The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 36

in the evening he had flaunted the evidence of his crime in the
faces of the six hobos; but now he suddenly felt a great shame that his
new found friend should believe him a house-breaker.

But Bridge did not ask for any substantiation of Charlie's charges,
he merely warned the two yeggmen that they would have to leave the boy
alone and in the morning, when the storm had passed and daylight had
lessened the unknown danger which lurked below-stairs, betake themselves
upon their way.

"And while we're here together in this room you two must sit over near
the window," he concluded. "You've tried to kill the boy once to-night;
but you're not going to try it again--I'm taking care of him now."

"You gotta crust, bo," observed Dopey Charlie, belligerently. "I guess
me an' The General'll sit where we damn please, an' youse can take it
from me on the side that we're goin' to have ours out of The Kid's haul.
If you tink you're goin' to cop the whole cheese you got another tink
comin'."

"You are banking," replied Bridge, "on the well known fact that I never
carry a gun; but you fail to perceive, owing to the Stygian gloom which
surrounds us, that I have the Kid's automatic in my gun hand and that
the business end of it is carefully aiming in your direction."

"Cheese it," The General advised his companion; and the two removed
themselves to the opposite side of the apartment, where they whispered,
grumblingly, to one another.

The girl, the boy, and Bridge waited as patiently as they could for
the coming of the dawn, talking of the events of the night and planning
against the future. Bridge advised the girl to return at once to her
father; but this she resolutely refused to do, admitting with utmost
candor that she lacked the courage to face her friends even though her
father might still believe in her.

The youth begged that he might accompany Bridge upon the road, pleading
that his mother was dead and that he could not return home after his
escapade. And Bridge could not find it in his heart to refuse him, for
the man realized that the boyish waif possessed a subtile attraction, as
forceful as it was inexplicable. Not since he had followed the open road
in company with Billy Byrne had Bridge met one with whom he might care
to 'Pal' before The Kid crossed his path on the dark and storm swept
pike south of Oakdale.

In Byrne, mucker, pugilist, and MAN, Bridge had found a physical and
moral

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