then she spoke again.
"Coward!" she said.
Billy almost struck her; but something held his hand. What,
he could not understand. Could it be that he feared this
slender girl? And at this juncture, when the threat of his
attitude was the most apparent, Second Officer Theriere came
upon the scene. At a glance he took in the situation, and with
a bound had sprung between Billy Byrne and Barbara Harding.
THE MUCKER AT BAY
"WHAT has this man said to you, Miss Harding?" cried Theriere.
"Has he offered you harm?"
"I do not think that he would have dared strike me,"
replied the girl, "though he threatened to do so. He is the
coward who murdered poor Mr. Mallory upon the Lotus. He
might stoop to anything after that."
Theriere turned angrily upon Byrne.
"Go below!" he shouted. "I'll attend to you later. If Miss
Harding were not here I'd thrash you within an inch of your
life now. And if I ever hear of your speaking to her again, or
offering her the slightest indignity I'll put a bullet through you
so quick you won't know what has struck you."
"T'ell yeh will!" sneered Billy Byrne. "I got your number,
yeh big stiff; an' yeh better not get gay wit me. Dey ain't no
guy on board dis man's ship dat can hand Billy Byrne dat
kin' o' guff an' get away with it--see?" and before Theriere
knew what had happened a heavy fist had caught him upon
the point of the chin and lifted him clear off the deck to drop
him unconscious at Miss Harding's feet.
"Yeh see wot happens to guys dat get gay wit me?" said the
mucker to the girl, and then stooping over the prostrate form<<BackPagesTo menuNext>>