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Produced by Jim Ludwig

Robert Shaler


I. The Haunted Make-Believe "Castle"
II. Creating a Panic
III. Taking Possession
IV. Scouting at Midnight
V. A Startling Surprise
VI. Guests at the Camp Fire
VII. Faced by a Mystery
VIII. As in the Days of Chivalry
IX. With the Motion-Picture People
X. The Assault on the "Castle"
XI. Imitation and Reality
XII. When Swords Clashed
XIII. Well Done, Scouts!
XIV. Oakvale Gets a Thrill



It was about the middle of a fall afternoon, and Friday at that, when
five well-grown lads, clad in faded khaki suits that proclaimed them
to be Boy Scouts, dropped down upon a moss covered log near a cold
spring at which they had just quenched their thirst.

The one who acted as leader, and to whom the others often deferred,
answered to the name of Hugh. He was, indeed, Hugh Hardin, assistant
scout master; and the others were also full-fledged members of the
Oakvale Boy Scout Troop of which so much has been written and told.

Those fortunate readers who are familiar with previous volumes in
this series need no introduction to these lively lads.

For the benefit of others who have not up to this time made their
acquaintance, it may be said that the boy next to Hugh was Alec Sands;
the stout, rosy-cheeked fellow with the beaming face, Billy Worth;
the slender one, Arthur Cameron; and the uneasy chap "Monkey" Stallings,
so nicknamed on account of his pet hobby for hanging by his toes from
the cross-pieces of telegraph poles, or the lofty limbs of forest trees.

It might also be noted further that Hugh was known as a fine all-round
scout; Arthur's leading specialty lay in the line of amateur surgery,
at which he was wonderfully proficient; Alec gave the leader a pretty
good race in nearly every line of scout activity, while Billy, - -well,
to be frank, Billy's strong points might be set down as an everlasting
fund of cheery good-nature, and a remarkable capacity for stowing away

Apparently the boys were out on some sort of fall hike. Each had
burdened himself not only with a pack but a blanket as well, the latter
secured, after the usual military habit, across one shoulder.

Each fellow also depended on a stout staff that, in a way, answered
for an Alpine stock, should they have to climb any hills. Besides, it
was handy as a weapon of defense in case they were attacked by a
vicious dog.

"Well, the time limit you set has come, Alec," Hugh was saying after
they had stretched themselves along the convenient log.

"Yes," burst out Billy, eagerly, "you promised to tell us all what
you confided to Hugh before he agreed to get up this little weekend
hike. I'm burning with curiosity to know what's in the wind."

"We've taken a leap in the dark, you see," added Arthur, "because
when Hugh said it would be well worth our while we just trusted him.
Now, open up, Alec, and relieve our suspense. You said the next time
we stopped you'd begin to explain all this dark mystery."

"Me, too," exclaimed the Stallings boy, who was always turning his
restless eyes upward, as though seeking some enticing branch where he
could exercise his favorite antics.

Alec Sands laughed softly.

"I'm ready to tell my little story, boys," he remarked. "It isn't such
a wonderful one, after all, but Hugh agreed with me that it might give
some of us an excuse for coming up this way. And my aunt had supplied
all the necessary funds covering our railroad fare from Oakvale to the
little station where we jumped off the local train - -Scarsdale."

"Which aunt, Alec?" demanded Billy, whom it was always difficult to

"Oh! none of you ever met _this_ relative of mine, I guess," considered
Alec. "Aunt Susan is a very rich woman, and what you might call
eccentric if you wanted to be particularly nice, and not use a harsher
word. In fact, her nerves have gone back on her, and every little
noise about sets her _wild_. She has taken a notion that the only
salvation for her is to find some sort of a quiet country home in
which her servants can glide around in felt slippers, with never a
rooster's crow to disturb the dead silence."

"Whew! you must mean she's a regular crank, Alec - -excuse me for
saying it!" exclaimed Billy, wiping his heated brow, for when others
were shivering the fat boy perspired.

"Well, forget that part of it," resumed Alec, making a wry face. "Aunt
Susan is peculiar, and immensely wealthy, so that money needn't stand
in the way of her doing anything she fancies. In some way or other it
seems she heard about a queer place away up here in the woods. It is
known as Randall's Folly!"

