The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 13

was to be announced.

It was some time after dinner on the night of Abigail's departure that
Mrs. Prim, following a habit achieved by years of housekeeping, set
forth upon her rounds to see that doors and windows were properly
secured for the night. A French window and its screen opening upon the
verandah from the library she found open. "The house will be full of
mosquitoes!" she ejaculated mentally as she closed them both with a bang
and made them fast. "I should just like to know who left them open. Upon
my word, I don't know what would become of this place if it wasn't for
me. Of all the shiftlessness!" and she turned and flounced upstairs. In
Abigail's room she flashed on the center dome light from force of habit,
although she knew that the room had been left in proper condition after
the girl's departure earlier in the day. The first thing amiss that
her eagle eye noted was the candlestick lying on the floor beside the
dressing table. As she stooped to pick it up she saw the open drawer
from which the small automatic had been removed, and then, suspicions,
suddenly aroused, as suddenly became fear; and Mrs. Prim almost dove
across the room to the hidden wall safe. A moment's investigation
revealed the startling fact that the safe was unlocked and practically
empty. It was then that Mrs. Jonas Prim screamed.

Her scream brought Jonas and several servants upon the scene. A careful
inspection of the room disclosed the fact that while much of value had
been ignored the burglar had taken the easily concealed contents of the
wall safe which represented fully ninety percentum of the value of the
personal property in Abigail Prim's apartments.

Mrs. Prim scowled suspiciously upon the servants. Who else, indeed,
could have possessed the intimate knowledge which the thief had
displayed. Mrs. Prim saw it all. The open library window had been but a
clever blind to hide the fact that the thief had worked from the inside
and was now doubtless in the house at that very moment.

"Jonas," she directed, "call the police at once, and see that no one,
absolutely no one, leaves this house until they have been here and made
a full investigation."

"Shucks, Pudgy!" exclaimed Mr. Prim. "You don't think the thief is
waiting around here for the police, do you?"

"I think that if you get the police here at once, Jonas, we shall find
both the thief and the loot under our very roof," she replied, not
without asperity.

"You don't mean--" he hesitated. "Why, Pudgy, you

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