The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 228

a barred

Within Bridge paced back and forth the length of the little building. He
could not sleep. Tomorrow he was to be shot! Bridge did not wish to die.
That very morning General Villa in person had examined him. The general
had been exceedingly wroth--the sting of the theft of his funds still
irritated him; but he had given Bridge no inkling as to his fate. It had
remained for a fellow-prisoner to do that. This man, a deserter, was to
be shot, so he said, with Bridge, a fact which gave him an additional
twenty-four hours of life, since, he asserted, General Villa wished
to be elsewhere than in Cuivaca when an American was executed. Thus he
could disclaim responsibility for the act.

The general was to depart in the morning. Shortly after, Bridge and the
deserter would be led out and blindfolded before a stone wall--if there
was such a thing, or a brick wall, or an adobe wall. It made little
difference to the deserter, or to Bridge either. The wall was but a
trivial factor. It might go far to add romance to whomever should read
of the affair later; but in so far as Bridge and the deserter were
concerned it meant nothing. A billboard, thought Bridge, bearing
the slogan: "Eventually! Why not now?" would have been equally as
efficacious and far more appropriate.

The room in which he was confined was stuffy with the odor of
accumulated filth. Two small barred windows alone gave means of
ventilation. He and the deserter were the only prisoners. The latter
slept as soundly as though the morrow held nothing more momentous in his
destiny than any of the days that had preceded it. Bridge was moved to
kick the fellow into consciousness of his impending fate. Instead he
walked to the south window to fill his lungs with the free air beyond
his prison pen, and gaze sorrowfully at the star-lit sky which he should
never again behold.

In a low tone Bridge crooned a snatch of the poem that he and Billy
liked best:

And you, my sweet Penelope, out there somewhere you wait for me,
With buds of roses in your hair and kisses on your mouth.

Bridge's mental vision was concentrated upon the veranda of a
white-walled ranchhouse to the east. He shook his head angrily.

"It's just as well," he thought. "She's not for me."

Something moved upon the ground beyond the window. Bridge became
suddenly intent upon the thing. He saw it rise and resolve itself into
the figure of a man, and then, in

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