"Why, seems to me I've heard something about that place!" burst out
Arthur Cameron, in a surprised tone. "Isn't it a modern castle built
by a man years ago and meant to look like some British place in the
days of Queen Elizabeth?"

"Just what it is, Arthur," chuckled Alec, as though highly amused.

"Let's see," pursued the other, uneasily, "there was some sort of
story told in connection with the castle - -strikes me folks said it
was haunted, or something like that."

"Whew! and are we heading for that beautiful spot as fast as we can
hike along?" demanded Billy, his eyes round with wonder, perhaps

"My aunt wrote to my mother that she wanted some one to come up here
and investigate, so she could have a full description before going
any further into the deal for the property. Not that Aunt Susan bothered
a bit about the ghost part of it, but she wanted to know whether the
building was a ramshackle affair, or part-way decent. In fact, she
asked for photographs of the place inside and out, and even requested
that, if I could be induced to take the trip, along with some of those
wonderfully bright chums of mine of whom she had been hearing such
great stories, I was to buy the best camera that fifty dollars could
command, and use the balance of the hundred for other expenses. So
here we are close to Randall's Folly, with Saturday ahead of us for
business, and meaning to go back home Sunday afternoon."

"Which lovely programme must include two nights spent under the roof
of a haunted house!" gasped Billy, still wiping his streaming forehead,
though he really should have been cooled off by this time.

"For my part," spoke up Arthur Cameron, "nothing would please me better
than the chance to say I'd run across a real ghost. I've been reading
lots of creepy stories connected with spooks, but they never could get
me to believe in such silly things."

"Same here," added the Stallings boy, though his voice sounded a trifle
unsteady as Hugh could not help noticing.

"As for me," the scout master remarked, "I considered it a fine chance
for a little excitement. I, too, had heard some stories about this
gloomy make-believe castle that had been built in the lonely woods
by old Judge Randall when he married a young wife, and wanted to carry
her away from the rest of the world. They say it's getting to be an
interesting ruin by now, though perhaps Alec's aunt might choose to
patch the crumbling walls up, if other things suited her."

"Huh! takes all sorts of freaks to make this world," grunted Billy.
"The idea of anybody actually wanting to bury themselves away up
here, and never see a thing in the way of circus, baseball, winter
hockey, Boy Scout rivalries and other good happenings. The old Judge
must have been crazy."

"Well, lots of people suspected it when he started to build this
castle," said Alec, drily. "They felt dead sure after it happened;
for hold your breath now, fellows, because to be honest with you there
was a terrible tragedy, and after the poor young wife was buried the
judge lived as much as ten years in an asylum. He had become a maniac,
you see, from jealousy of his beautiful wife."

"I suppose it's all right, since there are four other fellows along,"
Billy finally went on to say, "but honest Injun, if I had known all
this at the start, I don't believe I would have been so anxious to
come. I expect that old toothache of mine would have cropped up and
kept me home."

"The walking is good down to the station, Billy," murmured Alec, "and
we were told that a freight-train would come along around dark this
evening, bound south, which was due to stop at the water-tank"

"That'll be enough for you, Alec," continued the fat boy, with a certain
amount of dignity. "You never knew me to show the white feather, and
back down, once I put my shoulder to the wheel. If the rest can stand
it I ought to be able to do so."

"Good for you, Billy," cried Hugh. "Alec here ought to make you an
apology. But since we've rested up, and there's still half a mile
to tramp, with the afternoon wearing on, suppose we make a fresh start."

Soon they were trailing along the dimly seen road, which evidently
was not used to any great extent by the few scattered farmers in that
vicinity. Most of the talk was in connection with the weird mansion
toward which they were heading. Alec was coaxed to relate a number
of other facts he had managed to pick up regarding its romantic history.

"Look out for signs of a high wall on the left, boys," he finally
told them. "It may be almost hidden by vines and scrub trees by now,
I was warned. It surrounds the whole place, though here and there
it may be broken down. Few people after dark want to pass this place
except in a hurry, and although it's only a mile and a half from the
railroad, I don't believe tramps ever think of coming here. You see,
most of them know the stories told about Randall's Folly, and they
steer clear of the place."

A short time afterwards Hugh's keen eyes made a discovery.

