The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 15

had been the motive was amply indicated by the
topsy-turvy condition of the contents of the three rooms which Baggs
called home. As the victim still was unconscious no details of the crime
were obtainable. Yet even this atrocious deed had been capped by one yet
more hideous.

Reginald Paynter had for years been looked upon half askance and yet
with a certain secret pride by Oakdale. He was her sole bon vivant in
the true sense of the word, whatever that may be. He was always
spoken of in the columns of The Oakdale Tribune as 'that well known
man-about-town,' or 'one of Oakdale's most prominent clubmen.' Reginald
Paynter had been, if not the only, at all events the best dressed man
in town. His clothes were made in New York. This in itself had been
sufficient to have set him apart from all the other males of Oakdale.
He was widely travelled, had an independent fortune, and was far from
unhandsome. For years he had been the hope and despair of every Oakdale
mother with marriageable daughters. The Oakdale fathers, however, had
not been so keen about Reginald. Men usually know more about the morals
of men than do women. There were those who, if pressed, would have
conceded that Reginald had no morals.

But what place has an obituary in a truthful tale of adventure and
mystery! Reginald Paynter was dead. His body had been found beside
the road just outside the city limits at mid-night by a party of
automobilists returning from a fishing trip. The skull was crushed back
of the left ear. The position of the body as well as the marks in the
road beside it indicated that the man had been hurled from a rapidly
moving automobile. The fact that his pockets had been rifled led to the
assumption that he had been killed and robbed before being dumped upon
the road.

Now there were those in Oakdale, and they were many, who endeavored to
connect in some way these several events of horror, mystery, and crime.
In the first place it seemed quite evident that the robbery at the Prim
home, the assault upon Old Baggs, and the murder of Paynter had been
the work of the same man; but how could such a series of frightful
happenings be in any way connected with the disappearance of Abigail
Prim? Of course there were many who knew that Abigail and Reginald were
old friends; and that the former had, on frequent occasions, ridden
abroad in Reginald's French roadster, that he had escorted her to
parties and been, at various

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