XXX. The Ghost On The Dyke
Somehow, Faith and Carl and Una could not shake off the hold which the story of
Henry Warren's ghost had taken upon their imaginations. They had never
believed in ghosts. Ghost tales they had heard a-plenty--Mary Vance had told
some far more blood-curdling than this; but those tales were all of places and
people and spooks far away and unknown. After the first half-awful, half-pleasant
thrill of awe and terror they thought of them no more. But this story came home to
them. The old Bailey garden was almost at their very door--almost in their
beloved Rainbow Valley. They had passed and repassed it constantly; they had
hunted for flowers in it; they had made short cuts through it when they wished to
go straight from the village to the valley. But never again! After the night when
Mary Vance told them its gruesome tale they would not have gone through or
near it on pain of death. Death! What was death compared to the unearthly
possibility of falling into the clutches of Henry Warren's grovelling ghost?
One warm July evening the three of them were sitting under the Tree Lovers,
feeling a little lonely. Nobody else had come near the valley that evening. Jem
Blythe was away in Charlottetown, writing on his entrance examinations. Jerry
and Walter Blythe were off for a sail on the harbour with old Captain Crawford.
Nan and Di and Rilla and Shirley had gone down the harbour road to visit
Kenneth and Persis Ford, who had come with their parents for a flying visit to the
little old House of Dreams. Nan had asked Faith to go with them, but Faith had
declined. She would never have admitted it, but she felt a little secret jealousy of
Persis Ford, concerning whose wonderful beauty and city glamour she had heard
a great deal. No, she wasn't going to go down there and play second fiddle to
anybody. She and Una took their story books to Rainbow Valley and read, while
Carl investigated bugs along the banks of the brook, and all three were happy
until they suddenly realized that it was twilight and that the old Bailey garden was
uncomfortably near by. Carl came and sat down close to the girls. They all
wished they had gone home a little sooner, but nobody said anything.
Great, velvety, purple clouds heaped up in the west and spread over the valley.
There was no wind and everything was suddenly, strangely, dreadfully still. The
marsh was full of thousands of fire-flies. Surely some fairy parliament was being
convened that night. Altogether, Rainbow Valley was not a canny place just then.
Faith looked fearfully up the valley to the old Bailey garden. Then, if anybody's
blood ever did freeze, Faith Meredith's certainly froze at that moment. The eyes
of Carl and Una followed her entranced gaze and chills began gallopading up
and down their spines also. For there, under the big tamarack tree on the tumble-
down, grass-grown dyke of the Bailey garden, was something white--shapelessly
white in the gathering gloom. The three Merediths sat and gazed as if turned to
"It's--it's the--calf," whispered Una at last.
"It's--too--big--for the calf," whispered Faith. Her mouth and lips were so dry she
could hardly articulate the words.
Suddenly Carl gasped,