THE FUN BEGINS
At about half past seven o'clock that night the boys who had been invited to the party began to arrive at the Brown's home where they were met at the door by a figure in white. It had queer rabbit ears, made from tying up the corners of a pillow slip that had been placed over its head. The eyes were holes cut in the slip.
The large hall was lighted by many candles set in hollowed-out pumpkins which had queer grinning faces cut in them.
"Wow, but this is spooky," giggled Fat, at which the other boys laughed.
Now the figure in white, which was really Toad, asked the boys to follow him as he led them to Father Brown's study. Here they were met by Chuck, also in white.
"Good evening, Mr. Ghost," greeted Reddy, bowing low.
"How do," nodded the ghost and Chuck could scarcely keep from laughing as he added in a deep voice, "Put on these slips and hurry up," pointing to a pile of them on the floor.
"Oh, I know who you are," laughed Fat, "but I won't tell," and he hastened to scramble into a pillow slip, which he twisted around his head until he got the slits for the eyes in the right place.
"My ears are longer than yours are," boasted Herbie, as he danced about.
"All the better to hear you, my dear," laughed Linn Smith.
As all were now ready, Chuck led the queer looking party of long-eared figures into the library where they were met by Father and Mother Brown dressed in black gowns with tall witches' caps on their heads. There was a large black pot hanging in the fireplace and Mother Brown began to stir something in it with a long iron spoon.
Fat walked directly over to the fireplace and peeped into the pot.
"If ghosts had noses," he sniffed, "I'd say that smelt awfully good."
Father Brown now went about, pinning a number on each boy's back.
"What's that for?" asked Hopie.
"Well, you all look so much alike," laughed Mr. Brown, "that I can't tell you apart. And," after a pause, "there's going to be a prize for this game."
"That's great," shouted Herbie, "hope I get it."
Chuck now left the room, returning a moment later with a huge pumpkin which he placed on a chair in the corner.
"Who's number one?" he asked, at the same time lifting high into the air the stem of the pumpkin, which had been cut off close to its base.
"Keep perfectly still," whispered Chuck as Hopie came toward them.
"I am," announced Hopie Smith from his place before the fire where he had been helping Mother Brown stir the contents of the great black pot.
"Well, hurry and come over here, if you're first," called Toad, "and I'll turn your slip around so you can't see."
"Here's the stem," said Chuck, placing it in Hopie's outstretched hand.
Father Brown now took Hopie by the shoulders and slowly turned him around again and again.
"I believe you've had enough turns to wonder where you are," he said, adding, "now see if you can place the stem on the pumpkin."
Hopie started off, both hands held out before him.
"You musn't feel anything with your hands," called Herbie, "it isn't fair."
"All right," was the answer as he walked straight for the corner where Fat was sitting, watching the fun.
"Keep perfectly still," whispered Chuck in Fat's ear, as Hopie drew near, then as he paused before Fat and placed the stem upon his head the boys broke into shouts of laughter.
"Oh, you pumpkin head," gasped Reddy.
Hopie pulled off his pillow slip and stared in wonder about him, then he too laughed.
"I was so sure I had it on the pumpkin!" he exclaimed.
"Better be careful, Fat," warned Toad, "If mother takes you for a pumpkin she'll put you in a pie."
Numbers two, three and four hadn't much better luck for Herbie stuck the stem on the center table, Chuck on a book stand and Reddy tried very hard to put it into the pot but Mother Brown held out her hand just in time to save it from falling in.
Linn's turn came next.
"Watch me," he said. "I'm going to do it."
"Bet you don't," challenged Reddy.
Then Father Brown gave him a few quick turns and away he started. After taking two or three steps forward he paused, then, stretching out his hands he walked slowly toward the fireplace. When he had reached it he turned about and faced the room.
"Now, I know where I am," he thought, "I'll walk right over to the corner by the door."
"Look," whispered Chuck to Herbie, "he knows where he's going, all right."
Each boy held his breath as Linn drew closer and closer to the chair which held the pumpkin. Then as his knees struck against the edge of it he stopped and placed the stem on the top of the pumpkin.
"Good for you, Linn," cried Toad. "I didn't think you could do it."
"Oh, it was easy," boasted Linn. "The heat of the fire told me where the fireplace was, then when I turned and faced the other way I knew I only had to walk to the left to reach this corner."
"Here's the prize," announced Chuck, stepping up to Linn and handing him a box.
"Hurry up and open it," cried Hopie, "we want to see what's in it." And as the lid came off the box, Linn exclaimed:
"A baseball, just what I've been wanting," and he tossed it up into the air.
"That's as lively as a cricket," commented Herbie, as he caught the ball and bounced it on the floor.