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REAL GHOST STORIES (Collected and Edited by William T. Stead) online

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead


_A Vision Which Saved Many Lives._

Dr. Horace Bushnell, in his "Nature and the Supernatural," tells a story, on the authority of Captain Yonnt, which differs from the foregoing in having a definite purpose, which, fortunately, was attained. Captain Yonnt, a patriarch in the Napa valley of California, told Dr. Bushnell that six or seven years before their conversation he had seen a vision which saved several lives. Here is his story:--

"About six or seven years previous, in a mid-winter's night, he had a dream, in which he saw what appeared to be a company of emigrants arrested by the snows of the mountains and perishing rapidly by cold and hunger. He noted the very cast of the scenery, marked by a huge, perpendicular front of white rock cliff; he saw the men cutting off what appeared to be tree-tops rising out of deep gulfs of snow; he distinguished the very features of the persons and the look of their particular distress. He awoke profoundly impressed by the distinctness and apparent reality of the dream. He at length fell asleep, and dreamed exactly the same dream over again. In the morning he could not expel it from his mind. Falling in shortly after with an old hunter comrade, he told his story, and was only the more deeply impressed by his recognising without hesitation the scenery of the dream. This comrade came over the Sierra, by the Carson Valley Pass, and declared that a spot in the Pass answered exactly his description. By this the unsophistical patriarch was decided. He immediately collected a company of men, with mules and blankets and all necessary provisions. The neighbours were laughing meantime at his credulity. 'No matter,' he said, 'I am able to do this, and I will; for I verily believe that the fact is according to my dream.' The men were sent into the mountains one hundred and fifty miles distant, directly to the Carson Valley Pass. And there they found the company exactly in the condition of the dream, and brought in the remnant alive." ("Nature and the Supernatural," p. 14.)

_The Vision of a Fire._

The wife of a Dean of the Episcopal Church in one of the Southern States of America was visiting at my house while I was busy collecting materials for this work. Asking her the usual question as to whether she had ever experienced anything of the phenomena usually called supernatural, apparently because it is not the habitual experience of every twenty-four hours, she ridiculed the idea. Ghosts? not she. She was a severely practical, matter-of-fact person, who used her natural senses, and had nothing to do with spirits. But was she quite sure; had nothing ever occurred to her which she could not explain? Then she hesitated and said, "Well, yes; but there is nothing supernatural about it. I was staying away down in Virginia, some hundred miles from home, when one morning, about eleven o'clock, I felt an over-powering sleepiness. I never sleep in the daytime, and that drowsiness was, I think, almost my only experience of that kind. I was so sleepy I went to my room and lay down. In my sleep I saw quite distinctly my home at Richmond in flames. The fire had broken out in one wing of the house, which I saw with dismay was where I kept all my best dresses. The people were all about trying to check the flames, but it was of no use. My husband was there, walking about before the burning house, carrying a portrait in his hand. Everything was quite clear and distinct, exactly as if I had actually been present and seen everything. After a time I woke up, and, going downstairs, told my friends the strange dream I had had. They laughed at me, and made such game of my vision that I did my best to think no more about it. I was travelling about, a day or two passed, and when Sunday came I found myself in a church where some relatives were worshipping. When I entered the pew they looked rather strange, and as soon as the service was over I asked them what was the matter. 'Don't be alarmed,' they said, 'there is nothing serious.' They then handed me a postcard from my husband, which simply said, 'House burned out; covered by insurance.' The date was the day on which my dream occurred. I hastened home, and then I learned that everything had happened exactly as I had seen it. The fire had broken out in the wing which I had seen blazing. My clothes were all burnt, and the oddest thing about it was that my husband, having rescued a favourite picture from the burning building, had carried it about among the crowd for some time before he could find a place in which to put it safely." Swedenborg, it will be remembered, also had a clairvoyant vision of a fire at a great distance.