#10 Ghost Town at Sundown
When Annie saw a rabbit with very long legs hoping pass by her house, Jack and Annie went to the woods and found the magic tree house was back. Merlin was waiting for them and handed a book titled Days of the Wild West. And she also gave them a riddle to solve. ‘Out of the blue, my lonely voice calls out to you. Who am I? Am I?’ When they arrived at Rattlesnake Flats, no one seemed to live there. In the 1870s, Rattlesnake Flats was a rest stop for the stagecoach that carried passengers from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Fort Worth, Texas. When the creek dried up, everyone left. By 1880, it was a “ghost town”. Jack and Annie went into General House which seemed a store, they put on cowboy hats and boots. Then they heard the sound of piano, but no one played it, it played by itself. They were so scared and went out of the place.
Then they heard another sound, horse hooves thumping against the hard ground. Three cowboys were coming to the town. Jack and Annie hided in the barrels and heard that they were rustlers who stole mustangs. After rustlers went away, a wild young mustang came running into the town, He seemed lost and looking for his mother which the rustlers stole. Annie named him Sunset and handled him well. Annie wanted to take Sunset to his mother. Then Slim, a mustang herder, showed up and said the rustlers had stolen his mustangs so he needed to find them.
When Slim, Jack and Annie took their horses back from the rustlers, Jack had a very hard time because he fell from Dusty which was Slim’s horse while running away from the rustlers. It was hard for him to get on the horse. As Jack struggled to get on Dusty, he saw a shimmering white figure was moving across the top of the rise. The rustlers’ horses were panicking and backing away. Jack didn’t have time to think about what he was seeing. Using all his strength, he pulled himself into the saddle. Jack and Dusty held on for dear life as they spit the wind. Finally Sunset met his mother. Jack, Annie and Slim got to Blue Canyon safely and camped out for a rest. During their rest, Slim told the story about why the piano played by itself. Lonesome Luke was a cowboy. He loved a girl but she went back east. Luke went loco(lonely). Everynight he played the piano at the hotel, ‘Red River Valley’ over and over. Then one night he just vanished into the prairie and was never seen alive again. His bones were found a year later. But folks said his ghost returned to the hotel piano to play ‘Red River Valley’ everynight.
Actually Slim first came out west to write a book. But one thing led to another. He happened to be a mustang herder. So Annie said that Slim should let the mustangs go free and write his book. When they freed the mustang and said goodbye to the horses, out of the blue, a voice called, “Bye!” The echo was bounced off the Canyon Walls. They found the answer for the riddle Morgan gave them. It was ‘echo’.
Slim went back to his place. Jack and Annie saw just the shimmering shape of cowboy playing the piano and waved shimmering hand to Jack and Annie. Then the ghost of Lonesome Luke faded away.
When they were back to Frog Creek, they found out it was Slim who had written the book which Jack and Annie used while they stayed in Rattlesnake Flats. On dedication of the book, it said, “With thanks to Smile and Shorty, two strangers who changed my life.” Slim called Jack and Annie ‘Shorty’ and ‘Smiley’.