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

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead

Chapter II.

"I took it in my hands and looked at it carefully, remarking, 'Yes, that is it; that is the chap who called this morning.'"

Mr. Dickinson said he had no difficulty in recognising it, although the man wore a hat and top-coat when he called, whereas in the portrait the sitter wore neither hat nor top-coat.

"Miss Simon again referred to the fact that she had told the man who had called on the previous day that none were done, or could be done that week. 'Well,' I said, 'put this to one side, and I will see to it myself on Monday, and endeavour to hurry it forward.' On the Monday (January 5th) I was in one of the printing-rooms, and about 10.30 a.m., having one or two printing-frames empty, I thought of Thompson's negative, and accordingly went down to the office and asked Miss S. for it. 'Oh! yes,' she replied, 'and here are a few more equally urgent, you may take them as well.' I said, 'That cannot be, as I have only two or three frames at liberty' (she had about twenty negatives in her hand, holding them out to me); 'give me Thompson's first, and let me get my mind at rest about it.' To which she answered, 'His is amongst this lot, I will have to pick it out.' (Each negative was in a paper bag.)

"I offered to help her, and she commenced at one end of the batch and I at the other; and before we got halfway through I came across one which I knew was very urgent, and turned away to look up the date of taking it, when crash! went part of the negatives on the floor. This accident seemed so serious that I was almost afraid to pick up the fallen negatives, but on doing so, one by one, I was greatly relieved to find _only one_ was broken; but, judge of my horror to find that that one was Thompson's!

"I muttered something (not loud, but deep), and would fain have relieved my feelings, but the presence of ladies restrained me (this accident being witnessed also by my head printer, Miss L.).

"I could not honestly blame Miss Simon for this--each thought the other was holding the lot, and between us we let them drop.

"The negative was broken in two, right across the forehead of figure. I put the pieces carefully away, and taking out a memo. form, wrote to Mr. Thompson, asking him to kindly give another sitting, and offering to recoup him for his trouble and loss of time. This letter was posted five minutes after the negative was broken, and the affair was forgotten by me for the time.