The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 152

said the other; "here's to his Knibbs, and--Penelope!"

"Drink hearty," returned Billy Byrne.

The poetical one drew a sack of tobacco from his hip pocket and a
rumpled package of papers from the pocket of his shirt, extending both
toward Billy.

"Want the makings?" he asked.

"I ain't stuck on sponging," said Billy; "but maybe I can get even some
day, and I sure do want a smoke. You see I was frisked. I ain't got
nothin'--they didn't leave me a sou markee."

Billy reached across one end of the fire for the tobacco and cigarette
papers. As he did so the movement bared his wrist, and as the firelight
fell upon it the marks of the steel bracelet showed vividly. In the fall
from the train the metal had bitten into the flesh.

His companion's eyes happened to fall upon the telltale mark. There
was an almost imperceptible raising of the man's eyebrows; but he said
nothing to indicate that he had noticed anything out of the ordinary.

The two smoked on for many minutes without indulging in conversation.
The camper quoted snatches from Service and Kipling, then he came back
to Knibbs, who was evidently his favorite. Billy listened and thought.

"Goin' anywheres in particular?" he asked during a momentary lull in the

"Oh, south or west," replied the other. "Nowhere in particular--any
place suits me just so it isn't north or east."

"That's me," said Billy.

"Let's travel double, then," said the poetical one. "My name's Bridge."

"And mine's Billy. Here, shake," and Byrne extended his hand.

"Until one of us gets wearied of the other's company," said Bridge.

"You're on," replied Billy. "Let's turn in."

"Good," exclaimed Bridge. "I wonder what's keeping James. He should have
been here long since to turn down my bed and fix my bath."

Billy grinned and rolled over on his side, his head uphill and his feet
toward the fire. A couple of feet away Bridge paralleled him, and in
five minutes both were breathing deeply in healthy slumber.


"'WE KEPT a-rambling all the time. I rustled grub, he rustled rhyme,'"
quoted Billy Byrne, sitting up and stretching himself.

His companion roused and came to one elbow. The sun was topping the
scant wood behind them, glinting on the surface of the little creek. A
robin hopped about the sward quite close to them, and from the branch
of a tree a hundred yards away came the sweet piping of a song bird.
Farther off were the distance-subdued noises of an awakening farm. The
lowing of cows, the crowing of a rooster, the yelping

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