Chadwick Meets a Ghost

By Helen Kronberg

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    Grandpa rolled down the window of the car and called, “Take good care of Casper for us while we’re gone, Chadwick.”

    “I will,” Chadwick promised.

    He waved as Grandpa and Grandma drove away. He scratched Casper’s neck. “See you later, boy. I’ve got to go to school now.”

    Chadwick shut the gate and hurried off to school. When he reached home that afternoon, Chadwick went next door to his grandparents’ house to feed Casper. After the dog finished eating they played “chase the stick” until they were both panting.

    “Chadwick,” Mom called. “Suppertime.”

    Chadwick ruffled Casper’s fur. “I’ll come back to say goodnight,” he promised.

    He ran up the steps and into the kitchen. “Casper and I have been having a lot of fun together! He likes me.”

    Mom smiled. “Hurry and wash for supper,” she said. “We’re waiting for you.”

    After supper Chadwick watched his favorite TV program. When it ended, he jumped up quickly. “I better check on Casper,” he declared.

    “You played with him a long time,” Mom said. “It’s almost bedtime.”

    “I promised Casper I’d see him before I went to bed,” Chadwick insisted.

    Mom sighed. “All right, but be back in ten minutes,” she said firmly.

    Chadwick raced down the sidewalk and into Grandma’s yard. Casper wagged his tail happily.

    Chadwick checked the water dish. Then they both flopped down beside the doghouse. They were too tired to play and it was awfully dark by now.

    Chadwick put his arm around Casper’s neck and gazed into the darkness at his grandparents’ house. “I better go,” Chadwick told the dog. “I’ll be over with your breakfast in the morning.”

    After carefully shutting the gate behind him, Chadwick glanced up at the house. He gasped! Then he bounded toward home, opened the back door, and ran through the kitchen.

    “What in the world’s the matter?” Mom asked in alarm.

    “Grandma has a ghost,” he choked.

    Mom stared. “Did you hear someone?”

    He shook his head. “It didn’t make any noise but it was watching me from the window.”

    Dad came into the kitchen carrying the evening paper. “What’s this about a ghost?”

    “I saw it, honest.” Chadwick gulped. His throat was so dry he could hardly talk.

    Dad looked puzzled. “Couldn’t be a prowler. Casper would alarm the whole town if a stranger tried to go in there. But maybe I’d better check anyway.”

    “It’s not a man, Dad, at least not a real one,” Chadwick insisted.

    Dad just smiled and went out the door.

    Soon he was back. “Nothing seems to be disturbed. The doors are all locked and the windows are closed,” he said.

    “You think I only imagined it,” Chadwick muttered.

    Dad patted his shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. Grandma and Grandpa have never mentioned a ghost. Maybe it stays out of the way when they’re home. It could be a caretaker-type ghost when they go away.”

    Chadwick knew Dad was teasing him. Chadwick smiled at Mom and Dad. He didn’t feel quite so scared now. Maybe he had let his imagination play tricks on him.

    The next morning he felt foolish when Dad asked, “Want me to take Casper his breakfast?”

    Chadwick shook his head. “Ghosts don’t come out in the daytime, do they?” he asked.

    “Well, none that I’ve ever known,” Dad answered. “But then, I haven’t known many ghosts.”

    Chadwick looked up at the window before he opened the gate, but he saw nothing there. He gave Casper fresh water and food. The dog was too busy eating when Chadwick left to even look up.

    That afternoon whenever Chadwick went to see Casper, he looked at the window half expecting to see something there. But each time the window was empty.

    Just before bedtime that night, he walked slowly toward the door. “I have to say goodnight to Casper,” he explained.

    “I’m sure the dog is all right,” Mom said kindly. “You don’t have to go unless you really want to.”

    Chadwick shook his head. “I promised to take good care of him. It’s my responsibility.”

    “If you hurry you can probably catch up with Dad. He went to check the house just a minute ago.”

    Chadwick ran down the sidewalk, but Dad was out of sight. He walked slowly around the house. When he reached the gate he peeked up at the window. There was something there! Just then Dad turned on the light in the kitchen. The ghost began to twitch and wiggle.

    Chadwick screamed and ran toward the back door. “Dad, Dad,” he shouted.

    Dad opened the door wide. “Chadwick! What’s wrong?”

    “I saw it again, Dad. The ghost was going right toward you,” Chadwick cried frantically.

    Dad sighed. “Let’s turn on every light in the house. Maybe we can find this ghost of yours.”

    Chadwick trembled in fear. He followed closely behind his father. They went through the house, turning on the lights as they went.

    Chadwick jingled the windchimes hanging from a curtain rod. “Funny place for Grandma to put her windchimes,” he said.

    Dad glanced at them. “They could probably be broken on the porch if the wind started blowing very hard. I suppose she thought of them as she went out the door.”

    They turned off the lights and went back outside. Dad locked the door. Chadwick checked Casper’s water dish. Then they turned toward home.

    Chadwick glanced back over his shoulder. He clutched his father’s arm tightly. “There it is again!” he whispered. Then he began to laugh. “The windchimes! It’s nothing but those crazy windchimes with the streetlights shining on them.”

    Dad chuckled. “And so another ghost is laid to rest.”

    “You knew all the time that there wasn’t any ghost, didn’t you, Dad?” Chadwick asked.

    Dad put his arm around Chadwick’s shoulders. “Well, let’s just say I had some mighty strong doubts. But everyone should meet a ghost at least once in his lifetime!”

    Illustrated by Stephanie Clark