"I think the wall you mentioned lies over yonder where all that wild
tangle can be seen," he remarked, whereupon there was a hurried movement
in that direction, followed by various exclamations to the effect that
the scout master's announcement was indeed true.

"Seems as if the castle must be perched on a high piece of ground,
commanding a pretty good view of the country around," observed Arthur,
as they sought for a broken place in the crumbling wall so as to gain
an entrance to the grounds beyond.

"The story goes that Judge Randall built it that way so he could keep
watch, and know if any of his wife's former suitors were heading this
way," Alec explained.

"Why, he must have been a regular old Bluebeard!" gurgled Billy.

"He was demented on that one subject," confessed Alec, "and the disease
kept getting a stronger grip on him until finally - -but hello! here's
the hole in the wall we wanted to find, so let's crawl over the
broken-down stones and enter."

"Hold on," snapped Hugh just then, "I thought you said, Alec, no one
was bold enough to trespass here! If you look down to where I point
you'll see part of a footprint in mud, showing that a man must have
come across this broken wall not half an hour or so ago!"



When Hugh gave utterance to this really startling announcement, he
naturally lowered, his voice. The others came crowding up, and stared
at the tell-tale mark. As their scout education had long since passed
far beyond the novice range they had no difficulty in seeing that Hugh
had stated the truth.

"A whopping big foot made that mark," whispered Billy.

"And see there," added Alec, hastily, also in a low tone, "here's
a second one not so big. Two fellows crossed this hole in the wall,
and only a short time ago, because the mud is as fresh as it can be."

That caused the scouts to exchange significant looks.

"Anyhow," Billy was heard to whisper to himself, "whoever made those
footprints was a live human being, and no spook, that's sure."

The thought evidently did much to relieve his mind, Hugh realized. Alec
meanwhile was shaking his head as though not only puzzled but annoyed.

"What do you make of it, Hugh?" he asked, like most of the fellows
turning to the scout master when there was a difficult problem to be

"Oh! there might be several explanations," replied the other with a
reassuring smile. "First of all, these fellows may be a couple of
curious countrymen wanting to take a look around while the sun is
still up, being afraid to come here after night sets in."

"Yes, go on, Hugh; what next?"

"Then it might be they are men who have heard about the deserted castle,
and wonder if they could pick up anything worth carrying off if they
forced an entrance. But there's still another answer to your question,

"I can guess what you mean, Hugh. My aunt, it may be, isn't the only
person with money to burn who's taken a notion to buy Randall's Folly.
Is that what you've got on the tip of your tongue, Hugh?"

"Just what I meant to say," he was told. "But no matter, if we find
there's a rival in the field, perhaps we might scare him off in some
way. That wouldn't be such a hard thing to do, when you've got a
haunted house to work with."

"Oh! with my trick of throwing my voice, Hugh," spoke up Monkey
Stallings, "I bet you I could play the ghost racket to beat the band.
Just give me a try-out and see what I can do, Hugh."

"Well, first of all," remarked the scout master, "we had better climb
over the break in the wall here, and find the trail of these two unknown
men. After all it may turn out they are simple country jakes wanting
to take a peep at the mansion they've heard so many queer stories

Accordingly the five scouts hastened to clamber across the gap, a feat
requiring little dexterity; though clumsy Billy had to catch his toe
among the stones, and come near pitching headlong down, were it not
for Hugh quickly throwing out his ready arm.

It required little effort to find the tracks beyond the mass of fallen
stones; a mere tyro of a scout could have succeeded in following such
a plain trail, and at that hardly half test his ability along that line.

Bending partly over, the boys kept diligently at work pursuing the
zigzag line of footprints. Evidently the men had picked out the easiest
way to advance. They must have either known where they were going, or
else followed a former path that was not overgrown, and partly
concealed with rank vegetation.

"Look! there's a glimpse of the castle!" whispered Alec, suddenly.

Through the openings in the copse beyond they could see the gray walls
rising up ahead. It was an impressive spectacle. The westering sun
shone on the tower that had been made to look like some old-time type
English masonry, famous in history, with its portcullis, drawbridge,
and surrounding watery ditch known as a "moat."

