The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 161

hun. I ought to of known
better. The other is that I didn't kill Schneider. I wasn't near his
place that night--an' that's straight."

"I'm glad you told me both," said Bridge. "I think we'll understand each
other better after this--we're each runnin' away from something. We'll
run together, eh?" and he extended his hand. "In flannel shirt from
earth's clean dirt, here, pal, is my calloused hand!" he quoted,
laughing.

Billy took the other's hand. He noticed that Bridge hadn't said what HE
was running away from. Billy wondered; but asked no questions.

South they went after they had left the city behind, out into the sweet
and silent darkness of the country. During the night they crossed the
line into Kansas, and morning found them in a beautiful, hilly country
to which all thoughts of cities, crime, and police seemed so utterly
foreign that Billy could scarce believe that only a few hours before a
Chicago detective had been less than a hundred feet from him.

The new sun burst upon them as they topped a grassy hill. The
dew-bespangled blades scintillated beneath the gorgeous rays which would
presently sweep them away again into the nothingness from which they had
sprung.

Bridge halted and stretched himself. He threw his head back and let the
warm sun beat down upon his bronzed face.


There's sunshine in the heart of me,
My blood sings in the breeze;
The mountains are a part of me,
I'm fellow to the trees.
My golden youth I'm squandering,
Sun-libertine am I,
A-wandering, a-wandering,
Until the day I die.


And then he stood for minutes drinking in deep breaths of the pure,
sweet air of the new day. Beside him, a head taller, savagely strong,
stood Billy Byrne, his broad shoulders squared, his great chest
expanding as he inhaled.

"It's great, ain't it?" he said, at last. "I never knew the country was
like this, an' I don't know that I ever would have known it if it hadn't
been for those poet guys you're always spouting.

"I always had an idea they was sissy fellows," he went on; "but a guy
can't be a sissy an' think the thoughts they musta thought to write
stuff that sends the blood chasin' through a feller like he'd had a
drink on an empty stomach.

"I used to think everybody was a sissy who wasn't a tough guy. I was a
tough guy all right, an' I was mighty proud of it. I ain't any more an'
haven't been for a long time; but

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