Indian Ghost Stories by S. Mukerji
THE BOY WHO WAS CAUGHT.
We looked in that direction bub could see nothing peculiar there.
Our first idea was that it was one of the maid-servants, who had heard our after-dinner conversation, playing the ghost. But this particular ghostly lady was very short, much shorter than any servant in the establishment. After some, hesitation all (four) of us advanced towards the ghost. I remember how my heart throbbed as I advanced with the other three boys.
Then we laughed loud and long.
What do you think it was?
It was only the Lawn Tennis net wrapped round the pole standing against the wall. The handle of the ratchet arrangement looked like an extending finger.
But from a distance in the moon-light it looked exactly like a short woman draped in white.
This story again shows what trick our imagination plays with us at times.
* * * * *
Talking of ghosts reminds me of a very funny story told by a friend of my grand-father--a famous medical man of Calcutta.
This famous doctor was once sent for to treat a gentleman at Agra. This gentleman was a rich Marwari who was suffering from indigestion. When the doctor reached Agra he was lodged in very comfortable quarters and a number of horses and carriages was placed at his disposal.
He was informed that the patient had been treated by all the local and provincial practitioners but without any result.
The doctor who was as clever a man of the world as of medicine, at once saw that there was really nothing the matter with the patient. He was really suffering from a curious malady which could in a phrase be called--"want of physical exercise."
Agra, the city after which the Province is named, abounds in old magnificent buildings which it takes the tourist a considerable time to see, and the Doctor, of course, was enjoying all the sights in the meantime.
He also prescribed a number of medicines which proved of no avail. The Doctor had anticipated it, and so he had decided what medicine he would prescribe next.
During the sight-seeing excursions into the environs of the city the doctor had discovered a large pukka well not far from a main street and at a distance of 3 miles from his patient's house.
This was a very old disused well and it was generally rumoured that a ghost dwelt in it. So nobody would go near the well at night. Of course, there was a lot of stories as to what the ghost looked like and how he came out at times and stood on the brink and all that,--but the doctor really did not believe any of these. He, however, believed that this ghost, (whether there really was any or not in that well) would cure his patient.
So one morning when he saw his patient he said "Lalla Saheb--I have found out the real cause of your trouble--it is a ghost whom you have got to propitiate and unless you do that you will never get well--and no medicine will help you and your digestion will never improve."
"A Ghost?" asked the patient.
"A Ghost!" exclaimed the people around.
"A Ghost" said the doctor sagely.
"What shall I have to do?" inquired the patient, anxiously--
"You will have to go every morning to that well (indicating the one mentioned above), and throw a basketful of flowers in" said the doctor.
"I shall do that every day" said the patient.
"Then we shall begin from to-morrow" said the doctor.
The next morning everybody had been ready to start long before the doctor was out of bed. He came at last and all got up to start. Then a big landau and pair drew up to take the doctor and the patient to the abode of the ghost in the well. Just as the patient was thinking of getting in the doctor said "We don't require a carriage Lalla Saheb--we shall all have to walk--and bare-footed too, and between you and me we shall have to carry the basket of flowers also."
The patient was really troubled. Never indeed in his life had he walked a mile--not to say of three--and that, bare-footed and carrying a basket of flowers in his hands. However he had to do it. It was a goodly procession. The big millionaire--the big doctor with a large number of followers walking bare-footed--caused amazement and amusement to all who saw them.
It took them a full hour and a half to reach the well--and there the doctor pronounced the _mantra_ in Sanskrit and the flowers were thrown in. The _mantra_ (charm) was in Sanskrit, the doctor who knew a little of the language had taken great pains to compose it the night before and even then it was not grammatically quite correct.