There was more or less confusion this first night before everyone got settled, for many of the girls had never camped before and were unskilled in the art of undressing rapidly in the close quarters of a tent, and “Taps” sounded before a number were even undressed. The Lone Wolf was lenient this first night, however, and did not insist upon prompt lights out, an act of grace which added greatly to her popularity.
Sahwah’s bed sagged somewhat in the middle and she was not able to adjust herself to its curves very well; consequently she did not fall asleep soon. Camp quieted down; the last rustle and whisper died away; silence enfolded the tents around. Sahwah, lying wide awake in the darkness, her senses alert, heard the sound of footsteps running at full speed along the top of the bluff and across the bare rocks at the edge. Here the footsteps seemed to come to a pause, and an instant later there came a sound like a loud splash in the water below. Filled both with curiosity and apprehension, Sahwah leaped from bed and raced for the edge of the bluff, where she stood peering down at the river. No unusual ripple appeared on the placid surface of the river; as far as she could see it lay calm and peaceful in the moonlight.
A footstep behind her startled her, and she turned to see Miss Judy coming toward her from the tent.
“What’s the matter?” called Miss Judy, when she was within a few yards of Sahwah.
“It sounded as though someone jumped off the cliff,” replied Sahwah. “I heard footsteps along the edge of the bluff, and then a splash, and I ran out to see what was going on, but I can’t see anything.”
To Sahwah’s surprise, Miss Judith laughed aloud. “Oh,” she said, “did you hear it?”
“What was it?” asked Sahwah, curiously.
“That,” replied Miss Judy, “is what we call the Great Mystery Sound. We hear it off and on, but no one has ever been able to explain what causes it. Our ‘diving ghost,’ we call it. Father wore himself to a frazzle the first year we were here, trying to find out what it was. He used to sit up nights and watch, but although he often heard it he never could see anything that could produce the sound. Some people about here have told us that that sound has been heard for years and they say that there is an old legend connected with it to the effect that many years ago an Indian girl, pursued by an unwelcome suitor, jumped off this bluff and drowned herself to escape him, and that ever since that occurrence this strange sound has been noticeable. Of course, the people who tell the legend say that the ghost of the persecuted maiden haunts the scene of the tragedy at intervals and repeats the performance. Whatever it is, we have never been able to account for the sound naturally, and always refer to it as the Great Mystery Sound.”
“What a strange thing!” exclaimed Sahwah in wonder. “Those footsteps certainly sounded real; and as for that splash! It actually made my flesh creep. I had a panicky feeling that one of the new girls had wandered too near the edge of the bluff and had fallen into the water.”