The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 183

of a
general--ideas more or less influenced and modified by the chance and
caprice of fortune.

At the moment that Billy, Bridge, and Miguel were dragged into his
presence his torso was enwrapped in a once resplendent coat covered with
yards of gold braid. Upon his shoulders were brass epaulets such as are
connected only in one's mind with the ancient chorus ladies of the light
operas of fifteen or twenty years ago. Upon his legs were some rusty and
ragged overalls. His feet were bare.

He scowled ferociously at the prisoners while his lieutenant narrated
the thrilling facts of their capture--thrilling by embellishment.

"You are Americanos?" he asked of Bridge and Billy.

Both agreed that they were. Then Pesita turned toward Miguel.

"Where is Villa?" he asked.

"How should I know, my general?" parried Miguel. "Who am I--a poor man
with a tiny rancho--to know of the movements of the great ones of the
earth? I did not even know where was the great General Pesita until now
I am brought into his gracious presence, to throw myself at his feet
and implore that I be permitted to serve him in even the meanest of

Pesita appeared not to hear what Miguel had said. He turned his shoulder
toward the man, and addressed Billy in broken English.

"You were on your way to El Orobo Rancho, eh? Are you acquainted there?"
he asked.

Billy replied that they were not--merely looking for employment upon an
American-owned ranch or in an American mine.

"Why did you leave your own country?" asked Pesita. "What do you want
here in Mexico?"

"Well, ol' top," replied Billy, "you see de birds was flyin' south an'
winter was in de air, an a fat-head dick from Chi was on me trail--so I

"Ducks?" queried Pesita, mystified. "Ah, the ducks--they fly south, I

"Naw, you poor simp--I blows," explained Billy.

"Ah, yes," agreed Pesita, not wishing to admit any ignorance of plain
American even before a despised gringo. "But the large-faced dick--what
might that be? I have spend much time in the States, but I do not know

"I said 'fat-head dick'--dat's a fly cop," Billy elucidated.

"It is he then that is the bird." Pesita beamed at this evidence of his
own sagacity. "He fly."

"Flannagan ain't no bird--Flannagan's a dub."

Bridge came to the rescue.

"My erudite friend means," he explained, "that the police chased him out
of the United States of America."

Pesita raised his eyebrows. All was now clear to him.

"But why did he not say so?" he asked.

"He tried to," said Bridge. "He did his best."

"Quit yer kiddin'," admonished Billy.

A bright light

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