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

Ghost Story Title : The Phantom 'Rickshaw Part-09 By Rudyard Kipling

 

Ghost Story:

Next day I could not leave my bed. Heatherlegh told me in the morning that he had received an answer from
Mr. Mannering, and that, thanks to his (Heatherlegh's) friendly offices, the story of my affliction had traveled
through the length and breadth of Simla, where I was on all sides much pitied.
'And that's rather more than you deserve,' he concluded pleasantly, 'though the Lord knows you've been
going through a pretty severe mill. Never mind; we'll cure you yet, you perverse phenomenon.'
I declined firmly to be cured. 'You've been much too good to me already, old man,' said I; 'but I don't think I
need trouble you further.'
In my heart I knew that nothing Heatherlegh could do would lighten the burden that had been laid upon me.
With that knowledge came also a sense of hopeless, impotent rebellion against the unreasonableness of it all.
There were scores of men no better than I whose punishments had at least been reserved for another world and
I felt that it was bitterly, cruelly unfair that I alone should have been singled out for so hideous a fate. This
mood would in time give place to another where it seemed that the 'rickshaw and I were the only realities in a
world of shadows; that Kitty was a ghost; that Mannering, Heatherlegh, and all the other men and women I
knew were all ghosts and the great, gray hills themselves but vain shadows devised to torture me. From mood
to mood I tossed backwards and forwards for seven weary days, my body growing daily stronger and stronger,
until the bed-room looking-glass told me that I had returned to everyday life, and was as other men once
more. Curiously enough, my face showed no signs of the struggle I had gone through. It was pale indeed, but
as expressionless and commonplace as ever. I had expected some permanent alteration--visible evidence of
the disease that was eating me away. I found nothing.
On the 15th of May I left Heatherlegh's house at eleven o'clock in the morning; and the instinct of the
bachelor drove me to the Club. There I found that every man knew my story as told by Heatherlegh, and was,
in clumsy fashion, abnormally kind and attentive. Nevertheless I recognized that for the rest of my natural life
I should be among, but not of, my fellows; and I envied very bitterly indeed the laughing coolies on the Mall
below. I lunched at the Club, and at four o'clock wandered aimlessly down the Mall in the vague hope of
meeting Kitty. Close to the Band-stand the black and white liveries joined me; and I heard Mrs. Wessington's
old appeal at my side. I had been expecting this ever since I came out; and was only surprised at her delay.
The phantom 'rickshaw and I went side by side along the Chota Simla road in silence. Close to the bazaar,
Kitty and a man on horseback overtook and passed us. For any sign she gave I might have been a dog in the
road. She did not even pay me the compliment of quickening her pace; though the rainy afternoon had served
for an excuse.
So Kitty and her companion, and I and my ghostly Light-o'-Love, crept round Jakko in couples. The road was
streaming with water; the pines dripped like roof-pipes on the rocks below, and the air was full of fine, driving
rain. Two or three times I found myself saying to myself almost aloud: 'I'm Jack Pansay on leave at Simla--at
Simla! Everyday, ordinary Simla. I mustn't forget that--I mustn't forget that.' Then I would try to recollect
some of the gossip I had heard at the Club; the prices of So-and-So's horses--anything, in fact, that related to
the work-a-day Anglo-Indian world I knew so well. I even repeated the multiplication-table rapidly to myself,
to make quite sure that I was not taking leave of my senses. It gave me much comfort; and must have
prevented my hearing Mrs. Wessington for a time.





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