The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 18

the figure of a man disappearing forward.

"Hey there, you!" he cried. "Come back here."

The mucker turned, a sulky scowl upon his lowering countenance, and
the second officer saw that it was the fellow who had given Ward such a
trimming the first day out.

"Oh, it's you is it, Byrne?" he said in a not unpleasant tone. "Come
to my quarters a moment, I want to speak with you," and so saying he
wheeled about and retraced his way below, the seaman at his heels.

"My man," said Theriere, once the two were behind the closed door of
the officer's cabin, "I needn't ask how much you overheard of the
conversation in the captain's cabin. If you hadn't overheard a great
deal more than you should you wouldn't have been so keen to escape
detection just now. What I wanted to say to you is this. Keep a close
tongue in your head and stick by me in what's going to happen in the
next few days. This bunch," he jerked his thumb in the direction of
the captain's cabin, "are fixing their necks for halters, an' I for one
don't intend to poke my head through any noose of another man's making.
There's more in this thing if it's handled right, and handled without
too many men in on the whack-up than we can get out of it if that man
Divine has to be counted in. I've a plan of my own, an' it won't take
but three or four of us to put it across.

"You don't like Ward," he continued, "and you may be almighty sure that
Mr. Ward ain't losing any sleep nights over love of you. If you stick to
that bunch Ward will do you out of your share as sure as you are a foot
high, an' the chances are that he'll do you out of a whole lot more
besides--as a matter of fact, Byrne, you're a mighty poor life insurance
risk right now, with a life expectancy that's pretty near minus as long
as Bender Ward is on the same ship with you. Do you understand what I
mean?"

"Aw," said Billy Byrne, "I ain't afraid o' that stiff. Let him make
any funny crack at me an' I'll cave in a handful of slats for him--the
piker."

"That's all right too, Byrne," said Theriere. "Of course you can do it
if anybody can, provided you get the chance; but Ward isn't the man to
give you any chance. There may be shooting necessary within the next day
or so, and there's nothing

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