What The Professor Saw
Scary Books: Indian Ghost Stories
: S. Mukerji
This story is not so painful as the one entitled "_What Uncle Saw_." How
we wish that uncle had seen something else, but all the same how glad we
are that uncle did not see what the professor saw. The professor is an
M.A. of the University of Calcutta, in Chemistry, and is a Lecturer in a
big college. This, of course, I only mention to show that this is not
the invention of a foolish person.
I shall now t
ll the story as I heard it from the professor.
"I was a professor of chemistry in a Calcutta college in the year 18--.
One morning I received a letter from home informing me that my eldest
brother was ill. It was a case of fever due to cold. Of course, a man
does sometimes catch cold and get fever too. There was nothing
extraordinary about that.
"In the evening I did not receive any further news. This meant that my
brother was better, because in any other case they would have written.
"A number of friends came to my diggings in the evening and invited me
to join their party then going to a theatre. They had reserved some seat
but one of the party for whom a seat had been reserved was unavoidably
detained and hence a vacant seat. The news of my brother's illness had
made me a little sad, the theatre, I thought, would cheer me up. So I
"We left the theatre at about one in the morning. Coming to my house
along the now deserted but well-lighted "College Street" of Calcutta I
saw from a distance a tall man walking to and fro on the pavement in
front of the Senate Hall. When I approached nearer I found that it was
my brother of whose illness I had heard in the morning. I was surprised.
"'What are you doing here--brother.' I asked.
"'I came to tell you something.'
"'But you were ill--I heard this morning--by what train did you come?' I
"'I did not come by train--never mind--I went to your "Basa" (lodgings)
and found you were out--gone to the theatre, so I waited for you here
as I thought you would prefer walking home instead of taking a hackney
"'Very fortunate I did not take one--'
"'In that case I would have seen you at your quarters.'
"'Then come along with me--' I said.
"'No' he said 'I shall stay where I am--what I have come to tell you is
this, that after I am gone you will take care of the mother and see that
she has everything she wants--'
"'But where are you going--' I asked puzzled.
"'Never mind where I am going--but will you promise--'
"'Promise what--?' I asked.
"'That you will see that the mother has everything she wants.'
"'Certainly--but where on earth are you going--' I asked again.
"'I can depend upon your promise then' he said and vanished.
"He vanished mysteriously. In what direction he went I could not say.
There was no bye-lane near. It was a very well-lighted part of the
city. He vanished into the thin air. I rubbed my eyes and looked round.
"A policeman was coming along. He was about 50 feet away.
"I inquired him if he had seen the gentleman who was talking to me.
"'Did you see the other gentleman, officer?' I asked.
"'Yes' he said looking around 'there were two of you--where is the
other--has he robbed you of all you had--these pickpockets have a
mysterious way of disappearing--'
"'He was my brother' I said 'and no pickpocket.'
"The policeman looked puzzled too.
"I shouted aloud calling my brother by name but received no reply. I
took out my gold watch. It was half past one. I walked home at a brisk
"At home I was informed by the servant that my brother had come to look
for me an hour ago but on being informed that I was out, had gone away.
"Whenever he came to Calcutta from the suburbs he put up with a friend
of his instead of with me. So I decided to look him up at his friend's
house in the morning. But I was not destined to carry out that plan.
"Early the next morning I received a telegram that my brother was dead.
The telegram had been sent at 1.20 A.M. He must have died an hour
before. Well--there it was.
"I had seen him and so had the policeman. The servant had seen him too.
There could be no mistake about that.
"I took an early train and reached my suburban home at 10 A.M. I was
informed that my brother had died at midnight. But I had seen him at
about half past one and the servant had seen him at about 12.30. I did
not tell anybody anything at that time. But I did so afterwards. I was
not dreaming--because the conversation we had was a pretty long one. The
servant and the police constable could not have been mistaken either.
But the mystery remains."
