The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 56

man of sufficient importance, having cataloged him mentally as
an unusually early specimen of the summer camper with which he was more
or less familiar.

Willie, on the contrary, realized the importance of their morning
customer, yet just how he was to cash in on his knowledge was not yet
entirely clear. He was already convinced that HOW TO BE A DETECTIVE
would help him not at all, and with the natural suspicion of ignorance
he feared to divulge his knowledge to the city detective for fear that
the latter would find the means to cheat him out of the princely reward
offered by the Oakdale village board. He thought of going at once to the
Squibbs' house and placing the desperate criminals under arrest; but
as fear throttled the idea in its infancy he cast about for some other
plan.

Even as he stood there thinking the great detective and his companions
were entering the automobile to drive away. In a moment they would be
gone. Were they not, after all, the very men, the only men, in fact, to
assist him in his dilemma? At least he could test them out. If necessary
he would divide the reward with them! Running toward the road Willie
shouted to the departing sleuth. The car, moving slowly forward in low,
came again to rest. Willie leaped to the running board.

"If I tell you where the murderer is," he whispered hoarsely, "do I git
the $50.00?"

Detective Burton was too old a hand to ignore even the most seemingly
impossible of aids. He laid a kindly hand on Willie's shoulder. "You bet
you do," he replied heartily, "and what's more I'll add another fifty to
it. What do you know?"

"I seen the murderer this mornin'," Willie was gasping with excitement
and elation. Already the one hundred dollars was as good as his. One
hundred dollars! Willie "Goshed!" mentally even as he told his tale. "He
come to our house an' bought some vittles an' stuff. Paw didn't know who
he wuz; but when Paw went inside he told me he was The Oskaloosie Kid
'n' thet he robbed a house last night and killed a man, 'n' he had a
whole pocket full o' money, 'n' he said he'd kill me ef I told."

Detective Burton could scarce restrain a smile as he listened to this
wildly improbable tale, yet his professional instinct was too keen to
permit him to cast aside as worthless the faintest evidence until he had
proven it to be worthless. He stepped from the car again and motioning
to Willie to follow

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