The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 208

that
this was attended to before he went further with his labors. It were
well to have one's retreat assured at the earliest possible moment. A
single bolt Billy left in place that he might not be surprised by an
intruder; but first he had tested it and discovered that it could be
drawn with ease.

These matters satisfactorily attended to Billy assaulted the combination
knob of the safe with the metal bit which he had inserted in the brace
before lowering it into the bank.

The work was hard and progressed slowly. It was necessary to withdraw
the bit often and lubricate it with a piece of soap which Billy had
brought along in his pocket for the purpose; but eventually a hole was
bored through into the tumblers of the combination lock.

From without Billy could hear the footsteps of the sentry pacing back
and forth within fifty feet of him, all unconscious that the bank he was
guarding was being looted almost beneath his eyes. Once a corporal came
with another soldier and relieved the sentry. After that Billy heard the
footfalls no longer, for the new sentry was barefoot.

The boring finished, Billy drew a bit of wire from an inside pocket and
inserted it in the hole. Then, working the wire with accustomed fingers,
he turned the combination knob this way and that, feeling with the bit
of wire until the tumblers should all be in line.

This, too, was slow work; but it was infinitely less liable to attract
attention than any other method of safe cracking with which Billy was
familiar.

It was long past midnight when Captain Byrne was rewarded with
success--the tumblers clicked into position, the handle of the safe door
turned and the bolts slipped back.

To swing open the door and transfer the contents of the safe to the two
sacks was the work of but a few minutes. As Billy rose and threw the
heavy burden across a shoulder he heard a challenge from without, and
then a parley. Immediately after the sound of footsteps ascending the
stairway to the rooming-house came plainly to his ears, and then he had
slipped the last bolt upon the rear door and was out in the yard beyond.

Now Bridge, sleeping the sleep of utter exhaustion that the boom of a
cannon might not have disturbed, did that inexplicable thing which every
one of us has done a hundred times in our lives. He awakened, with a
start, out of a sound sleep, though no disturbing noise had reached his
ears.

Something impelled him to sit up in bed, and

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