his front door. An envelope lay on his porch. He picked it up and read
it. “It's an invitation to a party at Uncle David's house.” He slammed
the door shut. “Mother! I got an invitation to Uncle David's 90th
birthday party. Can I go?”
His mother read the invitation. “It says he lives at
the old Riversniten house. That's a strange place. Old man Riversniten
built it a hundred years ago. He wanted his house to be different than
anyone else's and it is. When I was a girl, I thought the house was
haunted. My friends and I stayed away from it. You should too.”
“But he's my uncle. There must be a reason he invited
me. I don't believe in haunted houses anyway,” Calvin said.
“You can go if you want, but be careful. There are
three paths that lead to the house. One of them leads to an old dungeon
full of spiders and bats. One of the them leads to the oldest part of
the house, where old man Riversniten kept his library and his pet
snakes. Choose wisely, Calvin.” His mother gave him back the invitation
and went into the kitchen to wash the dishes.
Calvin washed his face and scrubbed his hands until
they were clean. He brushed his hair and put his hat on. “Goodbye,
Mother,” he called. “I'm off to Uncle David's party.” He'd found a box
of chocolates that his mother had given him for his birthday last week
and had wrapped it for Uncle David.
Mother stood at the door. “Choose wisely, Calvin.”
Calvin ran down the road, excited about the party. “I
wonder what Uncle David's house looks like.” He chased a squirrel up a
tree and picked up shiny rocks and put them in his pocket. Soon he came
to the edge of the woods. “There it is. It does look strange. There are
three paths, just like Mother said. I wonder which one is the right
one.” He looked at the house. “Mother's silly. It won't matter what door
I go to. There are no such things as ghosts and haunted houses.”
He picked the path on the left and ran down to the
door. He was about to knock, but heard some odd noises coming from
inside. “What's that?” Calvin put his ear to the door. “It sounds like
snakes hissing.” He listened again. “It is snakes. Mother was right.
This must be his library where he keeps the pet snakes. I'll go and try
He ran back to the place where the paths split. “I'll
go to that one.” He chose the path on the right. Calvin skipped towards
the door, looking at the round house. “What a strange house. I wonder
what's at the very top.” He was about to knock when a spider fell on his
hand. “A spider!” Hitting it on the ground, he squished it with his
shoe. “What if Mother was right and there's a dungeon behind that door
full of spiders and snakes? Maybe I should choose the middle path.”
Calvin ran back to the place where the paths split
and headed straight down the middle path. He stood in front of the door.
“I smell chocolate cake.” He sniffed again. “I smell rhubarb pie with
cream.” Knock. Knock. Knock.
creaked open, but there was nobody there. Calvin stuck his head inside.
“Hello, Uncle David. It's me, Calvin. I've come to your 90th
birthday party. I've got a present for you.”
He stepped inside and looked all around. The room had
wood paneling and lots of furniture. A spiral staircase stood to the
side. Calvin stood at the bottom of it and looked up. “Wow! It goes up
to the top. Maybe Uncle David is up there.” Grabbing the hand rail,
Calvin made his way up the winding stairs. A door at the top was open.
He walked through it. There sat Uncle David. “Uncle David. I'm here for
The man in the rocking chair didn't move.
“Uncle David?” Calvin walked over and touched him on
the shoulder. “Uncle David?”
The man turned around and smiled. “Oh, it's you,
Calvin. I didn't hear you. I'm so glad you came to my party. Have a
seat. From here you can see for miles. There's the sea out there and if
you look that way,” he pointed, “you'll see the forests and mountains. I
love this old house.”
Calvin looked around. “Is anyone else coming to the
party besides me?”
“No. I only invited you. Nobody else would come.
Everyone is afraid of this house. They say it is haunted.”
“Do you have snakes in your library, Uncle David?”
“I don't have snakes, but old man Riversniten used to
keep them. Why do you ask?” Uncle David stood next to Calvin.
“I went down the wrong path and I heard snakes,” he
Uncle David smiled. “Ah.”
“And when I went to another door, a spider fell on
me. That must be the dungeon. Is it really full of bats and spiders?”
“Old man Riversniten never cleaned the dungeon. I'm
sure there were bats and spiders,” Uncle David said. “Would you like to
see the house? It's very odd, isn't it? I have no idea why he built a
house so round and big. I like it though.”
Calvin said, “Yes, I'd love to see it.”
Uncle David led him down the stairs into a huge room.
“Just go in there and wait for me, Calvin. I'll bring us some lemonade
and birthday cake.”
Calvin opened the door and went inside. Suddenly bars
sealed the doors shut and caged him inside. When Uncle David came back,
he walked straight through the door, as though it wasn't there. Calvin
“You don't believe in ghosts and haunted houses, do
“No, Uncle David. I...I...I don't.”
“Did your mother ever tell you my name?”
“No, she didn't, Uncle David.”
“Well, it's David Riversniten. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.”
Calvin was never seen or head of again. His mother
knew what had happened to him, but was too afraid to go and find him. “I
warned him, I did. I warned him.”
The old house stood at the edge of the woods. Spiders
crawled on the doors and bats flew in and out. Snakes hissed and Uncle
David sat on his chair watching the sea.