The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 149

Out there somewhere along the sea a ship is waiting patiently,
While up the beach the bubbles slip with white afloat between.

"Gee!" thought Billy Byrne; "but that's great stuff. I wonder where he
gets it. It makes me want to hike until I find that place he's singin'

Billy's thoughts were interrupted by a sound in the wood to one side of
him. As he turned his eyes in the direction of the slight noise which
had attracted him he saw two men step quietly out and cross toward the
man at the camp fire.

These, too, were evidently hobos. Doubtless pals of the poetical one.
The latter did not hear them until they were directly behind him. Then
he turned slowly and rose as they halted beside his fire.

"Evenin', bo," said one of the newcomers.

"Good evening, gentlemen," replied the camper, "welcome to my humble
home. Have you dined?"

"Naw," replied the first speaker, "we ain't; but we're goin' to. Now can
the chatter an' duck. There ain't enough fer one here, let alone
three. Beat it!" and the man, who was big and burly, assumed a menacing
attitude and took a truculent step nearer the solitary camper.

The latter was short and slender. The larger man looked as though
he might have eaten him at a single mouthful; but the camper did not

"You pain me," he said. "You induce within me a severe and highly
localized pain, and furthermore I don't like your whiskers."

With which apparently irrelevant remark he seized the matted beard of
the larger tramp and struck the fellow a quick, sharp blow in the face.
Instantly the fellow's companion was upon him; but the camper retained
his death grip upon the beard of the now yelling bully and continued to
rain blow after blow upon head and face.

Billy Byrne was an interested spectator. He enjoyed a good fight as he
enjoyed little else; but presently when the first tramp succeeded in
tangling his legs about the legs of his chastiser and dragging him to
the ground, and the second tramp seized a heavy stick and ran forward to
dash the man's brains out, Billy thought it time to interfere.

Stepping forward he called aloud as he came: "Cut it out, boes! You
can't pull off any rough stuff like that with this here sweet singer.
Can it! Can it!" as the second tramp raised his stick to strike the now
prostrate camper.

As he spoke Billy Byrne broke into a run, and as the stick fell he
reached the man's side and swung a blow

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