Ghost Stories

Read-aloud ghost stories are a great way to introduce kids to spooky fun. See more Halloween pictures.

Everyone knows that ghosts can be scary. But have you heard the story about the ghost who was tricked by children, or the ghost who haunted a man’s house just because he was looking for a place where he could sit down?

This collection of children’s ghost stories is the perfect way to introduce young readers to the fun of being scared silly. Kids can enter the mysterious world of spirits and summonings through the eyes of young characters, and meet ghosts that are more often friendly than frightening. And, at one story per page, these tales are short enough to read before bed.


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In this article, you’ll find classic ghost stories from famous authors -- Washington Irving’s headless horseman, Mark Twain's Cardiff Giant -- as well as more contemporary tales, all especially adapted for reading aloud to children. Here's a preview:

The Canterville Ghost: Check out this adaptation of the classic Oscar Wilde story. A new family moves into a haunted house and gives the resident ghost a run for his money.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: Read this children's version of the Washington Irving tale, where Ichabod Crane, a timid schoolteacher, comes face to face with the legendary ghost of the town.

White Dog: Find out what happens to Joey's pet, a white dog named Ghost.

A Day at Versailles: Read about two friends who relive the days of Marie Antoinette.

Sweet Mary: Read about the sweetest -- and most mysterious -- girl in Homesville.

A Ghost Story: Check out this adaptation of Mark Twain's story of the Cardiff Giant.

Haunted Cemeteries: Learn about ghost sightings in graveyards across the country.

The Open Window: Read about Vera, a talkative little girl welcoming a visitor to her aunt's house.

Flying Dutchman: Learn about the mysteries of ships that have been lost at sea.

How He Left the Hotel: Check out this post-Civil War ghost story, set in an elegant New York hotel.

The Lighthouse: Read about Jack, a writer whose favorite painting of a lighthouse comes to life.

Houdini's Great Escape: Learn about the great escape magician's final message to his wife.

Ghost Cave: Read about Tate, a strange boy who possesses the strength of three men.

The Wreckers' Daughter: Check out this story of a shipwreck's sole survivor.

The Inn at the End of the Lane: Find out what happens when Erica and her mother go on a vacation to the seashore and run into a storm.

The Little Room: Read about two grown sisters who set off to their aunts' house, determined to solve a mystery from their childhood.

Ghost Hunters: Learn about the experts who detect spirits, using special equipment and their knowledge of life beyond the grave.

Go to the next page for the first story, Oscar Wilde's "Canterville Ghost," a clever take on the familiar tale of the haunted house.

Want more Halloween stories? Try these:
  • Halloween Stories: Rediscover your favorite spooky stories and share them with friends.
  • Scary Stories: Browse this collection of scary stories for children, featuring such favorite characters as Dracula, Dr. Jeckyll, and Frankenstein's monster.


The Canterville Ghost

Mr. Otis asks the Canterville Ghost to oil his chains.

Mr. Hiram Otis was moving his family to Canterville Chase in England. It was a grand old house and everyone said it was haunted. But Mr. Otis did not agree. "There are no such things as ghosts," he told Lord Canterville.

Lord Canterville described all of the ghostly sightings. But Mr. Otis refused to believe. A few weeks later, he was joined by Mrs. Otis and their four children.


Mrs. Umney, the housekeeper, was standing on the steps when they arrived. She led them into the library to have tea. Mrs. Otis noticed a dull red stain on the floor. "I'm afraid something has been spilled here," she said to Mrs. Umney.

"Yes," replied the old housekeeper, "that is blood."

"Well, I do not care for blood in the library," said Mrs. Otis. "Please remove it at once."

The old woman smiled. "That is the blood of Lady Eleanor. The bloodstain cannot be removed. And her husband, Sir Simon, still haunts this house."

"That is nonsense!" cried Washington, the oldest Otis son. "Pinkerton's Champion Stain Remover will clean it up in no time."

He scrubbed the spot and the stain was gone.

Just then, a flash of lightning lit up the room. Mrs. Umney fainted. Mr. Otis came into the room and found Mrs. Umney on the floor. He splashed cold water on her face.

"Mr. Otis," Mrs. Umney said, "beware of the ghost that haunts this house."

"Thankfully, we are not afraid of ghosts," said Mr. Otis.

The next morning, Mr. Otis and Washington found the bloodstain in the library again.

"I don't think it is the Champion Stain Remover that is to blame," said Washington. "It must be the ghost." Each morning, they found a fresh stain on the floor. Mr. Otis was beginning to think the ghost existed after all.

One night, Mr. Otis was awakened by a curious noise outside his room. It sounded like the clank of metal. Right in front of him was a ghostly old man.

"Dear sir," said Mr. Otis, holding up a bottle. "Kindly oil your chains with this Rising Sun Lubricator. I must get some sleep."

The Canterville Ghost threw down the bottle and disappeared through the wall. He went to his secret chamber. He was greatly insulted. He thought of all the people he had frightened in the last three centuries. "They never treated me like this," he said. All night he thought about his revenge.

The next night, the ghost appeared again. The family had just gone to bed.

Suddenly, they heard a fearful crash in the hall. Mrs. Otis rushed downstairs. There she found a large suit of armor scattered on the floor. The Canterville Ghost sat on the stairs holding his head in his hands.

"Stop! Hold up your hands!" shouted the twin boys. They had brought their slingshots with them. Each of them fired a shot at the poor ghost.

Just then, Mrs. Otis leaned over and offered some medicine to the ghost. "You are far from well," she said. "I have brought you a bottle of Dr. Dobell's Soothing Remedy."

Mrs. Otis tries to cure the Ghost's ails with a spoonful of medicine.

The ghost glared at Mrs. Otis. With a groan, he vanished in the air.

The ghost retreated to his room. He was very upset. "How could they treat me this way?" wondered the ghost. "It's humiliating!"

The ghost felt very ill after this. He hardly left his room, except to put the bloodstain on the floor in the library.

When he recovered, the ghost resolved to try again. He planned to go quietly into Washington's room. Then he would mumble and mock him at the foot of his bed. Then he would go see the twin boys. He planned to sit on them until they screamed.

"What a marvelous plan," he thought.

That night, the ghost set out down the hallway. He waited for the clock to strike twelve. A raven croaked from an old tree outside. The wind rattled the shutters on their hinges. "What a perfect night for a scare," thought the ghost.

The ghost chuckled to himself and turned the corner. Suddenly, he wailed and fell back in terror. Right in front of him stood a horrible ghost. Its head was round, fat, and orange. Its eyes were empty black holes. It laughed at him with an awful grin.

The Canterville Ghost had never seen another ghost before. Naturally, he was very frightened. After a second glance at the strange phantom, the Canterville Ghost covered his eyes and ran back to his room. In his bedroom, the ghost hid his face in his blankets.

As the sun came up, the ghost gained some courage. He decided to talk to the other ghost. "Perhaps he can help me scare the twins," thought the ghost.

The ghost tiptoed down the hallway. He reached the spot and gasped. Something had happened to the ghost. It no longer looked frightening. The Canterville ghost could see that the ghost's head was only a pumpkin. He read a sign that said "YE OTIS GHOST."

The Canterville Ghost had been tricked!

A few days later, Virginia Otis went riding and tore her skirt. She knew her mother would not be happy! Virginia went to the sewing room, hoping to fix her skirt before her mother saw it. When she opened the door, she was surprised to see the Canterville Ghost! He was sitting by the window, watching the leaves fly by. He looked very sad.

Virginia felt sorry for the ghost. "My brothers are leaving tomorrow for school," she said. "If you behave yourself, no one will bother you."

The ghost turned around. "It is my job to misbehave," he said.

"Nonsense!" said Virginia. She turned to leave.

"Please don't go, Miss Virginia," cried the ghost. "I am so lonely, and I don't know what to do. I want to go to sleep, but I cannot."

"That's absurd," said Virginia.

"I have not slept for three hundred years," he said sadly. "And I am so tired. I wish to fall asleep and never wake," said the ghost. He continued to explain why he haunted the old house. The ghost needed Virginia's pure heart. If she would be his true friend, the ghost could sleep forever.

Virginia considered the ghost's request. She stood up and said, "I will help you." She took the ghost's hand and followed him through the wall.

About ten minutes later, the bell rang for tea. Mrs. Otis was greatly alarmed when Virginia did not appear. Mr. Otis rode his horse across the countryside to search for her. He could not find her.

Then at midnight, a panel at the top of the stairs flew open. Virginia came out looking very pale and tired. She was holding a small white box.

"My child!" cried Mr. Otis. "Where have you been?"

"Papa," said Virginia quietly, "I have been with the ghost. He is dead now."

Virginia led them down a secret corridor. Finally they came to a great oak door. Virginia opened it. They found themselves in a small room. A huge iron ring was attached to the wall. A chain led from the ring to a skeleton.

The Otis family finds the body of Sir Simon.

Virginia explained that Sir Simon was locked in this room long ago. "Now he can rest," she said.

Four days later, the Otis family had a proper funeral for Sir Simon. After the funeral, Virginia remembered the white box the ghost had given her. She brought it to her father. Slowly, Mr. Otis opened the box.

Virginia gasped. "Look at those beautiful jewels," she cried.

Virginia's father handed them to her. "You must take them," he said. "We certainly want Sir Simon to rest in peace."

Follow the famous Headless Horseman from "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" in the next section.

Want more Halloween stories? Try these:
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  • Scary Stories: Browse this collection of scary stories for children, featuring such favorite characters as Dracula, Dr. Jeckyll, and Frankenstein's monster.


The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

A messenger arrives at the schoolhouse with Ichabod's invitation.

There once was a valley that was said to be the quietest place in the world. It was just off the eastern shore of the Hudson River. For as long as anyone could remember, it had been called Sleepy Hollow.

The folks who lived in Sleepy Hollow were a strange lot. They heard voices and saw strange things. It was known that Sleepy Hollow was haunted.


The spirit that most often haunted the enchanted valley was a man riding on his horse. But the man did not have a head. People loved to talk about the ghost.

"He was a soldier," someone would start.

"They buried him in the churchyard," someone else would quickly say.

The people of Sleepy Hollow called this spirit the Headless Horseman.

One of those people was Ichabod Crane, a tall, sweet-tempered teacher. He taught in a plain schoolhouse that stood in a lonely spot at the foot of a green hill. Ichabod's students could not help but think that their teacher's arms and legs were just a bit too long for his body.

"He looks like a scarecrow!" they would whisper as they watched Ichabod walk to school on windy days, his clothes fluttering around him.

