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ERB Summary Project The Mucker

The Mucker

Summarized by
The Members of ERBList

Stan Galloway, Project Editor
David Bruce Bozarth, Managing Editor


The 1828 Webster Dictionary has the following entry: MUCK'ER, v.t. [from muck.] To scrape together money by mean labor or shifts. [Not used in America.] Webster's 1913 dictionary adds the following definition: n. A term of reproach for a low or vulgar labor person. [Slang]. The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1946) indicates "mucker" is slang, heavy fall, experience this, plunge into extravagance (purchase). The 1936 Merriam's Collegiate Dictionary reports: slang (U.S) A coarse vulgar person, esp. one capable of offense against courtesy or honor. A 1973 Random House College Dictionary states: (Brit. Slang) a vulger, ill-bred person. So what is a mucker? I do not own enough dictionaries to sort this out! However, traditional American slang from 1913 until at least 1973 (my recent dictionaries do not list "mucker!") is fairly consistent with "low, vulgar, coarse, offensive to courtesy or honor." Billy Byrne in Part 1 of The Mucker does fit this description, yet this low, vulgar, coarse person thrilled every reader of ERB's contemporary novel of the South Seas and the American Southwest as he rose above upbringing and environment to become--if not wholly noble--a fine, upstanding citizen!

David Bruce Bozarth


Billy Byrne
Coke Sheehan
Larry Hilmore
Stanley Lasky
Anthony Harding
Count de Cadenet (Theriere)
Larry Divine
Billy Mallory
Barbara Harding
Oda Yorimoto
Oda Iseka
Captain Norris
Professor Cassidy
Battling Dago Pete
Big Smoke
Maggie Shane
Sgt. Flanagan
Mr. and Mrs. Shorter
Captain Rozales
Eddie Shorter
the Clark brothers


Grand Avenue
San Francisco
"Manhattan Island"
New York City
Mississippi River
Kansas City
Granavenoo, a fictitious German colony invented by Pesita's ignorance
El Orobo Ranch


Halfmoon, Simms's ship
Lotus, the Hardings' yacht
Ashikaga Dynasty
Alaska, a warship
Missouri Pacific freight train
Villistas, followers of Villa
Carranzislas, another rival faction
Pesitistas, followers of Pesita
Brazos, a pony
Pimans, an Indian tribe
Thirteenth U.S. Cavalry


By Stan Galloway

I'm sure it was Frazetta's cover that grabbed my adolescent mind and made me read The Mucker back in the early seventies. Later, not the cover but the adventure brought it to mind in my college American literature class at the end of the seventies, making it the first Burroughs work for which I wrote "literary criticism." Since then Burroughs has made regular appearances in my understanding of literature.

Lupoff's book was important to show me that Burroughs could be taken seriously and that The Mucker was considered by someone other than me to be worth studying. Lupoff calls it "one of the most remarkable stories ever written by any author, a story which combined so disparate a variety of themes and locales as very nearly to defy belief. It is also one of the finest books of Burroughs' long and varied career" (82).

Burroughs calls up successful motifs from earlier works and recombines them in a roller-coaster fashion. The work starts as a social critique of the inner city, his own Chicago, but quickly moves to sea. A mutiny like that on the Fuwalda in Tarzan of the Apes is seen from a vastly different view, in that Billy Byrne is among the pirates. The lost-race theme, which he established in Opar (Return of Tarzan), is revived in a samurai-head-hunter degenerative society. The hero-regeneration theme, on which this book is built, is used from a moral stance, similar to the physical regeneration in Waldo Emerson Smith-Jones in The Cave Girl (the two parts of which were written before and after the two parts of The Mucker). And the self-denial at the ending of part one mirrors the renunciation Tarzan makes at the end of his first novel. Part two takes us from contemporary Chicago and moves to Mexico where Burroughs combines social history and the traditional Western. Despite all the variation on motifs, Septimus Favonius affirms: "The formula still works: like Jane Porter, Barbara Harding realizes the personal sacrifices and sterling qualities of her man and marries him for a happy ending" (30).

I no longer have that 500-word essay from college but my admiration for this book has only grown.

The Mucker ran in All-Story Cavalier in 1914 and Return of the Mucker in All-Story Weekly in 1916. McClurg published the two parts together in book form in 1921.

Works Cited

Favonius, Septimus. "Bibliographer's Corner." Burroughs Bulletin NS #10 (April 1991): 30.

Lupoff, Richard. Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master of Adventure. Rev. ed. New York: Ace, 1968.

The Mucker

Part 1

Chapter 1: Billy Byrne

By Stan Galloway

Billy Byrne is raised in Chicago's West Side. "His kindergarten education had commenced in an alley back of a feed store" by low-life men: "all were muckers, ready to insult the first woman who passed, or pick a quarrel with any stranger who did not appear too burly." Billy's drinking and stealing, especially from boxcars, develop early, and he decides after a fight with Sheehan at age 12 that he needs boxing lessons to enhance his fighting. At 17 he rides the pugilistic success of a neighbor in learning the game and takes up irregular work at Larry Hilmore's boxing academy. One night after robbing Schneider's saloon, Billy discovers three "outsiders" beating Patrolman Stanley Lasky; he comes to Lasky's rescue, not of a love of Lasky but in asserting his territorial right to protect the things of "his bailiwick." Billy is shot through the left shoulder in the ruckus. Thereafter Billy and Lasky nod to one another on the street. Two years later, after repeated urging from Hilmore for Billy to take up an honest life, Lasky warns Billy that Sheehan had "confessed" Billy's involvement in the recent murder of Schneider and that police were searching for him. Billy hops a train to San Francisco. There in a tavern, looking for drunken sailors to roll, he is invited to join some men who buy him a drink. And another. And another.

