm. J. Mallory has been broken.  Miss
Harding could not be seen at her father's home up to a late
hour last night.  Mr. Mallory refused to discuss the matter, but
would not deny the rumor.

There was more, but that was all that Billy Byrne read.  The
paper dropped from his hand.  Battles and championships
faded from his thoughts.  He sat with his eyes bent upon the
floor, and his mind was thousands of miles away across the
broad Pacific upon a little island in the midst of a turbulent

And far uptown another sat with the same paper in her
hand.  Barbara Harding was glancing through the sporting
sheet in search of the scores of yesterday's woman's golf
tournament.  And as she searched her eyes suddenly became
riveted upon the picture of a giant man, and she forgot
about tournaments and low scores.  Hastily she searched the
heads and text until she came upon the name--"'Sailor'

Yes!  It must be he.  Greedily she read and re-read all that
had been written about him.  Yes, she, Barbara Harding, scion
of an aristocratic house--ultra-society girl, read and re-read
the accounts of a brutal prize fight.

A half hour later a messenger boy found "Sailor" Byrne
the center of an admiring throng in Professor Cassidy's third-floor
gymnasium.  With worshiping eyes taking in his new hero
from head to foot the youth handed Byrne a note.

He stood staring at the heavy weight until he had perused

"Any answer?" he asked.

"No answer, kid," replied Byrne, "that I can't take myself,"
and he tossed a dollar to the worshiping boy.

An hour later Billy Byrne was ascending the broad, white
steps that led to the entrance of Anthony Harding's New
York house.  The servant who answered his ring eyed him
suspiciously, for Billy Byrne still dressed like a teamster on
holiday.  He had no card!

"Tell Miss Harding that Mr. Byrne has come," he said.

The servant left him standing in the hallway, and started to
ascend the great staircase, but halfway up he met Miss Harding
coming down.

"Never mind, Smith," she said.  "I am expecting Mr. Byrne,"
and then seeing that the fellow had not seated her visitor she
added, "He is a very dear friend."  Smith faded quickly from
the scene.

"Billy!" cried the girl, rushing toward him with out-stretched
hands.  "O Billy, we thought you were dead.  How long have
you been here?  Why haven't you been to see me?"

Byrne hesitated.

A great, mad hope had been surging through his being
since he had read of the broken engagement and received the
girl's note.  And now in her eyes, in her whole attitude, he
could read, as unmistakably as though her lips had formed the
words that he had not hoped in vain.

But some strange influence had seemed suddenly to come to
work upon him.  Even in the brief moment of his entrance into
the magnificence of Anthony Harding's home he had felt a
strange little stricture of the throat--a choking, half-suffocating

The attitude of the servant, the splendor of the furnishings,
the stateliness of the great hall, and the apartments opening
upon it--all had whispered to him that he did not "belong."

And now Barbara, clothed in some wondrous foreign creation,
belied by her very appearance the expression that suffused her eyes.

No, Billy Byrne, the mucker, did not belong there.  Nor ever
could he belong, more than Barbara ever could have "belonged"
on Grand Avenue.  And Billy Byrne knew it now.  His
heart went cold.  The bottom seemed suddenly to have
dropped out of his life.

Bravely he had battled to forget this wonderful creature, or,
rather, his hopeless love for her--her he could never forget.  
But the note from her, and the sight of her had but served to
rekindle the old fire within his breast.

He thought quickly.  His own life or happiness did not
count.  Nothing counted now but Barbara.  He had seen the
lovelight in her eyes.  He thanked God that he had realized
what it all would have meant, before he let her see that he
had seen it.

"I've been back several months," he said presently, in
answer to her question; "but I got sense enough to stay where
I belong.  Gee!  Wouldn't I look great comin' up here buttin' in,
wit youse bunch of highlifes?"

Billy slapped his thigh resoundingly and laughed in
stentorian tones that caused the eyebrows of the sensitive Smith on
the floor above to elevate in shocked horror.

"Den dere was de mills.  I couldn't break away from me
work, could I, to chase a bunch of skirts?"

Barbara felt a qualm of keen disappointment that Billy bad
fallen again into the old dialect that she had all but eradicated
during those days upon distant "Manhattan Island."

"I wouldn't o' come up atal," he went on, "if I hadn't o'
read in de poiper how youse an' Mallory had busted.  I
t'ought I'd breeze in an' see wot de trouble was."

His eyes had been averted, mostly, as he talked.  Now he
swung suddenly upon her.

"He's on de square, ain't he?" he demanded.

"Yes," said Barbara.  She was not quite sure whether to feel
offended, or not.  But the memory of Billy's antecedents came
to his rescue.  Of course he didn't know that it was such
terribly bad form to broach such a subject to her, she

"Well, then," continued the mucker, "wot's up?  Mallory's
de guy fer youse.  Youse loved him or youse wouldn't have
got engaged to him."

The statement was almost an interrogation.

Barbara nodded affirmatively.

"You see, Billy," she started, "I have always known Mr.
Mallory, and always thought that I loved him until--until--"
There was no answering light in Billy's eyes--no encouragement
for the words that were on her lips.  She halted lamely.  
"Then," she went on presently, "we became engaged after we
reached New York.  We all thought you dead," she concluded

"Do you think as much of him now as you did when you
promised to marry him?" he asked, ignoring her reference to
himself and all that it implied.

Barbara nodded.

"What is at the bottom of this row?" persisted Billy.  He
had fallen back into the decent pronunciation that Barbara
had taught him, but neither noticed the change.  For a
moment he had forgotten that he was playing a part.  Then he

"Nothing much," replied the girl.  "I couldn't rid myself of
the feeling that they had murdered you, by leaving you back
there alone and wounded.  I began to think 'coward' every
time I saw Mr. Mallory.  I couldn't marry him, feeling that way
toward him, and, Billy, I really never LOVED him as--as--"
Again she stumbled, but the mucker made no attempt to
grasp the opportunity opened before him.

Instead he crossed the library to the telephone.  Running
through the book he came presently upon the number he
sought.  A moment later he had his connection.

"Is this Mallory?" he asked.

"I'm Byrne--Billy Byrne.  De guy dat cracked your puss fer
youse on de Lotus."

"Dead, hell!  Not me.  Say, I'm up here at Barbara's."

"Yes, dat's wot I said.  She wants youse to beat it up here's
swift as youse kin beat it."

Barbara Harding stepped forward.  Her eyes were blazing.

"How dare you?" she cried, attempting to seize the telephone
from Billy's grasp.

He turned his huge frame between her and the instrument.  
"Git a move!" he shouted into the mouthpiece.  "Good-bye!"
and he hung up.

Then he turned back toward the angry girl.

"Look here," he said.  "Once youse was strong on de sob
stuff wit me, tellin' me how noble I was, an' all de different
tings youse would do fer me to repay all I done fer youse.  
Now youse got de chanct."

"What do you mean?" asked the girl, puzzled.  "What can I
do for you?"

"Youse kin do dis fer me.  When Mallory gits here youse
kin tell him dat de engagement is all on again--see!"

In the wide eyes of the girl Billy read a deeper hurt than he
had dreamed of.  He had thought that it would not be difficult
for her to turn back from the vulgar mucker to the polished
gentleman.  And when he saw that she was suffering, and
guessed that it was because he had tried to crush her love by
brute force he could carry the game no further.

"O Barbara," he cried, "can't you see that Mallory is your
kind--that HE is a fit mate for you.  I have learned since I
came into this house a few minutes ago the unbridgeable
chasm that stretches between Billy Byrne, the mucker, and
such as you.  Once I aspired; but now I know just as you
must have always known, that a single lifetime is far too short
for a man to cover the distance from Grand Avenue to
Riverside Drive.

"I want you to be happy, Barbara, just as I intend to be.  
Back there in Chicago there are plenty of girls on Grand
Avenue as straight and clean and fine as they make 'em on
Riverside Drive.  Girls of my own kind, they are, and I'm
going back there to find the one that God intended for me.  
You've taught me what a good girl can do toward making a
man of a beast.  You've taught me pride and self-respect.  
You've taught me so much that I'd rather that I'd died back
there beneath the spears of Oda Iseka's warriors than live here
beneath the sneers and contempt of servants, and the pity and
condescension of your friends.

"I want you to be happy, Barbara, and so I want you to
promise me that you'll marry Billy Mallory.  There isn't any
man on earth quite good enough for you; but Mallory comes
nearer to it than anyone I know.  I've heard 'em talking about
him around town since I came back--and there isn't a rotten
story chalked up against him nowhere, and that's a lot more
than you can say for ninety-nine of a hundred New Yorkers
that are talked about at all.

"And Mallory's a man, too--the kind that every woman
ought to have, only they ain't enough of 'em to go 'round.  
Do you remember how he stood up there on the deck of the
Lotus and fought fair against my dirty tricks?  He's a man and
a gentleman, Barbara--the sort you can be proud of, and
that's the sort you got to have.  You see I know you.

"And he fought against those fellows of Yoka in the street
of Oda Iseka's village like a man should fight.  There ain't any
yellow in him, Barbara, and he didn't leave me until there
seemed no other way, even in the face of the things I told
them to make them go.  Don't harbor that against him--I only
wonder that he didn't croak me; your dad wanted to, and
Mallory wouldn't let him."

"They never told me that," said Barbara.

The bell rang.

"Here he is now," said Billy.  "Good-bye--I'd rather not see
him.  Smith'll let me out the servants' door.  Guess that'll make
him feel better.  You'll do as I ask, Barbara?"

He had paused at the door, turning toward her as he asked
the final question.

The girl stood facing him.  Her eyes were dim with unshed
tears.  Billy Byrne swam before them in a hazy mist.

"You'll do as I ask, Barbara!" he repeated, but this time it
was a command.

As Mallory entered the room Barbara heard the door of
the servants' entrance slam behind Billy Byrne.




BILLY BYRNE squared his broad shoulders and filled his deep
lungs with the familiar medium which is known as air in
Chicago.  He was standing upon the platform of a New York
Central train that was pulling into the La Salle Street Station,
and though the young man was far from happy something in
the nature of content pervaded his being, for he was coming

After something more than a year of world wandering and
strange adventure Billy Byrne was coming back to the great
West Side and Grand Avenue.

Now there is not much upon either side or down the center
of long and tortuous Grand Avenue to arouse enthusiasm,
nor was Billy particularly enthusiastic about that more or less
squalid thoroughfare.

The thing that exalted Billy was the idea that he was
coming back to SHOW THEM.  He had left under a cloud and
with a reputation for genuine toughness and rowdyism that
has seen few parallels even in the ungentle district of his birth
and upbringing.

A girl had changed him.  She was as far removed from
Billy's sphere as the stars themselves; but Billy had loved her
and learned from her, and in trying to become more as he
knew the men of her class were he had sloughed off much of
the uncouthness that had always been a part of him, and all
of the rowdyism.  Billy Byrne was no longer the mucker.

He had given her up because he imagined the gulf between
Grand Avenue and Riverside Drive to be unbridgeable; but he
still clung to the ideals she had awakened in him.  He still
sought to be all that she might wish him to be, even though
he realized that he never should see her again.

Grand Avenue would be the easiest place to forget his
sorrow--her he could never forget.  And then, his newly
awakened pride urged him back to the haunts of his former
life that he might, as he would put it himself, show them.  He
wanted the gang to see that he, Billy Byrne, wasn't afraid to
be decent.  He wanted some of the neighbors to realize that he
could work steadily and earn an honest living, and he looked
forward with delight to the pleasure and satisfaction of rubbing
it in to some of the saloon keepers and bartenders who
had helped keep him drunk some five days out of seven, for
Billy didn't drink any more.

But most of all he wanted to vindicate himself in the eyes
of the once-hated law.  He wanted to clear his record of the
unjust charge of murder which had sent him scurrying out of
Chicago over a year before, that night that Patrolman Stanley
Lasky of the Lake Street Station had tipped him off that
Sheehan had implicated him in the murder of old man Schneider.

Now Billy Byrne had not killed Schneider.  He had been
nowhere near the old fellow's saloon at the time of the
holdup; but Sheehan, who had been arrested and charged
with the crime, was an old enemy of Billy's, and Sheehan had
seen a chance to divert some of the suspicion from himself
and square accounts with Byrne at the same time.

The new Billy Byrne was ready to accept at face value
everything which seemed to belong in any way to the environment
of that exalted realm where dwelt the girl he loved.  Law,
order, and justice appeared to Billy in a new light since he
had rubbed elbows with the cultured and refined.

He no longer distrusted or feared them.  They would give
him what he sought--a square deal.

It seemed odd to Billy that he should be seeking anything
from the law or its minions.  For years he had waged a
perpetual battle with both.  Now he was coming back voluntarily
to give himself up, with every conviction that he should
be exonerated quickly.  Billy, knowing his own innocence,
realizing his own integrity, assumed that others must
immediately appreciate both.

"First," thought Billy, "I'll go take a look at little old
Grand Ave., then I'll give myself up.  The trial may take a
long time, an' if it does I want to see some of the old bunch

So Billy entered an "L' coach and leaning on the sill of an
open window watched grimy Chicago rattle past until the
guard's "Granavenoo" announced the end of his journey.

Maggie Shane was sitting on the upper step of the long
flight of stairs which lean precariously against the scarred face
of the frame residence upon the second floor front of which
the lares and penates of the Shane family are crowded into
three ill-smelling rooms.

It was Saturday and Maggie was off.  She sat there rather
disconsolate for there was a dearth of beaux for Maggie, none
having arisen to fill the aching void left by the sudden
departure of "Coke" Sheehan since that worthy gentleman
had sought a more salubrious clime--to the consternation of
both Maggie Shane and Mr. Sheehan's bondsmen.

Maggie scowled down upon the frowsy street filled with
frowsy women and frowsy children.  She scowled upon the
street cars rumbling by with their frowsy loads.  Occasionally
she varied the monotony by drawing out her chewing gum to
wondrous lengths, holding one end between a thumb and
finger and the other between her teeth.

Presently Maggie spied a rather pleasing figure sauntering
up the sidewalk upon her side of the street.  The man was too
far away for her to recognize his features, but his size and
bearing and general appearance appealed to the lonesome
Maggie.  She hoped it was someone she knew, or with whom
she might easily become acquainted, for Maggie was bored to

She patted the hair at the back of her head and righted the
mop which hung over one eye.  Then she rearranged her skirts
and waited.  As the man approached she saw that he was
better looking than she had even dared to hope, and that
there was something extremely familiar about his appearance.  
It was not, though, until he was almost in front of the house
that he looked up at the girl and she recognized him.

Then Maggie Shane gasped and clutched the handrail at
her side.  An instant later the man was past and continuing his
way along the sidewalk.

Maggie Shane glared after him for a minute, then she ran
quickly down the stairs and into a grocery store a few doors
west, where she asked if she might use the telephone.

"Gimme West 2063," she demanded of the operator, and a
moment later: "Is this Lake Street?"

"Well say, Billy Byrne's back.  I just see him."

"Yes an' never mind who I am; but if youse guys want him
he's walkin' west on Grand Avenoo right now.  I just this
minute seen him near Lincoln," and she smashed the receiver
back into its hook.

Billy Byrne thought that he would look in on his mother,
not that he expected to be welcomed even though she might
happen to be sober, or not that he cared to see her; but
Billy's whole manner of thought had altered within the year,
and something now seemed to tell him that it was his duty to
do the thing he contemplated.  Maybe he might even be of
help to her.

But when he reached the gloomy neighborhood in which
his childhood had been spent it was to learn that his mother
was dead and that another family occupied the tumble-down
cottage that had been his home.

If Billy Byrne felt any sorrow because of his mother's death
he did not reveal it outwardly.  He owed her nothing but for
kicks and cuffs received, and for the surroundings and
influences that had started him upon a life of crime at an age
when most boys are just entering grammar school.

Really the man was relieved that he had not had to see her,
and it was with a lighter step that he turned back to retrace
his way along Grand Avenue.  No one of the few he had met
who recognized him had seemed particularly delighted at his
return.  The whole affair had been something of a disappointment.
Therefore Billy determined to go at once to the Lake
Street Station and learn the status of the Schneider murder
case.  Possibly they had discovered the real murderer, and if
that was the case Billy would be permitted to go his way; but
if not then he could give himself up and ask for a trial, that
he might be exonerated.

As he neared Wood Street two men who had been watching
his approach stepped into the doorway of a saloon, and
as he passed they stepped out again behind him.  One upon
either side they seized him.

Billy turned to remonstrate.

"Come easy now, Byrne," admonished one of the men,
"an' don't make no fuss."

"Oh," said Billy, "it's you, is it?  Well, I was just goin' over
to the station to give myself up."

Both men laughed, skeptically.  "We'll just save you the
trouble," said one of them.  "We'll take you over.  You might
lose your way if you tried to go alone."

Billy went along in silence the rest of the way to where the
patrol waited at another corner.  He saw there was nothing to
be gained by talking to these detectives; but he found the
lieutenant equally inclined to doubt his intentions.  He, too,
only laughed when Billy assured him that he was on his way
to the station at the very instant of arrest.

As the weeks dragged along, and Billy Byrne found no
friendly interest in himself or his desire to live on the square,
and no belief in his protestations that he had had naught to
do with the killing of Schneider he began to have his doubts
as to the wisdom of his act.

He also commenced to entertain some of his former opinions
of the police, and of the law of which they are supposed
to be the guardians.  A cell-mate told him that the papers had
scored the department heavily for their failure to apprehend
the murderer of the inoffensive old Schneider, and that public
opinion had been so aroused that a general police shakeup
had followed.

The result was that the police were keen to fasten the guilt
upon someone--they did not care whom, so long as it was
someone who was in their custody.

"You may not o' done it," ventured the cell-mate; "but
they'll send you up for it, if they can't hang you.  They're goin'
to try to get the death sentence.  They hain't got no love for
you, Byrne.  You caused 'em a lot o' throuble in your day an'
they haven't forgot it.  I'd hate to be in your boots."

Billy Byrne shrugged.  Where were his dreams of justice?
They seemed to have faded back into the old distrust and
hatred.  He shook himself and conjured in his mind the vision
of a beautiful girl who had believed in him and trusted him--
who had inculcated within him a love for all that was finest
and best in true manhood, for the very things that he had
most hated all the years of his life before she had come into
his existence to alter it and him.

And then Billy would believe again--believe that in the end
justice would triumph and that it would all come out right,
just the way he had pictured it.

With the coming of the last day of the trial Billy found it
more and more difficult to adhere to his regard for law, order,
and justice.  The prosecution had shown conclusively that Billy
was a hard customer.  The police had brought witnesses who
did not hesitate to perjure themselves in their testimony--
testimony which it seemed to Billy the densest of jurymen
could plainly see had been framed up and learned by rote
until it was letter-perfect.

These witnesses could recall with startling accuracy every
detail that had occurred between seventeen minutes after eight
and twenty-one minutes past nine on the night of September
23 over a year before; but where they had been and what
they had done ten minutes earlier or ten minutes later, or
where they were at nine o'clock in the evening last Friday
they couldn't for the lives of them remember.

And Billy was practically without witnesses.

The result was a foregone conclusion.  Even Billy had to
admit it, and when the prosecuting attorney demanded the
death penalty the prisoner had an uncanny sensation as of the
tightening of a hempen rope about his neck.

As he waited for the jury to return its verdict Billy sat in
his cell trying to read a newspaper which a kindly guard had
given him.  But his eyes persisted in boring through the white
paper and the black type to scenes that were not in any
paper.  He saw a turbulent river tumbling through a savage
world, and in the swirl of the water lay a little island.  And he
saw a man there upon the island, and a girl.  The girl was
teaching the man to speak the language of the cultured, and
to view life as people of refinement view it.

She taught him what honor meant among her class, and
that it was better to lose any other possession rather than lose
honor.  Billy realized that it had been these lessons that had
spurred him on to the mad scheme that was to end now with
the verdict of "Guilty"--he had wished to vindicate his honor.  
A hard laugh broke from his lips; but instantly he sobered
and his face softened.

It had been for her sake after all, and what mattered it if
they did send him to the gallows?  He had not sacrificed his
honor--he had done his best to assert it.  He was innocent.  
They could kill him but they couldn't make him guilty.  A
thousand juries pronouncing him so could not make it true
that he had killed Schneider.

But it would be hard, after all his hopes, after all the plans
he had made to live square, to SHOW THEM.  His eyes still
boring through the paper suddenly found themselves attracted
by something in the text before them--a name, Harding.

Billy Byrne shook himself and commenced to read:

The marriage of Barbara, daughter of Anthony Harding,
the multimillionaire, to William Mallory will take place on the
twenty-fifth of June.

The article was dated New York.  There was more, but Billy
did not read it.  He had read enough.  It is true that he had
urged her to marry Mallory; but now, in his lonesomeness and
friendlessness, he felt almost as though she had been untrue to

"Come along, Byrne," a bailiff interrupted his thoughts, "the
jury's reached a verdict."

The judge was emerging from his chambers as Billy was led
into the courtroom.  Presently the jury filed in and took their
seats.  The foreman handed the clerk a bit of paper.  Even
before it was read Billy knew that he had been found guilty.  
He did not care any longer, so he told himself.  He hoped that
the judge would send him to the gallows.  There was nothing
more in life for him now anyway.  He wanted to die.  But
instead he was sentenced to life imprisonment in the penitentiary
at Joliet.

This was infinitely worse than death.  Billy Byrne was
appalled at the thought of remaining for life within the grim
stone walls of a prison.  Once more there swept over him all
the old, unreasoning hatred of the law and all that pertained
to it.  He would like to close his steel fingers about the fat
neck of the red-faced judge.  The smug jurymen roused within
him the lust to kill.  Justice!  Billy Byrne laughed aloud.

A bailiff rapped for order.  One of the jurymen leaned close
to a neighbor and whispered.  "A hardened criminal," he said.  
"Society will be safer when he is behind the bars."

The next day they took Billy aboard a train bound for
Joliet.  He was handcuffed to a deputy sheriff.  Billy was calm
outwardly; but inwardly he was a raging volcano of hate.

In a certain very beautiful home on Riverside Drive, New
York City, a young lady, comfortably backed by downy
pillows, sat in her bed and alternated her attention between
coffee and rolls, and a morning paper.

On the inside of the main sheet a heading claimed her
SENTENCE.  Of late Chicago had aroused in Barbara Harding a
greater proportion of interest than ever it had in the
past, and so it was that she now permitted her eyes to wander
casually down the printed column.

Murderer of harmless old saloon keeper is finally brought
to justice.  The notorious West Side rowdy, "Billy" Byrne,
apprehended after more than a year as fugitive from justice, is
sent to Joliet for life.

Barbara Harding sat stony-eyed and cold for what seemed
many minutes.  Then with a stifled sob she turned and buried
her face in the pillows.

The train bearing Billy Byrne and the deputy sheriff toward
Joliet had covered perhaps half the distance between Chicago
and Billy's permanent destination when it occurred to the
deputy sheriff that he should like to go into the smoker and
enjoy a cigar.

Now, from the moment that he had been sentenced Billy
Byrne's mind had been centered upon one thought--escape.  
He knew that there probably would be not the slightest
chance for escape; but nevertheless the idea was always
uppermost in his thoughts.

His whole being revolted, not alone against the injustice
which had sent him into life imprisonment, but at the thought
of the long years of awful monotony which lay ahead of him.

He could not endure them.  He would not!  The deputy
sheriff rose, and motioning his prisoner ahead of him,
started for the smoker.  It was two cars ahead.  The train was
vestibuled.  The first platform they crossed was tightly enclosed;
but at the second Billy saw that a careless porter had left
one of the doors open.  The train was slowing down for some
reason--it was going, perhaps, twenty miles an hour.

Billy was the first upon the platform.  He was the first to see
the open door.  It meant one of two things--a chance to
escape, or, death.  Even the latter was to be preferred to life

Billy did not hesitate an instant.  Even before the deputy
sheriff realized that the door was open, his prisoner had
leaped from the moving train dragging his guard after him.



BYRNE had no time to pick any particular spot to jump
for.  When he did jump he might have been directly over a
picket fence, or a bottomless pit--he did not know.  Nor did
he care.

As it happened he was over neither.  The platform chanced
to be passing across a culvert at the instant.  Beneath the
culvert was a slimy pool.  Into this the two men plunged,
alighting unharmed.

Byrne was the first to regain his feet.  He dragged the deputy
sheriff to his knees, and before that frightened and astonished
officer of the law could gather his wits together he had been
relieved of his revolver and found himself looking into its cold
and business-like muzzle.

Then Billy Byrne waded ashore, prodding the deputy sheriff
in the ribs with cold steel, and warning him to silence.  Above
the pool stood a little wood, thick with tangled wildwood.  
Into this Byrne forced his prisoner.

When they had come deep enough into the concealment of
the foliage to make discovery from the outside improbable
Byrne halted.

"Now say yer prayers," he commanded.  "I'm a-going to
croak yeh."

The deputy sheriff looked up at him in wild-eyed terror.

"My God!" he cried.  "I ain't done nothin' to you, Byrne.  
Haven't I always been your friend?  What've I ever done to
you?  For God's sake Byrne you ain't goin' to murder me, are
you?  They'll get you, sure."

Billy Byrne let a rather unpleasant smile curl his lips.

"No," he said, "youse ain't done nothin' to me; but you
stand for the law, damn it, and I'm going to croak everything
I meet that stands for the law.  They wanted to send me up
for life--me, an innocent man.  Your kind done it--the cops.  
You ain't no cop; but you're just as rotten.  Now say yer

He leveled the revolver at his victim's head.  The deputy
sheriff slumped to his knees and tried to embrace Billy Byrne's
legs as he pleaded for his life.

"Cut it out, you poor boob," admonished Billy.  "You've
gotta die and if you was half a man you'd wanna die like

The deputy sheriff slipped to the ground.  His terror had
overcome him, leaving him in happy unconsciousness.  Byrne
stood looking down upon the man for a moment.  His wrist
was chained to that of the other, and the pull of the deputy's
body was irritating.

Byrne stooped and placed the muzzle of the revolver back
of the man's ear.  "Justice!" he muttered, scornfully, and his
finger tightened upon the trigger.

Then, conjured from nothing, there rose between himself
and the unconscious man beside him the figure of a beautiful
girl.  Her face was brave and smiling, and in her eyes was trust
and pride--whole worlds of them.  Trust and pride in Billy

Billy closed his eyes tight as though in physical pain.  He
brushed his hand quickly across his fare.

"Gawd!" he muttered.  "I can't do it--but I came awful
close to it."

Dropping the revolver into his side pocket he kneeled
beside the deputy sheriff and commenced to go through the
man's clothes.  After a moment he came upon what he
sought--a key ring confining several keys.

Billy found the one he wished and presently he was free.  
He still stood looking at the deputy sheriff.

"I ought to croak you," he murmured.  "I'll never make my
get-away if I don't; but SHE won't let me--God bless her."

Suddenly a thought came to Billy Byrne.  If he could have a
start he might escape.  It wouldn't hurt the man any to stay
here for a few hours, or even for a day.  Billy removed the
deputy's coat and tore it into strips.  With these he bound the
man to a tree.  Then he fastened a gag in his mouth.

During the operation the deputy regained consciousness.  He
looked questioningly at Billy.

"I decided not to croak you," explained the young man.  
"I'm just a-goin' to leave you here for a while.  They'll be
lookin' all along the right o' way in a few hours--it won't be
long afore they find you.  Now so long, and take care of
yerself, bo," and Billy Byrne had gone.

A mistake that proved fortunate for Billy Byrne caused the
penitentiary authorities to expect him and his guard by a later
train, so no suspicion was aroused when they failed to come
upon the train they really had started upon.  This gave Billy a
good two hours' start that he would not otherwise have
had--an opportunity of which he made good use.

Wherefore it was that by the time the authorities awoke to
the fact that something had happened Billy Byrne was fifty
miles west of Joliet, bowling along aboard a fast Santa Fe
freight.  Shortly after night had fallen the train crossed the
Mississippi.  Billy Byrne was hungry and thirsty, and as the
train slowed down and came to a stop out in the midst of a
dark solitude of silent, sweet-smelling country, Billy opened
the door of his box car and dropped lightly to the ground.

So far no one had seen Billy since he had passed from the
ken of the trussed deputy sheriff, and as Billy had no desire to
be seen he slipped over the edge of the embankment into a
dry ditch, where he squatted upon his haunches waiting for
the train to depart.  The stop out there in the dark night was
one of those mysterious stops which trains are prone to make,
unexplained and doubtless unexplainable by any other than a
higher intelligence which directs the movements of men and
rolling stock.  There was no town, and not even a switch light.  
Presently two staccato blasts broke from the engine's whistle,
there was a progressive jerking at coupling pins, which started
up at the big locomotive and ran rapidly down the length of
the train, there was the squeaking of brake shoes against
wheels, and the train moved slowly forward again upon its
long journey toward the coast, gaining momentum moment by
moment until finally the way-car rolled rapidly past the hidden
fugitive and the freight rumbled away to be swallowed up in
the darkness.

When it had gone Billy rose and climbed back upon the
track, along which he plodded in the wake of the departing
train.  Somewhere a road would presently cut across the track,
and along the road there would be farmhouses or a village
where food and drink might be found.

Billy was penniless, yet he had no doubt but that he should
eat when he had discovered food.  He was thinking of this as
he walked briskly toward the west, and what he thought of
induced a doubt in his mind as to whether it was, after all,
going to be so easy to steal food.

"Shaw!" he exclaimed, half aloud, "she wouldn't think it
wrong for a guy to swipe a little grub when he was starvin'.  It
ain't like I was goin' to stick a guy up for his roll.  Sure she
wouldn't see nothin' wrong for me to get something to eat.  I
ain't got no money.  They took it all away from me, an' I got
a right to live--but, somehow, I hate to do it.  I wisht there
was some other way.  Gee, but she's made a sissy out o' me!
Funny how a feller can change.  Why I almost like bein' a
sissy," and Billy Byrne grinned at the almost inconceivable

Before Billy came to a road he saw a light down in a little
depression at one side of the track.  It was not such a light as
a lamp shining beyond a window makes.  It rose and fell,
winking and flaring close to the ground.

It looked much like a camp fire, and as Billy drew nearer
he saw that such it was, and he heard a voice, too.  Billy
approached more carefully.  He must be careful always to see
before being seen.  The little fire burned upon the bank of a
stream which the track bridged upon a concrete arch.

Billy dropped once more from the right of way, and
climbed a fence into a thin wood.  Through this he approached
the camp fire with small chance of being observed.  
As he neared it the voice resolved itself into articulate words,
and presently Billy leaned against a tree close behind the
speaker and listened.

There was but a single figure beside the small fire--that of
a man squatting upon his haunches roasting something above
the flames.  At one edge of the fire was an empty tin can from
which steam arose, and an aroma that was now and again
wafted to Billy's nostrils.

Coffee!  My, how good it smelled.  Billy's mouth watered.  
But the voice--that interested Billy almost as much as the
preparations for the coming meal.

**   We'll dance a merry saraband from here to drowsy Samarcand.

Along the sea, across the land, the birds are flying South,
And you, my sweet Penelope, out there somewhere you wait

   for me,

With buds, of roses in your hair and kisses on your mouth.

The words took hold of Billy somewhere and made him
forget his hunger.  Like a sweet incense which induces pleasant
daydreams they were wafted in upon him through the rich,
mellow voice of the solitary camper, and the lilt of the meter
entered his blood.

But the voice.  It was the voice of such as Billy Byrne
always had loathed and ridiculed until he had sat at the feet
of Barbara Harding and learned many things, including love.  
It was the voice of culture and refinement.  Billy strained his
eyes through the darkness to have a closer look at the man.  
The light of the camp fire fell upon frayed and bagging
clothes, and upon the back of a head covered by a shapeless,
and disreputable soft hat.

Obviously the man was a hobo.  The coffee boiling in a
discarded tin can would have been proof positive of this
without other evidence; but there seemed plenty more.  Yes,
the man was a hobo.  Billy continued to stand listening.

 The mountains are all hid in mist, the valley is like amethyst,
 The poplar leaves they turn and twist, oh, silver, silver green!
 Out there somewhere along the sea a ship is waiting patiently,
 While up the beach the bubbles slip with white afloat between.

"Gee!" thought Billy Byrne; "but that's great stuff.  I
wonder where he gets it.  It makes me want to hike until I find
that place he's singin' about."

Billy's thoughts were interrupted by a sound in the wood to
one side of him.  As he turned his eyes in the direction of the
slight noise which had attracted him he saw two men step
quietly out and cross toward the man at the camp fire.

These, too, were evidently hobos.  Doubtless pals of the
poetical one.  The latter did not hear them until they were
directly behind him.  Then he turned slowly and rose as they
halted beside his fire.

"Evenin', bo," said one of the newcomers.

"Good evening, gentlemen," replied the camper, "welcome
to my humble home.  Have you dined?"

"Naw," replied the first speaker, "we ain't; but we're goin'
to. Now can the chatter an' duck.  There ain't enough fer one
here, let alone three.  Beat it!" and the man, who was big and
burly, assumed a menacing attitude and took a truculent step
nearer the solitary camper.

The latter was short and slender.  The larger man looked as
though he might have eaten him at a single mouthful; but the
camper did not flinch.

"You pain me," he said.  "You induce within me a severe
and highly localized pain, and furthermore I don't like your

With which apparently irrelevant remark he seized the matted
beard of the larger tramp and struck the fellow a quick,
sharp blow in the face.  Instantly the fellow's companion was
upon him; but the camper retained his death grip upon the
beard of the now yelling bully and continued to rain blow
after blow upon head and face.

Billy Byrne was an interested spectator.  He enjoyed a good
fight as he enjoyed little else; but presently when the first
tramp succeeded in tangling his legs about the legs of his
chastiser and dragging him to the ground, and the second
tramp seized a heavy stick and ran forward to dash the man's
brains out, Billy thought it time to interfere.

Stepping forward he called aloud as he came: "Cut it out,
boes!  You can't pull off any rough stuff like that with this
here sweet singer.  Can it!  Can it!" as the second tramp raised
his stick to strike the now prostrate camper.

As he spoke Billy Byrne broke into a run, and as the stick
fell he reached the man's side and swung a blow to the
tramp's jaw that sent the fellow spinning backward to the
river's brim, where he tottered drunkenly for a moment and
then plunged backward into the shallow water.

Then Billy seized the other attacker by the shoulder and
dragged him to his feet.

"Do you want some, too, you big stiff?" he inquired.

The man spluttered and tried to break away, striking at
Billy as he did so; but a sudden punch, such a punch as Billy
Byrne had once handed the surprised Harlem Hurricane, removed
from the mind of the tramp the last vestige of any
thought he might have harbored to do the newcomer bodily
injury, and with it removed all else from the man's mind,

As the fellow slumped, unconscious, to the ground, the
camper rose to his feet.

"Some wallop you have concealed in your sleeve, my
friend," he said; "place it there!" and he extended a slender,
shapely hand.

Billy took it and shook it.

"It don't get under the ribs like those verses of yours,
though, bo," he returned.

"It seems to have insinuated itself beneath this guy's thick
skull," replied the poetical one, "and it's a cinch my verses,
nor any other would ever get there."

The tramp who had plumbed the depths of the creek's foot
of water and two feet of soft mud was crawling ashore.

"Whadda YOU want now?" inquired Billy Byrne.  "A piece
o' soap?"

"I'll get youse yet," spluttered the moist one through his
watery whiskers.

"Ferget it," admonished Billy, "an' hit the trail."  He pointed
toward the railroad right of way.  "An' you, too, John L," he
added turning to the other victim of his artistic execution, who
was now sitting up.  "Hike!"

Mumbling and growling the two unwashed shuffled away,
and were presently lost to view along the vanishing track.

The solitary camper had returned to his culinary effort, as
unruffled and unconcerned, apparently, as though naught had
occurred to disturb his peaceful solitude.

"Sit down," he said after a moment, looking up at Billy,
"and have a bite to eat with me.  Take that leather easy chair.  
The Louis Quatorze is too small and spindle-legged for comfort."
He waved his hand invitingly toward the sward beside
the fire.

For a moment he was entirely absorbed in the roasting fowl
impaled upon a sharp stick which he held in his right hand.  
Then he presently broke again into verse.

 Around the world and back again; we saw it all.  The mist and rain

  In England and the hot old plain from Needles to Berdoo.
 We kept a-rambling all the time.  I rustled grub, he rustled rhyme--
  Blind-baggage, hoof it, ride or climb--we always put it through.

"You're a good sort," he broke off, suddenly.  "There ain't
many boes that would have done as much for a fellow."

"It was two against one," replied Billy, "an' I don't like
them odds.  Besides I like your poetry.  Where d'ye get it--
make it up?"

"Lord, no," laughed the other.  "If I could do that I wouldn't
be pan-handling.  A guy by the name of Henry Herbert
Knibbs did them.  Great, ain't they?"

"They sure is.  They get me right where I live," and then,
after a pause; "sure you got enough fer two, bo?"

"I have enough for you, old top," replied the host, "even if
I only had half as much as I have.  Here, take first crack at
the ambrosia.  Sorry I have but a single cup; but James has
broken the others.  James is very careless.  Sometimes I almost
feel that I shall have to let him go."

"Who's James?" asked Billy.

"James?  Oh, James is my man," replied the other.

Billy looked up at his companion quizzically, then he tasted
the dark, thick concoction in the tin can.

"This is coffee," he announced.  "I thought you said it was

"I only wished to see if you would recognize it, my friend,"
replied the poetical one politely.  "I am highly complimented
that you can guess what it is from its taste."

For several minutes the two ate in silence, passing the tin
can back and forth, and slicing--hacking would be more
nearly correct--pieces of meat from the half-roasted fowl.  It
was Billy who broke the silence.

"I think," said he, "that you been stringin' me--'bout
James and ambrose."

The other laughed good-naturedly.

"You are not offended, I hope," said he.  "This is a sad old
world, you know, and we're all looking for amusement.  If a
guy has no money to buy it with, he has to manufacture it."

"Sure, I ain't sore," Billy assured him.  "Say, spiel that part
again 'bout Penelope with the kisses on her mouth, an' you
can kid me till the cows come home."