Ichabod loved all scary things, so Sleepy Hollow was the perfect place for him. One of his favorite things to do was stretch out next to the river and read spooky stories.

The only thing that Ichabod loved more than a scary story was a young lady named Katrina Van Tassel. Katrina was one of Ichabod's music students. She was known throughout Sleepy Hollow for her beauty.

"I am only a schoolteacher," Ichabod would say, "but I know I could make her happy."

The only man who Ichabod worried might hurt his chances with Katrina was Brom Bones. With a burly frame and broad shoulders, Brom was a threat to the gangly Ichabod. He was known throughout Sleepy Hollow for his strength and his great skill in horsemanship.

"Oh, Brom Bones!" the women would say. "He is so strong and brave!"

"Wherever there is a fight or a party," the men would chuckle, "Brom isn't far behind!"

Although Katrina showed interest in Brom, Ichabod would not give up.

"I shall not lose!" Ichabod thought. He went about courting the lovely Katrina, visiting her home and taking her for long walks in the moonlight.

Brom became jealous when he found out that Ichabod was also seeing Katrina. Brom found ways to make things difficult for the young teacher. He began playing practical jokes. One night, he went into the old schoolhouse and turned everything topsy-turvy. Brom always tried to make Ichabod look silly in front of Katrina.

One autumn afternoon, a messenger arrived at Ichabod's schoolhouse to give him an invitation.

"What is the invitation for?" asked his students curiously.

"Why, it is for a party tonight at the Van Tassels'," replied Ichabod. He knew that this was his chance to sweep the fair Katrina off her feet. "She will forget she ever met Brom Bones!" he exclaimed.

The classroom was abuzz with excitement. Ichabod even agreed to dismiss his students a full hour early. He needed time to primp.

After the students burst out of the schoolhouse doors, Ichabod began to groom himself for the big event. He combed his hair, studying his reflection in

a mirror that hung in the schoolhouse. Finally, Ichabod stepped back and looked at himself.

"Perfect!" he declared.

Ichabod proudly mounted his horse like a knight in search of adventure. But he was far from being a brave knight. The horse he rode to the Van Tassels' was not even his own. It was an old plow horse with a tangled mane.

It was a strange sight to see Ichabod riding an old horse. His elbows stuck out like grasshoppers' legs. His arms flapped about like wings. As he rode, his black coat fluttered around him in the wind.

Ichabod was confident when he walked into the party. But his shoulders dropped a bit when he saw his rival, Brom Bones. He was in a corner with some people. Brom had arrived on his favorite horse, Daredevil. Daredevil was just as mischievous as his owner -- no one had ever been able to tame him. Ichabod could hear Brom's booming voice.

"And then I lifted all five men with one hand!" Brom bragged.

Ichabod sighed. Would Katrina really choose him over Brom?

Suddenly music floated throughout the manor house and the guests began to trickle into the ballroom.

"May I have the honor of this dance?" Ichabod asked Katrina quickly.


Ichabod asks Katrina to dance.

Soon they were whirling across the floor. Katrina smiled happily, but Brom was anything but happy. He stood in the corner, jealously watching Ichabod.

Before Ichabod left the party, he joined a few people who were telling tales of the haunted land. Soon they were talking about the Headless Horseman. It seemed that he had been spotted several times lately.

"He has been seen at one of his favorite places -- the bridge that leads to the church," someone said.

It was almost midnight when Ichabod left. There was hardly a sound except for the chirp of the crickets. Even though Ichabod loved all things spooky, he began to feel nervous. His heart was beating loudly. He remembered all of the ghost stories he had heard at the party.

"I must be brave!" said Ichabod, his voice trembling.

Ichabod had never felt so lonely. He began to whistle to keep his spirits up. He thought he heard someone else whistling, but it was just the wind sweeping through the dry autumn branches.

Suddenly, Ichabod jumped in his saddle. Straight up ahead was something white hanging in the middle of a tree.

"A ghost!" yelped Ichabod.

But the nervous schoolteacher saw that it was not a ghost. The tree was only white where it had been struck by lightning.

Ichabod was almost at the very spot where the Headless Horseman had been seen. Soon he began to hear a thumping noise. Ichabod turned his head towards the noise. He saw a huge figure standing in the shadows.

"Wh-who are you?" shouted Ichabod.

Ichabod turned his head to get a better look at his unwelcome guest. The

figure was a large man riding a great black horse. Ichabod's teeth began to chatter. Then he saw that the man was...headless!

"The Headless Horseman!" Ichabod gasped.

"Faster, faster!" Ichabod told his horse.

The Headless Horseman pursues Ichabod Crane through the forest.

When Ichabod looked behind him, he screamed in horror. The Headless Horseman was about to throw his head! Ichabod dodged, but it was too late. He fell off his horse.

The Headless Horseman rode off into the night.

The next morning, a search party found Ichabod's horse. And a little ways from his horse, they found his hat and a shattered pumpkin.

Ichabod never came back to Sleepy Hollow. When the townspeople told the story, Brom Bones always had a smile on his face. Was it just Brom throwing a pumpkin or did Ichabod really see the Headless Horseman? No one knows for sure. It has become one of the many mysteries of Sleepy Hollow.

They say dogs are man's best friend. Sometimes those friendships extend beyond the grave. In the next section, read about the dog named Ghost in "White Dog."

Want more Halloween stories? Try these:
  • Halloween Stories: Rediscover your favorite spooky stories and share them with friends.
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White Dog

Joey and his dog Ghost would walk through the countryside together.

Once there was a boy who had a friendly white dog named Ghost. Joey and Ghost were best friends. They loved to roam the countryside looking for adventure. They climbed rocks and waded through cool streams.

Joey's neighbors all liked Ghost, too. One day, Farmer Green saw the two friends walk by his farm. "There goes that boy and his white dog again," he said. "They're lucky to have each other."


That day, Joey and Ghost were hunting squirrels. They never caught any. But the chase was the fun part. Ghost would sniff them out. Then the two friends would run after the squirrel until it hid in a tree.


Suddenly, Ghost spotted a squirrel. Then Joey saw the squirrel. Ghost ran around a rock. When Joey got to the other side of the rock, he stopped. Ghost barked at Joey. "What's wrong, boy?" he asked.

Ghost kept barking until Joey backed up behind the rock. Then Ghost moved. Now Joey could see why his friend was barking. A large black snake was coiled up next to the rock! Ghost had protected Joey.

"What a good boy!" Joey said. "Let's go home."

That night, Joey said good night to Ghost. Then he left a treat for him on the doorstep. "See you in the morning," he said.

The next morning, Joey jumped out of bed and ran downstairs. Outside, he whistled for Ghost. "Gho-o-o-st! Come here, boy," he called. But Ghost did not come. Joey wondered where his best friend could be. He ran to the barn to find his father.

"Have you seen Ghost?" he asked. Joey's dad climbed down from the tractor.

"Son, I found Ghost this morning," his father started. "He wasn't moving, so I took him to Dr. Parker's house. I'm afraid there was nothing he could do. Ghost was very old."

Joey was heartbroken. He would miss his friend so much. He wondered who would explore the woods with him.

After Ghost was gone, Joey spent most of his time alone in the woods. He walked along the creeks where he had once played with Ghost.

One day, Joey ventured farther than he had ever gone before. He was walking along the edge of a ravine. Suddenly, he lost his footing. The rock gave way and Joey landed on a ledge below. Joey's leg was twisted and scraped. He could not climb out of the ravine.

Joey yelled for help. But no one was close enough to hear him.

A few miles down the road, Farmer Green was working in his field. It was a very hot day. He wiped the sweat from his brow. Just then, he noticed a white dog running towards him. It looked like Joey's dog.

The dog barked and barked at Farmer Green. "Hey Ghost, how're you doing?" he said. "Haven't seen you in a while."

The dog continued to bark at him. Farmer Green tried to drive his tractor through the rows of beans. But the dog ran right in front of the tractor's wheels.

Farmer Green blew the tractor's horn. But the dog would not budge. Finally, Farmer Green turned off the engine and climbed down from his tractor.

"Where's your friend?" he asked. "Now go find him."

The dog was very persistent. He continued to bark at Farmer Green. Then he ran up to Farmer Green. He grabbed the man's trousers in his mouth and tried to pull him along.

"Whoa! Okay!" said Farmer Green. "I'm coming. Let's go."

Farmer Green followed the dog through the woods. They wandered for miles through thick brush and tall trees. Every few feet the dog would look back at Farmer Green. He wanted to be sure the man was following him.

The dog leads Farmer Green to the ravine.

They came closer to the ravine. The dog disappeared in the brush.

"Now where did you go?" called the farmer. Then he heard the boy's cries.

Joey was trying to yell for help. He had almost given up. Then he heard a man yelling back to him.

"Hello-o-o!" yelled Farmer Green. "Are you hurt?"

Joey looked up from the ledge. He could see Farmer Green standing at the edge of the ravine. The man was peering down at Joey. He could barely see the boy through the trees.

"I'm okay, but my leg is hurt," Joey yelled back. "I can't make it up there all by myself."

"Hang on," said the farmer. "I'll help you up."

Farmer Green found a strong vine. He held one end of the vine. Then he threw the other end to Joey.

"Use this to pull yourself up," he said.

Joey grabbed onto the vine. It was strong and thick like a rope. Using his good leg, Joey pulled himself up the side of the ravine. Near the top, Farmer Green reached over and pulled Joey onto the rocks.

"Thank you," said Joey. He tried to catch his breath.

Farmer Green helped Joey sit up on the rocks. "Let's have a look at that leg," he said. Joey's leg was still bleeding.

"It hurts," Joey said, "but I think I can walk."

"Let's find a branch you can use as a crutch," Farmer Green said.

Farmer Green pulled the bark off one end of the branch. Then he helped Joey to his feet.

"You can use this branch as a crutch," he said. "Now let's get you home."

Joey stood up shakily. "Thank you, Farmer Green," he said.

Joey steadied himself with the crutch. Farmer Green held onto his other arm. Then they hiked through the brush.

Joey and Farmer Green walk back through the forest.

When they came to a clearing, Farmer Green spoke. "That's some dog you got there!" he said.

"What do you mean?" asked Joey.

"I mean, you'd still be sitting in that ravine if that white dog didn't show me where you were," said Farmer Green. "He came to my field and barked and barked. Then he led me out into the woods to find you."

Joey could not believe what Farmer Green was saying. "That couldn't have been my dog, sir," whispered the boy. "My dog died almost a month ago."

