The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 3


The burglar did not hear Mr. Prim's reply for he had moved across the
library and passed out onto the verandah. Once again he crossed the
lawn, taking advantage of the several trees and shrubs which dotted it,
scaled the low stone wall at the side and was in the concealing shadows
of the unlighted side street which bounds the Prim estate upon the
south. The streets of Oakdale are flanked by imposing battalions of elm
and maple which over-arch and meet above the thoroughfares; and now,
following an early Spring, their foliage eclipsed the infrequent
arclights to the eminent satisfaction of those nocturnal wayfarers
who prefer neither publicity nor the spot light. Of such there are few
within the well ordered precincts of law abiding Oakdale; but to-night
there was at least one and this one was deeply grateful for the gloomy
walks along which he hurried toward the limits of the city.

At last he found himself upon a country road with the odors of Spring
in his nostrils and the world before him. The night noises of the open
country fell strangely upon his ears accentuating rather than relieving
the myriad noted silence of Nature. Familiar sounds became unreal
and weird, the deep bass of innumerable bull frogs took on an uncanny
humanness which sent a half shudder through the slender frame. The
burglar felt a sad loneliness creeping over him. He tried whistling in
an effort to shake off the depressing effects of this seeming
solitude through which he moved; but there remained with him still the
hallucination that he moved alone through a strange, new world peopled
by invisible and unfamiliar forms--menacing shapes which lurked in
waiting behind each tree and shrub.

He ceased his whistling and went warily upon the balls of his feet, lest
he unnecessarily call attention to his presence. If the truth were to
be told it would chronicle the fact that a very nervous and frightened
burglar sneaked along the quiet and peaceful country road outside of
Oakdale. A lonesome burglar, this, who so craved the companionship of
man that he would almost have welcomed joyously the detaining hand of
the law had it fallen upon him in the guise of a flesh and blood police
officer from Oakdale.

In leaving the city the youth had given little thought to the
practicalities of the open road. He had thought, rather vaguely, of
sleeping in a bed of new clover in some hospitable fence corner; but
the fence corners looked very dark and the wide expanse of fields beyond
suggested a mysterious country which might be peopled by

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