The Ghost

64 9 18

William lay on the floor of the barn, engrossed in a book. This was a rare thing with William. His bottle of lemonade lay untouched by his side, and he even forgot the half-eaten apple which reposed in his hand. His jaws were arrested midway in the act of munching.

"Our hero," he read, "was awakened about midnight by the sound of the rattling of chains. Raising himself on his arm he gazed into the darkness. About a foot from his bed he could discern a tall, white, faintly-gleaming figure and a ghostly arm which beckoned him."

William's hair stood on end.

"Crumbs!" he ejaculated.

"Nothing perturbed," he continued to read, "our hero rose and followed the spectre through the long winding passages of the old castle. Whenever he hesitated, a white, luminous arm, hung around with ghostly chains, beckoned him on."

"Gosh!" murmured the enthralled William. "I'd have bin scared!"

"At the panel in the wall the ghost stopped, and silently the panel slid aside, revealing a flight of stone steps. Down this went the apparition followed by our intrepid hero. There was a small stone chamber at the bottom, and into this the rays of moonlight poured, revealing a skeleton in a sitting attitude beside a chest of golden sovereigns. The gold gleamed in the moonlight."

"Golly!" gasped William, red with excitement.

"William!"

The cry came from somewhere in the sunny garden outside. William frowned sternly, took another bite of apple, and continued to read.

"Our hero gave a cry of astonishment."

"Yea, I'd have done that all right," agreed William.

"William!"

"Oh, shut up!" called William, irritably, thereby revealing his hiding-place.

His grown-up sister, Ethel, appeared in the doorway.

"Mother wants you," she announced.

"Well, I can't come. I'm busy," said William, coldly, taking a draught of lemonade and returning to his book.

"Cousin Mildred's come," continued his sister.

William raised his freckled face from his book.

"Well, I can't help that, can I?" he said, with the air of one arguing patiently with a lunatic.

Ethel shrugged her shoulders and departed.

"He's reading some old book in the barn," he heard her announce, "and he says——"

Here he foresaw complications and hastily followed her.

"Well, I'm comin', aren't I?" he said, "as fast as I can."

Cousin Mildred was sitting on the lawn. She was elderly and very thin and very tall, and she wore a curious, long, shapeless garment of green silk with a golden girdle.

"Dear child!" she murmured, taking the grimy hand that William held out to her in dignified silence.

He was cheered by the sight of tea and hot cakes.

Cousin Mildred ate little but talked much.

"I'm living in hopes of a psychic revelation, dear," she said to William's mother. "In hopes! I've heard of wonderful experiences, but so far none—alas!—have befallen me. Automatic writing I have tried, but any communication the spirits may have sent me that way remained illegible—quite illegible."

She sighed.

William eyed her with scorn while he consumed reckless quantities of hot cakes.

"I would love to have a psychic revelation," she sighed again.

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