The camper by the creek did as Billy asked him, while the
latter sat with his eyes upon the fire seeing in the sputtering
little flames the oval face of her who was Penelope to him.

When the verse was completed he reached forth his hand
and took the tin can in his strong fingers, raising it before his

"Here's to--to his Knibbs!" he said, and drank, passing the
battered thing over to his new friend.

"Yes," said the other; "here's to his Knibbs, and--

"Drink hearty," returned Billy Byrne.

The poetical one drew a sack of tobacco from his hip
pocket and a rumpled package of papers from the pocket of
his shirt, extending both toward Billy.

"Want the makings?" he asked.

"I ain't stuck on sponging," said Billy; "but maybe I can
get even some day, and I sure do want a smoke.  You see I
was frisked.  I ain't got nothin'--they didn't leave me a sou

Billy reached across one end of the fire for the tobacco and
cigarette papers.  As he did so the movement bared his wrist,
and as the firelight fell upon it the marks of the steel bracelet
showed vividly.  In the fall from the train the metal had bitten
into the flesh.

His companion's eyes happened to fall upon the telltale
mark.  There was an almost imperceptible raising of the man's
eyebrows; but he said nothing to indicate that he had noticed
anything out of the ordinary.

The two smoked on for many minutes without indulging in
conversation.  The camper quoted snatches from Service and
Kipling, then he came back to Knibbs, who was evidently his
favorite.  Billy listened and thought.

"Goin' anywheres in particular?" he asked during a
momentary lull in the recitation.

"Oh, south or west," replied the other.  "Nowhere in
particular--any place suits me just so it isn't north or east."

"That's me," said Billy.

"Let's travel double, then," said the poetical one.  "My
name's Bridge."

"And mine's Billy.  Here, shake," and Byrne extended his

"Until one of us gets wearied of the other's company," said

"You're on," replied Billy.  "Let's turn in."

"Good," exclaimed Bridge.  "I wonder what's keeping
James.  He should have been here long since to turn down my
bed and fix my bath."

Billy grinned and rolled over on his side, his head uphill
and his feet toward the fire.  A couple of feet away Bridge
paralleled him, and in five minutes both were breathing deeply
in healthy slumber.



"'WE KEPT a-rambling all the time.  I rustled grub, he rustled
rhyme,'" quoted Billy Byrne, sitting up and stretching himself.

His companion roused and came to one elbow.  The sun
was topping the scant wood behind them, glinting on the
surface of the little creek.  A robin hopped about the sward
quite close to them, and from the branch of a tree a hundred
yards away came the sweet piping of a song bird.  Farther off
were the distance-subdued noises of an awakening farm.  The
lowing of cows, the crowing of a rooster, the yelping of a
happy dog just released from a night of captivity.

Bridge yawned and stretched.  Billy rose to his feet and
shook himself.

"This is the life," said Bridge.  "Where you going?"

"To rustle grub," replied Billy.  "That's my part o' the

The other laughed.  "Go to it," he said.  "I hate it.  That's the
part that has come nearest making me turn respectable than
any other.  I hate to ask for a hand-out."

Billy shrugged.  He'd done worse things than that in his life,
and off he trudged, whistling.  He felt happier than he had for
many a day.  He never had guessed that the country in the
morning could be so beautiful.

Behind him his companion collected the material for a fire,
washed himself in the creek, and set the tin can, filled with
water, at the edge of the kindling, and waited.  There was
nothing to cook, so it was useless to light the fire.  As he sat
there, thinking, his mind reverted to the red mark upon Billy's
wrist, and he made a wry face.

Billy approached the farmhouse from which the sounds of
awakening still emanated.  The farmer saw him coming, and
ceasing his activities about the barnyard, leaned across a gate
and eyed him, none too hospitably.

"I wanna get something to eat," explained Billy.

"Got any money to pay for it with?" asked the farmer

"No," said Billy; "but me partner an' me are hungry, an'
we gotta eat."

The farmer extended a gnarled forefinger and pointed
toward the rear of the house.  Billy looked in the direction
thus indicated and espied a woodpile.  He grinned good naturedly.

Without a word he crossed to the corded wood, picked up
an ax which was stuck in a chopping block, and, shedding his
coat, went to work.  The farmer resumed his chores.  Half an
hour later he stopped on his way in to breakfast and eyed the
growing pile that lay beside Billy.

"You don't hev to chop all the wood in the county to get a
meal from Jed Watson," he said.

"I wanna get enough for me partner, too," explained Billy.

"Well, yew've chopped enough fer two meals, son," replied
the farmer, and turning toward the kitchen door, he called:
"Here, Maw, fix this boy up with suthin' t'eat--enough fer a
couple of meals fer two on 'em."

As Billy walked away toward his camp, his arms laden with
milk, butter, eggs, a loaf of bread and some cold meat, he
grinned rather contentedly.

"A year or so ago," he mused, "I'd a stuck 'em up fer this,
an' thought I was smart.  Funny how a feller'll change--an' all
fer a skirt.  A skirt that belongs to somebody else now, too.  
Hell! what's the difference, anyhow?  She'd be glad if she
knew, an' it makes me feel better to act like she'd want.  That
old farmer guy, now.  Who'd ever have taken him fer havin' a
heart at all?  Wen I seen him first I thought he'd like to sic
the dog on me, an' there he comes along an' tells 'Maw' to
pass me a hand-out like this!  Gee! it's a funny world.  She used
to say that most everybody was decent if you went at 'em
right, an' I guess she knew.  She knew most everything, anyway.
Lord, I wish she'd been born on Grand Ave., or I on
Riverside Drive!"

As Billy walked up to his waiting companion, who had
touched a match to the firewood as he sighted the numerous
packages in the forager's arms, he was repeating, over and
over, as though the words held him in the thrall of fascination:
"There ain't no sweet Penelope somewhere that's longing
much for me."

Bridge eyed the packages as Billy deposited them carefully
and one at a time upon the grass beside the fire.  The milk was
in a clean little graniteware pail, the eggs had been placed in a
paper bag, while the other articles were wrapped in pieces of

As the opening of each revealed its contents, fresh, clean,
and inviting, Bridge closed one eye and cocked the other up
at Billy.

"Did he die hard?" he inquired.

"Did who die hard?" demanded the other.

"Why the dog, of course."

"He ain't dead as I know of," replied Billy.

"You don't mean to say, my friend, that they let you get
away with all this without sicing the dog on you," said Bridge.

Billy laughed and explained, and the other was relieved--
the red mark around Billy's wrist persisted in remaining
uppermost in Bridge's mind.

When they had eaten they lay back upon the grass and
smoked some more of Bridge's tobacco.

"Well," inquired Bridge, "what's doing now?"

"Let's be hikin'," said Billy.

Bridge rose and stretched.  "'My feet are tired and need a
change.  Come on!  It's up to you!'" he quoted.

Billy gathered together the food they had not yet eaten, and
made two equal-sized packages of it.  He handed one to

"We'll divide the pack," he explained, "and here, drink the
rest o' this milk, I want the pail."

"What are you going to do with the pail?" asked Bridge.

"Return it," said Billy.  "'Maw' just loaned it to me."

Bridge elevated his eyebrows a trifle.  He had been mistaken,
after all.  At the farmhouse the farmer's wife greeted them
kindly, thanked Billy for returning her pail--which, if the
truth were known, she had not expected to see again--and
gave them each a handful of thick, light, golden-brown cookies,
the tops of which were encrusted with sugar.

As they walked away Bridge sighed.  "Nothing on earth like
a good woman," he said.

"'Maw,' or 'Penelope'?" asked Billy.

"Either, or both," replied Bridge.  "I have no Penelope, but
I did have a mighty fine 'maw'."

Billy made no reply.  He was thinking of the slovenly,
blear-eyed woman who had brought him into the world.  The
memory was far from pleasant.  He tried to shake it off.

"'Bridge,'" he said, quite suddenly, and apropos of nothing,
in an effort to change the subject.  "That's an odd name.  
I've heard of Bridges and Bridger; but I never heard Bridge

"Just a name a fellow gave me once up on the Yukon,"
explained Bridge.  "I used to use a few words he'd never heard
before, so he called me 'The Unabridged,' which was too long.  
The fellows shortened it to 'Bridge' and it stuck.  It has always
stuck, and now I haven't any other.  I even think of myself,
now, as Bridge.  Funny, ain't it?"

"Yes," agreed Billy, and that was the end of it.  He never
thought of asking his companion's true name, any more than
Bridge would have questioned him as to his, or of his past.  
The ethics of the roadside fire and the empty tomato tin do
not countenance such impertinences.

For several days the two continued their leisurely way
toward Kansas City.  Once they rode a few miles on a freight
train, but for the most part they were content to plod joyously
along the dusty highways.  Billy continued to "rustle grub,"
while Bridge relieved the monotony by an occasional burst of

"You know so much of that stuff," said Billy as they were
smoking by their camp fire one evening, "that I'd think you'd
be able to make some up yourself."

"I've tried," admitted Bridge; "but there always seems to be
something lacking in my stuff--it don't get under your belt--
the divine afflatus is not there.  I may start out all right, but I
always end up where I didn't expect to go, and where nobody
wants to be."

"'Member any of it?" asked Billy.

"There was one I wrote about a lake where I camped
once," said Bridge, reminiscently; "but I can only recall one

"Let's have it," urged Billy.  "I bet it has Knibbs hangin' to
the ropes."

Bridge cleared his throat, and recited:

 Silver are the ripples,
 Solemn are the dunes,
 Happy are the fishes,
 For they are full of prunes.

He looked up at Billy, a smile twitching at the corners of
his mouth.  "How's that?" he asked.

Billy scratched his head.

"It's all right but the last line," said Billy, candidly.  "There
is something wrong with that last line."

"Yes," agreed Bridge, "there is."

"I guess Knibbs is safe for another round at least," said

Bridge was eying his companion, noting the broad shoulders,
the deep chest, the mighty forearm and biceps which the
other's light cotton shirt could not conceal.

"It is none of my business," he said presently; "but from
your general appearance, from bits of idiom you occasionally
drop, and from the way you handled those two boes the night
we met I should rather surmise that at some time or other you
had been less than a thousand miles from the w.k. roped

"I seen a prize fight once," admitted Billy.

It was the day before they were due to arrive in Kansas
City that Billy earned a hand-out from a restaurant keeper in
a small town by doing some odd jobs for the man.  The food
he gave Billy was wrapped in an old copy of the Kansas City
Star.  When Billy reached camp he tossed the package to
Bridge, who, in addition to his honorable post as poet laureate,
was also cook.  Then Billy walked down to the stream,
near-by, that he might wash away the grime and sweat of
honest toil from his hands and face.

As Bridge unwrapped the package and the paper unfolded
beneath his eyes an article caught his attention--just casually
at first; but presently to the exclusion of all else.  As he read
his eyebrows alternated between a position of considerable
elevation to that of a deep frown.  Occasionally he nodded
knowingly.  Finally he glanced up at Billy who was just rising from
his ablutions.  Hastily Bridge tore from the paper the article
that had attracted his interest, folded it, and stuffed it into one
of his pockets--he had not had time to finish the reading and
he wanted to save the article for a later opportunity for
careful perusal.

That evening Bridge sat for a long time scrutinizing Billy
through half-closed lids, and often he found his eyes wandering
to the red ring about the other's wrist; but whatever may
have been within his thoughts he kept to himself.

It was noon when the two sauntered into Kansas City.  Billy
had a dollar in his pocket--a whole dollar.  He had earned it
assisting an automobilist out of a ditch.

"We'll have a swell feed," he had confided to Bridge, "an'
sleep in a bed just to learn how much nicer it is sleepin' out
under the black sky and the shiny little stars."

"You're a profligate, Billy," said Bridge.

"I dunno what that means," said Billy; "but if it's something
I shoudn't be I probably am."

The two went to a rooming-house of which Bridge knew,
where they could get a clean room with a double bed for fifty
cents.  It was rather a high price to pay, of course, but Bridge
was more or less fastidious, and he admitted to Billy that he'd
rather sleep in the clean dirt of the roadside than in the breed
of dirt one finds in an unclean bed.

At the end of the hall was a washroom, and toward this
Bridge made his way, after removing his coat and throwing it
across the foot of the bed.  After he had left the room Billy
chanced to notice a folded bit of newspaper on the floor
beneath Bridge's coat.  He picked it up to lay it on the little
table which answered the purpose of a dresser when a single
word caught his attention.  It was a name: Schneider.

Billy unfolded the clipping and as his eyes took in the
heading a strange expression entered them--a hard, cold
gleam such as had not touched them since the day that he
abandoned the deputy sheriff in the woods midway between
Chicago and Joliet.

This is what Billy read:

Billy Byrne, sentenced to life imprisonment in Joliet
penitentiary for the murder of Schneider, the old West Side saloon
keeper, hurled himself from the train that was bearing him to
Joliet yesterday, dragging with him the deputy sheriff to whom
he was handcuffed.

The deputy was found a few hours later bound and
gagged, lying in the woods along the Santa Fe, not far from
Lemont.  He was uninjured.  He says that Byrne got a good
start, and doubtless took advantage of it to return to Chicago,
where a man of his stamp could find more numerous and
safer retreats than elsewhere.

There was much more--a detailed account of the crime for
the commission of which Billy had been sentenced, a full and
complete description of Billy, a record of his long years of
transgression, and, at last, the mention of a five-hundred-dollar
reward that the authorities had offered for information
that would lead to his arrest.

When Billy had concluded the reading he refolded the
paper and placed it in a pocket of the coat hanging upon the
foot of the bed.  A moment later Bridge entered the room.  
Billy caught himself looking often at his companion, and
always there came to his mind the termination of the article he
had found in Bridge's pocket--the mention of the five-hundred-dollar

"Five hundred dollars," thought Billy, "is a lot o' coin.  I
just wonder now," and he let his eyes wander to his companion
as though he might read upon his face the purpose which
lay in the man's heart.  "He don't look it; but five hundred
dollars is a lot o' coin--fer a bo, and wotinell did he have
that article hid in his clothes fer?  That's wot I'd like to know.  
I guess it's up to me to blow."

All the recently acquired content which had been Billy's
since he had come upon the poetic Bridge and the two had
made their carefree, leisurely way along shaded country roadsides,
or paused beside cool brooklets that meandered lazily
through sweet-smelling meadows, was dissipated in the instant
that he had realized the nature of the article his companion
had been carrying and hiding from him.

For days no thought of pursuit or capture had arisen to
perplex him.  He had seemed such a tiny thing out there
amidst the vastness of rolling hills, of woods, and plain that
there had been induced within him an unconscious assurance
that no one could find him even though they might seek for

The idea of meeting a plain clothes man from detective
headquarters around the next bend of a peaceful Missouri
road was so preposterous and incongruous that Billy had
found it impossible to give the matter serious thought.

He never before had been in the country districts of his
native land.  To him the United States was all like Chicago or
New York or Milwaukee, the three cities with which he was
most familiar.  His experience of unurban localities had been
gained amidst the primeval jungles of far-away Yoka.  There
had been no detective sergeants there--unquestionably there
could be none here.  Detective sergeants were indigenous to
the soil that grew corner saloons and poolrooms, and to none
other--as well expect to discover one of Oda Yorimoto's
samurai hiding behind a fire plug on Michigan Boulevard, as
to look for one of those others along a farm-bordered road.

But here in Kansas City, amidst the noises and odors that
meant a large city, it was different.  Here the next man he met
might be looking for him, or if not then the very first
policeman they encountered could arrest him upon a word
from Bridge--and Bridge would get five hundred dollars.
Just then Bridge burst forth into poetry:

 In a flannel shirt from earth's clean dirt,
   Here, pal, is my calloused hand!
 Oh, I love each day as a rover may,
   Nor seek to understand.
 To enjoy is good enough for me;
   The gypsy of God am I.
 Then here's a hail to--

"Say," he interrupted himself; "what's the matter with going
out now and wrapping ourselves around that swell feed you
were speaking of?"

Billy rose.  It didn't seem possible that Bridge could be
going to double-cross him.

 In a flannel shirt from earth's clean dirt,
   Here, pal, is my calloused hand!

Billy repeated the lines half aloud.  They renewed his
confidence in Bridge, somehow.

"Like them?" asked the latter.

"Yes," said Billy; "s'more of Knibbs?"

"No, Service.  Come on, let's go and dine.  How about the
Midland?" and he grinned at his little joke as he led the way
toward the street.

It was late afternoon.  The sun already had set; but it still
was too light for lamps.  Bridge led the way toward a certain
eating-place of which he knew where a man might dine
well and from a clean platter for two bits.  Billy had been
keeping his eyes open for detectives.  They had passed
no uniformed police--that would be the crucial test, thought
he--unless Bridge intended tipping off headquarters on the
quiet and having the pinch made at night after Billy had gone
to bed.

As they reached the little restaurant, which was in a
basement, Bridge motioned Billy down ahead of him.  Just for an
instant he, himself, paused at the head of the stairs and looked
about.  As he did so a man stepped from the shadow of a
doorway upon the opposite side of the street.

If Bridge saw him he apparently gave no sign, for he turned
slowly and with deliberate steps followed Billy down into the



AS THEY entered the place Billy, who was ahead, sought a
table; but as he was about to hang up his cap and seat
himself Bridge touched his elbow.

"Let's go to the washroom and clean up a bit," he said, in
a voice that might be heard by those nearest.

"Why, we just washed before we left our room," expostulated Billy.

"Shut up and follow me," Bridge whispered into his ear.

Immediately Billy was all suspicion.  His hand flew to the
pocket in which the gun of the deputy sheriff still rested.  They
would never take him alive, of that Billy was positive.  He
wouldn't go back to life imprisonment, not after he had tasted
the sweet freedom of the wide spaces--such a freedom as the
trammeled city cannot offer.

Bridge saw the movement.

"Cut it," he whispered, "and follow me, as I tell you.  I just
saw a Chicago dick across the street.  He may not have seen
you, but it looked almighty like it.  He'll be down here in
about two seconds now.  Come on--we'll beat it through the
rear--I know the way."

Billy Byrne heaved a great sigh of relief.  Suddenly he was
almost reconciled to the thought of capture, for in the instant
he had realized that it had not been so much his freedom that
he had dreaded to lose as his faith in the companion in whom he
had believed.

Without sign of haste the two walked the length of the
room and disappeared through the doorway leading into the
washroom.  Before them was a window opening upon a squalid
back yard.  The building stood upon a hillside, so that while
the entrance to the eating-place was below the level of the
street in front, its rear was flush with the ground.

Bridge motioned Billy to climb through the window while
he shot the bolt upon the inside of the door leading back into
the restaurant.  A moment later he followed the fugitive, and
then took the lead.

Down narrow, dirty alleys, and through litter-piled back
yards he made his way, while Billy followed at his heels.  Dusk
was gathering, and before they had gone far darkness came.

They neither paused nor spoke until they had left the
business portion of the city behind and were well out of the
zone of bright lights.  Bridge was the first to break the silence.

"I suppose you wonder how I knew," he said.

"No," replied Billy.  "I seen that clipping you got in your
pocket--it fell out on the floor when you took your coat off
in the room this afternoon to go and wash."

"Oh," said Bridge, "I see.  Well, as far as I'm concerned
that's the end of it--we won't mention it again, old man.  I
don't need to tell you that I'm for you."

"No, not after tonight," Billy assured him.

They went on again for some little time without speaking,
then Billy said:

"I got two things to tell you.  The first is that after I seen
that newspaper article in your clothes I thought you was
figurin' on double-crossin' me an' claimin' the five hun.  I
ought to of known better.  The other is that I didn't kill
Schneider.  I wasn't near his place that night--an' that's straight."

"I'm glad you told me both," said Bridge.  "I think we'll
understand each other better after this--we're each runnin'
away from something.  We'll run together, eh?" and he extended his
hand.  "In flannel shirt from earth's clean dirt, here, pal,
is my calloused hand!" he quoted, laughing.

Billy took the other's hand.  He noticed that Bridge hadn't
said what HE was running away from.  Billy wondered; but
asked no questions.

South they went after they had left the city behind, out into
the sweet and silent darkness of the country.  During the night
they crossed the line into Kansas, and morning found them in
a beautiful, hilly country to which all thoughts of cities, crime,
and police seemed so utterly foreign that Billy could scarce
believe that only a few hours before a Chicago detective had
been less than a hundred feet from him.

The new sun burst upon them as they topped a grassy hill.  
The dew-bespangled blades scintillated beneath the gorgeous
rays which would presently sweep them away again into the
nothingness from which they had sprung.

Bridge halted and stretched himself.  He threw his head back
and let the warm sun beat down upon his bronzed face.

 There's sunshine in the heart of me,
 My blood sings in the breeze;
 The mountains are a part of me,
 I'm fellow to the trees.
 My golden youth I'm squandering,
 Sun-libertine am I,
 A-wandering, a-wandering,
 Until the day I die.

And then he stood for minutes drinking in deep breaths of
the pure, sweet air of the new day.  Beside him, a head taller,
savagely strong, stood Billy Byrne, his broad shoulders
squared, his great chest expanding as he inhaled.

"It's great, ain't it?" he said, at last.  "I never knew the
country was like this, an' I don't know that I ever would have
known it if it hadn't been for those poet guys you're always

"I always had an idea they was sissy fellows," he went on;
"but a guy can't be a sissy an' think the thoughts they musta
thought to write stuff that sends the blood chasin' through a
feller like he'd had a drink on an empty stomach.

"I used to think everybody was a sissy who wasn't a tough
guy.  I was a tough guy all right, an' I was mighty proud of it.  
I ain't any more an' haven't been for a long time; but before I
took a tumble to myself I'd have hated you, Bridge.  I'd a-hated
your fine talk, an' your poetry, an' the thing about you
that makes you hate to touch a guy for a hand-out.

"I'd a-hated myself if I'd thought that I could ever talk
mushy like I am now.  Gee, Bridge, but I was the limit!  A
girl--a nice girl--called me a mucker once, an' a coward.  I
was both; but I had the reputation of bein' the toughest guy
on the West Side, an' I thought I was a man.  I nearly poked
her face for her--think of it, Bridge!  I nearly did; but something
stopped me--something held my hand from it, an' lately
I've liked to think that maybe what stopped me was something
in me that had always been there--something decent
that was really a part of me.  I hate to think that I was such a
beast at heart as I acted like all my life up to that minute.  I
began to change then.  It was mighty slow, an' I'm still a
roughneck; but I'm gettin' on.  She helped me most, of course,
an' now you're helpin' me a lot, too--you an' your poetry
stuff.  If some dick don't get me I may get to be a human
bein' before I die."

Bridge laughed.

"It IS odd," he said, "how our viewpoints change with
changed environment and the passing of the years.  Time was,
Billy, when I'd have hated you as much as you would have
hated me.  I don't know that I should have said hate, for that
is not exactly the word.  It was more contempt that I felt for
men whom I considered as not belonging upon that intellectual
or social plane to which I considered I had been born.

"I thought of people who moved outside my limited sphere
as 'the great unwashed.' I pitied them, and I honestly believe
now that in the bottom of my heart I considered them of
different clay than I, and with souls, if they possessed such
things, about on a par with the souls of sheep and cows.

"I couldn't have seen the man in you, Billy, then, any more
than you could have seen the man in me.  I have learned much
since then, though I still stick to a part of my original articles
of faith--I do believe that all men are not equal; and I know
that there are a great many more with whom I would not pal
than there are those with whom I would.

"Because one man speaks better English than another, or
has read more and remembers it, only makes him a better
man in that particular respect.  I think none the less of you
because you can't quote Browning or Shakespeare--the thing
that counts is that you can appreciate, as I do, Service and
Kipling and Knibbs.

"Now maybe we are both wrong--maybe Knibbs and
Kipling and Service didn't write poetry, and some people will
say as much; but whatever it is it gets you and me in the same
way, and so in this respect we are equals.  Which being the
case let's see if we can't rustle some grub, and then find a nice
soft spot whereon to pound our respective ears."

Billy, deciding that he was too sleepy to work for food,
invested half of the capital that was to have furnished the
swell feed the night before in what two bits would purchase
from a generous housewife on a near-by farm, and then,
stretching themselves beneath the shade of a tree sufficiently
far from the road that they might not attract unnecessary
observation, they slept until after noon.

But their precaution failed to serve their purpose entirely.  A
little before noon two filthy, bearded knights of the road
clambered laboriously over the fence and headed directly for
the very tree under which Billy and Bridge lay sleeping.  In the
minds of the two was the same thought that had induced
Billy Byrne and the poetic Bridge to seek this same secluded

There was in the stiff shuffle of the men something rather
familiar.  We have seen them before--just for a few minutes it
is true; but under circumstances that impressed some of their
characteristics upon us.  The very last we saw of them they
were shuffling away in the darkness along a railroad track,
after promising that eventually they would wreak dire vengeance
upon Billy, who had just trounced them.

Now as they came unexpectedly upon the two sleepers they
did not immediately recognize in them the objects of their
recent hate.  They just stood looking stupidly down on them,
wondering in what way they might turn their discovery to
their own advantage.

Nothing in the raiment either of Billy or Bridge indicated
that here was any particularly rich field for loot, and, too, the
athletic figure of Byrne would rather have discouraged any
attempt to roll him without first handing him the "k.o.", as
the two would have naively put it.

But as they gazed down upon the features of the sleepers
the eyes of one of the tramps narrowed to two ugly slits while
those of his companion went wide in incredulity and surprise.

"Do youse know dem guys?" asked the first, and without
waiting for a reply he went on: "Dem's de guys dat beat us
up back dere de udder side o' K. C. Do youse get 'em?"

"Sure?" asked the other.

"Sure, I'd know dem in a t'ous'n'.  Le's hand 'em a couple
an' beat it," and he stooped to pick up a large stone that lay
near at hand.

"Cut it!" whispered the second tramp.  "Youse don't know
dem guys at all.  Dey may be de guys dat beats us up; but dat
big stiff dere is more dan dat.  He's wanted in Chi, an' dere's
half a t'ou on 'im."

"Who put youse jerry to all dat?" inquired the first tramp,

"I was in de still wit 'im--he croaked some guy.  He's a
lifer.  On de way to de pen he pushes dis dick off'n de rattler
an' makes his get-away.  Dat peter-boy we meets at Quincy
slips me an earful about him.  Here's w'ere we draws down de
five hundred if we're cagey."

"Whaddaya mean, cagey?"

"Why we leaves 'em alone an' goes to de nex' farm an' calls
up K. C. an' tips off de dicks, see?"

"Youse don't tink we'll get any o' dat five hun, do youse,
wit de dicks in on it?"

The other scratched his head.

"No," he said, rather dubiously, after a moment's deep
thought; "dey don't nobody get nothin' dat de dicks see first;
but we'll get even with dese blokes, annyway."

"Maybe dey'll pass us a couple bucks," said the other
hopefully.  "Dey'd orter do dat much."

Detective Sergeant Flannagan of Headquarters, Chicago,
slouched in a chair in the private office of the chief of
detectives of Kansas City, Missouri.  Sergeant Flannagan was
sore.  He would have said as much himself.  He had been sent
west to identify a suspect whom the Kansas City authorities
had arrested; but had been unable to do so, and had been
preparing to return to his home city when the brilliant aureola
of an unusual piece of excellent fortune had shone upon him
for a moment, and then faded away through the grimy entrance
of a basement eating-place.

He had been walking along the street the previous evening
thinking of nothing in particular; but with eyes and ears alert
as becomes a successful police officer, when he had espied two
men approaching upon the opposite sidewalk.

There was something familiar in the swing of the giant
frame of one of the men.  So, true to years of training,
Sergeant Flannagan melted into the shadows of a store entrance
and waited until the two should have come closer.

They were directly opposite him when the truth flashed
upon him--the big fellow was Billy Byrne, and there was a
five-hundred-dollar reward out for him.

And then the two turned and disappeared down the stairway
that led to the underground restaurant.  Sergeant Flannagan
saw Byrne's companion turn and look back just as
Flannagan stepped from the doorway to cross the street after

That was the last Sergeant Flannagan had seen either of
Billy Byrne or his companion.  The trail had ceased at the
open window of the washroom at the rear of the restaurant,
and search as he would he had been unable to pick it up

No one in Kansas City had seen two men that night
answering the descriptions Flannagan had been able to give--
at least no one whom Flannagan could unearth.

Finally he had been forced to take the Kansas City chief
into his confidence, and already a dozen men were scouring
such sections of Kansas City in which it seemed most likely an
escaped murderer would choose to hide.

Flannagan had been out himself for a while; but now he
was in to learn what progress, if any, had been made.  He had
just learned that three suspects had been arrested and was
waiting to have them paraded before him.

When the door swung in and the three were escorted into
his presence Sergeant Flannagan gave a snort of disgust,
indicative probably not only of despair; but in a manner
registering his private opinion of the mental horse power and
efficiency of the Kansas City sleuths, for of the three one was
a pasty-faced, chestless youth, even then under the influence of
cocaine, another was an old, bewhiskered hobo, while the
third was unquestionably a Chinaman.

Even professional courtesy could scarce restrain Sergeant
Flannagan's desire toward bitter sarcasm, and he was upon
the point of launching forth into a vitriolic arraignment of
everything west of Chicago up to and including, specifically,
the Kansas City detective bureau, when the telephone bell at
the chief's desk interrupted him.  He had wanted the chief to
hear just what he thought, so he waited.

The chief listened for a few minutes, asked several questions
and then, placing a fat hand over the transmitter, he wheeled
about toward Flannagan.

"Well," he said, "I guess I got something for you at last.  
There's a bo on the wire that says he's just seen your man
down near Shawnee.  He wants to know if you'll split the
reward with him."

Flannagan yawned and stretched.

"I suppose," he said, ironically, "that if I go down there I'll
find he's corraled a nigger," and he looked sorrowfully at the
three specimens before him.

"I dunno," said the chief.  "This guy says he knows Byrne
well, an' that he's got it in for him.  Shall I tell him you'll be
down--and split the reward?"

"Tell him I'll be down and that I'll treat him right," replied
Flannagan, and after the chief had transmitted the message,
and hung up the receiver: "Where is this here Shawnee,

"I'll send a couple of men along with you.  It isn't far across
the line, an' there won't be no trouble in getting back without
nobody knowin' anything about it--if you get him."

"All right," said Flannagan, his visions of five hundred
already dwindled to a possible one.

It was but a little past one o'clock that a touring car rolled
south out of Kansas City with Detective Sergeant Flannagan
in the front seat with the driver and two burly representatives
of Missouri law in the back.



WHEN the two tramps approached the farmhouse at which
Billy had purchased food a few hours before the farmer's wife
called the dog that was asleep in the summer kitchen and took
a shotgun down from its hook beside the door.

From long experience the lady was a reader of character--
of hobo character at least--and she saw nothing in the
appearance of either of these two that inspired even a modicum
of confidence.  Now the young fellow who had been there
earlier in the day and who, wonder of wonders, had actually
paid for the food she gave him, had been of a different stamp.  
His clothing had proclaimed him a tramp, but, thanks to the
razor Bridge always carried, he was clean shaven.  His year of
total abstinence bad given him clear eyes and a healthy skin.  
There was a freshness and vigor in his appearance and carriage
that inspired confidence rather than suspicion.

She had not mistrusted him; but these others she did
mistrust.  When they asked to use the telephone she refused
and ordered them away, thinking it but an excuse to enter the
house; but they argued the matter, explaining that they had
discovered an escaped murderer hiding near--by--in fact in her
own meadow--and that they wished only to call up the
Kansas City police.

Finally she yielded, but kept the dog by her side and the
shotgun in her hand while the two entered the room and
crossed to the telephone upon the opposite side.

From the conversation which she overheard the woman
concluded that, after all, she had been mistaken, not only
about these two, but about the young man who had come
earlier in the day and purchased food from her, for the
description the tramp gave of the fugitive tallied exactly with
that of the young man.

It seemed incredible that so honest looking a man could be
a murderer.  The good woman was shocked, and not a little
unstrung by the thought that she had been in the house alone
when he had come and that if he had wished to he could
easily have murdered her.

"I hope they get him," she said, when the tramp had
concluded his talk with Kansas City.  "It's awful the carryings
on they is nowadays.  Why a body can't never tell who to
trust, and I thought him such a nice young man.  And he paid
me for what he got, too."

The dog, bored by the inaction, had wandered back into
the summer kitchen and resumed his broken slumber.  One of
the tramps was leaning against the wall talking with the
farmer woman.  The other was busily engaged in scratching his
right shin with what remained of the heel of his left shoe.  He
supported himself with one hand on a small table upon the
top of which was a family Bible.

Quite unexpectedly he lost his balance, the table tipped, he
was thrown still farther over toward it, and all in the flash of
an eye tramp, table, and family Bible crashed to the floor.

With a little cry of alarm the woman rushed forward to
gather up the Holy Book, in her haste forgetting the shotgun
and leaving it behind her leaning against the arm of a chair.

Almost simultaneously the two tramps saw the real cause of
her perturbation.  The large book had fallen upon its back,
open; and as several of the leaves turned over before coming
to rest their eyes went wide at what was revealed between.

United States currency in denominations of five, ten, and
twenty-dollar bills lay snugly inserted between the leaves of the
Bible.  The tramp who lay on the floor, as yet too surprised to
attempt to rise, rolled over and seized the book as a football
player seizes the pigskin after a fumble, covering it with his
body, his arms, and sticking out his elbows as a further
protection to the invaluable thing.

At the first cry of the woman the dog rose, growling, and
bounded into the room.  The tramp leaning against the wall
saw the brute coming--a mongrel hound-dog, bristling and

The shotgun stood almost within the man's reach--a step
and it was in his hands.  As though sensing the fellow's
intentions the dog wheeled from the tramp upon the floor,
toward whom he had leaped, and sprang for the other ragged

The muzzle of the gun met him halfway.  There was a
deafening roar.  The dog collapsed to the floor, his chest torn
out.  Now the woman began to scream for help; but in an
instant both the tramps were upon her choking her to silence.

One of them ran to the summer kitchen, returning a moment
later with a piece of clothesline, while the other sat
astride the victim, his fingers closed about her throat.  Once he
released his hold and she screamed again.  Presently she was
secured and gagged.  Then the two commenced to rifle the

Eleven hundred dollars in bills were hidden there, because
the woman and her husband didn't believe in banks--the
savings of a lifetime.  In agony, as she regained consciousness,
she saw the last of their little hoard transferred to the pockets
of the tramps, and when they had finished they demanded to
know where she kept the rest, loosening her gag that she
might reply.

She told them that that was all the money she had in the
world, and begged them not to take it.

"Youse've got more coin dan dis," growled one of the men,
"an' youse had better pass it over, or we'll find a way to
make youse."

But still she insisted that that was all.  The tramp stepped
into the kitchen.  A wood fire was burning in the stove.  A pair
of pliers lay upon the window sill.  With these he lifted one of
the hot stove-hole covers and returned to the parlor, grinning.

"I guess she'll remember she's got more wen dis begins to
woik," he said.  "Take off her shoes, Dink."

The other growled an objection.

"Yeh poor boob," he said.  "De dicks'll be here in a little
while.  We'd better be makin' our get-away wid w'at we got."

"Gee!" exclaimed his companion.  "I clean forgot all about
de dicks," and then after a moment's silence during which his
evil face underwent various changes of expression from fear to
final relief, he turned an ugly, crooked grimace upon his

"We got to croak her," he said.  "Dey ain't no udder way.  
If dey finds her alive she'll blab sure, an' dey won't be no
trouble 'bout gettin' us or identifyin' us neither."

The other shrugged.

"Le's beat it," he whined.  "We can't more'n do time fer dis
job if we stop now; but de udder'll mean--" and he made a
suggestive circle with a grimy finger close to his neck.

"No it won't nothin' of de kind," urged his companion.  "I
got it all doped out.  We got lots o' time before de dicks are
due.  We'll croak de skirt, an' den we'll beat it up de road AN'

The other was aghast.

"Wen did youse go nuts?" he asked.

"I ain't gone nuts.  Wait 'til I gets t'rough.  We meets de
dicks, innocent-like; but first we caches de dough in de
woods.  We tells 'em we hurried right on to lead 'em to dis
Byrne guy, an' wen we gets back here to de farmhouse an'
finds wot's happened here we'll be as flabbergasted as dey be."

"Oh, nuts!" exclaimed the other disgustedly.  "Youse don't
tink youse can put dat over on any wise guy from Chi, do
youse?  Who will dey tink croaked de old woman an' de ki-yi?
Will dey tink dey kilt deyreselves?"

"Dey'll tink Byrne an' his pardner croaked 'em, you simp,"
replied Crumb.

Dink scratched his head, and as the possibilities of the
scheme filtered into his dull brain a broad grin bared his
yellow teeth.

"You're dere, pal," he exclaimed, real admiration in his
tone.  "But who's goin' to do it?"

"I'll do it," said Crumb.  "Dere ain't no chanct of gettin' in
bad for it, so I jest as soon do the job.  Get me a knife, or an
ax from de kitchen--de gat makes too much noise."

Something awoke Billy Byrne with a start.  Faintly, in the
back of his consciousness, the dim suggestion of a loud noise
still reverberated.  He sat up and looked about him.

"I wonder what that was?" he mused.  "It sounded like the
report of a gun."

Bridge awoke about the same time, and turned lazily over,
raising himself upon an elbow.  He grinned at Billy.

"Good morning," he said, and then:

 Says I, "Then let's be on the float.  You certainly have got my goat;
 You make me hungry in my throat for seeing things that's new.
 Out there somewhere we'll ride the range a-looking for the new and strange;
 My feet are tired and need a change.  Come on!  It's up to you!"

"Come on, then," agreed Billy, coming to his feet.

As he rose there came, faintly, but distinct, the unmistakable
scream of a frightened woman.  From the direction of
the farmhouse it came--from the farmhouse at which Billy
had purchased their breakfast.

Without waiting for a repetition of the cry Billy wheeled
and broke into a rapid run in the direction of the little cluster
of buildings.  Bridge leaped to his feet and followed him,
dropping behind though, for he had not had the road work
that Billy recently had been through in his training for the
battle in which he had defeated the "white hope" that time in
New York when Professor Cassidy had wagered his entire pile
upon him, nor in vain.

