The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 156

hangin' to the
ropes."

Bridge cleared his throat, and recited:


Silver are the ripples,
Solemn are the dunes,
Happy are the fishes,
For they are full of prunes.


He looked up at Billy, a smile twitching at the corners of his mouth.
"How's that?" he asked.

Billy scratched his head.

"It's all right but the last line," said Billy, candidly. "There is
something wrong with that last line."

"Yes," agreed Bridge, "there is."

"I guess Knibbs is safe for another round at least," said Billy.

Bridge was eying his companion, noting the broad shoulders, the deep
chest, the mighty forearm and biceps which the other's light cotton
shirt could not conceal.

"It is none of my business," he said presently; "but from your general
appearance, from bits of idiom you occasionally drop, and from the way
you handled those two boes the night we met I should rather surmise that
at some time or other you had been less than a thousand miles from the
w.k. roped arena."

"I seen a prize fight once," admitted Billy.

It was the day before they were due to arrive in Kansas City that Billy
earned a hand-out from a restaurant keeper in a small town by doing some
odd jobs for the man. The food he gave Billy was wrapped in an old copy
of the Kansas City Star. When Billy reached camp he tossed the package
to Bridge, who, in addition to his honorable post as poet laureate, was
also cook. Then Billy walked down to the stream, near-by, that he might
wash away the grime and sweat of honest toil from his hands and face.

As Bridge unwrapped the package and the paper unfolded beneath his eyes
an article caught his attention--just casually at first; but presently
to the exclusion of all else. As he read his eyebrows alternated
between a position of considerable elevation to that of a deep frown.
Occasionally he nodded knowingly. Finally he glanced up at Billy who was
just rising from his ablutions. Hastily Bridge tore from the paper the
article that had attracted his interest, folded it, and stuffed it into
one of his pockets--he had not had time to finish the reading and he
wanted to save the article for a later opportunity for careful perusal.

That evening Bridge sat for a long time scrutinizing Billy through
half-closed lids, and often he found his eyes wandering to the red ring
about the other's wrist; but whatever may have been within his thoughts
he kept to himself.

It was noon when the two sauntered into Kansas City. Billy had a
dollar

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