Chapter 2: Shanghaied

By Hadron

Billy tries to remember where he is. When he emerges from his drunken stupor, he finds himself at sea, in the crew's quarters of an old ship. The mate, Ward, enters the room. He tries to put the still-groggy Billy "in his place," but drunk or sober, Billy can -- and does -- take care of himself; he starts to beat Ward to a bloody pulp. In reply to Ward's screams, the Captain and six of the crew come down and subdue Billy. He is chained in a dark, smelly hole; each day, the captain visits him, and beats him with a stick, to teach him some discipline. After ten days, Billy is brought up on deck, to keep the rats from devouring him. Nature and his own inner strength soon bring about a total recovery. Billy now undergoes a physical change, brought about by a combination of fresh air, physical work, and forced abstinence from alcohol. He soon feels at home with the ruffians who comprise the crew -- all of them lacking in kindness, virtue, and decency of all sorts. He soon earns their respect by his ability to handle himself in fights with them. These fights leave no hard feelings -- Billy saves such feelings for the mysterious well-bred passenger of the Halfmoon.

Chapter 3: The Conspiracy

By Hadron

The Halfmoon lies off Honolulu. Only two men go ashore – the first mate Ward, and the second mate. The crew grumbles resentfully. There is a plan to capture and loot the Lotus, a private yacht of American millionaire Anthony Harding; the yacht is reportedly carrying one million dollars in cash on board. The second mate poses as the French Count de Cadenet, with Ward reluctantly posing as his valet. They have a letter of introduction from Larry Divine, a friend of the Hardings. Cadenet meets the Hardings, and makes a favorable impression on them. Ward, the meanwhile, resents having to play the valet to his junior officer. The Lotus soon sets sail. Cadenet and Ward return to the Halfmoon, with the latter's resentment of the former increasing. Back on the Halfmoon, Cadenet, for reasons not yet known, seems to make Billy his ally.

Chapter 4: Piracy

By Hadron

The brigantine Halfmoon sets sail, and goes out to sea. Capt. Simms and his first mate are overjoyed at the luck that brought them to Honolulu, and at the success of the Frenchman Theriere's deceptive mission to the Hardings. Out at sea, Simms halts his vessel, and flies false distress signals. The Lotus espies the signals, and goes to the aid of the supposedly disabled ship. The captain and crew of the Halfmoon board the Lotus. They take it over violently. Billy savagely beats Billy Mallory apparently to death. He then forces Barbara Harding, daughter of the wealthy yacht owner to her cabin. The pirates disable the yacht, and then prepare to return to their own vessel. Barbara has an unexpected visitor.

Chapter 5: Larry Divine Unmasked

By Hadron

Divine admits he is in the company of Simms and his cutthroats. He tells Barbara that he was kidnapped in San Francisco, and is apparently being held for ransom. Barbara is skeptical. "They cannot have treated you very badly, Larry ... You are as well groomed and well fed, apparently, as ever," she notes. The man flushes, then replies that the brigands need him alive and well to collect the ransom. He adds that he had been threatened with death if he did not write that note introducing Theriere, Count de Cadenet, to the Hardings. He makes a feeble offer to protect her from the ruffians. She asks him to leave -- she needs time to collect her thoughts. A few days later, Theriere comes to visit her. She gives him a cold reception. To win her good graces, he claims that he is a prisoner on board -- that he had been told that the taking of the Lotus was to be a prank -- that he had no idea that violence was planned. She is skeptical. Theriere helps her eavesdrop on a conversation between Simms and Divine, convincing her of Divine's complicity. The Frenchman keeps himself from making an unwelcomed advance. He unbolts the door of her room and leaves. Barbara goes with him on deck, and a jumble of thoughts races through her mind. As she stands near the rail, deep in thought, Billy approaches. She recognizes him as the brute who killed Billy Mallory. "Coward!" she curses him. He wants to strike her, but an unknown power stays his mighty hand. Theriere sees the situation and springs between Billy and Barbara.

Chapter 6:The Mucker at Bay

By Hadron

Theriere warns Billy not to come near Barbara again. Billy views the Frenchman and his threat with contempt; with one punch, he leaves Theriere lying unconscious at Barbara's feet. He kicks the unconscious man, then goes to the forecastle. Simms and Ward are on deck; they take Theriere below. Billy refuses to come on deck and surrender. Simms and his men argue about how to get Billy on deck. Theriere, now recovered, comes on deck. He goes alone to confront the mucker. He offers Billy a deal by which both of them might one day escape from Simms and the Halfmoon. Reluctantly, Billy agrees, and follows Theriere on deck. This incident increases the respect of the crew for Theriere. It serves, also, to give him a new standing in Barbara's eyes. Theriere assures her that he has only contempt and loathing for Billy, and intends to use him as a tool for their -- Theriere's and Barbara's -- escape from the clutches of Simms and Ward.

