Indian Ghost Stories by S. Mukerji
A STRANGE INCIDENT.
There were two respectable residents of the town who were close neighbours. For the convenience of the readers we shall call them Smith and Jones.
Smith and Jones, as has been said already, were close neighbours and the best of friends. Each had his wife and children living with him.
Now Mr. Smith got fever, on a certain very hot day in June. The fever would not leave him and on the tenth day it was discovered that it was typhoid fever of the worst type.
Now typhoid fever is in itself very dangerous, but more so in the case of a person who gets it in June. So poor Smith had no chance of recovery. Of course Jones knew it. Mrs. Smith was a rather uneducated elderly lady and the children were too young. So the medical treatment as well as the general management of Mr. Smith's affairs was left entirely in the hands of Mr. Jones.
Mr. Jones did his best. He procured the best medical advice. He got the best medicines prescribed by the doctors and engaged the best nurse available. But his efforts were of no avail. On a certain Thursday afternoon Smith began to sink fast and at about eight in the evening he died.
Mr. Jones on his return from his office that day at about four in the afternoon had been informed that Mr. Smith's condition was very bad, and he had at once gone over to see what he could do.
He had sent for half a dozen doctors, but they on their arrival had found that the case was hopeless. Three of the doctors had accordingly gone away, but the other three had stayed behind.
When however Smith was dead, and these three doctors had satisfied themselves that life was quite extinct, they too went away with Mr. Jones leaving the dead body in charge of the mourning members of the family of the deceased.
Mr. Jones at once set about making arrangements for the funeral early the next morning; and it was well after eleven at night that he returned to a very late dinner at his own house. It was a particularly hot night and after smoking his last cigar for the day Mr. Jones went to bed, but not to sleep, after midnight. The death of his old friend and neighbour had made him very sad and thoughtful. The bed had been made on the open roof on the top of the house which was a two storied building and Mr. Jones lay watching the stars and thinking.
At about one in the morning there was a loud knock at the front door. Mr. Jones who was wide awake thought it was one of the servants returning home late and so he did not take any notice of it.
After a few moments the knock was repeated at the door which opened on the stairs leading to the roof of the second storey on which Mr. Jones was sleeping. [The visitor had evidently passed through the front door]. This time Mr. Jones knew it was no servant. His first impression was that it was one of the mutual friends who had heard of Smith's death and was coming to make enquiries. So he shouted out "Who is there?"
"It is I,--Smith" was the reply.
"Smith--Smith is dead" stammered Mr. Jones.
"I want to speak to you, Jones--open the door or I shall come and kill you" said the voice of Smith from beyond the door. A cold sweat stood on Mr. Jones's forehead. It was Smith speaking, there was no doubt of that,--Smith, whom he had seen expire before his very eyes five hours ago. Mr. Jones began to look for a weapon to defend himself.
There was nothing available except a rather heavy hammer which had been brought up an hour earlier that very night to fix a nail in the wall for hanging a lamp. Mr. Jones took this up and waited for the spirit of Smith at the head of the stairs.
The spirit passed through this closed door also. Though the staircase was in total darkness still Mr. Jones could see Smith coming up step by step.
Up and up came Smith and breathlessly Jones waited with the hammer in his hand. Now only three steps divided them.
"I shall kill you" hissed Smith. Mr. Jones aimed a blow with the hammer and hit Smith between the eyes. With a groan Smith fell down. Mr. Jones fainted.
A couple of hours later there was a great commotion at the house of Mr. Smith. The dead body had mysteriously disappeared.