The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 49

are eating these." He borrowed his knife from
the girl, who was slicing and buttering bread with it, and turned the
bacon swiftly and deftly with the point, then he glanced at his watch.
"The three minutes are up," he announced and, with a couple of small,
flat sticks saved for the purpose from the kindling wood, withdrew the
eggs one at a time from the can.

"But we have no cups!" exclaimed The Oskaloosa Kid, in sudden despair.

Bridge laughed. "Knock an end off your egg and the shell will answer in
place of a cup. Got a knife?"

The Kid didn't. Bridge eyed him quizzically. "You must have done most of
your burgling near home," he commented.

"I'm not a burglar!" cried the youth indignantly. Somehow it was very
different when this nice voiced man called him a burglar from bragging
of the fact himself to such as The Sky Pilot's villainous company, or
the awestruck, open-mouthed Willie Case whose very expression invited
heroics.

Bridge made no reply, but his eyes wandered to the right hand side
pocket of the boy's coat. Instantly the latter glanced guiltily
downward to flush redly at the sight of several inches of pearl necklace
protruding accusingly therefrom. The girl, a silent witness of the
occurrence, was brought suddenly and painfully to a realization of her
present position and recollection of the happenings of the preceding
night. For the time she had forgotten that she was alone in the company
of a tramp and a burglar--how much worse either might be she could only
guess.

The breakfast, commenced so auspiciously, continued in gloomy silence.
At least the girl and The Oskaloosa Kid were silent and gloom
steeped. Bridge was thoughtful but far from morose. His spirits were
unquenchable.

"I am afraid," he said, "that I shall have to replace James. His
defection is unforgivable, and he has misplaced the finger-bowls."

The youth and the girl forced wan smiles; but neither spoke. Bridge drew
a pouch of tobacco and some papers from an inside pocket.

"'I had the makings and I smoked

"'And wondered over different things,

"'Thinkin' as how this old world joked

"'In callin' only some men kings

"'While I sat there a-blowin' rings.'"

He paused to kindle a sliver of wood at the stove. "In these parlous
times," he spoke as though to himself,

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