The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 68

it was a bear?" asked the Kid. "You told
Giova that you followed the footprints of herself and her bear; but you
had not said anything about a bear to us."

"I had an idea last night," explained Bridge, "that the sounds were
produced by some animal dragging a chain; but I couldn't prove it and so
I said nothing, and then this morning while we were following the trail
I made up my mind that it was a bear. There were two facts which argued
that such was the case. The first is that I don't believe in ghosts and
that even if I did I would not expect a ghost to leave footprints in
the mud, and the other is that I knew that the footprints of a bear are
strangely similar to those of the naked feet of man. Then when I saw the
Gypsy girl I was sure that what we had heard last night was nothing more
nor less than a trained bear. The dress and appearance of the dead man
lent themselves to a furtherance of my belief and the wisp of brown hair
clutched in his fingers added still further proof."

Within the room the bear was now straining at his collar and growling
ferociously at the strangers. Giova crossed the room, scolding him
and at the same time attempting to assure him that the newcomers
were friends; but the wicked expression upon the beast's face gave no
indication that he would ever accept them as aught but enemies.

It was a breathless Willie who broke into his mother's kitchen wide eyed
and gasping from the effects of excitement and a long, hard run.

"Fer lan' sakes!" exclaimed Mrs. Case. "Whatever in the world ails you?"

"I got 'em; I got 'em!" cried Willie, dashing for the telephone.

"Fer lan' sakes! I should think you did hev 'em," retorted his mother as
she trailed after him in the direction of the front hall. "'N' whatever
you got, you got 'em bad. Now you stop right where you air 'n' tell me
whatever you got. 'Taint likely it's measles, fer you've hed them three
times, 'n' whoopin' cough ain't 'them,' it's 'it,' 'n'--." Mrs. Case
paused and gasped--horrified. "Fer lan' sakes, Willie Case, you come
right out o' this house this minute ef you got anything in your head."
She made a grab for Willie's arm; but the boy dodged and reached the
telephone.

"Shucks!" he cried. "I ain't got nothin' in my head," nor did either
sense the unconscious humor of the statement. "What I got is

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