The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 14

don't mean you suspect
one of the servants?"

"Who else could have known?" asked Mrs. Prim. The servants present
looked uncomfortable and cast sheepish eyes of suspicion at one another.

"It's all tommy rot!" ejaculated Mr. Prim; "but I'll call the police,
because I got to report the theft. It's some slick outsider, that's
who it is," and he started down stairs toward the telephone. Before he
reached it the bell rang, and when he had hung up the receiver after the
conversation the theft seemed a trivial matter. In fact he had almost
forgotten it, for the message had been from the local telegraph office
relaying a wire they had just received from Mr. Samuel Benham.

"I say, Pudgy," he cried, as he took the steps two at a time for the
second floor, "here's a wire from Benham saying Gail didn't come on that
train and asking when he's to expect her."

"Impossible!" ejaculated Mrs. Prim. "I certainly saw her aboard the
train myself. Impossible!"

Jonas Prim was a man of action. Within half an hour he had set in motion
such wheels as money and influence may cause to revolve in search of
some clew to the whereabouts of the missing Abigail, and at the same
time had reported the theft of jewels and money from his home; but in
doing this he had learned that other happenings no less remarkable in
their way had taken place in Oakdale that very night.

The following morning all Oakdale was thrilled as its fascinated eyes
devoured the front page of Oakdale's ordinarily dull daily. Never had
Oakdale experienced a plethora of home-grown thrills; but it came as
near to it that morning, doubtless, as it ever had or ever will. Not
since the cashier of The Merchants and Farmers Bank committed suicide
three years past had Oakdale been so wrought up, and now that historic
and classical event paled into insignificance in the glaring brilliancy
of a series of crimes and mysteries of a single night such as not even
the most sanguine of Oakdale's thrill lovers could have hoped for.

There was, first, the mysterious disappearance of Abigail Prim, the
only daughter of Oakdale's wealthiest citizen; there was the equally
mysterious robbery of the Prim home. Either one of these would have been
sufficient to have set Oakdale's multitudinous tongues wagging for days;
but they were not all. Old John Baggs, the city's best known miser, had
suffered a murderous assault in his little cottage upon the outskirts
of town, and was even now lying at the point of death in The Samaritan
Hospital. That robbery

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