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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


Similar evidence was given and signed by Miss Maddox, the schoolmistress, and Mr. and Mrs. Lea. On the other hand Mrs. Hampson and Priscilla believed that Emma managed the fire-raising herself. The flames were "very high and white, and the articles were very little singed". This occurred also at Rerrick, in 1696, but Mr. Hughes attributes it to Emma's use of paraffin, which does not apply to the Rerrick case. Paraffin smells a good deal--nothing is said about a smell of paraffin.

Only one thing is certain: Emma was at last caught in a cheat. This discredits her, but a man who cheats at cards _may_ hold a good hand by accident. In the same way, if such wonders can happen (as so much world-wide evidence declares), they _may_ have happened at Woods Farm, and Emma, "in a very nervous state," _may_ have feigned then, or rather did feign them later.

The question for the medical faculty is: Does a decided taste for wilful fire-raising often accompany exhibitions of dancing furniture and crockery, gratuitously given by patients of hysterical temperament? This is quite a normal inquiry. Is there a nervous malady of which the symptoms are domestic arson, and amateur leger-de- main? The complaint, if it exists, is of very old standing and wide prevalence, including Russia, Scotland, New England, France, Iceland, Germany, China and Peru.

As a proof of the identity of symptoms in this malady, we give a Chinese case. The Chinese, as to diabolical possession, are precisely of the same opinion as the inspired authors of the Gospels. People are "possessed," and, like the woman having a spirit of divination in the Acts of the Apostles, make a good thing out of it. Thus Mrs. Ku was approached by a native Christian. She became rigid and her demon, speaking through her, acknowledged the Catholic verity, and said that if Mrs. Ku were converted he would have to leave. On recovering her everyday consciousness, Mrs. Ku asked what Tsehwa, her demon, had said. The Christian told her, and perhaps she would have deserted her erroneous courses, but her fellow-villagers implored her to pay homage to the demon. They were in the habit of resorting to it for medical advice (as people do to Mrs. Piper's demon in the United States), so Mrs. Ku decided to remain in the business. {232} The parallel to the case in the Acts is interesting.


Mr. Chang, of that ilk (Chang Chang Tien-ts), was a man of fifty- seven, and a graduate in letters. The ladies of his family having accommodated a demon with a shrine in his house, Mr. Chang said he "would have none of that nonsense". The spirit then entered into Mrs. Chang, and the usual fire-raising began all over the place. The furniture and crockery danced in the familiar way, and objects took to disappearing mysteriously, even when secured under lock and key. Mr. Chang was as unlucky as Mr. Chin. At _his_ house "doors would open of their own accord, footfalls were heard, as of persons walking in the house, although no one could be seen. Plates, bowls and the teapot would suddenly rise from the table into the air." {233a}

Mrs. Chang now tried the off chance of there being something in Christianity, stayed with a native Christian (the narrator), and felt much better. She could enjoy her meals, and was quite a new woman. As her friend could not go home with her, Mrs. Fung, a native Christian, resided for a while at Mr. Chang's; "comparative quiet was restored," and Mrs. Fung retired to her family.