Chapter 7: The Typhoon

By: Stan Galloway

A storm springs up suddenly, taking some of the canvas and snapping the mainmast. "Fully half the crew" is killed in the storm's initial onslaught. Theriere attends the hatches, allowing sailors entrance in the brief moments when seawater recedes. When a wave catches Theriere, Billy closes the hatch and inexplicably lunges to grab the recovering Theriere as another wave strikes, nearly washing them both away. Billy manages to pull them both to safety before the next wave hits. "Billy was peeved with himself" for having done such a foolish thing. Theriere's attitude shifts from revenge to gratitude. After three days the storm subsides and they find land near. Unlike "God-fearing men," the crew resumes their former bravado. Barbara comes on deck for fresh air. Theriere tries to encourage her, saying he will attend to her safety personally. The light in his eye at her acceptance of his proposition she takes as love, though "the eye-light of love and lust are twin lights between which it takes much worldly wisdom to differentiate." Billy is enraged that Barbara would look on Theriere with favor after he, Billy, had asserted his own "manliness" against him.

Chapter 8: The Wreck of the "Halfmoon"

By: Stan Galloway

Billy threatens and insults Barbara. She calls him a coward and a beast. He is taken aback by her unheated delivery and begins to ponder how he must look to another. The "scales which had dimmed his mental vision had partially dropped away." He walks away from the confrontation. With rigged sails, the Halfmoon's crew tries to find a place to land without dashing into the rocks. Simms begins begging anyone to save him from certain death, as the cliffs offer no security. The others begin to abandon their posts to search out anything to keep them afloat. Theriere takes the deserted helm and attempts to steer into a blind narrow opening. Barbara tries to help pull the wheel with him, admiring his bravery. Billy joins them, pushing Barbara aside. Theriere leaves the wheel to Billy to reset the sail. Billy rejects Barbara's offer to help steer. Simms attacks Theriere for running the ship to the rocks. Barbara considers the contradictions within Billy. Halfway through the cliff fissure the Halfmoon is cloven by a reef and all are taken down. Barbara resolves against futility to swim until no strength remains. As her last efforts fail to bring her to safety, an arm pulls her forward. They struggle together, Barbara losing consciousness. She opens her eyes as Billy staggers to the beach carrying her.

Chapter 9: Oda Yorimoto

By: Stan Galloway

All but four reach shore. Simms threatens Theriere with legal action for wrecking the ship. Theriere suggests that the company part based on allegiance. When Divine is asked which side he chooses he first says he will not choose, then following threats from Ward starts toward Simms's group. A lecture from Barbara stops him mid-course and he walks to Theriere with head down, making that group nine people against Simms's seven men. Ward quickly suggests that the two groups had better work together to salvage wreckage. Divine is given the leadership of a scouting group while the others reclaim anything usable washed up. As Divine's men scale the cliff, a brown man in medieval armor watches. Oda Yorimoto is a descendant of "a powerful daimio of the Ashikaga Dynasty" whose forefather had fled Japan. His people had intermarried with native headhunters and propagated themselves for centuries. Divine finds a site with fresh water too far to reach before nightfall. Theriere and Divine make a rude shelter for Barbara about 100 yards from the others. When Yorimoto is confident the people are asleep he approaches. He stops short when Theriere rises and rouses his party to move to the new location without the others. While gathering supplies, Ward awakes and approaches the supplies being pilfered by Theriere's men. After Ward gets a drink, he goes back to sleep. Barbara follows on the second ascent escorted by Miller and Swenson toward the spring Divine had discovered. At the spring Theriere discovers Barbara and the two men missing.

Chapter 10: Barbara Captured by Head-Hunters

By: Stan Galloway

As the party walked along the path, Miller and Swenson were speared, Barbara taken. Later, by moonlight, she sees her abductors are of Japanese descent, carrying the heads of Miller and Swenson on their belts. Morning brings them to a mountain village, Barbara taken to the two-room hovel-palace of Daimio Oda Yorimoto, Lord of Yoka, their name for the island. Barbara's facility with the Japanese language is understandable to Yorimoto; and she bargains his designs to take her to bed with a promised reward from her father. That failing she says she will comply in the next room, but not in front of the others in the family. In the darkness of the next room, she stabs him with his own short sword. His shriek is mistaken by those in the other room for Barbara's. Theriere assumes Barbara has been recaptured by Ward and Simms. Billy accuses Theriere of double-crossing them. Theriere convinces Billy that he has not and they prepare for an assault from below come morning. At first light, Blanco, Divine, and Sawyer are left to defend the cliffs while the others search for Barbara. They find the bodies of Miller and Swenson. Billy wonders why he is concerned with Barbara's fate. Sanders and Wison return to the cliffs while Theriere and Billy search from Barbara. Sanders reports to the others that they had been set upon by a thousand "devils" and that Theriere and Billy had been killed. Ward begins his assault from below. After one sailor is shot, the men on the cliff top surrender. Divine is not welcomed and taken prisoner for leading a mutiny.

