One of the colored women—“Aunt Chloe Cato,” as she called herself, because she was Cato’s wife—was sent into the kitchen to clean it and to make a fire in the great fireplace. She could not explain the traces of recent occupation, but “’lowed ’twere de ghoses, kase dis yere ole Bang place done bin hanted.”
“Well, it’ll be ‘hanted’ now by the Elmer family,” said Mark, who overheard her, “and they’ll make it lively for any other ‘ghoses’ that come round.”
“Don’t ye, now, honey I don’t ye go fo’ to set up yo’sef agin de ghoses, kase dey’s powerful pernickety when dey’s crassed,” said the old woman, whom Mark, with his love for nick-names, had already called “Ole Clo.”
At noon all hands stopped work to eat a hasty lunch, and soon afterwards the lighter, being unloaded, was poled across the river for the team. With the help of Captain Johnson and his crew, who had agreed to remain over that night, most of the household goods were moved up to the house during the afternoon and placed under shelter.
While this work was going on, one of the white men from the village came over to see his new neighbors. He brought with him a wild-turkey, half a dozen ducks, and a string of freshly caught fish, as cards of introduction. His name was Bevil, and he welcomed the Elmers most heartily, and said that he considered their coming a sign of better times for that section of the country. He told Mr. Elmer that the Bangs place used to be considered one of the finest plantations in the county, and that its lands were as rich now as ever.
Before night the lower story of the old house looked quite comfortable, and almost homelike; and when the family sat down to dinner, it was with the keen appetites resulting from hard work. The dinner was a bountiful meal, largely composed of Mr. Bevil’s game and fish; and before they ate it Mr. Elmer offered up a heart-felt thanksgiving for the mercies that had been granted them thus far, and prayed for a blessing on their new home.
That evening he arranged with Captain Johnson to start at daylight and go with his lighter to the nearest saw-mill, sixty miles away, for a load of lumber and shingles. He also commissioned him to buy and bring back a large skiff, such as were used on the river.
The tired household went early to bed that first night in their new home, and though their beds were made down on the floor, they all slept soundly.
All but Mark, who, after sleeping for some hours, woke suddenly to find himself sitting bolt-upright in bed, and staring at the broken window in front of him, through which a flood of moonlight was pouring. He was as certain as he could be of anything that he had seen a face at that window as he started up—a wild, haggard face, framed by long unkempt hair. He sprang from his bed and looked out, but could see nobody, and heard no unusual sound except the distant “who-who-whoo” of an owl.