The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 171

of the weapon and threw the muzzle up
toward the ceiling as the tramp pulled the trigger. Then he wrenched it
from the man's hands, swung it once above his head and crashed the stock
down upon Dink's skull.

Dink went down and out for the count--for several counts, in fact. Crumb
stumbled to his feet and made a break for the door. In the doorway he
ran full into Bridge, winded, but ready. The latter realizing that the
matted one was attempting to escape, seized a handful of his tangled
beard, and, as he had done upon another occasion, held the tramp's head
in rigid position while he planted a series of blows in the fellow's
face--blows that left Crumb as completely out of battle as was his
mildewed comrade.

"Watch 'em," said Billy, handing Bridge the shotgun. Then he turned his
attention to the woman. With the carving knife that was to have ended
her life he cut her bonds. Removing the gag from her mouth he lifted
her in his strong arms and carried her to the little horsehair sofa that
stood in one corner of the parlor, laying her upon it very gently.

He was thinking of "Maw" Watson. This woman resembled her just a
little--particularly in her comfortable, motherly expansiveness, and she
had had a kind word and a cheery good-bye for him that morning as he had

The woman lay upon the sofa, breathing hard, and moaning just a little.
The shock had been almost too much even for her stolid nerves. Presently
she turned her eyes toward Billy.

"You are a good boy," she said, "and you come just in the nick o' time.
They got all my money. It's in their clothes," and then a look of terror
overspread her face. For the moment she had forgotten what she had heard
about this man--that he was an escaped convict--a convicted murderer.
Was she any better off now that she had let him know about the money
than she was with the others after they discovered it?

At her words Bridge kneeled and searched the two tramps. He counted the
bills as he removed them from their pockets.

"Eleven hundred?" he asked, and handed the money to Billy.

"Eleven hundred, yes," breathed the woman, faintly, her eyes
horror-filled and fearful as she gazed upon Billy's face. She didn't
care for the money any more--they could have it all if they would only
let her live.

Billy turned toward her and held the rumpled green mass out.

"Here," he said; "but that's an awful lot o' coin for a woman to

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