This piece of rope he stretched across the road, fastening one end to the rotten gate-post, long deserted by its gate, the other to a tree. Then he hung the lantern midway of this line. This seemed as much as his waning hope justified, but on second thought he stole into the house, took a black tomato crate marker from the kitchen shelf and on a paper flour-bag printed the words DANGER ROAD CLOSED. This he hung upon the rope near the lantern. Then he sat down on the old carriage block where they used to stand the milk cans and waited. He felt rather foolish waiting there and he wondered what he should do if a big car with the number 50792 and an eagle on it should really come along....
The night was pitch dark; somewhere in the lonely woods hard by the screech owl was still calling, and the brisk autumn wind, freshening as the night advanced into the wee hours, conjured up strange noises in the loose hanging sticks of the old ramshackle fence along the roadside. Dried leaves, driven by the fitful gusts of wind, sounded like someone, or some thing, hurrying by.
Now, indeed, Peter’s fine hopes melted away as he waited there in the darkness. To be sure, this was a main road, as likely a route as any thereabouts for autos, and in the daytime many passed there. But as he waited now in the deep, enveloping night, and heard no sound save the haunting voices caused by the wind and the low, monotonous singing of the forest life, it seemed unthinkable that any thrilling sequel of his singular experience in his little room could occur. Everything was the same as usual, the crickets chirping, the owl calling, the little graveyard down the road wrapped in darkness.... Glory was not going to knock on the humble door of Peter Piper of Piper’s Crossroads....
Peter glanced down the dark road toward the graveyard; he had always hurried past that spot when coming home from the crossroads at night. Once he had seen a ghostly figure on the stone wall, which, on more careful inspection the next morning, proved to be the sexton’s shovel with his hat on top of it. The little church was around the bend of the road, within the hallowed acre.
Suddenly, as Peter glanced in the direction where the old leaning gravestones were wrapped in darkness, he saw something which harrowed his very soul and made his blood run cold. One of those stones was bathed in a dim, shadowy light. It was startling to see just one stone and no others. It was not a light so much as an area of gossamer brightness that enveloped it, a kind of gauze shroud. Peter gazed, unable to stir, his breaths coming short and fast. Then this dim shroud left the tombstone and glided slowly through the graveyard, shedding its hovering brightness upon a small area of the stone wall as it crossed, and came steadily, steadily over toward Peter Piper.
HARK! THE CONQUERING HERO COMES