Mysterious noises had been heard about the place at the dead hour of night, and ghostly lights had flitted past the cellar windows. All Tinkletown agreed that the place was haunted and kept at a most respectful distance. The three small boys who startled Marshal Crow from his moping had gone down the river to skate instead of going to school. They swore that the sound of muffled voices came from the interior of the cabin, near which they had inadvertently wandered. Although Dave Wolfe had been dead thirty years, one of the youngest of the lads was positive that he recognised the voice of the desperado. And at once the trio fled the ’cursed spot and brought the horrifying news to Anderson Crow. The detective was immediately called upon to solve the ghostly mystery.
Marshal Crow first went to his home and donned his blue coat, transferring the stars and badges to the greasy lapel of the garment. He also secured his dark lantern and the official cane of the village, but why he should carry a cane on a bicycle expedition was known only to himself. Followed by a horde of small boys and a few representative citizens of Tinkletown on antiquated wheels, Mr. Crow pedalled majestically off to the south. Skirting the swamp, the party approached the haunted house over the narrow path which ran along the river bank. Once in sight of the dilapidated cabin, which seemed to slink farther and farther back into the dense shadows of the late afternoon, with all the diffidence of the supernatural, the marshal called a halt and announced his plans.
“You kids go up an’ tell them fellers I want to see ’em,” he commanded. The boys fell back and prepared to whimper.
“I don’t want to,” protested Bud.
“Why don’t you go an’ tell ’em yourself, Anderson?” demanded Isaac Porter, the pump repairer.
“Thunderation, Ike, who’s runnin’ this thing?” retorted Anderson Crow. “I got a right to deputise anybody to do anything at any time. Don’t you s’pose I know how to handle a job like this? I got my own idees how to waylay them raskils, an’ I reckon I been in the detectin’ business long enough to know how to manage a gol-derned tramp, ain’t I? How’s that? Who says I ain’t?”
“Nobody said a word, Anderson,” meekly observed Jim Borum.
“Well, I thought somebody did. An’ I don’t want nobody interferin’ with an officer, either. Bud, you an’ them two Heffner boys go up an’ tell them loafers to step down here right spry er I’ll come up there an’ see about it.”
“Gosh, Mr. Crow, I’m a-skeered to!” whimpered Bud. The Heffner boys started for home on a dead run.
“Askeered to?” sniffed Anderson. “An’ your great-grand-dad was in the Revolution, too. Geminy crickets, ef you was my boy I’d give you somethin’ to be askeered of! Now, Bud, nothin’ kin happen to you. Ain’t I here?”
“But suppose they won’t come when I tell ’em?”
“Yes, ‘n’ supposin’ ’tain’t tramps, but ghosts?” volunteered Mr. Porter, edging away with his bicycle. It was now quite dark and menacing in there where the cabin stood. As the outcome of half an hour’s discussion, the whole party advanced slowly upon the house, Anderson Crow in the lead, his dark lantern in one hand, his cane in the other. Half way to the house he stopped short and turned to Bud.