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

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead

Chapter II. Tragic Happenings Seen in Dreams.

"I inquired if any one had been arrested on suspicion of the crime in question, and a police-constable answered that such was the case, and that, as they had been taken to the town on Sunday, they had been kept in the police-station over night, and after that had been obliged to go on foot to gaol, accompanied by two constables." (The police-constable, T. A. Ljung, states that Dr. Backman described quite accurately the appearance of the house, its furniture, how the rooms were situated, where the suspected man lived, and gave a very correct account of Niklas Jonnasson's personal appearance. The doctor also asked him if he had observed that Jonnasson had a scar on his right hand. He said he had not then observed it, but ascertained later that it really was so, and Jonnasson said that he got it from an abscess).

"The trial was a long one, and showed that Gustafsson had agreed to buy for Jonnasson, but in his own name, the latter's farm, which was sold by auction on account of Jonnasson's debts. This is what is called a thief's bargain. Gustafsson bought the farm, but kept it for himself. The statements of the accused men were very vague; the father had prepared an _alibi_ with much care, but it failed to account for just the length of time that was probably enough to commit the murder in. The son tried to prove an _alibi_ by means of two witnesses, but these confessed that they had given false evidence, which he had bribed them to do when they were in prison with him on account of another matter.

"But though the evidence against the defendants was very strong, it was not considered that there was sufficient legal evidence, and, there being no jury in Sweden, they were left to the verdict of posterity." (pp. 213-216.)

_A Terrible Vision of Torture at Sea._

The following marvellous story of a vision reaches me from Scotland. The Rev. D. McQueen writes me from 165, Dalkeith-road, Edinburgh, December 14th, as follows:--

"I have been much interested in your Ghost Stories. I wish to inform you of one I have heard, and which I think eclipses in interest, minuteness of detail, and tragical pathos anything I have ever known, and which, if published and edited by your graphic pen, would cause a sensation in every scientific society in Great Britain.

"It is not in my power to write the whole story, as it is nearly sufficient for a pamphlet by itself, but its accuracy can be vouched for by many of the most respectable and intelligent people in the neighbourhood of Old Cumnock. I heard the story some years ago, and would have written you sooner, only I wished to make inquiries as to the whereabouts of the subject of the remarkable vision.

"About twenty years ago a young man belonging to Ayrshire embarked from an Australian port to re-visit his friends in this country. His mother and father still live. The former saw all that befell her son from the moment he set foot on the deck till he was consigned to the sea. She can describe the port from which he sailed, the crew of the ship, his fellow passengers. It was a weird story, for her son, by name George, was done to death by the brutality of the officers. This was partially corroborated by a passenger named Gilmour, who called on her after his arrival in London. When he entered the house she said, 'Why did you allow them to ill-use my son.' He started, and said, 'Who told you?' She related all that happened during the weeks her son was ill, and when she finished her guest fainted. According to her, her son was ill-used from the time he started till his death. For example, she saw her son struck by a ball of ropes, as she said (a cork fender). He said that was so. She saw him put into a strait jacket and lowered into the hold of the ship, which actually took place. She saw them playing cards on deck and putting the counters into her son's pocket, which were actually found in his clothes when they came back. She can describe the berth her son occupied, the various parts of the ship, with an accuracy that is surprising to one that never has been on board ship. And last of all she tells the manner of his burial, the dress, the service that was read, the body moving, the protest of one passenger that he was not dead. She had a succession of trances by day and night which are unparalleled. She saw some of the painful scenes in church, and has been known to cry out in horror and agony. If you could only get some one to take it down from her own lips--she alone can tell it--you would make a narrative that would thrill the heart of every reader in the kingdom. The woman is reliable. She is the wife of a well-to-do farmer. Her name is Mrs. Arthur, Benston Farm, Old Cumnock.