Chapter XXI. The Ghost

"Girls, there are letters for each of us!" exclaimed Betty.

"Any for me?" asked Aunt Kate.

"Yes, a nice-- adipose-- that is to say, fleshy one," exclaimed Mollie, passing it over. It was bulky.

The girls had stopped at the store of Mr. Lagg, where they had sent word to have their mail forwarded. The occasion was a morning visit several days after they had established their camp on Elm Island.

"Any news?" asked Betty of Mollie, the former having finished a brief note from home, stating that all were well.

"Yes, poor little Dodo is to go to the specialist to be operated on this week. Oh, it does seem as if I ought to go home, and yet mamma writes that I am to stay and enjoy myself. She says there is practically no danger, and that there is great hope of success. Aunt Kittie-- Dodo was at her house when the accident happened, you know-- Aunt Kittie has come to stay with mamma. Every one else is well, including Paul.

"Oh, but I shall be so anxious until it is over! They are going to let me know as soon as it is. Are we going to stay around here, where I can get word quickly?"

"Yes, we will remain on Elm Island, I think," said Betty. "There is no use in cruising about too much when we are so comfortable there, and really it is lovely in the woods."

"As long as the ghost doesn't bother us," spoke Amy.

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Betty. "What is your news, Grace?"

"Oh, Will writes that he and Frank are coming up to camp on the island near us."

"That will be fine!" exclaimed Betty. "When will they get here?"

"Allen can't come up until the week-end," went on Grace. "He has to take some kind of bar examinations. For the-- high jump, I think."

"Silly!" reproved Betty, with a blush.

"But Will told me to tell you specially that Allen is coming," went on Grace. "They can stay a few days."

"It will be fine," cried Mollie. "Any news about the papers, Grace?"

"Not a word, and no trace of Prince."

"That is queer," said Betty. "But we will live in hopes-- that Dodo will be all right, and that the papers will be found."

"Indeed we will," sighed Grace. Mr. Lagg was bowing and smiling behind his counter while the girls were reading their letters.

  "What will it be? What will it be? What will it be to-day?
   Be pleased to leave an order, before you go away!"

"Really, I don't believe we need a thing," answered Mollie, in answer to this poetical effusion. "We might have---- "

"Some more olives," interrupted Grace. "They are so handy to eat, if you wake up in the night, and can't sleep."

"Shades of Morpheus preserve us!" laughed Mollie. "Olives!"

"Does the ghost keep you awake?" asked the storekeeper.

"Not-- not lately!" answered Betty, truthfully.

  "The ghost! The ghost! with clanking chains,
   It comes out only when-- it rains!"

Thus Amy anticipated Mr. Lagg.

"Very good-- very good!" he commended. "I must write that down. Hank Lefferton was over setting eel pots on the island last night, and he said he seen it."

"The ghost?" faltered Betty.

"Yep. Chains and all."

"Well, we didn't," said Aunt Kate, decidedly. "Come along, girls."

They had written some souvenir cards, which they mailed, and again they went sailing about Rainbow Lake.

Several days passed. The girls went on little trips, on picnics, cruised about and spent delightful hours in the woods. They thoroughly enjoyed the camp, and the "ghost" did not annoy them. Mollie waited anxiously for news from home, but none came.

Then the boys arrived, with their camping paraphernalia, and in such bubbling good spirits that the girls were infected with them, for they had become rather lonesome of late.

The boys pitched their tent near that of the girls, and many meals were eaten in common. Then one night it happened!

It was late, and after a jolly session-- a marshmallow roast, to be exact-- they had all retired. No one remained awake now, for the girls had become used to their surroundings, and the boys-- Allen included, for he had come up-- were sound sleepers.

There was a crash of underbrush, a series of snorts-- no other word describes them-- and the screaming girls, hastening to their tent flaps, cried:

"The ghost! The ghost!"

"Get after it, fellows!" called Will, as he recognized his sister's voice. "We'll lay this chap-- whoever he is!"

There was a vision of something white, again that rattling of chains, and a plunge into the lake. Then all was still.