The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 54

his eyes with theirs. The girl gave a little,
involuntary gasp, and the boy grasped Bridge's hand as though fearful
of losing him. The man turned a quizzical glance at each of them and
smiled, though a bit ruefully.

"It beats me," he said.

"What can it be?" whispered the boy.

"Oh, let's go back," begged the girl.

"And go along to father with Burton?" asked Bridge.

The girl trembled and shook her head. "I would rather die," she said,
firmly. "Come, let's go on."

The cause of their perturbation was imprinted deeply in the mud of the
pathway--the irregular outlines of an enormous, naked, human foot--a
great, uncouth foot that bespoke a monster of another world. While,
still more uncanny, in view of what they had heard in the farm house
during the previous night, there lay, sometimes partially obliterated
by the footprints of the THING, the impress of a small, bare foot--a
woman's or a child's--and over both an irregular scoring that might
have been wrought by a dragging chain!

In the loft of his father's hay barn Willie Case delved deep into the
small red-covered volume, HOW TO BE A DETECTIVE; but though he turned
many pages and flitted to and fro from preface to conclusion he met only
with disappointment. The pictures of noted bank burglars and confidence
men aided him not one whit, for in none of them could he descry the
slightest resemblance to the smooth faced youth of the early morning. In
fact, so totally different were the types shown in the little book that
Willie was forced to scratch his head and exclaim "Gosh!" many times
in an effort to reconcile the appearance of the innocent boy to the
hardened, criminal faces he found portrayed upon the printed pages.

"But, by gol!" he exclaimed mentally, "he said he was The Oskaloosie
Kid, 'n' that he shot a man last night; but what I'd like to know is
how I'm goin' to shadder him from this here book. Here it says: 'If the
criminal gets on a street car and then jumps off at the next corner
the good detective will know that his man is aware that he is being
shadowed, and will stay on the car and telephone his office at the first
opportunity.' 'N'ere it sez: 'If your man gets into a carriage don't
run up an' jump on the back of it; but simply hire another carriage and
follow.' How in hek kin I foller this book?" wailed Willie. "They ain't
no street cars 'round here. I ain't never seen a street car, 'n'as fer a

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