Chapter 11: The Village of Yoka

By: Stan Galloway

When Barbara tries to exit the room, a woman rouses and begins breakfast. Barbara pushes the corpse against the door to prevent easy entrance by another. The window is too small for her to get through. She turns away a woman at the door, telling her the master is sleeping. She tries to enlarge the window noiselessly. A man comes to the door demanding to speak with Yorimoto, who plans to hunt the other strangers. When he forces his way in, Barbara decapitates him and closes the door. The women sound alarm and the villagers gather to find out what has happened. Barbara prepares to kill herself before she can be taken. Theriere and Billy follow to the village and capture a boy, Oda Iseka, son of Yorimoto, on the outskirts. They gag and bind him after finding the window through which Barbara is believed held. Billy plans to force his way in while Theriere covers him with a revolver from the jungle edge. When the villagers all rush toward the building, Billy heads for the window.

Chapter 12: The Fight in the Palace

By: Stan Galloway

Billy enlarges the window and comes to Barbara's side holding the door with the corpses. Billy orders her to exit through the window to Theriere. Billy kills the first through the doorway and lays out the second. Barbara calls Theriere to Billy's aid then returns to help him fight. Billy tells her to leave again but she continues to harry any who try to circle behind their formidable antagonist. Billy is wounded many times and finally takes a spear, which drops him. At that moment Theriere jumps through the window shooting. The gunfire stops the samurai rush. A second shot sends the men fleeing. Theriere and Barbara try to carry Billy's body out the window but are unable to lift him. They stay with him until he rouses. Outside the palace they are attacked; Billy hoists Barbara to his shoulder and rushes for the jungle while Theriere covers their retreat with his revolver. As Billy and Barbara reach the jungle edge, Theriere takes a spear in the leg. Billy rushes back to snag him to safety. They use the bound Iseka as a bargaining tool. Billy carries Theriere and leads the bound native to a spring identified by Iseka. At the water's edge, Billy collapses and Iseka calls his followers to come rescue him.

Chapter 13: A Gentleman of France

By: Stan Galloway

Barbara grabs Theriere's revolver from Billy and threatens Iseka with death if the others do not stop. He calls them to withdraw. She then attends the two men, tearing strips from her skirt as bandages. When Billy revives sufficiently to apprehend his situation he shoos Barbara away from him to Theriere. Billy, strangely, recognizes he has rebuffed her and tries, unsuccessfully, to talk seriously to her, instead asking, "Ain't dat boob croaked yet?" Barbara is puzzled by the contradictory emotions wracking Billy. After much attention, Theriere appears to be dying and Barbara tells Billy so. Billy wrestles with the unfamiliar sentiment of friendship. In a dying conversation, Theriere asks Billy's forgiveness and Billy admits that he had been a coward and that he is now learning "the right kind" of "nerve." Barbara thinks that Theriere has died a "true, brave gentleman." During their distraction Iseka disappears. With dark approaching, Billy carries Theriere a short distance away, digs a grave with the swords and buries Theriere. They then flee into the mountain wilderness. They find a defensible place and Barbara sleeps. She wakes apprehensive at the sight of Billy, then remembers the events of the previous day. They catch some fish and eat. Billy then sleeps while Barbara guards them. After some time of pondering whether she is safer or worse off with him, she sees a man approaching and wakens Billy.

Chapter 14: The Mucker Sees A New Light

By Bob Zeuschner

Barbara and the mucker look out the amphitheater opening, and see what appear to be a hundred headhunters in the distance, coming towards them. Billy and Barbara run out, skirting the perpendicular cliffs, hidden from view by underbrush and trees. For several hours they flee, until they come to a small brook, where they rest. An awareness of Barbara Harding's beauty is growing in Billy's mind, and Barbara notices and becomes afraid. For the rest of the afternoon they follow the brook until it becomes a wide river in a valley, and they spot a rocky island, which Billy declares to be "Jest de place!" Billy lifts Barbara up and begins to carry her across the shallow river to the island, but begins to desire her and tries to kiss her. She pushes him away, but in his eyes she sees what she thinks may be a look of honest love. Arriving at the island, Billy experiences a battle in his soul which she can see; Barbara says "And just when I was learning to trust you so!" Billy recognizes that he loves her, and says, "Please don't be afraid o' me. I couldn't hurt youse if I tried." Barbara Harding is reassured, and Billy builds a rude hut. Barbara asks if Billy wouldn't want to be a gentleman, and Billy says he'd do anything she asks. She begins to teach him to speak correctly, and for three weeks Billy progresses rapidly. Barbara finds herself admiring Billy's vitality and grace. Billy leaves the island in search of meat, but barely on the other side he is attacked by a solitary Malay with a long spear. Warned by Barbara's cry, Billy kills him with his bare hands.