Dink searched about the summer kitchen for an ax or
hatchet; but failing to find either rummaged through a table
drawer until he came upon a large carving knife.  This would
do the job nicely.  He thumbed the edge as he carried it back
into the parlor to Crumb.

The poor woman, lying upon the floor, was quite conscious.
Her eyes were wide and rolling in horror.  She struggled
with her bonds, and tried to force the gag from her mouth
with her tongue; but her every effort was useless.  She had
heard every word that had passed between the two men.  She
knew that they would carry out the plan they had formulated
and that there was no chance that they would be interrupted
in their gruesome work, for her husband had driven over to a
farm beyond Holliday, leaving before sunrise, and there was
little prospect that he would return before milking time in the
evening.  The detectives from Kansas City could not possibly
reach the farm until far too late to save her.

She saw Dink return from the summer kitchen with the
long knife.  She recalled the day she had bought that knife in
town, and the various uses to which she had put it.  That very
morning she had sliced some bacon with it.  How distinctly
such little things recurred to her at this frightful moment.  And
now the hideous creature standing beside her was going to use
it to cut her throat.

She saw Crumb take the knife and feel of the blade,
running his thumb along it.  She saw him stoop, his eyes
turned down upon hers.  He grasped her chin and forced it
upward and back, the better to expose her throat.

Oh, why could she not faint?  Why must she suffer all these
hideous preliminaries?  Why could she not even close her eyes?

Crumb raised the knife and held the blade close above her
bared neck.  A shudder ran through her, and then the door
crashed open and a man sprang into the room.  It was Billy
Byrne.  Through the window he had seen what was passing in
the interior.

His hand fell upon Crumb's collar and jerked him backward
from his prey.  Dink seized the shotgun and turned it
upon the intruder; but he was too close.  Billy grasped the
barrel of the weapon and threw the muzzle up toward the
ceiling as the tramp pulled the trigger.  Then he wrenched it
from the man's hands, swung it once above his head and
crashed the stock down upon Dink's skull.

Dink went down and out for the count--for several counts,
in fact.  Crumb stumbled to his feet and made a break for the
door.  In the doorway he ran full into Bridge, winded, but
ready.  The latter realizing that the matted one was attempting
to escape, seized a handful of his tangled beard, and, as he
had done upon another occasion, held the tramp's head in
rigid position while he planted a series of blows in the fellow's
face--blows that left Crumb as completely out of battle as
was his mildewed comrade.

"Watch 'em," said Billy, handing Bridge the shotgun.  Then
he turned his attention to the woman.  With the carving knife
that was to have ended her life he cut her bonds.  Removing
the gag from her mouth he lifted her in his strong arms and
carried her to the little horsehair sofa that stood in one corner
of the parlor, laying her upon it very gently.

He was thinking of "Maw" Watson.  This woman resembled
her just a little--particularly in her comfortable, motherly
expansiveness, and she had had a kind word and a cheery
good-bye for him that morning as he had departed.

The woman lay upon the sofa, breathing hard, and moaning
just a little.  The shock had been almost too much even for
her stolid nerves.  Presently she turned her eyes toward Billy.

"You are a good boy," she said, "and you come just in the
nick o' time.  They got all my money.  It's in their clothes," and
then a look of terror overspread her face.  For the moment she
had forgotten what she had heard about this man--that he
was an escaped convict--a convicted murderer.  Was she any
better off now that she had let him know about the money
than she was with the others after they discovered it?

At her words Bridge kneeled and searched the two tramps.  
He counted the bills as he removed them from their pockets.

"Eleven hundred?" he asked, and handed the money to

"Eleven hundred, yes," breathed the woman, faintly, her
eyes horror-filled and fearful as she gazed upon Billy's face.
She didn't care for the money any more--they could have it
all if they would only let her live.

Billy turned toward her and held the rumpled green mass

"Here," he said; "but that's an awful lot o' coin for a
woman to have about de house--an' her all alone.  You ought
not to a-done it."

She took the money in trembling fingers.  It seemed incredible
that the man was returning it to her.

"But I knew it," she said finally.

"Knew what?" asked Billy.

"I knew you was a good boy.  They said you was a

Billy's brows contracted, and an expression of pain crossed
his face.

"How did they come to say that?" he asked.

"I heard them telephonin' to Kansas City to the police," she
replied, and then she sat bolt upright.  "The detectives are on
their way here now," she almost screamed, "and even if you
ARE a murderer I don't care.  I won't stand by and see 'em get
you after what you have done for me.  I don't believe you're a
murderer anyhow.  You're a good boy.  My boy would be
about as old and as big as you by now--if he lives.  He ran
away a long time ago--maybe you've met him.  His name's
Eddie--Eddie Shorter.  I ain't heard from him fer years.

"No," she went on, "I don't believe what they said--you
got too good a face; but if you are a murderer you get out
now before they come an' I'll send 'em on a wild-goose chase
in the wrong direction."

"But these," said Billy.  "We can't leave these here."

"Tie 'em up and give me the shotgun," she said.  "I'll bet
they don't come any more funny business on me."  She had
regained both her composure and her nerve by this time.

Together Billy and Bridge trussed up the two tramps.  An
elephant couldn't have forced the bonds they placed upon
them.  Then they carried them down cellar and when they had
come up again Mrs. Shorter barred the cellar door.

"I reckon they won't get out of there very fast," she said.  
"And now you two boys run along.  Got any money?" and
without waiting for a reply she counted twenty-five dollars
from the roll she had tucked in the front of her waist and
handed them to Billy.

"Nothin' doin'," said he; "but t'anks just the same."

"You got to take it," she insisted.  "Let me make believe I'm
givin' it to my boy, Eddie--please," and the tears that came
to her eyes proved far more effective than her generous words.

"Aw, all right," said Billy.  "I'll take it an' pass it along to
Eddie if I ever meet him, eh?"

"Now please hurry," she urged. "I don't want you to be
caught--even if you are a murderer.  I wish you weren't

"I'm not," said Billy; "but de law says I am an' what de
law says, goes."

He turned toward the doorway with Bridge, calling a goodbye
to the woman, but as he stepped out upon the veranda the
dust of a fast-moving automobile appeared about a bend in
the road a half-mile from the house.

"Too late," he said, turning to Bridge.  "Here they come!"

The woman brushed by them and peered up the road.

"Yes," she said, "it must be them.  Lordy!  What'll we do?"

"I'll duck out the back way, that's what I'll do," said Billy.

"It wouldn't do a mite of good," said Mrs. Shorter, with a
shake of her head.  "They'll telephone every farmer within
twenty mile of here in every direction, an' they'll get you sure.  
Wait!  I got a scheme.  Come with me," and she turned and
bustled through the little parlor, out of a doorway into something
that was half hall and half storeroom.  There was a
flight of stairs leading to the upper story, and she waddled up
them as fast as her legs would carry her, motioning the two
men to follow her.

In a rear room was a trapdoor in the ceiling.

"Drag that commode under this," she told them.  "Then
climb into the attic, and close the trapdoor.  They won't never
find you there."

Billy pulled the ancient article of furniture beneath the
opening, and in another moment the two men were in the
stuffy atmosphere of the unventilated loft.  Beneath them
they heard Mrs. Shorter dragging the commode back to its
accustomed place, and then the sound of her footsteps descending
the stair.

Presently there came to them the rattling of a motor without,
followed by the voices of men in the house.  For an
hour, half asphyxiated by the closeness of the attic, they waited,
and then again they heard the sound of the running engine,
diminishing as the machine drew away.

Shortly after, Mrs. Shorter's voice rose to them from below:

"You ken come down now," she said, "they've gone."

When they had descended she led them to the kitchen.

"I got a bite to eat ready for you while they was here," she
explained.  "When you've done you ken hide in the barn 'til
dark, an' after that I'll have my ol' man take you 'cross to
Dodson, that's a junction, an' you'd aughter be able to git
away easy enough from there.  I told 'em you started for
Olathe--there's where they've gone with the two tramps.

"My, but I did have a time of it!  I ain't much good at
story-tellin' but I reckon I told more stories this arternoon
than I ever tole before in all my life.  I told 'em that they was
two of you, an' that the biggest one hed red hair, an' the little
one was all pock-marked.  Then they said you prob'ly wasn't
the man at all, an' my! how they did swear at them two
tramps fer gettin' 'em way out here on a wild-goose chase; but
they're goin' to look fer you jes' the same in Olathe, only they
won't find you there," and she laughed, a bit nervously

It was dusk when Mr. Shorter returned from Holliday, but
after he had heard his wife's story he said that he'd drive
"them two byes" all the way to Mexico, if there wasn't any
better plan.

"Dodson's far enough," Bridge assured him, and late that
night the grateful farmer set them down at their destination.

An hour later they were speeding south on the Missouri

Bridge lay back, luxuriously, on the red plush of the smoker seat.

"Some class to us, eh, bo?" asked Billy.

Bridge stretched.

  The tide-hounds race far up the shore--the hunt is on!  The breakers roar!
Her spars are tipped with gold, and o'er her deck the spray is flung,
  The buoys that frolic in the bay, they nod the way, they nod the way!
The hunt is up!  I am the prey!  The hunter's bow is strung!



IT WAS twenty-four hours before Detective Sergeant Flannagan
awoke to the fact that something had been put over on
him, and that a Kansas farmer's wife had done the putting.

He managed to piece it out finally from the narratives of
the two tramps, and when he had returned to the Shorter
home and listened to the contradictory and whole-souled
improvisations of Shorter pere and mere he was convinced.

Whereupon he immediately telegraphed Chicago headquarters
and obtained the necessary authority to proceed upon the
trail of the fugitive, Byrne.

And so it was that Sergeant Flannagan landed in El Paso a
few days later, drawn thither by various pieces of intelligence
he had gathered en route, though with much delay and consequent vexation.

Even after he had quitted the train he was none too sure
that he was upon the right trail though he at once repaired to
a telegraph office and wired his chief that he was hot on the
trail of the fugitive.

As a matter of fact he was much hotter than he imagined,
for Billy and Bridge were that very minute not two squares
from him, debating as to the future and the best manner of
meeting it before it arrived.

"I think," said Billy, "that I'll duck across the border.  I
won't never be safe in little old U. S., an' with things hoppin'
in Mexico the way they have been for the last few years I
orter be able to lose myself pretty well.

"Now you're all right, ol' top.  You don't have to duck
nothin' for you ain't did nothin'.  I don't know what you're
runnin' away from; but I know it ain't nothin' the police is
worryin' about--I can tell that by the way you act--so I
guess we'll split here.  You'd be a boob to cross if you don't
have to, fer if Villa don't get you the Carranzistas will, unless
the Zapatistas nab you first.

"Comin' or goin' some greasy-mugged highbinder's bound
to croak you if you cross, from what little I've heard since we
landed in El Paso.

"We'll feed up together tonight, fer the last time.  Then I'll
pull my freight."  He was silent for a while, and then: "I hate
to do it, bo, fer you're the whitest guy I ever struck," which
was a great deal for Billy Byrne of Grand Avenue to say.

Bridge finished rolling a brown paper cigarette before he

"Your words are pure and unadulterated wisdom, my
friend," he said.  "The chances are scarcely even that two
gringo hoboes would last the week out afoot and broke in
Viva Mexico; but it has been many years since I followed the
dictates of wisdom.  Therefore I am going with you."

Billy grinned.  He could not conceal his pleasure.

"You're past twenty-one," he said, "an' dry behind the
ears.  Let's go an' eat.  There is still some of that twenty-five

Together they entered a saloon which Bridge remembered
as permitting a very large consumption of free lunch upon the
purchase of a single schooner of beer.

There were round tables scattered about the floor in front
of the bar, and after purchasing their beer they carried it to
one of these that stood in a far corner of the room close to a
rear door.

Here Bridge sat on guard over the foaming open sesame to
food while Billy crossed to the free lunch counter and appropriated
all that a zealous attendant would permit him to carry

When he returned to the table he took a chair with his
back to the wall in conformity to a habit of long standing
when, as now, it had stood him in good stead to be in a
position to see the other fellow at least as soon as the other
fellow saw him.  The other fellow being more often than not a
large gentleman with a bit of shiny metal pinned to his left
suspender strap.

"That guy's a tight one," said Billy, jerking his hand in the
direction of the guardian of the free lunch.  "I scoops up about
a good, square meal for a canary bird, an' he makes me
cough up half of it.  Wants to know if I t'ink I can go into the
restaurant business on a fi'-cent schooner of suds."

Bridge laughed.

"Well, you didn't do so badly at that," he said.  "I know
places where they'd indict you for grand larceny if you took
much more than you have here."

"Rotten beer," commented Billy.

"Always is rotten down here," replied Bridge.  "I sometimes
think they put moth balls in it so it won't spoil."

Billy looked up and smiled.  Then he raised his tall glass
before him.

"Here's to," he started; but he got no further.  His eyes
traveling past his companion fell upon the figure of a large
man entering the low doorway.

At the same instant the gentleman's eyes fell upon Billy.  
Recognition lit those of each simultaneously.  The big man
started across the room on a run, straight toward Billy Byrne.  

The latter leaped to his feet.  Bridge, guessing what had
happened, rose too.

"Flannagan!" he exclaimed.

The detective was tugging at his revolver, which had stuck
in his hip pocket.  Byrne reached for his own weapon.  Bridge
laid a hand on his arm.

"Not that, Billy!" he cried.  "There's a door behind you.  
Here," and he pulled Billy backward toward the doorway in
the wall behind them.

Byrne still clung to his schooner of beer, which he had
transferred to his left hand as he sought to draw his gun.  
Flannagan was close to them.  Bridge opened the door and
strove to pull Billy through; but the latter hesitated just an
instant, for he saw that it would be impossible to close and
bar the door, provided it had a bar, before Flannagan would
be against it with his great shoulders.

The policeman was still struggling to disentangle his revolver
from the lining of his pocket.  He was bellowing like a
bull--yelling at Billy that he was under arrest.  Men at the
tables were on their feet.  Those at the bar had turned around
as Flannagan started to run across the floor.  Now some of
them were moving in the direction of the detective and his
prey, but whether from curiosity or with sinister intentions it is
difficult to say.

One thing, however, is certain--if all the love that was felt
for policemen in general by the men in that room could have
been combined in a single individual it still scarcely would
have constituted a grand passion.

Flannagan felt rather than saw that others were closing in
on him, and then, fortunately for himself, he thought, he
managed to draw his weapon.  It was just as Billy was fading
through the doorway into the room beyond.  He saw the
revolver gleam in the policeman's hand and then it became
evident why Billy had clung so tenaciously to his schooner of
beer.  Left-handed and hurriedly he threw it; but even Flannagan
must have been constrained to admit that it was a good
shot.  It struck the detective directly in the midst of his
features, gave him a nasty cut on the cheek as it broke and filled
his eyes full of beer--and beer never was intended as an eye

Spluttering and cursing, Flannagan came to a sudden stop,
and when he had wiped the beer from his eyes he found that
Billy Byrne had passed through the doorway and closed the
door after him.

The room in which Billy and Bridge found themselves was
a small one in the center of which was a large round table at
which were gathered a half-dozen men at poker.  Above the
table swung a single arc lamp, casting a garish light upon the
players beneath.

Billy looked quickly about for another exit, only to find
that besides the doorway through which he had entered there
was but a single aperture in the four walls-a small window,
heavily barred.  The place was a veritable trap.

At their hurried entrance the men had ceased their play,
and one or two had risen in profane questioning and protest.  
Billy ignored them.  He was standing with his shoulder against
the door trying to secure it against the detective without; but
there was neither bolt nor bar.

Flannagan hurtling against the opposite side exerted his
noblest efforts to force an entrance to the room; but Billy
Byrne's great weight held firm as Gibraltar.  His mind revolved
various wild plans of escape; but none bade fair to offer the
slightest foothold to hope.

The men at the table were clamoring for an explanation of
the interruption.  Two of them were approaching Billy with the
avowed intention of "turning him out," when he turned his
head suddenly toward them.

"Can de beef, you poor boobs," he cried.  "Dere's a bunch
o' dicks out dere--de joint's been pinched."

Instantly pandemonium ensued.  Cards, chips, and money
were swept as by magic from the board.  A dozen dog-eared
and filthy magazines and newspapers were snatched from a
hiding place beneath the table, and in the fraction of a second
the room was transformed from a gambling place to an
innocent reading-room.

Billy grinned broadly.  Flannagan had ceased his efforts to
break down the door, and was endeavoring to persuade Billy
that he might as well come out quietly and submit to arrest.  
Byrne had drawn his revolver again.  Now he motioned to
Bridge to come to his side.

"Follow me," he whispered.  "Don't move 'til I move--then
move sudden."  Then, turning to the door again, "You big
stiff," he cried, "you couldn't take a crip to a hospital, let
alone takin' Billy Byrne to the still.  Beat it, before I come out
an' spread your beezer acrost your map."

If Billy had desired to arouse the ire of Detective Sergeant
Flannagan by this little speech he succeeded quite as well as
he could have hoped.  Flannagan commenced to growl and
threaten, and presently again hurled himself against the door.

Instantly Byrne wheeled and fired a single shot into the arc
lamp, the shattered carbon rattled to the table with fragments
of the globe, and Byrne stepped quickly to one side.  The door
flew open and Sergeant Flannagan dove headlong into the
darkened room.  A foot shot out from behind the opened
door, and Flannagan, striking it, sprawled upon his face
amidst the legs of the literary lights who held dog-eared
magazines rightside up or upside down, as they chanced to have
picked them up.

Simultaneously Billy Byrne and Bridge dodged through the
open doorway, banged the door to behind them, and sped
across the barroom toward the street.

As Flannagan shot into their midst the men at the table
leaped to their feet and bolted for the doorway; but the
detective was up and after them so quickly that only two
succeeded in getting out of the room.  One of these generously
slammed the door in the faces of his fellows, and there they
pulled and hauled at each other until Flannagan was among

In the pitch darkness he could recognize no one; but to be
on the safe side he hit out promiscuously until he had driven
them all from the door, then he stood with his back toward
it--the inmates of the room his prisoners.

Thus he remained for a moment threatening to shoot at the
first sound of movement in the room, and then he opened the
door again, and stepping just outside ordered the prisoners to
file out one at a time.

As each man passed him Flannagan scrutinized his face,
and it was not until they had all emerged and he had reentered
the room with a light that he discovered that once
again his quarry had eluded him.  Detective Sergeant Flannagan
was peeved.

The sun smote down upon a dusty road.  A heat-haze lay
upon the arid land that stretched away upon either hand
toward gray-brown hills.  A little adobe hut, backed by a few
squalid outbuildings, stood out, a screaming high-light in its
coat of whitewash, against a background that was garish with

Two men plodded along the road.  Their coats were off, the
brims of their tattered hats were pulled down over eyes closed
to mere slits against sun and dust

One of the men, glancing up at the distant hut, broke into

 Yet then the sun was shining down, a-blazing on the little town,
A mile or so 'way down the track a-dancing in the sun.
  But somehow, as I waited there, there came a shiver in the air,
"The birds are flying south," he said.  "The winter has  begun."

His companion looked up at him who quoted.

"There ain't no track," he said, "an' that 'dobe shack don't
look much like a town; but otherwise his Knibbs has got our
number all right, all right.  We are the birds a-flyin' south, and
Flannagan was the shiver in the air.  Flannagan is a reg'lar
frost.  Gee! but I betcha dat guy's sore."

"Why is it, Billy," asked Bridge, after a moment's silence,
"that upon occasion you speak king's English after the manner
of the boulevard, and again after that of the back alley?
Sometimes you say 'that' and 'dat' in the same sentence.  Your
conversational clashes are numerous.  Surely something or
someone has cramped your original style."

"I was born and brought up on 'dat,'" explained Billy.
"SHE taught me the other line of talk.  Sometimes I forget.  I
had about twenty years of the other and only one of hers,
and twenty to one is a long shot--more apt to lose than

"'She,' I take it, is PENELOPE," mused Bridge, half to
himself.  "She must have been a fine girl."

"'Fine' isn't the right word," Billy corrected him.  "If a
thing's fine there may be something finer, and then something
else finest.  She was better than finest.  She--she was--why,
Bridge, I'd have to be a walking dictionary to tell you what
she was."

Bridge made no reply, and the two trudged on toward the
whitewashed hut in silence for several minutes.  Then Bridge
broke it:

And you, my sweet Penelope, out there somewhere you wait for me
With buds of roses in your hair and kisses on your mouth.

Billy sighed and shook his head.

"There ain't no such luck for me," he said.  "She's married
to another gink now."

They came at last to the hut, upon the shady side of which
they found a Mexican squatting puffing upon a cigarette, while
upon the doorstep sat a woman, evidently his wife, busily
engaged in the preparation of some manner of foodstuff
contained in a large, shallow vessel.  About them played a
couple of half-naked children.  A baby sprawled upon a blanket
just within the doorway.

The man looked up, suspiciously, as the two approached.  
Bridge saluted him in fairly understandable Spanish, asking for
food, and telling the man that they had money with which to
pay for a little--not much, just a little.

The Mexican slowly unfolded himself and arose, motioning
the strangers to follow him into the interior of the hut.  The
woman, at a word from her lord and master, followed them,
and at his further dictation brought them frijoles and tortillas.

The price he asked was nominal; but his eyes never left
Bridge's hands as the latter brought forth the money and
handed it over.  He appeared just a trifle disappointed when
no more money than the stipulated purchase price was revealed to sight.

"Where you going?" he asked.

"We're looking for work," explained Bridge.  "We want to
get jobs on one of the American ranches or mines."

"You better go back," warned the Mexican.  "I, myself,
have nothing against the Americans, senor; but there are
many of my countrymen who do not like you.  The Americans
are all leaving.  Some already have been killed by bandits.  It is
not safe to go farther.  Pesita's men are all about here.  Even
Mexicans are not safe from him.  No one knows whether he is
for Villa or Carranza.  If he finds a Villa ranchero, then Pesita
cries Viva Carranza! and his men kill and rob.  If, on the
other hand, a neighbor of the last victim hears of it in time,
and later Pesita comes to him, he assures Pesita that he is for
Carranza, whereupon Pesita cries Viva Villa! and falls upon
the poor unfortunate, who is lucky if he escapes with his life.  
But Americans!  Ah, Pesita asks them no questions.  He hates
them all, and kills them all, whenever he can lay his hands
upon them.  He has sworn to rid Mexico of the gringos."

"Wot's the Dago talkin' about?" asked Billy.

Bridge gave his companion a brief synopsis of the Mexican's

"Only the gentleman is not an Italian, Billy," he concluded.  
"He's a Mexican."

"Who said he was an Eyetalian?" demanded Byrne.

As the two Americans and the Mexican conversed within
the hut there approached across the dusty flat, from the
direction of the nearer hills, a party of five horsemen.

They rode rapidly, coming toward the hut from the side
which had neither door nor window, so that those within had
no warning of their coming.  They were swarthy, ragged
ruffians, fully armed, and with an equipment which suggested
that they might be a part of a quasi-military organization.

Close behind the hut four of them dismounted while the
fifth, remaining in his saddle, held the bridle reins of the
horses of his companions.  The latter crept stealthily around
the outside of the building, toward the door--their carbines
ready in their hands.

It was one of the little children who first discovered the
presence of the newcomers.  With a piercing scream she bolted
into the interior and ran to cling to her mother's skirts.

Billy, Bridge, and the Mexican wheeled toward the doorway
simultaneously to learn the cause of the girl's fright, and as
they did so found themselves covered by four carbines in the
hands of as many men.

As his eyes fell upon the faces of the intruders the
countenance of the Mexican fell, while his wife dropped to the floor
and embraced his knees, weeping.

"Wotinell?" ejaculated Billy Byrne.  "What's doin'?"

"We seem to have been made prisoners," suggested Bridge;
"but whether by Villistas or Carranzistas I do not know."

Their host understood his words and turned toward the
two Americans.

"These are Pesita's men," he said.

"Yes," spoke up one of the bandits, "we are Pesita's men,
and Pesita will be delighted, Miguel, to greet you, especially
when he sees the sort of company you have been keeping.  
You know how much Pesita loves the gringos!"

"But this man does not even know us," spoke up Bridge.  
"We stopped here to get a meal.  He never saw us before.  We
are on our way to the El Orobo Rancho in search of work.  
We have no money and have broken no laws.  Let us go our
way in peace.  You can gain nothing by detaining us, and as
for Miguel here--that is what you called him, I believe--I
think from what he said to us that he loves a gringo about as
much as your revered chief seems to."

Miguel looked his appreciation of Bridge's defense of him;
but it was evident that he did not expect it to bear fruit.  Nor
did it.  The brigand spokesman only grinned sardonically.

"You may tell all this to Pesita himself, senor," he said.  
"Now come--get a move on--beat it!"  The fellow had once
worked in El Paso and took great pride in his "higher
English" education.

As he started to herd them from the hut Billy demurred.  He
turned toward Bridge.

"Most of this talk gets by me," he said.  "I ain't jerry to all
the Dago jabber yet, though I've copped off a little of it in the
past two weeks.  Put me wise to the gink's lay."

"Elementary, Watson, elementary," replied Bridge.  "We are
captured by bandits, and they are going to take us to their
delightful chief who will doubtless have us shot at sunrise."

"Bandits?" snapped Billy, with a sneer.  "Youse don't call
dese little runts bandits?"

"Baby bandits, Billy, baby bandits," replied Bridge.

"An' you're goin' to stan' fer lettin' 'em pull off this rough
stuff without handin' 'em a come-back?" demanded Byrne.

"We seem to be up against just that very thing," said
Bridge.  "There are four carbines quite ready for us.  It would
mean sudden death to resist now.  Later we may find an
opportunity--I think we'd better act simple and wait."  He
spoke in a quick, low whisper, for the spokesman of the
brigands evidently understood a little English and was on the
alert for any trickery.

Billy shrugged, and when their captors again urged them
forward he went quietly; but the expression on his face might
have perturbed the Mexicans had they known Billy Byrne of
Grand Avenue better--he was smiling happily.

Miguel had two ponies in his corral.  These the brigands
appropriated, placing Billy upon one and Miguel and Bridge
upon the other.  Billy's great weight rendered it inadvisable to
double him up with another rider.

As they were mounting Billy leaned toward Bridge and

"I'll get these guys, pal--watch me," he said.

"I am with thee, William!--horse, foot, and artillery,"
laughed Bridge.

"Which reminds me," said Billy, "that I have an ace-in-the-hole
--the boobs never frisked me."

"And I am reminded," returned Bridge, as the horses started
off to the yank of hackamore ropes in the hands of the
brigands who were leading them, "of a touching little thing of

 Just think!  Some night the stars will gleam
   Upon a cold gray stone,
 And trace a name with silver beam,
   And lo! 'twill be your own.

"You're a cheerful guy," was Billy's only comment.



PESITA was a short, stocky man with a large, dark mustache.
He attired himself after his own ideas of what should constitute
the uniform of a general--ideas more or less influenced
and modified by the chance and caprice of fortune.

At the moment that Billy, Bridge, and Miguel were dragged
into his presence his torso was enwrapped in a once resplendent
coat covered with yards of gold braid.  Upon his shoulders
were brass epaulets such as are connected only in one's
mind with the ancient chorus ladies of the light operas of
fifteen or twenty years ago.  Upon his legs were some rusty
and ragged overalls.  His feet were bare.

He scowled ferociously at the prisoners while his lieutenant
narrated the thrilling facts of their capture--thrilling by

"You are Americanos?" he asked of Bridge and Billy.

Both agreed that they were.  Then Pesita turned toward

"Where is Villa?" he asked.

"How should I know, my general?" parried Miguel.  "Who
am I--a poor man with a tiny rancho--to know of the
movements of the great ones of the earth?  I did not even
know where was the great General Pesita until now I am
brought into his gracious presence, to throw myself at his feet
and implore that I be permitted to serve him in even the
meanest of capacities."

Pesita appeared not to hear what Miguel had said.  He
turned his shoulder toward the man, and addressed Billy in
broken English.

"You were on your way to El Orobo Rancho, eh?  Are you
acquainted there?" he asked.

Billy replied that they were not--merely looking for
employment upon an American-owned ranch or in an American

"Why did you leave your own country?" asked Pesita.  
"What do you want here in Mexico?"

"Well, ol' top," replied Billy, "you see de birds was flyin'
south an' winter was in de air, an a fat-head dick from Chi
was on me trail--so I ducks."

"Ducks?" queried Pesita, mystified.  "Ah, the ducks--they
fly south, I see."

"Naw, you poor simp--I blows," explained Billy.

"Ah, yes," agreed Pesita, not wishing to admit any
ignorance of plain American even before a despised gringo.  "But
the large-faced dick--what might that be?  I have spend much
time in the States, but I do not know that"

"I said 'fat-head dick'--dat's a fly cop," Billy elucidated.

"It is he then that is the bird."  Pesita beamed at this
evidence of his own sagacity.  "He fly."

"Flannagan ain't no bird--Flannagan's a dub."

Bridge came to the rescue.

"My erudite friend means," he explained, "that the police
chased him out of the United States of America."

Pesita raised his eyebrows.  All was now clear to him.

"But why did he not say so?" he asked.

"He tried to," said Bridge.  "He did his best."

"Quit yer kiddin'," admonished Billy.

A bright fight suddenly burst upon Pesita.  He turned upon

"Your friend is not then an American?" he asked.  "I
guessed it.  That is why I could not understand him.  He speaks
the language of the gringo less well even than I. From what
country is he?"

Billy Byrne would have asserted with some show of asperity
that he was nothing if not American; but Bridge was quick to
see a possible loophole for escape for his friend in Pesita's
belief that Billy was no gringo, and warned the latter to
silence by a quick motion of his head.

"He's from 'Gran' Avenoo,'" he said.  "It is not exactly in
Germany; but there are a great many Germans there.  My
friend is a native, so he don't speak German or English
either--they have a language of their own in 'Gran' Avenoo'."

"I see," said Pesita--"a German colony.  I like the
Germans--they furnish me with much ammunition and rifles.  
They are my very good friends.  Take Miguel and the gringo
away"--this to the soldiers who had brought the prisoners to
him--"I will speak further with this man from Granavenoo."

When the others had passed out of hearing Pesita addressed

"I am sorry, senor," he said, "that you have been put to so
much inconvenience.  My men could not know that you were
not a gringo; but I can make it all right.  I will make it all
right.  You are a big man.  The gringos have chased you from
their country as they chased me.  I hate them.  You hate them.  
But enough of them.  You have no business in Mexico except
to seek work.  I give you work.  You are big.  You are strong.  
You are like a bull.  You stay with me, senor, and I make you
captain.  I need men what can talk some English and look like
gringo.  You do fine.  We make much money--you and I. We
make it all time while we fight to liberate my poor Mexico.  
When Mexico liberate we fight some more to liberate her
again.  The Germans they give me much money to liberate
Mexico, and--there are other ways of getting much money
when one is riding around through rich country with soldiers
liberating his poor, bleeding country.  Sabe?"

"Yep, I guess I savvy," said Billy, "an' it listens all right to
me's far's you've gone.  My pal in on it?"


"You make my frien' a captain, too?"

Pesita held up his hands and rolled his eyes in holy horror.  
Take a gringo into his band?  It was unthinkable.

"He shot," he cried.  "I swear to kill all gringo.  I become
savior of my country.  I rid her of all Americanos."

"Nix on the captain stuff fer me, then," said Billy, firmly.  
"That guy's a right one.  If any big stiff thinks he can croak
little ol' Bridge while Billy Byrne's aroun' he's got anudder
t'ink comin'.  Why, me an' him's just like brudders."

"You like this gringo?" asked Pesita.

"You bet," cried Billy.

Pesita thought for several minutes.  In his mind was a
scheme which required the help of just such an individual as
this stranger--someone who was utterly unknown in the surrounding
country and whose presence in a town could not by
any stretch of the imagination be connected in any way with
the bandit, Pesita.

"I tell you," he said.  "I let your friend go.  I send him under
safe escort to El Orobo Rancho.  Maybe he help us there after
a while.  If you stay I let him go.  Otherwise I shoot you both
with Miguel."

"Wot you got it in for Mig fer?" asked Billy.  "He's a
harmless sort o' guy."

"He Villista.  Villista with gringos run Mexico--gringos and
the church.  Just like Huerta would have done it if they'd given
him a chance, only Huerta more for church than for gringos."

"Aw, let the poor boob go," urged Billy, "an' I'll come
along wit you.  Why he's got a wife an' kids--you wouldn't
want to leave them without no one to look after them in this
God-forsaken country!"

Pesita grinned indulgently.

"Very well, Senor Captain," he said, bowing low.  "I let
Miguel and your honorable friend go.  I send safe escort with

"Bully fer you, ol' pot!" exclaimed Billy, and Pesita smiled
delightedly in the belief that some complimentary title had
been applied to him in the language of "Granavenoo."  "I'll go
an' tell 'em," said Billy.

"Yes," said Pesita, "and say to them that they will start
early in the morning."

As Billy turned and walked in the direction that the soldiers
had led Bridge and Miguel, Pesita beckoned to a soldier who
leaned upon his gun at a short distance from his "general"--a
barefooted, slovenly attempt at a headquarters orderly.

"Send Captain Rozales to me," directed Pesita.

The soldier shuffled away to where a little circle of men in
wide-brimmed, metal-encrusted hats squatted in the shade of a
tree, chatting, laughing, and rolling cigarettes.  He saluted one
of these and delivered his message, whereupon the tall, gaunt
Captain Rozales arose and came over to Pesita.

"The big one who was brought in today is not a gringo,"
said Pesita, by way of opening the conversation.  "He is from
Granavenoo.  He can be of great service to us, for he is very
friendly with the Germans--yet be looks like a gringo and
could pass for one.  We can utilize him.  Also he is very large
and appears to be equally strong.  He should make a good
fighter and we have none too many.  I have made him a

Rozales grinned.  Already among Pesita's following of a
hundred men there were fifteen captains.

"Where is Granavenoo?" asked Rozales.

"You mean to say, my dear captain," exclaimed Pesita,
"that a man of your education does not know where Granavenoo is?
I am surprised.  Why, it is a German colony."

"Yes, of course.  I recall it well now.  For the moment it had
slipped my mind.  My grandfather who was a great traveler
was there many times.  I have heard him speak of it often."

"But I did not summon you that we might discuss European
geography," interrupted Pesita.  "I sent for you to tell you
that the stranger would not consent to serve me unless I
liberated his friend, the gringo, and that sneaking spy of a
Miguel.  I was forced to yield, for we can use the stranger.  So
I have promised, my dear captain, that I shall send them upon
their road with a safe escort in the morning, and you shall
command the guard.  Upon your life respect my promise, Rozales;
but if some of Villa's cutthroats should fall upon you,
and in the battle, while you were trying to defend the gringo
and Miguel, both should be slain by the bullets of the
Villistas--ah, but it would be deplorable, Rozales, but it would
not be your fault.  Who, indeed, could blame you who had
fought well and risked your men and yourself in the performance
of your sacred duty?  Rozales, should such a thing
occur what could I do in token of my great pleasure other
than make you a colonel?"

"I shall defend them with my life, my general," cried
Rozales, bowing low.

"Good!" cried Pesita.  "That is all."

Rozales started back toward the ring of smokers.

"Ah, Captain!" cried Pesita.  "Another thing.  Will you make
it known to the other officers that the stranger from Granavenoo
is a captain and that it is my wish that he be well treated,
but not told so much as might injure him, or his usefulness,
about our sacred work of liberating poor, bleeding unhappy

Again Rozales bowed and departed.  This time he was not

Billy found Bridge and Miguel squatting on the ground
with two dirty-faced peons standing guard over them.  The
latter were some little distance away.  They made no objection
when Billy approached the prisoners though they had looked
in mild surprise when they saw him crossing toward them
without a guard.

Billy sat down beside Bridge, and broke into a laugh.

"What's the joke?" asked Bridge.  "Are we going to be
hanged instead of being shot?"

"We ain't goin' to be either," said Billy, "an' I'm a captain.  
Whaddaya know about that?"

He explained all that had taken place between himself and
Pesita while Bridge and Miguel listened attentively to his every

"I t'ought it was about de only way out fer us," said Billy.  
"We were in worse than I t'ought."

"Can the Bowery stuff, Billy," cried Bridge, "and talk like a
white man.  You can, you know."

"All right, bo," cried Billy, good-naturedly.  "You see I
forget when there is anything pressing like this, to chew
about.  Then I fall back into the old lingo.  Well, as I was
saying, I didn't want to do it unless you would stay too, but
he wouldn't have you.  He has it in for all gringos, and that
bull you passed him about me being from a foreign country
called Grand Avenue!  He fell for it like a rube for the
tapped-wire stuff.  He said if I wouldn't stay and help him he'd croak
the bunch of us."

"How about that ace-in-the-hole, you were telling me
about?" asked Bridge.

"I still got it," and Billy fondled something hard that swung
under his left arm beneath his shirt; "but, Lord, man! what
could I do against the whole bunch?  I might get a few of
them; but they'd get us all in the end.  This other way is
better, though I hate to have to split with you, old man."

He was silent then for a moment, looking hard at the
ground.  Bridge whistled, and cleared his throat.

"I've always wanted to spend a year in Rio," he said.  
"We'll meet there, when you can make your get-away."

"You've said it," agreed Byrne.  "It's Rio as soon as we can
make it.  Pesita's promised to set you both loose in the
morning and send you under safe escort--Miguel to his happy
home, and you to El Orobo Rancho.  I guess the old stiff isn't
so bad after all."

Miguel had pricked up his ears at the sound of the word
ESCORT.  He leaned far forward, closer to the two Americans,
and whispered.

"Who is to command the escort?" he asked.

"I dunno," said Billy.  "What difference does it make?"

"It makes all the difference between life and death for your
friend and for me," said Miguel.  "There is no reason why I
should need an escort.  I know my way throughout all Chihuahua
as well as Pesita or any of his cutthroats.  I have
come and gone all my life without an escort.  Of course your
friend is different.  It might be well for him to have company
to El Orobo.  Maybe it is all right; but wait until we learn who
commands the escort.  I know Pesita well.  I know his methods.  
If Rozales rides out with us tomorrow morning you may say
good-bye to your friend forever, for you will never see him in
Rio, or elsewhere.  He and I will be dead before ten o'clock."

