The Oakdale Affair (Chapter 1, page 1 of 116)


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Chapter 1

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 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.

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.

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