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

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead

Chapter II.

A Dying Double Demands its Portraits!

Perhaps the most remarkable and most authentic ghost is a ghost which appeared at Newcastle, for the purpose of demanding its photographs! The story was first told me by the late secretary of the Bradford Association of Helpers, Mr. Snowden Ward. I subsequently obtained it first hand from the man who saw the ghost. Running from the central railway station at Newcastle, a broad busy thoroughfare connects Neville Street with Grainger Street. On one side stands St. John's Church, on the other the Savings Bank, and a little past the Savings Bank, proceeding from the station, stand the shops and offices of Grainger Street. It is a comparatively new street, and is quite one of the last places in the world where one would expect to find visitants of a ghostly nature. Nevertheless, it was in one of the places of business in this busy and bustling thoroughfare that the ghost in question appeared, for that it did appear there can be no manner of doubt. Even if all the other cases published in this book were discarded as lacking in evidential value, this would of itself suffice to establish the fact that apparitions appear, for the circumstances are such as to preclude the adoption of any of the usual hypotheses to account for the apparition. I called upon Mr. Dickinson at 43, Grainger Street, on October 14th, examined his premises, was shown the entry in his book, and cross-examined himself and Miss Simon, the lady clerk, who figures in the subsequent narrative. It will probably be best to reprint the statement, which originally appeared in the _Practical Photographer_, merely filling in names and supplementing it here and there with a little more detail:--

"On Saturday, the 3rd of January this year," said Mr. Dickinson, "I arrived at my place of business, 43, Grainger Street, Newcastle, a few minutes before 8 a.m. The outer door is protected by an iron gate in which is a smaller lock-up gate, through which I passed into the premises. Having opened the office and turned the gas on at the meter, and lit the gas fire, I stood at the office counter for a few minutes waiting for the lad who takes down the iron gate at the front door."

Mr. Dickinson told me that the reason he was down so early was because the lad who usually brought the keys was ill, and he had come earlier than usual on that account. The place is lit with electric light. Mr. Dickinson does not remember turning on the light, although, as it was only eight o'clock on the 3rd of January, he must have done so in order to read the entry in the book.

Before the lad came, a gentleman called to inquire if his photographs were finished.

He was a stranger to him. He came into the room and came up to the counter in the ordinary way. He was wearing a hat and overcoat, and there was nothing unusual about his appearance excepting that he did not seem very well. "He said to me, 'Are my photographs ready?' I said, 'Who are you? We are not opened yet.' He said his name was Thompson. I asked him if he had the receipt (which usually accompanies any inquiry), and he replied that he had no receipt, but his photograph was taken on December 6th and that the prints were promised to be sent to him before this call.

"I then asked him whether it was a cash order or a subscription one. The reason for asking this is because we have two books in which orders are entered. He said he had paid for them at the time; his name would therefore be in the cash orders. Having got the date and his name, I referred to my book, and found the order as he stated. I read out to him the name and address, to which he replied, 'That is right.'