The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 24

light fell downward
upon the upturned face of a man cold in death--a little man, strangely
garbed, with gold rings in his ears, and long black hair matted in the
death sweat of his brow. His eyes were wide and, even in death, terror
filled, his features were distorted with fear and horror. His fingers,
clenched in the rigidity of death, clutched wisps of dark brown hair.
There were no indications of a wound or other violence upon his body,
that either the Kid or Bridge could see, except the dried remains of
bloody froth which flecked his lips.

Bridge still stood holding the quiet form of the girl in his arms, while
The Kid, pressed close to the man's side, clutched one arm with a fierce
intensity which bespoke at once the nervous terror which filled him and
the reliance he placed upon his new found friend.

To their right, in the faint light of the flash lamp, a narrow stairway
was revealed leading to the second story. Straight ahead was a door
opening upon the blackness of a rear apartment. Beside the foot of the
stairway was another door leading to the cellar steps.

Bridge nodded toward the rear room. "The stove is in there," he said.
"We'd better go on and make a fire. Draw your pistol--whoever did this
has probably beat it; but it's just as well to be on the safe side."

"I'm afraid," said The Oskaloosa Kid. "Let's leave this frightful place.
It's just as I told you it was; just as I always heard."

"We can't leave this woman, my boy," replied Bridge. "She isn't dead.
We can't leave her, and we can't take her out into the storm in her
condition. We must stay. Come! buck up. There's nothing to fear from a
dead man, and--"

He never finished the sentence. From the depths of the cellar came the
sound of a clanking chain. Something scratched heavily upon the wooden
steps. Whatever it was it was evidently ascending, while behind it
clanked the heavy links of a dragged chain.

The Oskaloosa Kid cast a wide eyed glance of terror at Bridge. His
lips moved in an attempt to speak; but fear rendered him inarticulate.
Slowly, ponderously the THING ascended the dark stairs from the gloom
ridden cellar of the deserted ruin. Even Bridge paled a trifle. The man
upon the floor appeared to have met an unnatural death--the frightful
expression frozen upon the dead face might even indicate something
verging upon the supernatural. The sound of the THING climbing out of
the cellar was indeed uncanny--so uncanny that Bridge

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