This was the exact story of the professor. Here is something else to the
A remarkable case of what may be called suicidal telepathy has occurred
near Geneva. Mme. Simon, a Swiss widow aged fifty, had been greatly
distressed on account of the removal of her sister, who was five years
younger, to a hospital. On Monday afternoon a number of persons who had
ascended the Saleve, 4299 feet high, by the funicular railway, were
horrified to see a woman walk out on to a ledge overlooking a sheer
precipice of three hundred feet, and, after carefully wrapping a shawl
round her head and face jump into space. The woman was Mme. Simon, says
the _Times of India_, and she was found on the cliffs below in a mangled
At the same time Mme. Simon's sister, who had not seen or communicated
with the former for a week, became hysterical saying her sister was dead
and that she did not want to survive her. During the temporary absence
of the nurse the woman got out of her bed--opened the window and jumped
into the road from the first floor. She is seriously injured and her
recovery is doubtful.
The news of the death of Mme. Simon was only known at the hospital nine
_The Leader--Allahabad, 12th February 1913._
Much more wonderful than all this is the story of "The Astral Lady"
which appeared in one of the English Magazines a few months ago. In
that case an English medical gentleman saw the _Astral Lady_ in a first
class railway compartment in England. Only accidentally he discovered
the body of a lady nearly murdered and concealed under one of the seats.
His medical help and artificial respiration and stimulants brought her
round, and then the doctor saw the original of the Astral Lady in the
recovered girl. Well--well--wonderful things do happen sometimes.
The phenomenon mentioned in this chapter as _the professor's experience_
is not new. Mr. Justice Norman of the Calcutta High Court saw his mother
while sitting in court one day and others saw her too. A few hours later
his Lordship received a telegram informing him of her death at the
moment when he had seen her in court. This was in broad daylight. Unlike
the professor the judge did not even know that his mother was ill.
The fact that immediately after death the dead person appears to some
one near and dear to him has been vouched for by others whose veracity
and intelligence cannot be questioned.
The appearance of Miss Orme after her death at Mussoorie to Miss
Mounce-Stephen in Lucknow was related in the Allahabad High Court
during the trial of the latter lady for the murder of the former. This
is on the record of the case. This case created a good deal of interest
at the time.
Similar to what has been described above is the experience of Lord
An extract from his memoirs is as follows:--"A most remarkable thing
happened to me. So remarkable that I must tell the story from the
beginning. After I left the High School (_i.e._ Edinburgh) I went with
G---- my most intimate friend, to attend the classes of the University.
"There was no divinity class, but we frequently in our walks discussed
many grave subjects--among others--_the Immortality of the soul and a
future state_. This question and the possibility of the dead appearing
to the living were subjects of much speculation, and we actually
committed the folly of drawing up an agreement, written with our blood,
to the effect that whichever of us died the first should appear to the
other and thus solve the doubts we had entertained of the life after
"After we had finished our classes at the college, G---- went to India
having got an appointment in the Civil Service there. He seldom wrote
to me and after the lapse of a few years, I had nearly forgotten his
existence. One day I had taken a warm bath, and, while lying in it
enjoying the heat, I turned my head round, looking towards the chair on
which I had deposited my clothes, as I was about to get out of the bath.
On the chair sat G--looking calmly at me. How I got out of the bath I
know not, but on recovering my senses I found myself sprawling on the
floor. The apparition or whatever it was that had taken the likeness of
G--had disappeared. The vision had produced such a shock that I had no
inclination to talk about it or to speak about it even to Stewart, but
the impression it made upon me was too vivid to be forgotten easily, and
so strongly was I affected by it that I have here written down the whole
history with the date, 19th December, and all particulars as they are
fresh before me now. No doubt I had fallen asleep and that the
appearance presented so distinctly before my eyes was a dream I cannot
doubt, yet for years I had no communication with G--nor had there been
anything to recall him to my recollection. Nothing had taken place
concerning our Swedish travel connected with G--or with India or with
anything relating to him or to any member of his family. I recollected
quickly enough our old discussion and the bargain we had made. I could
not discharge from my mind the impression that G---- must have died and
his appearance to me was to be received by me as a proof of a future
This was on the 19th December 1799.
