The Ghost Of The Hindoo Child Or The Hauntings Of The White Dove Hotel Near St Swithin's Street Aberdeen





In the course of many years' investigation of haunted houses, I have

naturally come in contact with numerous people who have had first-hand

experiences with the Occult. Nurse Mackenzie is one of these people. I

met her for the first time last year at the house of my old friend,

Colonel Malcolmson, whose wife she was nursing.



For some days I was hardly aware she was in the house, the illness of

her patient keeping her in constant seclusion, but when Mrs.

Malcolmson grew better, I not infrequently saw her, taking a morning

constitutional in the beautiful castle grounds. It was on one of

these occasions that she favoured me with an account of her psychical

adventure.



It happened, she began, shortly after I had finished my term as

probationer at St. K.'s Hospital, Edinburgh. A letter was received at

the hospital one morning with the urgent request that two nurses

should be sent to a serious case near St. Swithin's Street. As the

letter was signed by a well-known physician in the town, it received

immediate attention, and Nurse Emmett and I were dispatched, as day

and night nurses respectively, to the scene of action. My hours on

duty were from 9 p.m. till 9 a.m. The house in which the patient was

located was the White Dove Hotel, a thoroughly respectable and

well-managed establishment. The proprietor knew nothing about the

invalid, except that her name was Vining, and that she had, at one

period of her career, been an actress. He had noticed that she had

looked ill on her arrival the previous week. Two days after her

arrival, she had complained of feeling very ill, and the doctor, who

had been summoned to attend her, said that she was suffering from a

very loathsome Oriental disease, which, fortunately is, in this

country, rare. The hotel, though newly decorated and equipped

throughout with every up-to-date convenience, was in reality very

old. It was one of those delightfully roomy erections that seem built

for eternity rather than time, and for comfort rather than economy of

space. The interior, with its oak-panelled walls, polished oak floors,

and low ceilings, traversed with ponderous oaken beams, also impressed

me pleasantly, whilst a flight of broad, oak stairs, fenced with

balustrades a foot thick, brought me to a seemingly interminable

corridor, into which the door of Miss Vining's room opened. It was a

low, wainscoted apartment, and its deep-set window, revealing the

thickness of the wall, looked out upon a dismal yard littered with

brooms and buckets. Opposite the foot of the bed--a modern French

bedstead, by the bye, whose brass fittings and somewhat flimsy

hangings were strangely incongruous with their venerable

surroundings--was an ingle, containing the smouldering relics of what

had doubtless been intended for a fire, but which needed considerable

coaxing before it could be converted from a pretence to a reality.

There was no exit save by the doorway I had entered, and no furniture

save a couple of rush-bottomed chairs and a table strewn with an

untidy medley of writing materials and medicine bottles.



A feeling of depression, contrasting strangely with the effect

produced on me by the cheerfulness of the hotel in general, seized me

directly I entered the room. Despite the brilliancy of the electric

light and the new and gaudy bed-hangings, the air was full of gloom--a

gloom which, for the very reason that it was unaccountable, was the

more alarming. I felt it hanging around me like the undeveloped shadow

of something singularly hideous and repulsive, and, on my approaching

the sick woman, it seemed to thrust itself in my way and force me

back.



Miss Vining was decidedly good-looking; she had the typically

theatrical features--neatly moulded nose and chin, curly yellow hair,

and big, dreamy blue eyes that especially appeal to a certain class of

men; like most women, however, I prefer something more solid, both

physically and intellectually--I cannot stand the pretty, pretty.

She was, of course, far too ill to converse, and, beyond a few

desultory and spasmodic ejaculations, maintained a rigid silence. As

there was no occasion for me to sit close beside her, I drew up a

chair before the fire, placing myself in such a position as to command

a full view of the bed. My first night passed undisturbed by any

incident, and in the morning the condition of my patient showed a

slight improvement. It was eight o'clock in the evening when I came on

duty again, and, the weather having changed during the day, the whole

room echoed and re-echoed with the howling of the wind, which was

raging round the house with demoniacal fury.



I had been at my post for a little over two hours--and had just

registered my patient's temperature, when, happening to look up from

the book I was reading, I saw to my surprise that the chair beside the

head of the bed was occupied by a child--a tiny girl. How she had come

into the room without attracting my attention was certainly

extraordinary, and I could only suppose that the shrieking of the wind

down the wide chimney had deadened the sound of the door and her

footsteps.



