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The Haunted Sentry Box of Porto Rico   By:

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The Knickerbocker Press NEW YORK 1916

Copyright, 1916 BY LEWIS MILLER

The Haunted Sentry Box of Porto Rico


Lewis Miller

Directly below the old fort of San Cristobal, in San Juan, Porto Rico, projecting out over the sea from a corner of the sea wall, is a sentry box. Years ago a sentry, placed on duty at this lonely post, utterly disappeared, leaving behind only his musket and side arms. His disappearance was so mysterious that it was attributed to sea devils, and the sentry box has ever since been given a wide berth by all superstitious natives.

The same night of this strange incident, a priest, the best liked and most admired of his sect in the city, disappeared. The only clue discovered in regard to his disappearance was the small gold cross, which constantly hung suspended from a chain around his neck, found before the door of the corner sentry box.

I heard many stories in regard to the disappearance of these two, but all were too preposterous to allow any thought of truth. At last, however, good luck brought me into the presence of a man who knew, and it is the story as I heard it from him which I am undertaking to recount.

The proprietor of one of the "tiendas" in Mayaguez, Juan Cordo by name, was a large, jovial old man full of stories of wild adventure, with which every Saturday night he entertained a gathering composed chiefly of the working men, who, their work over for the week, were ready to listen to any tale which would entertain them and the old storekeeper was a good talker. It was at one of these gatherings, to which I was frequently drawn by a desire to hear the old man's ramblings, that I heard the story of the haunted sentry box.

As usual, the old fellow, who loved to be urged, could for sometime think of nothing to tell about, but he finally decided on his subject and settling back in his chair, began. I noticed, however, that he carefully scrutinized the faces of his audience, that is, of all except one. But this one was really of little importance as he was a late arrival in town and scarcely known to any one. As I have said, his face was free from the scrutinizing eye of old Juan Cordo, for, coming in late, he had quietly seated himself behind the story teller without attracting his attention.

"My story begins back in the early seventies," began the old man in a thoughtful and his usual hesitating tone. "The capital was the scene of crimes, of immorality and of all sorts of disorders. There were good men, of course, but even these were often corrupted. An instance of this was young Pedro Delvarez, a soldier, who had enlisted in the army when he was but seventeen. He had had chances which most of his associates had not fine parents, an education, money; but he proved unworthy of them all. He turned to gambling and fast living, finally marrying a young girl, far below him in social rank, who married him merely for his money. His love for this girl, however, partly cured him of his wild life and helped him to be a better fellow.

"Although he might have had an officer's rank through his father's influence, he had enlisted as a mere common soldier due to some fool book notion of working his way up. But his habits retarded his progress and at the end of six years of service he found himself still in the ranks. He made many enemies among his rough associates and chief among them was a great, strong, dastardly fellow named Torcas."

There was a stir behind the old storekeeper as the stranger leaned forward with a gleam of interest in his eyes, but I thought with a twitching of anger around his mouth... Continue reading book >>

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