The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 34

nocturnal
prowler below-stairs. The THING seemed to have retreated again to the
cellar, leaving the upper floor to the five strangely assorted prisoners
and the first floor to the dead man.

During the brief intervals of conversation the girl repeated snatches
of her story and once she mentioned The Oskaloosa Kid as the murderer of
the unnamed victim. The two men who had come last pricked up their ears
at this and Bridge felt the boy's hand just touch his arm as though in
mute appeal for belief and protection. The man half smiled.

"We seen The Oskaloosa Kid this evenin'," volunteered one of the
newcomers.

"You did?" exclaimed the girl. "Where?"

"He'd just pulled off a job in Oakdale an' had his pockets bulgin' wid
sparklers an' kale. We was follerin' him an' when we seen your light up
here we t'ought it was him."

The Oskaloosa Kid shrank closer to Bridge. At last he recognized the
voice of the speaker. While he had known that the two were of The Sky
Pilot's band he had not been sure of the identity of either; but now it
was borne in upon him that at least one of them was the last person on
earth he cared to be cooped up in a small, unlighted room with, and a
moment later when one of the two rolled a 'smoke' and lighted it he saw
in the flare of the flame the features of both Dopey Charlie and The
General. The Oskaloosa Kid gasped once more for the thousandth time that
night.

It had been Dopey Charlie who lighted the cigaret and in the brief
illumination his friend The General had grasped the opportunity to scan
the features of the other members of the party. Schooled by long years
of repression he betrayed none of the surprise or elation he felt when
he recognized the features of The Oskaloosa Kid.

If The General was elated The Oskaloosa Kid was at once relieved and
terrified. Relieved by ocular proof that he was not a murderer and
terrified by the immediate presence of the two who had sought his life.

His cigaret drawing well Dopey Charlie resumed: "This Oskaloosa Kid's a
bad actor," he volunteered. "The little shrimp tried to croak me; but
he only creased my ribs. I'd like to lay my mits on him. I'll bet there
won't be no more Oskaloosa Kid when I get done wit him."

The boy drew Bridge's ear down toward his own lips. "Let's go," he said.
"I don't hear anything more downstairs, or maybe we could get out on
this roof and

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