Read about two women who accidentally visit eighteenth-century France in the next story, "A Day at Versailles."

Want more Halloween stories? Try these:
  • Halloween Stories: Rediscover your favorite spooky stories and share them with friends.
  • Scary Stories: Browse this collection of scary stories for children, featuring such favorite characters as Dracula, Dr. Jeckyll, and Frankenstein's monster.


A Day at Versailles

The man with the scarred face shows the two friends which path to take.

One day in 1901, two women named Anne and Eleanor traveled to France. They wanted to see the palace at Versailles. This palace was Queen Marie Antoinette's home in the late 1700's.

Anne and Eleanor toured the palace. Then they went outside to the gardens. They wanted to find Marie Antoinette's smaller home, a villa.


The women searched for the little villa. Along the way, they saw a deserted farmhouse. They noticed an old plow on the side of the road.

A deep sense of sadness and gloom instantly fell over both women. They felt as if something terrible was about to happen.

Soon the two women discovered they were lost. They did not know where to go until they met two men.

The men were dressed in long green coats. They wore three-cornered hats. The women realized that the men's clothes and hats were odd, too. They were the kinds of clothes soldiers wore during the French Revolution.

"Which way to the villa?" Anne asked the men.

The men pointed down a path. "Follow that path," they said.

It was not long before they found a beautiful gazebo. On a normal day, the gazebo would have been lovely. Yet this did not seem like a normal day. The countryside looked eerie. Anne and Eleanor felt even sadder than before. The trees were still. The birds were silent.

Now the women had stronger feelings of gloom. Something terrible would surely happen soon. But what?

Anne and Eleanor decided to keep going. If they could find the villa, maybe they would feel better.

Suddenly, a man rushed up from behind them. He had a peculiar smile. His face was scarred.

The man stared at Anne and Eleanor. Finally, he said, "You are going the wrong way."

The man pointed to a small bridge. He told the women to go across it. Anne and Eleanor turned and started across the bridge. When they looked back, the strange man was gone.

Anne and Eleanor got to the other side of the bridge. Soon they came to an area they felt must be the villa. Everything was still strangely flat. The countryside looked like something in a bad dream.

Anne noticed a beautiful lady. The lady was sketching the countryside. She wore an old-fashioned dress and a pale yellow scarf around her neck. She looked very sad.

Anne shivered as she looked at this beautiful lady. There was something familiar about her. But who could she be?

Both Anne's and Eleanor's feelings of sadness and gloom grew stronger and stronger. But they could not explain what made them feel so sad.

Anne and Eleanor turned to see a man rush out of a nearby building. He slammed the door. Then he glanced at Anne and Eleanor. "The entrance to the villa is on the other side of the building," he said.

Anne and Eleanor walked around to the other side of the villa. When they got there, they found a small wedding party waiting to tour all the rooms of the villa.

Anne and Eleanor see a beautiful, mysterious lady in the road.

Anne and Eleanor's gloomy mood magically lifted. A soft breeze blew the leaves of the trees.

Anne and Eleanor continued their tour of the villa. Everything seemed normal again. Nothing else unusual happened that day. But the two women did not understand the strange sights they had seen.

The next year, Anne returned to the French palace. She searched for the villa again. But everything looked different.

"Where is the plow?" Anne asked. "The bridge is gone, too."

Anne told a gardener about the men in green coats and the man with the scarred face. Then she described the lady sketching and the man who had rushed out of the villa.

The gardener explained that no plows were kept in the palace gardens. But an old plow had been displayed on the grounds in 1789. No bridge was on the grounds either. But a bridge had been there in 1789. The men in green coats were part of Marie Antoinette's Swiss Guard. The man with the scarred face sounded like an enemy of Marie Antoinette.

Anne tells the gardener that the grounds had looked different last year.

The gardener turned to the door that Anne had seen a man rush out of last year. The door was bolted shut.

"It's been bolted shut for many years," said the gardener.

"I know who the lady was," said Anne. "She was Marie Antoinette."

Anne knew she had stumbled into Marie Antoinette's own sad memory. It was her memory of a day in 1789. She had just learned that an angry mob from Paris was marching towards the palace gates to get her.

Read about a boy who meets a mysterious young woman in the next story, "Sweet Mary."

Want more Halloween stories? Try these:
  • Halloween Stories: Rediscover your favorite spooky stories and share them with friends.
  • Scary Stories: Browse this collection of scary stories for children, featuring such favorite characters as Dracula, Dr. Jeckyll, and Frankenstein's monster.


Sweet Mary

Jack sees Mary waiting by the library.

Homesville was a nice place -- at least that is what the people who lived there said. The people who grew up there liked it so much, they nearly always chose to stay there to raise their own children.

Homesville had all the comforts of a big city, but people always knew their neighbors. When you walked down the street, someone would always smile and ask how you were doing.


Jack was one of Homesville's citizens. Everyone in Homesville knew him and everyone liked him.

Jack had a lot of friends. Jack would spend most of his time playing football, basketball, or baseball with his friends. But he did not have a friend that he could just talk to.

That's when he met Mary.

It happened quite by accident. Jack was sitting in his car in front of the library, daydreaming as usual. He spotted a girl sitting on the bench by the bus stop across the street. She was wearing a party dress and looked like she had been waiting there for quite a long time.

"That's the prettiest girl I've ever seen," Jack said. Jack wanted to introduce himself, but girls always made him nervous. He never seemed to say any of the right things. Finally, he gathered his courage.

Jack reached the bench and sat down. The girl kept staring straight ahead. Jack could feel his heart thumping in his chest.

"Hello," he said shyly.

The girl did not answer.

"My name is Jack," he continued.

Then Jack lightly brushed the girl's shoulder. Suddenly, she came to life. She turned to look at Jack. He could see a touch of fear in her eyes.

"Hello," she said softly, "my name is Mary."

Jack saw that Mary was shivering in the cool autumn air, so he gave her his letter jacket. They sat on the bench for a long time. Jack did all of the talking. Mary just smiled and offered a few kind words.

The hour grew very late. Jack drove Mary home. When Jack stopped in front of her house, Mary leaned over and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. Jack watched Mary walk to the front door. Before Mary went into the house, she turned, looked at Jack, and smiled. It was the sweetest smile Jack had ever seen.

The next morning, Jack picked a small bouquet of flowers and went to Mary's house. A small old woman answered his knock. When Jack asked if he could see Mary, the old woman looked startled.

"Mary?" she asked.

The old woman looked at Jack carefully. Finally, she said, "Please come in."

The old woman pointed to a picture on the mantle.

Mary's mother tells Jack about her daughter's death.

"Is this the girl you spoke with last night?" she asked.

"Yes," he replied.

"I am Mrs. Sweet -- Mary's mother," she said. "Mary died almost twenty years ago."

Jack did not believe what he was hearing.

"Everybody liked Mary," said Mrs. Sweet. "She'd meet someone for the first time and talk to them like she'd known them forever. This house was always full of her friends, laughing 'til all hours," Mrs. Sweet paused. "You're not the first person to tell me that you've seen her. I like to think that she's close."

Jack was shocked.

"It's true, Jack," said Mrs. Sweet. She paused and wiped away a tear. "Mary is buried in the Homesville Cemetery."

Jack left Mary's house and ran until he reached the cemetery. When he saw the letter jacket that he had given Mary hanging on a tombstone, he stopped short. Then he saw what was written on the tombstone:

Mary Sweet

January 14, 1942 - May 5, 1958

Jack placed the flowers on Mary's grave. He did not know that Mary's ghost was perched on top of the tombstone, watching him closely.

Jack finds his jacket on Mary's tombstone.

"I couldn't have imagined you," Jack said. "My jacket is right here!"

Jack reached for his jacket and held it close to him. He noticed that it smelled faintly of perfume.

"You did wear this!" he exclaimed. "You were at the bus stop!"

Jack began to pace. He was trying so hard to put this puzzle together.

"There were so many things I wanted to talk to you about," Jack said.

Then Mary walked over to Jack and said, "Don't be sad. I'm right here."

Jack could not hear her, but goose bumps rose on his arms at the moment she whispered in his ear.

He did not know that Mary, the sweetest girl he had ever met, had come to say good-bye.

Ever heard of the Cardiff Giant? Find out more in the next story, an adaptation of Mark Twain's classic "A Ghost Story."

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A Ghost Story

The Cardiff Giant was looming over the bed.

I unlocked the door and stepped into my new apartment. I had worked hard all day. I was tired. All I wanted to do was settle in before a cozy fire, read the evening newspaper, then crawl into bed.

I stoked the fire in the fireplace and eased into my favorite chair. In the newspaper I saw a story about the Cardiff Giant:



Crowds of people have been lining up to see New York City's own "petrified man" at the Eighteenth Street Exhibit Hall. They believe they are paying to see the stone giant that was discovered on a farm in Cardiff, New York. They don't know that the giant on display at the Exhibit Hall is merely a plaster cast of the Cardiff Giant.

Earlier this year, a Cardiff farmer was digging on his farm when he found the stone figure of a man. The stone man was over ten feet tall. Many people believe that an ancient tribe of giants lived in New York thousands of years ago. They believe the farmer in Cardiff discovered the fossilized remains of one of these giant men.

Scientists are now studying the Cardiff Giant. Many experts doubt that the figure is a petrified giant. They believe it is a statue carved from stone.

I laughed. "Some people will believe just about anything. In Cardiff, they were paying to see a stone man that is probably a fake. In New York City, they are flocking to see a plaster imitation of the fake."

At least now, though, I knew why the street outside had been so crowded. I lived across from the Eighteenth Street Exhibit Hall.

I climbed into bed. I was glad I had a scientific mind. I demanded proof when I heard far-fetched stories.

I closed my eyes and was drifting off to sleep when I heard footsteps in the hallway. These were not just any footsteps. They sounded like boulders being dropped on the floor. With each step, the whole building shook. After each step, I heard a clank, like somebody was dragging a chain.

THUMP. Clank. THUMP. Clank.

I pulled my blanket over my head. I pressed it against my ears. It muffled the thumping and clanking, but I could still feel the building shake.

The shaking seemed to come closer. My blanket slipped off my shoulders. I tugged on it. Something -- or someone -- tugged harder.

I pulled the blanket from my face. A huge man loomed over me.

I screamed. The man screamed.

I stared up at the man. His head was the size of my duffel bag; his chest was as big as a barrel. His arms hung down at his sides like tree trunks.

I could see right through him. Through his head I could see the ceiling. Through his enormous belly I could see the fire still crackling in the fireplace.

