The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 187

made no objection when Billy approached the
prisoners though they had looked in mild surprise when they saw him
crossing toward them without a guard.

Billy sat down beside Bridge, and broke into a laugh.

"What's the joke?" asked Bridge. "Are we going to be hanged instead of
being shot?"

"We ain't goin' to be either," said Billy, "an' I'm a captain. Whaddaya
know about that?"

He explained all that had taken place between himself and Pesita while
Bridge and Miguel listened attentively to his every word.

"I t'ought it was about de only way out fer us," said Billy. "We were in
worse than I t'ought."

"Can the Bowery stuff, Billy," cried Bridge, "and talk like a white man.
You can, you know."

"All right, bo," cried Billy, good-naturedly. "You see I forget when
there is anything pressing like this, to chew about. Then I fall back
into the old lingo. Well, as I was saying, I didn't want to do it unless
you would stay too, but he wouldn't have you. He has it in for all
gringos, and that bull you passed him about me being from a foreign
country called Grand Avenue! He fell for it like a rube for the
tapped-wire stuff. He said if I wouldn't stay and help him he'd croak
the bunch of us."

"How about that ace-in-the-hole, you were telling me about?" asked

"I still got it," and Billy fondled something hard that swung under his
left arm beneath his shirt; "but, Lord, man! what could I do against
the whole bunch? I might get a few of them; but they'd get us all in the
end. This other way is better, though I hate to have to split with you,
old man."

He was silent then for a moment, looking hard at the ground. Bridge
whistled, and cleared his throat.

"I've always wanted to spend a year in Rio," he said. "We'll meet there,
when you can make your get-away."

"You've said it," agreed Byrne. "It's Rio as soon as we can make it.
Pesita's promised to set you both loose in the morning and send you
under safe escort--Miguel to his happy home, and you to El Orobo Rancho.
I guess the old stiff isn't so bad after all."

Miguel had pricked up his ears at the sound of the word ESCORT. He
leaned far forward, closer to the two Americans, and whispered.

"Who is to command the escort?" he asked.

"I dunno," said Billy. "What difference does it make?"

"It makes all the difference between life and death for your friend and
for me," said Miguel. "There is no

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