“Gosh dern you, Bud! I don’t believe you heerd any noise in there at all! There ain’t no use goin’ any further with this, gentlemen. The dern boys was lyin’. We might jest as well go home.” And he would have started for home had not Isaac Porter uttered a fearful groan and staggered back against a swamp reed for support, his horrified eyes glued upon a window in the log house. The reed was inadequate, and Isaac tumbled over backward.
For a full minute the company stared dumbly at the indistinct little window, paralysis attacking every sense but that of sight. At the expiration of another minute the place was deserted, and Anderson Crow was the first to reach the bicycles far up the river bank. Every face was as white as chalk, and every voice trembled. Mr. Crow’s dignity asserted itself just as the valiant posse prepared to “straddle” the wheels in mad flight.
“Hold on!” he panted. “I lost my dark lantern down there. Go back an’ git it, Bud.”
“Land o’ mighty! Did y’ever see anythin’ like it?” gasped Jim Borum, trying to mount a ten-year-old boy’s wheel instead of his own.
“I’d like to have anybody tell me there ain’t no sech things as ghosts,” faltered Uncle Jimmy Borton, who had always said there wasn’t. “Let go, there! Ouch!” The command and subsequent exclamation were the inevitable results of his unsuccessful attempt to mount with Elon Jones the same wheel.
“What’d I tell you, Anderson?” exclaimed Isaac Porter. “Didn’t I say it was ghosts? Tramps nothin’! A tramp wouldn’t last a second up in that house. It’s been ha’nted fer thirty years an’ it gits worse all the time. What air we goin’ to do next?”
Even the valiant Mr. Crow approved of an immediate return to Tinkletown, and the posse was trying to disentangle its collection of bicycles when an interruption came from an unsuspected quarter—a deep, masculine voice arose from the ice-covered river hard by, almost directly below that section of the bank on which Anderson and his friends were herded. The result was startling. Every man leaped a foot in the air and every hair stood on end; bicycles rattled and clashed together, and Ed Higgins, hopelessly bewildered, started to run in the direction of the haunted house.
Wicker Bonner, Harvard
“Hello, up there!” was what the deep, masculine voice shouted from the river. Anderson Crow was the first to distinguish the form of the speaker, and he was not long in deciding that it was far from ghost-like. With a word of command he brought his disorganised forces out of chaos and huddled them together as if to resist attack.
“What’s the matter with you?” he demanded, addressing his men in a loud tone. “Don’t get rattled!”
“Are you speaking to me?” called the fresh voice from below.
“Who are you?” demanded Mr. Crow in return.