The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 64

the truth. He was spying
on me, and when I found him he told me that you and your companions were
thieves and murderers and that you were hiding there watching me. You
tell me the truth, all the truth, and I will tell you the truth. I have
nothing to fear. If you do not tell me the truth I shall know it. Will
you?"

"I will," replied Bridge, and then turning toward the brush he called:
"Come here!" and presently a boy and a girl, dishevelled and fearful,
crawled forth into sight. Willie Case's eyes went wide as they fell upon
the Oskaloosa Kid.

Quickly and simply Bridge told the girl the story of the past night, for
he saw that by enlisting her sympathy he might find an avenue of escape
for his companions, or at least a haven of refuge where they might hide
until escape was possible. "And then," he said in conclusion, "when the
searchers arrived we followed the foot prints of yourself and the bear
until we came upon you digging this grave."

Bridge's companions and Willie Case looked their surprise at his
mention of a bear; but the gypsy girl only nodded her head as she had
occasionally during his narrative.

"I believe you," said the girl. "It is not easy to deceive Giova. Now I
tell you. This here," she pointed toward the dead man, "he my father. He
bad man. Steal; kill; drink; fight; but always good to Giova. Good to no
one else but Beppo. He afraid Beppo. Even our people drive us out he, my
father, so bad man. We wander 'round country mak leetle money when Beppo
dance; mak lot money when HE steal. Two days he no come home. I go las'
night look for him. Sometimes he too drunk come home he sleep Squeebs.
I go there. I find heem dead. He have fits, six, seven year. He die fit.
Beppo stay guard heem. I carry heem home. Giova strong, he no very large
man. Beppo come too. I bury heem. No one know we leeve here. Pretty soon
I go way with Beppo. Why tell people he dead. Who care? Mak lot trouble
for Giova whose heart already ache plenty. No one love heem, only Beppo
and Giova. No one love Giova, only Beppo; but some day Beppo he
keel Giova now HE is dead, for Beppo vera large, strong bear--fierce
bear--ogly bear. Even Giova who love Beppo is afraid Beppo. Beppo devil
bear! Beppo got evil eye.

"Well," said Bridge, "I guess, Giova, that you and we are

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