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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


He was very pale, the face was a dead man's face, he was stouter than when Mr. Barter knew him and he wore _a dark Newgate fringe_.

Mr. Barter dashed up the bank, the earth thrown up in making the bridle path crumbled under him, he fell, scrambled on, reached the bridle path where the group had stopped, and found nobody. Mr. Barter ran up the path for a hundred yards, as nobody could go _down_ it except over a precipice, and neither heard nor saw anything. His dogs did not accompany him.

Next day Mr. Barter gently led his friend Deane to talk of Lieutenant B., who said that the lieutenant "grew very bloated before his death, and while on the sick list he allowed the fringe to grow in spite of all we could say to him, and I believe he was buried with it". Mr. Barter then asked where he got the pony, describing it minutely.

"He bought him at Peshawur, and killed him one day, riding in his reckless fashion down the hill to Trete."

Mr. Barter and his wife often heard the horse's hoofs later, though he doubts if any one but B. had ever ridden the bridle path. His Hindoo bearer he found one day armed with a lattie, being determined to waylay the sound, which "passed him like a typhoon". {74} Here the appearance gave correct information unknown previously to General Barter, namely, that Lieutenant B. grew stout and wore a beard before his death, also that he had owned a brown pony, with black mane and tail. Even granting that the ghosts of the pony and lieutenant were present (both being dead), we are not informed that the grooms were dead also. The hallucination, on the theory of "mental telegraphy," was telegraphed to General Barter's mind from some one who had seen Lieutenant B. ride home from mess not very sober, or from the mind of the defunct lieutenant, or, perhaps, from that of the deceased pony. The message also reached and alarmed General Barter's dogs.

Something of the same kind may or may not explain Mr. Hyndford's view of the family coach, which gave no traceable information.

The following story, in which an appearance of the dead conveyed information not known to the seer, and so deserving to be called veracious, is a little ghastly.


In 1867, Miss G., aged eighteen, died suddenly of cholera in St. Louis. In 1876 a brother, F. G., who was much attached to her, had done a good day's business in St. Joseph. He was sending in his orders to his employers (he is a commercial traveller) and was smoking a cigar, when he became conscious that some one was sitting on his left, with one arm on the table. It was his dead sister. He sprang up to embrace her (for even on meeting a stranger whom we take for a dead friend, we never realise the impossibility in the half moment of surprise) but she was gone. Mr. G. stood there, the ink wet on his pen, the cigar lighted in his hand, the name of his sister on his lips. He had noted her expression, features, dress, the kindness of her eyes, the glow of the complexion, and what he had never seen before, _a bright red scratch on the right side of her face_.

Mr. G. took the next train home to St. Louis, and told the story to his parents. His father was inclined to ridicule him, but his mother nearly fainted. When she could control herself, she said that, unknown to any one, she had accidentally scratched the face of the dead, apparently with the pin of her brooch, while arranging something about the corpse. She had obliterated the scratch with powder, and had kept the fact to herself. "She told me she _knew_ at least that I had seen my sister." A few weeks later Mrs. G. died. {75}