The Phantom Rickshaw (Unabridged)


This story was first published in Quartette, the Christmas Annual of the Civil and Military Gazette for 1885, which included four stories by the nineteen-year-old Kipling with other items of prose and verse by his parents and sister. It was revised before being collected in The Phantom Rickshaw and Other Tales, Volume 5 of the Indian Railway Library, of 1890. It was included in Wee Willie Winkie and Other Stories, published in 1890, and in numerous later editions of that collection. Jack Pansay has had a passionate ship-board romance with Agnes Keith-Wessington, the golden-haired wife of an officer. He wearies of her and tells her so, but she refuses to accept his rejection, insisting that it is all "a hideous mistake". She grows wan and thin, but he continues to respond curtly and brutally. He becomes engaged to Kitty Mannering, a lively young woman, whom he deeply loves, and - not long after - Agnes dies of a broken heart. Soon after, his rides out with Kitty around Simla are disrupted by the ghost of Agnes, in her familiar yellow-panelled rickshaw, which only he can see. She is still insisting that it is all "a hideous mistake". His friends think he is mad or drunk, his doctor is mystified, and Kitty breaks off the engagement. His life is ruined, and he goes to his death, still haunted by the golden-haired ghost.