The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 154

an' thought
I was smart. Funny how a feller'll change--an' all fer a skirt. A skirt
that belongs to somebody else now, too. Hell! what's the difference,
anyhow? She'd be glad if she knew, an' it makes me feel better to act
like she'd want. That old farmer guy, now. Who'd ever have taken him fer
havin' a heart at all? Wen I seen him first I thought he'd like to sic
the dog on me, an' there he comes along an' tells 'Maw' to pass me a
hand-out like this! Gee! it's a funny world. She used to say that most
everybody was decent if you went at 'em right, an' I guess she knew.
She knew most everything, anyway. Lord, I wish she'd been born on Grand
Ave., or I on Riverside Drive!"

As Billy walked up to his waiting companion, who had touched a match to
the firewood as he sighted the numerous packages in the forager's arms,
he was repeating, over and over, as though the words held him in the
thrall of fascination: "There ain't no sweet Penelope somewhere that's
longing much for me."

Bridge eyed the packages as Billy deposited them carefully and one at
a time upon the grass beside the fire. The milk was in a clean little
graniteware pail, the eggs had been placed in a paper bag, while the
other articles were wrapped in pieces of newspaper.

As the opening of each revealed its contents, fresh, clean, and
inviting, Bridge closed one eye and cocked the other up at Billy.

"Did he die hard?" he inquired.

"Did who die hard?" demanded the other.

"Why the dog, of course."

"He ain't dead as I know of," replied Billy.

"You don't mean to say, my friend, that they let you get away with all
this without sicing the dog on you," said Bridge.

Billy laughed and explained, and the other was relieved--the red mark
around Billy's wrist persisted in remaining uppermost in Bridge's mind.

When they had eaten they lay back upon the grass and smoked some more of
Bridge's tobacco.

"Well," inquired Bridge, "what's doing now?"

"Let's be hikin'," said Billy.

Bridge rose and stretched. "'My feet are tired and need a change. Come
on! It's up to you!'" he quoted.

Billy gathered together the food they had not yet eaten, and made two
equal-sized packages of it. He handed one to Bridge.

"We'll divide the pack," he explained, "and here, drink the rest o' this
milk, I want the pail."

"What are you going to do with the pail?" asked Bridge.

"Return it," said Billy. "'Maw' just loaned it to me."


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