The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 28

a THING?"

"Come! come! now," Bridge tried to soothe him. "You have a case of
nerves. Lie down here on this bed and try to sleep. Nothing shall harm
you, and when you wake up it will be morning and you'll laugh at your
fears."

"Lie on THAT bed!" The voice was almost a shriek. "That is the bed the
Squibbs were murdered in--the old man and his wife. No one would have
it, and so it has remained here all these years. I would rather die than
touch the thing. Their blood is still upon it."

"I wish," said Bridge a trifle sternly, "that you would try to control
yourself a bit. Hysteria won't help us any. Here we are, and we've to
make the best of it. Besides we must look after this young woman--she
may be dying, and we haven't done a thing to help her."

The boy, evidently shamed, released his hold upon Bridge and moved
away. "I am sorry," he said. "I'll try to do better; but, Oh! I was so
frightened. You cannot imagine how frightened I was."

"I had imagined," said Bridge, "from what I had heard of him that it
would be a rather difficult thing to frighten The Oskaloosa Kid--you
have, you know, rather a reputation for fearlessness."

The darkness hid the scarlet flush which mantled The Kid's face. There
was a moment's silence as Bridge crossed to where the young woman still
lay upon the floor where he had deposited her. Then The Kid spoke. "I'm
sorry," he said, "that I made a fool of myself. You have been so brave,
and I have not helped at all. I shall do better now."

"Good," said Bridge, and stooped to raise the young woman in his arms
and deposit her upon the bed. Then he struck another match and leaned
close to examine her. The flare of the sulphur illuminated the room
and shot two rectangles of light against the outer blackness where the
unglazed windows stared vacantly upon the road beyond, bringing to a
sudden halt a little company of muddy and bedraggled men who slipped,
cursing, along the slimy way.

Bridge felt the youth close beside him as he bent above the girl upon
the bed.

"Is she dead?" the lad whispered.

"No," replied Bridge, "and I doubt if she's badly hurt." His hands ran
quickly over her limbs, bending and twisting them gently; he unbuttoned
her waist, getting the boy to strike and hold another match while he
examined the victim for signs of a bullet wound.

"I can't find a scratch on her," he said

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