Part 3 out of 8
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
"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
"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
"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.
THE VILLAGE OF YOKA
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
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
"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.
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
"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--
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
THE FIGHT IN THE PALACE
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
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
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."
"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
"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
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
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
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
"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?"
"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
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
"We come, Oda Iseka, Lord of Yoka! Your faithful samurai come!"
A GENTLEMAN OF FRANCE
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
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
"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
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
THE MUCKER SEES A NEW LIGHT
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
"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
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
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
"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
"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