Chapter 15: The Rescue

By Bob Zeuschner

Billy returns and Barbara eyes him with horror. He says he had to kill the warrior. Barbara asks how he could have killed Mallory. He says, "I'd give my life to bring him back again for your sake. ... I didn't want to be decent -- not until I met you, and learned to -- to." Barbara knows what he wants to say. Weeks go by. Billy delays leaving their "Manhattan Island," because doing so will end their closeness. He blurts out that he loves her. She laughs. Suddenly they hear voices and shots. They see six samurai with prisoners, Captain Norris and Foster, mate of the Lotus. Billy goes to their rescue. Barbara fords the river, plunging her sword into the man striking at Billy's head. Billy falls. Barbara hugs him saying, "Come back! Forgive me that cruel laugh. O Billy! Billy! I love you!" Billy's eyes open and they kiss. The captain and mate finish off their opponents. They tell Barbara that her father and Mallory were taken prisoner three days before. Billy says, "I thought I had killed him." They recognize Billy, and Barbara defends him, reminding them that Billy just saved them. Norris explains that the Lotus rigged a wireless and raised the warship Alaska, which repaired their ship. They went in search of the Halfmoon. They found the survivors who told them that Billy and Theriere had taken Barbara. While searching, they were attacked, Mallory and Mr. Harding captured. Norris and Foster escaped but were recaptured. Billy grabs his spear and revolver and tells the captain and mate to stay and protect Barbara. Bewildered, she asks where he is going. He replies, "To get your father -- and Mr. Mallory."

Chapter 16: The Supreme Sacrifice

By: Stan Galloway

Billy retraces his path to the village. Though he wants to, he still cannot believe Barbara's declaration of love. "For Her Sake" becomes his motivating slogan. In the moonlight, he enters the hut where they had fought before but finds it empty. He searches other huts. In the fourth, a man awakens and Billy kills him silently. He finds Mallory and Harding and leads them out, securing a sword for each. The villagers awake when one of the men strikes a doorjamb with his sword. They escape to the street where they are surrounded. They fight triangularly back-to-back toward the jungle until Mallory takes a spear through the calf. Billy grabs him and they make a dash into the grass. Billy takes three spears in doing so. He tells the others directions to Barbara and says he will hold off the villagers with the revolver. Mallory says he won't leave. Finally Billy reveals his identity and the two leave him. They eventually make it to the island and report that Billy is dead.

Chapter 17: Home Again

By: David Adams

After a half hour of intermittent shots, Billy crawls away into the darkness to die. He falls into a hunter's pit and loses consciousness. He regains consciousness and crawls out at night and returns to the island camp to at least lie down next to Barbara's hut. In the morning he discovers that they have left him behind. Traveling all day he reaches the coast, and the next morning he climbs a high promontory in time to see the Alaska and the Lotus sailing out to sea. He falls to the ground and lies there all day. Billy lives on the island for three months and regains his strength. The natives do not bother him on this "bewitched" section. He is finally rescued by a passing steamer. Six months later in New York City, Billy gets a job as a sparring partner at Professor Cassidy's gym. He is to help Battling Dago Pete prepare for his bout with the Big Smoke. (The Hurricane is the only other man good enough to spar with Pete.) Billy, who fights like Jeffries, knocks out Pete and the Professor takes him on as his main fighter.

Chapter 18: The Gulf Between

By: David Adams

Billy works to way to the top of the fighting world, even defeating the "white hope" in a very exciting battle. "Sailor" Billy becomes the greatest "white hope" of them all and gets a title fight with the Negro champion. Billy notices a news article that Barbara has broken off her engagement with Mallory, while she notices his picture on the sports page and calls him to her home. When Billy meets Barbara again, he realizes their class differences and affects his former rough habits of speech and actions. He phones Mallory and tells him to come over right away to mend the breach in their engagement. Barbara is very hurt when he tells her to marry Mallory. Mallory arrives, as the butler, Smith, shows Billy out the back way.

Part 2

Chapter 1: The Murder Trial

By: Stan Galloway

Billy Byrne arrives in Chicago by train. He intends to "show them" that he "wasn't afraid to be decent." He intends to give himself up to the law, so that he can be vindicated of the murder charge that caused his flight. Before that, he visits his Grand Avenue haunts. Maggie Shane, former lover of Sheehan, sees him and calls the police. Billy finds his mother has died in his absence. Two patrolmen arrest him; no one believes he had intended to turn himself in. A quick trial with perjured testimony leads to a life sentence. Billy takes pride that a jury's pronouncement could not take away his honor. But also, he had read in the newspaper that Barbara would marry Mallory June 25. He did not care to live. He is sent by train to Joliet. Barbara reads about his sentence in the newspaper and sobs. As Billy, handcuffed to a deputy, moves between railcars, he sees an opening and jumps from the train, dragging his guard behind.

Chapter 2: The Escape

By: Hadron

They fall to a slimy pool at a culvert. Before the stunned lawman can do anything, Billy takes the man's gun and threatens to kill him. The mucker wants to kill him -- he regards mercy and all other fine sentiments as maudlin weaknesses. But the image of Barbara Harding comes to the forefront of his mind, and stays his hand. The man faints and Billy frees himself and handcuffs the deputy to the trestle. Leaving the lawman bound and gagged, Billy goes off and jumps a freight train, crossing the Mississippi. In the course of his wanderings, he meets, and joins company with, an enigmatic hobo named Bridge, an apparently cultured wanderer with a penchant for Knibbs' poetry. He saves Bridge when other hobos attack him. Bridge and Billy take a liking to each other; they agree to travel together until they might tire of each other's company.

