The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 144

criminal," he said. "Society will be
safer when he is behind the bars."

The next day they took Billy aboard a train bound for Joliet. He was
handcuffed to a deputy sheriff. Billy was calm outwardly; but inwardly
he was a raging volcano of hate.

In a certain very beautiful home on Riverside Drive, New York City,
a young lady, comfortably backed by downy pillows, sat in her bed and
alternated her attention between coffee and rolls, and a morning paper.

On the inside of the main sheet a heading claimed her languid attention:
CHICAGO MURDERER GIVEN LIFE SENTENCE. Of late Chicago had aroused in
Barbara Harding a greater proportion of interest than ever it had in the
past, and so it was that she now permitted her eyes to wander casually
down the printed column.

Murderer of harmless old saloon keeper is finally brought to justice.
The notorious West Side rowdy, "Billy" Byrne, apprehended after more
than a year as fugitive from justice, is sent to Joliet for life.

Barbara Harding sat stony-eyed and cold for what seemed many minutes.
Then with a stifled sob she turned and buried her face in the pillows.

The train bearing Billy Byrne and the deputy sheriff toward Joliet had
covered perhaps half the distance between Chicago and Billy's permanent
destination when it occurred to the deputy sheriff that he should like
to go into the smoker and enjoy a cigar.

Now, from the moment that he had been sentenced Billy Byrne's mind had
been centered upon one thought--escape. He knew that there probably
would be not the slightest chance for escape; but nevertheless the idea
was always uppermost in his thoughts.

His whole being revolted, not alone against the injustice which had
sent him into life imprisonment, but at the thought of the long years of
awful monotony which lay ahead of him.

He could not endure them. He would not! The deputy sheriff rose, and
motioning his prisoner ahead of him, started for the smoker. It was two
cars ahead. The train was vestibuled. The first platform they crossed
was tightly enclosed; but at the second Billy saw that a careless porter
had left one of the doors open. The train was slowing down for some
reason--it was going, perhaps, twenty miles an hour.

Billy was the first upon the platform. He was the first to see the open
door. It meant one of two things--a chance to escape, or, death. Even
the latter was to be preferred to life imprisonment.

Billy did not hesitate an instant. Even before the deputy sheriff
realized that the door was open, his prisoner

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