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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSix Little Bunkers At Mammy June's - Chapter 23. A Four-Legged Ghost
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Six Little Bunkers At Mammy June's - Chapter 23. A Four-Legged Ghost Post by :louis1899 Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :1034

Click below to download : Six Little Bunkers At Mammy June's - Chapter 23. A Four-Legged Ghost (Format : PDF)

Six Little Bunkers At Mammy June's - Chapter 23. A Four-Legged Ghost

CHAPTER XXIII. A FOUR-LEGGED GHOST

"I don't like that noise a bit," whispered Rose, standing close to her brother. "It--it makes me all shivery."

"But, if it is only just a woman calling----"

"There must be something awful the matter with her, if she has to scream like that," declared Rose.

As they did not hear the noise again for a little while, both of them plucked up courage, and they went on to the burned cabin. The sticks they had set up were still standing. Russ fastened each of the four pasteboard "letters" to a stick at the four corners of Mammy June's ruined house.

There was light enough from the stars for the two children to see quite plainly what they were about. Rose, however, was looking all about them while Russ did the work of setting up the printed signs for Sneezer Meiggs to see if he came home unexpectedly.

"What do you expect to see, Rose?" demanded her brother loftily.

"I don't know. Philly says ha'nts are all in white."

"I don't see anything very white around here," rejoined Russ.

"But there are so many colored folks, perhaps some of the ha'nts might be black," suggested Rose. "Then we wouldn't see them very well in the shadows."

"I don't believe----" began Russ.

The strange shriek was again heard. Russ stopped in his speech. Rose uttered a sharp cry. The screech--and it did sound like a woman's voice, the voice of a woman in fearful pain or fright--seemed very near them.

"It's right over there in that patch of woods," said Russ. "I guess she is lost--or something."

"Do you believe it is only a lady and not a ha'nt, Russ?" demanded his sister.

"Of course it isn't a ha'nt! Such things can't be! And if it was a ghost, a ghost is nothing but air, and how could air have such a voice as that?"

This reasoning seemed to close the argument. Rose felt that her brother must be right. Besides, Russ went right on talking, and talking very bravely.

"I think we ought to see what the matter is with her, Rose. She is in trouble--maybe she is lost and scared."

"So am I scared," murmured Rose.

"But think how much more you would be scared," her brother said seriously, "if you were in those woods alone and didn't know that there was anybody else near."

"I wouldn't make so much fuss about it," muttered Rose, for she suspected the thought in Russ Bunker's mind and she was really too scared to approve of it at once.

"We've got to find her," said the boy impressively.

"Now, Russ!" almost wailed Rose, "you wouldn't go into those woods? Aren't you scared?"

"Of course I'm scared," said Russ. "Who wouldn't be? But just because I am scared I know the woman must be even more scared. She's got to be taken out of the woods and shown where the big house is. Or, if she is a colored lady, we'll take her to the quarters."

"I--I wish Daddy was here," ventured Rose.

"But he isn't here," said Russ, with some vexation. "So we've got to find the woman by ourselves."

"Oh, dear!" murmured Rose.

But she would not let Russ go alone into the patch of forest behind the site of Mammy June's burned cabin; nor did she feel like remaining alone in the clearing. Russ picked up a good sized stick and started toward the woods.

"Let's shout when we get to the edge," whispered Rose.

They did so; but, really, their voices sounded very faint indeed. No reply came. It was several minutes after, and Russ and Rose were quite a distance into the woods and following what seemed to be a half-grown-over path, before the "woman" screamed again.

"Goodness! How hateful that sounds!" cried Rose.

"I guess she is more scared than we are," ventured Russ. "What do you think?"

"I think I'd like to be back at the house," answered Rose.

But Russ would not agree with her. As he went on he grew more confident. They did not see even a rabbit. And Russ and Rose knew that rabbits were often out at night.

If they had but known it, the awful screech that so disturbed them, disturbed the rabbits and the other small fry of the woods much more. At the sound of that terrible hunger-cry all the rabbits, and hares, and birds that nested on the ground or in trees, trembled.

But Russ seemed to grow braver by the minute. And Rose of course could not fail to be inspired by his show of courage. They walked along the path hand in hand, and although they did not speak much for the next few moments, when they did speak it was quite cheerfully.

"I wish she would yell again," said Russ at last. "For we must be getting near to where she was."

"We-ell, if she isn't a ghost----"

Just then the silence of the wood was broken again by the cry. The boy and the girl halted involuntarily. No matter how brave Russ might appear to be, there was a tone to that scream that made shivers go up and down his back.

"Oh, Russ!" cried Rose.

"Oh, Rose!" stammered her brother.

The scream came from so near that it seemed worse than before. And now Russ was shaken in his proclaimed opinion. It did not seem that any woman, no matter how great her distress might be, could make such a terrible sound.

"I guess we'd better go back," confessed Russ after a minute.

Rose was eager to do so. They turned and, hand in hand, began to run. And in their haste they somehow missed the path they had been following. Or else, it had not been a path at all.

At least, after running so far that they should have reached the burned cabin they came out into quite a different clearing! They both knew that they had missed the way, for in this clearing stood a little cabin with a pitched roof that neither of the Bunker children had ever seen before. Nor was the wide brook in sight.

"I guess we've got turned around," Russ said, trying to hide his disappointment and fear from his sister. "We've got to go back, Rose."

"Do you know which is back?" she asked.

"We've got to hunt for that old path."

"Don't you leave me, Russ Bunker!" cried Rose, as her brother started away.

And just then both of them saw the tawny, long tailed, slinking beast in the edge of the thicket.

"Oh! It's a bear!" shrieked Rose.

"Bears don't look like that," gasped Russ, staring at the great, glowing eyes of the animal. "It looks more like a cat."

"There never was a cat as big as that, Russ Bunker, and you know it!"

"Come on, Rose," said her brother promptly. "We'll go into that house and shut the door. It can't get us then, whatever it is."

In a moment the two children had dashed into the cabin and pulled to the swinging door. The door had a lock on the outside, and when Russ banged the door shut he heard the lock snap.

"Now it can't get at us!" cried Russ with some satisfaction. "We're safe."

"But--but I don't like this old house, Russ Bunker," complained Rose. "There is no window."

"All the better," was the brave reply. "That cat can't get at us."

Then the screech sounded again and the boy and girl clung together while the sound echoed through the lonesome timber.

"It's that thing that makes the noise," whispered Rose. "Oh, Russ! if Daddy Bunker doesn't come after us, maybe it will tear the house down."

"It can't," declared Russ.

"How do you know it can't?"

"Why, cats--even big ones--don't tear houses to pieces, Rose. You know they don't! We'll be safe as long as we stay in this place."

"But how long shall we have to stay here?"

"Until that thing goes away," said Russ confidently.

"And maybe it won't go away at all. We'll have to stay here till the folks come to find us, Russ. I--I want--my mo-mother!"

"Now, Rose Bunker, don't be a baby!" said her brother. "That thing can't get at us in here----"

Just then something thumped heavily on the roof of the hut. Russ could not say another word. They heard the great claws of the big cat scratching at the roof boards.

Rose screamed again and this time her brother's voice joined with hers in a hopeless cry for help.

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