"What makes you think that, bo?" demanded Billy.

"I do not think, senor," replied Miguel; "I know."

"Well," said Billy, "we'll wait and see."

"If it is Rozales, say nothing," said Miguel.  "It will do no
good; but we may then be on the watch, and if possible you
might find the means to obtain a couple of revolvers for us.  In
which case--" he shrugged and permitted a faint smile to flex
his lips.

As they talked a soldier came and announced that they
were no longer prisoners--they were to have the freedom of
the camp; "but," he concluded, "the general requests that you
do not pass beyond the limits of the camp.  There are many
desperadoes in the hills and he fears for your safety, now that
you are his guests."

The man spoke Spanish, so that it was necessary that
Bridge interpret his words for the benefit of Billy, who had
understood only part of what he said.

"Ask him," said Byrne, "if that stuff goes for me, too."

"He says no," replied Bridge after questioning the soldier,
"that the captain is now one of them, and may go and come as
do the other officers.  Such are Pesita's orders."

Billy arose.  The messenger had returned to his post at
headquarters.  The guard had withdrawn, leaving the three
men alone.

"So long, old man," said Billy.  "If I'm goin' to be of any
help to you and Mig the less I'm seen with you the better.  I'll
blow over and mix with the Dago bunch, an' practice sittin'
on my heels.  It seems to be the right dope down here, an' I
got to learn all I can about bein' a greaser seein' that I've
turned one."

"Good-bye Billy, remember Rio," said Bridge.

"And the revolvers, senor," added Miguel.

"You bet," replied Billy, and strolled off in the direction of
the little circle of cigarette smokers.

As he approached them Rozales looked up and smiled.
Then, rising, extended his hand.

"Senor Captain," he said, "we welcome you.  I am Captain
Rozales."  He hesitated waiting for Billy to give his name.

"My monacker's Byrne," said Billy.  "Pleased to meet you,

"Ah, Captain Byrne," and Rozales proceeded to introduce
the newcomer to his fellow-officers.

Several, like Rozales, were educated men who had been
officers in the army under former regimes, but had turned
bandit as the safer alternative to suffering immediate death at
the hands of the faction then in power.  The others, for the
most part, were pure-blooded Indians whose adult lives had
been spent in outlawry and brigandage.  All were small of
stature beside the giant, Byrne.  Rozales and two others spoke
English.  With those Billy conversed.  He tried to learn from
them the name of the officer who was to command the escort
that was to accompany Bridge and Miguel into the valley on
the morrow; but Rozales and the others assured him that they
did not know.

When he had asked the question Billy had been looking
straight at Rozales, and he had seen the man's pupils contract
and noticed the slight backward movement of the body which
also denotes determination.  Billy knew, therefore, that Rozales
was lying.  He did know who was to command the escort, and
there was something sinister in that knowledge or the fellow
would not have denied it.

The American began to consider plans for saving his friend
from the fate which Pesita had outlined for him.  Rozales, too,
was thinking rapidly.  He was no fool.  Why had the stranger
desired to know who was to command the escort?  He knew
none of the officers personally.  What difference then, did it
make to him who rode out on the morrow with his friend?
Ah, but Miguel knew that it would make a difference.  Miguel
had spoken to the new captain, and aroused his suspicions.

Rozales excused himself and rose.  A moment later he was
in conversation with Pesita, unburdening himself of his suspicions,
and outlining a plan.

"Do not send me in charge of the escort," he advised.  
"Send Captain Byrne himself."

Pesita pooh-poohed the idea.

"But wait," urged Rozales.  "Let the stranger ride in command,
with a half-dozen picked men who will see that nothing
goes wrong.  An hour before dawn I will send two men--they
will be our best shots--on ahead.  They will stop at a place we
both know, and about noon the Captain Byrne and his escort
will ride back to camp and tell us that they were attacked by
a troop of Villa's men, and that both our guests were killed.
It will be sad; but it will not be our fault.  We will swear
vengeance upon Villa, and the Captain Byrne will hate him as
a good Pesitista should."

"You have the cunning of the Coyote, my captain," cried
Pesita.  "It shall be done as you suggest.  Go now, and I will
send for Captain Byrne, and give him his orders for the

As Rozales strolled away a figure rose from the shadows at
the side of Pesita's tent and slunk off into the darkness.



AND so it was that having breakfasted in the morning Bridge
and Miguel started downward toward the valley protected by
an escort under Captain Billy Byrne.  An old service jacket
and a wide-brimmed hat, both donated by brother officers,
constituted Captain Byrne's uniform.  His mount was the largest
that the picket line of Pesita's forces could produce.  Billy
loomed large amongst his men.

For an hour they rode along the trail, Billy and Bridge
conversing upon various subjects, none of which touched
upon the one uppermost in the mind of each.  Miguel rode,
silent and preoccupied.  The evening before he had whispered
something to Bridge as he had crawled out of the darkness to
lie close to the American, and during a brief moment that
morning Bridge had found an opportunity to relay the Mexican's
message to Billy Byrne.

The latter had but raised his eyebrows a trifle at the time,
but later he smiled more than was usual with him.  Something
seemed to please him immensely.

Beside him at the head of the column rode Bridge and
Miguel.  Behind them trailed the six swarthy little troopers--
the picked men upon whom Pesita could depend.

They had reached a point where the trail passes through a
narrow dry arroyo which the waters of the rainy season had
cut deep into the soft, powdery soil.  Upon either bank grew
cacti and mesquite, forming a sheltering screen behind which a
regiment might have hidden.  The place was ideal for an

"Here, Senor Capitan," whispered Miguel, as they neared
the entrance to the trap.

A low hill shut off from their view all but the head of the
cut, and it also hid them from the sight of any possible enemy
which might have been lurking in wait for them farther down
the arroyo.

At Miguel's words Byrne wheeled his horse to the right
away from the trail which led through the bottom of the waterway
and around the base of the hill, or rather in that direction,
for he had scarce deviated from the direct way before one
of the troopers spurred to his side, calling out in Spanish
that he was upon the wrong trail.

"Wot's this guy chewin' about?" asked Billy, turning to

"He says you must keep to the arroyo, Senor Capitan,"
explained the Mexican.

"Tell him to go back into his stall," was Byrne's laconic
rejoinder, as he pushed his mount forward to pass the brigand.

The soldier was voluble in his objections.  Again he reined
in front of Billy, and by this time his five fellows had spurred
forward to block the way.

"This is the wrong trail," they cried.  "Come this other way,
Capitan.  Pesita has so ordered it."

Catching the drift of their remarks, Billy waved them to one

"I'm bossin' this picnic," he announced.  "Get out o' the
way, an' be quick about it if you don't want to be hurted."

Again he rode forward.  Again the troopers interposed their
mounts, and this time their leader cocked his carbine.  His
attitude was menacing.  Billy was close to him.  Their ponies
were shoulder to shoulder, that of the bandit almost broadside
of the trail.

Now Billy Byrne was more than passing well acquainted
with many of the fundamental principles of sudden brawls. it
is safe to say that he had never heard of Van Bibber; but he
knew, as well as Van Bibber knew, that it is well to hit first.

Without a word and without warning he struck, leaning
forward with all the weight of his body behind his blow, and
catching the man full beneath the chin he lifted him as neatly
from his saddle as though a battering ram had struck him.

Simultaneously Bridge and Miguel drew revolvers from their
shirts and as Billy wheeled his pony toward the remaining five
they opened fire upon them.

The battle was short and sweet.  One almost escaped but
Miguel, who proved to be an excellent revolver shot, brought
him down at a hundred yards.  He then, with utter disregard
for the rules of civilized warfare, dispatched those who were
not already dead.

"We must let none return to carry false tales to Pesita," he

Even Billy Byrne winced at the ruthlessness of the
cold-blooded murders; but he realized the necessity which
confronted them though he could not have brought himself to do the
things which the Mexican did with such sang-froid and even
evident enjoyment.

"Now for the others!" cried Miguel, when he had assured
himself that each of the six were really quite dead.

Spurring after him Billy and Bridge ran their horses over
the rough ground at the base of the little hill, and then
parallel to the arroyo for a matter of a hundred yards, where
they espied two Indians, carbines in hand, standing in evident
consternation because of the unexpected fusillade of shots
which they had just heard and which they were unable to
account for.

At the sight of the three the sharpshooters dropped behind
cover and fired.  Billy's horse stumbled at the first report,
caught himself, reared high upon his hind legs and then
toppled over, dead.

His rider, throwing himself to one side, scrambled to his feet
and fired twice at the partially concealed men.  Miguel and
Bridge rode in rapidly to close quarters, firing as they came.  
One of the two men Pesita had sent to assassinate his "guests"
dropped his gun, clutched at his breast, screamed, and sank
back behind a clump of mesquite.  The other turned and
leaped over the edge of the bank into the arroyo, rolling and
tumbling to the bottom in a cloud of dry dust.

As he rose to his feet and started on a run up the bed of
the dry stream, dodging a zigzag course from one bit of scant
cover to another Billy Byrne stepped to the edge of the
washout and threw his carbine to his shoulder.  His face was
flushed, his eyes sparkled, a smile lighted his regular features.

"This is the life!" he cried, and pulled the trigger.

The man beneath him, running for his life like a frightened
jackrabbit, sprawled forward upon his face, made a single
effort to rise and then slumped limply down, forever.

Miguel and Bridge, dismounted now, came to Byrne's side.  
The Mexican was grinning broadly.

"The captain is one grand fighter," he said.  "How my dear
general would admire such a man as the captain.  Doubtless he
would make him a colonel.  Come with me Senor Capitan and
your fortune is made."

"Come where?" asked Billy Byrne.

"To the camp of the liberator of poor, bleeding Mexico--to
General Francisco Villa."

"Nothin' doin'," said Billy.  "I'm hooked up with this Pesita
person now, an' I guess I'll stick.  He's given me more of a run
for my money in the last twenty-four hours than I've had
since I parted from my dear old friend, the Lord of Yoka."

"But Senor Capitan," cried Miguel, "you do not mean to
say that you are going back to Pesita!  He will shoot you
down with his own hand when he has learned what has
happened here."

"I guess not," said Billy.

"You'd better go with Miguel, Billy," urged Bridge.  "Pesita
will not forgive you this.  You've cost him eight men today
and he hasn't any more men than he needs at best.  Besides
you've made a monkey of him and unless I miss my guess
you'll have to pay for it."

"No," said Billy, "I kind o' like this Pesita gent.  I think I'll
stick around with him for a while yet.  Anyhow until I've had
a chance to see his face after I've made my report to him.  
You guys run along now and make your get-away good, an'
I'll beat it back to camp."

He crossed to where the two horses of the slain marksmen
were hidden, turned one of them loose and mounted the other.

"So long, boes!" he cried, and with a wave of his hand
wheeled about and spurred back along the trail over which
they had just come.

Miguel and Bridge watched him for a moment, then they,
too, mounted and turned away in the opposite direction.  
Bridge recited no verse for the balance of that day.  His heart
lay heavy in his bosom, for he missed Billy Byrne, and was
fearful of the fate which awaited him at the camp of the

Billy, blithe as a lark, rode gaily back along the trail to
camp.  He looked forward with unmixed delight to his coming
interview with Pesita, and to the wild, half-savage life which
association with the bandit promised.  All his life had Billy
Byrne fed upon excitement and adventure.  As gangster, thug,
holdup man and second-story artist Billy had found food for
his appetite within the dismal, sooty streets of Chicago's great
West Side, and then Fate had flung him upon the savage
shore of Yoka to find other forms of adventure where the
best that is in a strong man may be brought out in the stern
battle for existence against primeval men and conditions.  The
West Side had developed only Billy's basest characteristics.  He
might have slipped back easily into the old ways had it not
been for HER and the recollection of that which he had read in
her eyes.  Love had been there; but greater than that to hold a
man into the straight and narrow path of decency and honor
had been respect and admiration.  It had seemed incredible to
Billy that a goddess should feel such things for him--for the
same man her scornful lips once had branded as coward and
mucker; yet he had read the truth aright, and since then Billy
Byrne had done his best according to the fight that had been
given him to deserve the belief she had in him.

So far there had crept into his consciousness no disquieting
doubts as to the consistency of his recent action in joining
the force of a depredating Mexican outlaw.  Billy knew nothing
of the political conditions of the republic.  Had Pesita told him
that he was president of Mexico, Billy could not have disputed
the statement from any knowledge of facts which he possessed.  
As a matter of fact about all Billy had ever known of Mexico
was that it had some connection with an important place
called Juarez where running meets were held.

To Billy Byrne, then, Pesita was a real general, and Billy,
himself, a bona fide captain.  He had entered an army which
was at war with some other army.  What they were warring
about Billy knew not, nor did he care.  There should be
fighting and he loved that--that much he knew.  The ethics of
Pesita's warfare troubled him not.  He had heard that some
great American general had said: "War is hell."  Billy was
willing to take his word for it, and accept anything which
came in the guise of war as entirely proper and as it should

The afternoon was far gone when Billy drew rein in the
camp of the outlaw band.  Pesita with the bulk of his raiders
was out upon some excursion to the north.  Only half a dozen
men lolled about, smoking or sleeping away the hot day.  They
looked at Billy in evident surprise when they saw him riding
in alone; but they asked no questions and Billy offered no
explanation--his report was for the ears of Pesita only.

The balance of the day Billy spent in acquiring further
knowledge of Spanish by conversing with those of the men
who remained awake, and asking innumerable questions.  It
was almost sundown when Pesita rode in.  Two riderless
horses were led by troopers in the rear of the little column
and three men swayed painfully in their saddles and their
clothing was stained with blood.

Evidently Pesita had met with resistance.  There was much
voluble chattering on the part of those who had remained
behind in their endeavors to extract from their returning
comrades the details of the day's enterprise.  By piecing
together the various scraps of conversation he could understand
Billy discovered that Pesita had ridden far to demand tribute
from a wealthy ranchero, only to find that word of his coming
had preceded him and brought a large detachment of Villa's
regulars who concealed themselves about the house and
outbuildings until Pesita and his entire force were well within
close range.

"We were lucky to get off as well as we did," said an

Billy grinned inwardly as he thought of the pleasant frame
of mind in which Pesita might now be expected to receive the
news that eight of his troopers had been killed and his two
"guests" safely removed from the sphere of his hospitality.

And even as his mind dwelt delightedly upon the subject a
ragged Indian carrying a carbine and with heavy silver spurs
strapped to his bare feet approached and saluted him.

"General Pesita wishes Senor Capitan Byrne to report to
him at once," said the man.

"Sure Mike!" replied Billy, and made his way through the
pandemonium of the camp toward the headquarters tent.

As he went he slipped his hand inside his shirt and
loosened something which hung beneath his left arm.

"Li'l ol' ace-in-the-hole," he murmured affectionately.

He found Pesita pacing back and forth before his tent--an
energetic bundle of nerves which no amount of hard riding
and fighting could tire or discourage.

As Billy approached Pesita shot a quick glance at his face,
that he might read, perhaps, in his new officer's expression
whether anger or suspicion had been aroused by the killing of
his American friend, for Pesita never dreamed but that Bridge
had been dead since mid-forenoon.

"Well," said Pesita, smiling, "you left Senor Bridge and
Miguel safely at their destination?"

"I couldn't take 'em all the way," replied Billy, "cause I
didn't have no more men to guard 'em with; but I seen 'em
past the danger I guess an' well on their way."

"You had no men?" questioned Pesita.  "You had six

"Oh, they was all croaked before we'd been gone two
hours.  You see it happens like this: We got as far as that dry
arroyo just before the trail drops down into the valley, when
up jumps a bunch of this here Villa's guys and commenced
takin' pot shots at us.

"Seein' as how I was sent to guard Bridge an' Mig, I makes
them dismount and hunt cover, and then me an' my men
wades in and cleans up the bunch.  They was only a few of
them but they croaked the whole bloomin' six o' mine.

"I tell you it was some scrap while it lasted; but I saved
your guests from gettin' hurted an' I know that that's what
you sent me to do.  It's too bad about the six men we lost but,
leave it to me, we'll get even with that Villa guy yet.  Just lead
me to 'im."

As he spoke Billy commenced scratching himself beneath
the left arm, and then, as though to better reach the point of
irritation, he slipped his hand inside his shirt.  If Pesita noticed
the apparently innocent little act, or interpreted it correctly
may or may not have been the fact.  He stood looking straight
into Byrne's eyes for a full minute.  His face denoted neither
baffled rage nor contemplated revenge.  Presently a slow smile
raised his heavy mustache and revealed his strong, white teeth.

"You have done well, Captain Byrne," he said.  "You are a
man after my own heart," and he extended his hand.

A half-hour later Billy walked slowly back to his own
blankets, and to say that he was puzzled would scarce have
described his mental state.

"I can't quite make that gink out," he mused.  "Either he's a
mighty good loser or else he's a deep one who'll wait a year
to get me the way he wants to get me."

And Pesita a few moments later was saying to Captain

"I should have shot him if I could spare such a man; but it
is seldom I find one with the courage and effrontery he
possesses.  Why think of it, Rozales, he kills eight of my men,
and lets my prisoners escape, and then dares to come back
and tell me about it when he might easily have gotten away.  
Villa would have made him an officer for this thing, and
Miguel must have told him so.  He found out in some way
about your little plan and he turned the tables on us.  We can
use him, Rozales, but we must watch him.  Also, my dear
captain, watch his right hand and when he slips it into his
shirt be careful that you do not draw on him--unless you
happen to be behind him."

Rozales was not inclined to take his chief's view of Byrne's
value to them.  He argued that the man was guilty of disloyalty
and therefore a menace.  What he thought, but did not advance
as an argument, was of a different nature.  Rozales was
filled with rage to think that the newcomer had outwitted him,
and beaten him at his own game, and he was jealous, too, of
the man's ascendancy in the esteem of Pesita; but he hid his
personal feelings beneath a cloak of seeming acquiescence in
his chief's views, knowing that some day his time would come
when he might rid himself of the danger of this obnoxious

"And tomorrow," continued Pesita, "I am sending him to
Cuivaca.  Villa has considerable funds in bank there, and this
stranger can learn what I want to know about the size of the
detachment holding the town, and the habits of the garrison."



THE manager of El Orobo Rancho was an American named
Grayson.  He was a tall, wiry man whose education had been
acquired principally in the cow camps of Texas, where, among
other things one does NOT learn to love nor trust a greaser.  As
a result of this early training Grayson was peculiarly unfitted
in some respects to manage an American ranch in Mexico; but
he was a just man, and so if his vaqueros did not love him,
they at least respected him, and everyone who was or possessed
the latent characteristics of a wrongdoer feared him.

Perhaps it is not fair to say that Grayson was in any way
unfitted for the position he held, since as a matter of fact he
was an ideal ranch foreman, and, if the truth be known, the
simple fact that he was a gringo would have been sufficient to
have won him the hatred of the Mexicans who worked under
him--not in the course of their everyday relations; but when
the fires of racial animosity were fanned to flame by some
untoward incident upon either side of the border.

Today Grayson was particularly rabid.  The more so
because he could not vent his anger upon the cause of it, who
was no less a person than his boss.

It seemed incredible to Grayson that any man of intelligence
could have conceived and then carried out the fool thing
which the boss had just done, which was to have come from
the safety of New York City to the hazards of warring
Mexico, bringing--and this was the worst feature of it--his
daughter with him.  And at such a time!  Scarce a day passed
without its rumors or reports of new affronts and even
atrocities being perpetrated upon American residents of Mexico.
Each day, too, the gravity of these acts increased.  From
mere insult they had run of late to assault and even to
murder.  Nor was the end in sight.

Pesita had openly sworn to rid Mexico of the gringo--to
kill on sight every American who fell into his hands.  And
what could Grayson do in case of a determined attack upon
the rancho?  It is true he had a hundred men--laborers and
vaqueros, but scarce a dozen of these were Americans, and
the rest would, almost without exception, follow the inclinations
of consanguinity in case of trouble.

To add to Grayson's irritability he had just lost his
bookkeeper, and if there was one thing more than any other that
Grayson hated it was pen and ink.  The youth had been a
"lunger" from Iowa, a fairly nice little chap, and entirely
suited to his duties under any other circumstances than those
which prevailed in Mexico at that time.  He was in mortal
terror of his life every moment that he was awake, and at last
had given in to the urge of cowardice and resigned.  The day
previous he had been bundled into a buckboard and driven
over to the Mexican Central which, at that time, still was
operating trains--occasionally--between Chihuahua and Juarez.

His mind filled with these unpleasant thoughts, Grayson sat
at his desk in the office of the ranch trying to unravel the
riddle of a balance sheet which would not balance.  Mixed
with the blue of the smoke from his briar was the deeper
azure of a spirited monologue in which Grayson was engaged.

A girl was passing the building at the moment.  At her side
walked a gray-haired man--one of those men whom you just
naturally fit into a mental picture of a director's meeting
somewhere along Wall Street.

"Sich langwidge!" cried the girl, with a laugh, covering her
ears with her palms.

The man at her side smiled.

"I can't say that I blame him much, Barbara," he replied.  
"It was a very foolish thing for me to bring you down here at
this time.  I can't understand what ever possessed me to do it."

"Don't blame yourself, dear," remonstrated the girl, "when
it was all my fault.  I begged and begged and begged until you
had to consent, and I'm not sorry either--if nothing happens
to you because of our coming.  I couldn't stay in New York
another minute.  Everyone was so snoopy, and I could just tell
that they were dying to ask questions about Billy and me."

"I can't get it through my head yet, Barbara," said the
man, "why in the world you broke with Billy Mallory.  He's
one of the finest young men in New York City today--just
my ideal of the sort of man I'd like my only daughter to

"I tried, Papa," said the girl in a low voice; "but I
couldn't--I just couldn't."

"Was it because--" the man stopped abruptly.  "Well, never
mind dear, I shan't be snoopy too.  Here now, you run along
and do some snooping yourself about the ranch.  I want to
stop in and have a talk with Grayson."

Down by one of the corrals where three men were busily
engaged in attempting to persuade an unbroken pony that a
spade bit is a pleasant thing to wear in one's mouth, Barbara
found a seat upon a wagon box which commanded an excellent
view of the entertainment going on within the corral.  
As she sat there experiencing a combination of admiration for
the agility and courage of the men and pity for the horse
the tones of a pleasant masculine voice broke in upon her

  "Out there somewhere!" says I to me.  "By Gosh, I guess, thats poetry!
"Out there somewhere--Penelope--with kisses on her mouth!"
  And then, thinks I, "O college guy! your talk it gets me in the eye,
 The north is creeping in the air, the birds are flying south."

Barbara swung around to view the poet.  She saw a slender
man astride a fagged Mexican pony.  A ragged coat and
ragged trousers covered the man's nakedness.  Indian moccasins
protected his feet, while a torn and shapeless felt hat sat
upon his well-shaped head.  AMERICAN was written all over
him.  No one could have imagined him anything else.  Apparently
he was a tramp as well--his apparel proclaimed him
that; but there were two discordant notes in the otherwise
harmonious ensemble of your typical bo.  He was clean shaven
and he rode a pony.  He rode erect, too, with the easy seat of
an army officer.

At sight of the girl he raised his battered hat and swept it
low to his pony's shoulder as he bent in a profound bow.

"I seek the majordomo, senorita," he said.

"Mr. Grayson is up at the office, that little building to the
left of the ranchhouse," replied the girl, pointing.

The newcomer had addressed her in Spanish, and as he
heard her reply, in pure and liquid English, his eyes widened a
trifle; but the familiar smile with which he had greeted her left
his face, and his parting bow was much more dignified though
no less profound than its predecessor.

 And you, my sweet Penelope, out there somewhere you wait for me,
 With buds of roses in your hair and kisses on your mouth.

Grayson and his employer both looked up as the words of
Knibbs' poem floated in to them through the open window.

"I wonder where that blew in from," remarked Grayson, as
his eyes discovered Bridge astride the tired pony, looking at
him through the window.  A polite smile touched the stranger's
lips as his eyes met Grayson's, and then wandered past him to
the imposing figure of the Easterner.

"Good evening, gentlemen," said Bridge.

"Evenin'," snapped Grayson.  "Go over to the cookhouse
and the Chink'll give you something to eat.  Turn your pony in
the lower pasture.  Smith'll show you where to bunk tonight,
an' you kin hev your breakfast in the mornin'.  S'long!"  The
ranch superintendent turned back to the paper in his hand
which he had been discussing with his employer at the moment
of the interruption.  He had volleyed his instructions at
Bridge as though pouring a rain of lead from a machine gun,
and now that he had said what he had to say the incident
was closed in so far as he was concerned.

The hospitality of the Southwest permitted no stranger to
be turned away without food and a night's lodging.  Grayson
having arranged for these felt that he had done all that might
be expected of a host, especially when the uninvited guest was
so obviously a hobo and doubtless a horse thief as well, for
who ever knew a hobo to own a horse?

Bridge continued to sit where he had reined in his pony.  He
was looking at Grayson with what the discerning boss judged
to be politely concealed enjoyment.

"Possibly," suggested the boss in a whisper to his aide, "the
man has business with you.  You did not ask him, and I am
sure that he said nothing about wishing a meal or a place to

"Huh?" grunted Grayson, and then to Bridge, "Well, what
the devil DO you want?"

"A job," replied Bridge, "or, to be more explicit, I need a
job--far be it from me to WISH one."

The Easterner smiled.  Grayson looked a bit mystified--and

"Well, I hain't got none," he snapped.  "We don't need
nobody now unless it might be a good puncher--one who
can rope and ride."

"I can ride," replied Bridge, "as is evidenced by the fact
that you now see me astride a horse."

"I said RIDE," said Grayson.  "Any fool can SIT on a horse.
NO, I hain't got nothin', an' I'm busy now.  Hold on!" he
exclaimed as though seized by a sudden inspiration.  He looked
sharply at Bridge for a moment and then shook his head
sadly.  "No, I'm afraid you couldn't do it--a guy's got to be
eddicated for the job I got in mind."

"Washing dishes?" suggested Bridge.

Grayson ignored the playfulness of the other's question.

"Keepin' books," he explained.  There was a finality in his
tone which said: "As you, of course, cannot keep books the
interview is now over.  Get out!"

"I could try," said Bridge.  "I can read and write, you
know.  Let me try."  Bridge wanted money for the trip to Rio,
and, too, he wanted to stay in the country until Billy was
ready to leave.

"Savvy Spanish?" asked Grayson.

"I read and write it better than I speak it," said Bridge,
"though I do the latter well enough to get along anywhere
that it is spoken."

Grayson wanted a bookkeeper worse than he could ever
recall having wanted anything before in all his life.  His better
judgment told him that it was the height of idiocy to employ a
ragged bum as a bookkeeper; but the bum was at least as
much of a hope to him as is a straw to a drowning man, and
so Grayson clutched at him.

"Go an' turn your cayuse in an' then come back here," he
directed, "an' I'll give you a tryout."

"Thanks," said Bridge, and rode off in the direction of the
pasture gate.

"'Fraid he won't never do," said Grayson, ruefully, after
Bridge had passed out of earshot.

"I rather imagine that he will," said the boss.  "He is an
educated man, Grayson--you can tell that from his English,
which is excellent.  He's probably one of the great army of
down-and-outers.  The world is full of them--poor devils.  
Give him a chance, Grayson, and anyway he adds another
American to our force, and each one counts."

"Yes, that's right; but I hope you won't need 'em before
you an' Miss Barbara go," said Grayson.

"I hope not, Grayson; but one can never tell with conditions
here such as they are.  Have you any hope that you will
be able to obtain a safe conduct for us from General Villa?"

"Oh, Villa'll give us the paper all right," said Grayson; "but
it won't do us no good unless we don't meet nobody but
Villa's men on the way out.  This here Pesita's the critter I'm
leery of.  He's got it in for all Americans, and especially for El
Orobo Rancho.  You know we beat off a raid of his about six
months ago--killed half a dozen of his men, an' he won't
never forgive that.  Villa can't spare a big enough force to give
us safe escort to the border and he can't assure the safety of
the train service.  It looks mighty bad, sir--I don't see what in
hell you came for."

"Neither do I, Grayson," agreed the boss; "but I'm here
and we've got to make the best of it.  All this may blow over--
it has before--and we'll laugh at our fears in a few weeks."

"This thing that's happenin' now won't never blow over 'til
the stars and stripes blow over Chihuahua," said Grayson with

A few moments later Bridge returned to the office, having
unsaddled his pony and turned it into the pasture.

"What's your name?" asked Grayson, preparing to enter it
in his time book.

"Bridge," replied the new bookkeeper.

"'Nitials," snapped Grayson.

Bridge hesitated.  "Oh, put me down as L. Bridge," he said.

"Where from?" asked the ranch foreman.

"El Orobo Rancho," answered Bridge.

Grayson shot a quick glance at the man.  The answer
confirmed his suspicions that the stranger was probably a
horse thief, which, in Grayson's estimation, was the worst
thing a man could be.

"Where did you get that pony you come in on?" he
demanded.  "I ain't sayin' nothin' of course, but I jest want to
tell you that we ain't got no use for horse thieves here."

The Easterner, who had been a listener, was shocked by the
brutality of Grayson's speech; but Bridge only laughed.

"If you must know," he said, "I never bought that horse,
an' the man he belonged to didn't give him to me.  I just took

"You got your nerve," growled Grayson.  "I guess you
better git out.  We don't want no horse thieves here."

"Wait," interposed the boss.  "This man doesn't act like a
horse thief.  A horse thief, I should imagine, would scarcely
admit his guilt.  Let's have his story before we judge him."

"All right," said Grayson; "but he's just admitted he stole
the horse."

Bridge turned to the boss.  "Thanks," he said; "but really I
did steal the horse."

Grayson made a gesture which said: "See, I told you so."

"It was like this," went on Bridge.  "The gentleman who
owned the horse, together with some of his friends, had been
shooting at me and my friends.  When it was all over there
was no one left to inform us who were the legal heirs of the
late owners of this and several other horses which were left
upon our hands, so I borrowed this one.  The law would say,
doubtless, that I had stolen it; but I am perfectly willing to
return it to its rightful owners if someone will find them for

"You been in a scrap?" asked Grayson.  "Who with?"

"A party of Pesita's men," replied Bridge.



"You see they are working pretty close," said Grayson, to
his employer, and then to Bridge: "Well, if you took that
cayuse from one of Pesita's bunch you can't call that stealin'.  
Your room's in there, back of the office, an' you'll find some
clothes there that the last man forgot to take with him.  You
ken have 'em, an' from the looks o' yourn you need 'em."

"Thank you," replied Bridge.  "My clothes are a bit rusty.  I
shall have to speak to James about them," and he passed
through into the little bedroom off the office, and closed the
door behind him.

"James?" grunted Grayson.  "Who the devil does he mean
by James?  I hain't seen but one of 'em."

The boss was laughing quietly.

"The man's a character," he said.  "He'll be worth all you
pay him--if you can appreciate him, which I doubt, Grayson."

"I ken appreciate him if he ken keep books," replied
Grayson.  "That's all I ask of him."

When Bridge emerged from the bedroom he was clothed in
white duck trousers, a soft shirt, and a pair of tennis shoes,
and such a change had they wrought in his appearance that
neither Grayson nor his employer would have known him
had they not seen him come from the room into which they
had sent him to make the exchange of clothing.

"Feel better?" asked the boss, smiling.

"Clothes are but an incident with me," replied Bridge.  "I
wear them because it is easier to do so than it would be to
dodge the weather and the police.  Whatever I may have upon
my back affects in no way what I have within my head.  No, I
cannot say that I feel any better, since these clothes are not as
comfortable as my old ones.  However if it pleases Mr. Grayson
that I should wear a pink kimono while working for him
I shall gladly wear a pink kimono.  What shall I do first, sir?"
The question was directed toward Grayson.

"Sit down here an' see what you ken make of this bunch of
trouble," replied the foreman.  "I'll talk with you again this

As Grayson and his employer quitted the office and walked
together toward the corrals the latter's brow was corrugated
by thought and his facial expression that of one who labors to
fasten upon a baffling and illusive recollection.

"It beats all, Grayson," be said presently; "but I am sure
that I have known this new bookkeeper of yours before.  The
moment he came out of that room dressed like a human being
I knew that I had known him; but for the life of me I can't
place him.  I should be willing to wager considerable, however,
that his name is not Bridge."

"S'pect you're right," assented Grayson.  "He's probably one
o' them eastern dude bank clerks what's gone wrong and
come down here to hide.  Mighty fine place to hide jest now,

"And say, speakin' of banks," he went on, "what'll I do
'bout sendin' over to Cuivaca fer the pay tomorrow.  Next
day's pay day.  I don't like to send this here bum, I can't trust
a greaser no better, an' I can't spare none of my white men
thet I ken trust."

"Send him with a couple of the most trustworthy Mexicans
you have," suggested the boss.

"There ain't no sich critter," replied Grayson; "but I guess
that's the best I ken do.  I'll send him along with Tony an'
Benito--they hate each other too much to frame up anything
together, an' they both hate a gringo.  I reckon they'll hev a
lovely trip."

"But they'll get back with the money, eh?" queried the

"If Pesita don't get 'em," replied Grayson.



BILLY BYRNE, captain, rode into Cuivaca from the south.  He
had made a wide detour in order to accomplish this; but
under the circumstances he had thought it wise to do so.  In
his pocket was a safe conduct from one of Villa's generals
farther south--a safe conduct taken by Pesita from the body
of one of his recent victims.  It would explain Billy's presence
in Cuivaca since it had been intended to carry its rightful
possessor to Juarez and across the border into the United

He found the military establishment at Cuivaca small and ill
commanded.  There were soldiers upon the streets; but the
only regularly detailed guard was stationed in front of the
bank.  No one questioned Billy.  He did not have to show his
safe conduct.

"This looks easy," thought Billy.  "A reg'lar skinch."

He first attended to his horse, turning him into a public
corral, and then sauntered up the street to the bank, which he
entered, still unquestioned.  Inside he changed a bill of large
denomination which Pesita had given him for the purpose of
an excuse to examine the lay of the bank from the inside.  Billy
took a long time to count the change.  All the time his eyes
wandered about the interior while he made mental notes of
such salient features as might prove of moment to him later.  
The money counted Billy slowly rolled a cigarette.

He saw that the bank was roughly divided into two sections
by a wire and wood partition.  On one side were the customers,
on the other the clerks and a teller.  The latter sat behind
a small wicket through which he received deposits and cashed
checks.  Back of him, against the wall, stood a large safe of
American manufacture.  Billy had had business before with
similar safes.  A doorway in the rear wall led into the yard
behind the building.  It was closed by a heavy door covered
with sheet iron and fastened by several bolts and a thick,
strong bar.  There were no windows in the rear wall.  From
that side the bank appeared almost impregnable to silent

Inside everything was primitive and Billy found himself
wondering how a week passed without seeing a bank robbery
in the town.  Possibly the strong rear defenses and the armed
guard in front accounted for it.

Satisfied with what he had learned he passed out onto the
sidewalk and crossed the street to a saloon.  Some soldiers and
citizens were drinking at little tables in front of the bar.  A
couple of card games were in progress, and through the open
rear doorway Billy saw a little gathering encircling a cock

In none of these things was Billy interested.  What he had
wished in entering the saloon was merely an excuse to place
himself upon the opposite side of the street from the bank that
he might inspect the front from the outside without arousing

Having purchased and drunk a bottle of poor beer, the
temperature of which had probably never been below eighty
since it left the bottling department of the Texas brewery
which inflicted it upon the ignorant, he sauntered to the front
window and looked out.

There he saw that the bank building was a two-story affair,
the entrance to the second story being at the left side of the
first floor, opening directly onto the sidewalk in full view of
the sentry who paced to and fro before the structure.

Billy wondered what the second floor was utilized for.  He
saw soiled hangings at the windows which aroused a hope
and a sudden inspiration.  There was a sign above the entrance
to the second floor; but Billy's knowledge of the language had
not progressed sufficiently to permit him to translate it,
although he had his suspicions as to its meaning.  He would
learn if his guess was correct.

Returning to the bar he ordered another bottle of beer, and
as he drank it he practiced upon the bartender some of his
recently acquired Spanish and learned, though not without
considerable difficulty, that he might find lodgings for the
night upon the second floor of the bank building.

Much elated, Billy left the saloon and walked along the
street until he came to the one general store of the town.  After
another heart rending scrimmage with the language of Ferdinand
and Isabella he succeeded in making several purchases--
two heavy sacks, a brace, two bits, and a keyhole saw.  Placing
the tools in one of the sacks he wrapped the whole in the
second sack and made his way back to the bank building.

Upon the second floor he found the proprietor of the
rooming-house and engaged a room in the rear of the building,
overlooking the yard.  The layout was eminently satisfactory
to Captain Byrne and it was with a feeling of great
self-satisfaction that he descended and sought a restaurant.

He had been sent by Pesita merely to look over the ground
and the defenses of the town, that the outlaw might later ride
in with his entire force and loot the bank; but Billy Byrne, out
of his past experience in such matters, had evolved a much
simpler plan for separating the enemy from his wealth.

Having eaten, Billy returned to his room.  It was now dark
and the bank closed and unlighted showed that all had left
it. Only the sentry paced up and down the sidewalk in front.

Going at once to his room Billy withdrew his tools from
their hiding place beneath the mattress, and a moment later
was busily engaged in boring holes through the floor at the
foot of his bed.  For an hour he worked, cautiously and
quietly, until he had a rough circle of holes enclosing a space
about two feet in diameter.  Then he laid aside the brace and
bit, and took the keyhole saw, with which he patiently sawed
through the wood between contiguous holes, until, the circle
completed, he lifted out a section of the floor leaving an
aperture large enough to permit him to squeeze his body
through when the time arrived for him to pass into the bank

While Billy had worked three men had ridden into Cuivaca.  
They were Tony, Benito, and the new bookkeeper of El
Orobo Rancho.  The Mexicans, after eating, repaired at once
to the joys of the cantina; while Bridge sought a room in the
building to which his escort directed him.

