The Sunday-school, and more mysteries.
It must be confessed that, before getting to sleep again, Mark thought of what Aunt Chloe had said about the “ghoses”; but having been taught to disbelieve in such things, and always to seek for some natural explanation of whatever appeared supernatural or unreal, he made up his mind to wait and make the attempt to unravel this mystery by himself before saying anything about it.
The four days that remained of the week were very busy days for the Elmers and those whom they had employed to help them. During this time the interior of the old house was thoroughly cleansed and sweetened by the energetic use of soap and water, and straw matting was laid on the floors of the rooms down-stairs. The broken windows were all repaired by Mark, who found several boxes of glass and a bladder of putty among the building material they had brought from Bangor, and who, after a few trials, became quite a skilful glazier. The cistern was emptied of its stagnant water and thoroughly cleansed, and the gutters were repaired as well as they could be before the arrival of Captain Johnson and the lumber.
It was not until the windows and gutters were repaired that Mrs. Elmer would allow any of the furniture, not absolutely needed, to be unpacked, for fear it might be injured by the dampness. Among the packages that thus remained boxed up, or wrapped in burlaps, was one which none of them could remember having seen before. It was large and square, and different in shape from anything that had stood in their house in Norton. What could it be? Mark and Ruth asked each other this question a dozen times a day, and, but for their mother’s refusal to allow them to do so, would have long since solved the riddle by opening the package.
On Friday night the house was pronounced to be practically water-tight, and at breakfast-time the following morning Mrs. Elmer said they would unpack and arrange the furniture that day.
“And the mystery?” cried Mark. “May we open that first?” “Certainly,” replied his mother; “you may, if you wish, open that the moment you have finished breakfast.”
“That’s this very minute, ain’t it, Ruth? Come along. We’ll soon find out what’s inside those burlaps,” exclaimed the boy, pushing back his chair, and rising from the table as he spoke.
He brought a hammer with which to knock off the rough frame of boards that almost formed a box around the package, and Ruth ran for the shears to cut the stitches of the burlaps.
The frame quickly fell to pieces under Mark’s vigorous blows, and then his penknife assisted Ruth’s shears. Beneath the burlaps was a thick layer of straw; then came heavy wrapping-paper, and, under this, layers and wads of news-paper, until the children began to think the whole package was nothing but wrappings.