"You're ... you're a ghost," I whispered.

"I'm a spirit, it's true," his voice boomed. "A spirit who cannot rest."

His massive shoulders sagged. He looked so sad and lost, I forgot to be afraid of him.

I scrambled from my bed. The poor giant shivered.

"You must be cold," I said. "Come sit by the fire."

The Cardiff Giant sits by the fireplace.

He stomped over to the fireplace and heaved his ghostly body into my favorite chair. Crr-ACK! The chair shattered beneath him.

The giant stood up and looked down at the sticks of wood scattered around him. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have tried to sit on something so small."

He lumbered over to my bed and lowered himself down on to it.

Crr-INK! The metal bed frame squashed to the floor.

"Stop that!" I said. "You'll crush every piece of furniture I own."

The ghost struggled up from my flattened bed. "I'm sorry. I'm just so tired. I haven't had a chance to sit down for a very long time."

"Here," I said. "Sit on this." I pulled the rug in front of the fire.

"Thank you," he said.

The giant sat on the rug. I wrapped a blanket around his shoulders. I turned my washtub over and set it on his head to keep his ears warm.

"Now," I said, "tell me why you're haunting my apartment."

The ghost sighed. "I didn't want to hurt you. I'm only trying to get some rest. My body is lying across the street. It's on display for crowds of people. I'm so tired. I want to go back to sleep, but I won't be able to until they bury my body again."

"You're the Cardiff Giant!" I said.

"The what?" asked the ghost.

I retrieved the newspaper and spread it open to the story about the giant. "Listen to this," I said.

I began reading the story. I skipped over the part about the scientists who did not believe the stone man was real. I did not want to hurt the ghost's feelings. His eyes grew wide as I read about the plaster imitation.

The ghost stared at me. "The stone man across the street isn't me?"

I shook my head. "He isn't even stone. He's plaster."

The sad ghost buried his face in his hands. "You mean I've been haunting this street for nothing!"

"Don't worry," I said. I reached out to pat his shoulder. "Go to Cardiff. That's where your stone body is."

The ghost rose to his feet. "I'd better get started."

He lumbered across my apartment and walked out the door. His footsteps thundered across the hall and down the stairs.

I glanced at the newspaper. The experts thought the stone man was a fake. I knew he was real. But the experts would never believe me. They would not believe my far-fetched story about talking to a ghost unless I gave them proof.

But I did not have proof. I smiled. I was glad I did not have proof. If the world believed the stone man was a fake, they would leave him alone. Then the giant's spirit would be able to rest.

The Cardiff Giant walks out into the night.

I heard the ghost stomp out onto the street. I watched the poor ghost of the Cardiff Giant trudge away down the street. Then the ghost turned the corner and disappeared into the darkness.

Every place with a ghost claims to be "the most haunted." Find out the truly most haunted place in Illinois in the next story, "Haunted Cemeteries."

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Haunted Cemeteries

The couple couldn't find a single scratch on their car.

Ghosts and spirits have been seen in many places. But a cemetery is one of the most common places to see a ghost.

Bachelor's Grove Cemetery is near Chicago. It is called the "most haunted place" in Illinois.


Over the years, a lot of strange things have happened at Bachelor's Grove Cemetery. Many people have seen the white misty shape of a woman holding a baby. Others have even seen a disappearing house at the cemetery. An eerie light comes from one of the windows, then the whole house disappears.

But the strangest report was about a ghost car. A couple was driving through the cemetery. Suddenly, they saw an old car coming right towards them!

The couple knew they could not swerve out of the way in time. So the man and woman closed their eyes. They expected to crash into the other car. They heard screeching brakes, a loud crash, and broken glass.

But when they opened their eyes, they realized they were not hurt. They looked around. The old car was nowhere to be found. They got out to inspect their own car. It did not have a scratch on it.


Another cemetery where there are almost just as many ghosts as graves is Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio. One dark night, two college boys were walking home. It was late, so they decided to take a shortcut. They climbed the tall gate to cut through the cemetery. The boys saw a woman crying on the steps in front of a stone tomb.

"Do you need help?" asked one boy.

As they got closer, the boys noticed they could see right through the weeping woman.

"Are you okay?" asked the other boy.

The ghostly shape looked up at the boys. She had very sad eyes. She stood up quickly and started to float backwards.

She drifted up the steps, passed through the tomb's heavy stone doors, and disappeared. The boys looked at each other.

"Let's get out of here!" they shouted, as they ran away.

When the two students told the cemetery's groundskeeper what they had seen, he nodded. He had heard the story many times before.

"Well," the groundskeeper said, "you're not the first people to meet the Weeping Woman of Woodland."

The two friends meet the Weeping Woman of Woodland.

Ghost sightings at cemeteries usually happen at night. Many ghost experts believe this is when ghosts roam. They say that many spirits cannot find rest in the afterlife. They are cursed to wander all day and night. For this reason, ghosts are sure to be awake when everyone else is asleep.

One famous ghost in Columbus, Ohio, wanders at night. She makes so much noise, she wakes up the neighbors! People who live near Camp Chase Cemetery wake up to hear loud cries in the middle of the night.

The sad ghost is known as the Lady in Gray. Neighbors who have seen her say she is dressed in a gray suit from the 1860's. They say the Lady in Gray is full of sorrow because her husband died in the Civil War. Some believe she is the wife of Benjamin Allen, a soldier who died at Camp Chase during the Civil War. His tombstone is still there today.

Many people have seen the Lady in Gray. One neighbor heard her cry out, "I miss you! Benjamin! Oh, no."


The neighbor finds two red roses in the cemetery.

The neighbor thought the cries were a loud prank. He went to the cemetery to investigate. But he did not see the Lady in Gray or anyone else for that matter. But there were footprints in the snow. Then he found two red roses left in front of Benjamin Allen's tombstone.

There's nothing more peaceful than a beautiful house in the country and a talkative little girl. Or is there? Learn about Vera in the next story, "The Open Window."

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The Open Window

Vera welcomes Mr. Nuttel into Mrs. Sappleton's house.

Vera smiles at Mr. Nuttel. "My aunt will join us soon," says Vera. "Until then, you must try and put up with me. May I take your hat and coat?"

Mr. Nuttel is a nervous man. He shyly smiles back at Vera. "Thank you," he says. He gives her his hat and coat.


Mr. Nuttel nervously looks around the drawing room. He looks at all the pictures on the walls and the couch. He looks at the open window. He looks at the green lawn just beyond the open window.

Vera closely watches Mr. Nuttel.

"You just moved to the country?" she asks.

"Yes," says Mr. Nuttel. He fidgets with his hands. His eye twitches. "I moved here to benefit from country life. Country life is relaxing and slow."

"Do you know anyone in the country?" asks Vera.

"Not a soul," says Mr. Nuttel. "Your aunt, Mrs. Sappleton, is my first new friend." Mr. Nuttel takes a deep breath. His body shivers. "My sister, Olivia, lived in the country four years ago. Olivia met your aunt at that time. Olivia says your aunt is very nice."

"So you don't know anything about my aunt?" asks Vera.

"I only know her name and address," says Mr. Nuttel. "Is she nice?" he asks with a gulp.

"Oh, yes, very nice indeed," says Vera. "She is nice despite the tragedy."

"Tragedy? What do you mean?" asks Mr. Nuttel. He fidgets with his hands. His eye twitches. His body shivers.

"The tragedy happened about three years ago, since your sister was here," says Vera. Vera looks directly into Mr. Nuttel's eyes. "You may wonder why this window is open," she says.

"I had noticed it," says Mr. Nuttel. "The view is very pretty."

"Pretty and tragic," says Vera. "Three years ago today, my aunt's husband, two brothers, and their favorite dog left through that window on a hunting trip. They never returned. They had gone hunting on the moors. When they crossed a moor, they fell into a deep bog and were never seen again."

Mr. Nuttel's eyes widen with fear.

"On the anniversary of their deaths," says Vera, "my poor aunt leaves the window open. She believes that they will return. And, you know, Mr. Nuttel, on such a lovely day as this, I sometimes think they will."

Vera's aunt walks into the room. "Mr. Nuttel," she says, "I am sorry to keep you waiting. I hope my niece has made you comfortable."

"Y-y-y-es," says Mr. Nuttel, his eyes looking quickly from Mrs. Sappleton to Vera to the window.

"I do hope you don't mind the open window," says Mrs. Sappleton. "My husband and brothers are hunting on the moors. They should return soon. They always come back through this door. I do hate how they track mud onto my carpets. Those moors are so muddy, you know."

Mr. Nuttel listens with horror. He fidgets with his hands. His eye twitches. His body shivers. Vera watches Mr. Nuttel.

"I-I-I see," says Mr. Nuttel, anxious to change the subject. "I am pleased to meet you. I will be in the country for a few months. I moved to the country for the benefit of my nerves. My doctor says I absolutely must relax. Country life is relaxing and slow, don't you think?"

Mrs. Sappleton turns from the open window. She looks at her guest. "Yes, it is, Mr. Nuttel," she answers. "And the hunting in the country is very good, too."

Mrs. Sappleton turns back to the open window. "I wonder how the hunting is today?" she asks.

The drawing room is silent.

Mr. Nuttel nervously tries to fill the silence. "My sister, Olivia, met you about four years ago," he says. "Olivia said the country would be very good for my nerves."

"Look! Here they are," says Mrs. Sappleton. "And they're back just in time for tea." The older woman walks towards the open window. She looks out across the green lawn. "Goodness! Look at all that mud. They will surely ruin all of my carpets today."

Mr. Nuttel cannot believe his eyes and ears. What a tragic situation. This poor Mrs. Sappleton needs more help than he does. Mr. Nuttel turns to Vera to show his sympathy, but the child is staring out the window. Vera's eyes are wide with horror.

Vera spies the hunting party returning from the forest.

Mr. Nuttel fidgets with his hands. His eye twitches. His body shivers. He turns to look out the window.

Far across the green lawn, a dog runs toward the drawing room. Following the dog is an older man with a shotgun resting on his shoulder and two young boys carrying sacks. Their boots are covered in mud.

Mr. Nuttel screams, "AAARRRGGGHHH!"

Mr. Nuttel grabs his coat and hat. Without turning back, he runs from the drawing room and out the open window. He runs across the lawn and disappears from sight. In his hasty exit, he almost knocks over the returning Mr. Sappleton.


Mr. Nuttel runs out of the house without turning back.

"What got into that young man?" asks Mr. Sappleton. He steps on the clean carpet with his muddy boots.

