Click here to Download The Oakdale Affair PDF Book by Edgar Rice Burroughs Language English having PDF Size 1 MB and No of Pages 72.
The house on the hill showed lights only upon the first floor—in the spacious reception hall, the dining room, and those more or less mysterious purlieus thereof from which emanate disagreeable odors and agreeable foods. From behind a low bush across the wide lawn a pair of eyes transferred to an alert brain these simple perceptions from which the brain deduced.
The Oakdale Affair PDF Book by Edgar Rice Burroughs
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With Sherlockian accuracy and Raffleian purpose that the family of the president of The First National Bank of—Oh, let’s call it Oakdale—was at dinner, that the servants were below stairs and the second floor deserted. The owner of the eyes had but recently descended from the quarters of the chauffeur above the garage which he had entered as a thief in the night.
And quitted apparelled in a perfectly good suit of clothes belonging to the gentlemanly chauffeur and a soft, checked cap which was now pulled well down over a pair of large brown eyes in which a rather strained expression might have suggested to an alienist a certain neophytism which even the stern set of well shaped lips could not effectually belie.
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Apparently this was a youth steeling himself against a natural repugnance to the dangerous profession he had espoused; and when, a moment later, he stepped out into the moonlight and crossed the lawn toward the house, the slender, graceful lines which the ill-fitting clothes could not entirely conceal carried the conviction of youth if not of innocence.
The brazen assurance with which the lad crossed the lawn and mounted the steps to the verandah suggested a familiarity with the habits and customs of the inmates of the house upon the hill which bespoke long and careful study of the contemplated job. An old timer could not have moved with greater confidence.
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No detail seemed to have escaped his cunning calculation. Though the door leading from the verandah into the reception hall swung wide to the balmy airs of late Spring the prowler passed this blatant invitation to the hospitality of the House of Prim. It was as though he knew that from his place at the head of the table, with his back toward the great fire place which is the pride of the Prim dining hall.
Jonas Prim commands a view of the major portion of the reception hall. Stooping low the youth passed along the verandah to a window of the darkened library—a French window which swung open without noise to his light touch. Stepping within he crossed the room to a door which opened at the foot of a narrow stairway—a convenient little stairway which had often let the Hon.
Jonas Prim pass from his library to his second floor bed-room unnoticed when Mrs. Prim chanced to be entertaining the feminine elite of Oakdale across the hall. A convenient little stairway for retiring husbands and diffident burglars—yes, indeed! The darkness of the upper hallway offered no obstacle to this familiar housebreaker. The Oakdale Affair PDF Book
He passed the tempting luxury of Mrs. Prim’s boudoir, the chaste elegance of Jonas Prim’s bedroom with all the possibilities of forgotten wallets and negotiable papers, setting his course straight for the apartments of Abigail Prim, the spinster daughter of the First National Bank of Oakdale. Or should we utilize a more charitable and at the same time more truthful word than spinster?
I think we should, since Abigail was but nineteen and quite human, despite her name. Upon the dressing table of Abigail reposed much silver and gold and ivory, wrought by clever artisans into articles of great beauty and some utility; but with scarce a glance the burglar passed them by, directing his course straight across the room to a small wall safe cleverly hidden by a bit of tapestry.
As a matter of fact Abigail Prim detested Samuel Benham because he represented to her everything in life which she shrank from—age, avoirdupois, infirmity, baldness, stupidity, and matrimony. He was a prosaic old bachelor who had amassed a fortune by the simple means of inheriting three farms upon which an industrial city subsequently had been built. The Oakdale Affair PDF Book
Necessity rather than foresight had compelled him to hold on to his property; and six weeks of typhoid, arriving and departing, had saved him from selling out at a low figure. The first time he found himself able to be out and attend to business he likewise found himself a wealthy man, and ever since he had been growing wealthier without personal effort.
All of which is to render evident just how impossible a matrimonial proposition was Samuel Benham to a bright, a beautiful, a gay, an imaginative, young, and a witty girl such as Abigail Prim, who cared less for money than for almost any other desirable thing in the world. Nagged, scolded, reproached, pestered, threatened, Abigail had at last given a seeming assent to her stepmother’s ambition.
