The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 167

but about
the young man who had come earlier in the day and purchased food from
her, for the description the tramp gave of the fugitive tallied exactly
with that of the young man.

It seemed incredible that so honest looking a man could be a murderer.
The good woman was shocked, and not a little unstrung by the thought
that she had been in the house alone when he had come and that if he had
wished to he could easily have murdered her.

"I hope they get him," she said, when the tramp had concluded his talk
with Kansas City. "It's awful the carryings on they is nowadays. Why a
body can't never tell who to trust, and I thought him such a nice young
man. And he paid me for what he got, too."

The dog, bored by the inaction, had wandered back into the summer
kitchen and resumed his broken slumber. One of the tramps was leaning
against the wall talking with the farmer woman. The other was busily
engaged in scratching his right shin with what remained of the heel of
his left shoe. He supported himself with one hand on a small table upon
the top of which was a family Bible.

Quite unexpectedly he lost his balance, the table tipped, he was thrown
still farther over toward it, and all in the flash of an eye tramp,
table, and family Bible crashed to the floor.

With a little cry of alarm the woman rushed forward to gather up the
Holy Book, in her haste forgetting the shotgun and leaving it behind her
leaning against the arm of a chair.

Almost simultaneously the two tramps saw the real cause of her
perturbation. The large book had fallen upon its back, open; and as
several of the leaves turned over before coming to rest their eyes went
wide at what was revealed between.

United States currency in denominations of five, ten, and twenty-dollar
bills lay snugly inserted between the leaves of the Bible. The tramp who
lay on the floor, as yet too surprised to attempt to rise, rolled over
and seized the book as a football player seizes the pigskin after a
fumble, covering it with his body, his arms, and sticking out his elbows
as a further protection to the invaluable thing.

At the first cry of the woman the dog rose, growling, and bounded into
the room. The tramp leaning against the wall saw the brute coming--a
mongrel hound-dog, bristling and savage.

The shotgun stood almost within the man's reach--a step and it was in
his hands. As though sensing

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