Mrs. Sappleton shakes her head and looks at the mud.

"Such an odd, nervous fellow," Mrs. Sappleton tells Mr. Sappleton. "He fidgeted with his hands. His eye twitched. His body shivered. He talked all about his nervous condition. Then he left without saying good-bye. Very peculiar."

"He was probably frightened by the dog," says Vera. She bends to scratch the dog's head.

"Makes sense, really," Vera continues. "He told me that he was very scared of dogs. Several years ago he was hiking in the mountains. While following a dark and narrow trail, he stumbled upon a pack of wild dogs. The dogs chased the poor fellow for three days. Mr. Nuttel finally climbed up a tree and hid in the branches. Below him, the dogs walked back and forth, snarling and barking, for a whole week."

Vera sweetly smiles at her aunt and uncle. Vera likes to tell stories.

Sailors are known for the bravery. Read about sailors who've seen phantom ships at sea in the next story, "Flying Dutchman."


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Flying Dutchman

Reid could see the other ship from the crow's nest.

Reid Brenner was the youngest and smallest sailor on the ship. It was his first voyage out to sea. The smallest sailor always had the job of night watch. Reid climbed up the ship's tallest mast.

Reid stared into the dark waves. He saw a fuzzy red flash of light. The light moved closer. Suddenly the ship rocked. A rough wave crashed against the boat. A fierce storm fell upon the ship.


Reid looked down at the sea. There, beside his ship, another ship bobbed on the waves. The ship was old. Its sails were tattered.

The crew of the strange ship looked up at him. Their eyes were gloomy. All their clothes were soaked and torn. Their faces were pale.

Lightning flashed again. Suddenly, the storm ended. The ghostly ship was gone. Reid looked for the ship. He could not see it.

The next morning, some of Reid's mates asked about the sudden storm. Reid told no one what he saw.

Later that day, Reid Brenner was struck with a terrible fever. His ship was miles from shore. There was no doctor on the ship. He could not be saved.

Sailors tell many stories of the sea. Some are true, and some are legends. One story has been told for hundreds of years. The Flying Dutchman was a ship that sailed the seas long ago. In 1641, this ship sailed into a terrible storm.

The captain, a proud man named Hendrick Vanderdecken, would not stop or turn his doomed ship around. The captain ordered his crew to push through the dangerous storm.

Captain Vanderdecken sailed the ship through the storm.

The captain and crew of the Flying Dutchman never reached land.


Some sailors say the Flying Dutchman still sails the seas today. It is said that the ship must sail through stormy waters forever.

For almost four hundred years, sailors have reported seeing the phantom ship. Often it appears from nowhere and disappears as quickly. Usually it is seen at night or during a storm.

The ship's ghostly crew may be seen working on the deck. Some sailors have claimed to see the Flying Dutchman's captain. They say he sadly warns them to stay away.

Any ship that crosses the Flying Dutchman's path is said to be doomed, too. After seeing the phantom ship, other ships have had accidents. Many sailors have gotten sick. Some have died not long after reporting a sighting.

The sea is a dangerous place. Sailors throughout history have faced storms, pirates, and diseases.

On long voyages, they tell many stories to each other. Legends of haunted ships have been told for centuries. The story of the Flying Dutchman has been told again and again.

It is not just an old tale of the sea. Sightings have been reported in modern times. Many people claim they have seen it.

The story of Hendrick Vanderdecken's ship is true. His ship and his crew were caught in a storm. They never made it to shore.

The reports of strange sightings are hard to ignore. The terrible tragedies that happened after sightings are also very real. But are they all related to seeing the phantom ship?

Ships often become lost at sea during storms.

Many ships have been lost at sea. There is no way to know what happened. Lost ships leave no explanations. Their crews are never heard from again. They may have been sunk by storms. They may have crashed into rocks. Some may have crossed the path of a phantom ship.

Were the last faces those doomed sailors saw the ghostly faces of the crew and captain of the Flying Dutchman?

Experience a post-Civil War adventure in New York City with the next story, "How He Left the Hotel."

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How He Left the Hotel

The Empire Hotel had luxurious elevators.

After the Civil War ended, I headed to New York City. My captain was from New York. He had told me all about the city.

"Stop by the Empire Hotel, Mole," he told me when I was discharged. "I know some people there. Perhaps I can get you a job."

New York was exciting. I decided to take my captain's advice and stopped by the Empire Hotel. It was an elegant red brick building with a fancy lobby.

"Welcome," said the friendly doorman. He was dressed in a uniform with polished brass buttons and a stylish cap.

"My name's Joe," he said with a grin. I shook his hand and then introduced myself. Joe introduced me to the hotel manager.

"I spoke with your captain," the manager said. "I'd like to offer you a job. We need someone to operate the hotel elevator from two o'clock in the afternoon until twelve midnight. We'll provide wages and a room."

Like everything at the Empire Hotel, the elevator was modern and fancy. It had a decorative light inside and mirrors on the walls. It even had velvet cushions where visitors could rest during their ride.

One November, a new tenant arrived at the Empire Hotel. His name was Colonel Saxby. Colonel Saxby was also a Civil War veteran. I knew right away because he often wore his military cloak.

Colonel Saxby moved into room 210. It was on the fourth floor. Room 210 was right across from the elevator. I saw his door every time I stopped on the fourth floor.

Colonel Saxby was a kindly gentleman who kept to himself. I figured he was in his fifties. He was tall and thin, with a gray mustache and a pointy nose. His skin was pale. He had a reddish scar on one cheek. He also walked with a very slight limp.

"I took a bullet in the knee," he explained to me one day.

Sometimes, in the elevator, the colonel and I would talk a bit about the war. Even though he would talk to me, I wouldn't say he was overly friendly. That did not bother me, though.

Since I worked the elevator, I came to know everyone's routine. Colonel Saxby was especially predictable. He rode the elevator up to the fourth floor at the same time each day. He never rode it down, though. I figured he must have used the stairs.

I was proud to tell people I worked at the Empire Hotel. It was one of New York's finest.

Sometimes operating the elevator grew dull, but I really enjoyed all the people.

I became good friends with a few of the other workers. Joe, the doorman, worked the same shift as I did. When it was slow in the evening, we would often talk. He told me all about his brothers in Boston. I told him about my sister in Connecticut. A lot of times we talked about the war.

Every night at midnight, I always locked the elevator. Joe generally tidied up the lobby a bit. Then, on Wednesdays, we headed to the community room for a game of cards. Helen, one of the hotel housekeepers, often joined us.

Helen was cheerful and talkative. She always kept things lively. Best of all, she generally brought us something good to eat. Her homemade soup and meat loaf sandwiches were mighty welcome after a long day.

"This is delicious," I told Helen one cold February night. She had baked an apple pie. I dare say it was the best I ever tasted.

Joe pushed his empty plate aside and thanked Helen for the meal. Then, as usual, he began shuffling his well-worn deck of cards. The three of us played until the wee hours of the morning.

The next day, I found myself watching the front door, waiting for Colonel Saxby to arrive. The colonel always rode the elevator up at three o'clock each day. In fact, I could not recall a single day when he had not been on time.

I guess there is a first time for everything, though. Colonel Saxby never did show up that day. He did not show up the next day either.

"Have you seen Colonel Saxby lately?" I finally asked Joe.

"No, Mole. I can't say that I have," he replied. "I'm told he's very ill."

At the end of my shift that night, I had just started to lock up the elevator when the call bell rang on the fourth floor. I figured it must be a visitor who did not realize the elevator stopped running at midnight.

The colonel looked even paler than usual.

As the clock struck twelve, I rode to the fourth floor. When I opened the elevator door, I was very surprised to see Colonel Saxby. His military cape was draped over his shoulders. I noticed his skin was even paler than usual. The man looked ill. I was really concerned about him. I wondered why he was venturing out so late at night.

"I'm glad to see you're better, sir," I said. But Colonel Saxby just looked at me with a hollow stare. Then he boarded the elevator. It was the first time I had ever given him a ride down.

When the elevator stopped in the lobby, I opened the door. Colonel Saxby, who had stood perfectly still during the ride, departed without a word.

Joe opened the door. Then Colonel Saxby walked out into the snow.

Just then, the doorbell rang. Joe opened the door. A gentleman with a black bag entered. I could tell at once he was a doctor.

"Fourth floor," he said hastily.

"I'm sorry, but the elevator stops running at midnight," I explained.

"This is a matter of life and death," said the doctor.

I did as he requested. The doctor rushed straight to room 210.

"Oh, dear," I heard the doctor sigh. "I'm afraid I'm too late. Colonel Saxby has passed away."

The doctor covered Colonel Saxby's face with his sheet.

Colonel Saxby had just passed away.

"That can't be," I said. "I took the colonel down in the elevator just a few minutes ago. Joe saw him, too. Colonel Saxby just left the hotel."

"It must have been someone else," the doctor said.

The manager asked me to take Colonel Saxby's body down in the elevator.

"I can't do that, sir," I said. "I can't take the colonel down again."

I knew I couldn't stay at the Empire Hotel any longer -- not after what I'd seen. I turned in my keys and left that night. Joe, the doorman, left with me.


Read about a dream come to life in the next story, "The Lighthouse."

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The Lighthouse

Jack's favorite painting reminded him of the lighthouse in town.

Jack was a writer who moved to a seaside town. He traveled around the coast to write stories about the people who lived there. He did not know that he would soon have his own story to tell.

After settling into his new home by the sea, Jack decided that he needed some artwork. He had heard about an old man who ran a gallery in town. Jack woke up early one morning and walked to the gallery.

"Good morning," Jack said, as he opened the gallery door. He shook the old man's hand. Jack introduced himself, then began looking at the paintings.

The old man had an assortment of paintings. There were scenes of flowery meadows, city skylines, and desert landscapes. But Jack kept coming back to a painting of a lighthouse. It reminded him of the lighthouse at the edge of town.

"What a perfect picture for my wall," he said. "I'll take this one."

"I hope you have the perfect place for this painting," the old man said. He wrapped the painting in brown paper.

Jack paid the old man and walked home with the painting under his arm. He could not wait to find the perfect place to hang it.

That afternoon, Jack found a place above his mantel. He hammered a nail into the wall and hung the picture. Jack sat back to see if it was straight.

"This is perfect," thought Jack. "I can look out my window and see the sea. And I can look above the mantel and see the lighthouse. What inspiration!"

