The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 63

it was evident that he did not realize that
practically every word he had spoken had reached the ears of the three
in hiding and that his final precaution as he divulged the information
to the girl was prompted by an excess of timidity and secretiveness.

The eyes of the girl widened in surprise and fear as she learned that
three watchers lay concealed at the verge of the clearing. She bent
a long, searching look in the direction indicated by the boy and then
turned her eyes quickly toward the hut as though to summon aid. At the
same moment Bridge stepped from hiding into the clearing. His pleasant
'Good morning!' brought the girl around, facing him.

"What you want?" she snapped.

"I want you and this young man," said Bridge, his voice now suddenly
stern. "We have been watching you and followed you from the Squibbs
house. We found the dead man there last night;" Bridge nodded toward the
quilt enveloped thing upon the ground; "and we suspect that you had
an accomplice." Here he frowned meaningly upon Willie Case. The youth
trembled and stammered.

"I never seen her afore," he cried. "I don' know nothin' about it.
Honest I don't." But the girl did not quail.

"You get out," she commanded. "You a bad man. Kill, steal. He know; he
tell me. You get out or I call Beppo. He keel you. He eat you."

"Come, come, now, my dear," urged Bridge, "be calm. Let us get at the
root of this thing. Your young friend accuses me of being a murderer,
does he? And he tells about murders in Oakdale that I have not even
heard of. It seems to me that he must have some guilty knowledge himself
of these affairs. Look at him and look at me. Notice his ears, his chin,
his forehead, or rather the places where his chin and forehead should
be, and then look once more at me. Which of us might be a murderer and
which a detective? I ask you.

"And as for yourself. I find you here in the depths of the wood digging
a lonely grave for a human corpse. I ask myself: was this man murdered?
but I do not say that he was murdered. I wait for an explanation from
you, for you do not look a murderer, though I cannot say as much for
your desperate companion."

The girl looked straight into Bridge's eyes for a full minute before she
replied as though endeavoring to read his inmost soul.

"I do not know this boy," she said. "That is

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