The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 151

I rustled grub, he rustled rhyme--
Blind-baggage, hoof it, ride or climb--we always put it through.

"You're a good sort," he broke off, suddenly. "There ain't many boes
that would have done as much for a fellow."

"It was two against one," replied Billy, "an' I don't like them odds.
Besides I like your poetry. Where d'ye get it--make it up?"

"Lord, no," laughed the other. "If I could do that I wouldn't be
pan-handling. A guy by the name of Henry Herbert Knibbs did them. Great,
ain't they?"

"They sure is. They get me right where I live," and then, after a pause;
"sure you got enough fer two, bo?"

"I have enough for you, old top," replied the host, "even if I only had
half as much as I have. Here, take first crack at the ambrosia. Sorry
I have but a single cup; but James has broken the others. James is very
careless. Sometimes I almost feel that I shall have to let him go."

"Who's James?" asked Billy.

"James? Oh, James is my man," replied the other.

Billy looked up at his companion quizzically, then he tasted the dark,
thick concoction in the tin can.

"This is coffee," he announced. "I thought you said it was ambrose."

"I only wished to see if you would recognize it, my friend," replied the
poetical one politely. "I am highly complimented that you can guess what
it is from its taste."

For several minutes the two ate in silence, passing the tin can back and
forth, and slicing--hacking would be more nearly correct--pieces of meat
from the half-roasted fowl. It was Billy who broke the silence.

"I think," said he, "that you been stringin' me--'bout James and

The other laughed good-naturedly.

"You are not offended, I hope," said he. "This is a sad old world, you
know, and we're all looking for amusement. If a guy has no money to buy
it with, he has to manufacture it."

"Sure, I ain't sore," Billy assured him. "Say, spiel that part again
'bout Penelope with the kisses on her mouth, an' you can kid me till the
cows come home."

The camper by the creek did as Billy asked him, while the latter sat
with his eyes upon the fire seeing in the sputtering little flames the
oval face of her who was Penelope to him.

When the verse was completed he reached forth his hand and took the tin
can in his strong fingers, raising it before his face.

"Here's to--to his Knibbs!" he said, and drank, passing the battered
thing over to his new friend.


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Text Comparison with The Chessmen of Mars

Page 2
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