The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 35

slide down the porch pillars."

Bridge laid a strong, warm hand on the small, cold one of his new
friend.

"Don't worry, Kid," he said. "I'm for you."

The two other men turned quickly in the direction of the speaker.

"Is de Kid here?" asked Dopey Charlie.

"He is, my degenerate friend," replied Bridge; "and furthermore he's
going to stay here and be perfectly safe. Do you grasp me?"

"Who are you?" asked The General.

"That is a long story," replied Bridge; "but if you chance to recall
Dink and Crumb you may also be able to visualize one Billy Burke and
Billy Byrne and his side partner, Bridge. Yes? Well, I am the side
partner."

Before the yeggman could make reply the girl spoke up quickly. "This man
cannot be The Oskaloosa Kid," she said. "It was The Oskaloosa Kid who
threw me from the car."

"How do you know he ain't?" queried The General. "Youse was knocked
out when these guys picks you up. It's so dark in here you couldn't
reco'nize no one. How do you know this here bird ain't The Oskaloosa
Kid, eh?"

"I have heard both these men speak," replied the girl; "their voices
were not those of any men I have known. If one of them is The Oskaloosa
Kid then there must be two men called that. Strike a match and you will
see that you are mistaken."

The General fumbled in an inside pocket for a package of matches
carefully wrapped against possible damage by rain. Presently he struck
one and held the light in the direction of The Kid's face while he and
the girl and Dopey Charlie leaned forward to scrutinize the youth's
features.

"It's him all right," said Dopey Charlie.

"You bet it is," seconded The General.

"Why he's only a boy," ejaculated the girl. "The one who threw me from
the machine was a man."

"Well, this one said he was The Oskaloosa Kid," persisted The General.

"An' he shot me up," growled Dopey Charlie.

"It's too bad he didn't kill you," remarked Bridge pleasantly. "You're
a thief and probably a murderer into the bargain--you tried to kill this
boy just before he shot you."

"Well wot's he?" demanded Dopey Charlie. "He's a thief--he said he
was--look in his pockets--they're crammed wid swag, an' he's a gun-man,
too, or he wouldn't be packin' a gat. I guess he ain't got nothin' on
me."

The darkness hid the scarlet flush which mounted to the boy's cheeks--so
hot that he thought it must surely glow redly through the night. He
waited in dumb misery for Bridge to demand the proof of his guilt.
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