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

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead

Chapter III. Premonitory Warnings.

_An Examination Paper Seen in Dream._

The Rev. D. Morris, chaplain of Walton Gaol, near Liverpool, had a similar, although more useful experience, as follows:--

"In December, 1853, I sat for a schoolmaster's certificate at an examination held in the Normal College, Cheltenham. The questions in the various subjects were arranged in sections according to their value, and printed on the margin of stiff blue-coloured foolscap, to which the answers were limited. It had been the custom at similar examinations in previous years for the presiding examiners to announce beforehand the daily subjects of examinations, but on this occasion the usual notice was omitted.

"After sitting all day on Monday, my brain was further excited by anxious guessings of the morrow's subjects, and perusals of my note-books. That night I had little restful sleep, for I dreamt that I was busy at work in the examination hall, I had in my dream vividly before me the Geometry (Euclid) paper. I was so impressed with what I had seen that I told my intimate friends to get up the bottom question in each section (that being the bearer of most marks), and, it is needless to say, I did the same myself. When the geometry paper was distributed in the hall by the examiners, to my wonder it was really in every respect, questions and sections, the paper that I had seen in my dream on the Monday night.

"Nothing similar to it happened to me before or since. The above fact has never been recorded in any publication."

_Forebodings and Dreams._

An instance in which a dream was useful in preventing an impending catastrophe is recorded of a daughter of Mrs. Rutherford, the granddaughter of Sir Walter Scott. This lady dreamed more than once that her mother had been murdered by a black servant. She was so much upset by this that she returned home, and to her great astonishment, and not a little to her dismay, she met on entering the house the very black servant she had met in her dream. He had been engaged in her absence. She prevailed upon a gentleman to watch in an adjoining room during the following night. About three o'clock in the morning the gentleman hearing footsteps on the stairs, came out and met the servant carrying a quantity of coals. Being questioned as to where he was going, he answered confusedly that he was going to mend the mistress's fire, which at three o'clock in the morning in the middle of summer was evidently impossible. On further investigation, a strong knife was found hidden in the coals. The lady escaped, but the man was subsequently hanged for murder, and before his execution he confessed that he intended to have assassinated Mrs. Rutherford.

A correspondent in Dalston sends me an account of an experience which befell him in 1871, when a lady strongly advised him against going from Liverpool to a place near Wigan, where he had an appointment on a certain day. As he could not put off the appointment, she implored him not to go by the first train. In deference to her foreboding, he went by the third train, and on arriving at his destination found that the first train had been thrown off the line and had rolled down an embankment into the fields below. The warning in this case, he thinks, probably saved his life.

Another correspondent, Mr. A. N. Browne, of 19, Wellington Avenue, Liverpool, communicates another instance of a premonitory dream, which unfortunately did not avail to prevent the disaster:

"My sister-in-law was complaining to me on a warm August day, in 1882, of being out of sorts, upset and altogether depressed. I took her a bit to task, asked her why she was depressed, and elicited that she was troubled by dreaming the preceding night that her son Frank, who was spending his holidays with his uncle near Preston, was drowned. Of course I ridiculed the idea of a dream troubling any one. But she only answered that her dreams often proved more than mere sleep-disturbers. That was told to me at 2 p.m. or about. At 6.30 we dined, and all thought of the dream had vanished out of my mind and my sister-in-law seemed to have overcome her depression. We were sitting in the drawing-room, say 8 p.m., when a telegram arrived. My sister-in-law received it, turned to her husband and said, 'It is for you, Tom.' He opened it and cried, 'My God! My God!' and fell into a chair. My sister-in-law snatched the telegram from her husband, looked at it, screamed, and fell prostrate. I in turn took the telegram, and read, 'Frank fell in the river here to-day, and was drowned.' It was a telegram from the youth's uncle, with whom he had been staying."