Indian Ghost Stories by S. Mukerji
THE MAJOR'S LEASE.
This was the story as recorded in Court. The Judge was a very sensible man (I had the pleasure and honour of being introduced to him about 20 years after this incident), and with a number of people, he decided to pass one Friday night in the haunted house. He did so. What he saw does not appear from the record; for he left no inspection notes and probably he never made any. He delivered judgment on Monday following. It is a very short judgment.
After reciting the facts the judgment proceeds: "I have recorded the statements of the defendant and a witness produced by him. I have also made a local inspection. I find that the landlord, (the plaintiff) knew that for certain reasons the house was practically uninhabitable, and he concealed that fact from his tenant. He, therefore, could not recover. The suit is dismissed with costs."
The haunted house remained untenanted for a long time. The proprietor subsequently made a gift of it to a charitable institution. The founders of this institution, who were Hindus and firm believers in charms and exorcisms, had some religious ceremony performed on the premises. Afterwards the house was pulled down and on its site now stands one of the grandest buildings in the station, that cost fully ten thousand pounds. Only this morning I received a visit from a gentleman who lives in the building, referred to above, but evidently he has not even heard of the ghosts of the Judge, his wife, and his Indian ayah.
It is now nearly fifty years; but the missing baby has not been heard of. If it is alive it has grown into a fully developed man. But does he know the fate of his parents and his nurse?
In this connection it will not be out of place to mention a fact that appeared in the papers some years ago.
A certain European gentleman was posted to a district in the Madras Presidency as a Government servant in the Financial Department.
When this gentleman reached the station to which he had been posted he put up at the Club, as they usually do, and began to look out for a house, when he was informed that there was a haunted house in the neighbourhood. Being rather sceptical he decided to take this house, ghost or no ghost. He was given to understand by the members of the Club that this house was a bit out of the way and was infested at night with thieves and robbers who came to divide their booty in that house; and to guard against its being occupied by a tenant it had been given a bad reputation. The proprietor being a wealthy old native of the old school did not care to investigate. So our friend, whom we shall, for the purposes of this story, call Mr. Hunter, took the house at a fair rent.
The house was in charge of a Chaukidar (care-taker, porter or watchman) when it was vacant. Mr. Hunter engaged the same man as a night watchman for this house. This Chaukidar informed Mr. Hunter that the ghost appeared only one day in the year, namely, the 21st of September, and added that if Mr. Hunter kept out of the house on that night there would be no trouble.
"I always keep away on the night of the 21st September," said the watchman.
"And what kind of ghost is it?" asked Mr. Hunter.
"It is a European lady dressed in white," said the man. "What does she do?" asked Mr. Hunter.
"Oh! she comes out of the room and calls you and asks you to follow her," said the man.
"Has anybody ever followed her?"
"Nobody that I know of, Sir," said the man. "The man who was here before me saw her and died from fear."
"Most wonderful! But why do not people follow her in a body?" asked Mr. Hunter.
"It is very easy to say that, Sir, but when you see her you will not like to follow her yourself. I have been in this house for over 20 years, lots of times European soldiers have passed the night of the 21st September, intending to follow her but when she actually comes nobody has ever ventured."
"Most wonderful! I shall follow her this time," said Mr. Hunter.
"As you please Sir," said the man and retired.
It was one of the duties of Mr. Hunter to distribute the pensions of all retired Government servants.
In this connection Mr. Hunter used to come in contact with a number of very old men in the station who attended his office to receive their pensions from him.