The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 91

doubt
if anything I can say to you will alter your determination for the
reason that if all the brains in this crowd were collected in one
individual he still wouldn't have enough with which to weigh the most
obvious evidence intelligently, but I shall present the evidence, and
you can tell some intelligent people about it tomorrow.

"In the first place it is impossible that I murdered Abigail Prim, and
in the second place my companion is not The Oskaloosa Kid and was not
with Mr. Paynter last night. The reason I could not have murdered Miss
Prim is because Miss Prim is not dead. These jewels were not stolen from
Miss Prim, she took them herself from her own home. This boy whom you
are about to hang is not a boy at all--it is Miss Prim, herself. I
guessed her secret a few minutes ago and was convinced when she cried
that the jewels and money were her own. I don't know why she wishes to
conceal her identity; but I can't stand by and see her lynched without
trying to save her."

The crowd scoffed in incredulity. "There are some women here," said
Bridge. "Turn her over to them. They'll tell you, at least that she is
not a man."

Some voices were raised in protest, saying that it was a ruse to escape,
while others urged that the women take the youth. Jeb Case stepped
toward the subject of dispute. "I'll settle it durned quick," he
announced and reached forth to seize the slim figure. With a sudden
wrench Bridge tore himself loose from his captors and leaped toward the
farmer, his right flew straight out from the shoulder and Jeb Case went
down with a broken jaw. Almost simultaneously a car sped around a curve
from the north and stopped suddenly in rear of the mob. Two men leaped
out and shouldered their way through. One was the detective, Burton; the
other was Jonas Prim.

"Where are they?" cried the latter. "God help you if you've killed
either of them, for one of them must know what became of Abigail."

He pushed his way up until he faced the prisoners. The Oskaloosa Kid
gave him a single look of surprise and then sprang toward him with
outstretched arms.

"Oh, daddy, daddy!" she cried, "don't let them kill him."

The crowd melted away from the immediate vicinity of the prisoners. None
seemed anxious to appear in the forefront as a possible leader of a
mob that had so nearly lynched the only daughter of Jonas Prim. Burton
slipped the noose from about the

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