The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 31

you will know about the murder--everyone will know about it;
and I will be missed; and there will be people who saw me in the car
with them, for someone must have seen me. Oh, I can't face it! I want to
die. I will die! I come of a good family. My father is a prominent man.
I can't go back and stand the disgrace and see him suffer, as he will
suffer, for I was all he had--his only child. I can't bear to tell you
my name--you will know it soon enough--but please find some way to
let my father know all that I have told you--I swear that it is the
truth--by the memory of my dead mother, I swear it!"

Bridge laid a hand upon the girl's shoulder. "If you are telling us the
truth," he said, "you have only a silly escapade with strange men upon
your conscience. You must not talk of dying now--your duty is to your
father. If you take your own life it will be a tacit admission of guilt
and will only serve to double the burden of sorrow and ignominy which
your father is bound to feel when this thing becomes public, as it
certainly must if a murder has been done. The only way in which you
can atone for your error is to go back and face the consequences with
him--do not throw it all upon him; that would be cowardly."

The girl did not reply; but that the man's words had impressed her
seemed evident. For a while each was occupied with his own thoughts;
which were presently disturbed by the sound of footsteps upon the floor
below--the muffled scraping of many feet followed a moment later by an
exclamation and an oath, the words coming distinctly through the loose
and splintered flooring.

"Pipe the stiff," exclaimed a voice which The Oskaloosa Kid recognized
immediately as that of Soup Face.

"The Kid musta croaked him," said another.

A laugh followed this evidently witty sally.

"The guy probably lamped the swag an' died of heart failure," suggested
another.

The men were still laughing when the sound of a clanking chain echoed
dismally from the cellar. Instantly silence fell upon the newcomers upon
the first floor, followed by a--"Wotinel's that?" Two of the men had
approached the staircase and started to ascend it. Slowly the uncanny
clanking drew closer to the first floor. The girl on the bed turned
toward Bridge.

"What is it?" she gasped.

"We don't know," replied the man. "It followed us up here, or rather
it chased us up; and then

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