The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 40

you. We
cannot succeed, either one of us, alone. I think you made a fool play
when you hit me today. You know that our understanding was that I was
to be even a little rougher with you than usual, in order to avoid
suspicion being attached to any seeming familiarity between us, should
we be caught conferring together. I had the chance to bawl you out
today, and I thought that you would understand that I was but taking
advantage of the opportunity which it afforded to make it plain to Miss
Harding that there could be nothing other than hatred between us--it
might have come in pretty handy later to have her believe that.

"If I'd had any idea that you really intended hitting me you'd have been
a dead man before your fist reached me, Byrne. You took me entirely
by surprise; but that's all in the past--I'm willing to let bygones be
bygones, and help you out of the pretty pickle you've got yourself into.
Then we can go ahead with our work as though nothing had happened. What
do you say?"

"I didn't know yeh was kiddin," replied the mucker, "or I wouldn't have
hit yeh. Yeh acted like yeh meant it."

"Very well, that part's understood," said Theriere. "Now will you come
out if I can square the thing with the skipper so's you won't get more
than a day or so in irons--he'll have to give you something to save his
own face; but I promise that you'll get your food regularly and that you
won't be beaten up the way you were before when he had you below. If he
won't agree to what I propose I give you my word to tell you so."

"Go ahead," said Billy Byrne; "I don't trust nobody wen I don't have to;
but I'll be dinged if I see any other way out of it."

Theriere returned to the deck and seeking out the skipper drew him to
one side.

"I can get him up peaceably if I can assure him that he'll only get a
day or so in the cooler, with full rations and no beatings. I think,
sir, that that will be the easiest way out of it. We cannot spare a
man now--if we want to get the fellow later we can always find some
pretext."

"Very well, Mr. Theriere," replied the skipper, "I'll leave the matter
entirely in your hands--you can do what you want with the fellow; it's
you as had your face punched."

Theriere returned immediately to the forecastle, from which he presently
emerged with

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