I felt as joyous as a jelly fish. Ten-legged microbes began to climb into my pores. Everything I had in my system rushed to my head. I could see myself in the giggle-giggle ward in a bat house, playing I was the king of England.
I was a joke turned upside down.
After they had examined every nook and cranny of the place and had talked themselves hoarse with delight I called them all up on the front piazza for the purpose of putting out their lights with my ghost story.
I figured on driving them all back to the depot with about four paragraphs of creepy talk, so when I had them huddled I began in a hoarse whisper to raise their hair.
I told them that no doubt they had noticed the worried expression on my face and explained that it was due chiefly to the fact that I had learned quite by accident that this beautiful place was haunted.
Tacks grew so excited that he dropped a garden spade off the piazza and into a hot house below, breaking seven panes of glass, but the others only smiled indulgently and I went on.
I jumped head first into my most blood-curdling story and related in detail how a murder had been committed on the very site the house was built on and how a fierce bewhiskered spirit roamed the premises at night and demanded vengeance. I described in awful words the harrowing spectacle and all I got at the finish was the hoot from Uncle Peter.
“Poor John,” said Clara J., “I had no idea you were so run down. Why, you’re almost on the verge of nervous prostration. And how thoughtful you were to pick out a haunted house, for I do love ghosts. Didn’t you know that? I’ll tell you what let’s do. I’ll give a prize for the first one who sees and speaks to this unhappy spirit—won’t it be jolly? Where are you going, John?”
“Me, to the undertakers—I mean I must run back to town. That telegram this morning—important business—forgot all about it—see you later—don’t breathe till I get back—I mean, don’t live till I—Oh! the devil!”
Just then I fell over the lawn mower, picked myself up hastily and rushed off to town to find Bunch for I was certainly up against it good and hard.
JOHN HENRY’S BURGLAR.
When finally I located Bunch and told him the bitter truth he acted like a zee-zee boy in a Wheel House.
Laugh! Say! he just threw out his chest and cackled a solo that fairly bit its way through my anatomy.
Every once in a white he’d give me the red-faced glare and snicker, “Oh, you mark! You Cincherine! You to the seltzer bottle—fizz!—fizz! The only and original Wheeze Puller, not! You’re all right—backwards!”
Then he’d throw his ears back and let a chortle out of his thirst-teaser that made the neighborhood jump sideways and rubber for a cop.
“What are you going to do?” he asked me when presently his face grew too tired to hold any more wrinkles.