The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 193

him and
unless I miss my guess you'll have to pay for it."

"No," said Billy, "I kind o' like this Pesita gent. I think I'll stick
around with him for a while yet. Anyhow until I've had a chance to see
his face after I've made my report to him. You guys run along now and
make your get-away good, an' I'll beat it back to camp."

He crossed to where the two horses of the slain marksmen were hidden,
turned one of them loose and mounted the other.

"So long, boes!" he cried, and with a wave of his hand wheeled about and
spurred back along the trail over which they had just come.

Miguel and Bridge watched him for a moment, then they, too, mounted and
turned away in the opposite direction. Bridge recited no verse for the
balance of that day. His heart lay heavy in his bosom, for he missed
Billy Byrne, and was fearful of the fate which awaited him at the camp
of the bandit.

Billy, blithe as a lark, rode gaily back along the trail to camp. He
looked forward with unmixed delight to his coming interview with Pesita,
and to the wild, half-savage life which association with the bandit
promised. All his life had Billy Byrne fed upon excitement and
adventure. As gangster, thug, holdup man and second-story artist Billy
had found food for his appetite within the dismal, sooty streets of
Chicago's great West Side, and then Fate had flung him upon the savage
shore of Yoka to find other forms of adventure where the best that is
in a strong man may be brought out in the stern battle for existence
against primeval men and conditions. The West Side had developed only
Billy's basest characteristics. He might have slipped back easily into
the old ways had it not been for HER and the recollection of that which
he had read in her eyes. Love had been there; but greater than that to
hold a man into the straight and narrow path of decency and honor had
been respect and admiration. It had seemed incredible to Billy that a
goddess should feel such things for him--for the same man her scornful
lips once had branded as coward and mucker; yet he had read the truth
aright, and since then Billy Byrne had done his best according to the
light that had been given him to deserve the belief she had in him.

So far there had crept into his consciousness no disquieting doubts
as to the consistency of his recent action in joining the force

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