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

Ghost Story Title : The Phantom 'Rickshaw Part-08 By Rudyard Kipling

 

Ghost Story:

'Thank you, Mr. Pansay,' she said, 'that's quite enough. Bring my horse.'
The grooms, impassive as Orientals always are, had come up with the recaptured horses; and as Kitty sprang
into her saddle I caught hold of the bridle entreating her to hear me out and forgive. My answer was the cut of
her riding-whip across my face from mouth to eye, and a word or two of farewell that even now I cannot write
down. So I judged, and judged rightly, that Kitty knew all; and I staggered back to the side of the 'rickshaw.
My face was cut and bleeding, and the blow of the riding-whip had raised a livid blue weal on it. I had no
self-respect. Just then, Heatherlegh, who must have been following Kitty and me at a distance, cantered up.
'Doctor,' I said, pointing to my face, 'here's Miss Mannering's signature to my order of dismissal and . . . I'll
thank you for that lakh as soon as convenient.'
Heatherlegh's face, even in my abject misery, moved me to laugh.
'I'll stake my professional reputation'--he began. 'Don't be a fool,' I whispered. 'I've lost my life's happiness
and you'd better take me home.'
As I spoke the 'rickshaw was gone. Then I lost all knowledge of what was passing. The crest of Jakko seemed
to heave and roll like the crest of a cloud and fall in upon me.
Seven days later (on the 7th of May, that is to say) I was aware that I was lying in Heatherlegh's room as weak
as a little child. Heatherlegh was watching me intently from behind the papers on his writing table. His first
words were not very encouraging; but I was too far spent to be much moved by them.
'Here's Miss Kitty has sent back your letters. You corresponded a good deal, you young people. Here's a
packet that looks like a ring, and a cheerful sort of a note from Mannering Papa, which I've taken the liberty of
reading and burning. The old gentleman's not pleased with you.'
'And Kitty?' I asked dully.
'Rather more drawn than her father from what she says. By the same token you must have been letting out
any number of queer reminiscences just before I met you. Says that a man who would have behaved to a
woman as you did to Mrs. Wessington ought to kill himself out of sheer pity for his kind. She's a hot-headed
little virago, your mash. Will have it too that you were suffering from D.T. when that row on the Jakko road
turned up. Says she'll die before she ever speaks to you again.'
I groaned and turned over on the other side.
'Now you've got your choice, my friend. This engagement has to be broken off; and the Mannerings don't
want to be too hard on you. Was it broken through D.T. or epileptic fits? Sorry I can't offer you a better
exchange unless you'd prefer hereditary insanity. Say the word and I'll tell 'em it's fits. All Simla knows about
that scene on the Ladies' Mile. Come! I'll give you five minutes to think over it.'
During those five minutes I believe that I explored thoroughly the lowest circles of the Inferno which it is
permitted man to tread on earth. And at the same time I myself was watching myself faltering through the
dark labyrinths of doubt, misery, and utter despair. I wondered, as Heatherlegh in his chair might have
wondered, which dreadful alternative I should adopt. Presently I heard myself answering in a voice that I
hardly recognized:
'They're confoundedly particular about morality in these parts. Give 'em fits, Heatherlegh, and my love. Now
let me sleep a bit longer.'
Then my two selves joined, and it was only I (half crazed, devil-driven I) that tossed in my bed, tracing step
by step the history of the past month.
'But I am in Simla,' I kept repeating to myself. 'I, Jack Pansay, am in Simla, and there are no ghosts here. It's
unreasonable of that woman to pretend there are. Why couldn't Agnes have left me alone? I never did her any
harm. It might just as well have been me as Agnes. Only I'd never have come back on purpose to kill her.
Why can't I be left alone--left alone and happy?'
It was high noon when I first awoke: and the sun was low in the sky before I slept--slept as the tortured
criminal sleeps on his rack, too worn to feel further pain.





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