Edited by Foxit PDF Editor Copyright (c) by Foxit Software Company, 2004 For Evaluation Only.
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION. I do not know whether writing ghost stories is a mistake. Most readers will like a ghost story in which towards the end it is found that the ghost was really a cat or a dog or a mischievous boy. Such ghost stories are a source of pleasure, and are read as a pastime and are often vastly enjoyed, because though the reader is a bit afraid of what he does not know, still he likes to be assured that ghosts do not in reality exist. Such ghost stories I have often myself read and enjoyed. The last one I read was in the December (1913) Number of the _English Illustrated Magazine_. In that story coincidence follows coincidence in such beautiful succession that a young lady really believes that she sees a ghost and even feels its touch, and finally it turns out that it is only a monkey. This is bathos that unfortunately goes too far. Still, I am sure, English readers love a ghost story of this kind. It, however, cannot be denied that particular incidents do sometimes happen in such a way that they take our breath away. Here is something to the point. "Twenty years ago, near Honey Grove, in Texas, James Ziegland, a wealthy young farmer won the hand of Metilda Tichnor, but jilted her a few days before the day fixed for the marriage. The girl, a celebrated beauty, became despondent and killed herself. Her brother, Phil, went to James Ziegland's home and after denouncing him, fired at him. The bullet grazed the cheek of the faithless lover and buried itself in a tree. Young Tichnor, supposing he had killed the man, put a bullet into his own head, dying instantly. Ziegland, subsequently married a wealthy widow. All this was, of course 20 years ago. The other day the farmer James Ziegland and his son cut down the tree in which Tichnor's bullet had lodged. The tree proved too tough for splitting and so a small charge of dynamite was used. The explosion discharged the long forgotten bullet with great force, it pierced Ziegland's head and he fell mortally wounded. He explained the existence of the mysterious bullet as he lay on his deathbed."--_The Pioneer, Allahabad_, (India,) 31st January, 1913. In India ghosts and their stories are looked upon with respect and fear.
I have heard all sorts of ghost stories from my nurse and my father's coachman, Abdullah, who used to be my constant companion in my childhood, (dear friend, who is no more), as well as from my friends who are Judges and Magistrates and other responsible servants of Government, and in two cases from Judges of Indian High Courts. A story told by a nurse or a coachman should certainly not be reproduced in this book. In this book, there are a few of those stories only which are true to the best of the author's knowledge and belief. Some of these narratives may, no doubt, savour too much of the nature of a Cock and Bull story, but the reader must remember that "there are more things in heaven and earth, etc." and that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. The author is responsible for the arrangement of the stories in this volume. Probably they could have been better arranged; but a little thought will make it clear why this particular sequence has been selected. S.M. _Calcutta, July 1914._
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION. Since the publication of the first edition my attention has been drawn to a number of very interesting and instructive articles that have been appearing in the papers from time to time. Readers who care for subjects like the present must have themselves noted these; but there is one article which, by reason of the great interest created in the German Kaiser at the present moment, I am forced to reproduce. As permission to reproduce the article was delayed the book was through the press by the time it...