Whereupon willful Kitty set off, her dainty little head in the air, at a hand-gallop in the direction of the
Band-stand; fully expecting, as she herself afterwards told me, that I should follow her. What was the matter?
Nothing, indeed. Either that I was mad or drunk, or that Simla was haunted with devils. I reined in my
impatient cob, and turned round. The 'rickshaw had turned too, and now stood immediately facing me, near
the left railing of the Combermere Bridge.
'Jack! Jack, darling.' (There was no mistake about the words this time: they rang through my brain as if they
had been shouted in my ear.) 'It's some hideous mistake, I'm sure. Please forgive me, Jack, and let's be friends
The 'rickshaw-hood had fallen back, and inside, as I hope and daily pray for the death I dread by night, sat
Mrs. Keith-Wessington, handkerchief in hand, and golden head bowed on her breast.
How long I stared motionless I do not know. Finally, I was aroused by my groom taking the Waler's bridle
and asking whether I was ill. I tumbled off my horse and dashed, half fainting, into Peliti's for a glass of
cherry-brandy. There two or three couples were gathered round the coffee-tables discussing the gossip of the
day. Their trivialities were more comforting to me just then than the consolations of religion could have been.
I plunged into the midst of the conversation at once; chatted, laughed and jested with a face (when I caught a
glimpse of it in a mirror) as white and drawn as that of a corpse. Three or four men noticed my condition; and,
evidently setting it down to the results of over many pegs, charitably endeavored to draw me apart from the
rest of the loungers. But I refused to be led away. I wanted the company of my kind--as a child rushes into the
midst of the dinner-party after a fright in the dark. I must have talked for about ten minutes or so, though it
seemed an eternity to me, when I heard Kitty's dear voice outside inquiring for me. In another minute she had
entered the shop, prepared to roundly upbraid me for failing so signally in my duties. Something in my face
'Why, Jack,' she cried, 'what have you been doing? What has happened? Are you ill?' Thus driven into a
direct lie, I said that the sun had been a little too much for me. It was close upon five o'clock of a cloudy April
afternoon, and the sun had been hidden all day. I saw my mistake as soon as the words were out of my mouth:
attempted to recover it; blundered hopelessly and followed Kitty, in a regal rage, out of doors, amid the smiles
of my acquaintances. I made some excuse (I have forgotten what) on the score of my feeling faint; and
cantered away to my hotel, leaving Kitty to finish the ride by herself.
In my room I sat down and tried calmly to reason out the matter. Here was I, Theobald Jack Pansay, a
well-educated Bengal Civilian in the year of grace 1885, presumably sane, certainly healthy, driven in terror
from my sweetheart's side by the apparition of a woman who had been dead and buried eight months ago.
These were facts that I could not blink. Nothing was further from my thought than any memory of Mrs.
Wessington when Kitty and I left Hamilton's shop. Nothing was more utterly commonplace than the stretch of
wall opposite Peliti's. It was broad daylight. The road was full of people; and yet here, look you, in defiance of
every law of probability, in direct outrage of Nature's ordinance, there had appeared to me a face from the
Kitty's Arab had gone through the 'rickshaw: so that my first hope that some woman marvelously like Mrs. Wessington had hired the carriage and the coolies with their old livery was lost. Again and again I went round
this treadmill of thought; and again and again gave up baffled and in despair. The voice was as inexplicable as
the apparition. I had originally some wild notion of confiding it all to Kitty; of begging her to marry me at
once; and in her arms defying the ghostly occupant of the 'rickshaw. 'After all,' I argued, 'the presence of the
'rickshaw is in itself enough to prove the existence of a spectral illusion. One may see ghosts of men and
women, but surely never of coolies and carriages. The whole thing is absurd. Fancy the ghost of a hill-man!'