As chance would have it, it was the same building in which
Billy labored and the room lay upon the rear side of it
overlooking the same yard.  But Bridge did not lie awake to
inspect his surroundings.  For years he had not ridden as many
miles as he had during the past two days, so that long unused
muscles cried out for rest and relaxation.  As a result, Bridge
was asleep almost as soon as his head touched the pillow, and
so profound was his slumber that it seemed that nothing short
of a convulsion of nature would arouse him.

As Bridge lay down upon his bed Billy Byrne left his room
and descended to the street.  The sentry before the bank paid
no attention to him, and Billy passed along, unhindered, to
the corral where he had left his horse.  Here, as he was
saddling the animal, he was accosted, much to his disgust, by
the proprietor.

in broken English the man expressed surprise that Billy
rode out so late at night, and the American thought that he
detected something more than curiosity in the other's manner
and tone--suspicion of the strange gringo.

It would never do to leave the fellow in that state of mind,
and so Billy leaned close to the other's ear, and with a broad
grin and a wink whispered: "Senorita," and jerked his thumb
toward the south.  "I'll be back by mornin'," he added.

The Mexican's manner altered at once.  He laughed and
nodded, knowingly, and poked Billy in the ribs.  Then he
watched him mount and ride out of the corral toward the
south--which was also in the direction of the bank, to the
rear of which Billy rode without effort to conceal his movements.

There he dismounted and left his horse standing with the
bridle reins dragging upon the ground, while he removed the
lariat from the pommel of the saddle, and, stuffing it inside his
shirt, walked back to the street on which the building stood,
and so made his way past the sentry and to his room.

Here he pushed back the bed which he had drawn over the
hole in the floor, dropped his two sacks through into the
bank, and tying the brace to one end of the lariat lowered it
through after the sacks.

Looping the middle of the lariat over a bedpost Billy
grasped both strands firmly and lowered himself through the
aperture into the room beneath.  He made no more noise in
his descent than he had made upon other similar occasions in
his past life when he had practiced the gentle art of
porch-climbing along Ashland Avenue and Washington Boulevard.

Having gained the floor he pulled upon one end of the
lariat until he had drawn it free of the bedpost above, when
it fell into his waiting hands.  Coiling it carefully Billy placed it
around his neck and under one arm.  Billy, acting as a
professional, was a careful and methodical man.  He always saw that
every little detail was properly attended to before he went on
to the next phase of his endeavors.  Because of this ingrained
caution Billy had long since secured the tops of the two sacks
together, leaving only a sufficient opening to permit of their
each being filled without delay or inconvenience.

Now he turned his attention to the rear door.  The bar and
bolts were easily shot from their seats from the inside, and
Billy saw to it that this was attended to before he went further
with his labors.  It were well to have one's retreat assured at
the earliest possible moment.  A single bolt Billy left in place
that he might not be surprised by an intruder; but first he had
tested it and discovered that it could be drawn with ease.

These matters satisfactorily attended to Billy assaulted the
combination knob of the safe with the metal bit which he had
inserted in the brace before lowering it into the bank.

The work was hard and progressed slowly.  It was necessary
to withdraw the bit often and lubricate it with a piece of soap
which Billy had brought along in his pocket for the purpose;
but eventually a hole was bored through into the tumblers of
the combination lock.

From without Billy could hear the footsteps of the sentry
pacing back and forth within fifty feet of him, all unconscious
that the bank he was guarding was being looted almost
beneath his eyes.  Once a corporal came with another soldier
and relieved the sentry.  After that Billy heard the footfalls no
longer, for the new sentry was barefoot.

The boring finished, Billy drew a bit of wire from an inside
pocket and inserted it in the hole.  Then, working the wire
with accustomed fingers, he turned the combination knob this
way and that, feeling with the bit of wire until the tumblers
should all be in line.

This, too, was slow work; but it was infinitely less liable to
attract attention than any other method of safe cracking with
which Billy was familiar.

It was long past midnight when Captain Byrne was rewarded
with success--the tumblers clicked into position, the handle
of the safe door turned and the bolts slipped back.

To swing open the door and transfer the contents of the
safe to the two sacks was the work of but a few minutes.  As
Billy rose and threw the heavy burden across a shoulder he
heard a challenge from without, and then a parley.  Immediately
after the sound of footsteps ascending the stairway to the
rooming-house came plainly to his ears, and then he had
slipped the last bolt upon the rear door and was out in the
yard beyond.

Now Bridge, sleeping the sleep of utter exhaustion that the
boom of a cannon might not have disturbed, did that inexplicable
thing which every one of us has done a hundred times
in our lives.  He awakened, with a start, out of a sound sleep,
though no disturbing noise had reached his ears.

Something impelled him to sit up in bed, and as he did so
he could see through the window beside him into the yard at
the rear of the building.  There in the moonlight he saw a man
throwing a sack across the horn of a saddle.  He saw the man
mount, and he saw him wheel his horse around about and
ride away toward the north.  There seemed to Bridge nothing
unusual about the man's act, nor had there been any indication
either of stealth or haste to arouse the American's suspicions.
Bridge lay back again upon his pillows and sought to
woo the slumber which the sudden awakening seemed to have
banished for the remainder of the night.

And up the stairway to the second floor staggered Tony
and Benito.  Their money was gone; but they had acquired
something else which appeared much more difficult to carry
and not so easily gotten rid of.

Tony held the key to their room.  It was the second room
upon the right of the hall.  Tony remembered that very distinctly.
He had impressed it upon his mind before leaving the
room earlier in the evening, for Tony had feared some such
contingency as that which had befallen.

Tony fumbled with the handle of a door, and stabbed
vainly at an elusive keyhole.

"Wait," mumbled Benito.  "This is not the room.  It was the
second door from the stairway.  This is the third."

Tony lurched about and staggered back.  Tony reasoned:
"If that was the third door the next behind me must be the
second, and on the right;" but Tony took not into consideration
that he had reversed the direction of his erratic wobbling.  
He lunged across the hall--not because he wished to but
because the spirits moved him.  He came in contact with a
door.  "This, then, must be the second door," he soliloquized,
"and it is upon my right.  Ah, Benito, this is the room!"

Benito was skeptical.  He said as much; but Tony was
obdurate.  Did he not know a second door when he saw one?
Was he, furthermore, not a grown man and therefore entirely
capable of distinguishing between his left hand and his right?
Yes!  Tony was all of that, and more, so Tony inserted the key
in the lock--it would have turned any lock upon the second
floor--and, lo! the door swung inward upon its hinges.

"Ah!  Benito," cried Tony.  "Did I not tell you so?  See!  This
is our room, for the key opens the door."

The room was dark.  Tony, carried forward by the weight
of his head, which had long since grown unaccountably
heavy, rushed his feet rapidly forward that he might keep
them within a few inches of his center of equilibrium.

The distance which it took his feet to catch up with his
head was equal to the distance between the doorway and the
foot of the bed, and when Tony reached that spot, with
Benito meandering after him, the latter, much to his astonishment,
saw in the diffused moonlight which pervaded the room,
the miraculous disappearance of his former enemy and erstwhile
friend.  Then from the depths below came a wild scream
and a heavy thud.

The sentry upon the beat before the bank heard both.  For
an instant he stood motionless, then he called aloud for the
guard, and turned toward the bank door.  But this was locked
and he could but peer in through the windows.  Seeing a dark
form within, and being a Mexican he raised his rifle and fired
through the glass of the doors.

Tony, who had dropped through the hole which Billy had
used so quietly, heard the zing of a bullet pass his head, and
the impact as it sploshed into the adobe wall behind him.  
With a second yell Tony dodged behind the safe and besought
Mary to protect him.

From above Benito peered through the hole into the blackness
below.  Down the hall came the barefoot landlord, awakened by
the screams and the shot.  Behind him came Bridge,
buckling his revolver belt about his hips as he ran.  Not having
been furnished with pajamas Bridge had not thought it necessary
to remove his clothing, and so he had lost no time in

When the two, now joined by Benito, reached the street
they found the guard there, battering in the bank doors.  
Benito, fearing for the life of Tony, which if anyone took
should be taken by him, rushed upon the sergeant of the
guard, explaining with both lips and hands the remarkable
accident which had precipitated Tony into the bank.

The sergeant listened, though he did not believe, and when
the doors had fallen in, he commanded Tony to come out
with his hands above his head.  Then followed an investigation
which disclosed the looting of the safe, and the great hole in
the ceiling through which Tony had tumbled.

The bank president came while the sergeant and the landlord
were in Billy's room investigating.  Bridge had followed

"It was the gringo," cried the excited Boniface.  "This is his
room.  He has cut a hole in my floor which I shall have to pay
to have repaired."

A captain came next, sleepy-eyed and profane.  When he
heard what had happened and that the wealth which he had
been detailed to guard had been taken while he slept, he tore
his hair and promised that the sentry should be shot at dawn.

By the time they had returned to the street all the male
population of Cuivaca was there and most of the female.

"One-thousand dollars," cried the bank president, "to the
man who stops the thief and returns to me what the villain
has stolen."

A detachment of soldiers was in the saddle and passing the
bank as the offer was made.

"Which way did he go?" asked the captain.  "Did no one
see him leave?"

Bridge was upon the point of saying that he had seen him
and that he had ridden north, when it occurred to him that a
thousand dollars--even a thousand dollars Mex--was a great
deal of money, and that it would carry both himself and Billy
to Rio and leave something for pleasure beside.

Then up spoke a tall, thin man with the skin of a coffee

"I saw him, Senor Capitan," he cried.  "He kept his horse in
my corral, and at night he came and took it out saying that
he was riding to visit a senorita.  He fooled me, the scoundrel;
but I will tell you--he rode south.  I saw him ride south with
my own eyes."

"Then we shall have him before morning," cried the captain,
"for there is but one place to the south where a robber
would ride, and he has not had sufficient start of us that he
can reach safety before we overhaul him.  Forward!  March!"
and the detachment moved down the narrow street.  "Trot!
March!"  And as they passed the store: "Gallop!  March!"

Bridge almost ran the length of the street to the corral.  His
pony must be rested by now, and a few miles to the north the
gringo whose capture meant a thousand dollars to Bridge was
on the road to liberty.

"I hate to do it," thought Bridge; "because, even if he is a
bank robber, he's an American; but I need the money and in
all probability the fellow is a scoundrel who should have been
hanged long ago."

Over the trail to the north rode Captain Billy Byrne, secure
in the belief that no pursuit would develop until after the
opening hour of the bank in the morning, by which time he
would be halfway on his return journey to Pesita's camp.

"Ol' man Pesita'll be some surprised when I show him what
I got for him," mused Billy.  "Say!" he exclaimed suddenly and
aloud, "Why the devil should I take all this swag back to that
yellow-faced yegg?  Who pulled this thing off anyway?  Why
me, of course, and does anybody think Billy Byrne's boob
enough to split with a guy that didn't have a hand in it at all.  
Split!  Why the nut'll take it all!

"Nix!  Me for the border.  I couldn't do a thing with all this
coin down in Rio, an' Bridgie'll be along there most any time.  
We can hit it up some in lil' ol' Rio on this bunch o' dough.  
Why, say kid, there must be a million here, from the weight of

A frown suddenly clouded his face.  "Why did I take it?" he
asked himself.  "Was I crackin' a safe, or was I pullin' off
something fine fer poor, bleedin' Mexico?  If I was a-doin' that
they ain't nothin' criminal in what I done--except to the guy
that owned the coin.  If I was just plain crackin' a safe on my
own hook why then I'm a crook again an' I can't be that--
no, not with that face of yours standin' out there so plain
right in front of me, just as though you were there yourself,
askin' me to remember an' be decent.  God!  Barbara--why
wasn't I born for the likes of you, and not just a measly,
ornery mucker like I am.  Oh, hell! what is that that Bridge
sings of Knibbs's:

 There ain't no sweet Penelope somewhere that's longing much for me,
But I can smell the blundering sea, and hear the rigging hum;
 And I can hear the whispering lips that fly before the out-bound ships,
And I can hear the breakers on the sand a-calling "Come!"

Billy took off his hat and scratched his head.

"Funny," he thought, "how a girl and poetry can get a
tough nut like me.  I wonder what the guys that used to hang
out in back of Kelly's 'ud say if they seen what was goin' on
in my bean just now.  They'd call me Lizzy, eh?  Well, they
wouldn't call me Lizzy more'n once.  I may be gettin' soft in
the head, but I'm all to the good with my dukes."

Speed is not conducive to sentimental thoughts and so Billy
had unconsciously permitted his pony to drop into a lazy
walk.  There was no need for haste anyhow.  No one knew yet
that the bank had been robbed, or at least so Billy argued.  He
might, however, have thought differently upon the subject of
haste could he have had a glimpse of the horseman in his
rear--two miles behind him, now, but rapidly closing up
the distance at a keen gallop, while he strained his eyes across
the moonlit flat ahead in eager search for his quarry.

So absorbed was Billy Byrne in his reflections that his ears
were deaf to the pounding of the hoofs of the pursuer's horse
upon the soft dust of the dry road until Bridge was little more
than a hundred yards from him.  For the last half-mile Bridge
had had the figure of the fugitive in full view and his mind
had been playing rapidly with seductive visions of the
one-thousand dollars reward--one-thousand dollars Mex, perhaps,
but still quite enough to excite pleasant thoughts.  At the first
glimpse of the horseman ahead Bridge had reined his mount
down to a trot that the noise of his approach might thereby
be lessened.  He had drawn his revolver from its holster, and
was upon the point of putting spurs to his horse for a sudden
dash upon the fugitive when the man ahead, finally attracted
by the noise of the other's approach, turned in his saddle and
saw him.

Neither recognized the other, and at Bridge's command of,
"Hands up!"  Billy, lightning-like in his quickness, drew and
fired.  The bullet raked Bridge's hat from his head but left him

Billy had wheeled his pony around until he stood broadside
toward Bridge.  The latter fired scarce a second after Billy's
shot had pinged so perilously close--fired at a perfect target
but fifty yards away.

At the sound of the report the robber's horse reared and
plunged, then, wheeling and tottering high upon its hind feet,
fell backward.  Billy, realizing that his mount had been hit,
tried to throw himself from the saddle; but until the very
moment that the beast toppled over the man was held by his
cartridge belt which, as the animal first lunged, had caught
over the high horn of the Mexican saddle.

The belt slipped from the horn as the horse was falling, and
Billy succeeded in throwing himself a little to one side.  One
leg, however, was pinned beneath the animal's body and the
force of the fall jarred the revolver from Billy's hand to drop
just beyond his reach.

His carbine was in its boot at the horse's side, and the
animal was lying upon it.  Instantly Bridge rode to his side and
covered him with his revolver.

"Don't move," he commanded, "or I'll be under the painful
necessity of terminating your earthly endeavors right here and

"Well, for the love o' Mike!" cried the fallen bandit

Bridge was off his horse the instant that the familiar voice
sounded in his ears.

"Billy!" he exclaimed.  "Why--Billy--was it you who
robbed the bank?"

Even as he spoke Bridge was busy easing the weight of the
dead pony from Billy's leg.

"Anything broken?" he asked as the bandit struggled to
free himself.

"Not so you could notice it," replied Billy, and a moment
later he was on his feet.  "Say, bo," he added, "it's a mighty
good thing you dropped little pinto here, for I'd a sure got
you my next shot.  Gee! it makes me sweat to think of it.  But
about this bank robbin' business.  You can't exactly say that
I robbed a bank.  That money was the enemy's resources, an' I
just nicked their resources.  That's war.  That ain't robbery.  I
ain't takin' it for myself--it's for the cause--the cause o' poor,
bleedin' Mexico," and Billy grinned a large grin.

"You took it for Pesita?" asked Bridge.

"Of course," replied Billy.  "I won't get a jitney of it.  I
wouldn't take none of it, Bridge, honest.  I'm on the square

"I know you are, Billy," replied the other; "but if you're
caught you might find it difficult to convince the authorities of
your highmindedness and your disinterestedness."

"Authorities!" scoffed Billy.  "There ain't no authorities in
Mexico.  One bandit is just as good as another, and from Pesita
to Carranza they're all bandits at heart.  They ain't a one of
'em that gives two whoops in hell for poor, bleedin' Mexico--
unless they can do the bleedin' themselves.  It's dog eat dog
here.  If they caught me they'd shoot me whether I'd robbed
their bank or not.  What's that?"  Billy was suddenly alert,
straining his eyes back in the direction of Cuivaca.

"They're coming, Billy," said Bridge.  "Take my horse
--quick!  You must get out of here in a hurry.  The whole
post is searching for you.  I thought that they went toward
the south, though.  Some of them must have circled."

"What'll you do if I take your horse?" asked Billy.

"I can walk back," said Bridge, "it isn't far to town.  I'll tell
them that I had come only a short distance when my horse
threw me and ran away.  They'll believe it for they think I'm a
rotten horseman--the two vaqueros who escorted me to town
I mean."

Billy hesitated.  "I hate to do it, Bridge," he said.

"You must, Billy," urged the other.

"If they find us here together it'll merely mean that the two
of us will get it, for I'll stick with you, Billy, and we can't
fight off a whole troop of cavalry out here in the open.  If you
take my horse we can both get out of it, and later I'll see you
in Rio.  Good-bye, Billy, I'm off for town," and Bridge turned
and started back along the road on foot.

Billy watched him in silence for a moment.  The truth of
Bridge's statement of fact was so apparent that Billy was
forced to accept the plan.  A moment later he transferred the
bags of loot to Bridge's pony, swung into the saddle, and
took a last backward look at the diminishing figure of the
man swinging along in the direction of Cuivaca.

"Say," he muttered to himself; "but you're a right one,
bo," and wheeling to the north he clapped his spurs to his
new mount and loped easily off into the night.



IT was a week later, yet Grayson still was growling about the
loss of "that there Brazos pony."  Grayson, the boss, and the
boss's daughter were sitting upon the veranda of the ranchhouse
when the foreman reverted to the subject.

"I knew I didn't have no business hirin' a man thet can't
ride," he said.  "Why thet there Brazos pony never did stumble,
an' if he'd of stumbled he'd a-stood aroun' a year waitin'
to be caught up agin.  I jest cain't figger it out no ways how
thet there tenderfoot bookkeeper lost him.  He must a-shooed
him away with a stick.  An' saddle an' bridle an' all gone too.  
Doggone it!"

"I'm the one who should be peeved," spoke up the girl
with a wry smile.  "Brazos was my pony.  He's the one you
picked out for me to ride while I am here; but I am sure poor
Mr. Bridge feels as badly about it as anyone, and I know that
he couldn't help it.  We shouldn't be too hard on him.  We
might just as well attempt to hold him responsible for the
looting of the bank and the loss of the pay-roll money."

"Well," said Grayson, "I give him thet horse 'cause I knew
he couldn't ride, an' thet was the safest horse in the cavvy.  I
wisht I'd given him Santa Anna instid--I wouldn't a-minded
losin' him.  There won't no one ride him anyhow he's thet

"The thing that surprises me most," remarked the boss, "is
that Brazos doesn't come back.  He was foaled on this range,
and he's never been ridden anywhere else, has he?"

"He was foaled right here on this ranch," Grayson corrected
him, "and he ain't never been more'n a hundred mile from
it. If he ain't dead or stolen he'd a-ben back afore the
bookkeeper was.  It's almighty queer."

"What sort of bookkeeper is Mr. Bridge?" asked the girl.  

"Oh, he's all right I guess," replied Grayson grudgingly.  "A
feller's got to be some good at something.  He's probably one
of these here paper-collar, cracker-fed college dudes thet don't
know nothin' else 'cept writin' in books."

The girl rose, smiled, and moved away.

"I like Mr. Bridge, anyhow," she called back over her
shoulder, "for whatever he may not be he is certainly a well-bred
gentleman," which speech did not tend to raise Mr.
Bridge in the estimation of the hard-fisted ranch foreman.

"Funny them greasers don't come in from the north range
with thet bunch o' steers.  They ben gone all day now," he
said to the boss, ignoring the girl's parting sally.

Bridge sat tip-tilted against the front of the office building
reading an ancient magazine which he had found within.  His
day's work was done and he was but waiting for the gong
that would call him to the evening meal with the other
employees of the ranch.  The magazine failed to rouse his
interest.  He let it drop idly to his knees and with eyes closed
reverted to his never-failing source of entertainment.

 And then that slim, poetic guy he turned and looked me in the eye,
"....It's overland and overland and overseas to--where?"
"Most anywhere that isn't here," I says.  His face went kind of queer.
"The place we're in is always here.  The other place is there."

Bridge stretched luxuriously.  "'There,'" he repeated.  "I've
been searching for THERE for many years; but for some reason
I can never get away from HERE.  About two weeks of any
place on earth and that place is just plain HERE to me, and I'm
longing once again for THERE."

His musings were interrupted by a sweet feminine voice
close by.  Bridge did not open his eyes at once--he just sat
there, listening.

As I was hiking past the woods, the cool and sleepy summer woods,
  I saw a guy a-talking to the sunshine in the air,
Thinks I, "He's going to have a fit--I'll stick around and watch a bit,"
  But he paid no attention, hardly knowing I was there.

Then the girl broke into a merry laugh and Bridge opened
his eyes and came to his feet.

"I didn't know you cared for that sort of stuff," he said.  
"Knibbs writes man-verse.  I shouldn't have imagined that it
would appeal to a young lady."

"But it does, though," she replied; "at least to me.  There's a
swing to it and a freedom that 'gets me in the eye.'"

Again she laughed, and when this girl laughed, harder-headed
and much older men than Mr. L. Bridge felt strange
emotions move within their breasts.

For a week Barbara had seen a great deal of the new
bookkeeper.  Aside from her father he was the only man of
culture and refinement of which the rancho could boast, or, as
the rancho would have put it, be ashamed of.

She had often sought the veranda of the little office and
lured the new bookkeeper from his work, and on several
occasions had had him at the ranchhouse.  Not only was he an
interesting talker; but there was an element of mystery about
him which appealed to the girl's sense of romance.

She knew that he was a gentleman born and reared, and she
often found herself wondering what tragic train of circumstances
had set him adrift among the flotsam of humanity's
wreckage.  Too, the same persistent conviction that she had
known him somewhere in the past that possessed her father
clung to her mind; but she could not place him.

"I overheard your dissertation on HERE AND THERE," said the
girl.  "I could not very well help it--it would have been rude
to interrupt a conversation."  Her eyes sparkled mischievously
and her cheeks dimpled.

"You wouldn't have been interrupting a conversation,"
objected Bridge, smiling; "you would have been turning a
monologue into a conversation."

"But it was a conversation," insisted the girl.  "The
wanderer was conversing with the bookkeeper.  You are a victim of
wanderlust, Mr. L. Bridge--don't deny it.  You hate bookkeeping,
or any other such prosaic vocation as requires permanent
residence in one place."

"Come now," expostulated the man.  "That is hardly fair.  
Haven't I been here a whole week?"

They both laughed.

"What in the world can have induced you to remain so
long?" cried Barbara.  "How very much like an old timer you
must feel--one of the oldest inhabitants."

"I am a regular aborigine," declared Bridge; but his heart
would have chosen another reply.  It would have been glad to
tell the girl that there was a very real and a very growing
inducement to remain at El Orobo Rancho.  The man was too
self-controlled, however, to give way to the impulses of his

At first he had just liked the girl, and been immensely glad
of her companionship because there was so much that was
common to them both--a love for good music, good pictures,
and good literature--things Bridge hadn't had an opportunity
to discuss with another for a long, long time.

And slowly he had found delight in just sitting and looking
at her.  He was experienced enough to realize that this was a
dangerous symptom, and so from the moment he had been
forced to acknowledge it to himself he had been very careful
to guard his speech and his manner in the girl's presence.

He found pleasure in dreaming of what might have been as
he sat watching the girl's changing expression as different
moods possessed her; but as for permitting a hope, even, of
realization of his dreams--ah, he was far too practical for
that, dreamer though he was.

As the two talked Grayson passed.  His rather stern face
clouded as he saw the girl and the new bookkeeper laughing
there together.

"Ain't you got nothin' to do?" he asked Bridge.

"Yes, indeed," replied the latter.

"Then why don't you do it?" snapped Grayson.

"I am," said Bridge.

"Mr. Bridge is entertaining me," interrupted the girl, before
Grayson could make any rejoinder.  "It is my fault--I took
him from his work.  You don't mind, do you, Mr. Grayson?"

Grayson mumbled an inarticulate reply and went his way.

"Mr. Grayson does not seem particularly enthusiastic about
me," laughed Bridge.

"No," replied the girl, candidly; "but I think it's just
because you can't ride."

"Can't ride!" ejaculated Bridge.  "Why, haven't I been riding
ever since I came here?"

"Mr. Grayson doesn't consider anything in the way of
equestrianism riding unless the ridden is perpetually seeking
the life of the rider," explained Barbara.  "Just at present he is
terribly put out because you lost Brazos.  He says Brazos never
stumbled in his life, and even if you had fallen from his back
he would have stood beside you waiting for you to remount
him.  You see he was the kindest horse on the ranch--
especially picked for me to ride.  However in the world DID
you lose him, Mr. Bridge?"

The girl was looking full at the man as she propounded her
query.  Bridge was silent.  A faint flush overspread his face.  He
had not before known that the horse was hers.  He couldn't
very well tell her the truth, and he wouldn't lie to her, so he
made no reply.

Barbara saw the flush and noted the man's silence.  For the
first time her suspicions were aroused, yet she would not
believe that this gentle, amiable drifter could be guilty of any
crime greater than negligence or carelessness.  But why his
evident embarrassment now?  The girl was mystified.  For a
moment or two they sat in silence, then Barbara rose.

"I must run along back now," she explained.  "Papa will be
wondering what has become of me."

"Yes," said Bridge, and let her go.  He would have been
glad to tell her the truth; but he couldn't do that without
betraying Billy.  He had heard enough to know that Francisco
Villa had been so angered over the bold looting of the bank
in the face of a company of his own soldiers that he would
stop at nothing to secure the person of the thief once his
identity was known.  Bridge was perfectly satisfied with the
ethics of his own act on the night of the bank robbery.  He
knew that the girl would have applauded him, and that
Grayson himself would have done what Bridge did had a like
emergency confronted the ranch foreman; but to have admitted
complicity in the escape of the fugitive would have been to
have exposed himself to the wrath of Villa, and at the same
time revealed the identity of the thief.  "Nor," thought Bridge,
"would it get Brazos back for Barbara."

It was after dark when the vaqueros Grayson had sent to
the north range returned to the ranch.  They came empty-handed
and slowly for one of them supported a wounded
comrade on the saddle before him.  They rode directly to the
office where Grayson and Bridge were going over some of the
business of the day, and when the former saw them his brow
clouded for he knew before he heard their story what had

"Who done it?" he asked, as the men filed into the office,
half carrying the wounded man.

"Some of Pesita's followers," replied Benito.  

"Did they git the steers, too?" inquired Grayson.  

"Part of them--we drove off most and scattered them.  We
saw the Brazos pony, too," and Benito looked from beneath
heavy lashes in the direction of the bookkeeper.

"Where?" asked Grayson.

"One of Pesita's officers rode him--an Americano.  Tony
and I saw this same man in Cuivaca the night the bank was
robbed, and today he was riding the Brazos pony."  Again the
dark eyes turned toward Bridge.

Grayson was quick to catch the significance of the Mexican's
meaning.  The more so as it was directly in line with
suspicions which he himself had been nursing since the robbery.

During the colloquy the boss entered the office.  He had
heard the returning vaqueros ride into the ranch and noting
that they brought no steers with them had come to the office
to hear their story.  Barbara, spurred by curiosity, accompanied
her father.

"You heard what Benito says?" asked Grayson, turning
toward his employer

The latter nodded.  All eyes were upon Bridge.

"Well," snapped Grayson, "what you gotta say fer yourself?
I ben suspectin' you right along.  I knew derned well that that
there Brazos pony never run off by hisself.  You an' that other
crook from the States framed this whole thing up pretty slick,
didn'tcha?  Well, we'll--"

"Wait a moment, wait a moment, Grayson," interrupted the
boss.  "Give Mr. Bridge a chance to explain.  You're making a
rather serious charge against him without any particularly
strong proof to back your accusation."

"Oh, that's all right," exclaimed Bridge, with a smile.  "I
have known that Mr. Grayson suspected me of implication in
the robbery; but who can blame him--a man who can't ride
might be guilty of almost anything."

Grayson sniffed.  Barbara took a step nearer Bridge.  She
had been ready to doubt him herself only an hour or so ago;
but that was before he had been accused.  Now that she found
others arrayed against him her impulse was to come to his

"You didn't do it, did you, Mr. Bridge?"  Her tone was
almost pleading.

"If you mean robbing the bank," he replied; "I did not
Miss Barbara.  I knew no more about it until after it was over
than Benito or Tony--in fact they were the ones who discovered
it while I was still asleep in my room above the bank."

"Well, how did the robber git thet there Brazos pony
then?" demanded Grayson savagely.  "Thet's what I want to

"You'll have to ask him, Mr. Grayson," replied Bridge.

"Villa'll ask him, when he gits holt of him," snapped
Grayson; "but I reckon he'll git all the information out of you
thet he wants first.  He'll be in Cuivaca tomorrer, an' so will

"You mean that you are going to turn me over to General
Villa?" asked Bridge.  "You are going to turn an American
over to that butcher knowing that he'll be shot inside of
twenty-four hours?

"Shootin's too damned good fer a horse thief," replied

Barbara turned impulsively toward her father.  "You won't
let Mr. Grayson do that?" she asked.

"Mr. Grayson knows best how to handle such an affair as
this, Barbara," replied her father.  "He is my superintendent,
and I have made it a point never to interfere with him."

"You will let Mr. Bridge be shot without making an effort
to save him?" she demanded.

"We do not know that he will be shot," replied the ranch
owner.  "If he is innocent there is no reason why he should be
punished.  If he is guilty of implication in the Cuivaca bank
robbery he deserves, according to the rules of war, to die, for
General Villa, I am told, considers that a treasonable act.  
Some of the funds upon which his government depends for
munitions of war were there--they were stolen and turned
over to the enemies of Mexico."

"And if we interfere we'll turn Villa against us," interposed
Grayson.  "He ain't any too keen for Americans as it is.  Why,
if this fellow was my brother I'd hev to turn him over to the

"Well, I thank God," exclaimed Bridge fervently, "that in
addition to being shot by Villa I don't have to endure the
added disgrace of being related to you, and I'm not so sure
that I shall be hanged by Villa," and with that he wiped the
oil lamp from the table against which he had been leaning,
and leaped across the room for the doorway.

Barbara and her father had been standing nearest the exit,
and as the girl realized the bold break for liberty the man was
making, she pushed her father to one side and threw open the

Bridge was through it in an instant, with a parting, "God
bless you, little girl!" as he passed her.  Then the door was
closed with a bang.  Barbara turned the key, withdrew it from
the lock and threw it across the darkened room.

Grayson and the unwounded Mexicans leaped after the
fugitive only to find their way barred by the locked door.  
Outside Bridge ran to the horses standing patiently with
lowered heads awaiting the return of their masters.  In an
instant he was astride one of them, and lashing the others
ahead of him with a quirt he spurred away into the night.

By the time Grayson and the Mexicans had wormed their
way through one of the small windows of the office the new
bookkeeper was beyond sight and earshot.

As the ranch foreman was saddling up with several of his
men in the corral to give chase to the fugitive the boss strolled
in and touched him on the arm.

"Mr. Grayson," he said, "I have made it a point never to
interfere with you; but I am going to ask you now not to
pursue Mr. Bridge.  I shall be glad if he makes good his
escape.  Barbara was right--he is a fellow-American.  We cannot
turn him over to Villa, or any other Mexican to be murdered."

Grumblingly Grayson unsaddled.  "Ef you'd seen what I've
seen around here," he said, "I guess you wouldn't be so keen
to save this feller's hide."

"What do you mean?" asked the boss.

"I mean that he's ben tryin' to make love to your daughter."

The older man laughed.  "Don't be a fool, Grayson," he
said, and walked away.

An hour later Barbara was strolling up and down before
the ranchhouse in the cool and refreshing air of the Chihuahua
night.  Her mind was occupied with disquieting reflections
of the past few hours.  Her pride was immeasurably hurt by
the part impulse had forced her to take in the affair at the
office.  Not that she regretted that she had connived in the
escape of Bridge; but it was humiliating that a girl of her
position should have been compelled to play so melodramatic
a part before Grayson and his Mexican vaqueros.

Then, too, was she disappointed in Bridge.  She had looked
upon him as a gentleman whom misfortune and wanderlust
had reduced to the lowest stratum of society.  Now she feared
that he belonged to that substratum which lies below the
lowest which society recognizes as a part of itself, and which is
composed solely of the criminal class.

It was hard for Barbara to realize that she had associated
with a thief--just for a moment it was hard, until recollection
forced upon her the unwelcome fact of the status of another
whom she had known--to whom she had given her love.  The
girl did not wince at the thought--instead she squared her
shoulders and raised her chin.

"I am proud of him, whatever he may have been," she
murmured; but she was not thinking of the new bookkeeper.  
When she did think again of Bridge it was to be glad that he
had escaped--"for he is an American, like myself."

"Well!" exclaimed a voice behind her.  "You played us a
pretty trick, Miss Barbara."

The girl turned to see Grayson approaching.  To her
surprise he seemed to hold no resentment whatsoever.  She
greeted him courteously.

"I couldn't let you turn an American over to General
Villa," she said, "no matter what he had done."

"I liked your spirit," said the man.  "You're the kind o' girl
I ben lookin' fer all my life--one with nerve an' grit, an' you
got 'em both.  You liked thet bookkeepin' critter, an' he wasn't
half a man.  I like you an' I am a man, ef I do say so myself."

The girl drew back in astonishment.

"Mr. Grayson!" she exclaimed.  "You are forgetting yourself."

"No I ain't," he cried hoarsely.  "I love you an' I'm goin' to
have you.  You'd love me too ef you knew me better."

He took a step forward and grasped her arm, trying to
draw her to him.  The girl pushed him away with one hand,
and with the other struck him across the face.

Grayson dropped her arm, and as he did so she drew
herself to her full height and looked him straight in the eyes.

"You may go now," she said, her voice like ice.  "I shall
never speak of this to anyone--provided you never attempt to
repeat it."

The man made no reply.  The blow in the face had cooled
his ardor temporarily, but had it not also served another
purpose?--to crystallize it into a firm and inexorable resolve.

When he had departed Barbara turned and entered the



IT WAS nearly ten o'clock the following morning when Barbara,
sitting upon the veranda of the ranchhouse, saw her father
approaching from the direction of the office.  His face wore a
troubled expression which the girl could not but note.

"What's the matter, Papa?" she asked, as he sank into a
chair at her side.

"Your self-sacrifice of last evening was all to no avail," he
replied.  "Bridge has been captured by Villistas."

"What?" cried the girl.  "You can't mean it--how did you

"Grayson just had a phone message from Cuivaca," he
explained.  "They only repaired the line yesterday since Pesita's
men cut it last month.  This was our first message.  And do
you know, Barbara, I can't help feeling sorry.  I had hoped
that he would get away."

"So had I," said the girl.

Her father was eyeing her closely to note the effect of his
announcement upon her; but he could see no greater concern
reflected than that which he himself felt for a fellow-man and
an American who was doomed to death at the hands of an
alien race, far from his own land and his own people.

"Can nothing be done?" she asked.

"Absolutely," he replied with finality.  "I have talked it over
with Grayson and he assures me that an attempt at intervention
upon our part might tend to antagonize Villa, in which
case we are all as good as lost.  He is none too fond of us as it
is, and Grayson believes, and not without reason, that he
would welcome the slightest pretext for withdrawing the
protection of his favor.  Instantly he did that we should become
the prey of every marauding band that infests the mountains.  
Not only would Pesita swoop down upon us, but those
companies of freebooters which acknowledge nominal loyalty
to Villa would be about our ears in no time.  No, dear, we
may do nothing.  The young man has made his bed, and now
I am afraid that he will have to lie in it alone."

For awhile the girl sat in silence, and presently her father
arose and entered the house.  Shortly after she followed him,
reappearing soon in riding togs and walking rapidly to the
corrals.  Here she found an American cowboy busily engaged
in whittling a stick as he sat upon an upturned cracker box
and shot accurate streams of tobacco juice at a couple of
industrious tumble bugs that had had the great impudence to
roll their little ball of provender within the whittler's range.

"O Eddie!" she cried.

The man looked up, and was at once electrified into action.  
He sprang to his feet and whipped off his sombrero.  A broad
smile illumined his freckled face.

"Yes, miss," he answered.  "What can I do for you?"

"Saddle a pony for me, Eddie," she explained.  "I want to
take a little ride."

"Sure!" he assured her cheerily.  "Have it ready in a jiffy,"
and away he went, uncoiling his riata, toward the little group
of saddle ponies which stood in the corral against necessity for
instant use.

In a couple of minutes he came back leading one, which he
tied to the corral bars.

"But I can't ride that horse," exclaimed the girl.  "He

"Sure," said Eddie.  "I'm a-goin' to ride him."

"Oh, are you going somewhere?" she asked.

"I'm goin' with you, miss," announced Eddie, sheepishly.

"But I didn't ask you, Eddie, and I don't want you--
today," she urged.

"Sorry, miss," he threw back over his shoulder as he
walked back to rope a second pony; "but them's orders.  
You're not to be allowed to ride no place without a escort.  
'Twouldn't be safe neither, miss," he almost pleaded, "an' I
won't hinder you none.  I'll ride behind far enough to be there
ef I'm needed."

Directly he came back with another pony, a sad-eyed,
gentle-appearing little beast, and commenced saddling and
bridling the two.

"Will you promise," she asked, after watching him in silence
for a time, "that you will tell no one where I go or whom I

"Cross my heart hope to die," he assured her.

"All right, Eddie, then I'll let you come with me, and you
can ride beside me, instead of behind."

Across the flat they rode, following the windings of the
river road, one mile, two, five, ten.  Eddie had long since been
wondering what the purpose of so steady a pace could be.  
This was no pleasure ride which took the boss's daughter--
"heifer," Eddie would have called her--ten miles up river at a
hard trot.  Eddie was worried, too.  They had passed the
danger line, and were well within the stamping ground of
Pesita and his retainers.  Here each little adobe dwelling, and
they were scattered at intervals of a mile or more along the
river, contained a rabid partisan of Pesita, or it contained no
one--Pesita had seen to this latter condition personally.

