The Haunted Fort

The Haunted Fort by Franklin W. Dixon

Book: The Haunted Fort by Franklin W. Dixon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Franklin W. Dixon
hole. They were moved.”
    The woman thanked Frank and quickly led her son away.
    When the last visitor had left, the Hardys went over to the well. Each wondered the same thing: Had somebody moved the boards on purpose, hoping to cause an accident? If so, was it the work of the same enemy?
    â€œI sure wish we could wait for sundown to see if anybody lowers that flag,” said Joe.
    â€œSo do I. But we promised to be back. Chet will be disappointed if we don’t show up.”
    It was now a little before six o’clock. They hurried down and set off in the bateau. Poling off, they looked back at Fort Senandaga. The Union Jack was still waving from the mast.
    â€œI wonder,” Frank said, “if these flags popping up have some connection with Senandaga Day—and that mysterious battle.”
    â€œCould be.”
    As soon as they had landed at the Millwood beach, the Hardys sought out Chet among the throng of visitors and art students.
    They spotted him under a tree, and were astonished to see Chet, looking dejected, lifting his canvas from the easel.
    â€œWhy so glum, pal?” Frank greeted him. “We heard you were a big hit!”
    Chet’s face grew longer. “It was swell until just this minute,” he mumbled. “I went to get some lemonade. While I was gone—”
    Unable to finish, Chet swallowed and held up his painting. Frank and Joe gasped. What had been a still life of purple grapes in a yellow basket was smeared with blobs of dripping, green paint!

    Lucky Watermelon
    â€œMY painting’s ruined!” Chet looked sadly at the ugly blotches on the canvas.
    â€œThat’s a dirty trick!” Joe said, as Frank looked around angrily for possible suspects.
    â€œWhat about Ronnie Rush?” Joe asked. “I wouldn’t put it past him, especially if he was jealous of the hit your painting made.”
    At the moment Ronnie was not in sight. Frank had an idea. “Chet! You’ve still got a little time before the judges arrive. Maybe you can fix up the picture.”
    Chet seemed doubtful, but Joe quickly joined in to raise his hopes. “Look—only the grapes in the center are ruined—the rest is okay. You could make those green paint blobs into something else!”
    â€œMaybe you’re right!” Chet acknowledged, brightening. “I’ll try it!” Carrying his canvas, he trotted excitedly toward the painting studio.
    â€œWhat a blow for Chet!” Frank commented.
    Joe agreed. “He was really crushed.”
    The Hardys met Uncle Jim. His face fell when they told him of the prank, but he was reassured on hearing of Chet’s last-minute attempt. “I’ll run over and try to keep up his inspiration!”
    The Hardys then saw Mr. Davenport at the sheltered exhibit area, and went over. The elderly patron was walking from one canvas to the next. He spoke volubly, proudly commending his students.
    â€œWell constructed, Bob, good attack!” he told one smiling boy, and moved on to a large, historical battle scene done by another youth.
    â€œExcellent subject, Cliff! You’ve got your figures well deployed!” Twirling his cane happily, he proceeded to another entry. Next to it, looking nervous, stood a blond-haired girl. Her entry was an imaginative view of the Millwood mansion.
    â€œGood thickness of paint there, Ellen.” Mr. Davenport beamed. “Invulnerably designed!”
    Joe chuckled. “He sounds as if he’s talking about the construction of a fort!”
    Frank laughed, but quickly became grim. He pointed to a knoll some distance away.
    Ronnie Rush stood on the slope near two easels. He had a garish painting displayed on each. The Hardys hurried up to him.
    â€œSay, what happened to your fat friend?” he asked, smirking. “He get cold feet and withdraw from the exhibit?”
    â€œNot yet,” Frank said coldly. “Do you know who messed up Chet’s

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