The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 200

superintendent turned back to the paper in
his hand which he had been discussing with his employer at the moment of
the interruption. He had volleyed his instructions at Bridge as though
pouring a rain of lead from a machine gun, and now that he had said what
he had to say the incident was closed in so far as he was concerned.

The hospitality of the Southwest permitted no stranger to be turned away
without food and a night's lodging. Grayson having arranged for these
felt that he had done all that might be expected of a host, especially
when the uninvited guest was so obviously a hobo and doubtless a horse
thief as well, for who ever knew a hobo to own a horse?

Bridge continued to sit where he had reined in his pony. He was looking
at Grayson with what the discerning boss judged to be politely concealed
enjoyment.

"Possibly," suggested the boss in a whisper to his aide, "the man has
business with you. You did not ask him, and I am sure that he said
nothing about wishing a meal or a place to sleep."

"Huh?" grunted Grayson, and then to Bridge, "Well, what the devil DO you
want?"

"A job," replied Bridge, "or, to be more explicit, I need a job--far be
it from me to WISH one."

The Easterner smiled. Grayson looked a bit mystified--and irritated.

"Well, I hain't got none," he snapped. "We don't need nobody now unless
it might be a good puncher--one who can rope and ride."

"I can ride," replied Bridge, "as is evidenced by the fact that you now
see me astride a horse."

"I said RIDE," said Grayson. "Any fool can SIT on a horse. NO, I hain't
got nothin', an' I'm busy now. Hold on!" he exclaimed as though seized
by a sudden inspiration. He looked sharply at Bridge for a moment and
then shook his head sadly. "No, I'm afraid you couldn't do it--a guy's
got to be eddicated for the job I got in mind."

"Washing dishes?" suggested Bridge.

Grayson ignored the playfulness of the other's question.

"Keepin' books," he explained. There was a finality in his tone which
said: "As you, of course, cannot keep books the interview is now over.
Get out!"

"I could try," said Bridge. "I can read and write, you know. Let me
try." Bridge wanted money for the trip to Rio, and, too, he wanted to
stay in the country until Billy was ready to leave.

"Savvy Spanish?" asked Grayson.

"I read and write it better than I speak it," said Bridge, "though I do
the latter

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