At last the young lady drew rein before a squalid and
dilapidated hut.  Eddie gasped.  It was Jose's, and Jose was a
notorious scoundrel whom old age alone kept from the active
pursuit of the only calling he ever had known--brigandage.  
Why should the boss's daughter come to Jose?  Jose was hand
in glove with every cutthroat in Chihuahua, or at least within
a radius of two hundred miles of his abode.

Barbara swung herself from the saddle, and handed her
bridle reins to Eddie.

"Hold him, please," she said.  "I'll be gone but a moment."

"You're not goin' in there to see old Jose alone?" gasped

"Why not?" she asked.  "If you're afraid you can leave my
horse and ride along home."

Eddie colored to the roots of his sandy hair, and kept
silent.  The girl approached the doorway of the mean hovel
and peered within.  At one end sat a bent old man, smoking.  
He looked up as Barbara's figure darkened the doorway.

"Jose!" said the girl.

The old man rose to his feet and came toward her.

"Eh?  Senorita, eh?" he cackled.

"You are Jose?" she asked.

"Si, senorita," replied the old Indian.  "What can poor old
Jose do to serve the beautiful senorita?"

"You can carry a message to one of Pesita's officers,"
replied the girl.  "I have heard much about you since I came to
Mexico.  I know that there is not another man in this part of
Chihuahua who may so easily reach Pesita as you."  She raised
her hand for silence as the Indian would have protested.  Then
she reached into the pocket of her riding breeches and withdrew
a handful of silver which she permitted to trickle, tinklingly,
from one palm to the other.  "I wish you to go to the
camp of Pesita," she continued, "and carry word to the man
who robbed the bank at Cuivaca--he is an American--that
his friend, Senor Bridge has been captured by Villa and is
being held for execution in Cuivaca.  You must go at once--
you must get word to Senor Bridge's friend so that help may
reach Senor Bridge before dawn.  Do you understand?"

The Indian nodded assent.

"Here," said the girl, "is a payment on account.  When I
know that you delivered the message in time you shall have as
much more.  Will you do it?"

"I will try," said the Indian, and stretched forth a clawlike
hand for the money.

"Good!" exclaimed Barbara.  "Now start at once," and she
dropped the silver coins into the old man's palm.

It was dusk when Captain Billy Byrne was summoned to
the tent of Pesita.  There he found a weazened, old Indian
squatting at the side of the outlaw.

"Jose," said Pesita, "has word for you."

Billy Byrne turned questioningly toward the Indian.

"I have been sent, Senor Capitan," explained Jose, "by the
beautiful senorita of El Orobo Rancho to tell you that your
friend, Senor Bridge, has been captured by General Villa, and
is being held at Cuivaca, where he will doubtless be shot--if
help does not reach him before tomorrow morning."

Pesita was looking questioningly at Byrne.  Since the gringo
had returned from Cuivaca with the loot of the bank and
turned the last penny of it over to him the outlaw had looked
upon his new captain as something just short of superhuman.  
To have robbed the bank thus easily while Villa's soldiers
paced back and forth before the doorway seemed little short
of an indication of miraculous powers, while to have turned
the loot over intact to his chief, not asking for so much as a
peso of it, was absolutely incredible.

Pesita could not understand this man; but he admired him
greatly and feared him, too.  Such a man was worth a hundred
of the ordinary run of humanity that enlisted beneath Pesita's
banners.  Byrne had but to ask a favor to have it granted, and
now, when he called upon Pesita to furnish him with a
suitable force for the rescue of Bridge the brigand enthusiastically
acceded to his demands.

"I will come," he exclaimed, "and all my men shall ride
with me.  We will take Cuivaca by storm.  We may even
capture Villa himself."

"Wait a minute, bo," interrupted Billy Byrne.  "Don't get
excited.  I'm lookin' to get my pal outen' Cuivaca.  After that I
don't care who you capture; but I'm goin' to get Bridgie out
first.  I ken do it with twenty-five men--if it ain't too late.  
Then, if you want to, you can shoot up the town.  Lemme
have the twenty-five, an' you hang around the edges with the
rest of 'em 'til I'm done.  Whaddaya say?"

Pesita was willing to agree to anything, and so it came that
half an hour later Billy Byrne was leading a choice selection of
some two dozen cutthroats down through the hills toward
Cuivaca.  While a couple of miles in the rear followed Pesita
with the balance of his band.

Billy rode until the few remaining lights of Cuivaca shone
but a short distance ahead and they could hear plainly the
strains of a grating graphophone from beyond the open windows
of a dance hall, and the voices of the sentries as they
called the hour.

"Stay here," said Billy to a sergeant at his side, "until you
hear a hoot owl cry three times from the direction of the
barracks and guardhouse, then charge the opposite end of the
town, firing off your carbines like hell an' yellin' yer heads off.  
Make all the racket you can, an' keep it up 'til you get 'em
comin' in your direction, see?  Then turn an' drop back slowly,
eggin' 'em on, but holdin' 'em to it as long as you can.  Do
you get me, bo?"

From the mixture of Spanish and English and Granavenooish
the sergeant gleaned enough of the intent of his commander to
permit him to salute and admit that he understood
what was required of him.

Having given his instructions Billy Byrne rode off to the
west, circled Cuivaca and came close up upon the southern
edge of the little village.  Here he dismounted and left his horse
hidden behind an outbuilding, while he crept cautiously forward
to reconnoiter.

He knew that the force within the village had no reason to
fear attack.  Villa knew where the main bodies of his enemies
lay, and that no force could approach Cuivaca without word
of its coming reaching the garrison many hours in advance of
the foe.  That Pesita, or another of the several bandit chiefs in
the neighborhood would dare descend upon a garrisoned
town never for a moment entered the calculations of the rebel

For these reasons Billy argued that Cuivaca would be
poorly guarded.  On the night he had spent there he had seen
sentries before the bank, the guardhouse, and the barracks in
addition to one who paced to and fro in front of the house in
which the commander of the garrison maintained his headquarters.
Aside from these the town was unguarded.

Nor were conditions different tonight.  Billy came within a
hundred yards of the guardhouse before he discovered a
sentinel.  The fellow lolled upon his gun in front of the
building--an adobe structure in the rear of the barracks.  The
other three sides of the guardhouse appeared to be unwatched.

Billy threw himself upon his stomach and crawled slowly
forward stopping often.  The sentry seemed asleep.  He did not
move.  Billy reached the shadow at the side of the structure
and some fifty feet from the soldier without detection.  Then he
rose to his feet directly beneath a barred window.

Within Bridge paced back and forth the length of the little
building.  He could not sleep.  Tomorrow he was to be shot!
Bridge did not wish to die.  That very morning General Villa
in person had examined him.  The general had been exceedingly
wroth--the sting of the theft of his funds still irritated him;
but he had given Bridge no inkling as to his fate.  It had
remained for a fellow-prisoner to do that.  This man, a deserter,
was to be shot, so he said, with Bridge, a fact which gave
him an additional twenty-four hours of life, since, he asserted,
General Villa wished to be elsewhere than in Cuivaca when
an American was executed.  Thus he could disclaim responsibility
for the act.

The general was to depart in the morning.  Shortly after,
Bridge and the deserter would be led out and blindfolded
before a stone wall--if there was such a thing, or a brick wall,
or an adobe wall.  It made little difference to the deserter, or to
Bridge either.  The wall was but a trivial factor.  It might go far
to add romance to whomever should read of the affair later;
but in so far as Bridge and the deserter were concerned it
meant nothing.  A billboard, thought Bridge, bearing the slogan:
"Eventually!  Why not now?" would have been equally
as efficacious and far more appropriate.

The room in which he was confined was stuffy with the
odor of accumulated filth.  Two small barred windows alone
gave means of ventilation.  He and the deserter were the only
prisoners.  The latter slept as soundly as though the morrow
held nothing more momentous in his destiny than any of the
days that had preceded it.  Bridge was moved to kick the
fellow into consciousness of his impending fate.  Instead he
walked to the south window to fill his lungs with the free air
beyond his prison pen, and gaze sorrowfully at the star-lit sky
which he should never again behold.

In a low tone Bridge crooned a snatch of the poem that he
and Billy liked best:

 And you, my sweet Penelope, out there somewhere you wait for me,
 With buds of roses in your hair and kisses on your mouth.

Bridge's mental vision was concentrated upon the veranda
of a white-walled ranchhouse to the east.  He shook his head

"It's just as well," he thought.  "She's not for me."

Something moved upon the ground beyond the window.  
Bridge became suddenly intent upon the thing.  He saw it rise
and resolve itself into the figure of a man, and then, in a low
whisper, came a familiar voice:

"There ain't no roses in my hair, but there's a barker in my
shirt, an' another at me side.  Here's one of 'em.  They got
kisses beat a city block.  How's the door o' this thing fastened?"
The speaker was quite close to the window now, his
face but a few inches from Bridge's.

"Billy!" ejaculated the condemned man.

"Surest thing you know; but about the door?"

"Just a heavy bar on the outside," replied Bridge.

"Easy," commented Billy, relieved.  "Get ready to beat it
when I open the door.  I got a pony south o' town that'll have
to carry double for a little way tonight."

"God bless you, Billy!" whispered Bridge, fervently.

"Lay low a few minutes," said Billy, and moved away
toward the rear of the guardhouse.

A few minutes later there broke upon the night air the
dismal hoot of an owl.  At intervals of a few seconds it was
repeated twice.  The sentry before the guardhouse shifted his
position and looked about, then he settled back, transferring
his weight to the other foot, and resumed his bovine meditations.

The man at the rear of the guardhouse moved silently along
the side of the structure until he stood within a few feet of the
unsuspecting sentinel, hidden from him by the corner of the
building.  A heavy revolver dangled from his right hand.  He
held it loosely by the barrel, and waited.

For five minutes the silence of the night was unbroken,
then from the east came a single shot, followed immediately by
a scattering fusillade and a chorus of hoarse cries.

Billy Byrne smiled.  The sentry resumed indications of
quickness.  From the barracks beyond the guardhouse came sharp
commands and the sounds of men running.  From the opposite
end of the town the noise of battle welled up to ominous

Billy heard the soldiers stream from their quarters and a
moment later saw them trot up the street at the double.  
Everyone was moving toward the opposite end of the town
except the lone sentinel before the guardhouse.  The moment
seemed propitious for his attempt.

Billy peered around the corner of the guardhouse.  Conditions
were just as he had pictured they would be.  The sentry
stood gazing in the direction of the firing, his back toward the
guardhouse door and Billy.

With a bound the American cleared the space between
himself and the unsuspecting and unfortunate soldier.  The butt
of the heavy revolver fell, almost noiselessly, upon the back of
the sentry's head, and the man sank to the ground without
even a moan.

Turning to the door Billy knocked the bar from its place,
the door swung in and Bridge slipped through to liberty.

"Quick!" said Billy.  "Follow me," and turned at a rapid
run toward the south edge of the town.  He made no effort
now to conceal his movements.  Speed was the only essential,
and the two covered the ground swiftly and openly without
any attempt to take advantage of cover.

They reached Billy's horse unnoticed, and a moment later
were trotting toward the west to circle the town and regain
the trail to the north and safety.

To the east they heard the diminishing rifle fire of the
combatants as Pesita's men fell steadily back before the
defenders, and drew them away from Cuivaca in accordance
with Billy's plan.

"Like takin' candy from a baby," said Billy, when the
flickering lights of Cuivaca shone to the south of them, and
the road ahead lay clear to the rendezvous of the brigands.

"Yes," agreed Bridge; "but what I'd like to know, Billy, is
how you found out I was there."

"Penelope," said Byrne, laughing.

"Penelope!" queried Bridge.  "I'm not at all sure that I
follow you, Billy."

"Well, seein' as you're sittin' on behind you can't be leadin'
me," returned Billy; "but cuttin' the kid it was a skirt tipped it
off to me where you was--the beautiful senorita of El Orobo
Rancho, I think Jose called her.  Now are you hep?"

Bridge gave an exclamation of astonishment.  "God bless
her!" he said.  "She did that for me?"

"She sure did," Billy assured him, "an' I'll bet an iron case
she's a-waitin' for you there with buds o' roses in her hair an'
kisses on her mouth, you old son-of-a-gun, you."  Billy laughed
happily.  He was happy anyway at having rescued Bridge,
and the knowledge that his friend was in love and that the girl
reciprocated his affection--all of which Billy assumed as the
only explanation of her interest in Bridge--only added to his
joy.  "She ain't a greaser is she?" he asked presently.

"I should say not," replied Bridge.  "She's a perfect queen
from New York City; but, Billy, she's not for me.  What she
did was prompted by a generous heart.  She couldn't care for
me, Billy.  Her father is a wealthy man--he could have the
pick of the land--of many lands--if she cared to marry.  You
don't think for a minute she'd want a hobo, do you?"

"You can't most always tell," replied Billy, a trifle sadly.  "I
knew such a queen once who would have chosen a mucker, if
he'd a-let her.  You're stuck on her, ol' man?"

"I'm afraid I am, Billy," Bridge admitted; "but what's the
use?  Let's forget it.  Oh, say, is this the horse I let you take
the night you robbed the bank?"

"Yes," said Billy; "same little pony, an' a mighty
well-behaved one, too.  Why?"

"It's hers," said Bridge.

"An' she wants it back?"

"She didn't say so; but I'd like to get it to her some way,"
said Bridge.

"You ride it back when you go," suggested Billy.

"But I can't go back," said Bridge; "it was Grayson, the
foreman, who made it so hot for me I had to leave.  He tried
to arrest me and send me to Villa."

"What for?" asked Billy.

"He didn't like me, and wanted to get rid of me."  Bridge
wouldn't say that his relations with Billy had brought him into

"Oh, well, I'll take it back myself then, and at the same
time I'll tell Penelope what a regular fellow you are, and
punch in the foreman's face for good luck."

"No, you mustn't go there.  They know you now.  It was
some of El Orobo's men you shot up day before yesterday
when you took their steers from them.  They recognized the
pony, and one of them had seen you in Cuivaca the night of
the robbery.  They would be sure to get you, Billy."

Shortly the two came in touch with the retreating Pesitistas
who were riding slowly toward their mountain camp.  Their
pursuers had long since given up the chase, fearing that they
might be being lured into the midst of a greatly superior force,
and had returned to Cuivaca.

It was nearly morning when Bridge and Billy threw themselves
down upon the latter's blankets, fagged.

"Well, well," murmured Billy Byrne; "li'l ol' Bridgie's found
his Penelope," and fell asleep.



CAPTAIN BILLY BYRNE rode out of the hills the following afternoon
upon a pinto pony that showed the whites of its eyes in
a wicked rim about the iris and kept its ears perpetually
flattened backward.

At the end of a lariat trailed the Brazos pony, for Billy,
laughing aside Bridge's pleas, was on his way to El Orobo
Rancho to return the stolen horse to its fair owner.

At the moment of departure Pesita had asked Billy to ride
by way of Jose's to instruct the old Indian that he should bear
word to one Esteban that Pesita required his presence.

It is a long ride from the retreat of the Pesitistas to Jose's
squalid hut, especially if one be leading an extra horse, and so
it was that darkness had fallen long before Billy arrived in
sight of Jose's.  Dismounting some distance from the hut, Billy
approached cautiously, since the world is filled with dangers
for those who are beyond the law, and one may not be too

Billy could see a light showing through a small window,
and toward this he made his way.  A short distance from
Jose's is another, larger structure from which the former
inhabitants had fled the wrath of Pesita.  It was dark and
apparently tenantless; but as a matter of fact a pair of eyes
chanced at the very moment of Billy's coming to be looking
out through the open doorway.

The owner turned and spoke to someone behind him.

"Jose has another visitor," he said.  "Possibly this one is less
harmless than the other.  He comes with great caution.  Let us

Three other men rose from their blankets upon the floor
and joined the speaker.  They were all armed, and clothed in
the nondescript uniforms of Villistas.  Billy's back was toward
them as they sneaked from the hut in which they were
intending to spend the night and crept quietly toward him.

Billy was busily engaged in peering through the little window
into the interior of the old Indian's hovel.  He saw an
American in earnest conversation with Jose.  Who could the
man be?  Billy did not recognize him; but presently Jose
answered the question.

"It shall be done as you wish, Senor Grayson," he said.

"Ah!" thought Billy; "the foreman of El Orobo.  I wonder
what business he has with this old scoundrel--and at night."

What other thoughts Billy might have had upon the subject
were rudely interrupted by four energetic gentlemen in his
rear, who leaped upon him simultaneously and dragged him
to the ground.  Billy made no outcry; but he fought none the
less strenuously for his freedom, and he fought after the
manner of Grand Avenue, which is not a pretty, however
effective, way it may be.

But four against one when all the advantages lie with the
four are heavy odds, and when Grayson and Jose ran out to
investigate, and the ranch foreman added his weight to that of
the others Billy was finally subdued.  That each of his antagonists
would carry mementos of the battle for many days was
slight compensation for the loss of liberty.  However, it was

After disarming their captive and tying his hands at his
back they jerked him to his feet and examined him.

"Who are you?" asked Grayson.  "What you doin' sneakin'
'round spyin' on me, eh?"

"If you wanna know who I am, bo," replied Billy, "go ask
de Harlem Hurricane, an' as fer spyin' on youse, I wasn't; but
from de looks I guess youse need spyin, yuh tinhorn."

A pony whinnied a short distance from the hut.

"That must be his horse," said one of the Villistas, and
walked away to investigate, returning shortly after with the
pinto pony and Brazos.

The moment Grayson saw the latter he gave an exclamation
of understanding.

"I know him now," he said.  "You've made a good catch,
Sergeant.  This is the fellow who robbed the bank at Cuivaca.
I recognize him from the descriptions I've had of him, and
the fact that he's got the Brazos pony makes it a cinch.  Villa
oughter promote you for this."

"Yep," interjected Billy, "he orter make youse an admiral at
least; but youse ain't got me home yet, an' it'll take more'n
four Dagos an' a tin-horn to do it."

"They'll get you there all right, my friend," Grayson
assured him.  "Now come along."

They bundled Billy into his own saddle, and shortly after
the little party was winding southward along the river in the
direction of El Orobo Rancho, with the intention of putting
up there for the balance of the night where their prisoner
could be properly secured and guarded.  As they rode away
from the dilapidated hut of the Indian the old man stood
silhouetted against the rectangle of dim light which marked the
open doorway, and shook his fist at the back of the departing
ranch foreman.

"El cochino!" he cackled, and turned back into his hut.

At El Orobo Rancho Barbara walked to and fro outside
the ranchhouse.  Within her father sat reading beneath the rays
of an oil lamp.  From the quarters of the men came the strains
of guitar music, and an occasional loud laugh indicated the
climax of some of Eddie Shorter's famous Kansas farmer

Barbara was upon the point of returning indoors when her
attention was attracted by the approach of a half-dozen horsemen.
They reined into the ranchyard and dismounted before
the office building.  Wondering a little who came so late,
Barbara entered the house, mentioning casually to her father
that which she had just seen.

The ranch owner, now always fearful of attack, was upon
the point of investigating when Grayson rode up to the
veranda and dismounted.  Barbara and her father were at the
door as he ascended the steps.

"Good news!" exclaimed the foreman.  "I've got the bank
robber, and Brazos, too.  Caught the sneakin' coyote up to--
up the river a bit."  He had almost said "Jose's;" but caught
himself in time.  "Someone's been cuttin' the wire at the north
side of the north pasture, an' I was ridin' up to see ef I could
catch 'em at it," he explained.

"He is an American?" asked the boss.

"Looks like it; but he's got the heart of a greaser," replied
Grayson.  "Some of Villa's men are with me, and they're a-goin'
to take him to Cuivaca tomorrow."

Neither Barbara nor her father seemed to enthuse much.  To
them an American was an American here in Mexico, where
every hand was against their race.  That at home they might
have looked with disgust upon this same man did not alter
their attitude here, that no American should take sides against
his own people.  Barbara said as much to Grayson.

"Why this fellow's one of Pesita's officers," exclaimed
Grayson.  "He don't deserve no sympathy from us nor from no
other Americans.  Pesita has sworn to kill every American that
falls into his hands, and this fellow's with him to help him do
it. He's a bad un."

"I can't help what he may do," insisted Barbara.  "He's an
American, and I for one would never be a party to his death
at the hands of a Mexican, and it will mean death to him to
be taken to Cuivaca."

"Well, miss," said Grayson, "you won't hev to be
responsible--I'll take all the responsibility there is and
welcome.  I just thought you'd like to know we had him."
He was addressing his employer.  The latter nodded, and
Grayson turned and left the room.  Outside he cast a sneering
laugh back over his shoulder and swung into his saddle.

In front of the men's quarters he drew rein again and
shouted Eddie's name.  Shorter came to the door.

"Get your six-shooter an' a rifle, an' come on over to the
office.  I want to see you a minute."

Eddie did as he was bid, and when he entered the little
room he saw four Mexicans lolling about smoking cigarettes
while Grayson stood before a chair in which sat a man with
his arms tied behind his back.  Grayson turned to Eddie.

"This party here is the slick un that robbed the bank, and
got away on thet there Brazos pony thet miserable bookkeepin'
dude giv him.  The sergeant here an' his men are a-goin' to
take him to Cuivaca in the mornin'.  You stand guard over
him 'til midnight, then they'll relieve you.  They gotta get a
little sleep first, though, an' I gotta get some supper.  Don't
stand fer no funny business now, Eddie," Grayson admonished
him, and was on the point of leaving the office when a
thought occurred to him.  "Say, Shorter," he said, "they ain't
no way of gettin' out of the little bedroom in back there
except through this room.  The windows are too small fer a
big man to get through.  I'll tell you what, we'll lock him up in
there an' then you won't hev to worry none an' neither will
we. You can jest spread out them Navajos there and go to
sleep right plump ag'in the door, an' there won't nobody hev
to relieve you all night."

"Sure," said Eddie, "leave it to me--I'll watch the slicker."

Satisfied that their prisoner was safe for the night the
Villistas and Grayson departed, after seeing him safely locked
in the back room.

At the mention by the foreman of his guard's names--
Eddie and Shorter--Billy had studied the face of the young
American cowpuncher, for the two names had aroused within
his memory a tantalizing suggestion that they should be very
familiar.  Yet he could connect them in no way with anyone
he had known in the past and he was quite sure that he never
before had set eyes upon this man.

Sitting in the dark with nothing to occupy him Billy let his
mind dwell upon the identity of his jailer, until, as may have
happened to you, nothing in the whole world seemed equally
as important as the solution of the mystery.  Even his impending
fate faded into nothingness by comparison with the momentous
question as to where he had heard the name Eddie
Shorter before.

As he sat puzzling his brain over the inconsequential matter
something stirred upon the floor close to his feet, and presently
he jerked back a booted foot that a rat had commenced to
gnaw upon.

"Helluva place to stick a guy," mused Billy, "in wit a bunch
o' man-eatin' rats.  Hey!" and he turned his face toward the
door.  "You, Eddie!  Come here!"

Eddie approached the door and listened.

"Wot do you want?" he asked.  "None o' your funny
business, you know.  I'm from Shawnee, Kansas, I am, an'
they don't come no slicker from nowhere on earth.  You
can't fool me."

Shawnee, Kansas!  Eddie Shorter!  The whole puzzle was
cleared in Billy's mind in an instant.

"So you're Eddie Shorter of Shawnee, Kansas, are you?"
called Billy.  "Well I know your maw, Eddie, an' ef I had such
a maw as you got I wouldn't be down here wastin' my time
workin' alongside a lot of Dagos; but that ain't what I started
out to say, which was that I want a light in here.  The damned
rats are tryin' to chaw off me kicks an' when they're done wit
them they'll climb up after me an' old man Villa'll be sore as
a pup."

"You know my maw?" asked Eddie, and there was a
wistful note in his voice.  "Aw shucks! you don't know her--
that's jest some o' your funny, slicker business.  You wanna git
me in there an' then you'll try an' git aroun' me some sort o'
way to let you escape; but I'm too slick for that."

"On the level Eddie, I know your maw," persisted Billy.  "I
ben in your maw's house jest a few weeks ago.  'Member the
horsehair sofa between the windows?  'Member the Bible on
the little marble-topped table?  Eh?  An' Tige?  Well, Tige's
croaked; but your maw an' your paw ain't an' they want you
back, Eddie.  I don't care ef you believe me, son, or not; but
your maw was mighty good to me, an' you promise me you'll
write her an' then go back home as fast as you can.  It ain't
everybody's got a swell maw like that, an' them as has ought
to be good to 'em."

Beyond the closed door Eddie's jaw was commencing to
tremble.  Memory was flooding his heart and his eyes with
sweet recollections of an ample breast where he used to pillow
his head, of a big capable hand that was wont to smooth his
brow and stroke back his red hair.  Eddie gulped.

"You ain't joshin' me?" he asked.  Billy Byrne caught the
tremor in the voice.

"I ain't kiddin' you son," he said.  "Wotinell do you take
me fer--one o' these greasy Dagos?  You an' I're Americans--
I wouldn't string a home guy down here in this here Godforsaken
neck o' the woods."

Billy heard the lock turn, and a moment later the door was
cautiously opened revealing Eddie safely ensconced behind
two six-shooters.

"That's right, Eddie," said Billy, with a laugh.  "Don't you
take no chances, no matter how much sob stuff I hand you,
fer, I'll give it to you straight, ef I get the chanct I'll make my
get-away; but I can't do it wit my flippers trussed, an' you wit
a brace of gats sittin' on me.  Let's have a light, Eddie.  That
won't do nobody any harm, an' it may discourage the rats."

Eddie backed across the office to a table where stood a
small lamp.  Keeping an eye through the door on his prisoner
he lighted the lamp and carried it into the back room, setting
it upon a commode which stood in one corner.

"You really seen maw?" he asked.  "Is she well?"

"Looked well when I seen her," said Billy; "but she wants
her boy back a whole lot.  I guess she'd look better still ef he
walked in on her some day."

"I'll do it," cried Eddie.  "The minute they get money for
the pay I'll hike.  Tell me your name.  I'll ask her ef she
remembers you when I get home.  Gee! but I wish I was
walkin' in the front door now."

"She never knew my name," said Billy; "but you tell her
you seen the bo that mussed up the two yeggmen who rolled
her an' were tryin' to croak her wit a butcher knife.  I guess
she ain't fergot.  Me an' my pal were beatin' it--he was on the
square but the dicks was after me an' she let us have money
to make our get-away.  She's all right, kid."

There came a knock at the outer office door.  Eddie sprang
back into the front room, closing and locking the door after
him, just as Barbara entered.

"Eddie," she asked, "may I see the prisoner?  I want to talk
to him."

"You want to talk with a bank robber?" exclaimed Eddie.  
"Why you ain't crazy are you, Miss Barbara?"

"No, I'm not crazy; but I want to speak with him alone for
just a moment, Eddie--please."

Eddie hesitated.  He knew that Grayson would be angry if
he let the boss's daughter into that back room alone with an
outlaw and a robber, and the boss himself would probably be
inclined to have Eddie drawn and quartered; but it was hard
to refuse Miss Barbara anything.

"Where is he?" she asked.

Eddie jerked a thumb in the direction of the door.  The key
still was in the lock.

"Go to the window and look at the moon, Eddie," suggested
the girl.  "It's perfectly gorgeous tonight.  Please, Eddie,"
as he still hesitated.

Eddie shook his head and moved slowly toward the window.

"There can't nobody refuse you nothin', miss," he said;
"'specially when you got your heart set on it."

"That's a dear, Eddie," purred the girl, and moved swiftly
across the room to the locked door.

As she turned the key in the lock she felt a little shiver of
nervous excitement run through her.  "What sort of man
would he be--this hardened outlaw and robber--this renegade
American who had cast his lot with the avowed enemies
of his own people?" she wondered.

Only her desire to learn of Bridge's fate urged her to
attempt so distasteful an interview; but she dared not ask
another to put the question for her, since should her complicity
in Bridge's escape--provided of course that he had
escaped--become known to Villa the fate of the Americans
at El Orobo would be definitely sealed.

She turned the knob and pushed the door open, slowly.  A
man was sitting in a chair in the center of the room.  His back
was toward her.  He was a big man.  His broad shoulders
loomed immense above the back of the rude chair.  A shock of
black hair, rumpled and tousled, covered a well-shaped head.

At the sound of the door creaking upon its hinges he
turned his face in her direction, and as his eyes met hers all
four went wide in surprise and incredulity.

"Billy!" she cried.

"Barbara!--you?" and Billy rose to his feet, his bound
hands struggling to be free.

The girl closed the door behind her and crossed to him.

"You robbed the bank, Billy?" she asked.  "It was you,
after the promises you made me to live straight always--for
my sake?"  Her voice trembled with emotion.  The man could
see that she suffered, and yet he felt his own anguish, too.

"But you are married," he said.  "I saw it in the papers.  
What do you care, now, Barbara?  I'm nothing to you."

"I'm not married, Billy," she cried.  "I couldn't marry Mr.
Mallory.  I tried to make myself believe that I could; but at last
I knew that I did not love him and never could, and I
wouldn't marry a man I didn't love.

"I never dreamed that it was you here, Billy," she went on.  
"I came to ask you about Mr. Bridge.  I wanted to know if he
escaped, or if--if--oh, this awful country!  They think no
more of human life here than a butcher thinks of the life of
the animal he dresses."

A sudden light illumined Billy's mind.  Why had it not
occurred to him before?  This was Bridge's Penelope!  The
woman he loved was loved by his best friend.  And she had
sent a messenger to him, to Billy, to save her lover.  She had
come here to the office tonight to question a stranger--a man
she thought an outlaw and a robber--because she could not
rest without word from the man she loved.  Billy stiffened.  He
was hurt to the bottom of his heart; but he did not blame
Bridge--it was fate.  Nor did he blame Barbara because she
loved Bridge.  Bridge was more her kind anyway.  He was a
college guy.  Billy was only a mucker.

"Bridge got away all right," he said.  "And say, he didn't
have nothin' to do with pullin' off that safe crackin'.  I done it
myself.  He didn't know I was in town an' I didn't know he
was there.  He's the squarest guy in the world, Bridge is.  He
follered me that night an' took a shot at me, thinkin' I was
the robber all right but not knowin' I was me.  He got my
horse, an' when he found it was me, he made me take your
pony an' make my get-away, fer he knew Villa's men would
croak me sure if they caught me.  You can't blame him fer
that, can you?  Him an' I were good pals--he couldn't do
nothin' else.  It was him that made me bring your pony back
to you.  It's in the corral now, I reckon.  I was a-bringin' it
back when they got me.  Now you better go.  This ain't no
place fer you, an' I ain't had no sleep fer so long I'm most
dead."  His tones were cool.  He appeared bored by her company;
though as a matter of fact his heart was breaking with
love for her--love that he believed unrequited--and he
yearned to tear loose his bonds and crush her in his arms.

It was Barbara's turn now to be hurt.  She drew herself up.

"I am sorry that I have disturbed your rest," she said, and
walked away, her head in the air; but all the way back to the
ranchhouse she kept repeating over and over to herself: "Tomorrow
they will shoot him!  Tomorrow they will shoot him!
Tomorrow they will shoot him!"



FOR an hour Barbara Harding paced the veranda of the
ranchhouse, pride and love battling for the ascendency within
her breast.  She could not let him die, that she knew; but how
might she save him?

The strains of music and the laughter from the bunkhouse
had ceased.  The ranch slept.  Over the brow of the low bluff
upon the opposite side of the river a little party of silent
horsemen filed downward to the ford.  At the bluff's foot a
barbed-wire fence marked the eastern boundary of the ranch's
enclosed fields.  The foremost horseman dismounted and cut
the strands of wire, carrying them to one side from the path
of the feet of the horses which now passed through the
opening he had made.

Down into the river they rode following the ford even in the
darkness with an assurance which indicated long familiarity.  
Then through a fringe of willows out across a meadow
toward the ranch buildings the riders made their way.  The
manner of their approach, their utter silence, the hour, all
contributed toward the sinister.

Upon the veranda of the ranchhouse Barbara Harding
came to a sudden halt.  Her entire manner indicated final
decision, and determination.  A moment she stood in thought
and then ran quickly down the steps and in the direction of
the office.  Here she found Eddie dozing at his post.  She did
not disturb him.  A glance through the window satisfied her
that he was alone with the prisoner.  From the office building
Barbara passed on to the corral.  A few horses stood within
the enclosure, their heads drooping dejectedly.  As she entered
they raised their muzzles and sniffed suspiciously, ears a-cock,
and as the girl approached closer to them they moved warily
away, snorting, and passed around her to the opposite side of
the corral.  As they moved by her she scrutinized them and her
heart dropped, for Brazos was not among them.  He must
have been turned out into the pasture.

She passed over to the bars that closed the opening from
the corral into the pasture and wormed her way between two
of them.  A hackamore with a piece of halter rope attached to
it hung across the upper bar.  Taking it down she moved off
across the pasture in the direction the saddle horses most often
took when liberated from the corral.

If they had not crossed the river she felt that she might find
and catch Brazos, for lumps of sugar and bits of bread had
inspired in his equine soul a wondrous attachment for his
temporary mistress.

Down the beaten trail the animals had made to the river
the girl hurried, her eyes penetrating the darkness ahead and
to either hand for the looming bulks that would be the horses
she sought, and among which she might hope to discover the
gentle little Brazos.

The nearer she came to the river the lower dropped her
spirits, for as yet no sign of the animals was to be seen.  To
have attempted to place a hackamore upon any of the wild
creatures in the corral would have been the height of
foolishness--only a well-sped riata in the hands of a strong
man could have captured one of these.

Closer and closer to the fringe of willows along the river
she came, until, at their very edge, there broke upon her
already taut nerves the hideous and uncanny scream of a
wildcat.  The girl stopped short in her tracks.  She felt the chill
of fear creep through her skin, and a twitching at the roots of
her hair evidenced to her the extremity of her terror.  Should
she turn back?  The horses might be between her and the river,
but judgment told her that they had crossed.  Should she brave
the nervous fright of a passage through that dark, forbidding
labyrinth of gloom when she knew that she should not find
the horses within reach beyond?

She turned to retrace her steps.  She must find another way!

But was there another way?  And "Tomorrow they will shoot
him!"  She shuddered, bit her lower lip in an effort to command
her courage, and then, wheeling, plunged into the thicket.

Again the cat screamed--close by--but the girl never
hesitated in her advance, and a few moments later she broke
through the willows a dozen paces from the river bank.  Her
eyes strained through the night; but no horses were to be

The trail, cut by the hoofs of many animals, ran deep and
straight down into the swirling water.  Upon the opposite side
Brazos must be feeding or resting, just beyond reach.

Barbara dug her nails into her palms in the bitterness of her
disappointment.  She followed down to the very edge of the
water.  It was black and forbidding.  Even in the daytime she
would not have been confident of following the ford--by
night it would be madness to attempt it.

She choked down a sob.  Her shoulders drooped.  Her head
bent forward.  She was the picture of disappointment and

"What can I do?" she moaned.  "Tomorrow they will shoot

The thought seemed to electrify her.

"They shall not shoot him!" she cried aloud.  "They shall
not shoot him while I live to prevent it!"

Again her head was up and her shoulders squared.  Tying
the hackamore about her waist, she took a single deep breath
of reassurance and stepped out into the river.  For a dozen
paces she found no difficulty in following the ford.  It was
broad and straight; but toward the center of the river, as she
felt her way along a step at a time, she came to a place where
directly before her the ledge upon which she crossed shelved
off into deep water.  She turned upward, trying to locate the
direction of the new turn; but here too there was no footing.
Down river she felt solid rock beneath her feet.  Ah! this was
the way, and boldly she stepped out, the water already above
her knees.  Two, three steps she took, and with each one her
confidence and hope arose, and then the fourth step--and
there was no footing.  She felt herself lunging into the stream,
and tried to draw back and regain the ledge; but the force of
the current was too much for her, and, so suddenly it seemed
that she had thrown herself in, she was in the channel swimming
for her life.

The trend of the current there was back in the direction of
the bank she had but just quitted, yet so strong was her
determination to succeed for Billy Byrne's sake that she turned
her face toward the opposite shore and fought to reach the
seemingly impossible goal which love had set for her.  Again
and again she was swept under by the force of the current.  
Again and again she rose and battled, not for her own life; but
for the life of the man she once had loathed and whom she
later had come to love.  Inch by inch she won toward the shore
of her desire, and inch by inch of her progress she felt her
strength failing.  Could she win?  Ah! if she were but a man,
and with the thought came another: Thank God that I am a
woman with a woman's love which gives strength to drive me
into the clutches of death for his sake!

Her heart thundered in tumultuous protest against the strain
of her panting lungs.  Her limbs felt cold and numb; but she
could not give up even though she was now convinced that
she had thrown her life away uselessly.  They would find her
body; but no one would ever guess what had driven her to
her death.  Not even he would know that it was for his sake.
And then she felt the tugging of the channel current suddenly
lessen, an eddy carried her gently inshore, her feet touched the
sand and gravel of the bottom.

Gasping for breath, staggering, stumbling, she reeled on a
few paces and then slipped down clutching at the river's bank.  
Here the water was shallow, and here she lay until her
strength returned.  Then she urged herself up and onward,
climbed to the top of the bank with success at last within

To find the horses now required but a few minutes' search.  
They stood huddled in a black mass close to the barbed-wire
fence at the extremity of the pasture.  As she approached them
they commenced to separate slowly, edging away while they
faced her in curiosity.  Softly she called: "Brazos!  Come,
Brazos!" until a unit of the moving mass detached itself and
came toward her, nickering.

"Good Brazos!" she cooed.  "That's a good pony," and
walked forward to meet him.

The animal let her reach up and stroke his forehead, while
he muzzled about her for the expected tidbit.  Gently she
worked the hackamore over his nose and above his ears, and
when it was safely in place she breathed a deep sigh of relief
and throwing her arms about his neck pressed her cheek to

"You dear old Brazos," she whispered.