That evening, Jack sat down to read over some notes from the day before. He had been interviewing a young woman. Her grandfather had run the lighthouse years earlier. The young woman told many stories about her grandfather. He had loved the sea so much that he wanted to be buried there.

Jack suddenly looked up from his notes. He thought he saw shadows moving across the dark room. Jack got up and walked down the hall. He saw the shadow again! This time he caught a glimpse of a ghostly old man.

Jack could see a shadow moving across the painting.

Jack shivered in the darkness. He rubbed his eyes.

"Perhaps I'm just tired," he thought. "My eyes must be playing tricks on me." Jack turned out the light and went to bed.

That night, he dreamed about the lighthouse in his new painting. Jack was standing on its platform and looking out to sea. He saw an old man sitting alone inside the lighthouse. The man seemed very sad. Jack tried to speak to him. Then Jack woke up.

The next morning, Jack felt like he had to move the painting. He did not know why he felt that way. He just did.

He looked around his house for the perfect place. He decided the best place for the painting was right above his desk in the den. "This will inspire me to write my newest story," thought Jack.

That evening, after a quiet dinner, Jack sat down at his desk to work. He was reading a book about lighthouses when a strange feeling came over him. He felt very cold. Jack shivered as he turned the pages.

Then in the corner, Jack saw the shadow again. This time, Jack was sure it was an old man. The shadow paced back and forth in the room. Jack could tell the man was sad and restless.

Jack looked around the room. He wondered where the shadow was coming from. When he turned around, the shadow was gone.

Jack was very puzzled. He began thinking about the painting. "Could that be why the shadow is here?" he wondered. "Perhaps I have not found the perfect place for it."

Jack went to bed that night thinking about the painting and the ghostly shadows. He tossed and turned throughout the night.

In the early morning, Jack finally fell asleep. He had a dream about the old lighthouse again.

This time, the old man was looking out the window of the lighthouse. He was staring at the sea and watching the gulls dip and dive. The old man looked so happy!

Jack awoke with a start. He knew exactly what he must do.

Jack jumped out of bed and quickly got dressed. He took the painting down and carried it into his living room.

Then he found the perfect place for the painting. It was directly across from his biggest window. Jack loved sitting in front of this window himself. He would watch the waves breaking on the rocks as the sun rose each morning.

Jack moved the painting so that it faced the sea.

Jack hammered a nail into the wall. Then he carefully hung the painting. He stepped back to see if it was straight. Then he turned around to look at the sea. "Yes!" he exclaimed. "This is definitely the perfect place."

That night, as Jack worked, he waited for the ghostly shadow to appear. But it never did. The shadow did not appear the next night or the night after that.

Jack noticed that a certain sense of peace and calm had come over his house. He stopped dreaming about the old man and the lighthouse, too.

Soon after the strange shadow had disappeared, Jack started working on a new project. He was writing a story about the painting and the ghostly shadow.

Jack decided to start at the beginning. He described how he had found the little house by the sea. He wrote about meeting the old man at the gallery and how he chose the painting of the lighthouse. Then he came to the part about the warning from the owner of the gallery. "I hope you have the perfect place for this painting," he had said.

The old man's comment made Jack wonder. "Did he know all along that the painting was haunted?" Jack thought. "Did he know the painting belonged near the sea?"

Jack decided to take a break from his writing. He got up from his desk and walked over to the painting.

Jack grabbed a cloth and dusted the wooden frame. Then he stopped to look at the picture.

Jack noticed something he had never seen before. A man was standing on the platform of the lighthouse. He was looking out to sea.

"This man looks almost like the shadow," Jack thought.

Then he realized something else. It was the same man from his dreams!

Learn how the great magician, Harry Houdini, delivers a final message in the next story, "Houdini's Great Escape."

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Houdini's Great Escape

Houdini's last words were a coded message to his wife.

Harry Houdini was probably the most famous magician of all time. People especially loved Harry Houdini's great escape tricks. He was famous for putting himself in great danger and escaping just in time.

Houdini's assistants once wrapped him tightly in heavy chains. They locked the chains together and lowered him into a large pool of water.

People in the audience could see through a window in the side of the tank. Houdini held his breath for a long time. Just when the audience thought he would drown, he escaped! He wiggled out of the chains, floated to the surface, and took a deep breath. The crowd cheered.

Houdini performed hundreds of death-defying tricks like this one. But his most famous trick was one he did from the grave -- after he was already dead!

Houdini promised his wife, Bess, he would contact her from beyond the grave. With his last breaths, Houdini whispered a secret message to Bess. The message contained ten words. Only she would know the coded message. This way, she would know it was really Harry speaking to her from beyond the grave.

On Halloween night, 1926, Harry Houdini died.

Bess Houdini saw her husband do many spectacular tricks before his death. She believed he would find a way to contact her and give her a message.

She kept a candle burning near a picture of her husband. Each year she held a séance on Halloween. A séance is when a group of living people try to talk to the spirits of people who have died.

In 1929, a man named Arthur Ford came to the séance on Halloween. He said he was a medium. A medium is a person who speaks all the words that spirits want him to say.

Ford held another candle in front of him. He closed his eyes and began to whisper and hum. His voice changed suddenly.

Arthur Ford began to speak in Houdini's voice.

"Hello, Bess," Ford said in a very strange voice. The voice sounded just like Harry's voice, but this voice was far away. A cold breeze came through the open window and blew out a nearby candle. The table shook. Then Ford slowly said ten words: "Rosabelle...answer...tell...pray...answer...look...tell...answer...answer...tell..."

These were the exact words Houdini whispered to his wife on Halloween three years earlier. Bess was amazed. She believed her husband had reached out to her from beyond the grave.

Did Houdini really figure out a way to speak to his wife from the spirit world? Or was the séance a hoax? If Arthur Ford was a fake, how did he know Houdini's message?

The words in the message were a special code for letters of the alphabet. Each word stood for a different letter in the alphabet. In their secret code the letters spelled the word, "BELIEVE."

In 1929, newspapers printed many articles about the séance. Even though Houdini's message said to "BELIEVE," many people did not believe it was real.

One newspaper article said Bess Houdini and Arthur Ford planned the séance as a show to make money. Some believed that Ford and Bess Houdini made a deal. If she told him Harry Houdini's secret message, he would share some of his riches with her. In fact, Ford became quite famous after the séance.

People interpreted Houdini's message in many different ways.

Other people believed, and still believe, that Harry's spirit really did speak to Bess. Even today, people hold séances on Halloween night every year. They try to talk to Houdini.

They want Houdini's spirit to reveal how he did such an amazing trick. They believe that if anyone could have escaped death, it would be Harry Houdini, the greatest escape artist of all time.

Discover the secret of a mysterious young boy in the next story, "Ghost Cave."

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Ghost Cave

Tate was only sixteen, but had the strength of three men.

Riley counted his workers. Then he yelled, "Line up, men!" Riley was the foreman of a road construction crew. He had to make sure everyone reported for work. This morning he counted an extra worker, a teenage boy.

The boy stepped forward. "My name's Tate. I'm here for the job."

Riley studied the boy. He did not look healthy. He was skinny and pale.

"I can't have kids running around getting hurt," Riley said.

"I won't get hurt, sir," said Tate. "I can do the work of three men."

Tate grasped the bumper of Riley's truck with one hand. He took a deep breath and lifted the front of the truck off the ground. He took another breath and lifted it over his head.

Riley laughed. "Okay, son. You've got the job."

Tate worked hard all day. He never took a break. He did not stop for lunch. At the end of the day, Riley handed out pay envelopes to all the men. Tate put the envelope in his pocket and walked towards town.

The next morning, Tate reported early for work. He worked very hard all day, collected his pay envelope, then set off for home.

On Saturday, Riley went into town for a haircut and a shave.

"So how's the work coming along?" the barber asked.

"Fine, fine," said Riley. "We've gotten more road dug the last few days than we have all summer."

The barber raised his eyebrows. "Is that so? What's causing your men to work so much faster all of a sudden?"

"It's not the men," said Riley. "It's a boy. I've got a new worker on the crew. He can't be more than fifteen or sixteen. Maybe you know him. His name's Tate."

"Oh, yes." The barber nodded. "Tate. He's an odd one, he is. And you're right -- he doesn't look older than sixteen. But he has to be at least twenty. Lived here all his life."

"You think that boy is twenty?" Riley asked.

"Why, yes," said the barber. "But the funny thing is, he doesn't seem to get any older. Once he got to be a teenager, he just stopped aging. He's even worn the same clothes for the last five or six years, and he never needs a haircut."

Riley frowned. "That's very strange. Think I should have a talk with him?"

"No, leave him be," said the barber. "He's a good boy. He works hard. He has to. His mama's sickly, and she needs him."

Riley left the barber shop. Outside he saw two women, Mrs. Malloy and Mrs. Winslow, chatting in front of the dress shop.

"Good day, ladies," he said.

But the women were too involved in their conversation to notice him.

"The poor boy will miss his mama," Mrs. Winslow was saying.

"Poor Tate," said Mrs. Malloy.

"Tate?" Riley wheeled around. "Pardon me. I don't mean to eavesdrop, but were you just talking about a thin, fair-haired boy named Tate?"

"Yes. His mother passed away this morning," said Mrs. Malloy.

"I'm sorry to hear that," said Riley.

"She's been sick for a very long time," said Mrs. Winslow. "Last week she took a turn for the worse. She kept getting weaker and weaker."

Mrs. Malloy nodded. "It's a blessing, really, that the poor old lady no longer has to suffer."

"But Tate will be heartbroken," said Mrs. Winslow.

"He adored his mother," said Mrs. Malloy. "He spent all his time caring for her. It's as if he had no other purpose in life. I don't know what will become of the poor boy now."

Jimmy and his friends spotted Tate by the creek.

Suddenly, Mrs. Malloy's son came running up. "Mama, Mama!" the boy shrieked. "You'll never guess what we saw."

"Slow down, Jimmy," said Mrs. Malloy. "Tell me what happened."

Jimmy took a deep breath. "We were playing near the creek. Tate walked by. He looked funny, he was even paler than usual. I could see right through him."

"Jimmy!" said Mrs. Malloy. "Don't make up stories."

"I'm not," said Jimmy. "I tried to talk to him. But Tate walked past like he didn't hear me."

"Probably thinking about his mother," said Mrs. Winslow.

"We followed him," Jimmy said. "He went out past the old mill and down to the creek. Then he walked right into the ground."

"Jimmy!" said Mrs. Malloy.

"It's true," said Jimmy. "It was a cave. I never even knew it was there. Tate got paler and paler as he walked inside. Then he just disappeared. I've got to catch up with the other kids. They went to tell the sheriff." Jimmy raced down the street.