After silently inspecting the side of the old building thus presented
to their gaze for a minute or so, the boys began to show their former

"The trail keeps right on, Hugh!" whispered Alec, which was as much as
saying that he could see no reason for further delay.

"Listen!" cautioned Arthur.

"Oh! what did you think you heard?" asked Billy, with a gasp.

"It must have been voices somewhere ahead of us," came the answer. "The
men are talking it over, most likely."

"Debating whether they've got the nerve to go a step further and enter
the haunted castle," chuckled Alec. "Let's move on, and get a squint
at the bold trespassers, Hugh."

Accordingly once more the whole party started to move ahead, foot by
foot. All the woodcraft they had managed to pick up in previous
exploits was brought into play as they crept along softly.

"Stop!" Hugh gave the low order, finally.

"I see them, Hugh," announced Alec, eagerly.

"Show me where," begged Billy, pushing himself forward.

A few seconds later Arthur was heard to say disdainfully:

"Why, it looks to me as if they might be only a pair of Weary Willies,
who had wandered up here from tramping the railroad ties. They must
have heard about a fine house lying idle here, and have come to camp
out for a spell. You can see they've got a chicken dangling by the
neck, and some old tomato cans they mean to make coffee in. Whew!
but they are a tough looking pair, I tell you."

Alec looked, and sniffed disdainfully.

"Here's where we're up against it good and hard, fellows," he remarked,
softly. "The question is, do we want to stand for that couple of
greasy hoboes keeping us company while we camp out here in the deserted
castle? Everybody say his mind, and majority rules, you know."

"Excuse me, if you please," muttered Arthur, with a shudder. "I'd
sooner sleep in a pigpen than alongside such human animals as those
unclean hoboes."

"Why," remarked Billy, aghast at the thought, "they might rob us of
our blankets; or worse, of our precious grub, which would be what I'd
call a calamity without equal."

"We've just got to bounce them, that's plain," said Monkey Stallings.
"Hugh, you remember what you the same as promised me?"

"Oh! if you think you can start something that will rid us of the
pair," the scout master told him, "go to it right away. If you want
us to help, say the word, Monkey."

Already the other was feverishly attacking his pack, which he had
tossed upon the ground. He soon found what he was looking for, to
judge from the satisfied exclamation that passed his lips.

"Tell us what you've got there, Monkey," urged Alec.

"Yes, that's do," added Billy, anxiously, "because we want to be on
our guard. If it throws a scare into those tramps it might work just
as bad with some other fellows I know, unless they were warned
beforehand. Show your hand, Monkey, please."

"Oh! shucks! it's only a sort of wild-goose call I tried to make
from directions I read in a little book," confessed the ingenious
one. "It don't seem to imitate a wild honker much, but say, I c'n
make the most _unearthly_ sounds come out of this hollow bone you
ever listened to. Why, it nigh about freezes my own blood when I
try the call in the pitch dark. Now watch and see what happens."

"Be careful, Monkey," warned Hugh, as the other prepared to creep
away. "Don't let them glimpse you at any time, or there may be serious
trouble. They look like an ugly couple of customers. I suppose you
mean to try and get around on the other side of them?"

"Sure thing," replied the originator of the scheme, "and if I were
you, Hugh, I'd make out to hide your bunch, because, believe me, that
pair will come whooping along this way like mad pretty soon."

"Which is what we'll do right away, Monkey, never fear," Hugh told

Accordingly the four scouts disposed themselves in such fashion that
while they would be hidden from view they could at the same time watch
whatever took place, and enjoy the fun, if, by good luck, the scheme
arranged for the entertainment of the bold hoboes, turned out successful.

The two ragged wanderers were sitting on the stones bordering the
ditch or "moat" that surrounded the make-believe ancient castle.
They evidently debated as to the advisability of forcing an entrance
to the wonderful mansion, and taking up temporary or permanent quarters
there. Perhaps the idea of spending the coming winter under so
magnificent a roof, with frequent excursions around the countryside
in search of necessary supplies, engrossed their attention.

Some little time passed away. The four boys began to show signs of
impatience, believing that Monkey Stallings must surely by now have
gained the place he had in mind when he left them.

"There, I saw him wave his hand to us from that slit in the stone wall
of the tower!" hissed Alec, presently. "He's managed to find a way to
get inside after all, and now the fun's going to begin."

