The Galloping Ghost / A Mystery Story for Boys

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The Galloping Ghost / A Mystery Story for Boys

Author

Roy J. Snell

About this book

Star college football player Red Rodgers awakes one night to find that his life has been turned upside down. Who is to blame for this sudden turn of events? The intrepid amateur detective Johnny Thompson is on the case again in Roy Snell's fast-paced mystery for younger readers, The Galloping Ghost.

Contents (33)

CHAPTER I KIDNAPER’S ISLAND
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CHAPTER II WHISPERS IN THE NIGHT
CHAPTER III “WE MUST ESCAPE”
CHAPTER IV THE GHOST APPEARS
CHAPTER V RED WINS TO LOSE
CHAPTER VI THE RED ROVER GETS THE BREAKS
CHAPTER VII A JOURNEY IN THE NIGHT
CHAPTER VIII “THE RAT”
CHAPTER IX RED GOES INTO ACTION
CHAPTER X THE INVISIBLE FOOTPRINT
CHAPTER XI HOTCAKES AT DAWN
CHAPTER XII JOHNNY GETS A “JIMMY”
CHAPTER XIII LIGHT ON THE WATER
CHAPTER XIV DREW LANE STEPS INTO SOMETHING
CHAPTER XV “SHOOTIN’ IRONS”
CHAPTER XVI THE BRANDED BULLET
CHAPTER XVII JOHNNY’S JIMMY
CHAPTER XVIII DREAMING AT DAWN
CHAPTER XIX NIGHT ON ISLE ROYALE
CHAPTER XX RIDING A MOOSE
CHAPTER XXI THE SHOE
CHAPTER XXII ON THE “SLEEPING LION”
CHAPTER XXIII A VISIT IN THE NIGHT
CHAPTER XXIV UNCLE NED DOES HIS BIT
CHAPTER XXV THE TRAIL LEADS NORTH
CHAPTER XXVI BATTLE OVER THE WAVES
CHAPTER XXVII A HAUNTED BAY
Chapter XXVIII THE LIGHT THAT FAILED
CHAPTER XXIX SILENT NIGHT
CHAPTER XXX HOLLOW CHUCKLES
CHAPTER XXXI “PLAY BY PLAY”
CHAPTER XXXII “70,000 WITNESSES”
CHAPTER XXXIII THE FLEA FLICKER

CHAPTER I KIDNAPER’S ISLAND

Red Rodgers rolled half over, squirmed about, then sat up. For a long time he had felt the floor beneath him vibrate with the throb of powerful motors. His eardrums, beaten upon as they had been by the roar of those motors, now seemed incapable of registering sound.

Not the slightest murmur suggesting life reached his ears. “Not the rustle of a leaf, nor the lap of a tiny wave; not the whisper of a village child asleep,” he told himself. “Can I have gone stone deaf?” Cold perspiration started out upon the tip of his nose.

[12]

And then, piercing the silence like a siren’s scream in the night, came a wild, weird, mad, hilarious laugh.

Startled by this sudden shock of sound, he shuddered from head to foot. Then, at once, he felt better.

“At least I am not deaf.”

“That laugh,” he mused a moment later, “it was almost human, but not quite. What could it have been?”

To this question he could form no answer. The wild places, wilderness, forest, lakes, rivers, were sealed books to Red. He had lived his life in a city, lived strenuously and with a purpose.

“Some wild thing,” he murmured. “But where am I?” His brow wrinkled. “I’ve been kidnaped, dragged from my berth in a sleeping car, thrown into a speed boat, carried miles down a river, bundled into this airplane, whirled for hours through the air, and landed here. But where is here? And why am I here at all?”

[13]

“Hours,” he whispered slowly. A stray moonbeam lighted a spot on his knee. He placed his wrist there and read the dial of his watch.

“Yes, hours. It’s five after midnight. And to-morrow, hundreds of miles away, I was to have made at least two touchdowns. The crowd would expect at least one sixty-yard dash by the Red Rover.”

“The Red Rover.” That was the name the fans had given him. Well, the Red Rover would not run. He smiled grimly. But, after all, what did it matter? They were to play Woodville. What was Woodville? A weak team. Old Midway’s cubs could beat them. It was a midweek game, mainly for practice. He wasn’t needed for that. But Saturday’s game! Ah, well, that was another story.

“But kidnaped!” He brought himself up with a start. “I’ve been kidnaped! Dragged from my berth. Whirled all the way to some place where wild creatures laugh at midnight.”

[14]

Kidnaped. The whole affair seemed absurd to him. He had read of kidnapings. There had been many of late. It had always made his blood boil when some innocent child, some helpless woman had been carried away to a dismal hole and held for ransom. “Low-lived curs,” he had called the kidnapers.

“Ransom!” He laughed a low laugh. He was a college student, a football player for two months of the year, a night clerk in a hotel the rest of the year, an orphan boy working his way through the university. He thought there were three dollars in his pocket, but he could not be sure.

“Kidnaped! Must have got the wrong fellow this time. Tell ’em who I am, and they’ll turn me loose; hustle me back, like as not.”

He was wrong. They would neither turn him loose nor hustle him back.

“All right, Red. You can get out.” These words were spoken as the airplane door swung open.

