The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 1

he was robbing freight cars in the yards along Kinzie
Street, and it was about this same time that he commenced to find
pleasure in the feel of his fist against the jaw of a fellow-man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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