Indian Ghost Stories by S. Mukerji
THE STARVING MILLIONAIRE.
Most of the people had not seen him before and not knowing who he was, laughed. The Inspector and the constables laughed too. After the mirth had subsided Hasan Khan was ordered to be handcuffed and removed. When the handcuffs had been clapped on he smiled serenely and said "I order that all the lights within half a mile of where we are standing be put out at once." Within a couple of seconds the whole place was in darkness.
The entire Government House Compound which was a mass of fire only a minute before was in total darkness and the street lamps had gone out too. The only light that remained was on the street lamp-post under which our friends were.
The commotion at the reception could be more easily imagined than described.
There was total darkness everywhere. The guests were treading literally on each other's toes and the accidents that happened to the carriages and horses were innumerable.
As good luck would have it another Police Inspector who was also on duty and was on horse-back came up to the only light within a circle of half a mile radius.
To him Hasan Khan said "Go and tell your Commissioner of Police that his subordinates have ill-treated Hasan Khan and tell him that I order him to come here at once."
Some laughed others scoffed but the Inspector on horse-back went and within ten minutes the Commissioner of the Calcutta Police came along with half a dozen other high officials enquiring what the trouble was about.
To them Hasan Khan told the story of the thrashing he had received and pointed out the assailants. He then told the Commissioner that if those constables and the Inspector who had ordered him to be handcuffed were dismissed, on the spot, from Government service, the lamps would be lighted without human assistance. To the utter surprise of everybody present (including the high officials who had come out with the Commissioner of Police) an order dismissing the constables and the Inspector was passed and signed by the Commissioner in the dim light shed by that isolated lamp; and within one second of the order the entire compound of Government House was lighted up again, as if some one had switched on a thousand electric lamps controlled by a single button.
Everybody who was present there enjoyed the whole thing excessively, with the exception of the police officers who had been dismissed from service.
It appeared that the Commissioner of Police knew a lot about Hasan Khan and his black art. How he had come to know of Hasan Khan's powers will now be related.
* * * * *
Most of my readers have heard the name of Messrs. Hamilton and Co., Jewellers of Calcutta. They are the oldest and most respectable firm of Jewellers probably in the whole of India.
One day Hasan Khan walked into their shop and asked to see some rings.
He was shown a number of rings but he particularly approved a cheap ring set with a single ruby. The price demanded for this ring was too much for poor honest Hasan Khan's purse, so he proposed that the Jewellers should let him have the ring on loan for a month.
This, of course, the Jewellers refused to do and in a most un-Englishman-like and unbusiness-like manner a young shop assistant asked him to clear out.
He promptly walked out of the shop promising to come again the next day. Before going out of the shop, however, he told one of the managers that the young shop assistant had been very rude to him and would not let him have the ring for a month.
The next day there was a slight commotion in Hamilton's shop. The ring was missing. Of course, nobody could suspect Hasan Khan because the ring had been seen by everybody in the shop after his departure. The police were communicated with and were soon on the spot. They were examining the room and the locks and recording statements when Hasan Khan walked in with the missing ring on his finger.
He was at once arrested, charged with theft and taken to the police station and locked up.
At about midday he was produced before the Magistrate. When he appeared in court he was found wearing ten rings, one on each finger. He was remanded and taken back to his cell in the jail.
The next morning when the door of his cell was opened it was found that one of the big _almirahs_ in which some gold and silver articles were kept in Hamilton's shop was standing in his cell. Everybody gazed at it dumbfounded. The _almirah_ with its contents must have weighed 50 stones. How it got into the cell was beyond comprehension.
All the big officers of Government came to see the fun and asked Hasan Khan how he had managed it.
"How did you manage to get the show-case in your drawing-room?" inquired Hasan Khan of each officer in reply to the question.
And everybody thought that the fellow was mad. But as each officer reached home he found that one show-case (evidently from Hamilton's shop) with all its contents was standing in his drawing room.
The next morning Hasan Khan gave out in clear terms that unless Messrs. Hamilton and Co. withdrew the charge against him at once they would find their safe in which were kept the extra valuable articles, at the bottom of the Bay of Bengal.
The Jewellers thought that prudence was the best part of valour and the case against Hasan Khan was withdrawn and he was acquitted of all charges and set at liberty.
Then arose the big question of compensating him for the incarceration he had suffered; and the ring with the single ruby which he had fancied so much and which had caused all this trouble was presented to him.
Of course, Messrs. Hamilton and Co. the Jewellers, had to spend a lot of money in carting back the show-cases that had so mysteriously walked away from their shop, but they were not sorry, because they could not have advertised their ware better, and everybody was anxious to possess something or other from among the contents of these peculiar show-cases.
It was in connection with this case that Hasan Khan became known to most of the European Government officials of Calcutta at that time.