I was naturally, of course, very indignant that she had dared to come

in without rapping, and, getting up from my seat I was preparing to

address her and bid her go, when she lifted a wee white hand and

motioned me back. I obeyed because I could not help myself--her

action was accompanied by a peculiar,--an unpleasantly peculiar,

expression that held me spellbound; and without exactly knowing why,

I stood staring at her, tongue-tied and trembling. As her face was

turned towards the patient, and she wore, moreover, a very

wide-brimmed hat, I could see nothing of her features; but from her

graceful little figure and dainty limbs, I gathered that she was

probably both beautiful and aristocratic. Her dress, though not

perhaps of the richest quality, was certainly far from shoddy, and

there was something in its style and make that suggested foreign

nationality,--Italy--or Spain--or South America--or even the Orient,

the probability of the latter being strengthened by her pose, which

was full of the serpent-like ease which is characteristic of the

East. I was so taken up with watching her that I forgot all about my

patient, until a prolonged sigh from the bed reminded me of her

existence. With an effort I then advanced, and was about to approach

the bed, when the child, without moving her head, motioned me back,

and--again I was helpless. The vision I had obtained of the sick

woman, brief though it was, filled me with alarm. She was tossing to

and fro on the blankets, and breathing in the most agonised manner as

if in delirium, or enthralled by some particularly dreadful

nightmare. Her condition so frightened me, that I made the most

frantic efforts to overcome my inertia. I did not succeed, however,

and at last, utterly overcome by my exertion, I closed my eyes. When

I opened them again, the chair by the bed was vacant--the child had

gone. A tremendous feeling of relief surged through me, and, jumping

out of my seat, I hastened to the bedside--my patient was worse, the

fever had increased, and she was delirious. I took her temperature.

It was 104. I now sat close beside her, and my presence apparently

had a soothing effect. She speedily grew calmer, and after taking her

medicine gradually sank into a gentle sleep which lasted until late

in the morning. When I left her she had altogether recovered from the

relapse. I, of course, told the doctor of the child's visit, and he

was very angry.



Whatever happens, Nurse, he said, take care that no one enters the

room to-night; the patient's condition is far too critical for her to

see any one, even her own daughter. You must keep the door locked.



Armed with this mandate, I went on duty the following night with a

somewhat lighter heart, and, after locking the door, once again sat by

the fire. During the day there had been a heavy fall of snow; the wind

had abated, and the streets were now as silent as the grave.



Ten, eleven, and twelve o'clock struck, and my patient slept

tranquilly. At a quarter to one, however, I was abruptly roused from a

reverie by a sob, a sob of fear and agony that proceeded from the bed.

I looked, and there--there, seated in the same posture as on the

previous evening, was the child. I sprang to my feet with an

exclamation of amazement. She raised her hand, and, as before, I

collapsed--spellbound--paralysed. No words of mine can convey all the

sensations I experienced as I sat there, forced to listen to the

moaning and groaning of the woman whose fate had been entrusted to my

keeping. Every second she grew worse, and each sound rang in my ears

like the hammering of nails in her coffin. How long I endured such

torment I cannot say, I dare not think, for, though the clock was

within a few feet of me, I never once thought of looking at it. At

last the child rose, and, moving slowly from the bed, advanced with

bowed head towards the window. The spell was broken. With a cry of

indignation I literally bounded over the carpet and faced the

intruder.



Who are you? I hissed. Tell me your name instantly! How dare you

enter this room without my permission?



As I spoke she slowly raised her head. I snatched at her hat. It

melted away in my hands, and, to my unspeakable terror, my undying

terror, I looked into the face of a corpse!--the corpse of a Hindoo

child, with a big, gaping cut in its throat. In its lifetime the child

had, without doubt, been lovely; it was now horrible--horrible with

all the ghastly disfigurements, the repellent disfigurements, of a

long consignment to the grave. I fainted, and, on recovering, found my

ghostly visitor had vanished, and that my patient was dead. One of

her hands was thrown across her eyes, as if to shut out some object on

which she feared to look, whilst the other grasped the counterpane

convulsively.



It fell to my duty to help pack up her belongings, and among her

letters was a large envelope bearing the postmark Quetta. As we were

on the look-out for some clue as to the address of her relatives, I

opened it. It was merely the cabinet-size photograph of a Hindoo

child, but I recognised the dress immediately--it was that of my

ghostly visitor. On the back of it were these words: Natalie. May God

forgive us both.



Though we made careful inquiries for any information as to Natalie and

Miss Vining in Quetta, and advertised freely in the leading London

papers, we learned nothing, and in time we were forced to let the

matter drop. As far as I know, the ghost of the Hindoo child has never

been seen again, but I have heard that the hotel is still

haunted--haunted by a woman.





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