“Red!” the boy thought with a start. “So they do know who I am. They did mean to get me. I wonder why!

“Whew!” he whistled as a cold breeze struck his cheek. “Cold up here.”

[15]

“Cold enough,” the other grumbled. “Come on, shake a leg! This boat swings about.”

“Boat.” It’s strange how a single word tells a long story. The whiff of cold air had told him that they had flown north. Now he knew that they had landed on water. But what water? And where?

“There you are.” A hand in the moonlight guided him to a seat in the stern of a small boat.

Red opened his eyes wide at the scene that lay before him, a broad, deep bay fringed by a black ribbon of spruce and balsam. The moonlight, forming a path of gold across the water, fell upon some dark object. As the oars of the boat creaked, the dark object made a splashing sound; it moved.

As if reading the boy’s thoughts, the oarsman ceased his labors to cast the circle of a powerful flashlight in the direction of the moving creature.

With a quick intake of breath Red stared enchanted; for there, not twenty yards away, standing at the end of the small island which he had reached at this moment, was a moose.

[16]

Nowhere in all his life had the boy beheld such complete majesty. Erect, silent, powerful, the monarch of the forest stood there defiant and unafraid.

“Where in all the earth could one find a spot such as this?” Red breathed to himself. “A spot so sheltered that even the shyest of the forest’s great ones shows no fear.”

He had expected the oarsman to drag a rifle from the prow and fire point-blank at this moose. Instead, he sat there for a second, his rough face disfigured by a semblance of a smile; then, pocketing his flashlight, he once again took up his oars.

For Red there was little enough time for thought. The boat swung about. Before them lay a point of land, perhaps the end of an island. At its extreme end was a little half-clearing where a score of girdled birches pointed their barren trunks, like dead fingers, toward the sky.

[17]

At the edge of this clearing was a small log cabin. From this a pale light gleamed. Toward this cabin the boat directed its course.

“‘This is the forest primeval.’” The words sprang unbidden to the boy’s lips. “‘The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight, stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic, stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.’

“And to-morrow was to have been—”

As he closed his eyes he saw what it was to have been: a wild, shouting throng; college songs, college yells, bands, waving banners. “Go, Midway! Go!” Two squads battling for victory. Wild scrambles. Futile dashes. And, with good fortune, a mad dash of fifty yards to triumphal victory.

“Life,” he whispered, “is strange.”

The boat bumped. A narrow landing lay beside him.

“We get off here.” There was something impersonal in the tone of this strange pilot of the night. “This’ll be home for you, son, for quite some considerable time.”

“I hope you’re wrong,” Red thought.

[18]

The room he entered a moment later was small and very narrow. In one corner was a cot, in another a table and chair. Across from the table was a curious affair of sheet iron that, he guessed, might be a stove. The place was agreeably warm. There must be a small fire. On the table a candle burned.

Turning about to seek for an explanation of all that had been happening and of his strange surroundings, he was not a little startled to find himself alone. The door had been silently closed behind him. And locked? Well, perhaps. What could it matter? He was, beyond doubt, surrounded by water, the merciless water of the north country—some north country in November; surrounded, too, by determined men, hostile men, perhaps, who had apparently ordained that his stay in the cabin should be a long one. Once again, as he dropped into the chair, there came to his mind that forceful interrogation:

“Why?”

As before, he could form no adequate answer.

[19]

His mind was busy with this problem when, with startling suddenness, his attention was caught and held by the low sound of voices.

“Have you signed?” It was a man who spoke. The voice was not gruff; a low, smooth, persuasive voice, too smooth, too persuasive.

Quite in contrast was the answer. Unmistakably feminine, it came sharp and crisp as the crash of icicles fallen from the eaves. “I will never sign.”

“But consider.” The man’s voice was not raised, still smooth, persuasive. “You are on an island.”

“An island. I thought so,” Red whispered to himself. “But who can this girl be?” That the one beyond the partition was a girl he did not doubt.

“I will never sign!” the girl broke in upon the other’s oily speech. “My father owes you nothing.”

[20]

“Consider,” the other persisted. “You are on a narrow island within a bay. The water of the bay is icy cold. You might swim it in safety, though I doubt it. Should you succeed, it would be but to find yourself upon a much larger island. That island is fifteen miles from the nearest mainland, a hundred from the farthest. Can you swim that, or row it even if you should find a boat? Ah, no. The waters of this great lake are terrible in their fury. And Superior never gives up her dead.”

There was something so sepulchral about these last words that the listening boy shuddered in spite of himself.

“On such an island there are people.” The girl’s tone was stubborn, defiant.

“There is no one.” The tone of the speaker carried conviction. “In summer, yes. In winter, no. We are here alone.”

“Then,” said the girl, “I shall stay here until summer comes. Winter will soon be here. And ‘if winter comes,’” she quoted, “‘can spring be far behind?’”

“Very far.”

There was a quiet cadence in the speaker’s tone that sent chills coursing up Red Rodger’s spine. At the same time he hardly suppressed a desire to shout: “Bravo!” to the girl.

[21]

The closing of a door some seconds later told him that this was a cabin of at least two rooms and, strangely enough, between these rooms was no connecting door.

[22]