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4 Strange Tales from the Ridge
Three shots sounded from the east side of the camp. Almost on top of them three shots sounded from a point close by.

With the first shots the three friends stirred and woke up, listening while half asleep. But with the second three shots they rose up in their beds, wide awake.

Close at hand the sound of rapidly turning wheels reached their ears, accompanied by the beat of horses’ hoofs. Something metallic bumped and banged. A voice called out: “Corporal of the guard! Post Number Three!”
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The boys jumped from their cots with one accord, reaching for their clothes.

“Something wrong with the sentries,” cried Don.

“Who is at Number Three post?” asked Jim.

“Anderson,” answered Terry, fumbling with his shoes.

The camp was in motion. Lights flashed at various points and voices sounded. Past the tent went running feet. But the bugle did not sound, so they knew that it was not a fire or any similar emergency.

“I’m ready. How about you two?” Don called.

“Right with you,” was the response and the three soldiers burst out of the tent.

A central fire was burning and at this point the colonel was standing, half-clad and with mussed-up hair, his eyes heavy with sleep. The other cadets were clustering around him there, and the sentries were straggling in to that center. Just as the three boys reached the spot the sentries from Number Three and Number Four posts came up and saluted.

Number Three post was at a point up the Ridge and Number Four was right at the edge of camp. The shots from Number Four had followed so closely to those from Number Three that they knew the same thing had caused both signals.
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“Sentries to report, sir,” announced the corporal of the guard, saluting.

The colonel saluted and faced the sentries. “Make your report, gentlemen,” he ordered.

Anderson, from Number Three post spoke up. “While patrolling my post I heard a wagon coming along that dirt road just above the camp on the Ridge. It appeared to be coming at a great rate of speed and just as it reached a point above my post it left the road and cut right down through the bushes toward me. It had a man and a boy in it and I challenged them, but without slacking speed a single bit the wagon tore right past me toward the camp. I then fired the shots to warn the camp and the next sentry.”

“Very good,” nodded the colonel. “Mr. Simms?”

“I heard the shots, though I had heard the thrashing of the wagon previously,” spoke up the second sentry. “I turned to find the wagon bearing down on me, swinging from side to side, and with a man and boy hanging onto the seat. It cut straight across the lower end of the camp grounds, down the slope and across the drill grounds. I fired to bear out Mr. Anderson.”
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“Very good, gentlemen,” said the colonel, with a puzzled frown on his forehead. In the momentary silence that followed they could hear the mysterious wagon bumping and banging across the country, apparently at top speed.

Now that the official reports had been given the talk became general. The incident was extremely puzzling. Both sentries remarked that the man and boy had been huddled together much as though pretty badly frightened, and the sight of the cadets with guns had not seemed to reassure them any. Neither sentry had been able to see what had been in the wagon because it had passed them in too great a hurry, but from the sound they judged the rattling was caused by pots and pans. A single horse had pulled the cart.

“Strangest thing I ever heard of,” murmured the new senior captain, Henry Jordan.

“I can’t figure out why the party in the wagon left the dirt road,” said the colonel to Major Rhodes, the drill instructor. “That road runs parallel with the Ridge and works gradually down to the level of the countryside. For some reason or other that pair in the wagon wanted to get off the Ridge and out on the open meadow.”

“It is possible that they were fleeing from some crime,” suggested Rhodes.
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“True enough,” assented the colonel. “And when they saw the cadets the vision didn’t reassure them any. Well, it goes beyond my understanding.” He turned once more to the attentive soldiers. “Corporal of the guard, restation the sentries. Everyone back to his bed.”

The sentries were reposted and the other cadets straggled back to their cots. Once in their tent Jim looked at his watch.

“A quarter past three,” he announced. “Quite an uncanny hour out here in the country. I’ll bet there is something behind that wild wagon flight.”

“Funny they should cut right across the camp,” remarked Don.

“I agree with Rhodes that those fellows were probably fleeing from something like a crime,” advanced Terry.

“That may be the explanation,” agreed Don. “I can’t think of any other reason for such a wild flight. Well, me for some more sleep.”

The rest of that night was quiet and in the morning the cadets discussed the event further. The details of the day then took up all of their attention and the night adventure was pushed from their minds.

Late in the afternoon Don and Terry hastened into the tent to get their baseball gloves. Jim was in the tent at the time.

