The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 12

had had enough of him. They left him severely alone.

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

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

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

He was loitering about the deck for this purpose one evening when he
overheard part of a low-voiced conversation between the object of his
wrath and

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