Indian Ghost Stories by S. Mukerji
THE BOY WHO WAS CAUGHT.
At last the party returned, but not on foot. The journey back was performed in the carriages that had followed the patient and his doctor. From that day the practice was followed regularly. The patient's health began to improve and he began to regain his power of digestion fast. In a month he was all right; but he never discontinued the practice of going to the well and throwing in a basketful of flowers with his own hands. He had also learnt the _mantra_ (the mystic charm) by heart; but the doctor had sworn him to secrecy and he told it to nobody. Shoes with felt sole were soon procured from England (it being 40 years before any Indian Rope Sole Shoe Factory came into existence) and thus the inconvenience of walking this distance bare-footed was easily obviated.
After a month's further stay the doctor came away from Agra having earned a fabulous fee, and he always received occasional letters and presents from his patient who never discontinued the practice of visiting the well till his death about 17 years later.
"The three-mile walk is all that he requires" said the doctor to his friends (among whom evidently my grand-father was one) on his return from Agra, "and since he has got used to it now he won't discontinue even if he comes to know of the deception I have practised on him--and I have cured his indigestion after all."
The patient, of course, never discovered the fraud. He never gave the matter his serious consideration. His friends, who were as ignorant and prejudiced as he himself was, believed in the _ghost_ as much as he did himself. The medical practitioners of Agra who probably were in the Doctor's secret never told him anything--and if they had told him anything they would probably have heard language from _Our patient_ that could not well be described as quite parliamentary, for they had all tried to cure him and failed.
This series of stories will prove how much "imagination" works upon the external organs of a human being.
If a person goes about with the idea that there is a ghost somewhere about he will probably see the ghost in everything.
But has it ever struck the reader that sometimes horses and dogs do not quite enjoy going to a place which is reputed to be haunted?
In a village in Bengal not far from my home there is a big Jack-fruit tree which is said to be haunted.
I visited this place once--the local zamindar had sent me his elephant. The Gomashta (estate manager) who knew that I had come to see the haunted tree, told me that I should probably see nothing during the day, but the elephant would not go near the tree.
I passed the tree. It was about 3 miles from the Railway Station. There was nothing extraordinary about it. This was about 11 o'clock in the morning. Then I went to the Shooting Box (usually called the Cutchery or Court house--where the zamindars and their servants put up when they pay a visit to this part of their possessions) to have my bath and breakfast most hospitably provided by my generous host. I ordered the elephant to be put under this tree, and this was done though the people there told me that the elephant would not remain there long.
At about 2 P.M. I heard an extraordinary noise from the tree.
It was only the elephant. It was wailing and was looking as bad as it possibly could.
We all went there but found nothing. The elephant was not ill.
I ordered it to be taken away from under the tree. As soon as the chain was removed from the animal's foot it rushed away like a race horse and would not stop within 200 yards of the tree. I was vastly amused. I had never seen an elephant running before. But under the tree we found nothing. What made the elephant so afraid has remained a secret.
The servants told me (what I had heard before) that it was only elephants, horses and dogs that did not stay long under that tree. No human eyes have ever seen anything supernatural or fearful there.