The horse stood quietly while the girl wriggled herself to his
back, and then at a word and a touch from her heels moved
off at a walk in the direction of the ford.  The crossing this
time was one of infinite ease, for Barbara let the rope lie loose
and Brazos take his own way.

Through the willows upon the opposite bank he shouldered
his path, across the meadow still at a walk, lest they arouse
attention, and through a gate which led directly from the
meadow into the ranchyard.  Here she tied him to the outside
of the corral, while she went in search of saddle and bridle.  
Whose she took she did not know, nor care, but that the
saddle was enormously heavy she was perfectly aware long
before she had dragged it halfway to where Brazos stood.

Three times she essayed to lift it to his back before she
succeeded in accomplishing the Herculean task, and had it
been any other horse upon the ranch than Brazos the thing
could never have been done; but the kindly little pony stood
in statuesque resignation while the heavy Mexican tree was
banged and thumped against his legs and ribs, until a lucky
swing carried it to his wethers.

Saddled and bridled Barbara led him to the rear of the
building and thus, by a roundabout way, to the back of the
office building.  Here she could see a light in the room in
which Billy was confined, and after dropping the bridle reins
to the ground she made her way to the front of the structure.

Creeping stealthily to the porch she peered in at the window.
Eddie was stretched out in cramped though seeming
luxury in an office chair.  His feet were cocked up on the desk
before him.  In his lap lay his six-shooter ready for any
emergency.  Another reposed in its holster at his belt.

Barbara tiptoed to the door.  Holding her breath she turned
the knob gently.  The door swung open without a sound, and
an instant later she stood within the room.  Again her eyes
were fixed upon Eddie Shorter.  She saw his nerveless fingers
relax their hold upon the grip of his revolver.  She saw the
weapon slip farther down into his lap.  He did not move, other
than to the deep and regular breathing of profound slumber.

Barbara crossed the room to his side.

Behind the ranchhouse three figures crept forward in the
shadows.  Behind them a matter of a hundred yards stood a
little clump of horses and with them were the figures of more
men.  These waited in silence.  The other three crept toward the
house.  It was such a ranchhouse as you might find by the
scores or hundreds throughout Texas.  Grayson, evidently, or
some other Texan, had designed it.  There was nothing Mexican
about it, nor anything beautiful.  It stood two storied,
verandaed and hideous, a blot upon the soil of picturesque

To the roof of the veranda clambered the three prowlers,
and across it to an open window.  The window belonged to
the bedroom of Miss Barbara Harding.  Here they paused and
listened, then two of them entered the room.  They were gone
for but a few minutes.  When they emerged they showed
evidences, by their gestures to the third man who had awaited
outside, of disgust and disappointment.

Cautiously they descended as they had come and made
their way back to those other men who had remained with
the horses.  Here there ensued a low-toned conference, and
while it progressed Barbara Harding reached forth a steady
hand which belied the terror in her soul and plucked the
revolver from Eddie Shorter's lap.  Eddie slept on.

Again on tiptoe the girl recrossed the office to the locked
door leading into the back room.  The key was in the lock.  
Gingerly she turned it, keeping a furtive eye upon the sleeping
guard, and the muzzle of his own revolver leveled menacingly
upon him.  Eddie Shorter stirred in his sleep and raised a hand
to his face.  The heart of Barbara Harding ceased to beat while
she stood waiting for the man to open his eyes and discover
her; but he did nothing of the kind.  Instead his hand dropped
limply at his side and he resumed his regular breathing.

The key turned in the lock beneath the gentle pressure of
her fingers, the bolt slipped quietly back and she pushed the
door ajar.  Within, Billy Byrne turned inquiring eyes in the
direction of the opening door, and as he saw who it was
who entered surprise showed upon his face; but he spoke no
word for the girl held a silencing finger to her lips.

Quickly she came to his side and motioned him to rise
while she tugged at the knots which held the bonds in place
about his arms.  Once she stopped long enough to recross the
room and close the door which she had left open when she

It required fully five minutes--the longest five minutes of
Barbara Harding's life, she thought--before the knots gave to
her efforts; but at last the rope fell to the floor and Billy
Byrne was free.

He started to speak, to thank her, and, perhaps, to scold
her for the rash thing she had undertaken for him; but
she silenced him again, and with a whispered, "Come!" turned
toward the door.

As she opened it a crack to reconnoiter she kept the
revolver pointed straight ahead of her into the adjoining
room.  Eddie, however, still slept on in peaceful ignorance of
the trick which was being played upon him.

Now the two started forward for the door which opened
from the office upon the porch, and as they did so Barbara
turned again toward Billy to caution him to silence for his
spurs had tinkled as he moved.  For a moment their eyes were
not upon Eddie Shorter and Fate had it that at that very
moment Eddie awoke and opened his own eyes.

The sight that met them was so astonishing that for a
second the Kansan could not move.  He saw Barbara Harding,
a revolver in her hand, aiding the outlaw to escape, and in the
instant that surprise kept him motionless Eddie saw, too,
another picture--the picture of a motherly woman in a little
farmhouse back in Kansas, and Eddie realized that this man,
this outlaw, had been the means of arousing within him a
desire and a determination to return again to those loving
arms.  Too, the man had saved his mother from injury, and
possible death.

Eddie shut his eyes quickly and thought hard and fast.  Miss
Barbara had always been kind to him.  In his boyish heart he
had loved her, hopelessly of course, in a boyish way.  She
wanted the outlaw to escape.  Eddie realized that he would do
anything that Miss Barbara wanted, even if he had to risk his
life at it.

The girl and the man were at the door.  She pushed him
through ahead of her while she kept the revolver leveled upon
Eddie, then she passed out after him and closed the door,
while Eddie Shorter kept his eyes tightly closed and prayed to
his God that Billy Byrne might get safely away.

Outside and in the rear of the office building Barbara
pressed the revolver upon Billy.

"You will need it," she said.  "There is Brazos--take him.  
God bless and guard you, Billy!" and she was gone.

Billy swallowed bard.  He wanted to run after her and take
her in his arms; but he recalled Bridge, and with a sigh turned
toward the patient Brazos.  Languidly he gathered up the reins
and mounted, and then unconcernedly as though he were an
honored guest departing by daylight he rode out of the
ranchyard and turned Brazos' head north up the river road.

And as Billy disappeared in the darkness toward the north
Barbara Harding walked slowly toward the ranchhouse, while
from a little group of men and horses a hundred yards away
three men detached themselves and crept toward her, for they
had seen her in the moonlight as she left Billy outside the
office and strolled slowly in the direction of the house.

They hid in the shadow at the side of the house until the
girl had turned the corner and was approaching the veranda,
then they ran quickly forward and as she mounted the steps
she was seized from behind and dragged backward.  A hand
was clapped over her mouth and a whispered threat warned
her to silence.

Half dragging and half carrying her the three men bore her
back to where their confederates awaited them.  A huge fellow
mounted his pony and Barbara was lifted to the horn of the
saddle before him.  Then the others mounted and as silently as
they had come they rode away, following the same path.

Barbara Harding had not cried out nor attempted to, for
she had seen very shortly after her capture that she was in the
hands of Indians and she judged from what she had heard of
the little band of Pimans who held forth in the mountains to
the east that they would as gladly knife her as not.

Jose was a Piman, and she immediately connected Jose with
the perpetration, or at least the planning of her abduction.  
Thus she felt assured that no harm would come to her, since
Jose had been famous in his time for the number and size of
the ransoms he had collected.

Her father would pay what was demanded, she would be
returned and, aside from a few days of discomfort and hardship,
she would be none the worse off for her experience.  
Reasoning thus it was not difficult to maintain her composure
and presence of mind.

As Barbara was borne toward the east, Billy Byrne rode
steadily northward.  It was his intention to stop at Jose's hut
and deliver the message which Pesita had given him for the
old Indian.  Then he would disappear into the mountains to
the west, join Pesita and urge a new raid upon some favored
friend of General Francisco Villa, for Billy had no love for

He should have been glad to pay his respects to El Orobo
Rancho and its foreman; but the fact that Anthony Harding
owned it and that he and Barbara were there was sufficient
effectually to banish all thoughts of revenge along that line.

"Maybe I can get his goat later," he thought, "when he's
away from the ranch.  I don't like that stiff, anyhow.  He orter
been a harness bull."

It was four o'clock in the morning when Billy dismounted
in front of Jose's hut.  He pounded on the door until the
man came and opened it.

"Eh!" exclaimed Jose as he saw who his early morning
visitor was, "you got away from them.  Fine!" and the old
man chuckled.  "I send word to Pesita two, four hours ago that
Villistas capture Capitan Byrne and take him to Cuivaca."

"Thanks," said Billy.  "Pesita wants you to send Esteban to
him.  I didn't have no chance to tell you last night while them
pikers was stickin' aroun', so I stops now on my way back to
the hills."

"I will send Esteban tonight if I can get him; but I do not
know.  Esteban is working for the pig, Grayson."

"Wot's he doin' fer Grayson?" asked Billy.  "And what was
the Grayson guy doin' up here with you, Jose?  Ain't you
gettin' pretty thick with Pesita's enemies?"

"Jose good friends everybody," and the old man grinned.  
"Grayson have a job he want good men for.  Jose furnish
men.  Grayson pay well.  Job got nothin' do Pesita, Villa,
Carranza, revolution--just private job.  Grayson want senorita.  
He pay to get her.  That all."

"Oh," said Billy, and yawned.  He was not interested in Mr.
Grayson's amours.  "Why didn't the poor boob go get her
himself?" he inquired disinterestedly.  "He must be a yap to
hire a bunch o' guys to go cop off a siwash girl fer him."

"It is not a siwash girl, Senor Capitan," said Jose.  "It is one
beautiful senorita--the daughter of the owner of El Orobo

"What?" cried Billy Byrne.  "What's that you say?"

"Yes, Senor Capitan, what of it?" inquired Jose.  "Grayson
he pay me furnish the men.  Esteban he go with his warriors.  I
get Esteban.  They go tonight take away the senorita; but not
for Grayson," and the old fellow laughed.  "I can no help can
I?  Grayson pay me money get men.  I get them.  I no help if
they keep girl," and he shrugged.

"They're comin' for her tonight?" cried Billy.

"Si, senor," replied Jose.  "Doubtless they already take her."

"Hell!" muttered Billy Byrne, as he swung Brazos about so
quickly that the little pony pivoted upon his hind legs and
dashed away toward the south over the same trail he had just



THE Brazos pony had traveled far that day but for only a
trifle over ten miles had he carried a rider upon his back.  He
was, consequently, far from fagged as he leaped forward to
the lifted reins and tore along the dusty river trail back in the
direction of Orobo.

Never before had Brazos covered ten miles in so short a
time, for it was not yet five o'clock when, reeling with fatigue,
he stopped, staggered and fell in front of the office building  at
El Orobo.

Eddie Shorter had sat in the chair as Barbara and Billy had
last seen him waiting until Byrne should have an ample start
before arousing Grayson and reporting the prisoner's escape.  
Eddie had determined that he would give Billy an hour.  He
grinned as he anticipated the rage of Grayson and the Villistas
when they learned that their bird had flown, and as he mused
and waited he fell asleep.

It was broad daylight when Eddie awoke, and as he
looked up at the little clock ticking against the wall, and saw
the time he gave an exclamation of surprise and leaped to his
feet.  Just as he opened the outer door of the office he saw a
horseman leap from a winded pony in front of the building.  
He saw the animal collapse and sink to the ground, and then
he recognized the pony as Brazos, and another glance at the
man brought recognition of him, too.

"You?" cried Eddie.  "What are you doin' back here?  I
gotta take you now," and he started to draw his revolver; but
Billy Byrne had him covered before ever his hand reached the
grip of his gun.

"Put 'em up!" admonished Billy, "and listen to me.  This
ain't no time fer gunplay or no such foolishness.  I ain't back
here to be took--get that out o' your nut.  I'm tipped off that
a bunch o' siwashes was down here last night to swipe Miss
Harding.  Come!  We gotta go see if she's here or not, an' don't
try any funny business on me, Eddie.  I ain't a-goin' to be
taken again, an' whoever tries it gets his, see?"

Eddie was down off the porch in an instant, and making
for the ranchhouse.

"I'm with you," he said.  "Who told you?  And who done

"Never mind who told me; but a siwash named Esteban
was to pull the thing off for Grayson.  Grayson wanted Miss
Harding an' he was goin' to have her stolen for him."

"The hound!" muttered Eddie.

The two men dashed up onto the veranda of the ranchhouse
and pounded at the door until a Chinaman opened it
and stuck out his head, inquiringly.

"Is Miss Harding here?" demanded Billy.

"Mlissy Hardie Kleep," snapped the servant.  "Wally wanee
here flo blekfas?", and would have shut the door in their faces
had not Billy intruded a heavy boot.  The next instant he
placed a large palm over the celestial's face and pushed the
man back into the house.  Once inside he called Mr. Harding's
name aloud.

"What is it?" asked the gentleman a moment later as he
appeared in a bedroom doorway off the living-room clad in
his pajamas.  "What's the matter?  Why, gad man, is that you?
Is this really Billy Byrne?"

"Sure," replied Byrne shortly; "but we can't waste any time
chinnin'.  I heard that Miss Barbara was goin' to be swiped
last night--I heard that she had been.  Now hurry and see if
she is here."

Anthony Harding turned and leaped up the narrow stairway
to the second floor four steps at a time.  He hadn't gone
upstairs in that fashion in forty years.  Without even pausing
to rap he burst into his daughter's bedroom.  It was empty.  
The bed was unruffled.  It had not been slept in.  With a moan
the man turned back and ran hastily to the other rooms upon
the second floor--Barbara was nowhere to be found.  Then he
hastened downstairs to the two men awaiting him.

As he entered the room from one end Grayson entered it
from the other through the doorway leading out upon the
veranda.  Billy Byrne had heard footsteps upon the boards
without and he was ready, so that as Grayson entered he
found himself looking straight at the business end of a sixshooter.
The foreman halted, and stood looking in surprise
first at Billy Byrne, and then at Eddie Shorter and Mr.

"What does this mean?" he demanded, addressing Eddie.  
"What you doin' here with your prisoner?  Who told you to
let him out, eh?"

"Can the chatter," growled Billy Byrne.  "Shorter didn't let
me out.  I escaped hours ago, and I've just come back from
Jose's to ask you where Miss Harding is, you low-lived cur,
you.  Where is she?"

"What has Mr. Grayson to do with it?" asked Mr. Harding.  
"How should he know anything about it?  It's all a mystery to
me--you here, of all men in the world, and Grayson talking
about you as the prisoner.  I can't make it out.  Quick, though,
Byrne, tell me all you know about Barbara."

Billy kept Grayson covered as he replied to the request of

"This guy hires a bunch of Pimans to steal Miss Barbara,"
he said.  "I got it straight from the fellow he paid the money
to for gettin' him the right men to pull off the job.  He wants
her it seems," and Billy shot a look at the ranch foreman that
would have killed if looks could.  "She can't have been gone
long.  I seen her after midnight, just before I made my getaway,
so they can't have taken her very far.  This thing here
can't help us none neither, for he don't know where she is
any more'n we do.  He thinks he does; but he don't.  The
siwashes framed it on him, an' they've doubled-crossed him.  I
got that straight too; but, Gawd!  I don't know where they've
taken her or what they're goin' to do with her."

As he spoke he turned his eyes for the first time away from
Grayson and looked full in Anthony Harding's face.  The
latter saw beneath the strong character lines of the other's
countenance the agony of fear and doubt that lay heavy upon
his heart.

In the brief instant that Billy's watchful gaze left the figure
of the ranch foreman the latter saw the opportunity he craved.  
He was standing directly in the doorway--a single step would
carry him out of range of Byrne's gun, placing a wall between
it and him, and Grayson was not slow in taking that step.

When Billy turned his eyes back the Texan had disappeared,
and by the time the former reached the doorway
Grayson was halfway to the office building on the veranda of
which stood the four soldiers of Villa grumbling and muttering
over the absence of their prisoner of the previous evening.

Billy Byrne stepped out into the open.  The ranch foreman
called aloud to the four Mexicans that their prisoner was at
the ranchhouse and as they looked in that direction they saw
him, revolver in hand, coming slowly toward them.  There was
a smile upon his lips which they could not see because of the
distance, and which, not knowing Billy Byrne, they would not
have interpreted correctly; but the revolver they did understand,
and at sight of it one of them threw his carbine to his
shoulder.  His finger, however, never closed upon the trigger,
for there came the sound of a shot from beyond Billy Byrne
and the Mexican staggered forward, pitching over the edge of
the porch to the ground.

Billy turned his head in the direction from which the shot
had come and saw Eddie Shorter running toward him, a
smoking six-shooter in his right hand.

"Go back," commanded Byrne; "this is my funeral."

"Not on your life," replied Eddie Shorter.  "Those greasers
don't take no white man off'n El Orobo, while I'm here.  Get
busy!  They're comin'."

And sure enough they were coming, and as they came their
carbines popped and the bullets whizzed about the heads of
the two Americans.  Grayson, too, had taken a hand upon the
side of the Villistas.  From the bunkhouse other men were
running rapidly in the direction of the fight, attracted by the
first shots.

Billy and Eddie stood their ground, a few paces apart.  Two
more of Villa's men went down.  Grayson ran for cover.  Then
Billy Byrne dropped the last of the Mexicans just as the men
from the bunkhouse came panting upon the scene.  There were
both Americans and Mexicans among them.  All were armed
and weapons were ready in their hands.

They paused a short distance from the two men.  Eddie's
presence upon the side of the stranger saved Billy from instant
death, for Eddie was well liked by both his Mexican and
American fellow-workers.

"What's the fuss?" asked an American.

Eddie told them, and when they learned that the boss's
daughter had been spirited away and that the ranch foreman
was at the bottom of it the anger of the Americans rose to a
dangerous pitch.

"Where is he?" someone asked.  They were gathered in a
little cluster now about Billy Byrne and Shorter.

"I saw him duck behind the office building," said Eddie.

"Come on," said another.  "We'll get him."

"Someone get a rope."  The men spoke in low, ordinary
tones--they appeared unexcited.  Determination was the most
apparent characteristic of the group.  One of them ran back
toward the bunkhouse for his rope.  The others walked slowly
in the direction of the rear of the office building.  Grayson was
not there.  The search proceeded.  The Americans were in
advance.  The Mexicans kept in a group by themselves a little
in rear of the others--it was not their trouble.  If the gringos
wanted to lynch another gringo, well and good--that was the
gringos' business.  They would keep out of it, and they did.

Down past the bunkhouse and the cookhouse to the stables
the searchers made their way.  Grayson could not be found.  In
the stables one of the men made a discovery--the foreman's
saddle had vanished.  Out in the corrals they went.  One of the
men laughed--the bars were down and the saddle horses
gone.  Eddie Shorter presently pointed out across the pasture
and the river to the skyline of the low bluffs beyond.  The
others looked.  A horseman was just visible urging his mount
upward to the crest, the two stood in silhouette against the
morning sky pink with the new sun.

"That's him," said Eddie.

"Let him go," said Billy Byrne.  "He won't never come back
and he ain't worth chasin'.  Not while we got Miss Barbara to
look after.  My horse is down there with yours.  I'm goin'
down to get him.  Will you come, Shorter?  I may need help--I
ain't much with a rope yet."

He started off without waiting for a reply, and all the
Americans followed.  Together they circled the horses and
drove them back to the corral.  When Billy had saddled and
mounted he saw that the others had done likewise.

"We're goin' with you," said one of the men.  "Miss Barbara
b'longs to us."

Billy nodded and moved off in the direction of the
ranchhouse.  Here he dismounted and with Eddie Shorter and Mr.
Harding commenced circling the house in search of some
manner of clue to the direction taken by the abductors.  It was
not long before they came upon the spot where the Indians'
horses had stood the night before.  From there the trail led
plainly down toward the river.  In a moment ten Americans
were following it, after Mr. Harding had supplied Billy Byrne
with a carbine, another six-shooter, and ammunition.

Through the river and the cut in the barbed-wire fence,
then up the face of the bluff and out across the low mesa
beyond the trail led.  For a mile it was distinct, and then
disappeared as though the riders had separated.

"Well," said Billy, as the others drew around him for
consultation, "they'd be goin' to the hills there.  They was
Pimans--Esteban's tribe.  They got her up there in the hills
somewheres.  Let's split up an' search the hills for her.
Whoever comes on 'em first'll have to do some shootin' and the rest
of us can close in an' help.  We can go in pairs--then if
one's killed the other can ride out an' lead the way back to
where it happened."

The men seemed satisfied with the plan and broke up into
parties of two.  Eddie Shorter paired off with Billy Byrne.

"Spread out," said the latter to his companions.  "Eddie an'
I'll ride straight ahead--the rest of you can fan out a few
miles on either side of us.  S'long an' good luck," and he
started off toward the hills, Eddie Shorter at his side.

Back at the ranch the Mexican vaqueros lounged about,
grumbling.  With no foreman there was nothing to do except
talk about their troubles.  They had not been paid since the
looting of the bank at Cuivaca, for Mr. Harding had been
unable to get any silver from elsewhere until a few days since.  
He now had assurances that it was on the way to him; but
whether or not it would reach El Orobo was a question.

"Why should we stay here when we are not paid?" asked
one of them.

"Yes, why?" chorused several others.

"There is nothing to do here," said another. "We will go to
Cuivaca. I, for one, am tired of working for the gringos."

This met with the unqualified approval of all, and a few
moments later the men had saddled their ponies and were
galloping away in the direction of sun-baked Cuivaca.  They
sang now, and were happy, for they were as little boys playing
hooky from school--not bad men; but rather irresponsible

Once in Cuivaca they swooped down upon the drinking-place,
where, with what little money a few of them had left
they proceeded to get drunk.

Later in the day an old, dried-up Indian entered.  He was
hot and dusty from a long ride.

"Hey, Jose!" cried one of the vaqueros from El Orobo
Rancho; "you old rascal, what are you doing here?"

Jose looked around upon them.  He knew them all--they
represented the Mexican contingent of the riders of El Orobo.  
Jose wondered what they were all doing here in Cuivaca at
one time.  Even upon a pay day it never had been the rule of
El Orobo to allow more than four men at a time to come to

"Oh, Jose come to buy coffee and tobacco," he replied.  He
looked about searchingly.  "Where are the others?" he asked,
"--the gringos?"

"They have ridden after Esteban," explained one of the
vaqueros.  "He has run off with Senorita Harding."

Jose raised his eyebrows as though this was all news.

"And Senor Grayson has gone with them?" he asked.  "He
was very fond of the senorita."

"Senor Grayson has run away," went on the other speaker.  
"The other gringos wished to hang him, for it is said he has
bribed Esteban to do this thing."

Again Jose raised his eyebrows.  "Impossible!" he ejaculated.  
"And who then guards the ranch?" he asked presently.

"Senor Harding, two Mexican house servants, and a Chinaman,"
and the vaquero laughed.

"I must be going," Jose announced after a moment.  "It is a
long ride for an old man from my poor home to Cuivaca, and
back again."

The vaqueros were paying no further attention to him, and
the Indian passed out and sought his pony; but when he had
mounted and ridden from town he took a strange direction
for one whose path lies to the east, since he turned his pony's
head toward the northwest.

Jose had ridden far that day, since Billy had left his humble
hut.  He had gone to the west to the little rancho of one of
Pesita's adherents who had dispatched a boy to carry word to
the bandit that his Captain Byrne had escaped the Villistas,
and then Jose had ridden into Cuivaca by a circuitous route
which brought him up from the east side of the town.

Now he was riding once again for Pesita; but this time he
would bear the information himself.  He found the chief in
camp and after begging tobacco and a cigarette paper the
Indian finally reached the purpose of his visit.

"Jose has just come from Cuivaca," he said, "and there he
drank with all the Mexican vaqueros of El Orobo Rancho--
ALL, my general, you understand.  It seems that Esteban has
carried off the beautiful senorita of El Orobo Rancho, and the
vaqueros tell Jose that ALL the American vaqueros have ridden
in search of her--ALL, my general, you understand.  In such
times of danger it is odd that the gringos should leave El
Orobo thus unguarded.  Only the rich Senor Harding, two
house servants, and a Chinaman remain."

A man lay stretched upon his blankets in a tent next to
that occupied by Pesita.  At the sound of the speaker's voice,
low though it was, he raised his head and listened.  He heard
every word, and a scowl settled upon his brow.  Barbara
stolen!  Mr Harding practically alone upon the ranch!  And
Pesita in possession of this information!

Bridge rose to his feet.  He buckled his cartridge belt about
his waist and picked up his carbine, then he crawled under the
rear wall of his tent and walked slowly off in the direction of
the picket line where the horses were tethered.

"Ah, Senor Bridge," said a pleasant voice in his ear;
"where to?"

Bridge turned quickly to look into the smiling, evil face of

"Oh," he replied, "I'm going out to see if I can't find some
shooting.  It's awfully dull sitting around here doing nothing."

"Si, senor," agreed Rozales; "I, too, find it so.  Let us
go together--I know where the shooting is best."

"I don't doubt it," thought Bridge; "probably in the back;"
but aloud he said: "Certainly, that will be fine," for he
guessed that Rozales had been set to watch his movements
and prevent his escape, and, perchance, to be the sole witness
of some unhappy event which should carry Senor Bridge to
the arms of his fathers.

Rozales called a soldier to saddle and bridle their horses
and shortly after the two were riding abreast down the trail
out of the hills.  Where it was necessary that they ride in single
file Bridge was careful to see that Rozales rode ahead, and the
Mexican graciously permitted the American to fall behind.

If he was inspired by any other motive than simple espionage
he was evidently content to bide his time until chance
gave him the opening he desired, and it was equally evident
that he felt as safe in front of the American as behind him.

At a point where a ravine down which they had ridden
debauched upon a mesa Rozales suggested that they ride to
the north, which was not at all the direction in which Bridge
intended going.  The American demurred.

"But there is no shooting down in the valley," urged

"I think there will be," was Bridge's enigmatical reply, and
then, with a sudden exclamation of surprise he pointed over
Rozales' shoulder.  "What's that?" he cried in a voice tense
with excitement.

The Mexican turned his head quickly in the direction
Bridge's index finger indicated.

"I see nothing," said Rozales, after a moment.

"You do now, though," replied Bridge, and as the Mexican's
eyes returned in the direction of his companion he was
forced to admit that he did see something--the dismal, hollow
eye of a six-shooter looking him straight in the face.

"Senor Bridge!" exclaimed Rozales.  "What are you doing?
What do you mean?"

"I mean," said Bridge, "that if you are at all solicitous of
your health you'll climb down off that pony, not forgetting to
keep your hands above your head when you reach the
ground.  Now climb!"

Rozales dismounted.

"Turn your back toward me," commanded the American,
and when the other had obeyed him, Bridge dismounted and
removed the man's weapons from his belt.  "Now you may go,
Rozales," he said, "and should you ever have an American in
your power again remember that I spared your life when I
might easily have taken it--when it would have been infinitely
safer for me to have done it."

The Mexican made no reply, but the black scowl that
clouded his face boded ill for the next gringo who should be
so unfortunate as to fall into his hands.  Slowly he wheeled
about and started back up the trail in the direction of the
Pesita camp.

"I'll be halfway to El Orobo," thought Bridge, "before he
gets a chance to tell Pesita what happened to him," and then
be remounted and rode on down into the valley, leading
Rozales' horse behind him.

It would never do, he knew, to turn the animal loose too
soon, since he would doubtless make his way back to camp,
and in doing so would have to pass Rozales who would catch
him.  Time was what Bridge wanted--to be well on his way to
Orobo before Pesita should learn of his escape.

Bridge knew nothing of what had happened to Billy, for
Pesita had seen to it that the information was kept from the
American.  The latter had, nevertheless, been worrying not a
little at the absence of his friend for he knew that he had
taken his liberty and his life in his hands in riding down to El
Orobo among avowed enemies.

Far to his rear Rozales plodded sullenly up the steep trail
through the mountains, revolving in his mind various exquisite
tortures he should be delighted to inflict upon the next gringo
who came into his power.



BILLY BYRNE and Eddie Shorter rode steadily in the direction
of the hills.  Upon either side and at intervals of a mile or
more stretched the others of their party, occasionally visible;
but for the most part not.  Once in the hills the two could no
longer see their friends or be seen by them.

Both Byrne and Eddie felt that chance had placed them
upon the right trail for a well-marked and long-used path
wound upward through a canyon along which they rode.  It
was an excellent location for an ambush, and both men
breathed more freely when they had passed out of it into
more open country upon a narrow tableland between the first
foothills and the main range of mountains.

Here again was the trail well marked, and when Eddie,
looking ahead, saw that it appeared to lead in the direction of
a vivid green spot close to the base of the gray brown hills he
gave an exclamation of assurance.

"We're on the right trail all right, old man," he said.  
"They's water there," and he pointed ahead at the green
splotch upon the gray.  "That's where they'd be havin' their
village.  I ain't never been up here so I ain't familiar with the
country.  You see we don't run no cattle this side the river--
the Pimans won't let us.  They don't care to have no white
men pokin' round in their country; but I'll bet a hat we find a
camp there."

Onward they rode toward the little spot of green.  Sometimes
it was in sight and again as they approached higher
ground, or wound through gullies and ravines it was lost to
their sight; but always they kept it as their goal.  The trail they
were upon led to it--of that there could be no longer the
slightest doubt.  And as they rode with their destination in
view black, beady eyes looked down upon them from the very
green oasis toward which they urged their ponies--tiring now
from the climb.

A lithe, brown body lay stretched comfortably upon a bed
of grasses at the edge of a little rise of ground beneath which
the riders must pass before they came to the cluster of huts
which squatted in a tiny natural park at the foot of the main
peak.  Far above the watcher a spring of clear, pure water
bubbled out of the mountain-side, and running downward
formed little pools among the rocks which held it.  And with
this water the Pimans irrigated their small fields before it sank
from sight again into the earth just below their village.  Beside
the brown body lay a long rifle.  The man's eyes watched,
unblinking, the two specks far below him whom he knew
and had known for an hour were gringos.

Another brown body wormed itself forward to his side and
peered over the edge of the declivity down upon the white
men.  He spoke a few words in a whisper to him who watched
with the rifle, and then crawled back again and disappeared.  
And all the while, onward and upward came Billy Byrne and
Eddie Shorter, each knowing in his heart that if not already,
then at any moment a watcher would discover them and a
little later a bullet would fly that would find one of them, and
they took the chance for the sake of the American girl who
lay hidden somewhere in these hills, for in no other way could
they locate her hiding place more quickly.  Any one of the
other eight Americans who rode in pairs into the hills at other
points to the left and right of Billy Byrne and his companion
would have and was even then cheerfully taking the same
chances that Eddie and Billy took, only the latter were now
assured that to one of them would fall the sacrifice, for as
they had come closer Eddie had seen a thin wreath of smoke
rising from among the trees of the oasis.  Now, indeed, were
they sure that they had chanced upon the trail to the Piman

"We gotta keep our eyes peeled," said Eddie, as they
wound into a ravine which from its location evidently led
directly up to the village.  "We ain't far from 'em now, an' if
they get us they'll get us about here."

As though to punctuate his speech with the final period a
rifle cracked above them.  Eddie jumped spasmodically and
clutched his breast.

"I'm hit," he said, quite unemotionally.

Billy Byrne's revolver had answered the shot from above
them, the bullet striking where Billy had seen a puff of smoke
following the rifle shot.  Then Billy turned toward Eddie.

"Hit bad?" he asked.

"Yep, I guess so," said Eddie.  "What'll we do?  Hide up
here, or ride back after the others?"

Another shot rang out above them, although Billy had been
watching for a target at which to shoot again--a target which
he had been positive he would get when the man rose to fire
again.  And Billy did see the fellow at last--a few paces from
where he had first fired; but not until the other had dropped
Eddie's horse beneath him.  Byrne fired again, and this time he
had the satisfaction of seeing a brown body rise, struggle a
moment, and then roll over once upon the grass before it
came to rest.

"I reckon we'll stay here," said Billy, looking ruefully at
Eddie's horse.

Eddie rose and as he did so he staggered and grew very
white.  Billy dismounted and ran forward, putting an arm
about him.  Another shot came from above and Billy Byrne's
pony grunted and collapsed.

"Hell!" exclaimed Byrne.  "We gotta get out of this," and
lifting his wounded comrade in his arms he ran for the shelter
of the bluff from the summit of which the snipers had fired
upon them.  Close in, hugging the face of the perpendicular
wall of tumbled rock and earth, they were out of range of the
Indians; but Billy did not stop when he had reached temporary
safety.  Farther up toward the direction in which lay the
village, and halfway up the side of the bluff Billy saw what he
took to be excellent shelter.  Here the face of the bluff was less
steep and upon it lay a number of large bowlders, while others
protruded from the ground about them.

Toward these Billy made his way.  The wounded man
across his shoulder was suffering indescribable agonies; but he
bit his lip and stifled the cries that each step his comrade took
seemed to wrench from him, lest he attract the enemy to their

Above them all was silence, yet Billy knew that alert, red
foemen were creeping to the edge of the bluff in search of
their prey.  If he could but reach the shelter of the bowlders
before the Pimans discovered them!

The minutes that were consumed in covering the hundred
yards seemed as many hours to Billy Byrne; but at last he
dragged the fainting cowboy between two large bowlders close
under the edge of the bluff and found himself in a little,
natural fortress, well adapted to defense.

From above they were protected from the fire of the
Indians upon the bluff by the height of the bowlder at the
foot of which they lay, while another just in front hid them
from possible marksmen across the canyon.  Smaller rocks
scattered about gave promise of shelter from flank fire, and as
soon as he had deposited Eddie in the comparative safety of
their retreat Byrne commenced forming a low breastwork
upon the side facing the village--the direction from which
they might naturally expect attack.  This done he turned his
attention to the opening upon the opposite side and soon had
a similar defense constructed there, then he turned his attention
to Eddie, though keeping a watchful eye upon both
approaches to their stronghold.

The Kansan lay upon his side, moaning.  Blood stained his
lips and nostrils, and when Billy Byrne opened his shirt and
found a gaping wound in his right breast he knew how
serious was his companion's injury.  As he felt Billy working
over him the boy opened his eyes.

"Do you think I'm done for?" he asked in a tortured

"Nothin' doin'," lied Billy cheerfully.  "Just a scratch.  You'll
be all right in a day or two."

Eddie shook his head wearily.  "I wish I could believe you,"
he said.  "I ben figgerin' on goin' back to see maw.  I ain't
thought o' nothin' else since you told me 'bout how she
missed me.  I ken see her right now just like I was there.  I'll
bet she's scrubbin' the kitchen floor.  Maw was always a-scrubbin'
somethin'.  Gee! but it's tough to cash in like this
just when I was figgerin' on goin' home."

Billy couldn't think of anything to say.  He turned to look
up and down the canyon in search of the enemy.

"Home!" whispered Eddie.  "Home!"

"Aw, shucks!" said Billy kindly.  "You'll get home all right,
kid.  The boys must a-heard the shootin' an' they'll be along in
no time now.  Then we'll clean up this bunch o' coons an'
have you back to El Orobo an' nursed into shape in no

Eddie tried to smile as he looked up into the other's face.  
He reached a hand out and laid it on Billy's arm.

"You're all right, old man," he whispered.  "I know you're
lyin' an' so do you; but it makes me feel better anyway to
have you say them things."

Billy felt as one who has been caught stealing from a blind
man.  The only adequate reply of which he could think was,
"Aw, shucks!"

"Say," said Eddie after a moment's silence, "if you get out
o' here an' ever go back to the States promise me you'll look
up maw and paw an' tell 'em I was comin' home--to stay.  
Tell 'em I died decent, too, will you--died like paw was
always a-tellin' me my granddad died, fightin' Injuns 'round
Fort Dodge somewheres."

"Sure," said Billy; "I'll tell 'em.  Gee!  Look who's comin'
here," and as he spoke he flattened himself to the ground just
as a bullet pinged against the rock above his head and the
report of a rifle sounded from up the canyon.  "That guy most
got me.  I'll have to be 'tendin' to business better'n this."

He drew himself slowly up upon his elbows, his carbine
ready in his hand, and peered through a small aperture
between two of the rocks which composed his breastwork.  
Then he stuck the muzzle of the weapon through, took aim
and pulled the trigger.

"Didje get him?" asked Eddie.

"Yep," said Billy, and fired again.  "Got that one too.  Say,
they're tough-lookin' guys; but I guess they won't come so
fast next time.  Those two were right in the open, workin' up
to us on their bellies.  They must a-thought we was sleepin'."

For an hour Billy neither saw nor heard any sign of the
enemy, though several times be raised his hat above the
breastwork upon the muzzle of his carbine to draw their fire.

It was midafternoon when the sound of distant rifle fire
came faintly to the ears of the two men from somewhere far
below them.

"The boys must be comin'," whispered Eddie Shorter hopefully.

For half an hour the firing continued and then silence again
fell upon the mountains.  Eddie began to wander mentally.  He
talked much of Kansas and his old home, and many times he
begged for water.

"Buck up, kid," said Billy; "the boys'll be along in a minute
now an' then we'll get you all the water you want."

But the boys did not come.  Billy was standing up now,
stretching his legs, and searching up and down the canyon for
Indians.  He was wondering if he could chance making a break
for the valley where they stood some slight chance of meeting
with their companions, and even as he considered the matter
seriously there came a staccato report and Billy Byrne fell
forward in a heap.

"God!" cried Eddie.  "They got him now, they got him."

Byrne stirred and struggled to rise.

"Like'll they got me," he said, and staggered to his knees.

Over the breastwork he saw a half-dozen Indians running
rapidly toward the shelter--he saw them in a haze of red that
was caused not by blood but by anger.  With an oath Billy
Byrne leaped to his feet.  From his knees up his whole body
was exposed to the enemy; but Billy cared not.  He was in a
berserker rage.  Whipping his carbine to his shoulder he let
drive at the advancing Indians who were now beyond hope of
cover.  They must come on or be shot down where they were,
so they came on, yelling like devils and stopping momentarily
to fire upon the rash white man who stood so perfect a target
before them.

