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

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead

Chapter II.

"However, on Friday, January 9th, I was in the printing-room upstairs, when I was signalled by the whistle which communicates with the office, and Miss Simon asked if I could go down, as the gentleman had called about the negative. I asked 'What negative?' 'Well,' she replied, 'the one we broke.'

"'Mr. Thompson's,' I answered. 'I am very busy and cannot come down, but you know the terms I offered him; send him up to be taken at once.'

"'But he is _dead_!' said Miss Simon.

"'Dead!' I exclaimed, and without another word I hastened down the stairs to my office. Here I saw an elderly gentleman, who seemed in great trouble.

"'Surely,' said I to him, 'you don't mean to say that this man is dead?'

"'It is only too true,' he replied.

"'Well, it must have been dreadfully sudden,' I said, sympathetically, 'because I saw him only last Saturday.'

"The old gentleman shook his head sadly, and said, 'You are mistaken, for he died last Saturday.'

"'Nay,' I returned, 'I am not mistaken, for I recognised him by the negative.'

"However, the father (for such was his relationship to my sitter) persisted in saying I was mistaken, and that it was he who called on the Friday and not his son, and, he said, 'I saw that young lady (pointing to Miss Simon), and she told me the photographs would not be ready that week.'

"'That is quite right,' said Miss Simon, 'but Mr. Dickinson also saw a gentleman on the Saturday morning, and, when I showed Mr. Dickinson the negative, he said, "Yes, that's the man who called." I told Mr. Dickinson _then_ of your having called on the Friday.'

"Still Mr. Thompson, sen., seemed to think that we were wrong, and many questions and cross-questions I put to him only served to confirm him in his opinion that I had got mixed; but this he said--no one was authorised to call, nor had they any friend or relative who would know of the portraits being ordered, neither was there any one likely to impersonate the man who had sat for his portrait.

"I had no further interview with the old gentleman until a week later, when he was much calmer in his appearance and conversation, and at this interview he told me that his son died on Saturday, January 3rd, at about 2.30 p.m.; he also stated that at the time I saw him (the sitter) he was unconscious, and remained so up to the time of his death. I have not had any explanation of this mysterious visit up to present date, February 26th, 1891.