An Excerpt from "The Case of the Halloween Ghost"

Friday, October 23, 2020 | By Nikki, one of Hank's minions

Hymn singer



Howdy, Hank-Readers! 

Have you ever wondered what a "cake house" is??  So have lots of other Hank fans over the years!  The cake house on the ranch features prominently in Hank's latest adventure, book 75 "The Case of the Red Rubber Ball"... AND, it also reminds us of one of the best scenes from Book 9, The Case of the Halloween Ghost!


From Chapter 10:

". . .Where do you go when you’ve got ghosts and goblins on your trail? I didn’t know. I mean, they can walk through walls and see in the dark. It’s hard to hide from that kind of enemy.

    I went streaking away from the yard and came to the cake house, figgered that was as good a place as any, leaped through door and went inside.

    It was very dark in there, with just a little rod of moonlight coming through the open door. I stumbled over junk and stuff, sacks of feed and wads of baling wire, and made my way back to the northwest corner, which was as far away from the door as I could get.

    There, I found a stack of burlap feed sacks, and I proceeded to burrow under the sack on top. If those goblins wanted to eat me, they would have to eat a sack first.

    And then I waited. I could hear my heart pounding: tah-DAH, tah-DAH, tah-DAH. I could hear the wind rumbling across the tin roof. And beyond that . . . nothing.

    Nothing had ever sounded sweeter than the nothing I heard at that moment. I mean, I was ready for some heavy silence.

    But then . . . what was that? Footsteps on the wood floor? Holy smokes, they were coming after me! I was backed into a corner and all I had for protection was an old cake sack.

    My mind began racing, as I searched my data banks for some kind of response that would save me from those horrible creatures.

    In this type of situation, did a guy come out fighting? Did he try to hide? What the heck did he do? It was kind of an important question, don’t you see, because the wrong answer would get me more than a bad grade. It would get me . . . 

    I really didn’t want to probe that matter too deeply. I wasn’t sure what-all that collection of ghouls and goblins could do to an innocent dog, and I didn’t want to know.

    At last I came up with a plan. Instead of trying to hide or fight my way out, I would pretend that I was one of them—another ghost, in other words. It’s common knowledge that one ghost won’t eat another ghost.

    Seemed reasonable that one ghost wouldn’t eat another ghost.

    I sure hoped that one ghost . . . 

    So I gathered my courage and raised up. I hoped that my legs wouldn’t give out on me, because they were shaking.

    And wet. I still didn’t understand that part. Disguising my voice, so that it sounded more like a ghost than a dog, I said, “Wooooo! Who’s in my cake house?” 

    I heard the ghast gosp—the ghost gasp, that is. “Oh my gosh, who said that?”

    “It’s meeeeeee, the ghost of the cake house. You are disturbing my sleeeeeeep.”

    “Oh. Ohhhh. Ohhhhhhh!”

    It was a ghost, all right. Yes sir, I had me a live one. The next question was, what could I do with him? Get rid of him, I think was my basic answer. But how?

    Once again, I went into the Ghost Voice Mode. “What are you doing in my cake house?”

    I heard a gulp, and then, “I’m hiding.”

    “What are you hiding from?”

    “From ghosts like you.”

    Hm. That was odd. A ghost who was hiding from another ghost? It occurred to me that this might be a ghost I could do business with. But first I would have to probe his thought patterns and develop a profile. It would require just the right touch.

    “Tell me, spirit, why should you be hiding from a ghost?”

    “Because I’m scared!”

    “Why should a ghost be scared of another ghost?”

    “I don’t know, and I don’t want to find out.”

    “Tell me, spirit, was it something that happened in your former life?”

    There was a moment of silence. Then the ghost said, “I’ve never been a farmer.”

    “I said ‘former,’ not ‘farmer.’”


    This was getting me nowhere. Apparently this ghost didn’t want to give out any information about his former life. Either that or he was a little stupid.

    “Another question, spirit. Do you eat dogs?”

    “I ate a hot dog once.”

