“My uncle was up there once and the hobgoblins took his things away from him.”
“What did they take?” asked Whopper.
“Took his coat, which he had hung on a tree while he was fishing, and took his basket of fish, too. Say, he was scared when he saw that thing, I can tell you. He wouldn’t go there again!”
“Did he see the ghost?” asked Shep.
“No, he didn’t see anything, but he heard it moan and groan, and heard it say something about being cold and hungry.”
“We are not afraid,” said Snap, as bravely as he could. “We are going to keep our eyes peeled for that ghost, and if it shows itself there will be some shooting done. By the way, Joe, how long have you been around here?”
“Two or three hours. I didn’t have nuthin’ to do, and I like the water.”
“Have you seen anybody around this building?”
“Yes, two fellows were here, but they went away when they saw me.”
“Who were they?” asked the doctor’s son.
“One of ’em was Ham Spink, and the other was that chap who is always with him.”
“I guess that’s his name—–the chap who was going to give the fireworks celebration.”
“Humph!” muttered Snap. “What did they do?
“Walked around the building several times and peeped in the windows. One of ’em tried the back door, but just then the other fellow saw me and he gave a little whistle. Then both of ’em walked away pretty quick.”
“The rascals!” cried Whopper. “I’ll bet a sour apple against a gooseberry they wanted to spoil our outfit!”
“Sure they did,” answered Snap.
“I’ll tell you what I think,” said Shep, after the boys had talked the matter over for several minutes. “I think somebody ought to stay here to-night and watch this outfit. For all we know, they may come back.”
“There is an old cot in the boathouse—–a fellow might sleep on that,” suggested Whopper.
“Then that is what I am going to do,—–if my folks will let me,” answered the doctor’s son.
“You’ll be lonely,” said Snap. “Maybe I’d better stay with you. If Ham and Carl did come back you couldn’t manage them alone.”
“I could if I had a shotgun.”
“Oh, you wouldn’t want to shoot anybody, Snap!”
“No, but I could scare ’em off.”
“I’ve got an idea,” cried Whopper. “Why not fix it so as to give them a warm reception—–if they do come,” and then he explained what he meant.
In the end it was decided that Snap and Shep should remain at the boathouse, and Whopper ran off to tell their folks and to get a few things. As the boys were used to outings the youths’ parents thought little of their staying away that night, and only sent word back that they should keep out of mischief.
“We’ll keep out if we are left alone,” said the doctor’s son, grimly.