Indian Ghost Stories by S. Mukerji
WHAT THE PROFESSOR SAW.
page 1 of 4 | Table of Contents
This story is not so painful as the one entitled "_What Uncle Saw_." How we wish that uncle had seen something else, but all the same how glad we are that uncle did not see what the professor saw. The professor is an M.A. of the University of Calcutta, in Chemistry, and is a Lecturer in a big college. This, of course, I only mention to show that this is not the invention of a foolish person.
I shall now tell the story as I heard it from the professor.
* * * * *
"I was a professor of chemistry in a Calcutta college in the year 18--. One morning I received a letter from home informing me that my eldest brother was ill. It was a case of fever due to cold. Of course, a man does sometimes catch cold and get fever too. There was nothing extraordinary about that.
"In the evening I did not receive any further news. This meant that my brother was better, because in any other case they would have written.
"A number of friends came to my diggings in the evening and invited me to join their party then going to a theatre. They had reserved some seat but one of the party for whom a seat had been reserved was unavoidably detained and hence a vacant seat. The news of my brother's illness had made me a little sad, the theatre, I thought, would cheer me up. So I joined.
"We left the theatre at about one in the morning. Coming to my house along the now deserted but well-lighted "College Street" of Calcutta I saw from a distance a tall man walking to and fro on the pavement in front of the Senate Hall. When I approached nearer I found that it was my brother of whose illness I had heard in the morning. I was surprised.
"'What are you doing here--brother.' I asked.
"'I came to tell you something.'
"'But you were ill--I heard this morning--by what train did you come?' I asked.
"'I did not come by train--never mind--I went to your "Basa" (lodgings) and found you were out--gone to the theatre, so I waited for you here as I thought you would prefer walking home instead of taking a hackney carriage--'
"'Very fortunate I did not take one--'
"'In that case I would have seen you at your quarters.'
"'Then come along with me--' I said.
"'No' he said 'I shall stay where I am--what I have come to tell you is this, that after I am gone you will take care of the mother and see that she has everything she wants--'
"'But where are you going--' I asked puzzled.
"'Never mind where I am going--but will you promise--'
"'Promise what--?' I asked.
"'That you will see that the mother has everything she wants.'
"'Certainly--but where on earth are you going--' I asked again.
"'I can depend upon your promise then' he said and vanished.
"He vanished mysteriously. In what direction he went I could not say. There was no bye-lane near. It was a very well-lighted part of the city. He vanished into the thin air. I rubbed my eyes and looked round.
"A policeman was coming along. He was about 50 feet away.
"I inquired him if he had seen the gentleman who was talking to me.
"'Did you see the other gentleman, officer?' I asked.
"'Yes' he said looking around 'there were two of you--where is the other--has he robbed you of all you had--these pickpockets have a mysterious way of disappearing--'
"'He was my brother' I said 'and no pickpocket.'
"The policeman looked puzzled too.
"I shouted aloud calling my brother by name but received no reply. I took out my gold watch. It was half past one. I walked home at a brisk pace.
"At home I was informed by the servant that my brother had come to look for me an hour ago but on being informed that I was out, had gone away.
"Whenever he came to Calcutta from the suburbs he put up with a friend of his instead of with me. So I decided to look him up at his friend's house in the morning. But I was not destined to carry out that plan.
"Early the next morning I received a telegram that my brother was dead. The telegram had been sent at 1.20 A.M. He must have died an hour before. Well--there it was.
"I had seen him and so had the policeman. The servant had seen him too. There could be no mistake about that.