The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 230

knocked the bar from its place, the door swung
in and Bridge slipped through to liberty.

"Quick!" said Billy. "Follow me," and turned at a rapid run toward the
south edge of the town. He made no effort now to conceal his movements.
Speed was the only essential, and the two covered the ground swiftly and
openly without any attempt to take advantage of cover.

They reached Billy's horse unnoticed, and a moment later were trotting
toward the west to circle the town and regain the trail to the north and
safety.

To the east they heard the diminishing rifle fire of the combatants as
Pesita's men fell steadily back before the defenders, and drew them away
from Cuivaca in accordance with Billy's plan.

"Like takin' candy from a baby," said Billy, when the flickering lights
of Cuivaca shone to the south of them, and the road ahead lay clear to
the rendezvous of the brigands.

"Yes," agreed Bridge; "but what I'd like to know, Billy, is how you
found out I was there."

"Penelope," said Byrne, laughing.

"Penelope!" queried Bridge. "I'm not at all sure that I follow you,
Billy."

"Well, seein' as you're sittin' on behind you can't be leadin' me,"
returned Billy; "but cuttin' the kid it was a skirt tipped it off to me
where you was--the beautiful senorita of El Orobo Rancho, I think Jose
called her. Now are you hep?"

Bridge gave an exclamation of astonishment. "God bless her!" he said.
"She did that for me?"

"She sure did," Billy assured him, "an' I'll bet an iron case she's
a-waitin' for you there with buds o' roses in her hair an' kisses on her
mouth, you old son-of-a-gun, you." Billy laughed happily. He was happy
anyway at having rescued Bridge, and the knowledge that his friend was
in love and that the girl reciprocated his affection--all of which Billy
assumed as the only explanation of her interest in Bridge--only added to
his joy. "She ain't a greaser is she?" he asked presently.

"I should say not," replied Bridge. "She's a perfect queen from New
York City; but, Billy, she's not for me. What she did was prompted by a
generous heart. She couldn't care for me, Billy. Her father is a wealthy
man--he could have the pick of the land--of many lands--if she cared to
marry. You don't think for a minute she'd want a hobo, do you?"

"You can't most always tell," replied Billy, a trifle sadly. "I knew
such a queen once who would have chosen a mucker, if he'd a-let her.
You're stuck on her, ol' man?"

"I'm afraid I am, Billy,"

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