Indian Ghost Stories by S. Mukerji
THE BOY WHO WAS CAUGHT.
But then we felt that his courage was oozing away. Another fifty yards and he again stopped, and looked back at us.
Another fifty yards remained. Will he return? No! he again proceeded, but we could clearly see that his steps were less jaunty than when he had started. We knew that he was trembling, we knew that he would have blessed us to call him back. But we would not yield, neither would he. Looking in our direction at every step he proceeded and reached the burning ghat. He reached the identical spot where the pyre had been erected in the morning.
There was very little breeze,--not a mouse stirring. Not a soul was within 200 yards of him and he could not expect much help from us. How poor Ram Lal's heart must have palpitated! When we see Ram Lal now how we feel that we should burst.
Well, Ram Lal knelt down, fixed the peg in the wet sandy soil and began hammering. After each stroke he looked at us and at the river and in all directions. He struck blow after blow and we counted about thirty. That his hands had become nerveless we would understand, for otherwise a dozen strokes should have been enough to make the peg vanish in the soft sandy soil.
The peg went in and only about a couple of inches remained visible above the surface; and then Ram Lal thought of coming back. He was kneeling still. He tried to stand up, gave out a shrill cry for help and fell down face foremost.
It must have been his cry for help that made us forget our fear of the ghost, and we all ran at top speed towards the ghat. It was rather difficult to run fast on the sand but we managed it as well as we could, and stopped only when we were about half a dozen yards from the unconscious form of Ram Lal.
There he lay senseless as if gone to sleep. Our instinct told us that he was not dead. We thanked God, and each one of us sent up a silent prayer. Then we cried for help and a boatman who lived a quarter of a mile away came up. He took up Ram Lal in his arms and as he was doing it _tr_--_rrrrrrrrrr_--went Ram Lal's long coat. The unfortunate lad had hammered the skirt of his long coat along with the peg into the ground.
We took Ram Lal to his house and explained to his mother that he had a bad fall in the football field, and there we left him.
The next morning at school, one student, who was a neighbour of Ram Lal, told us that the whole mischief had become known.
Ram Lal, it appears, got high fever immediately after we had left him and about midnight he became delirious and in that condition he disclosed everything in connection with his adventure at the ghat.
In the evening we went to see him. His parents were very angry with us.
The whole story reached the ears of the school authorities and we got, what I thought I richly deserved (for having allowed any mortal being to defy a ghost) but what I need not say.
Ram Lal is now a grown up young man. He holds a responsible government appointment and I meet him sometimes when he comes to tour in our part of the Province.
I always ask him if he has seen a ghost since we met last.
* * * * *
In this connection it will not be out of place to mention two simple stories one from my own experience and another told by a friend.
I shall tell my friend's story first, in his own words.
"I used to go for a bath in the Ganges early every morning. I used to start from home at 4 o'clock in the morning and walked down to the Ganges which was about 3 miles from my house. The bath took about an hour and then I used to come back in my carriage which went for me at about six in the morning.
"On this eventful morning when I awoke it was brilliant moonlight and so I thought it was dawn.
"I started from home without looking at the clock and when I was about a mile and a half from home and about the same distance from the river I realized that I was rather early. The policeman under the railway bridge told me that it was only 2 o'clock. I knew that I should have to cross the small _maidan_ through which the road ran and I remembered that there was a rumour that a ghost had sometimes been seen in the _maidan_ and on the road. This however did not make me nervous, because I really did not believe in ghosts; but all the same I wished I could have gone back. But then in going back I should have to pass the policeman and he would think that I was afraid; so I decided to go on.