That evening Wilberforce Chaster remained in the hotel parlor until ten o ’clock. Then he marched off to his room in his usual ill humor. The gas was lit and he went to bed without delay.
As soon as the light went out and they heard the man retire, Joe and the bell boy began to groan in an ominous manner. As they did so, they worked the strings to which the skulls and the skeleton were attached, causing them to dance up and down in the center of the old man’s room.
Hearing the groans, Wilberforce Chaster sat up in bed and listened. Then he peered around in the darkness.
“Ha! what is that?” he gasped, as he caught sight of the skulls. “Am I dreaming—or is that—Oh!”
He started and began to shake from head to foot, for directly in front of him was the skeleton, moving up and down in a jerky fashion and glowing with a dull fire. His hair seemed to stand on end. He dove under the coverings of the bed.
“The room is haunted!” he moaned. “Was ever such a thing seen before! This is wretched! Whatever shall I do?”
The groans continued, and presently he gave another look from under the bed clothes. The skeleton appeared to be coming nearer. He gave a loud yell of anguish.
“Go away! Go away! Oh, I am haunted by a ghost! This is awful! I cannot stand it!”
He fairly tumbled out of bed and caught up his clothing in a heap. Then, wrapped in some comfortables, he burst out of the room and ran down the hallway like a person possessed of the evil spirits.
“Come be quick, or we’ll get caught!” whispered Joe, and ran into the room, followed by the bell boy. In a trice they pulled loose the strings that held the skulls and the skeleton, and restored the things to the doctor’s room from which they had been taken. Then they went below by a back stairs.
The whole hotel was in an alarm, and soon Mr. Mallison came upon the scene.
“What is the meaning of this?” he demanded, severely, of Wilberforce Chaster.
“The meaning is, sir, that your hotel is haunted,” was the answer, which startled all who heard it.
THE PARTICULARS OF A SWINDLE.
“This hotel haunted?” gasped the proprietor. “Sir, you are mistaken. Such a thing is impossible.”
“It is true,” insisted Mr. Wilberforce Chaster. “I shall not stay here another night.”
“What makes you think it is haunted?”
“There is a ghost in my room.”
“Oh!” shrieked a maid who had come on the scene. “A ghost! I shall not stay either!”
“What kind of a ghost?” demanded Andrew Mallison.
“A—er—a skeleton—and some skulls! I saw them with my own eyes,” went on the victim. “Come and see them for yourself.”
“This is nonsense,” said the hotel proprietor. “I will go and convince you that you are mistaken.”