The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 51

stood back of the Squibbs' summer kitchen Fate, in the
guise of a rural free delivery carrier and a Ford, passed by the front
gate. A mile beyond he stopped at the Case mail box where Jeb and
his son Willie were, as usual, waiting his coming, for the rural free
delivery man often carries more news than is contained in his mail
sacks.

"Mornin' Jeb," he called, as he swerved his light car from the road and
drew up in front of the Case gate.

"Mornin', Jim!" returned Mr. Case. "Nice rain we had last night. What's
the news?"

"Plenty! Plenty!" exclaimed the carrier. "Lived here nigh onto forty
year, man an' boy, an' never seen such work before in all my life."

"How's that?" questioned the farmer, scenting something interesting.

"Ol' man Baggs's murdered last night," announced the carrier, watching
eagerly for the effect of his announcement.

"Gosh!" gasped Willie Case. "Was he shot?" It was almost a scream.

"I dunno," replied Jim. "He's up to the horspital now, an' the doc says
he haint one chance in a thousand."

"Gosh!" exclaimed Mr. Case.

"But thet ain't all," continued Jim. "Reggie Paynter was murdered last
night, too; right on the pike south of town. They threw his corpse outen
a ottymobile."

"By gol!" cried Jeb Case; "I hearn them devils go by last night 'bout
midnight er after. 'T woke me up. They must o' ben goin' sixty mile an
hour. Er say," he stopped to scratch his head. "Mebby it was tramps.
They must a ben a score on 'em round here yesterday and las' night an'
agin this mornin'. I never seed so dum many bums in my life."

"An' thet ain't all," went on the carrier, ignoring the other's comments.
"Oakdale's all tore up. Abbie Prim's disappeared and Jonas Prim's house
was robbed jest about the same time Ol' man Baggs 'uz murdered, er most
murdered--chances is he's dead by this time anyhow. Doc said he hadn't
no chance."

"Gosh!" It was a pater-filius duet.

"But thet ain't all," gloated Jim. "Two of the persons in the car with
Reggie Paynter were recognized, an' who do you think one of 'em was, eh?
Why one of 'em was Abbie Prim an' tother was a slick crook from Toledo
er Noo York that's called The Oskaloosie Kid. By gum, I'll bet they get
'em in no time. Why already Jonas Prim's got a regular dee-dectiff down
from Chicago, an' the board o' select-men's offered a re-ward o' fifty
dollars fer the arrest an' conviction of the perpetrators of these
dastardly crimes!"

"Gosh!" cried Willie Case. "I know--";

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