The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 23

rose above the rain, the light rose, fell,
swerved to the right and to the left.

"Someone must be in a hurry," commented Bridge.

"I suppose it is James, anxious to find you and explain his absence,"
suggested The Oskaloosa Kid. They both laughed.

"Gad!" cried Bridge, as the car topped the hill and plunged downward
toward them, "I'd hate to ride behind that fellow on a night like this,
and over a dirt road at that!"

As the car swung onto the straight road before the house a flash of
lightning revealed dimly the outlines of a rapidly moving touring car
with lowered top. Just as the machine came opposite the Squibbs' gate a
woman's scream mingled with the report of a pistol from the tonneau
and the watchers upon the verandah saw a dark bulk hurled from the
car, which sped on with undiminished speed, climbed the hill beyond and
disappeared from view.

Bridge started on a run toward the gateway, followed by the frightened
Kid. In the ditch beside the road they found in a dishevelled heap the
body of a young woman. The man lifted the still form in his arms. The
youth wondered at the great strength of the slight figure. "Let me help
you carry her," he volunteered; but Bridge needed no assistance. "Run
ahead and open the door for me," he said, as he bore his burden toward
the house.

Forgetful, in the excitement of the moment, of his terror of the horror
ridden ruin, The Oskaloosa Kid hastened ahead, mounted the few steps to
the verandah, crossed it and pushed open the sagging door. Behind him
came Bridge as the youth entered the dark interior. A half dozen
steps he took when his foot struck against a soft and yielding mass.
Stumbling, he tried to regain his equilibrium only to drop full upon the
thing beneath him. One open palm, extended to ease his fall, fell upon
the upturned features of a cold and clammy face. With a shriek of horror
The Kid leaped to his feet and shrank, trembling, back.

"What is it? What's the matter?" cried Bridge, with whom The Kid had
collided in his precipitate retreat.

"O-o-o!" groaned The Kid, shuddering. "It's dead! It's dead!"

"What's dead?" demanded Bridge.

"There's a dead man on the floor, right ahead of us," moaned The Kid.

"You'll find a flash lamp in the right hand pocket of my coat," directed
Bridge. "Take it and make a light."

With trembling fingers the Kid did as he was bid, and when after much
fumbling he found the button a slim shaft of white

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