Dangerous Warning

The inside of the huge building was surprising. One door led from the rear entry to a large yet cozy-looking room filled with sofas and chairs grouped for conversation or, in one corner, around a television set. A second door, the one they entered through, led into a very modern kitchen, which was filled with delicious scents.

Bess stopped and sniffed appreciatively. “This is even better than the orange blossoms,” she observed.

“Dinner will be ready in about an hour,” Maria said with a grateful smile. “I was working on it when Mr. Henry arrived.”

“You just go ahead with what you were doing, Maria,” Heather told her. “I’ll talk to Mr. Henry after I call the people at the J Bar T ”

Maria nodded. “Thank you, Heather,” she murmured.

Nancy, Bess, and George followed Heather out of the kitchen into an airy dining room. There were several tables scattered around the big room that would accommodate four or six people each, but Nancy could see that there was space for twice as many. The walls were decorated with small, Indian rugs and blankets plus a number of paintings of western and desert scenes. Indian baskets holding dried flower arrangements decorated the side tables, giving the entire room a friendly, western atmosphere.

“I’ll show you to your rooms before I take care of things for Maria,” Heather began. “I’m just sorry that all this has come up right now. I was hoping we could have a nice, quiet evening, but...”

“You don’t really think the boy took the filly, do you?” George asked.

Heather sighed. “I don’t want to,” she replied, “but there have been so many incidents. Everything seemed fine at first, but after he started riding so much ...”

“He’s a cute boy,” Bess said. “And he certainly speaks English well for having been here such a short time.”

“His mother speaks some English and she insisted that he learn it, too. Also, he’s trying hard to be like his father, though he can’t remember him too well. He was barely three when Kyle was killed. ” Heather led them into a large hall and Nancy gasped with delight.

“Are these the Kachinas?” Bess asked breathlessly.

“Our private gallery,” Heather confirmed, her tone a mixture of pride and resignation as she pointed to the beautifully decorated walls of the hall. “And home of our resident ghost, I guess.”

“Now, Heather, you don’t really believe all those stories, do you?” The man who stepped into the long hall of Kachinas from the other side was tall, well-muscled, and weathered.

“Mr. Henry!” Heather said. “I was just coming to talk to you.” She told quickly about Ngyun’s appearance with the filly and his explanation of how it had come into his care.

“I’ll take the filly to the J Bar T Ranch,” Mr. Henry said, “and I’ll report everything to them.”

Only when that was settled did Heather remember her guests. She quickly introduced Nancy, George, and Bess to the rancher.

“So you’re the sleuth that Chuck and Heather are counting on to capture their ghost,” Mr. Henry said, shaking Nancy’s hand firmly. “I had no idea you’d be so young, Miss Drew, or so pretty.”

Nancy blushed, unsure what to say.

“She’ll do it, too,” George said firmly. “No ghost is safe around Nancy.”

“I’m certainly going to do my best to solve the mystery here,” Nancy agreed. “I want to help Heather and Chuck make this resort a success.”

“We all do,” Mr. Henry assured her. “That’s why I’m concerned about the boy. He’s causing a lot of trouble in the area, and Heather, you’re going to need the good will of your neighbors if you want this resort to work.”

“I don’t see how a few childish pranks could cause so much trouble,” Nancy said, her mind on the shy smile and almond eyes of the boy who’d ridden in on the pinto. He’d seemed younger than twelve and quite defenseless.

“That filly is worth a great deal of money,” Mr. Henry told her. “And there have been a number of other things. We’ve been lucky with the fires so far, but he could light up a barn or a house next, and that wouldn’t be so easy for us to ignore.”

Heather gasped and Nancy could see her paling at the man’s accusing tone, but before she could say anything, Chuck came into the hall. A moment later, the rancher excused himself to talk to Chuck about some ranch business.

Heather turned back to the wall paintings with a sigh. “They really are beautiful, aren’t they?” she said. “Someone suggested that we might be able to get rid of the ghost by painting over them, but I couldn’t do that.”

“Of course not,” Bess agreed. “They are real art treasures.”

“Which Kachinas are they?” Nancy asked. “I mean, what do they represent?”

Heather smiled and pointed out the feather-headdressed, red, white, and yellow Cloud Kachina; the feather-winged Eagle Kachina; the white-furred Bear Kachina; and finally a blue-masked, white-bodied creature known as the Prickly Pear Cactus Kachina. “The other three we haven’t identified yet,” she finished. “Maria says she thinks the one on the end is a Mud-head, but the other two even she doesn’t recognize.”

“They certainly are exotic,” Nancy observed, standing in front of one of the unidentified figures, which sported a feathery topknot and a very carefully patterned body. “Your guests are going to love them.”

“I hope so,” Heather said with a smile. “Especially you three, since your rooms are right along this hall.” She paused, then added, “I hope you and George don’t mind sharing a room, Bess. We don’t have all our furniture yet.”

“Just being here is wonderful,” Bess and George assured Heather as she pointed to the two doors that opened just beyond the bend in the hall.

“The front of the house is devoted to the lobby area and the resort office,” Heather explained, “so all the bedrooms open off this hall. Grandfather, Chuck, and I have rooms at the other end at the moment, though we hope eventually to move upstairs and convert all the rooms down here for our guests. ”

“What about the Tomiches?” Nancy asked. “Do they live at the resort?

“Yes, on the second floor, as a matter of fact. Ward and Chuck have been working on the modernization up there in the evenings. They have one end fixed, but that’s all.”

“Where did your grandfather see the Kachina spirit?” Nancy inquired, her mind returning to the reason for her visit.

Heather frowned. “Well, he said he came out of his room and started along the hall, but he’d only taken a few steps when he saw this thing in the moonlight. He thought it was an intruder, so he went down the hall in a hurry, then he caught his foot and ... well, he said that the figure just seemed to fade into the wall about there.” She indicated the Kachina that had attracted Nancy’s eye.

Nancy stared at the painting for a moment, wishing that the masked face could give her some kind of clue. But the old paint was uninformative, and, after another moment, she shrugged and allowed herself to be directed to her room.

“I suppose if we’re going to unpack before dinner, we’d better get started,” she murmured as she stepped through the door which bore a freshly painted number on it.

“Don’t feel rushed,” Heather told them all. “We’re just family, so Maria can hold dinner if you want to nap or something. ”

“Oh, no,” Bess said quickly, “don’t have her do that, not the way everything smelled in the kitchen. It must be nearly ready.”

Nancy laughed as she closed her door and turned her attention to her suitcases, which Chuck had placed on the bench at the foot of her double bed. She got her keys out and started to open the large one first, anxious to hang her clothes in the closet so the wrinkles would come out. However, when she tried to unlock the bag, she found that it was already unlocked.

Could she have forgotten to lock it? Nancy asked herself as she opened the case. They had been rushed, but still.... Frowning, she began taking things out, trying hard to remember everything she’d packed and the exact order it had been put in.

Everything seemed all right, but when she reached for her new, blue knit shirt, the wrinkle in it moved and she jerked her hand back quickly. Nothing happened, so she carefully picked up one of the clothes hangers from the bed and lightly touched the “wrinkle.” It moved suddenly, and to her horror, a brownish scorpion nearly two-and-a-half inches long scuttled out of her shirt, its deadly tail moving angrily!