Stacey finds out two unrelated facts at the first BSC meeting of this book: one, the old house at the end of her street is being torn down; two, Charlotte Johanssen, her pretend little sister, is going to be staying with her for a week while Charlotte’s parents are away. Stacey’s super excited to have a week-long slumber party with Charlotte. She even dresses up the guest room specially with some of Charlotte’s favorite things. It turns out to be more work than she planned, though – Charlotte is very worried about her sick grandpa (whom her parents are visiting) and she’s kind of sniffly and homesick-y.
Stacey decides she and Charlotte should walk down and look at the old house that’s being torn down. They take in its historic-ness and make up stories about what kind of trap doors and Rapunzel-style towers might be inside. But then Stacey sees a face in the window. And they both hear a sound like chains clanking and dragging. Then they see a swarm of flies at the back door, straight out of The Amityville Horror. And then they hear creepy moaning from the house. They hightail it back to Stacey’s house. Later on, Kristy finds an old Stoneybrook map that shows that the creepy old house was built on sacred ancient burial grounds. RUH ROH.
Turns out that Charlotte isn’t just homesick – she has tonsillitis again. She has to take penicillin four times a day (rough – I’m allergic to it) and she is not pleased. Then, though, Stacey shows Charlotte all the shit she goes through every day – checking her glucose, giving herself shots, etc. – and Charlotte realizes a tablespoon or four of gross cherry medicine isn’t that bad. She also finds out that her grandfather’s surgery went well, which makes her feel better overall. Things are looking up!
Stacey and Charlotte are still intrigued by the old house “mystery” and the old map Kristy found. They invite Kristy over with the map and some old books, and they end up getting the whole club involved keeping an eye out for “clues” and information. Claudia even voluntarily goes to the library to do research. Shocking. She confirms that the house was built on a burial ground, and finds the name of the owner: Ronald Hennessey. Charlotte and Stacey go back to visit the house and suddenly there is fire – like, flames – coming out of one of the windows. Stacey runs to get a wheelbarrow full of water (wut) and when she gets back to the window the flames are gone. Nothing is charred and the sill isn’t even hot. Stacey and Charlotte are thoroughly freaked out. That night they both have nightmares about the old Hennessey house.
Kristy decides to call an emergency meeting of the Baby-sitters Club to try to get to the bottom of the Hennessey House mystery. It’s decided that Kristy, Claudia, Stacey, and Charlotte will go visit Ronald Hennessey in the nursing home to see what they can find out. He ends up telling them a whole bunch of stories about the supposed haunted happenings at his old home, including that the ghost of Old Rubbernose (who’d had to wear a prosthetic after a horse bit off his nose… sounds legit) haunts it, angry that the house was built on top of his grave. Yikes.
Stacey takes Charlotte to the Hennessey house the next day to watch it be demolished. A ton of Stoneybrookers are there to see if anything spooky happens. Everyone thinks it’s boring, except for Stacey, who sees flames engulfing the house and Mr. Hennessey in a window begging for help. The weird part? No one except Stacey sees this. She drops Charlotte off with Claudia and runs all the way to the nursing home to see Mr. Hennessey again. The nurse informs her that Mr. Hennessey passed away the night before… but he left her a note!
In the note, Mr. Hennessey writes that it was a lot of fun to meet her and her friends, and that he got a little carried away telling them tall tales about his house – none of which were true. In fact, he writes, the home was nothing but a lovely and comfortable place for his family. Sam and Charlie later explain some other things: it was the old pipes making moaning noises, the flies were actually bees whose hive had been disturbed by the construction, and the “fire” was actually a workman who’d stayed late and used an acetylene torch to loosen the old bathtub. Stacey is kind of relieved, but also a little disappointed that the mystery is over.