“Going to play some ball?” Terry hailed.
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Jim shook his head. “I’m out of luck today,” he announced. “Six of us have to go to a near-by farmhouse and buy some eggs and butter. The colonel told me to try and strike a bargain with a farmer for eggs, butter, milk and meat.”

“Don’t forget to wait for your change after you pay the farmer!” advised Terry.

“Go chase yourself!” flung back Jim. “I guess I know enough for that.”

While the other two went off to play ball Jim rounded up his five companions and they set off on horseback for the farmhouses that lay scattered over the Ridge. Two of the farms they passed did not look very promising but at last they came to a neat-looking one which had a large sign on the front fence. This sign announced that chickens, eggs and butter were on sale and into this yard the six cavalrymen turned their horses. An uproar of barking dogs announced their presence and a farmer appeared, scanning their uniforms with great interest. To him Jim explained their errand.

The farmer was more than pleased and hastened to bring out several dozen fresh eggs and a dozen pounds of butter. In the meantime some children and two farmhands had gathered about the soldiers, staring at them curiously. When the supplies had been paid for Jim asked the farmer to come to camp and confer with the colonel concerning future food supplies. The farmer was delighted beyond words.
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“You bet your boots I’ll come down,” he cried. “Business is mighty poor, and this is a big boost to me. My name’s Carson.”

A little boy named Jimmie was particularly interested in the cadets, and they took an instant liking to him. He was a bright and sturdy little boy, and some of the cadets invited him to visit the camp, an invitation which he willingly accepted.

Just before they rode off the farmer spoke to Jim. “Ain’t see nothing of the ghost, have you?” he asked.

Jim shook his head. “No. Have you one?”

The farmer nodded solemnly. “Haven’t you heard about the ghost of Rustling Ridge?” he asked.

“No, we haven’t,” laughed Lieutenant Thompson.

“There is a sure-enough ghost that prowls this Ridge,” said the farmer, gravely. “Every once in a while it walks and scares people half to death. More than one family’s up and moved away just on account of him.”

“So far we haven’t been lucky enough to see him,” returned Jim, distributing the packages. “If we do, we’ll try and take him apart and look at him.”
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The farmer shook his head. “Very bad business, that ghost. Look out he doesn’t turn up in your camp some night.”

With more jests about the ghost the cadets swung out of the yard and headed back toward camp, carrying their packages carefully.

“So there is a ghost on the Ridge, is there?” Thompson said to Jim.

“I’m not greatly surprised,” Jim said. “Most of these country places have room for at least one good ghost. They wouldn’t be quite happy if they didn’t.”

The colonel was pleased at their success and planned to buy more things from the farmer in the future. The provisions, with the exception of the canned goods which they had brought with them from school, had been all used up, for the invigorating outdoor life gave all the cadets ravenous appetites.

The cadets had been asleep perhaps two hours that night when a medley of shots rang out from post Number One, deep in the woods. As on the previous night the three boys hopped out of bed immediately.

“Golly, this is getting to be an epidemic,” snorted Terry.

“But this must be something different,” remarked Don. “I don’t hear any wagon crashing through the bushes.”
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“There aren’t any more shots, either,” mentioned Jim.

Once outside the corporal of the guard brought in Douglas from the post. The colonel asked for a report.

“While standing at my post I saw a white shape pass me about ten yards away!” was Harry’s startling statement. “I challenged it, but it just glided on past me. At my shots it flashed into the trees and was gone. I was unable to find any trace of it.”

“A shape, Mr. Douglas?” frowned the colonel. “What sort of a shape?”

“Well, it looked like someone in a sheet,” explained Douglas. “I couldn’t see any head on the object, and it seemed to glide along the ground!”

“Hmm, our ghost of the Ridge!” said Jim to Thompson.

“What was that, Mr. Mercer?” the colonel cried, alertly.

Jim explained the story which the farmer had told to them that afternoon. “We didn’t say anything about it, because we put it down for a lot of nonsense,” he wound up.

“I see,” replied the colonel. “Captains and lieutenants go to post Number One and look around.”

The others waited a long half-hour until the officers came back. There was no news.
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“We found no traces of anything,” Senior Captain Jordan reported.

Puzzled over the events of the past two nights the colonel ordered the boys back to bed. It was a long time before a good many of them fell asleep. In their own tent the three pals talked quietly of the situation, but could not puzzle it out.

“If this business doesn’t stop pretty soon,” Terry concluded the talk, “we won’t get enough sleep on this camping trip!”


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