But their haste spoiled their marksmanship.  The bullets
zinged and zipped against the rocky little fortress, they nicked
Billy's shirt and trousers and hat, and all the while he stood
there pumping lead into his assailants--not hysterically; but
with the cool deliberation of a butcher slaughtering beeves.

One by one the Pimans dropped until but a single Indian
rushed frantically upon the white man, and then the last of
the assailants lunged forward across the breastwork with a
bullet from Billy's carbine through his forehead.

Eddie Shorter had raised himself painfully upon an elbow
that he might witness the battle, and when it was over he sank
back, the blood welling from between his set teeth.

Billy turned to look at him when the last of the Pimans was
disposed of, and seeing his condition kneeled beside him and
took his head in the hollow of an arm.

"You orter lie still," he cautioned the Kansan.  "Tain't
good for you to move around much."

"It was worth it," whispered Eddie.  "Say, but that was
some scrap.  You got your nerve standin' up there against the
bunch of 'em; but if you hadn't they'd have rushed us and
some of 'em would a-got in."

"Funny the boys don't come," said Billy.

"Yes," replied Eddie, with a sigh; "it's milkin' time now, an'
I figgered on goin' to Shawnee this evenin'.  Them's nice
cookies, maw.  I--"

Billy Byrne was bending low to catch his feeble words, and
when the voice trailed out into nothingness he lowered the
tousled red head to the hard earth and turned away.

Could it be that the thing which glistened on the eyelid of
the toughest guy on the West Side was a tear?

The afternoon waned and night came, but it brought to
Billy Byrne neither renewed attack nor succor.  The bullet
which had dropped him momentarily had but creased his
forehead.  Aside from the fact that he was blood covered from
the wound it had inconvenienced him in no way, and now
that darkness had fallen he commenced to plan upon leaving
the shelter.

First he transferred Eddie's ammunition to his own person,
and such valuables and trinkets as he thought "maw" might
be glad to have, then he removed the breechblock from
Eddie's carbine and stuck it in his pocket that the weapon
might be valueless to the Indians when they found it.

"Sorry I can't bury you old man," was Billy's parting
comment, as he climbed over the breastwork and melted into
the night.

Billy Byrne moved cautiously through the darkness, and he
moved not in the direction of escape and safety but directly
up the canyon in the way that the village of the Pimans lay.

Soon he heard the sound of voices and shortly after saw
the light of cook fires playing upon bronzed faces and upon
the fronts of low huts.  Some women were moaning and
wailing.  Billy guessed that they mourned for those whom his
bullets had found earlier in the day.  In the darkness of the
night, far up among the rough, forbidding mountains it was
all very weird and uncanny.

Billy crept closer to the village.  Shelter was abundant.  He
saw no sign of sentry and wondered why they should be so
lax in the face of almost certain attack.  Then it occurred to
him that possibly the firing he and Eddie had heard earlier in
the day far down among the foothills might have meant the
extermination of the Americans from El Orobo.

"Well, I'll be next then," mused Billy, and wormed closer to
the huts.  His eyes were on the alert every instant, as were his
ears; but no sign of that which he sought rewarded his
keenest observation.

Until midnight he lay in concealment and all that time the
mourners continued their dismal wailing.  Then, one by one,
they entered their huts, and silence reigned within the village.

Billy crept closer.  He eyed each hut with longing, wondering
gaze.  Which could it be?  How could he determine?  One
seemed little more promising than the others.  He had noted
those to which Indians had retired.  There were three into
which he had seen none go.  These, then, should be the first to
undergo his scrutiny.

The night was dark.  The moon had not yet risen.  Only a
few dying fires cast a wavering and uncertain light upon the
scene.  Through the shadows Billy Byrne crept closer and
closer.  At last he lay close beside one of the huts which was
to be the first to claim his attention.

For several moments he lay listening intently for any sound
which might come from within; but there was none.  He
crawled to the doorway and peered within.  Utter darkness
shrouded and hid the interior.

Billy rose and walked boldly inside.  If he could see no one
within, then no one could see him once he was inside the
door.  Therefore, so reasoned Billy Byrne, he would have as
good a chance as the occupants of the hut, should they prove
to be enemies.

He crossed the floor carefully, stopping often to listen.  At
last he heard a rustling sound just ahead of him.  His fingers
tightened upon the revolver he carried in his right hand, by
the barrel, clublike.  Billy had no intention of making any
more noise than necessary.

Again he heard a sound from the same direction.  It was
not at all unlike the frightened gasp of a woman.  Billy emitted
a low growl, in fair imitation of a prowling dog that has been

Again the gasp, and a low: "Go away!" in liquid feminine
tones--and in English!

Billy uttered a low: "S-s-sh!" and tiptoed closer.  Extending
his hands they presently came in contact with a human body
which shrank from him with another smothered cry.

"Barbara!" whispered Billy, bending closer.

A hand reached out through the darkness, found him, and
closed upon his sleeve.

"Who are you?" asked a low voice.

"Billy," he replied.  "Are you alone in here?"

"No, an old woman guards me," replied the girl, and at the
same time they both heard a movement close at hand, and
something scurried past them to be silhouetted for an instant
against the path of lesser darkness which marked the location
of the doorway.

"There she goes!" cried Barbara.  "She heard you and she
has gone for help."

"Then come!" said Billy, seizing the girl's arm and dragging
her to her feet; but they had scarce crossed half the distance
to the doorway when the cries of the old woman without
warned them that the camp was being aroused.

Billy thrust a revolver into Barbara's hand.  "We gotta make
a fight of it, little girl," he said.  "But you'd better die than be
here alone."

As they emerged from the hut they saw warriors running
from every doorway.  The old woman stood screaming in
Piman at the top of her lungs.  Billy, keeping Barbara in front
of him that he might shield her body with his own, turned
directly out of the village.  He did not fire at first hoping that
they might elude detection and thus not draw the fire of the
Indians upon them; but he was doomed to disappointment,
and they had taken scarcely a dozen steps when a rifle spoke
above the noise of human voices and a bullet whizzed past

Then Billy replied, and Barbara, too, from just behind his
shoulder.  Together they backed away toward the shadow of
the trees beyond the village and as they went they poured shot
after shot into the village.

The Indians, but just awakened and still half stupid from
sleep, did not know but that they were attacked by a vastly
superior force, and this fear held them in check for several
minutes--long enough for Billy and Barbara to reach the
summit of the bluff from which Billy and Eddie had first been
fired upon.

Here they were hidden from the view of the Indians, and
Billy broke at once into a run, half carrying the girl with a
strong arm about her waist.

"If we can reach the foothills," he said, "I think we can
dodge 'em, an' by goin' all night we may reach the river and
El Orobo by morning.  It's a long hike, Barbara, but we gotta
make it--we gotta, for if daylight finds us in the Piman
country we won't never make it.  Anyway," he concluded
optimistically, "it's all down hill."

"We'll make it, Billy," she replied, "if we can get past the

"What sentry?" asked Billy.  "I didn't see no sentry when I
come in."

"They keep a sentry way down the trail all night," replied
the girl.  "In the daytime he is nearer the village--on the top
of this bluff, for from here he can see the whole valley; but at
night they station him farther away in a narrow part of the

"It's a mighty good thing you tipped me off," said Billy;
"for I'd a-run right into him.  I thought they was all behind us

After that they went more cautiously, and when they
reached the part of the trail where the sentry might be
expected to be found, Barbara warned Billy of the fact.  Like
two thieves they crept along in the shadow of the canyon
wall.  Inwardly Billy cursed the darkness of the night which
hid from view everything more than a few paces from them;
yet it may have been this very darkness which saved them,
since it hid them as effectually from an enemy as it hid the
enemy from them.  They had reached the point where Barbara
was positive the sentry should be.  The girl was clinging tightly
to Billy's left arm.  He could feel the pressure of her fingers as
they sunk into his muscles, sending little tremors and thrills
through his giant frame.  Even in the face of death Billy Byrne
could sense the ecstasies of personal contact with this girl--the
only woman he ever had loved or ever would.

And then a black shadow loomed before them, and a rifle
flashed in their faces without a word or a sign of warning.



MR. ANTHONY HARDING was pacing back and forth the
length of the veranda of the ranchhouse at El Orobo waiting
for some word of hope from those who had ridden out in
search of his daughter, Barbara.  Each swirling dust devil that
eddied across the dry flat on either side of the river roused
hopes within his breast that it might have been spurred into
activity by the hoofs of a pony bearing a messenger of good
tidings; but always his hopes were dashed, for no horseman
emerged from the heat haze of the distance where the little
dust devils raced playfully among the cacti and the greasewood.

But at last, in the northwest, a horseman, unheralded by
gyrating dust column, came into sight.  Mr. Harding shook his
head sorrowfully.  It had not been from this direction that he
had expected word of Barbara, yet he kept his eyes fastened
upon the rider until the latter reined in at the ranchyard and
loped a tired and sweating pony to the foot of the veranda
steps.  Then Mr. Harding saw who the newcomer was.

"Bridge!" he exclaimed.  "What brings you back here?  Don't
you know that you endanger us as well as yourself by being
seen here?  General Villa will think that we have been harboring you."

Bridge swung from the saddle and ran up onto the veranda.
He paid not the slightest attention to Anthony Harding's

"How many men you got here that you can depend on?"
he asked.

"None," replied the Easterner.  "What do you mean?"

"None!" cried Bridge, incredulity and hopelessness showing
upon his countenance.  "Isn't there a Chinaman and a couple
of faithful Mexicans?"

"Oh, yes, of course," assented Mr. Harding; "but what are
you driving at?"

"Pesita is on his way here to clean up El Orobo.  He can't
be very far behind me.  Call the men you got, and we'll get
together all the guns and ammunition on the ranch, and
barricade the ranchhouse.  We may be able to stand 'em off.  
Have you heard anything of Miss Barbara?"

Anthony Harding shook his head sadly.

"Then we'll have to stay right here and do the best we
can," said Bridge.  "I was thinking we might make a run for it
if Miss Barbara was here; but as she's not we must wait for
those who went out after her."

Mr. Harding summoned the two Mexicans while Bridge ran
to the cookhouse and ordered the Chinaman to the ranchhouse.
Then the erstwhile bookkeeper ransacked the bunkhouse for
arms and ammunition.  What little he found he
carried to the ranchhouse, and with the help of the others
barricaded the doors and windows of the first floor.

"We'll have to make our fight from the upper windows," he
explained to the ranch owner.  "If Pesita doesn't bring too
large a force we may be able to stand them off until you can
get help from Cuivaca.  Call up there now and see if you can
get Villa to send help--he ought to protect you from Pesita.  I
understand that there is no love lost between the two."

Anthony Harding went at once to the telephone and rang
for the central at Cuivaca.

"Tell it to the operator," shouted Bridge who stood peering
through an opening in the barricade before a front window;
"they are coming now, and the chances are that the first thing
they'll do is cut the telephone wires."

The Easterner poured his story and appeal for help into the
ears of the girl at the other end of the line, and then for a few
moments there was silence in the room as he listened to her

"Impossible!" and "My God! it can't be true," Bridge heard
the older man ejaculate, and then he saw him hang up the
receiver and turn from the instrument, his face drawn and
pinched with an expression of utter hopelessness.

"What's wrong?" asked Bridge.

"Villa has turned against the Americans," replied Harding,
dully.  The operator evidently feels friendly toward us, for she
warned me not to appeal to Villa and told me why.  Even
now, this minute, the man has a force of twenty-five hundred
ready to march on Columbus, New Mexico.  Three Americans
were hanged in Cuivaca this afternoon.  It's horrible, sir!  It's
horrible!  We are as good as dead this very minute.  Even if we
stand off Pesita we can never escape to the border through
Villa's forces."

"It looks bad," admitted Bridge.  "In fact it couldn't look
much worse; but here we are, and while our ammunition
holds out about all we can do is stay here and use it.  Will you
men stand by us?" he addressed the Chinaman and the two
Mexicans, who assured him that they had no love for Pesita
and would fight for Anthony Harding in preference to going
over to the enemy.

"Good!" exclaimed Bridge, "and now for upstairs.  "They'll
be howling around here in about five minutes, and we want
to give them a reception they won't forget."

He led the way to the second floor, where the five took up
positions near the front windows.  A short distance from the
ranchhouse they could see the enemy, consisting of a detachment
of some twenty of Pesita's troopers riding at a brisk trot
in their direction.

"Pesita's with them," announced Bridge, presently.  "He's
the little fellow on the sorrel.  Wait until they are close up,
then give them a few rounds; but go easy on the ammunition
--we haven't any too much."

Pesita, expecting no resistance, rode boldly into the
ranchyard.  At the bunkhouse and the office his little force halted
while three or four troopers dismounted and entered the
buildings in search of victims.  Disappointed there they moved
toward the ranchhouse.

"Lie low!" Bridge cautioned his companions.  "Don't let
them see you, and wait till I give the word before you fire."

On came the horsemen at a slow walk.  Bridge waited until
they were within a few yards of the house, then he cried:
"Now!  Let 'em have it!"  A rattle of rifle fire broke from the
upper windows into the ranks of the Pesitistas.  Three troopers
reeled and slipped from their saddles.  Two horses dropped in
their tracks.  Cursing and yelling, the balance of the horsemen
wheeled and galloped away in the direction of the office
building, followed by the fire of the defenders.

"That wasn't so bad," cried Bridge.  "I'll venture a guess
that Mr. Pesita is some surprised--and sore.  There they go
behind the office.  They'll stay there a few minutes talking it
over and getting up their courage to try it again.  Next time
they'll come from another direction.  You two," he continued,
turning to the Mexicans, "take positions on the east and
south sides of the house.  Sing can remain here with Mr.
Harding.  I'll take the north side facing the office.  Shoot at the
first man who shows his head.  If we can hold them off until
dark we may be able to get away.  Whatever happens don't let
one of them get close enough to fire the house.  That's what
they'll try for."

It was fifteen minutes before the second attack came.  Five
dismounted troopers made a dash for the north side of the
house; but when Bridge dropped the first of them before he
had taken ten steps from the office building and wounded a
second the others retreated for shelter.

Time and again as the afternoon wore away Pesita made
attempts to get men close up to the house; but in each
instance they were driven back, until at last they desisted from
their efforts to fire the house or rush it, and contented
themselves with firing an occasional shot through the windows
opposite them.

"They're waiting for dark," said Bridge to Mr. Harding
during a temporary lull in the hostilities, "and then we're
goners, unless the boys come back from across the river in

"Couldn't we get away after dark?" asked the Easterner.

"It's our only hope if help don't reach us," replied Bridge.

But when night finally fell and the five men made an
attempt to leave the house upon the side away from the office
building they were met with the flash of carbines and the ping
of bullets.  One of the Mexican defenders fell, mortally wounded,
and the others were barely able to drag him within and
replace the barricade before the door when five of Pesita's
men charged close up to their defenses.  These were finally
driven off and again there came a lull; but all hope of escape
was gone, and Bridge reposted the defenders at the upper
windows where they might watch every approach to the

As the hours dragged on the hopelessness of their position
grew upon the minds of all.  Their ammunition was almost
gone--each man had but a few rounds remaining--and it was
evident that Pesita, through an inordinate desire for revenge,
would persist until he had reduced their fortress and claimed
the last of them as his victim.

It was with such cheerful expectations that they awaited the
final assault which would see them without ammunition and
defenseless in the face of a cruel and implacable foe.

It was just before daylight that the anticipated rush
occurred.  From every side rang the reports of carbines and the
yells of the bandits.  There were scarcely more than a dozen of
the original twenty left; but they made up for their depleted
numbers by the rapidity with which they worked their firearms
and the loudness and ferocity of their savage cries.

And this time they reached the shelter of the veranda and
commenced battering at the door.

At the report of the rifle so close to them Billy Byrne
shoved Barbara quickly to one side and leaped forward to
close with the man who barred their way to liberty.

That they had surprised him even more than he had them
was evidenced by the wildness of his shot which passed
harmlessly above their heads as well as by the fact that he had
permitted them to come so close before engaging them.

To the latter event was attributable his undoing, for it
permitted Billy Byrne to close with him before the Indian
could reload his antiquated weapon.  Down the two men went,
the American on top, each striving for a deathhold; but in
weight and strength and skill the Piman was far outclassed by
the trained fighter, a part of whose daily workouts had
consisted in wrestling with proficient artists of the mat.

Barbara Harding ran forward to assist her champion but as
the men rolled and tumbled over the ground she could find
no opening for a blow that might not endanger Billy Byrne
quite as much as it endangered his antagonist; but presently
she discovered that the American required no assistance.  She
saw the Indian's head bending slowly forward beneath the
resistless force of the other's huge muscles, she heard the crack
that announced the parting of the vertebrae and saw the limp
thing which had but a moment before been a man, pulsing
with life and vigor, roll helplessly aside--a harmless and
inanimate lump of clay.

Billy Byrne leaped to his feet, shaking himself as a great
mastiff might whose coat had been ruffled in a fight.

"Come!" he whispered.  "We gotta beat it now for sure.  
That guy's shot'll lead 'em right down to us," and once more
they took up their flight down toward the valley, along an
unknown trail through the darkness of the night.

For the most part they moved in silence, Billy holding the
girl's arm or hand to steady her over the rough and dangerous
portions of the path.  And as they went there grew in
Billy's breast a love so deep and so resistless that he found
himself wondering that he had ever imagined that his former
passion for this girl was love.

This new thing surged through him and over him with all
the blind, brutal, compelling force of a mighty tidal wave.  It
battered down and swept away the frail barriers of his new-found
gentleness.  Again he was the Mucker--hating the artificial
wall of social caste which separated him from this girl;
but now he was ready to climb the wall, or, better still, to
batter it down with his huge fists.  But the time was not yet--
first he must get Barbara to a place of safety.

On and on they went.  The night grew cold.  Far ahead
there sounded the occasional pop of a rifle.  Billy wondered
what it could mean and as they approached the ranch and he
discovered that it came from that direction he hastened their
steps to even greater speed than before.

"Somebody's shootin' up the ranch," he volunteered.  
"Wonder who it could be."

"Suppose it is your friend and general?" asked the girl.

Billy made no reply.  They reached the river and as Billy
knew not where the fords lay he plunged in at the point at
which the water first barred their progress and dragging the
girl after him, plowed bull-like for the opposite shore.  Where
the water was above his depth he swam while Barbara clung
to his shoulders.  Thus they made the passage quickly and

Billy stopped long enough to shake the water out of his
carbine, which the girl had carried across, and then forged
ahead toward the ranchhouse from which the sounds of battle
came now in increased volume.

And at the ranchhouse "hell was popping."  The moment
Bridge realized that some of the attackers had reached the
veranda he called the surviving Mexican and the Chinaman to
follow him to the lower floor where they might stand a better
chance to repel this new attack.  Mr. Harding he persuaded to
remain upstairs.

Outside a dozen men were battering to force an entrance.  
Already one panel had splintered, and as Bridge entered the
room he could see the figures of the bandits through the hole
they had made.  Raising his rifle he fired through the aperture.  
There was a scream as one of the attackers dropped; but the
others only increased their efforts, their oaths, and their threats
of vengeance.

The three defenders poured a few rounds through the
sagging door, then Bridge noted that the Chinaman ceased

"What's the matter?" he asked.

"Allee gonee," replied Sing, pointing to his ammunition

At the same instant the Mexican threw down his carbine
and rushed for a window on the opposite side of the room.  His
ammunition was exhausted and with it had departed his
courage.  Flight seemed the only course remaining.  Bridge
made no effort to stop him.  He would have been glad to fly,
too; but he could not leave Anthony Harding, and he was
sure that the older man would prove unequal to any sustained
flight on foot.

"You better go, too, Sing," he said to the Chinaman,
placing another bullet through the door; "there's nothing more
that you can do, and it may be that they are all on this side
now--I think they are.  You fellows have fought splendidly.  
Wish I could give you something more substantial than
thanks; but that's all I have now and shortly Pesita won't
even leave me that much."

"Allee light," replied Sing cheerfully, and a second later he
was clambering through the window in the wake of the loyal

And then the door crashed in and half a dozen troopers
followed by Pesita himself burst into the room.

Bridge was standing at the foot of the stairs, his carbine
clubbed, for he had just spent his last bullet.  He knew that he
must die; but he was determined to make them purchase his
life as dearly as he could, and to die in defense of Anthony
Harding, the father of the girl he loved, even though hopelessly.

Pesita saw from the American's attitude that he had no
more ammunition.  He struck up the carbine of a trooper who
was about to shoot Bridge down.

"Wait!" commanded the bandit.  "Cease firing!  His ammunition
is gone.  Will you surrender?" he asked of Bridge.

"Not until I have beaten from the heads of one or two of
your friends," he replied, "that which their egotism leads them
to imagine are brains.  No, if you take me alive, Pesita, you
will have to kill me to do it."

Pesita shrugged.  "Very well," he said, indifferently, "it
makes little difference to me--that stairway is as good as a
wall.  These brave defenders of the liberty of poor, bleeding
Mexico will make an excellent firing squad.  Attention, my
children!  Ready!  Aim!"

Eleven carbines were leveled at Bridge.  In the ghastly light
of early dawn the sallow complexions of the Mexicans took
on a weird hue.  The American made a wry face, a slight
shudder shook his slender frame, and then he squared his
shoulders and looked Pesita smilingly in the face,

The figure of a man appeared at the window through
which the Chinaman and the loyal Mexican had escaped.  
Quick eyes took in the scene within the room.

"Hey!" he yelled.  "Cut the rough stuff!" and leaped into
the room.

Pesita, surprised by the interruption, turned toward the
intruder before he had given the command to fire.  A smile lit
his features when he saw who it was.

"Ah!" he exclaimed, "my dear Captain Byrne.  Just in time
to see a traitor and a spy pay the penalty for his crimes."

"Nothin' doin'," growled Billy Byrne, and then he threw his
carbine to his shoulder and took careful aim at Pesita's face.

How easy it would have been to have hesitated a moment
in the window before he made his presence known--just long
enough for Pesita to speak the single word that would have
sent eleven bullets speeding into the body of the man who
loved Barbara and whom Billy believed the girl loved.  But did
such a thought occur to Billy Byrne of Grand Avenue?  It did
not.  He forgot every other consideration beyond his loyalty to
a friend.  Bridge and Pesita were looking at him in wide-eyed

"Lay down your carbines!"  Billy shot his command at the
firing squad.  "Lay 'em down or I'll bore Pesita.  Tell 'em to
lay 'em down, Pesita.  I gotta bead on your beezer."

Pesita did as he was bid, his yellow face pasty with rage.

"Now their cartridge belts!" snapped Billy, and when these
had been deposited upon the floor he told Bridge to disarm
the bandit chief.

"Is Mr. Harding safe?" he asked of Bridge, and receiving an
affirmative he called upstairs for the older man to descend.

As Mr. Harding reached the foot of the stairs Barbara
entered the room by the window through which Billy had
come--a window which opened upon the side veranda.

"Now we gotta hike," announced Billy.  "It won't never be
safe for none of you here after this, not even if you do think
Villa's your friend--which he ain't the friend of no American."

"We know that now," said Mr. Harding, and repeated to
Billy that which the telephone operator had told him earlier in
the day.

Marching Pesita and his men ahead of them Billy and the
others made their way to the rear of the office building where
the horses of the bandits were tethered.  They were each armed
now from the discarded weapons of the raiders, and well
supplied with ammunition.  The Chinaman and the loyal Mexican
also discovered themselves when they learned that the
tables had been turned upon Pesita.  They, too, were armed
and all were mounted, and when Billy had loaded the remaining
weapons upon the balance of the horses the party rode
away, driving Pesita's live stock and arms ahead of them.

"I imagine," remarked Bridge, "that you've rather
discouraged pursuit for a while at least," but pursuit came sooner
than they had anticipated.

They had reached a point on the river not far from Jose's
when a band of horsemen appeared approaching from the
west.  Billy urged his party to greater speed that they might
avoid a meeting if possible; but it soon became evident that
the strangers had no intention of permitting them to go
unchallenged, for they altered their course and increased their
speed so that they were soon bearing down upon the fugitives
at a rapid gallop.

"I guess," said Billy, "that we'd better open up on 'em.  It's
a cinch they ain't no friends of ours anywhere in these parts."

"Hadn't we better wait a moment," said Mr. Harding; "we
do not want to chance making any mistake."

"It ain't never a mistake to shoot a Dago," replied Billy.  
His eyes were fastened upon the approaching horsemen, and
he presently gave an exclamation of recognition.  "There's
Rozales," he said.  "I couldn't mistake that beanpole nowheres.  
We're safe enough in takin' a shot at 'em if Rosie's with 'em.  
He's Pesita's head guy," and he drew his revolver and took a
single shot in the direction of his former comrades.  Bridge
followed his example.  The oncoming Pesitistas reined in.  
Billy returned his revolver to its holster and drew his carbine.

"You ride on ahead," he said to Mr. Harding and Barbara.  
"Bridge and I'll bring up the rear."

Then he stopped his pony and turning took deliberate aim
at the knot of horsemen to their left.  A bandit tumbled from
his saddle and the fight was on.

Fortunately for the Americans Rozales had but a handful
of men with him and Rozales himself was never keen for a
fight in the open.

All morning he hovered around the rear of the escaping
Americans; but neither side did much damage to the other,
and during the afternoon Billy noticed that Rozales merely
followed within sight of them, after having dispatched one of
his men back in the direction from which they had come.

"After reinforcements," commented Byrne.

All day they rode without meeting with any roving bands
of soldiers or bandits, and the explanation was all too sinister
to the Americans when coupled with the knowledge that Villa
was to attack an American town that night.

"I wish we could reach the border in time to warn 'em,"
said Billy; "but they ain't no chance.  If we cross before sunup
tomorrow morning we'll be doin' well."

He had scarcely spoken to Barbara Harding all day, for his
duties as rear guard had kept him busy; nor had he conversed
much with Bridge, though he had often eyed the latter whose
gaze wandered many times to the slender, graceful figure of
the girl ahead of them.

Billy was thinking as he never had thought before.  It
seemed to him a cruel fate that had so shaped their destinies
that his best friend loved the girl Billy loved.  That Bridge was
ignorant of Billy's infatuation for her the latter well knew.  He
could not blame Bridge, nor could he, upon the other hand,
quite reconcile himself to the more than apparent adoration
which marked his friend's attitude toward Barbara.

As daylight waned the fugitives realized from the shuffling
gait of their mounts, from drooping heads and dull eyes that
rest was imperative.  They themselves were fagged, too, and
when a ranchhouse loomed in front of them they decided to
halt for much-needed recuperation.

Here they found three Americans who were totally unaware
of Villa's contemplated raid across the border, and who when
they were informed of it were doubly glad to welcome six
extra carbines, for Barbara not only was armed but was
eminently qualified to expend ammunition without wasting it.

Rozales and his small band halted out of range of the
ranch; but they went hungry while their quarry fed themselves
and their tired mounts.

The Clark brothers and their cousin, a man by the name of
Mason, who were the sole inhabitants of the ranch counseled
a long rest--two hours at least, for the border was still ten
miles away and speed at the last moment might be their sole
means of salvation.

Billy was for moving on at once before the reinforcements,
for which he was sure Rozales had dispatched his messenger,
could overtake them.  But the others were tired and argued,
too, that upon jaded ponies they could not hope to escape and
so they waited, until, just as they were ready to continue their
flight, flight became impossible.

Darkness had fallen when the little party commenced to
resaddle their ponies and in the midst of their labors there
came a rude and disheartening interruption.  Billy had kept
either the Chinaman or Bridge constantly upon watch toward
the direction in which Rozales' men lolled smoking in the
dark, and it was the crack of Bridge's carbine which awoke
the Americans to the fact that though the border lay but a
few miles away they were still far from safety.

As he fired Bridge turned in his saddle and shouted to the
others to make for the shelter of the ranchhouse.

"There are two hundred of them," he cried.  "Run for

Billy and the Clark brothers leaped to their saddles and
spurred toward the point where Bridge sat pumping lead into
the advancing enemy.  Mason and Mr. Harding hurried Barbara
to the questionable safety of the ranchhouse.  The Mexican
followed them, and Bridge ordered Sing back to assist in
barricading the doors and windows, while he and Billy and
the Clark boys held the bandits in momentary check.

Falling back slowly and firing constantly as they came the
four approached the house while Pesita and his full band
advanced cautiously after them.  They had almost reached the
house when Bridge lunged forward from his saddle.  The Clark
boys had dismounted and were leading their ponies inside the
house.  Billy alone noted the wounding of his friend.  Without
an instant's hesitation he slipped from his saddle, ran back to
where Bridge lay and lifted him in his arms.  Bullets were
pattering thick about them.  A horseman far in advance of his
fellows galloped forward with drawn saber to cut down the

Billy, casting an occasional glance behind, saw the danger
in time to meet it--just, in fact, as the weapon was cutting
through the air toward his head.  Dropping Bridge and dodging
to one side he managed to escape the cut, and before the
swordsman could recover Billy had leaped to his pony's side
and seizing the rider about the waist dragged him to the

"Rozales!" he exclaimed, and struck the man as he had
never struck another in all his life, with the full force of his
mighty muscles backed by his great weight, with clenched fist
full in the face.

There was a spurting of blood and a splintering of bone,
and Captain Guillermo Rozales sank senseless to the ground,
his career of crime and rapine ended forever.

Again Billy lifted Bridge in his arms and this time he
succeeded in reaching the ranchhouse without opposition
though a little crimson stream trickled down his left arm to
drop upon the face of his friend as he deposited Bridge upon
the floor of the house.

All night the Pesitistas circled the lone ranchhouse.  All
night they poured their volleys into the adobe walls and
through the barricaded windows.  All night the little band of
defenders fought gallantly for their lives; but as day
approached the futility of their endeavors was borne in upon
them, for of the nine one was dead and three wounded, and
the numbers of their assailants seemed undiminished.

Billy Byrne had been lying all night upon his stomach
before a window firing out into the darkness at the dim forms
which occasionally showed against the dull, dead background
of the moonless desert.

Presently he leaped to his feet and crossed the floor to the
room in which the horses had been placed.

"Everybody fire toward the rear of the house as fast as they
can," said Billy.  "I want a clear space for my getaway."

"Where you goin?" asked one of the Clark brothers.

"North," replied Billy, "after some of Funston's men on the

"But they won't cross," said Mr. Harding.  "Washington
won't let them."

"They gotta," snapped Billy Byrne, "an' they will when
they know there's an American girl here with a bunch of
Dagos yappin' around."

"You'll be killed," said Price Clark.  "You can't never get

"Leave it to me," replied Billy.  "Just get ready an' open
that back door when I give the word, an' then shut it again in
a hurry when I've gone through."

He led a horse from the side room, and mounted it.

"Open her up, boes!" he shouted, and "S'long everybody!"

Price Clark swung the door open.  Billy put spurs to his
mount and threw himself forward flat against the animal's
neck.  Another moment he was through and a rattling fusillade
of shots proclaimed the fact that his bold feat had not gone
unnoted by the foe.

The little Mexican pony shot like a bolt from a crossbow
out across the level desert.  The rattling of carbines only served
to add speed to its frightened feet.  Billy sat erect in the saddle,
guiding the horse with his left hand and working his revolver
methodically with his right.

At a window behind him Barbara Harding stood breathless
and spellbound until he had disappeared into the gloom of the
early morning darkness to the north, then she turned with a
weary sigh and resumed her place beside the wounded Bridge
whose head she bathed with cool water, while he tossed in the
delirium of fever.

The first streaks of daylight were piercing the heavens, the
Pesitistas were rallying for a decisive charge, the hopes of the
little band of besieged were at low ebb when from the west
there sounded the pounding of many hoofs.

"Villa," moaned Westcott Clark, hopelessly.  "We're done
for now, sure enough.  He must be comin' back from his raid
on the border."

In the faint light of dawn they saw a column of horsemen
deploy suddenly into a long, thin line which galloped forward
over the flat earth, coming toward them like a huge, relentless
engine of destruction.

The Pesitistas were watching too.  They had ceased firing
and sat in their saddles forgetful of their contemplated charge.

The occupants of the ranchhouse were gathered at the small

"What's them?" cried Mason--"them things floating over

"They're guidons!" exclaimed Price Clark "--the guidons of
the United States cavalry regiment.  See 'em!  See 'em?  God!
but don't they look good?"

There was a wild whoop from the lungs of the advancing
cavalrymen.  Pesita's troops answered it with a scattering
volley, and a moment later the Americans were among them in
that famous revolver charge which is now history.

Daylight had come revealing to the watchers in the
ranchhouse the figures of the combatants.  In the thick of the fight
loomed the giant figure of a man in nondescript garb which
more closely resembled the apparel of the Pesitistas than it did
the uniforms of the American soldiery, yet it was with them he
fought.  Barbara's eyes were the first to detect him.

"There's Mr. Byrne," she cried.  "It must have been he who
brought the troops."

"Why, he hasn't had time to reach the border yet,"
remonstrated one of the Clark boys, "much less get back here with

"There he is though," said Mr. Harding.  "It's certainly
strange.  I can't understand what American troops are doing
across the border--especially under the present administration."

The Pesitistas held their ground for but a moment then they
wheeled and fled; but not before Pesita himself had forced his
pony close to that of Billy Byrne.

"Traitor!" screamed the bandit.  "You shall die for this,"
and fired point-blank at the American.

Billy felt a burning sensation in his already wounded left
arm; but his right was still good.

"For poor, bleeding Mexico!" he cried, and put a bullet
through Pesita's forehead.

Under escort of the men of the Thirteenth Cavalry who
had pursued Villa's raiders into Mexico and upon whom Billy
Byrne had stumbled by chance, the little party of fugitives
came safely to United States soil, where all but one breathed
sighs of heartfelt relief.

Bridge was given first aid by members of the hospital corps,
who assured Billy that his friend would not die.  Mr. Harding
and Barbara were taken in by the wife of an officer, and it
was at the quarters of the latter that Billy Byrne found her
alone in the sitting-room.

The girl looked up as he entered, a sad smile upon her face.  
She was about to ask him of his wound; but he gave her no

"I've come for you," he said.  "I gave you up once when I
thought it was better for you to marry a man in your own
class.  I won't give you up again.  You're mine--you're my girl,
and I'm goin' to take you with me.  Were goin' to Galveston
as fast as we can, and from there we're goin' to Rio.  You
belonged to me long before Bridge saw you.  He can't have
you.  Nobody can have you but me, and if anyone tries to
keep me from taking you they'll get killed."

He took a step nearer that brought him close to her.  She
did not shrink--only looked up into his face with wide eyes
filled with wonder.  He seized her roughly in his arms.

"You are my girl!" he cried hoarsely.  "Kiss me!"

"Wait!" she said.  "First tell me what you meant by saying
that Bridge couldn't have me.  I never knew that Bridge
wanted me, and I certainly have never wanted Bridge. O Billy!
Why didn't you do this long ago?  Months ago in New York I
wanted you to take me; but you left me to another man
whom I didn't love. I thought you had ceased to care, Billy,
and since we have been together here--since that night in the
room back of the office--you have made me feel that I was
nothing to you.  Take me, Billy!  Take me anywhere in the
world that you go.  I love you and I'll slave for you--anything
just to be with you."

"Barbara!" cried Billy Byrne, and then his voice was
smothered by the pressure of warm, red lips against his own.

A half hour later Billy stepped out into the street to make
his way to the railroad station that he might procure
transportation for three to Galveston.  Anthony Harding was going
with them.  He had listened to Barbara's pleas, and had finally
volunteered to back Billy Byrne's flight from the jurisdiction
of the law, or at least to a place where, under a new name, he
could start life over again and live it as the son-in-law of old
Anthony Harding should live.

Among the crowd viewing the havoc wrought by the raiders
the previous night was a large man with a red face.  It
happened that he turned suddenly about as Billy Byrne was
on the point of passing behind him.  Both men started as
recognition lighted their faces and he of the red face found
himself looking down the barrel of a six-shooter.

"Put it up, Byrne," he admonished the other coolly.  "I
didn't know you were so good on the draw."

"I'm good on the draw all right, Flannagan," said Billy,
"and I ain't drawin' for amusement neither.  I gotta chance to
get away and live straight, and have a little happiness in life,
and, Flannagan, the man who tries to crab my game is goin'
to get himself croaked.  I'll never go back to stir alive.  See?"

"Yep," said Flannagan, "I see; but I ain't tryin' to crab
your game.  I ain't down here after you this trip.  Where you
been, anyway, that you don't know the war's over?  Why
Coke Sheehan confessed a month ago that it was him that
croaked Schneider, and the governor pardoned you about ten
days ago."

"You stringin' me?" asked Billy, a vicious glint in his eyes.

"On the level," Flannagan assured him.  "Wait, I gotta
clippin' from the Trib in my clothes somewheres that gives all
the dope."

He drew some papers from his coat pocket and handed one
to Billy.

"Turn your back and hold up your hands while I read,"
said Byrne, and as Flannagan did as he was bid Billy unfolded
the soiled bit of newspaper and read that which set him
a-trembling with nervous excitement.

A moment later Detective Sergeant Flannagan ventured a
rearward glance to note how Byrne was receiving the joyful
tidings which the newspaper article contained.

"Well, I'll be!" ejaculated the sleuth, for Billy Byrne was
already a hundred yards away and breaking all records in his
dash for the sitting-room he had quitted but a few minutes

It was a happy and contented trio who took the train the
following day on their way back to New York City after
bidding Bridge good-bye in the improvised hospital and exacting
his promise that he would visit them in New York in the
near future.

It was a month later; spring was filling the southland with
new, sweet life.  The joy of living was reflected in the song of
birds and the opening of buds.  Beside a slow-moving stream a
man squatted before a tiny fire.  A battered tin can, half filled
with water stood close to the burning embers.  Upon a sharpened
stick the man roasted a bit of meat, and as he watched it
curling at the edges as the flame licked it he spoke aloud
though there was none to hear:

 Just for a con I'd like to know (yes, he crossed over long ago;
And he was right, believe me, bo!) if somewhere in the South,
 Down where the clouds lie on the sea, he found his sweet Penelope
With buds of roses in her hair and kisses on her mouth.

"Which is what they will be singing about me one of these days,"
he commented.

End of Project Gutenberg's Etext of The Mucker by Edgar Rice Burroughs