    “But do you eat dogs?”

    “No. Do you?”

    Suddenly it occurred to me that I had heard that voice before. There was something about it . . . yes, I was almost sure I had. “Spirit, do you have a name?”

    “Yes, but it isn’t Spirit.”

    “I see. Well, we’ve eliminated that as a possibility, haven’t we?”


    “But instead of going through all the other names in the language, maybe you could just come out and tell me what it is.”

    “Well, okay. If you promise not to eat me, I’ll tell you that my name’s Drover.”


    Suddenly the pieces of the puddle . . . puzzle began to fall into place: The goblins had seized Little Drover, had killed him, and now he was a GHOST!

    “Drover, listen to me. This is Hank.”

    “Hank!” I heard him gasp. “Oh my gosh, they got you, I knew you shouldn’t have . . . Hank, I tried to help you, honest I did, but this leg . . .”

    “I know you tried, Drover, but I just want to say right here and now that I regret all the mean things I’ve done to you.”

    “Yeah, and I regret all the chicken things I’ve done to you, and I hope you won’t haunt me.”

    “Yes, well, that’s exactly what I was going to say to you, Drover. I hope you won’t . . . wait a minute. Did you say you hope I won’t haunt you?”

    “Yeah, please. I’ll promise to be good for the rest of my life, and I’ll take care of your ranch, honest
I will.”


    “One last question, Drover. Are you a ghost?”

    “Who me? A ghost? No, I don’t think so.”

    “Well, I’m not a ghost either.”

    “Oh. Then . . . what are we doing?”

    Ah ha!

    I stood up and walked towards the sliver of light where Drover was standing. At last I had solved
the case.

    “What we’re doing, Drover, is performing an exercise in futicity. I think I’ve finally got this thing worked out. This is Halloween night, Drover. Do you know what that means?”

    “Yeah, ’cause Pete . . .”

    “On Halloween, people who are ordinarily sane and normal dress up in masks and costumes, and go around trying to scare others.”

    “Pete told us . . .”

    “Exactly. Those so-called goblins on the porch were just the neighbors’ kids wearing costumes.”

    “Yeah, and Pete said . . .”

    “Yes. You were duped. You gave me a false alarm and sent me into combat against a group of imposters. I had suspicions all along, of course, but I had to check it out.”

    “You mean . . .”

    “Exactly. And another thing, Drover. You know the Tricker Trees you were telling me about? Those kids weren’t saying ‘Tricker Tree.’ They were saying Trick or Treat, you little dunce, but you managed to garble the words just enough to throw me off the track. I should have known.”

    “What does Trick or Treat mean?”

    “How should I know what it means? But that’s what kids say on Halloween night. They always have and they always will, and it has nothing to do with trees.”

    “Oh, I’m so glad! Does this mean that we don’t have to believe in ghosts any more?” 

    “That is precisely what it means, Drover. As I’ve told you many times, there is no such thing as a ghost. A ghost is nothing but a frigment . . . what are you looking at?”

    He was staring with wide eyes towards the back of the cake house. “Hank, there’s a man standing over there.”...


...Do you know how the story ends? If not, be sure to read The Case of the Halloween Ghost!

Hank's Store - The Case of the Halloween Ghost

Also available as an ebook (here)


And...finally, do you know what a cake house is?

In response to a reader's question, Mr. Erickson wrote: "When pasture grass stops growing in the fall, ranchers have to start feeding their cattle a supplement that will provide them with protein. This usually comes in the form of cubed feed in sacks. The old-time cowboys and ranchers called it 'cow cake,' or just cake. The building that was used to hold a winter's supply of cake was called a 'cake house.'"

And, in Hank 75, Slim putted Hank in charge of guarding the cake house from marauding racoons! Order your copy of Hank #75 today to see how Hank does! Will Hank be able to keep the cake house safe, or will Eddie’s sneaky tricks win the day?


Be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below! 


Tags: Hank the Cowdog books, Ranching, Cattle
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