The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 33

advance. If it
made other sounds they were drowned by the clanking of the links over
the time roughened flooring.

Within the room the five were frozen into utter silence, and beyond the
door an equal quiet prevailed for a long minute; then a great force
made the door creak and a weird scratching sounded high up upon the old
fashioned panelling. Bridge heard a smothered gasp from the boy beside
him, followed instantly by a flash of flame and the crack of a small
caliber automatic; The Oskaloosa Kid had fired through the door.

Bridge seized the boy's arm and wrenched the weapon from him. "Be
careful!" he cried. "You'll hurt someone. You didn't miss the girl much
that time--she's on the bed right in front of the door."

The Oskaloosa Kid pressed closer to the man as though he sought
protection from the unknown menace without. The girl sprang from the
bed and crossed to the opposite side of the room. A flash of lightning
illuminated the chamber for an instant and the roof of the verandah
without. The girl noted the latter and the open window.

"Look!" she cried. "Suppose it went out of another window upon this
porch. It could get us so easily that way!"

"Shut up, you fool!" whispered one of the two newcomers. "It might hear
you." The girl subsided into silence.

There was no sound from the hallway.

"I reckon you croaked IT," suggested the second newcomer, hopefully;
but, as though the THING without had heard and understood, the clanking
of the chain recommenced at once; but now it was retreating along the
hallway, and soon they heard it descending the stairs.

Sighs of relief escaped more than a single pair of lips. "IT didn't hear
me," whispered the girl.

Bridge laughed. "We're a nice lot of babies seeing things at night," he
scoffed.

"If you're so nervy why don't you go down an' see wot it is?" asked one
of the late arrivals.

"I believe I shall," replied Bridge and pulled the bed away from the
door.

Instantly a chorus of protests arose, the girl and The Oskaloosa Kid
being most insistent. What was the use? What good could he accomplish?
It might be nothing; yet on the other hand what had brought death
so horribly to the cold clay on the floor below? At last their pleas
prevailed and Bridge replaced the bed before the door.

For two hours the five sat about the room waiting for daylight. There
could be no sleep for any of them. Occasionally they spoke, usually
advancing and refuting suggestions as to the identity of the

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