Chapter 3: "Five Hundred Dollars Reward"

By: Hadron

Billy and Bridge are hungry. Billy finds a nearby farmhouse, and offers to chop some firewood in return for some food for himself and his friend. After they eat, Billy returns the pail to the farmer's wife -- the pail that she had let him have, to carry the food in. Bridge is puzzled, especially since he saw on Billy's wrists the marks left by handcuffs. They head for Kansas City. They stop off to wash. In the newspaper that their food had been wrapped in, Bridge sees an article about Billy's conviction, sentencing, and escape. In Kansas City, they check into a rooming house. Billy finds the article that Bridge was reading -- he is understandably worried that Bridge might betray him for the $500 reward. The two men are now walking to a diner. Bridge suddenly motions to Billy to enter the eating place just as a stranger emerges from a doorway across the street.

Chapter 4: On the Trail

By Hadron

Once in the diner's washroom, Bridge tells Billy that he saw a Chicago detective across the street; he is certain that the man is after Billy. Billy soon realizes that Bridge is a true friend, and has no intention of betraying him. They decide to leave, but are soon spotted and recognized by the same two hobos from whose attack Billy had saved Bridge. The hobos tell the police of Billy's whereabouts. Billy and Bridge get away, with Sgt. Flanagan and some local police in pursuit.

Chapter 5: One Good Turn Deserves Another

By Hadron

The two tramps who want to turn Billy over to the police now come to the farmhouse where Billy had come for food. They kill the dog with a shotgun, tie up the farmer's wife, and look for anything of value -- including cash -- to steal. They are about to murder the elderly woman when the mucker comes upon the scene. Enraged, he gives both of them a well-deserved beating. Much to the woman's surprise, Billy returns to her the cash -- $1100 -- that her attackers would have stolen. The farmer, Mr. Shorter, returns home, to hear what had transpired in his absence. Mrs. Shorter gives $25 to Bridge and Billy; then, her husband drives them to the town of Dodson, where they head south on a Missouri Pacific freight train.

Chapter 6: Baby Bandits

By Hadron

Flanagan arrives at the Shorter farm, but the fugitive mucker is nowhere to be found. Flanagan finds the two renegade tramps instead, with the Shorters giving him no help. In gratitude for Billy's life-saving help, Mr. and Mrs. Shorter help him and Bridge to escape. The two men head south for Mexico. They stop to eat, only to find that Flanagan has caught up with them. A fight ensues, but Billy and Bridge make free again and are on their way. As they go, they talk. Bridge wonders why Billy sometimes talks properly, sometimes sloppily; Billy says that it's her influence. Now they find themselves at the poor hut of a Mexican. They want to find work on some American-owned ranch in Mexico. The Mexican tells them to return to the U.S. -- Mexico is torn into violent factions, and a fierce hatred of gringos pervades the land. The two main factions are the Villistas and the Carranzislas; Pesita, who is fighting everyone, leads a third, lesser faction. As they speak, some of Pesita's armed bandits approach; they make prisoners of Bridge, Miguel and Billy, and take them to their camp.

Chapter 7: In Pesita's Camp

By: Stan Galloway

Pesita questions the men and learns, with difficulty, that Billy is running from the law. Bridge explains that Billy's English is unclear because he is not from America but from "Granavenoo," which Pesita assumes is a German colony. He questions more from Billy privately, offering a captaincy to join his forces because he is strong and can imitate a gringo. Billy agrees to serve Pesita if Bridge and Miguel are set free, to which Pesita agrees. Billy goes to tell the others. Pesita assigns Captain Rozales to escort Bridge and Miguel away, explaining that it would not be his fault if Vallistas killed the men while he was trying to defend them. Billy tells Bridge and Miguel about the agreement, and Miguel says that if Rozales rides with them, then Pesita intends them to be killed. When Billy asks the other men who will go with his friends he sees Rozales make a slight backward movement; Billy believes he is lying when he says he does not know. Shortly after, Rozales goes to Pesita to suggest that "Captain Byrne" himself escort the men so that he will hate the Villistas for attacking and killing his friends. Pesita agrees.

Chapter 8: Billy's First Command

By Stan Galloway

Billy leads Bridge and Miguel away in the morning with six men picked by Pesita. When they approach a narrow place that Miguel suspects Billy leads them off the trail to go around the dangerous area. One of Pesita's men objects. Billy orders him out of the way. A second man interposes himself with cocked rifle. Billy lays him in the sand with his fist. Bridge and Miguel draw revolvers and in quick gunplay shoot the six men. They then approach the ambush spot from behind. Sharpshooters spot them, killing Billy's horse before the three can return fire. But quick movements by Bridge and Miguel and a final shot by Billy leave all of Pesita's men dead. Miguel asks Billy to join Villa's forces, but he says he will "stick" with Pesita for now, in spite of the objections of the other two. Billy sends the others on and returns to Pesita's camp. Bridge is glum, certain of Billy's death. When Billy returns, Pesita is out on a raid. Pesita returns about dark with two men dead and three wounded, having been caught in Villa's ambush. Billy explains to Pesita that he, too, had been ambushed by Villa's men, losing every man except the "guests" he had been sent to guard. Pesita stares a full minute at him before congratulating him on his bitter success. Later Pesita rightly explains to Rozales what had happened and tells him to watch Billy carefully. Rozales resents Billy. Pesita proposes to send Billy to Cuivaca to study the town before robbing the bank.

