The mucker – edgar rice burroughs


Edgar Rice Burroughs


THE MUCKER: Originally published serially in
All-Story Cavalier Weekly. Copyright (c) 1914,
By The Frank A. Munsey Co.

Originally published serially in All-Story Weekly.
Copyright (c) 1916, by The Frank A. Munsey Co.

First Ballantine Edition: January, 1966

Manufactured in the United States of America

101 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10003


Part I



BILLY BYRNE was a product of the streets and alleys of
Chicago’s great West Side. From Halsted to Robey, and
From Grand Avenue to Lake Street there was scarce a bartender
Whom Billy knew not by his first name. And, in
Proportion to their number which was considerably less, he
Knew the patrolmen and plain clothes men equally as well,
But not so pleasantly.

His kindergarten education had commenced in an alley
Back of a feed-store. Here a gang of older boys and men
Were wont to congregate at such times as they had naught
Else to occupy their time, and as the bridewell was the only
Place in which they ever held a job for more than a day or
Two, they had considerable time to devote to congregating.

They were pickpockets and second-story men, made and
In the making, and all were muckers, ready to insult the
First woman who passed, or pick a quarrel with any stranger
Who did not appear too burly. By night they plied their real
Vocations. By day they sat in the alley behind the feedstore
And drank beer from a battered tin pail.

The question of labor involved in transporting the pail,
Empty, to the saloon across the street, and returning it, full,
To the alley back of the feed-store was solved by the presence
Of admiring

and envious little boys of the neighborhood who
Hung, wide-eyed and thrilled, about these heroes of their
Childish lives.

Billy Byrne, at six, was rushing the can for this noble
Band, and incidentally picking up his knowledge of life and
The rudiments of his education. He gloried in the fact that
He was personally acquainted with “Eddie” Welch, and that
With his own ears he had heard “Eddie” tell the gang how
He stuck up a guy on West Lake Street within fifty yards
Of the Twenty-eighth Precinct Police Station.

The kindergarten period lasted until Billy was ten; then
He commenced “swiping” brass faucets from vacant buildings
And selling them to a fence who ran a junkshop on Lincoln
Street near Kinzie.

From this man he obtained the hint that graduated him
To a higher grade, so that at twelve he was robbing freight
Cars in the yards along Kinzie Street, and it was about this
Same time that he commenced to find pleasure in the feel of
His fist against the jaw of a fellow-man.

He had had his boyish scraps with his fellows off and on
Ever since he could remember; but his first real fight came
When he was twelve. He had had an altercation with an
Erstwhile pal over the division of the returns from some
Freight-car booty. The gang was all present, and as words
Quickly gave place to blows, as they have a habit of doing
In certain sections of the West Side, the men and boys formed
A rough ring about the contestants.

The battle was a long one. The two were rolling about
In the dust of the alley quite as often as they were upon their
Feet exchanging blows. There was nothing fair, nor decent,
Nor scientific about their methods. They gouged and bit and

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The mucker – edgar rice burroughs