The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 163

better English than another, or has read
more and remembers it, only makes him a better man in that particular
respect. I think none the less of you because you can't quote Browning
or Shakespeare--the thing that counts is that you can appreciate, as I
do, Service and Kipling and Knibbs.

"Now maybe we are both wrong--maybe Knibbs and Kipling and Service
didn't write poetry, and some people will say as much; but whatever it
is it gets you and me in the same way, and so in this respect we are
equals. Which being the case let's see if we can't rustle some grub, and
then find a nice soft spot whereon to pound our respective ears."

Billy, deciding that he was too sleepy to work for food, invested half
of the capital that was to have furnished the swell feed the night
before in what two bits would purchase from a generous housewife on a
near-by farm, and then, stretching themselves beneath the shade of
a tree sufficiently far from the road that they might not attract
unnecessary observation, they slept until after noon.

But their precaution failed to serve their purpose entirely. A
little before noon two filthy, bearded knights of the road clambered
laboriously over the fence and headed directly for the very tree under
which Billy and Bridge lay sleeping. In the minds of the two was the
same thought that had induced Billy Byrne and the poetic Bridge to seek
this same secluded spot.

There was in the stiff shuffle of the men something rather familiar.
We have seen them before--just for a few minutes it is true; but under
circumstances that impressed some of their characteristics upon us. The
very last we saw of them they were shuffling away in the darkness along
a railroad track, after promising that eventually they would wreak dire
vengeance upon Billy, who had just trounced them.

Now as they came unexpectedly upon the two sleepers they did not
immediately recognize in them the objects of their recent hate. They
just stood looking stupidly down on them, wondering in what way they
might turn their discovery to their own advantage.

Nothing in the raiment either of Billy or Bridge indicated that here was
any particularly rich field for loot, and, too, the athletic figure
of Byrne would rather have discouraged any attempt to roll him without
first handing him the "k.o.", as the two would have naively put it.

But as they gazed down upon the features of the sleepers the eyes of one
of the tramps narrowed to two ugly slits while those of

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