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ghost stories
Scary and exciting Ghost Stories from around the World . . .
 

Ghost Story Title : The Phantom 'Rickshaw Part-10 By Rudyard Kipling

 

Ghost Story:

Once more I wearily climbed the Convent slope and entered the level road. Here Kitty and the man started off
at a canter, and I was left alone with Mrs. Wessington. 'Agnes,' said I, 'will you put back your hood and tell
me what it all means?' The hood dropped noiselessly and I was face to face with my dead and buried mistress.
She was wearing the dress in which I had last seen her alive: carried the same tiny handkerchief in her right
hand; and the same card-case in her left. (A woman eight months dead with a card-case!) I had to pin myself down to the multiplication-table, and to set both hands on the stone parapet of the road to assure myself that
that at least was real.
'Agnes,' I repeated, 'for pity's sake tell me what it all means.' Mrs. Wessington leant forward, with that odd,
quick turn of the head I used to know so well, and spoke.
If my story had not already so madly overleaped the bounds of all human belief I should apologize to you
now. As I know that no one--no, not even Kitty, for whom it is written as some sort of justification of my
conduct--will believe me, I will go on. Mrs. Wessington spoke and I walked with her from the Sanjowlie road
to the turning below the Commander-in-Chief's house as I might walk by the side of any living woman's
'rickshaw, deep in conversation. The second and most tormenting of my moods of sickness had suddenly laid
hold upon me, and like the prince in Tennyson's poem, 'I seemed to move amid a world of ghosts.' There had
been a garden-party at the Commander-in-Chief's, and we two joined the crowd of homeward-bound folk. As
I saw them then it seemed that they were the shadows--impalpable fantastic shadows--that divided for Mrs.
Wessington's 'rickshaw to pass through. What we said during the course of that weird interview I
cannot--indeed, I dare not--tell. Heatherlegh's comment would have been a short laugh and a remark that I had
been 'mashing a brain-eye-and-stomach chimera.' It was a ghastly and yet in some indefinable way a
marvelously dear experience. Could it be possible, I wondered, that I was in this life to woo a second time the
woman I had killed by my own neglect and cruelty?
I met Kitty on the homeward road--a shadow among shadows.
If I were to describe all the incidents of the next fortnight in their order, my story would never come to an end;
and your patience would be exhausted. Morning after morning and evening after evening the ghostly
'rickshaw and I used to wander through Simla together. Wherever I went, there the four black and white
liveries followed me and bore me company to and from my hotel. At the theater I found them amid the crowd
of yelling jhampanies; outside the club veranda, after a long evening of whist; at the birthday ball, waiting
patiently for my reappearance; and in broad daylight when I went calling. Save that it cast no shadow, the
'rickshaw was in every respect as real to look upon as one of wood and iron. More than once, indeed, I have
had to check myself from warning some hard-riding friend against cantering over it. More than once I have
walked down the Mall deep in conversation with Mrs. Wessington to the unspeakable amazement of the
passers-by.
Before I had been out and about a week I learnt that the 'fit' theory had been discarded in favor of insanity.
However, I made no change in my mode of life. I called, rode, and dined out as freely as ever. I had a passion
for the society of my kind which I had never felt before; I hungered to be among the realities of life; and at the
same time I felt vaguely unhappy when I had been separated too long from my ghostly companion. It would
be almost impossible to describe my varying moods from the 15th of May up to to-day.
The presence of the 'rickshaw filled me by turns with horror, blind fear, a dim sort of pleasure, and utter
despair. I dared not leave Simla; and I knew that my stay there was killing me. I knew, moreover, that it was
my destiny to die slowly and a little every day. My only anxiety was to get the penance over as quietly as
might be. Alternately I hungered for a sight of Kitty and watched her outrageous flirtations with my
successor--to speak more accurately, my successors--with amused interest. She was as much out of my life as
I was out of hers. By day I wandered with Mrs. Wessington almost content. By night I implored Heaven to let
me return to the world as I used to know it. Above all these varying moods lay the sensation of dull, numbing
wonder that the seen and the unseen should mingle so strangely on this earth to hound one poor soul to its
grave.




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