The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 66

as
well make the best of it here for the rest of the day. I think we're
reasonably safe for the time being--if we keep Willie with us."

Willie had been an interested auditor of all that passed between his
captors. He was obviously terrified; but his terror did not prevent him
from absorbing all that he heard, nor from planning how he might utilize
the information. He saw not only one reward but several and a glorious
publicity which far transcended the most sanguine of his former dreams.
He saw his picture not only in the Oakdale Tribune but in the newspapers
of every city of the country. Assuming a stern and arrogant expression,
or rather what he thought to be such, he posed, mentally, for the
newspaper cameramen; and such is the power of association of ideas
that he was presently strolling nonchalantly before a battery of motion
picture machines. "Gee!" he murmured, "won't the other fellers be sore!
I s'ppose Pinkerton'll send for me 'bout the first thing 'n' offer me
twenty fi' dollars a week, er mebbie more 'n thet. Gol durn, ef I don't
hold out fer thirty! Gee!" Words, thoughts even, failed him.

As the others planned they rather neglected Willie and when they came to
assisting Giova in lowering her father into the grave and covering him
over with earth they quite forgot Willie entirely. It was The Oskaloosa
Kid who first thought of him. "Where's the boy?" he cried suddenly. The
others looked quickly about the clearing, but no Willie was to be seen.

Bridge shook his head ruefully. "We'll have to get out of this in
a hurry now," he said. "That little defective will have the whole
neighborhood on us in an hour."

"Oh, what can we do?" cried the girl. "They mustn't find us! I should
rather die than be found here with--" She stopped abruptly, flushed
scarlet as the other three looked at her in silence, and then: "I am
sorry," she said. "I didn't know what I was saying. I am so frightened.
You have all been good to me."

"I tell you what we do." It was Giova speaking in the masterful voice of
one who has perfect confidence in his own powers. "I know fine way out.
This wood circle back south through swamp mile, mile an' a half. The
road past Squeebs an' Case's go right through it. I know path there I
fin' myself. We on'y have to cross road, that only danger. Then we reach
leetle stream south of woods, stream wind down through Payson. We all
go

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