Chapter 9: Barbara in Mexico

By Stan Galloway

The manager of El Orobo Rancho, an American named Grayson, is upset at that he has lost his bookkeeper and that his employer, Mr. Harding, has come to the ranch with his daughter, in the midst of civil unrest in the country. Barbara watches some men break a pony as Bridge rides up quoting poetry in English then asking in Spanish to see the ranch manager. Barbara gives him directions in English. Grayson belatedly decides, upon Bridge's plea for a job, to let him try bookkeeping, since he himself hates writing. Grayson nearly dismisses him as a horse thief, but Bridge explains the owner of the horse, one of Pesita's men, was dead. Grayson confirms to Mr. Harding that Pesita is a danger to the ranch. When Bridge has dressed in clean clothes, Mr. Harding suspects he has met Bridge before. The next major task for Bridge, as bookkeeper, is to go to Cuivaca for the payroll. Grayson sends Tony and Benito, enemies of each other, along for protection.

Chapter 10: Billy Cracks a Safe

By Stan Galloway

In Cuivaca Billy examines the layout of the bank. He discovers the second floor of the bank has rooms to rent. He buys some tools and rents the room above the safe. After closing time, Billy cuts a hole in the floor. Bridge, Tony and Benito arrive in town. They rent rooms next to Billy. When Billy gets his horse from the corral, the owner is suspicious of Billy, until the American explains he is meeting a woman south of town. Billy then returns and lowers himself to the safe and loots it. Bridge sees a man throw the bags over the saddle and ride away, but thinks little of it. Tony and Benito return drunk and enter Billy's room mistakenly. Tony drops into the bank with a yell. The guard shoots at Tony. Benito, Bridge and Boniface, the landlord, go to the guard and persuade him to not fire again. They break down the door. They see what Billy has done. The bank president offers a reward and most everyone heads south, on the word of the corral owner. Bridge gets his pony and heads north, hoping to get the reward for himself. Billy questions whether he should return to Pesita or head for Rio. He then reasons that if he takes the money for himself he would be a thief and dishonor Barbara's memory. While engaged in thought, Bridge yells, "Hands up!" Billy turns and shoots, taking off Bridge's hat. Bridge shoots at Billy but hits his horse instead. Billy's leg is pinned beneath the dead horse. They then realize the other's identity and Bridge helps Billy out from under the horse. When they hear pursuit, Bridge gives Billy his horse and says they will meet in Rio.

Chapter 11: Barbara Releases a Conspirator

By Stan Galloway

Grayson, Mr. Harding and Barbara sit on the porch discussing Bridge's loss of the pony Brazos, confused that the pony had not come to the ranch on its own. Barbara then goes to Bridge, interrupting his poetic musings. Bridge is tired of being in one place for more than a week since the robbery. Though he won't admit it, he is growing fond of Barbara. When Barbara asks him how he lost Brazos, he remains silent since he cannot lie or tell her the truth. Later some ranch hands return, having scuffled with Pesita's men. They report that one of Pesita's men, an Americano, was riding Brazos, and Benito says he saw this same man in Cuivaca the night of the robbery. Grayson accuses Bridge of complicity in the robbery. When Bridge denies involvement in the robbery, Grayson says he will send Bridge to Villa to get the truth. Bridge wipes the lamp from the desk and breaks out the door with Barbara's help. In the darkness, she locks the door and tosses the key away. After they worm their way through a window, Mr. Harding asks Grayson not to pursue Bridge. Later Grayson approaches Barbara to say he likes the spunk she shows. He compliments himself then says, "I love you an' I'm goin' to have you." When he grasps her arm, she slaps him and he releases her. Barbara dismisses him icily and says she will never speak of the indiscretion provided it is not repeated.

Chapter 12: Billy to the Rescue

By Hadron

Barbara is worried and upset because the Villistas have captured Bridge, and arrested him for the theft of their funds from the bank. Despite the odds, she is resolved to do what she can to help bring about his rescue. With the help of one of her father's ranch-hands -- Eddie Shorter – she rides to the hut of Jose, an old Pima Indian known to have contact with Pesita. She gives Jose some money, in the form of silver coins, and urges him to go to Pesita's camp, and tell Billy of Bridge's dire straights -- that he has been captured by Villa's men, and will be shot at sunrise, if he has not already been killed. Billy will go, with 25 men; Pesita and the rest of the band will follow, a couple of miles to the rear. Billy locates the building in which Bridge is being held captive. At his signal, Pesita's men begin shooting, thus creating a diversion. Villa's men ride in the direction of the shooting. Billy knocks out the sentry and releases Bridge; they make good their escape. Bridge tells Billy on their ride to Pesita's camp about the "perfect queen" he has fallen for at El Orobo, the Penelope of his poetry.