In October 1862 Lord Brougham added a postscript.
"I have just been copying out from my journal the account of this
"_Certissima mortis imago_, and now to finish the story begun about 60
years ago. Soon after my return to Edinburgh there arrived a letter from
India announcing G's death, and that he died on the 19th December
1799."--_The Pall Mall Magazine_ (1914) pp. 183-184.
Another very fine story and one to the point comes from Hyderabad.
A certain Mr. J---- who was an Englishman, after reading the memoirs of
Lord Brougham, was so affected that he related the whole story to his
confidential Indian servant. We need not mention here what Mr. J's
profession was, all that we need say is that he was not very rich and
in his profession there was no chance of his getting up one morning to
find himself a millionaire.
The master and servant executed a bond written with their blood that he
who died first would see the other a rich man.
As it happened the native servant died first, and on his death Mr. J----
who was then a young man retired altogether from his business, which
business was not in a very flourishing condition. Within a couple of
years he went to England a millionaire. How he came by his money remains
a secret. People in England were told that he had earned it in India. He
must have done so, but the process of his earning he has kept strictly
to himself. Mr. J---- is still alive and quite hale.
A different event in which another friend of mine was concerned was thus
described the other day. He had received a telegram to the effect that a
very near relation of his was dying in Calcutta and that this dying
person was desirous to see him. He started for Calcutta in all haste by
the mail. The mail used to leave his station at about 3 P.M. in the
afternoon and reach Calcutta early the next morning. It was hot weather
and in his first class compartment there was no other passenger. He lay
down on one of the sleeping berths and the other one was empty. All the
lamps including the night light had been switched off and the
compartment was in total darkness, but for the moonlight. The moon beams
too did not come into the compartment itself as the moon was nearly
He had fallen into a disturbed sleep when on waking up he found there
was another occupant of the compartment. As thefts had been a common
incident on the line specially in first class compartments, my friend
switched on the electric light, the button of which was within his
reach. This could be done without getting up.
In the glare of the electric light he saw distinctly his dying relation.
He thought he was dreaming. He rubbed his eyes and then looked again.
The apparition had vanished. He got up and looked out of the window. The
train was passing through a station, without stopping. He could read the
name of the station clearly. He opened his time table to see that he was
still 148 miles from Calcutta.
Then he went to sleep again. In the morning he thought he had been
dreaming. But he observed that the railway time table was still open at
the place where he must have looked to ascertain the distance.
On reaching Calcutta he was told that his relation had died a few hours
My friend never related this to anybody till he knew that I was writing
on the subject. This story, however, after what the professor saw loses
its interest; and some suggested that it had better not be written at
all. I only write this because this friend of mine--who is also a
relation of mine--is a big Government servant and would not have told
this story unless it was true.
To the point is the following story which was in the papers about March
'In 1821 the Argyle Rooms were patronised by the best people, the
establishment being then noted for high-class musical
entertainments. One evening in March, 1821, a young Miss M. with a
party of friends, was at a concert in Argyle Rooms. Suddenly she
uttered a cry and hid her face in her hands. She appeared to be
suffering so acutely that her friends at once left the building
with her and took her home. It was at first difficult to get the
young lady to explain the cause of her sudden attack, but at last
she confessed that she had been terrified by a horrible sight.
While the concert was in progress she had happened to look down at
the floor, and there lying at her feet she saw the corpse of a man.
The body was covered with a cloth mantle, but the face was exposed,
and she distinctly recognised the features of a friend, Sir J.T. On
the following morning the family of the young lady received a
message informing them that Sir J.T. had been drowned the previous
day in Southampton Water through the capsizing of a boat, and that
when his body was recovered it was entangled in a boat cloak. The
story of the Argyle Rooms apparition is told by Mr. Thomas Raikes
in his well-known diary, and he personally vouches for the truth of
In this connection the following cutting from an English paper of March,
1914, will be found very interesting and instructive.