The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 83

was devoted to the various
crimes which had turned peaceful Oakdale inside out in the past twenty
four hours. There were reproductions of photographs of John Baggs,
Reginald Paynter, Abigail Prim, Jonas Prim, and his wife, with a large
cut of the Prim mansion, a star marking the boudoir of the missing
daughter of the house. As Bridge examined the various pictures an
odd expression entered his eyes--it was a mixture of puzzlement,
incredulity, and relief. Tossing the paper aside he turned toward The
Oskaloosa Kid. They could hear the sullen murmur of the crowd in front
of the jail.

"If they get any booze," he said, "they'll take us out of here and
string us up. If you've got anything to say that would tend to convince
them that you did not kill Paynter I advise you to call the guard and
tell the truth, for if the mob gets us they might hang us first and
listen afterward--a mob is not a nice thing. Beppo was an angel of mercy
by comparison with one."

"Could you convince them that you had no part in any of these crimes?"
asked the boy. "I know that you didn't; but could you prove it to a
mob?"

"No," said Bridge. "A mob is not open to reason. If they get us I shall
hang, unless someone happens to think of the stake."

The boy shuddered.

"Will you tell the truth?" asked the man.

"I will go with you," replied the boy, "and take whatever you get."

"Why?" asked Bridge.

The youth flushed; but did not reply, for there came from without a
sudden augmentation of the murmurings of the mob. Automobile horns
screamed out upon the night. The two heard the chugging of motors, the
sound of brakes and the greetings of new arrivals. The reinforcements
had arrived from Oakdale.

A guard came to the grating of the cell door. "The bunch from Oakdale
has come," he said. "If I was you I'd say my prayers. Old man Baggs is
dead. No one never had no use for him while he was alive, but the whole
county's het up now over his death. They're bound to get you, an'
while I didn't count 'em all I seen about a score o' ropes. They mean
business."

Bridge turned toward the boy. "Tell the truth," he said. "Tell this
man."

The youth shook his head. "I have killed no one," said he. "That is the
truth. Neither have you; but if they are going to murder you they can
murder me too, for you stuck to me when you didn't have to; and

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