The Mucker by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Part 4 out of 8
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
"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
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."
"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
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
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
"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.
THE SUPREME SACRIFICE
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
"Howdy, Professor!" he said.
"Yeh got me, kid," replied Professor Cassidy, taking the
"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
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
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
THE GULF BETWEEN
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
"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?"
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.
"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
"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.
THE MURDER TRIAL
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
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
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
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
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