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

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead

Chapter II. Warnings Given in Dreams.

"It was in the winter of 1853 that my brother-in-law, Mr. Kenneth Morrison, came on a visit to us here at the Manse of Nether Lochaber. Mr. Morrison was at that time chief officer of the steamship _City of Manchester_, of the Inman line, one of the ocean 'greyhounds' of her day, sailing between Liverpool and Philadelphia.

"In my service here, at the time of Mr. Morrison's visit, was a native of Lochaber, Angus MacMaster by name, an active, intelligent man, of about thirty years of age, a most useful man, a capital shot, an expert angler, and one of the best violinists in the West Highlands. No great wonder, therefore, that Morrison took a liking for Angus, and that the end of it was that Morrison invited Angus to join him on board the _City of Manchester_, where, it was arranged, he should act as one of the steerage stewards, and, at the same time, as Mr. Morrison's valet. To this Angus very willingly agreed, and so it was that when Mr. Morrison's leave of absence expired, he and Angus joined the _City of Manchester_ at Liverpool.

"Within a twelvemonth afterwards, Mr. Morrison wrote to say that he was about to be promoted to the command of the new Inman Steamship _City of Glasgow_--at that time, of her class and kind, the finest ship afloat--and that having got a few weeks' holiday, he was coming down to visit his friends in Lochaber, bringing Angus MacMaster along with him, for he had proved so good and faithful a servant that he was resolved not to part with him.

"Sooner than was expected, and when his leave had only extended to some twenty days, Captain Morrison was summoned to Liverpool to take charge of his ship, which had already booked her full complement of passengers, and taken in most of her cargo, and only required some little putting to rights, which had better be done under her commander's supervision, before she sailed on her maiden trip to Philadelphia. 'I must be off the day after to-morrow,' said Morrison, as he handed the letter to me across the table. 'Please send for Angus,' he continued, 'I wish him to come at once, that we may be ready to start by Wednesday morning.' This was at the breakfast table on a Monday morning; and that same evening Angus, summoned by a special messenger from the glen in which he was staying with his friends, arrived at the Manse, but in so grave and cheerless a mood that I noticed it at once, and wondered what could be the matter with him. Taking him into a private room, I said, 'Angus, Captain Morrison leaves the day after to-morrow. You had better get his things packed at once. And, by the way, what a lucky fellow you are! If you did so well on the _City of Manchester_, you will in a year or two make quite a fortune in the _City of Glasgow_.' To my astonishment Angus replied, 'I am not going in the _City of Glasgow_--at least, not on this voyage--and I wish you could persuade Captain Morrison--the best and kindest master ever man had--not to go either.' 'Not going? What in the world do you mean, Angus?' was my very natural exclamation of surprise. 'Well, sir,' said Angus (the reader will please understand that our talk was in Gaelic). 'Well, sir,' said Angus, 'You must not be angry with me if I tell you that on the last three nights my father, who has been dead nine years, as you know, has appeared to me and warned me not to go on this voyage, for that it will prove disastrous. Whether in dream or waking vision of the night, I cannot say; but I saw him, sir, as distinctly as I now see you; clothed exactly as I remember him in life; and he stood by my bedside, and with up-lifted hand and warning finger, and with a most solemn and earnest expression of countenance, he said, "Angus, my beloved son, don't go on this voyage. It will not be a prosperous one." On three nights running has my father appeared to me in this form, and with the same words of warning; and although much against my will, I have made up my mind that in the face of such warning, thrice repeated, it would be wrong in me to go on this voyage. It does not become me to do it, but I wish you, sir, would tell Captain Morrison what I have now told you; and persuade him if possible to make the best excuse he can, and on no account to go on this voyage in the _City of Glasgow_.' I said all I could, of course, and when Captain Morrison was told of it, he, too, said all he could to shake Angus from his resolution; but all in vain. And so it was that Morrison left without him; poor Angus actually weeping as he bade his master good-bye.