Wishbone Valley by R. K. Munkittrick
A Thanksgiving ghost story about a boy who dined not wisely
but too well.
THE Thanksgiving feast had just ended, and only
Donald and his little sister Grace remained at the
table, looking drowsily at the plum pudding that they
couldn't finish, but which they disliked to leave on their
When the plates had been removed, and the plum-pudding
taken to the kitchen and placed beside the well-carved
gobbler, Donald and Grace were too tired to rise
from their chairs to have their faces washed. They
seemed lost in a roseate repose, until Grace finally
thought of the wishbone that they intended to break
"Come, now, Donald," she said, "let's break the old
"All right," replied Donald, opening his eyes slowly,
and unwrapping the draperies of his sweet plum-pudding
dreams from about him, "let's do it now." So
he held up the wishbone, and Grace took hold of the
other end of it with a merry laugh.
"Here, you must not take hold so far from the end,
because I have a fine wish to make, and want to get the
big half if possible."
"So have I a nice wish to make," replied Grace, with
a sigh, "and I also want the big end."
And so they argued for a few minutes, until their
mother entered the room and told them that if they
could not stop quarrelling over the wishbone she would
take it from them and throw it into the fire. So they
lost no time in taking it by the ends and snapping it
"Hurrah!" exclaimed Donald, observing Grace's expression
of disappointment. "I've got it!"
"Well, I've made a wish, too," said Grace.
"But it won't come true," replied Donald, "because
you have the little end."
And then Donald thought he would go out in the air
and play, because his great dinner made him feel very
uncomfortable. When he was out in the barnyard
it was just growing dusk, and Donald, through his half-closed
eyes, observed a gobbler strutting about. To his
great surprise the gobbler approached him instead of
"I thought we had you for dinner to-day," said
"You did," replied the gobbler coldly, "and you had
a fine old time, didn't you?"
"Yes," said Donald, "you made a splendid dinner,
and you ought to be pleased to think you made us all so
happy. Your second joints were very sweet and juicy,
and your drumsticks were like sticks of candy."
"And you broke my poor old wishbone with your
little sister, didn't you?"
"And what did you wish?" asked the gobbler.
"You mustn't ask me that," replied Donald, "because,
you know, if I tell you the wish I made it would
not come true."
"But it was my wishbone," persisted the gobbler,
"and I think I ought to know something about it."
"You have rights, I suppose, and your argument is
not without force," replied Donald, with calm dignity.
The gobbler was puzzled at so lofty a reply, and not
understanding it, said:
"I am only the ghost, or spirit, of the gobbler you ate
to-day, but still I remember how one day last summer
you threw a pan of water on me, and alluded to my
wattles as a red necktie, and called me 'Old Harvard.'
Now, come along!"
"Where?" asked Donald.
"To Wishbone Valley, where you will see the spirits
of my ancestors eaten by your family."
It was now dusk, and Donald didn't like the idea of
going to such a place. He was a brave, courageous
boy, on most occasions, but the idea of going to Wishbone
Valley when the stars were appearing filled him
with a dread that he didn't like to acknowledge even to
the ghost of a gobbler.
"I can't go with you now, Mr. Gobbler," he said,
"because I have a lot of lessons to study for next Monday;
wait until to-morrow, and I will gladly go with
"Come along," replied the gobbler, with a provoked
air, "and let your lessons go until to-morrow, when you
will have plenty of light."
Thereupon the gobbler extended his wing and took
Donald by the hand, and started on a trot.
"Not so fast," protested Donald.
"Why not?" demanded the gobbler in surprise.
"Because," replied Donald, with a groan, "I have
just had my dinner, and I'm too full of you to run."
So the gobbler kindly and considerately slackened his
pace to a walk, and the two proceeded out of the barnyard
and across a wide meadow to a little valley surrounded
by a dense thicket. The moon was just rising
and the thicket was silvered by its light, while the dry
leaves rustled weirdly in the cold crisp air.
"This," said the gobbler, "is Wishbone Valley. Look
Donald strained his eyes, and, sure enough, there
were wishbones sticking out of the ground in every
direction. He thought they looked like little croquet
hoops, but he made no comments, for fear of offending
the old gobbler. But he felt that he must say something
to make the gobbler think that he was not frightened,
so he remarked, in an offhand way:
"Let's break one and make a wish."
The ghost of the old gobbler frowned, drew himself up,
and uttered a ghostly whistle that seemed to cut the
air. As he did so, the ghosts of the other turkeys long
since eaten popped out of the thickets with a great
flapping of wings, and each one perched upon a wishbone
and gazed upon poor Donald, who was so frightened
that his collar flew into a standing position, while
he stood upon his toes, with his knees knocking together
at a great rate.
Every turkey fixed its eyes upon the trembling boy,
who was beside himself with fear.
"What shall we do with him, grandpapa?" asked the
gobbler of an ancient bird that could scarcely contain
itself and remain on its wishbone.
