The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 80

but
the man persisted, beating down the slim hands and striking viciously
at body and head until, at last, the boy, half stunned though still
struggling, was dragged from the room.

Simultaneously a series of frightful growls reverberated through the
deserted mill. A huge body catapulted into the midst of the fighters.
Abigail Prim screamed. "The bear!" she cried. "The bear is loose!"

Dirty Eddie was the first to feel the weight of Beppo's wrath. His foot
drawn back to implant a vicious kick in Bridge's face he paused at the
girl's scream and at the same moment a huge thing reared up before him.
Just for an instant he sensed the terrifying presence of some frightful
creature, caught the reflected gleam of two savage eyes and felt the
hot breath from distended jaws upon his cheek, then Beppo swung a single
terrific blow which caught the man upon the side of the head to spin him
across the floor and drop him in a crumpled heap against the wall, with
a fractured skull. Dirty Eddie was out. Soup Face, giving voice to
a scream more bestial than human, rose to his feet and fled in the
opposite direction.

Beppo paused and looked about. He discovered Bridge lying upon the floor
and sniffed at him. The man lay perfectly quiet. He had heard that often
times a bear will not molest a creature which it thinks dead. Be that as
it may Beppo chanced at that moment to glance toward the doorway. There,
silhouetted against the lesser darkness without, he saw the figures of
Columbus Blackie and The Oskaloosa Kid and with a growl he charged them.
The two were but a few paces outside the doorway when the full weight of
the great bear struck Columbus Blackie between the shoulders. Down
went the man and as he fell he released his hold upon the youth who
immediately turned and ran for the road.

The momentum of the bear carried him past the body of his intended
victim who, frightened but uninjured, scrambled to his feet and dashed
toward the rear of the mill in the direction of the woods and distant
swamp. Beppo, recovering from his charge, wheeled in time to catch a
glimpse of his quarry after whom he made with all the awkwardness that
was his birthright and with the speed of a race horse.

Columbus Blackie, casting a terrified glance rearward, saw his Nemesis
flashing toward him, and dodged around a large tree. Again Beppo shot
past the man while the latter, now shrieking for help, raced madly in a
new direction.

Bridge had

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