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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.

Dr. H. Grosvenor Shaw, M.R.C.S., medical officer to one of the asylums under the London County Council, sends me the following brief but striking story, which bears upon the subject under discussion:--

"Four men were playing whist. The man dealing stopped to drink, and whilst drinking the man next to him poked him in the side, telling him to hurry up. Some of the fluid he was drinking entered the larynx, and before he could recover his breath he fell back, hitting his head against the door post, and lay on the ground stunned for something under a minute. When he came to he was naturally dazed, and for the moment surprised at his surroundings. He said he had been at the bedside of his friend--mentioning his name--who was dying. The next morning a telegram came to say the friend was dead, and he died, it was ascertained at the exact time the accident at the card table took place. I would remark the dead man had been enjoying perfect health, and no one had received any information that he was ill, which illness was sudden."

_A Vision of Coming Death._

One familiar and very uncanny form of premonition, or of foreseeing, is that in which a coffin is seen before the death of some member of the household. The following narrative is communicated to me by Mrs. Crofts, of 22, Blurton Road, Clapton. She is quite clear that she actually saw what she describes:--

"A week prior to the death of my husband, when he and I had retired to rest, I lay for a long while endeavouring to go to sleep, but failed; and after tossing about for some time I sat up in bed, and having sat thus for some time was surprised to see the front door open, I could see the door plainly from where I was, our bedroom door being always kept open. I was astonished but not afraid when, immediately after the door opened, two men entered bearing a coffin which they carried upstairs, right into the room where I was, and laid it down on the hearth-rug by the side of the bed, and then went away shutting the front door after them. I was of course somewhat troubled over the matter, and mentioned it to my husband when having breakfast the following morning. He insisted that I had been dreaming, and I did not again let the matter trouble my mind. A week that day my husband died very suddenly. I was engaged in one of the rooms upstairs the evening afterwards, when a knock came to the door, which was answered by my mother, and I did not take any notice until I heard the footsteps of those coming up the stairs, when I looked out, and lo! I beheld the two men whom I had seen but a week previously carry and put the coffin in exactly the same place that they had done on their previous visit. I cannot describe to you my feelings, but from that time until the present I am convinced that, call them what you like--apparitions, ghosts, or forewarnings--they are a reality."

_Profitable Premonitions._

There are, however, cases in which a premonition has been useful to those who have received timely warning of disaster. The ill-fated _Pegasus_, that went down carrying with it the well-known Rev. J. Morell Mackenzie, an uncle of the well-known physician, who preserves a portrait of the distinguished divine among his heirlooms, is associated with a premonition which saved the life of a lady and her cousin, the wives of two Church of England ministers. They had intended to sail in the _Pegasus_ on Wednesday, but a mysterious and unaccountable impression compelled one of the ladies to insist that they should leave on the Saturday. They had just time to get on board, and so escaped going by the _Pegasus_ which sailed on the following Wednesday and was wrecked, only two on board being saved.