“It shows itself only to Greasers, an’ then only on Friday nights,” explained Dent, thoughtfully. This was Friday night. Others had seen that ghost, but they were all Mexicans; now that a “white” man of Johnny’s undisputed calibre had been so honored Dent’s skepticism wavered and he had something to think about for days to come. True, Johnny was not a Greaser; but even ghosts might make mistakes once in a while.
Hopalong laughed, dismissing the subject from his mind as being beneath further comment. “Well, we won’t argue—I’m too tired. An’ I’m sorry you got that eye, Dent.”
“Oh, that’s all right,” hastily assured the store-keeper, smiling faintly. “I was just spoiling for a fight, an’ now I’ve had it. Feels sort of good. Yes, first thing in the morning—breakfast’ll be ready soon as you are. Good-night.”
But the proprietor couldn’t sleep. Finally he arose and tiptoed into the room where Johnny lay wrapped in the sleep of the exhausted. After cautious and critical inspection, which was made hard because of his damaged eye, he tiptoed back to his bunk, shaking his head slowly. “He wasn’t drunk,” he muttered. “He saw that ghost all right; an’ I’ll bet everything I’ve got on it!”
At daybreak three quarrelling punchers rode homeward and after a monotonous journey arrived at the bunk house and reported. It took them two nights adequately to describe their experiences to an envious audience. The morning after the telling of the ghost story things began to happen. Red starting it by erecting a sign.
An exuberant handful of the outfit watched him drive the last nail and step back to admire his work, and the running fire of comment covered all degrees of humor, and promised much hilarity in the future at the expense of the only man on the Bar-20 who had seen a ghost.
In a week Johnny and his acute vision had become a bye-word in that part of the country and his friends had made it a practice to stop him and gravely discuss spirit manifestations of all kinds. He had thrashed Wood Wright and been thrashed by Sandy Lucas in two beautiful and memorable fights and was only waiting to recover from the last affair before having the matter out with Rich Finn. These facts were beginning to have the effect he strove for; though Cowan still sold a new concoction of gin, brandy, and whiskey which he called “Flying Ghost,” and which he proudly guaranteed would show more ghosts per drink than any liquor south of the Rio Grande—and some of his patrons were eager to back up his claims with real money.
This was the condition of affairs when Hopalong Cassidy strolled into Cowan’s and forgot his thirst in the story being told by a strange Mexican. It was Johnny’s ghost, without a doubt, and when he had carelessly asked a few questions he was convinced that Johnny had really seen something. On the way home he cogitated upon it and two points challenged his intelligence with renewed insistence: the ghost showed itself only on Friday, and then only to “Greasers.” His suspicious mind would not rest until he had reviewed the question from all sides, and his opinion was that there was something more than spiritual about the ghost of the San Miguel—and a cold, practical reason for it.