Riley laughed. "He has an active imagination. Tate is certainly pale, but I don't think he could actually disappear."

On Monday morning, Tate did not come to work. It was not like Tate to not show up for work. Then Riley remembered Jimmy's story.

Riley put the crew to work, then set out down the road past the old mill. He saw that the sheriff had gotten to the cave before him.

"I came to see if Tate was okay," Riley told the sheriff.

"You're too late." The sheriff pointed inside the cave.

There, right in the middle of the cave, was a skeleton. Tate's clothes and work boots were rotting in a heap around the brittle bones.

"That can't be Tate," said Riley. "He was working for me last week."

The sheriff found the skeleton in the cave past the old mill.

The sheriff nodded. "I've seen him around town, too. I'd say this skeleton has been here about five years. Funny thing is, five years ago is just about the time Tate stopped getting older. He started looking paler and skinnier. I found this in his pocket." The sheriff unfolded a piece of paper. "It's his mother's grocery bill. Paid in full. Tate always took good care of her."

"And he kept taking care of her even after he was dead," said Riley.

He pointed to the date on the paper. Tate had paid the bill on Saturday, the very day his mother died. "I guess he can stop taking care of his mother now," said Riley.

There's been a ghost haunting the same house for 300 years. Find out why in the next story, "The Wrecker's Daughter."

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The Wreckers' Daughter

The young woman was still wearing the clothes that she had died in over two hundred years ago.

Chambercombe Manor was a very large house on the rocky coastline of Devonshire in England. For three hundred years it was haunted by the ghost of a young woman.

One owner after another reported seeing the young woman. No one ever reported being afraid of the ghost. But no one ever knew who she was -- not for three hundred long years.

Then about one hundred years ago, the owner of the house discovered a tiny room. It had been hidden away behind plastered walls for years. Inside the little room was the skeleton of a young woman. She was lying on a beautiful bed. She was still dressed in the clothes she had worn more than two hundred years before.

The clothes had been soft and beautiful, but they were now dusty and fragile. The skeleton wore beautiful rings and necklaces, now dark with age.

But still, no one knew the woman's name. No one knew why she had been hidden away in the tiny room for so many years. The skeleton was soon buried in a small cemetery in the village. But the sad ghost continued to walk up and down the halls of the old house. Why was she there?

In the 1600's, Chambercombe Manor was owned by Thomas and Mary Oatway. The Oatways owned a little shop. But no one knew that the Oatways were wreckers.

During stormy weather, when the Oatways knew that a ship was sailing by the coastline, they would build a fire on the shore. The captain of the ship would think the fire was a light to guide him to safety. He would sail his ship into the big rocks on the coast.

The ship would crash into pieces. The cargo would wash up on the shore. The Oatways would gather all the valuable goods and store them in a cave. The cave led to a secret tunnel that went right into their house. No passengers or crew ever lived to tell the story.

The Oatways lured ships onto the rocks by lighting a fire.

One night long ago, the sky was black except for some streaks of lightning. Thomas searched the sea each time the lightning flashed.

"Aye, she's still there," he shouted. "Maybe she has seen our fire."

"Pile on more wood. We must make a large light for the ship to see," Mary said. "We need more goods for our store." Mary and Thomas piled more wood on the blazing fire so the heavy rain would not put it out.

"She's seen our fire," Thomas said. "She thinks it's the safe channel."

Mary and Thomas stood in the rain and wind. They watched the ship roll and toss on the waves. They heard the crunch of wood as the bow of the ship struck the rocks.

"There she is, Mary," Thomas yelled. "She's wrecked!"

Mary thought she heard cries for help above the roar of the waves. She closed her eyes and put her hands over her ears.

They began to search for the boxes and crates. Thomas set his lantern by his side to pick up the boxes. The yellow rays from the lantern fell on a still body lying face down in a shallow pool of water.

"There's a woman here," Thomas called. "I think she is alive."

Only one person had survived the shipwreck.

They pulled the woman from the water. Thomas leaned down and put his ear to her heart.

"She is alive," he said.

Mary saw that the woman's face was badly cut from the jagged rocks. Her heart sank. She wanted to help this young woman. "We can't leave her here," she said to Thomas.

"All right, Mary, we'll take the lady with us," Thomas said. He picked up the woman and carried her safely into the cave.

They put the woman in Elizabeth's bedroom. Elizabeth was their daughter. Thirteen years ago, the young girl had run away. Life in the tiny village and work in the store was not very exciting for her. She had not known about the fires, the shipwrecks, or the secret tunnel.

They had never received a letter from Elizabeth since then. Mary had cried for years before packing Elizabeth's clothes away. This woman and Elizabeth were about the same age.

Mary sat by the woman lying still on the bed. She had cleaned her face and wrapped bandages around it. But there was nothing else Mary could do. The lady was dying.

"What can we do with her body?" Mary asked.

"If we report her death, people will know we are wreckers," Thomas said.

They sat next to the young woman until she stopped breathing. The sun was shining brightly through the windows.

"We could bury her in our secret room," Mary said.

Thomas thought for a while. "You're right, Mary. We can plaster over the doorway and nobody will ever know that she is there. We'll be safe," he said.

He lifted the woman's body and carried her to the secret room.

The man told the Oatways what had happened in the shipwreck.

Three days passed. Mary was pouring the tea when she heard a knock at the front door.

Mary crossed through the hall and swung open the heavy door. Before her stood a tall, well-dressed man. His head was bandaged. His arm was in a sling.

"Mrs. Mary Oatway?" he asked.

"Yes. I am Mary Oatway," Mary said.

"I am afraid I have very bad news for you," the stranger said. "May I please come in?"

Mary invited the stranger inside. They sat quietly and drank tea until the man broke the silence.

"Four days ago, I was on a ship from Ireland. But it sunk off your coast. I am the only survivor," he said.

Mary's face turned pale. Thomas gripped the arms of his chair. Did the man know that they had built the fire that caused the ship to wreck?

"I'm afraid I have some very bad news for you," he repeated. "Your daughter, Elizabeth, ran away to Ireland thirteen years ago. She had married a wealthy Irish gentleman. I met her on the ship that sunk. She missed you terribly and was coming to visit. It was supposed to be a surprise."

In the 1960's, construction workers were tearing down an old house in Ireland. They found a metal box. Inside the metal box was a letter addressed to the owners of Chambercombe Manor, Combe Martin, Devonshire, England. The letter read:

Before I die, I wish to confess my sins. My good wife is now dead. I cannot go unless someone knows what I have done. My wife and I lived for a number of years in Chambercombe Manor.

We were blessed with a beautiful daughter, who ran away when she was still a girl. We caused a ship to wreck and killed our own daughter in the wreck. We placed her body in a secret room. We could no longer live in our house. We thought we saw our daughter's ghost in the house. We moved to Ireland so we could be near our grandchildren.

May God forgive us.

A mother and daughter take refuge in a mysterious house. We'll show you what happens in the next story, "The Inn at the End of the Road."

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The Inn at the End of the Lane

It was raining so hard that Erica's mother could barely drive.

Erica folded her purple pajamas and put them in her suitcase. "There," she said. "I'm ready to go, Mom."

Erica and her mother were going on vacation. Mom had made plans for the them to visit Aunt Jill. Aunt Jill lived in a quaint little town near the ocean. Erica and her mother loved to visit the ocean.

The sky was a bit overcast as Erica and her mother turned onto the interstate. It was already late in the afternoon. Erica gazed out the window. The skyscrapers of the city soon gave way to trees and fields.

As they headed north, it started to rain. At first, big, fat droplets splashed slowly against the windshield.

Then, all of a sudden, the raindrops pounded fast and furiously. Mom turned the windshield wipers on as fast as they would go.

Just then, there was a loud crack of thunder. A bolt of lightning lit up the sky, which had grown quite dark.

"It's raining buckets," Mom declared. "I can hardly see to drive."

"Maybe we should pull over," Erica said.

Erica was scared. They were still several hours from Aunt Jill's house. Worse, they seemed to be stuck in the middle of nowhere.

"Look," Mom said, leaning forward and squinting. "There's an inn up ahead. Perhaps we could stay there tonight."

Erica felt relieved as they pulled up to a quaint farmhouse. It was white with green shutters. The house looked very inviting.

Erica and her mother grabbed their suitcases and rushed to the front porch. Thankfully, the porch was covered, providing shelter from the rain. Mom rang the doorbell. Before long, they heard footsteps in the hall.

"Welcome," said the innkeeper, as she opened the door. "Please come in and make yourselves at home."

"We'd like to rent a room for the evening," said Erica's mother. "I hope you still have one available."

"Certainly, dear," the lady said. "It is quite a storm we're having."

"It sure is!" Erica said.

The innkeeper showed Erica and her mother to their room.

The lady led the travelers to a cozy upstairs bedroom. Erica was pleased to see a giant bed with a fluffy comforter. As thunder boomed outside, she could hardly wait to snuggle under the warm, dry covers.

The next morning, Erica awoke to the sound of birds chirping. The terrible storm was over.

Erica and her mother walked downstairs. The parlor looked even lovelier in the bright light of morning.

"Hello?" Erica's mother called out.

Erica and her mother could not find the innkeeper.

Erica's mother shrugged her shoulders. "Maybe she went out for groceries," she said. "We can just leave a note."

Erica's mother rummaged through her purse for some paper. She neatly wrapped a note around some money and placed them on the table in the hall.

After driving a few miles, they stopped to get gas.

"Can I help you?" the boy at the gas station asked pleasantly.

"We'd like a fill-up," Erica's mom replied.

"Sure thing," the boy said. He placed the nozzle into the gas tank.

"You didn't happen to drive through that terrible storm last night, did you?" the boy continued.

"As a matter of fact, we did," Erica's mom said. "Fortunately, we were able to spend the night at that charming inn a few miles back."

The boy turned and looked at them. "You don't mean the white farmhouse with the green shutters?" he asked, looking puzzled.

"Why, yes!" Erica's mother replied. "The hostess was so kind."

"But that's impossible," the boy said slowly. "That's Mrs. Flattery's old inn. It burned down several days ago."

"Burned down?" Erica repeated in surprise.

Erica's mother figured the boy was joking. She waited for him to laugh. But he seemed very serious. Erica had a creepy feeling.

"Let's drive back, Mom," she suggested. "It will only take a few minutes."

When they returned, they saw that the inn was in ruins.

