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

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead

Chapter II.

"Here is an exact copy of the entry in the order book:--

7976. Sat., Dec. 6th, /90.

Mr. J. S. Thompson, 154, William Street, Hebburn Quay.

6 cabinets. 7/- pd.

"The above was written in pencil; on the margin was written in ink, 'Dec. 16,' which, Mr. Dickinson explained, is the date on which the negative came to the office, named and numbered, and ready to go to the printers.

"Below this again was written in ink.

5th.--3 Cabinets gratis, neg. broken, letter sent asking to re-sit.

"In my book I found a date given, on which the negative was ready to be put into the printer's hands; and the date being seventeen days previous, I had no hesitation in saying, 'Well, if you call later on you will get some;' and I called his attention to the fact that it was very early, and explained to him that the employés would not be at work until nine o'clock, and if he could call after that time he would be certain to get some of his photographs. He said 'I have been travelling all night, and cannot call again.'

"Some short time before I had been at a hydropathic establishment in Yorkshire, and had travelled home at night. When he said he had been travelling all night, I remembered my own journey, and I thought perhaps he had been to some hydropathic establishment to benefit his health; and finding that he was getting no better, he had come back, perhaps to die, for he looked wretchedly ill. He spoke weariedly and rather impatiently, when he said he could not call again.

"With that, he turned abruptly and went out. Anxious to retain his good-will, I shouted after him, 'Can I post what may be done?' but I got no answer. I turned once more to the book, looked at the number, and on a slip of paper wrote _No. 7976, Thompson, post_. (This I wrote with pen and ink, and have the paper yet.)."

Mr. Dickinson said he had handed over this piece of paper to a representative of the Psychical Research Society who had lost it. It was, however, a mere memorandum written on the back of a traveller's card.

"At nine o'clock, when Miss Simon (clerk and reception room attendant, a bright, intelligent young lady) came, I handed the slip of paper to her, and asked her to have it attended to, telling her that the man had called for them, and seemed much disappointed that he had not received them before. Miss Simon, with considerable surprise, exclaimed, 'Why, an old man called about these photographs yesterday (Friday), and I told him they could not be ready this week owing to the bad weather, and that we were nearly three weeks behind with our work.' I suggested that it was quite time Mr. Thompson's were ready, and inquired who was printing the order. I was told that it was not in print, and, pointing to a pile of negatives, Miss Simon said 'Thompson's is amongst that lot, and they have been waiting quite a fortnight.' I asked to be shown the negative, and about half an hour later Miss S. called me saying 'This is Thompson's negative.'