The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 142

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

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