The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 17

can give you an excellent recommendation should you desire to take
service with another gentleman."

"That'll be about all of that, Mr. Theriere," snapped the first
officer, coldly. "I did not embark upon this theatrical enterprise for
amusement--I see nothing funny in it, and I wish you to remember that I
am still your superior officer."

Theriere shrugged. Ward did not chance to catch the ugly look in his
companion's eye. Together they gathered up their belongings, descended
to the office, paid their bill, and a few moments later were changing
back to their sea clothes in the little hotel where they first had
engaged accommodations. Half an hour later they stepped to the deck of
the Halfmoon.

Billy Byrne saw them from where he worked in the vicinity of the cabin.
When they were not looking he scowled maliciously at them. They were
the personal representatives of authority, and Billy hated authority in
whatever guise it might be visited upon him. He hated law and order and
discipline.

"I'd like to meet one of dem guys on Green Street some night," he
thought.

He saw them enter the captain's cabin with the skipper, and then he saw
Mr. Divine join them. Billy noted the haste displayed by the four and it
set him to wondering. The scrap of conversation between Divine and Simms
that he had overheard returned to him. He wanted to hear more, and as
Billy was not handicapped by any overly refined notions of the ethics
which frown upon eavesdropping he lost no time in transferring the scene
of his labors to a point sufficiently close to one of the cabin ports to
permit him to note what took place within.

What the mucker beard of that conversation made him prick up his ears.
He saw that something after his own heart was doing--something crooked,
and he wondered that so pusillanimous a thing as Divine could have
a hand in it. It almost changed his estimate of the passenger of the
Halfmoon.

The meeting broke up so suddenly that Billy had to drop to his knees to
escape the observation of those within the cabin. As it was, Theriere,
who had started to leave a second before the others, caught a fleeting
glimpse of a face that quickly had been withdrawn from the cabin
skylight as though its owner were fearful of detection.

Without a word to his companions the Frenchman left the cabin, but once
outside he bounded up the companionway to the deck with the speed of a
squirrel. Nor was he an instant too soon, for as he emerged from below
he saw

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