Chapter 13: Barbara Again

By Hadron

Billy wants to return Brazos to its rightful owner. Nearing Jose's hut, he hears that Jose has a visitor -- Grayson, foreman of the Harding ranch. As he eavesdrops, he is jumped by four of Grayson's men, with Grayson and Jose soon joining the melee. Billy is tied up, and taken back to the Harding ranch. Grayson plans to turn him over to the Villistas as a Pesitista, and as the bank robber who stole the Villista cash. At the ranch, Billy is locked up, and Eddie Shorter is set to guard him. Billy soon realizes that Eddie is the son of the elderly Kansas couple whom he and Bridge had saved from death, and who in turn befriended them. Billy wants to be set free, but Eddie is reluctant -- he doesn't want to shirk his duty. Barbara enters. She wants to know why Billy broke his promises to her, to lead a clean, straight life. As they talk, Billy realizes that she is Bridge's "Penelope"! This is why she wanted Billy to save Bridge -- because she loves him. Barbara and Billy tragically misunderstand each other -- their stubborn, wounded pride prevents them from speaking their love for each other.

Chapter 14: ‘Twixt Love and Duty

By Hadron

Barbara Harding is hurt and distraught. As she paces the veranda, a band of silent, sinister horsemen approaches. Barbara saddles Brazos, frees Billy, then returns to the ranch house. Billy rides to Jose's hut. Back at the ranch house, the sinister horsemen kidnap Barbara. Jose and Billy are talking. Jose tells Billy that Grayson has paid him to provide men to kidnap Barbara. A group led by Estaben has gone to get her, but they plan to keep her. Billy is furious. He cannot -- will not -- let this wicked deed go unpunished -- he will not -- he cannot -- let Barbara go unrescued.

Chapter 15: An Indian's Treachery

By: Stan Galloway

Brazos returned to the ranch faster than ever. Eddie had waited to tell Grayson of Billy's escape and fallen asleep. He wakes in surprise as Billy returns. Eddie assists Billy in searching for Barbara. Billy tells Mr. Harding of the kidnapping. Grayson enters while Mr. Harding checks Barbara's room. Billy holds Grayson at gunpoint while Mr. Harding asks for an explanation. Billy says Grayson has arranged for some Pimans to steal Barbara for him but that the hired men have double-crossed him. Grayson ducks away and alerts Villa's men. Before one can shoot, Eddie downs him with his revolver. Together they shoot the four Villistas while the ranch hands run to the scene. Eddie tells them what has happened, and the Americans search for Grayson while the Mexicans watch. Finally they see him on horseback on the horizon. Billy and the Americans saddle up to look for Barbara. They follow the horses' footprints toward the river. On the mesa the trail disappears so the Americans form pairs and spread out. At the ranch the Mexican hands decide that with no foreman and no pay they will go to Cuivaca. There amidst their drinking, Jose enters. He asks why they are there and they tell him the story. He leaves shortly thereafter. Jose goes to Pesita with news of the deserted ranch. Bridge overhears Jose's tale. When Bridge tries to leave camp, Rozales accompanies him. Rozales tries to keep Bridge from returning to the valley and Bridge has Rozales dismount at gunpoint. He disarms him and takes his horse toward El Orobo.

Chapter 16: Eddie Makes Good

By: David Adams

As Billy and Eddie ride toward a patch of green in the mountains, which they expect is the Piman village, Eddie is wounded and their horses are killed by snipers. Billy carries Eddie into the shelter of some boulders and kills all of the Indians when they attack, but Eddie dies. By night he enters the Indian village, picks out the hut that holds Barbara by chance, and rescues her. As they flee up the canyon a rifle flashes in their faces.

Chapter 17 "You Are My Girl!"

By: David Adams

Bridge rides to the ranch. Pesita is on his way. They prepare for battle with two faithful Mexicans and a Chinaman to help. Bridge tells Mr. Harding to phone Cuivaca and ask Villa to help. They discover Villa has turned against the Americans. When Pesita arrives there is a daylong firefight and, just before dawn, the Mexicans reach the veranda and batter the door. The Indian's shot misses Billy and Barbara. Bare-handed, Byrne breaks his neck. They reach the ranch in time to save Bridge. Billy gets the jump on Pesita. They take the bandits' horses and weapons and ride away. They meet Rozales' horsemen and fight a day-long battle until they reach Clark brothers' ranch and meet a man named Mason. They eat and rest. As they saddle horses, Pesita's band attacks. Bridge is hit. Billy runs to Bridge and kills Rozales with a blow to the face. They are besieged all night. They kept their horses in the house, and Billy decides to ride through the lines for help from Funston's men at the border. At dawn Billy returns with the Thirteenth U.S. Cavalry. He shoots Pesita in the head. Billy takes Barbara for his own and she says it's about time. At the railway station to Galveston Flanagan tells Billy that Coke Sheehan confessed to Schneider's murder and Byrne has been pardoned. Billy and Barbara go to New York. Bridge goes back to hobo life, quoting poetry and musing that he too will become a legend someday.