The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 4

almost anything
but human beings.

At a farm house the youth hesitated and was almost upon the verge of
entering and asking for a night's lodging when a savage voiced dog
shattered the peace of the universe and sent the burglar along the road
at a rapid run.

A half mile further on a straw stack loomed large within a fenced
enclosure. The youth wormed his way between the barbed wires determined
at last to let nothing prevent him from making a cozy bed in the deep
straw beside the stack. With courage radiating from every pore he strode
toward the stack. His walk was almost a swagger, for thus does youth
dissemble the bravery it yearns for but does not possess. He almost
whistled again; but not quite, since it seemed an unnecessary
provocation to disaster to call particular attention to himself at this
time. An instant later he was extremely glad that he had refrained, for
as he approached the stack a huge bulk slowly loomed from behind it;
and silhouetted against the moonlit sky he saw the vast proportions of a
great, shaggy bull. The burglar tore the inside of one trousers' leg and
the back of his coat in his haste to pass through the barbed wire fence
onto the open road. There he paused to mop the perspiration from his
forehead, though the night was now far from warm.

For another mile the now tired and discouraged house-breaker plodded,
heavy footed, the unending road. Did vain compunction stir his
youthful breast? Did he regret the safe respectability of the plumber's
apprentice? Or, if he had not been a plumber's apprentice did he yearn
to once again assume the unharried peace of whatever legitimate calling
had been his before he bent his steps upon the broad boulevard of sin?
We think he did.

And then he saw through the chinks and apertures in the half ruined wall
of what had once been a hay barn the rosy flare of a genial light which
appeared to announce in all but human terms that man, red blooded and
hospitable, forgathered within. No growling dogs, no bulking bulls
contested the short stretch of weed grown ground between the road and
the disintegrating structure; and presently two wide, brown eyes were
peering through a crack in the wall of the abandoned building. What they
saw was a small fire built upon the earth floor in the center of the
building and around the warming blaze the figures of six men. Some
reclined at length upon old straw; others squatted, Turk fashion. All
were smoking either disreputable pipes or

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CHAPTER X THE RAID ON THE CAVE-PRISON His head was turned over his shoulder as I first saw him--he was looking back toward the village.
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to help us--if they know the way to the mainland.
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