“We are more afraid of snakes than we are of ghosts,” added Whopper. “We met a lot of them just before we reached the lake.”
“To be sure you did,—– the river is full of them, and so is the north side of the lake shore—–anybody who has camped up here can tell you that. But I don’t mind the snakes—–but I do mind ghosts.” And the old hermit shook his head in a manner to prove he meant what he said. “I would stay up here to do some fishing and hunting only—–”
“Only what?” asked Giant.
“I don’t like the ghosts, or spirits, or whatever you may call them.”
“Have you seen any ghosts?” asked Snap.
“Well, I’ve seen something, and heard it, too. I don’t know what it was,—–but it didn’t suit me,” answered Peter Peterson. “But maybe I hadn’t better tell you about it—–it might only worry you,” he continued, thoughtfully.
But the boys wanted to hear the old man’s story, and so they invited him to take dinner with them. During the meal he told his tale, which was certainly a curious one.
“The first of it happened day before yesterday,” said Peter Peterson. “I was up to the very end of the lake, in a little cove, looking for wild turkeys. I was tired out and I rested against a tree and went into a doze. All at once I felt something cross my face. What it was I couldn’t make out. I jumped up and just them I heard somebody cry out: ‘I am dead! Who will bury me!’ or something like that. I thought somebody was fooling me, and I called back: ‘Who is there?’ Then, as true as I am sitting here, I heard somebody in the air laugh at me! I called again, ‘Who are you?’ And the party, or ghost, or whatever it was answered: ’They murdered me! Who will bury me!’ Then I got scared and leaped into my canoe and paddled away. When I was out on the lake I looked back into the woods, but I could not see a soul.”
“Are you sure you weren’t asleep and dreamed all that?” asked Snap.
“No, I was wide awake. But that isn’t all. Early this morning I was asleep over on the shore yonder, just where you can see that blasted pine. It was, I think, about three o’clock, and quite dark. I heard a cry and I sat up to listen. Then I heard the most hideous laugh you can imagine. Then a voice called out again, ’I am dead! Come to my grave! He is dead! I am dead! He is dead!’ Then I looked out on the lake and I saw something like a ghost, only it was yellow instead of white. It moved over the water like a spirit, and in a few minutes I couldn’t see it any more. Then I made up my mind I wouldn’t stay up here any longer. You can camp here if you want to—–I am done with Lake Narsac.”
The young hunters of the lake looked at each other. What the hermit had to say coincided in many respects with the story told by Jed Sanborn. Certainly there was something queer in these strange calls, and in the appearance of the ghost or spirit in yellow.