The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 143

was better
to lose any other possession rather than lose honor. Billy realized that
it had been these lessons that had spurred him on to the mad scheme that
was to end now with the verdict of "Guilty"--he had wished to vindicate
his honor. A hard laugh broke from his lips; but instantly he sobered
and his face softened.

It had been for her sake after all, and what mattered it if they did
send him to the gallows? He had not sacrificed his honor--he had done
his best to assert it. He was innocent. They could kill him but they
couldn't make him guilty. A thousand juries pronouncing him so could not
make it true that he had killed Schneider.

But it would be hard, after all his hopes, after all the plans he had
made to live square, to SHOW THEM. His eyes still boring through the
paper suddenly found themselves attracted by something in the text
before them--a name, Harding.

Billy Byrne shook himself and commenced to read:


The marriage of Barbara, daughter of Anthony Harding, the
multimillionaire, to William Mallory will take place on the twenty-fifth
of June.


The article was dated New York. There was more, but Billy did not
read it. He had read enough. It is true that he had urged her to marry
Mallory; but now, in his lonesomeness and friendlessness, he felt almost
as though she had been untrue to him.

"Come along, Byrne," a bailiff interrupted his thoughts, "the jury's
reached a verdict."

The judge was emerging from his chambers as Billy was led into the
courtroom. Presently the jury filed in and took their seats. The foreman
handed the clerk a bit of paper. Even before it was read Billy knew
that he had been found guilty. He did not care any longer, so he told
himself. He hoped that the judge would send him to the gallows. There
was nothing more in life for him now anyway. He wanted to die. But
instead he was sentenced to life imprisonment in the penitentiary at
Joliet.

This was infinitely worse than death. Billy Byrne was appalled at the
thought of remaining for life within the grim stone walls of a prison.
Once more there swept over him all the old, unreasoning hatred of the
law and all that pertained to it. He would like to close his steel
fingers about the fat neck of the red-faced judge. The smug jurymen
roused within him the lust to kill. Justice! Billy Byrne laughed aloud.

A bailiff rapped for order. One of the jurymen leaned close to a
neighbor and whispered. "A hardened

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