The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 202

Grayson.

Bridge hesitated. "Oh, put me down as L. Bridge," he said.

"Where from?" asked the ranch foreman.

"El Orobo Rancho," answered Bridge.

Grayson shot a quick glance at the man. The answer confirmed his
suspicions that the stranger was probably a horse thief, which, in
Grayson's estimation, was the worst thing a man could be.

"Where did you get that pony you come in on?" he demanded. "I ain't
sayin' nothin' of course, but I jest want to tell you that we ain't got
no use for horse thieves here."

The Easterner, who had been a listener, was shocked by the brutality of
Grayson's speech; but Bridge only laughed.

"If you must know," he said, "I never bought that horse, an' the man he
belonged to didn't give him to me. I just took him."

"You got your nerve," growled Grayson. "I guess you better git out. We
don't want no horse thieves here."

"Wait," interposed the boss. "This man doesn't act like a horse thief.
A horse thief, I should imagine, would scarcely admit his guilt. Let's
have his story before we judge him."

"All right," said Grayson; "but he's just admitted he stole the horse."

Bridge turned to the boss. "Thanks," he said; "but really I did steal
the horse."

Grayson made a gesture which said: "See, I told you so."

"It was like this," went on Bridge. "The gentleman who owned the horse,
together with some of his friends, had been shooting at me and my
friends. When it was all over there was no one left to inform us who
were the legal heirs of the late owners of this and several other horses
which were left upon our hands, so I borrowed this one. The law would
say, doubtless, that I had stolen it; but I am perfectly willing to
return it to its rightful owners if someone will find them for me."

"You been in a scrap?" asked Grayson. "Who with?"

"A party of Pesita's men," replied Bridge.

"When?"

"Yesterday."

"You see they are working pretty close," said Grayson, to his employer,
and then to Bridge: "Well, if you took that cayuse from one of Pesita's
bunch you can't call that stealin'. Your room's in there, back of the
office, an' you'll find some clothes there that the last man forgot to
take with him. You ken have 'em, an' from the looks o' yourn you need
'em."

"Thank you," replied Bridge. "My clothes are a bit rusty. I shall have
to speak to James about them," and he passed through into the little
bedroom off the office, and closed the door behind him.

"James?" grunted

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