"I cannot think of anything terrible enough, Willie,"
replied the grandparent. "It almost makes my ghostship
boil when I think of the way in which he used to
amuse himself by making me a target for his bean
shooter. Often when I was asleep in the button-ball
he would fetch me one on the side of the head that would
give me an earache for a week. But now it is our turn."
Here the other turkeys broke into a wild chorus of
"Take his bean shooter from his pocket," suggested
another bird, "and let's have a shot at him."
Donald was compelled to hand out his bean shooter,
and the grandparent took it, lay on his back, and with
the handle of the bean shooter in one claw and the
missile end in the other began to send pebbles at Donald
at a great rate. He could hear them whistling past
his ears, but could not see them to dodge. Fortunately
none struck him, and when the turkeys felt that they
had had fun enough of that kind at his expense the
bean shooter was returned to him.
"Now, then," said the gobbler's Aunt Fanny, "he
once gave me a string of yellow beads for corn."
"What shall we do to him for that?" asked the gobbler.
"Make him eat a lot of yellow beads," said the chorus.
"But we have no beads," said the gobbler sadly.
"Then let's poke him with a stick," suggested the
gobbler's Granduncle Sylvester; "he used to do that
So they all took up their wishbones and poked Donald
until he was sore. Sometimes they would hit him in a
ticklish spot, and throw him into such a fit of laughter
that they thought he was enjoying it all and chaffing
them. So they stuck their wishbones into the ground,
and took their positions on them once more, to take a
needed rest, for the poor ghosts were greatly exhausted.
There was one quiet turkey who had taken no part
in the proceedings.
"Why don't you suggest something?" demanded
"Because," replied the quiet turkey, "Donald never
did anything to me, and I must treat him accordingly.
I was raised and killed a long way from here, and canned.
Donald's father bought me at a store. To be a ghost in
good standing I should be on the farm where I was
killed, and really I don't know why I should be here."
"Then you should be an impartial judge," said Aunt
Fanny. "Now what shall we do with him?"
"Tell them to let me go home," protested Donald,
"and I'll agree never to molest or eat turkey again; I
will give them all the angleworms I can dig every day,
and on Thanksgiving Day I'll ask my father to have
"I think," replied the impartial canned ghost, "that
as all boys delight in chasing turkeys with sticks, it
would be eminently just and proper for us, with the exception
of myself, to chase this boy and beat him with
our wishbones, to let him learn by experience that
which he could scarcely learn by observation."
"What could I do but eat turkey when it was put
on the table?" protested Donald.
"But you could help chasing us around with sticks,"
sang the chorus.
They thereupon descended from the wishbones upon
which they had been perching, and flying after him,
they darted the wishbones, which they held in their
beaks, into his back and neck as hard as they could.
Donald ran up and down Wishbone Valley, calling upon
them to stop, and declaring that if turkey should ever
be put upon the table again he would eat nothing but
the stuffing. When Donald found that the wishbones
were sticking into his neck like so many hornet stings,
he made up his mind that he would run for the house.
Finally the wishbone tattoo stopped, and when he
looked around, the gobbler, who was twenty feet away,
said: "When a Thanksgiving turkey dies, his ghost
comes down here to Wishbone Valley to join his ancestors,
and it never after leaves the valley. You will
now know why every spring the turkeys steal down
here to hatch their little ones. As you are now over the
boundary line you are safe."
"Thank you," said Donald gratefully.
"Good-bye," sang all the ghosts in chorus.
There was then a great ghostly flapping and whistling,
and the turkeys and wishbones all vanished from
Donald ran home as fast as his trembling legs could
carry him, and he fancied that the surviving turkeys
on the place made fun of him as he passed on his way.
When he reached the house he was very happy, but
made no allusion to his experience in Wishbone Valley,
for fear of being laughed at.
"Come, Donald," said his mother, shortly after his
arrival, "it is almost bedtime; you had better eat that
drumstick and retire."
"I think I have had turkey enough for to-day," replied
Donald, with a shudder, "and if it is just the same,
I would rather have a nice thick piece of pumpkin pie."
So the girl placed a large piece of pie before him; and
while he was eating with the keen appetite given him
by the crisp air of Wishbone Valley, he heard a great
clattering of hoofs coming down the road. These
sounds did not stop until the express wagon drew up in
front of the house, and the driver brought in a large
package for Donald.
"Hurrah!" shouted Donald, in boundless glee.
"Uncle Arthur has sent me a nice bicycle! Wasn't it
good of him?"
"Didn't you wish for a bicycle to-day, when you got
the big end of the wishbone?" asked his little sister
"What makes you think so?" asked Donald, with a
"Oh, I knew it all the time; and my wish came true,
"How could your wish come true?" asked Donald,
with a puzzled look, "when you got the little half of
"I don't know," replied Grace, "but my wish did
"And what did you wish?"
"Why," said Grace, running up and kissing her little
brother affectionately, "I wished your wish would come
true, of course."