Erica held her breath as they approached the inn. When they pulled into the drive, she could hardly believe their eyes! Sure enough, the old house was burned, just like the boy had said.

"How can that be?" Erica stammered in disbelief. "We were just here!"

The porch that had protected them from the rain was now sagging and burned. The windows were all broken.

Carefully, Erica made her way to the opening where the front door used to be. Then she gasped. There before her was the hall table. And on it was their neatly folded note.

Like mysteries? Our next read-aloud story is about an old family mystery in "The Little Room."

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The Little Room

Maria remembered the room as sunny and filled with seashells.

Maria and Claudia climbed the steps to their train car. The sisters had flown to Montpelier. Now they were taking a train on the Central Vermont Railway. They were traveling to see their aunts who lived in a very old house near Highgate Springs.

"I am glad we will finally put an end to our disagreement," said Maria.

"So am I," agreed Claudia. "Let's hope our aunts will let us see the room."

As the train rumbled along by the Winsooki River, Maria and Claudia talked about their childhood visits with their aunts.

"Whenever I went by the little door off the kitchen, I saw bright sunshine under the door," said Maria. "One day, I quietly opened the door. The room was filled with sunshine. There was a big window. The furniture was brightly painted. There were shells everywhere."

"Did you go inside?" Claudia asked.

"I tried," Maria said. "I opened the door once. But Aunt Bedelia saw me and cried, 'Come away from there this instant!' I never was brave enough to open that door again."

"I remember the room," Claudia said. "It was not at all as you saw it, Maria. When I was little, the door off the kitchen always had a cool breeze blowing under it. I could smell flowers in the breeze. One day, I opened the door. The room was cool and dark. Red velvet curtains covered the window. The walls were covered with beautiful wallpaper. There were vases of deep red roses. The roses were the flowers I could smell when the breeze came under the door."

Claudia remembered the room as dark and full of roses.

"Did you ever step inside the room?" Maria asked.

Claudia shook her head. "I tried, too. But Aunt Magnolia came up behind me and cried, 'Come away from there this instant!' I was never brave enough to open the door again," she said.

"Isn't it strange? We remember the room so differently," Maria said.

"I wonder why Aunt Bedelia and Aunt Magnolia did not want us to go into the room," Claudia said.

"It's quite a mystery," Maria answered.

The train clacked and creaked along the tracks.

"It will be good to see Aunt Bedelia and Aunt Magnolia again," Claudia said.

"I wonder if they have changed much since we last saw them," Maria said.

"I just hope they will finally let us see the room," Claudia said.

Maria and Claudia took a taxi to the old house where their aunts lived. The aunts were standing on the front porch when they arrived. The girls ran to the porch and hugged their aunts.

Maria said, "We hope you can solve a mystery for us. Both of us remember a little door off of the kitchen. I remember a room full of bright sunlight and seashells. Claudia remembers a room full of cool breezes, shadows, and roses. Who is right?"

The aunts looked at each other. Aunt Bedelia said, "Perhaps you are old enough to understand. Magnolia, please get the lamp."

Aunt Magnolia stood up. She picked up an oil lamp from the table.

Aunt Bedelia said, "The room you remember does not have shells in it. It does not have roses in it. Come and have a look."

The two young ladies followed their aunts to the little door off the kitchen. Aunt Magnolia held the lamp. Aunt Bedelia unlocked the door.

The aunts showed Claudia and Maria the marker in the cellar.

Claudia and Maria saw the stairs to the cellar. In the center of the cellar was a wooden marker that read:

Shelly and Rose

December 31, 1948

Maria and Claudia stared at the marker.

"One winter night," Aunt Bedelia began, "when your Aunt Magnolia and I were only a little older than you are now, there was a terrible snowstorm. We heard a knock at the door. It was a young woman. She had a little baby that was wrapped in a shawl."

Aunt Magnolia continued the story. "We took the young woman and her baby in. She was almost frozen from the storm. We bundled them into bed with extra blankets. We built up the fire to make the room warmer. We fed them hot soup. We did our best to take care of the young woman and her baby. When morning came, both the baby and the young woman had died in their sleep."

Aunt Bedelia said, "We did not know what to do. It was winter and the ground outside was frozen. We had to bury them in the cellar. The ground was softer because it was warmed by the house. The young woman had a note in her hand. The note said, 'Take care of my Rose -- Shelly.'"

Aunt Magnolia shook her head and said, "Some days this is just our cellar with a wooden marker in the center of it. On other days, it is a room filled with sunshine and seashells."

"Other days, it is a room filled with roses and shadows," said Aunt Bedelia.

"Did you ever find out who they were?" Claudia asked.

Aunt Bedelia answered, "We could not find anyone who knew the young woman. All we had was the note she was holding in her hand."

Aunt Magnolia said, "I think the young woman knew we tried to help her. Whenever the room appears, there is a happy feeling in it."

"If the room is sunny and bright, you feel like dancing and singing. If the room is filled with roses, you feel peaceful," said Aunt Bedelia.

Maria, Claudia, Aunt Bedelia, and Aunt Magnolia walked back up the stairs.

"I did not know your house was haunted. That would have scared me when I was little," Maria said.

"That is why we did not want you to go into the room," Aunt Bedelia said.

"We did not want you to be frightened," Aunt Magnolia said.

The woman and her baby still lived in the room.

As the young women and their aunts stepped back into the kitchen, the steps began to fade.

If they had looked back, they would have seen that the room was bright and sunny. There were many seashells scattered about. There were vases of deep red roses on the tabletops. A young woman sat in a rocking chair and sang softly to a sweet little baby.

In the final section, we'll scare you silly when you read about a haunted restaurant in the next story, "Ghost Hunters."

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Ghost Hunters

No one could finish a meal at Jim's Village Inn.

It was Friday night. Jim Osborne crossed his fingers. He hoped nothing strange would happen at his restaurant that night. Friday night used to be the busiest night at Jim's Village Inn. But now very few people came to his restaurant. The week before, the cook had quit.

"How can I get the food ready?" the cook had asked. "The flame on the stove keeps blowing out! Food is missing from the cupboard! Every time I turn around, the freezer door opens! I can't stand it!"

Word was spreading around town that Jim's Village Inn was haunted.

Jim watched as a family started to eat their dinner. The table shook and their plates crashed to the floor. Jim went to apologize for the mess. The family was shocked. They wanted an explanation. But Jim did not have one.

Jim picked up the phone. He dialed a number from a newspaper ad.

"Incident Investigations," a voice answered.

"This is Jim Osborne," Jim said. "I run Jim's Village Inn. I need your help."

"Close your restaurant early tonight," said the ghost hunter. "I will be there before midnight."

Ghost hunters do their best work at night. They study poltergeists. Poltergeists are ghosts that knock things over. They make a lot of noise.

Ghost hunters do not study every case they hear about. Some events can be easily explained. Sometimes people are just imagining things.

But some cases are truly unusual. These cases demand an expert and that is when the ghost hunter comes to investigate.

Ghost hunters take measurements to detect the presence of spirits.

In their investigations, ghost hunters use the tools of science. A ghost hunter's kit would contain a camera, a sound recorder, and a thermometer.

Harry Price was a famous ghost hunter. He studied hundreds of haunted places. He did not believe a place was haunted until he could find scientific proof.

Price wanted to get evidence that he could record. He studied a haunted place by spending the night in it. Price wanted to record sounds and watch for movement.

He spread flour on the floor to detect footprints. He set up motion-sensitive alarms that would wake him up.

Sometimes tables shook, lamps fell over, or doors locked. There was nobody in the house but Harry Price, and he had not moved. These were places that Harry Price proved were haunted.

Other famous ghost hunters were some of history's most respected scientists. They started out wanting to prove that haunts were just silly stories. But their studies changed their minds.

Sir William Crookes studied haunted houses in England during the 1800's. He attended many séances, when people get together to try to talk to spirits. He saw and heard many things that science could not explain.

Today's ghost hunters have advanced machines. They are used to sense the slightest changes in temperature or movements in the air. Machines can help the ghost hunters see in the dark. They also help to give proof that other people can see and believe.

Ghost hunters do not really "hunt" ghosts. There is nothing they can do to make ghosts go away. They hunt for proof in haunted places. Once they record ghostly activities or find no proof, their job is done.

Jim's Village Inn is now called Jim's Haunted Inn.

Their work proves that ghosts are hard to track and impossible to trap. For these real-life ghost busters, the hunt continues.

A ghost hunter proved that Jim's Village Inn was inhabited by mischievous spirits. It is now called Jim's Haunted Inn. Every Friday night, people come from miles around to dine in the presence of a poltergeist.

Want more Halloween stories? Try these:
  • Halloween Stories: Rediscover your favorite spooky stories and share them with friends.
  • Scary Stories: Browse this collection of scary stories for children, featuring such favorite characters as Dracula, Dr. Jeckyll, and Frankenstein's monster.

"The Canterville Ghost" Based on the story by Oscar Wilde, Adapted by Renee Deshommes, Illustrated by Stacy Schuett

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" Based on the original story by Washington Irving, Adapted by Rebecca Grazulis, Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler

"White Dog" Written by Renee Deshommes, Illustrated by Brian Floca

"A Day at Versailles" Written by Suzanne Lieurance, Illustrated by Jane Chambless Wright

"Sweet Mary" Written by Rebecca Grazulis, Illustrated by Angela Jarecki

"A Ghost Story" Based on the original story by Mark Twain, Adapted by Lisa Harkrader, Illustrated by Ute Simon

"Haunted Cemeteries" Written by Brian Conway, Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler

"The Open Window" Based on the original story by Saki, Adapted by Elizabeth Olson, Illustrated by Jenifer Schneider

"Flying Dutchman" Written by Brian Conway, Illustrated by Daniel Powers

"How He Left the Hotel" Based on the original story by Louisa Baldwin, Adapted by Lora Kalkman, Illustrated by Ellen Beier

"The Lighthouse" Written by Renee Deshommes, Illustrated by Laurie Harden

"Houdini's Great Escape" Written by Brian Conway, Illustrated by Allan Eitzen

"Ghost Cave" Written by Lisa Harkrader, Illustrated by Kathleen Estes

"The Wreckers' Daughter" Written by Virginia R. Biles, Illustrated by Teresa Flavin

"The Inn at the End of the Lane" Written by Lora Kalkman, Illustrated by Teri Weidner

"The Little Room" Written by Leslie Lindecker, Illustrated by Nan Brooks

"Ghost Hunters" Written by Brian Conway, Illustrated by Cheryl Kirk Noll