The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 157

in his pocket--a whole dollar. He had earned it assisting an
automobilist out of a ditch.

"We'll have a swell feed," he had confided to Bridge, "an' sleep in a
bed just to learn how much nicer it is sleepin' out under the black sky
and the shiny little stars."

"You're a profligate, Billy," said Bridge.

"I dunno what that means," said Billy; "but if it's something I
shouldn't be I probably am."

The two went to a rooming-house of which Bridge knew, where they could
get a clean room with a double bed for fifty cents. It was rather a high
price to pay, of course, but Bridge was more or less fastidious, and
he admitted to Billy that he'd rather sleep in the clean dirt of the
roadside than in the breed of dirt one finds in an unclean bed.

At the end of the hall was a washroom, and toward this Bridge made his
way, after removing his coat and throwing it across the foot of the
bed. After he had left the room Billy chanced to notice a folded bit of
newspaper on the floor beneath Bridge's coat. He picked it up to lay
it on the little table which answered the purpose of a dresser when a
single word caught his attention. It was a name: Schneider.

Billy unfolded the clipping and as his eyes took in the heading a
strange expression entered them--a hard, cold gleam such as had not
touched them since the day that he abandoned the deputy sheriff in the
woods midway between Chicago and Joliet.

This is what Billy read:

Billy Byrne, sentenced to life imprisonment in Joliet penitentiary for
the murder of Schneider, the old West Side saloon keeper, hurled himself
from the train that was bearing him to Joliet yesterday, dragging with
him the deputy sheriff to whom he was handcuffed.

The deputy was found a few hours later bound and gagged, lying in the
woods along the Santa Fe, not far from Lemont. He was uninjured. He
says that Byrne got a good start, and doubtless took advantage of it to
return to Chicago, where a man of his stamp could find more numerous and
safer retreats than elsewhere.

There was much more--a detailed account of the crime for the commission
of which Billy had been sentenced, a full and complete description of
Billy, a record of his long years of transgression, and, at last, the
mention of a five-hundred-dollar reward that the authorities had offered
for information that would lead to his arrest.

When Billy had concluded the reading he refolded the paper and

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