The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 71

Case's farm
where they left him after notifying the coroner by telephone. Half of
Burton's men were sent to the north side of the woods and half to the
road upon the south of the Squibbs' farm. There they separated and
formed a thin line of outposts about the entire area north of the road.
If the quarry was within it could not escape without being seen. In the
mean time Burton telephoned to Oakdale for reinforcements, as it would
require fifty men at least to properly beat the tangled underbrush of
the wood.

*****


In a clump of willows beside the little stream which winds through the
town of Payson a party of four halted on the outskirts of the town.
There were two men, two young women and a huge brown bear. The men and
women were, obviously, Gypsies. Their clothing, their head-dress, their
barbaric ornamentation proclaimed the fact to whoever might pass; but no
one passed.

"I think," said Bridge, "that we will just stay where we are until after
dark. We haven't passed or seen a human being since we left the cabin.
No one can know that we are here and if we stay here until late to-night
we should be able to pass around Payson unseen and reach the wood to the
south of town. If we do meet anyone to-night we'll stop them and inquire
the way to Oakdale--that'll throw them off the track."

The others acquiesced in his suggestion; but there were queries about
food to be answered. It seemed that all were hungry and that the bear
was ravenous.

"What does he eat?" Bridge asked of Giova.

"Mos' anything," replied the girl. "He like garbage fine. Often I take
him into towns late, ver' late at night an' he eat swill. I do that
to-night. Beppo, he got to be fed or he eat Giova. I go feed Beppo, you
go get food for us; then we all meet at edge of wood just other side
town near old mill."

During the remainder of the afternoon and well after dark the party
remained hidden in the willows. Then Giova started out with Beppo in
search of garbage cans, Bridge bent his steps toward a small store upon
the outskirts of town where food could be purchased, The Oskaloosa Kid
having donated a ten dollar bill for the stocking of the commissariat,
and the youth and the girl made their way around the south

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