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Scottish Ghost Stories (Elliott O'Donnell) online
CASE XVI - THE GHOST OF THE HINDOO CHILD, OR THE HAUNTINGS OF THE WHITE DOVE HOTEL, NEAR ST. SWITHIN'S STREET, ABERDEEN
"Whatever happens, Nurse," he said, "take care that no one enters the room to-night; the patient's condition is far too critical for her to see any one, even her own daughter. You must keep the door locked."
Armed with this mandate, I went on duty the following night with a somewhat lighter heart, and, after locking the door, once again sat by the fire. During the day there had been a heavy fall of snow; the wind had abated, and the streets were now as silent as the grave.
Ten, eleven, and twelve o'clock struck, and my patient slept tranquilly. At a quarter to one, however, I was abruptly roused from a reverie by a sob, a sob of fear and agony that proceeded from the bed. I looked, and there--there, seated in the same posture as on the previous evening, was the child. I sprang to my feet with an exclamation of amazement. She raised her hand, and, as before, I collapsed--spellbound--paralysed. No words of mine can convey all the sensations I experienced as I sat there, forced to listen to the moaning and groaning of the woman whose fate had been entrusted to my keeping. Every second she grew worse, and each sound rang in my ears like the hammering of nails in her coffin. How long I endured such torment I cannot say, I dare not think, for, though the clock was within a few feet of me, I never once thought of looking at it. At last the child rose, and, moving slowly from the bed, advanced with bowed head towards the window. The spell was broken. With a cry of indignation I literally bounded over the carpet and faced the intruder.
"Who are you?" I hissed. "Tell me your name instantly! How dare you enter this room without my permission?"
As I spoke she slowly raised her head. I snatched at her hat. It melted away in my hands, and, to my unspeakable terror, my undying terror, I looked into the face of a corpse!--the corpse of a Hindoo child, with a big, gaping cut in its throat. In its lifetime the child had, without doubt, been lovely; it was now horrible--horrible with all the ghastly disfigurements, the repellent disfigurements, of a long consignment to the grave. I fainted, and, on recovering, found my ghostly visitor had vanished, and that my patient was dead. One of her hands was thrown across her eyes, as if to shut out some object on which she feared to look, whilst the other grasped the counterpane convulsively.
It fell to my duty to help pack up her belongings, and among her letters was a large envelope bearing the postmark "Quetta." As we were on the look-out for some clue as to the address of her relatives, I opened it. It was merely the cabinet-size photograph of a Hindoo child, but I recognised the dress immediately--it was that of my ghostly visitor. On the back of it were these words: "Natalie. May God forgive us both."
Though we made careful inquiries for any information as to Natalie and Miss Vining in Quetta, and advertised freely in the leading London papers, we learned nothing, and in time we were forced to let the matter drop. As far as I know, the ghost of the Hindoo child has never been seen again, but I have heard that the hotel is still haunted--haunted by a woman.