The president looked surprised.
“I know of nothing more, Miss Minturn,” she said; but even as she spoke there was a nervous rustle apparent among some of the audience.
“Still I am quite sure that a ghostly surprise, not down on my pragramme, had been planned for us. Perhaps this will elucidate my meaning,” Katherine explained, and, bringing to light something, which she had until then concealed behind her, she shook out and held up to view a white robe, made of a sheet, and also a white mask.
Groans and laughter greeted this announcement and display.
“Oh! who has given us away? Who has told you, Miss Minturn?” came breathlessly from various quarters of the room.
“No one ’has given the secret away’—no one has ‘told’ me anything,” she replied. “The discovery was an accident. I was obliged to slip up to my room for something forgotten, just before it was time to open the meeting. As I reached the end of the hall I heard voices, and, being arrayed in the dentist’s garb with only a domino over it, I did not wish to be seen. I fled into the closet there, and the next moment two juniors passed, carrying something in their arms, wrapped in shawls. I heard one say, ’When I give the signal, Miss Blank will touch the button and put out the lights.’ When they were beyond hearing I stole from the closet and found a small bundle at my feet. Investigation revealed this ghostly garb, and, if I am not mistaken, those shawls, in yonder corner, contain several others.”
The room was very still for a moment after Katherine concluded, and there were some very red faces, here and there, among the audience.
Suddenly Clara Follet sprang to her feet, and, addressing the president, said:
“Miss Walton, as I am the leader in this affair, may I make an explanation?”
“Certainly. Comrades, Miss Follet has the floor.”
“There is nothing to be done but make a clean breast of everything,” continued Miss Follet, with a resolute air, but with crimson cheeks as she faced the audience. “As you all know, some of us were inclined to—to guy Miss Minturn at our last meeting about a certain subject, and when she declined to write a paper on it we thought we would give her another as nearly like it as possible, and so get some fun out of it when it came up for discussion. Well”—with a suggestive shrug—“we, of course, expected she would go into it deep, and mount, and soar, and all that; so some of us put our heads together and planned a ghost walk. We were going to wait until she reached the zenith of her flight, when, at a signal from me, the electrics would be turned off, which would leave us a very dim light through the transoms opening into the hall; then eight of us were to slip into our robes, form a circle around Miss Minturn, and chant a dirge. Well--but—ahem! don’t you see, she just took all the wind out of our sails to begin with? Instead of a ‘ghostly surprise’ the ghosts got the surprise—that conundrum and charade made me suspect that the committee on topics were going to ‘get left,’ and I began to feel my courage failing. But that transcendental poem!—that capped the climax, and I saw that the only thing to be done was for the spooks to hide their diminished heads and keep dark.”