The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 76

waitress with a trayful of dishes. Clutched
tightly in Willie's hand was thirty five cents and his check with a like
amount written upon it. Amid the crash of crockery which followed the
collision Willie slammed check and money upon the cashier's desk and
fled. Nor did he pause until in the reassuring seclusion of a dark
side street. There Willie sank upon the curb alternately cold with fear
and hot with shame, weak and panting, and into his heart entered the
iron of class hatred, searing it to the core.

Fortunately for youth it recuperates rapidly from mortal blows, and
so it was that another half hour found Willie wandering up and down
Broadway but at the far end of the street from The Elite Restaurant. A
motion picture theater arrested his attention; and presently, parting
with one of his two remaining dimes, he entered. The feature of the bill
was a detective melodrama. Nothing in the world could have better suited
Willie's psychic needs. It recalled his earlier feats of the day,
in which he took pardonable pride, and raised him once again to a
self-confidence he had not felt since he entered the ever to be hated
Elite Restaurant.

The show over Willie set forth afoot for home. A long walk lay ahead of
him. This in itself was bad enough; but what lay at the end of the long
walk was infinitely worse, as Willie's father had warned him to return
immediately after the inquest, in time for milking, preferably. Before
he had gone two blocks from the theater Willie had concocted at least
three tales to account for his tardiness, either one of which would
have done credit to the imaginative powers of a Rider Haggard or a
Jules Verne; but at the end of the third block he caught a glimpse of
something which drove all thoughts of home from his mind and came
but barely short of driving his mind out too. He was approaching the
entrance to an alley. Old trees grew in the parkway at his side. At the
street corner a half block away a high flung arc swung gently from its
supporting cables, casting a fair light upon the alley's mouth, and just
emerging from behind the nearer fence Willie Case saw the huge bulk of a
bear. Terrified, Willie jumped behind a tree; and then, fearful lest
the animal might have caught sight or scent of him he poked his head
cautiously around the side of the bole just in time to see the figure of
a girl come out of the alley

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