The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 175

as to
the future and the best manner of meeting it before it arrived.

"I think," said Billy, "that I'll duck across the border. I won't never
be safe in little old U. S., an' with things hoppin' in Mexico the way
they have been for the last few years I orter be able to lose myself
pretty well.

"Now you're all right, ol' top. You don't have to duck nothin' for you
ain't did nothin'. I don't know what you're runnin' away from; but I
know it ain't nothin' the police is worryin' about--I can tell that by
the way you act--so I guess we'll split here. You'd be a boob to cross
if you don't have to, fer if Villa don't get you the Carranzistas will,
unless the Zapatistas nab you first.

"Comin' or goin' some greasy-mugged highbinder's bound to croak you if
you cross, from what little I've heard since we landed in El Paso.

"We'll feed up together tonight, fer the last time. Then I'll pull my
freight." He was silent for a while, and then: "I hate to do it, bo, fer
you're the whitest guy I ever struck," which was a great deal for Billy
Byrne of Grand Avenue to say.

Bridge finished rolling a brown paper cigarette before he spoke.

"Your words are pure and unadulterated wisdom, my friend," he said. "The
chances are scarcely even that two gringo hoboes would last the week
out afoot and broke in Viva Mexico; but it has been many years since I
followed the dictates of wisdom. Therefore I am going with you."

Billy grinned. He could not conceal his pleasure.

"You're past twenty-one," he said, "an' dry behind the ears. Let's go
an' eat. There is still some of that twenty-five left."

Together they entered a saloon which Bridge remembered as permitting
a very large consumption of free lunch upon the purchase of a single
schooner of beer.

There were round tables scattered about the floor in front of the bar,
and after purchasing their beer they carried it to one of these that
stood in a far corner of the room close to a rear door.

Here Bridge sat on guard over the foaming open sesame to food while
Billy crossed to the free lunch counter and appropriated all that a
zealous attendant would permit him to carry off.

When he returned to the table he took a chair with his back to the wall
in conformity to a habit of long standing when, as now, it had stood him
in good stead to be in a position to see the

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