The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 26

the upper
deck. Billy Mallory had overheard the conversation below and Simms'
command to Byrne. Disengaging himself from Barbara Harding who in her
terror had clutched his arm, he ran forward to the head of the stairway.

The men of the Lotus looked on in mute and helpless rage. All were
covered by the guns of the boarding party--the still forms of two
of their companions bearing eloquent witness to the slenderness of
provocation necessary to tighten the trigger fingers of the beasts
standing guard over them.

Billy Byrne never hesitated in his rush for the upper deck. The sight of
the man awaiting him above but whetted his appetite for battle. The
trim flannels, the white shoes, the natty cap, were to the mucker as
sufficient cause for justifiable homicide as is an orange ribbon in
certain portions of the West Side of Chicago on St. Patrick's Day. As
were "Remember the Alamo," and "Remember the Maine" to the fighting
men of the days that they were live things so were the habiliments of
gentility to Billy Byrne at all times.

Billy Mallory was an older man than the mucker--twenty-four perhaps--and
fully as large. For four years he had played right guard on a great
eastern team, and for three he had pulled stroke upon the crew. During
the two years since his graduation he had prided himself upon the
maintenance of the physical supremacy that had made the name of Mallory
famous in collegiate athletics; but in one vital essential he was
hopelessly handicapped in combat with such as Billy Byrne, for Mallory
was a gentleman.

As the mucker rushed upward toward him Mallory had all the advantage of
position and preparedness, and had he done what Billy Byrne would have
done under like circumstances he would have planted a kick in the midst
of the mucker's facial beauties with all the power and weight and energy
at his command; but Billy Mallory could no more have perpetrated a
cowardly trick such as this than he could have struck a woman.

Instead, he waited, and as the mucker came on an even footing with him
Mallory swung a vicious right for the man's jaw. Byrne ducked beneath
the blow, came up inside Mallory's guard, and struck him three times
with trip-hammer velocity and pile-driver effectiveness--once upon the
jaw and twice--below the belt!

The girl, clinging to the rail, riveted by the paralysis of fright, saw
her champion stagger back and half crumple to the deck. Then she saw him
make a brave and desperate rally, as, though torn with agony, he lurched
forward in an endeavor to

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