The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 150

to the tramp's jaw that sent
the fellow spinning backward to the river's brim, where he tottered
drunkenly for a moment and then plunged backward into the shallow water.

Then Billy seized the other attacker by the shoulder and dragged him to
his feet.

"Do you want some, too, you big stiff?" he inquired.

The man spluttered and tried to break away, striking at Billy as he did
so; but a sudden punch, such a punch as Billy Byrne had once handed the
surprised Harlem Hurricane, removed from the mind of the tramp the last
vestige of any thought he might have harbored to do the newcomer bodily
injury, and with it removed all else from the man's mind, temporarily.

As the fellow slumped, unconscious, to the ground, the camper rose to
his feet.

"Some wallop you have concealed in your sleeve, my friend," he said;
"place it there!" and he extended a slender, shapely hand.

Billy took it and shook it.

"It don't get under the ribs like those verses of yours, though, bo," he
returned.

"It seems to have insinuated itself beneath this guy's thick skull,"
replied the poetical one, "and it's a cinch my verses, nor any other
would ever get there."

The tramp who had plumbed the depths of the creek's foot of water and
two feet of soft mud was crawling ashore.

"Whadda YOU want now?" inquired Billy Byrne. "A piece o' soap?"

"I'll get youse yet," spluttered the moist one through his watery
whiskers.

"Ferget it," admonished Billy, "an' hit the trail." He pointed toward
the railroad right of way. "An' you, too, John L," he added turning
to the other victim of his artistic execution, who was now sitting up.
"Hike!"

Mumbling and growling the two unwashed shuffled away, and were presently
lost to view along the vanishing track.

The solitary camper had returned to his culinary effort, as unruffled
and unconcerned, apparently, as though naught had occurred to disturb
his peaceful solitude.

"Sit down," he said after a moment, looking up at Billy, "and have a
bite to eat with me. Take that leather easy chair. The Louis Quatorze is
too small and spindle-legged for comfort." He waved his hand invitingly
toward the sward beside the fire.

For a moment he was entirely absorbed in the roasting fowl impaled upon
a sharp stick which he held in his right hand. Then he presently broke
again into verse.

Around the world and back again; we saw it all. The mist and rain

In England and the hot old plain from Needles to Berdoo.
We kept a-rambling all the time.

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