This is the second part of the Detective Nag story – The Manipal Phantom. You can read Part 1 here – The Manipal Phantom – A Detective Nag story: The Mysterious Ghost.
Lying far back from the End Point road, and surrounded by shrubs and trees, stood the Shanbhag mansion. Its huge, gabled bulk towered above the trees, and in the pale moonlight cast many a long, weird shadow over the lawn. This lawn bordered the road for two hundred feet and skirted the side of the house for about the same distance. It was an enchanting sight, and as he gazed at it, Detective Nag whispered to Chirag Subramanian, his right-hand man, “I don’t blame Ms Shanbhag for not wanting to desert her home.”
The two detectives clambered over the iron fence bordering on the road, and wending their way carefully through the trees, came to a spot whence they could watch the open space usually trodden by the ghost. Over to the left, fitfully gleaming through the trees, were lights that evidently belonged to the Kamath place.
“It is half-past eleven now,” said the senior detective, “and I don’t think we’ll have to wait much longer.”
He was right. A moment later his partner, Chirag, clutching his arm, pointed an unsteady finger toward the Kamath home. It was a sight to unnerve the manliest. Against the dark background of the trees, whose black branches waved weirdly in the soughing wind, they saw a tall, ghostly figure, loosely draped in white. Its face was painted a most ghastly white, and the tall figure whose height was accentuated by its spareness, made a most effective phantom. It trudged slowly forward and backward several times, and finally withdrew into the trees toward the Kamath place.
“Careful now; no noise.” The elder detective had arisen, and beckoning to his companion, followed the dim outline of the disappearing ghost. Once within the shadow of the trees, its solemn pace lengthened into a stride that any self-respecting ghost would have been ashamed of, brushing past shrubbery and trees, and heading straight toward the Kamath home. The two detectives followed at some distance, as noiselessly as they could, till they came to a low hedge, separating the Shanbhag mansion from the Kamath place. The property of the latter was not more than sixty feet in width, and was separated from the yard beyond by a high wall. No one was in sight.
“Chirag, either the ghost is a real ghost and has vanished into thin air, or else it has entered our friend Kamath’s house. I think this place will bear watching.”
The two men picked their way in silence to the End Point road. The next night the detectives again made their way toward the Shanbhag home.
“Chirag,” said the elder, “you may have your own theory about the solution of this affair, and I won’t bother you with my own suspicions. I have a little plan to test tonight, and it ought to prove whether I am right or not. You stay among the trees in the Shanbhag lawn till the ghost appears; then hurry to the front of the Kamath home, hide there, and note carefully the description of any one who may enter. Remain there for about fifteen minutes and then come over to the Shanbhag home.”
“Very well, sir.” Subramanian slunk into the shrubbery and took the position of the previous evening. The elder detective walked up to the door of the Shanbhag homestead, and was admitted by Ms Shanbhag herself.
“Good evening, Dr. Nag. I hope you’ve some good news for me.”
“Not yet; but I’ve an idea or two to test tonight. First, take me to a position where we can observe the ghost without being seen.”
She led the way to a heavily curtained window that overlooked the lawn. Here they took a stand commanding a view of the garden.
It was scarcely eleven o’clock, when the ghost stealthily stole from the shadow of the trees.
“Now, quick, to the telephone,” whispered the detective. The woman led the way into an adjacent room, and pointed to the wall.
“Don’t turn on the light. Ms Shanbhag.” The detective seized the receiver.
“Hello, is this 2571507—^yes.—Hello, Kamath’s—^ yes—why—a—is Mr. Rangappa home? No?— Too bad—too bad—well, no—no message—goodbye.”
Dr. Nag placed the receiver on the hook. “Now let’s view the ghost again.” When they had reached the window, the phantom was just disappearing among the trees. The detective pulled out his watch.
“In five minutes. Ms Shanbhag, call up the same number, and ask for Mr. Kamath. If he responds, and I think he will, ask him if he is Mr. Jagannath Kamath. His name is Rangappa. He will say ‘No.’ Then apologize for your mistake and ring off.”
In a few moments the lady carried out his orders. Mr. Rangappa Kamath answered.
“Now, Ms Shanbhag you can turn up the lights, and we will wait for my partner, and then,—well, who can tell?”
Before long the junior detective’s ring was heard. “Well?” inquired Dr. Nag.
“Not a soul entered the Kamath place.”
The detective briefly explained the significance of their little ruse to Ms Shanbhag. She was frankly astonished.
Continued . . . The Manipal Phantom – A Detective Nag story: Ghost Busted