And had forthwith been packed off on a two weeks visit to the sister of the bride-groom elect. After which Mr. Benham was to visit Oakdale as a guest of the Prims, and at a dinner for which cards already had been issued—so sure was Mrs. Jonas Prim of her position of dictator of the Prim menage—the engagement was to be announced. The Oakdale Affair PDF Book
It was some time after dinner on the night of Abigail’s departure that Mrs. Prim, following a habit achieved by years of housekeeping, set forth upon her rounds to see that doors and windows were properly secured for the night. A French window and its screen opening upon the verandah from the library she found open.
“The house will be full of mosquitoes!” she ejaculated mentally as she closed them both with a bang and made them fast. “I should just like to know who left them open. Upon my word, I don’t know what would become of this place if it wasn’t for me. Of all the shiftlessness!” and she turned and flounced upstairs.
In Abigail’s room she flashed on the center dome light from force of habit, although she knew that the room had been left in proper condition after the girl’s departure earlier in the day. The first thing amiss that her eagle eye noted was the candlestick lying on the floor beside the dressing table. The Oakdale Affair PDF Book
As she stooped to pick it up she saw the open drawer from which the small automatic had been removed, and then, suspicions, suddenly aroused, as suddenly became fear; and Mrs. Prim almost dove across the room to the hidden wall safe. A moment’s investigation revealed the startling fact that the safe was unlocked and practically empty. It was then that Mrs. Jonas Prim screamed.
Her scream brought Jonas and several servants upon the scene. A careful inspection of the room disclosed the fact that while much of value had been ignored the burglar had taken the easily concealed contents of the wall safe which represented fully ninety percentum of the value of the personal property in Abigail Prim’s apartments.
Along the hallway they rushed to the closed door at the end—the door of the room in which the three listened breathlessly—hurling themselves against it in violent effort to gain admission. “Who are you and what do you want?” cried Bridge. “Let us in! Let us in!” screamed two voices. “Fer God’s sake let us in. The Oakdale Affair PDF Book Download
Can’t you hear IT? It’ll be comin’ up here in a minute.” The sound of the dragging chain could be heard at intervals upon the floor below. It seemed to the tense listeners above to pause beside the dead man as though hovering in gloating exultation above its gruesome prey and then it moved again.
This time toward the stairway where they all heard it ascending with a creepy slowness which wrought more terribly upon tense nerves than would a sudden rush. “The mills of the Gods grind slowly,” quoted Bridge. “Oh, don’t!” pleaded The Oskaloosa Kid. “Let us in,” screamed the men without. “Fer the luv o’ Mike have a heart! Don’t leave us out here!
IT’s comin’! IT’s comin’!” “Oh, let the poor things in,” pleaded the girl on the bed. She was, herself, trembling with terror. “No funny business, now, if I let you in,” commanded Bridge. “On the square,” came the quick and earnest reply. The THING had reached the head of the stairs when Bridge dragged the bed aside and drew the bolt. The Oakdale Affair PDF Book Download
Instantly two figures hurled themselves into the room but turned immediately to help Bridge resecure the doorway. Just as it had done before, when Bridge and The Oskaloosa Kid had taken refuge there with the girl, the THING moved down the hallway to the closed door. The dragging chain marked each foot of its advance.
If it made other sounds they were drowned by the clanking of the links over the time roughened flooring. Within the room the five were frozen into utter silence, and beyond the door an equal quiet prevailed for a long minute; then a great force made the door creak and a weird scratching sounded high up upon the old fashioned panelling.
Bridge heard a smothered gasp from the boy beside him, followed instantly by a flash of flame and the crack of a small caliber automatic; The Oskaloosa Kid had fired through the door. Bridge seized the boy’s arm and wrenched the weapon from him. “Be careful!” he cried. “You’ll hurt someone. You didn’t miss the girl much that time—she’s on the bed right in front of the door.” The Oakdale Affair PDF Book Download
The Oskaloosa Kid pressed closer to the man as though he sought protection from the unknown menace without. The girl sprang from the bed and crossed to the opposite side of the room. A flash of lightning illuminated the chamber for an instant and the roof of the verandah without. The girl noted the latter and the open window.
