The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 29

at last. "She's suffering from
shock alone, as far as I can judge. Say, she's pretty, isn't she?"

The youth drew himself rather stiffly erect. "Her features are rather
coarse, I think," he replied. There was a peculiar quality to the tone
which caused Bridge to turn a quick look at the boy's face, just as
the match flickered and went out. The darkness hid the expression
upon Bridge's face, but his conviction that the girl was pretty was
unaltered. The light of the match had revealed an oval face surrounded
by dark, dishevelled tresses, red, full lips, and large, dark eyes.

Further discussion of the young woman was discouraged by a repetition of
the clanking of the chain without. Now it was receding along the hallway
toward the stairs and presently, to the infinite relief of The Oskaloosa
Kid, the two heard it descending to the lower floor.

"What was it, do you think?" asked the boy, his voice still trembling
upon the verge of hysteria.

"I don't know," replied Bridge. "I've never been a believer in ghosts
and I'm not now; but I'll admit that it takes a whole lot of--"

He did not finish the sentence for a moan from the bed diverted his
attention to the injured girl, toward whom he now turned. As they
listened for a repetition of the sound there came another--that of
the creaking of the old bed slats as the girl moved upon the mildewed
mattress. Dimly, through the darkness, Bridge saw that the victim of the
recent murderous assault was attempting to sit up. He moved closer and
leaned above her.

"I wouldn't exert myself," he said. "You've just suffered an accident,
and it's better that you remain quiet."

"Who are you?" asked the girl, a note of suppressed terror in her voice.
"You are not--?"

"I am no one you know," replied Bridge. "My friend and I chanced to be
near when you fell from the car--" with that innate refinement which
always belied his vocation and his rags Bridge chose not to embarrass
the girl by a too intimate knowledge of the thing which had befallen
her, preferring to leave to her own volition the making of any
explanation she saw fit, or of none--"and we carried you in here out of
the storm."

The girl was silent for a moment. "Where is 'here'?" she asked
presently. "They drove so fast and it was so dark that I had no idea
where we were, though I know that we left the turnpike."

"We are at the old Squibbs place," replied the man. He could see that
the

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