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The Brown Hand, a well-noted[1] short-story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was first published in The Strand Magazine, May 1899. The story is actually based on an Indian urban legend that tells of a muslim who was forced to have his arm amputated after an accident, and died a few months later. But after death became a ghost and began wandering about in search of his limb. This legend itself is based on islamic belief that when you die, Allah will only accept you if you are whole. Conan Doyle probably heard this legend from some India-returned friend.

In the story the main character is also a doctor who has had a long spell of service in India.[2] Once when he was posted at Peshawur, then a main city of undivided Punjab (hence a part of India), he had to attend a poor tribal man whose one hand was in such a bad state that only way to save his life was to amputate it. The man, being Muslim, was firecly against this un-Islamic way, but since it was a question of life and death he had to compromise and let the Englishman cut his hand. The doctor had a hobby - collecting such things as cut limbs, discarded organs from living and dead humans, so he put the "brown hand" in a chemical solution that prevents decay, and took it back to Wiltshire when he retired. Then one night he was awakened by something pulling his clothes, it was the ghost of his old patient. From then onwards the ghost begun to haunt his lab, looking for his hand, but failing to find it since it was misplaced long ago. At the end the doctor is saved by the protagonist who arranges another amputated hand (from a "lascar" who had an accident lately), the ghost is tricked into thinking it is its hand, and the ghost vanishes forever (with his beloved hand, of course), leaving the doctor to live in peace. The doctor rewards the protagonist by making him his heir.


  1. ^ "The Brown Hand : A Review". 2007-05-06. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  2. ^ "Round the Fire Stories". Retrieved 2010-10-08. 

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