“But, Great Scott, man! it’s not mine!” I gasped.
“Roll a small pill and get together,” admonished Bunch, with a seraphic smile. “Can’t you figure the trick to win? All you have to do is to coax your gang out there and then break the painful news to them that you’ve suddenly discovered the place is haunted and that you’re going to sell it and buy a better bandbox—getting wise?”
“Bunch,” I murmured, weakly, “you’ve saved my life, temporarily, at least. Where is this palace?”
“Only forty minutes from the City Hall—any old City Hall,” he answered, “It’s at Jiggersville, on the Sitfast & Chewsmoke R.R., eighteen miles from Anywhere, hot and cold sidewalks and no mosquitoes in the winter. Here you are, full particulars,” and with this Bunch handed me a printed card which let me into all the secrets of that haven of rest in the tall grass.
Bless good old Bunch!
I offered to buy him a quart of Ruinart but he said his thirst wasn’t working, so I had to paddle off home.
That evening for the first time in several weeks I felt like speaking to myself.
I was the life of the party and I even beamed approvingly when Uncle Peter tuned up his mezzo contralto voice and began to write a book about the delights of a country home.
It was a cinch, I assured myself, that the ghost story I had broiled up to tell on the morrow would send my suburban-mad family scurrying back to town.
Many times mentally I went over the blood curdling details and I flattered myself that I surely had a lot of shivery goods for sale.
I couldn’t see myself losing at all, at all.
So me for Jiggersville in the morning.
JOHN HENRY’S GHOST STORY.
When the alarm clock went to work the next morning Clara J. turned around and gave it a look that made its teeth chatter.
She had been up and doing an hour before that clock grew nervous enough to crow.
Her enthusiasm was so great that she was a Busy-Lizzie long before 7 o’clock and we were not booked to leave the Choo-Choo House till 10:30.
About 8 o’clock she dragged me away from a dream and I reluctantly awoke to a realization of the fact that I was due to deliver some goods which I had never seen and didn’t want to see.
“Get up, John!” Clara J. suggested, with a degree of excitement in her voice; “it’s getting dreadfully late and you know I’m all impatience to see that lovely home you’ve bought for me in the country!”
[Illustration: Clara J.—A Dream of Peaches—Please Pass the Cream.]
Me under the covers, gnawing holes in the pillow to keep from swearing.
“Oh, dear me!” she sighed, “I’m afraid I’m just a bit sorry to leave this sweet little apartment. We’ve been so happy here, haven’t we?”
I grabbed the ball and broke through the center for 10 yards.