"It's time, too," added Arthur, "because the hoboes have made up their
minds to try and break into the house. See, that big chump has picked
up a heavy rock, and he acts as if he meant to hurl the same against
those stout oaken doors."

Indeed, that was just what happened. The collision, however, only
resulted in a loud bang, for it would take many hundreds of like blows
to do those stout doors any serious damage. The smaller tramp shook
his head dubiously.

"Now they are talking it over again," whispered Alec. "The short one
is pointing as if he believes they can find a much easier way to get
inside than trying to smash the door down. Hey! Monkey, better get
busy or you'll find the pair treading close on your heels."

Hardly had Alec spoken that last low word than a thrilling sound came
floating to the ears of the four listening scouts. None of them could
ever describe what it was like; indeed, it seemed to possess a character
all its own, and somehow caused the "goose-flesh" to creep over their
bodies, even though they knew the origin of the uncanny cry.

The two tramps had jumped back at the first outburst. They seemed to
be staring wildly toward the "donjon tower," as Alec persisted in
calling the round structure at one end of the imitation castle.
Louder and louder grew the racket. Billy laid a trembling hand on
Hugh's arm as though seeking comfort from personal contact with the
scout master.

Presently the pair of hoboes appeared to have reached the limit of
their endurance. One snatched the dead fowl that had possibly been
stolen from some farmyard on their way up from the railroad; while
the other hastily gathered the rest of their primitive possessions
in his trembling hands.

Then, as another fearful burst of strange cries broke forth from the
haunted castle, the two men started wildly on the run. Faster and
faster grew their pace as Monkey blew more furiously on his home-made
"goose-call" with telling effect. As they passed the spot where Hugh
and the other three scouts were lying in concealment, the alarmed
pair could be heard giving vent to excited remarks, and some strong
language as well, though neither of them seemed to possess the nerve
to turn his head and look back so as to find out if they were being

So they went out of sight along the crooked trail they had made in
approaching the deserted mansion; though for several minutes afterwards
the sound of frequent collisions with trees, and stumbles over hidden
vines proclaimed that their panic showed no signs of abating.



"Don't all laugh at once," cautioned the scout master, knowing that an
outburst was imminent.

Understanding what was meant, the boys threw themselves down upon the
ground and gave way to merriment that was none the less overpowering
because it had to be indulged in "with the soft pedal on," as Arthur
artfully expressed it.

While they, were still enjoying themselves in this fashion, Monkey
Stallings joined them. He had a huge grin on his rather odd-looking,
face, showing that he felt fully satisfied with his recent fine work.

"Say, did I do the thing up in good style, boys?" he demanded.

"I should say you did, Monkey!" burst out Billy. "Makes me think of
one of Aesop's fables I used to read ever so long ago, about the lion
and the donkey out hunting together."

"Suppose you tell us about it then," suggested Arthur, a little wickedly,
for he had, in truth, a pretty fair idea concerning its nature.

"Why," proceeded Billy, hastily, "it seems they discovered a flock of
goats in a cave, and the donkey suggested that he disguise himself
with an old lion skin they found, and go in to scare the goats out,
when the lion standing by the exit could kill the game. When he had
hee-hawed and kicked up such a rumpus that the poor goats dashed out,
to meet their fate at the exit, the donkey finally came along and
proudly asked the lion what he thought of his antics. 'Splendid,'
said the lion, or something like that, and I guess you'd have frightened
me, too, if I hadn't known you were only a donkey!"

Monkey Stallings hardly knew whether that, was intended for a compliment
or not, but he laughed because the others did.

"All the same I had the longest pole that knocked down the persimmons,"
he asserted. "I gave that bunch the biggest scare of their lives.
The way is clear for us now, and, thank goodness, we won't have to
sleep under the same roof with that greasy pair of rascals, and, after
all; that was the end in view."

"Monkey," said Arthur, "you've put us all under heavy obligations by
what you did, and for one I'm not going to forget it, or twit you about
the funny noises you manage to coax out of that bone goose-call you
made. The end justifies the means, is what I say every time. Now,
what's next on the programme, Hugh?"

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Online LibraryRobert ShalerThe Boy Scouts with the Motion Picture Players → online text (page 1 of 7)