“Look!” she cried. “Suppose it went out of another window upon this porch. It could get us so easily that way!” “Shut up, you fool!” whispered one of the two newcomers. “It might hear you.” The girl subsided into silence “He’s a bad one,” interjected Dopey Charlie, a glint of cunning in his ordinarily glassy eyes. “He flashes a couple o’ mitsful of sparklers, chesty-like, and allows as how he’s a regular burglar.
Then he pulls a gun on me, as wasn’t doin’ nothin’ to him, and ‘most croaks me. It’s even money that if anyone’s been croaked in Oakdale last night they won’t have to look far for the guy that done it. Least-wise they won’t have to look far if he doesn’t come across,” and Dopey Charlie looked meaningly and steadily at the side pockets of The Oskaloosa Kid. The Oakdale Affair PDF Book Download
“I think,” said Bridge, after a moment of general silence, “that you two crooks had better beat it. Do you get me?” and he looked from Dopey Charlie to The General and back again. “We don’t go,” said Dopey Charlie, belligerently, “until we gets half the Kid’s swag.” “You go now,” said Bridge, “without anybody’s swag,” and he drew the boy’s automatic from his side pocket.
“You go now and you go quick—beat it!” The two rose and shuffled toward the door. “We’ll get you, you colledge Lizzy,” threatened Dopey Charlie, “an’ we’ll get that phoney punk, too.” “’And speed the parting guest,’” quoted Bridge, firing a shot that splintered the floor at the crook’s feet.
When the two hoboes had departed the others huddled again close to the stove until Bridge suggested that he and The Oskaloosa Kid retire to another room while the girl removed and dried her clothing; but she insisted that it was not wet enough to matter since she had been covered by a robe in the automobile until just a moment before she had been hurled out. The Oakdale Affair PDF Book Free
“Then, after you are warmed up,” said Bridge, “you can step into this other room while the kid and I strip and dry our things, for there’s no question but that we are wet enough.” At the suggestion the kid started for the door. “Oh, no,” he insisted; “it isn’t worth while. I am almost dry now, and as soon as we get out on the road I’ll be all right. I—I—I like wet clothes,” he ended, lamely.
“That’s awfully nice of you,” replied The Kid. “How much do I owe you for the rest of it?” “Oh,” said Jeb Case, rubbing his chin, eyeing the big roll of bills and wondering just the limit he might raise to, “I reckon ’bout four dollars an’ six bits.” The Oskaloosa Kid peeled a five dollar bill from his roll and proffered it to the farmer.
“I’m ever so much obliged,” he said, “and you needn’t mind about any change. I thank you so much.” With which he took the several packages and pails and turned toward the road. “Yew gotta return them pails!” shouted Mrs. Case after him. “Oh, of course,” replied The Kid. “Gosh!” exclaimed Mr. Case, feelingly. The Oakdale Affair PDF Book Free
“I wisht I’d asked six bits more—I mought jest as well o’ got it as not. Gosh, eh?” “Gosh!” murmured Willie Case, fervently. “I’m not a burglar!” cried the youth indignantly. Somehow it was very different when this nice voiced man called him a burglar from bragging of the fact himself to such as The Sky Pilot’s villainous company, or the awestruck, open-mouthed Willie Case whose very expression invited heroics.
Bridge made no reply, but his eyes wandered to the right hand side pocket of the boy’s coat. Instantly the latter glanced guiltily downward to flush redly at the sight of several inches of pearl necklace protruding accusingly therefrom. The girl, a silent witness of the occurrence, was brought suddenly and painfully to a realization of her present position and recollection of the happenings of the preceding night.
For the time she had forgotten that she was alone in the company of a tramp and a burglar—how much worse either might be she could only guess. The Oakdale Affair PDF Book Free