The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 130

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 saved him.

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 hooting.

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

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