**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


A Ghost Of The Sierras
by [?]

“Over something,” interrupted the Judge, hastily, lifting himself on his elbow.

The Doctor stopped instantly. “Juan,” he said coolly, to one of the Mexican packers, “quit foolin’ with that riata. You’ll have that stake out and that mule loose in another minute. Come over this way!”

The Mexican turned a scared, white face to the Doctor, muttering something, and let go the deer-skin hide. We all up-raised our voices with one accord, the Judge most penitently and apologetically, and implored the Doctor to go on. “I’ll shoot the first man who interrupts you again,” added Thornton; persuasively.

But the Doctor, with his hands languidly under his head, had lost his interest. “Well, the dog ran off to the hills, and neither the threats nor cajoleries of his master could ever make him enter the cabin again. The next day the man left the camp. What time is it? Getting on to sundown, ain’t it? Keep off my leg, will you, you d–d Greaser, and stop stumbling round there! Lie down.”

But we knew that the Doctor had not completely finished his story, and we waited patiently for the conclusion. Meanwhile the old, gray silence of the woods again asserted itself, but shadows were now beginning to gather in the heavy beams of the roof above, and the dim aisles seemed to be narrowing and closing in around us. Presently the Doctor recommenced lazily, as if no interruption had occurred.

“As I said before, I never put much faith in that story, and shouldn’t have told it, but for a rather curious experience of my own. It was in the spring of ’62, and I was one of a party of four, coming up from O’Neill’s, when we had been snowed up. It was awful weather; the snow had changed to sleet and rain after we crossed the divide, and the water was out everywhere; every ditch was a creek, every creek a river. We had lost two horses on the North Fork, we were dead beat, off the trail, and sloshing round, with night coming on, and the level hail like shot in our faces. Things were looking bleak and scary when, riding a little ahead of the party, I saw a light twinkling in a hollow beyond. My horse was still fresh, and calling out to the boys to follow me and bear for the light, I struck out for it. In another moment I was before a little cabin that half burrowed in the black chapparal; I dismounted and rapped at the door. There was no response. I then tried to force the door, but it was fastened securely from within. I was all the more surprised when one of the boys, who had overtaken me, told me that he had just seen through a window a man reading by the fire. Indignant at this inhospitality, we both made a resolute onset against the door, at the same time raising our angry voices to a yell. Suddenly there was a quick response, the hurried withdrawing of a bolt, and the door opened.

“The occupant was a short, thick-set man, with a pale, careworn face, whose prevailing expression was one of gentle good humor and patient suffering. When we entered, he asked us hastily why we had not ‘sung out’ before.

“‘But we KNOCKED!’ I said, impatiently, ‘and almost drove your door in.’

“‘That’s nothing,’ he said, patiently. ‘I’m used to THAT.’

“I looked again at the man’s patient, fateful face, and then around the cabin. In an instant the whole situation flashed before me. ‘Are we not near Cave City?’ I asked.

“‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘it’s just below. You must have passed it in the storm.’

“‘I see.’ I again looked around the cabin. ‘Isn’t this what they call the haunted house?’

“He looked at me curiously. ‘It is,’ he said, simply.

“You can imagine my delight! Here was an opportunity to test the whole story, to work down to the bed rock, and see how it would pan out! We were too many and too well armed to fear tricks or dangers from outsiders. If–as one theory had been held–the disturbance was kept up by a band of concealed marauders or road agents, whose purpose was to preserve their haunts from intrusion, we were quite able to pay them back in kind for any assault. I need not say that the boys were delighted with this prospect when the fact was revealed to them. The only one doubtful or apathetic spirit there was our host, who quietly resumed his seat and his book, with his old expression of patient martyrdom. It would have been easy for me to have drawn him out, but I felt that I did not want to corroborate anybody else’s experience; only to record my own. And I thought it better to keep the boys from any predisposing terrors.