The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 9

a howl of pain to
the would-be assassin, and the knife fell to the floor.

"You gotta cut that if you travel with this bunch," said The Sky Pilot
in a voice that was new to The Oskaloosa Kid; "and you, too, Blackie,"
he continued. "The rough stuff don't go with me, see?" He hurled Soup
Face to the floor and resumed his seat by the fire.

The youth was astonished at the physical strength of this old man,
seemingly so softened by dissipation; but it showed him the source of
The Sky Pilot's authority and its scope, for Columbus Blackie and Soup
Face quitted their quarrel immediately.

Dirty Eddie rose, yawned and stretched. "Me fer the hay," he announced,
and lay down again with his feet toward the fire. Some of the others
followed his example. "You'll find some hay in the loft there," said The
Sky Pilot to The Oskaloosa Kid. "Bring it down an' make your bed here by
me, there's plenty room."

A half hour later all were stretched out upon the hard dirt floor upon
improvised beds of rotted hay; but not all slept. The Oskaloosa Kid,
though tired, found himself wider awake than he ever before had been.
Apparently sleep could never again come to those heavy eyes. There
passed before his mental vision a panorama of the events of the night.
He smiled as he inaudibly voiced the name they had given him, the right
to which he had not seen fit to deny. "The Oskaloosa Kid." The boy
smiled again as he felt the 'swag' hard and lumpy in his pockets. It
had given him prestige here that he could not have gained by any other
means; but he mistook the nature of the interest which his display of
stolen wealth had aroused. He thought that the men now looked upon
him as a fellow criminal to be accepted into the fraternity through
achievement; whereas they suffered him to remain solely in the hope of
transferring his loot to their own pockets.

It is true that he puzzled them. Even The Sky Pilot, the most astute
and intelligent of them all, was at a loss to fathom The Oskaloosa Kid.
Innocence and unsophistication flaunted their banners in almost every
act and speech of The Oskaloosa Kid. The youth reminded him in some ways
of members of a Sunday school which had flourished in the dim vistas of
his past when, as an ordained minister of the Gospel, he had earned the
sobriquet which now identified him. But the concrete evidence of the
valuable loot comported not with The

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