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

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead

Chapter II.

"It is curious to me that I have no recollection of hearing the man come upstairs, or of him going down. In appearance he was pale and careworn, and looked as though he had been very ill. This thought occurred to me when he said he had been travelling all night.

"James Dickinson.

"43, Grainger Street, Newcastle."

Miss Simon, in further conversation with me, stated that when the father called on Friday night and asked for the photographs, he came late, at least after the electric light was lit. He seemed disappointed, but made no further remark when he was told they were not ready. Mr. Dickinson stated that in conversation with the father afterwards, he told him that his son, on the Friday, had been delirious and had cried out for his photographs so frequently that they had tried to get them, and that was why he had called on Friday night. Hebburn is on the south side of the Tyne, about four miles from Newcastle. The father was absolutely certain that it was physically impossible for his son to have left the house. He did not leave it. They knew the end was approaching, and he and his wife were in constant attendance at the death-bed. He also stated that it was impossible, from the position of the bedroom, for him to have left the house, even if he had been able to get out of bed without their hearing him. As a matter of fact, he did not get out of bed, and at the moment when his Double was talking to Mr. Dickinson in Grainger Street he was lying unconscious at Hebburn.

It is impossible to explain this on the theory that Mr. Dickinson visualised the impression left upon his mind by Mr. Thompson, for Mr. Dickinson had never seen Mr. Thompson in his life. Neither could he have given apparent objectivity to a photograph which he might possibly have seen, although Mr. Dickinson asserts that he had never seen the photograph until it was brought him on the Saturday morning. If he had done so by any chance he would not have fitted his man with a top-coat and hat. It cannot, therefore, be regarded as a subjective hallucination; besides, the evidence afforded by the looking up of the book, the making an entry of what occurred, and the conversation which took place, in which the visitor mentioned facts which were not present in Mr. Dickinson's own mind, but which he verified there and then by looking up his books, bring it as near certainty as it is possible to arrive in a case such as this. Whoever the visitor was, it was not a subjective hallucination on the part of Mr. Dickinson.

It is equally impossible to believe that it was the actual Mr. Thompson, because he was at that moment within six hours of death, and the evidence of his father is that his son at that moment was physically incapable of getting out of bed, and that he was actually lying unconscious before their eyes at Hebburn at the moment when his apparition was talking to Mr. Dickinson at Newcastle. The only other hypothesis that can be brought forward is that some one personated Thompson. Against this we have the fact that Mr. Dickinson, who had never seen Thompson, recognised him immediately as soon as he saw the negative of his portrait.

Further, if any one had come from Hebburn on behalf of Thompson, he would not have asserted that he was Thompson himself, knowing, as he would, that he was speaking to a photographer, who, if the photographs had been ready, would at once have compared the photographs with the person standing before him, when the attempted personation would at once have been detected. Besides, no one was likely to have been so anxious about the photographs as to come up to Newcastle an hour before the studio opened in order to get them.

We may turn it which way we please, there is no hypothesis which will fit the facts except the assumption that there is such a thing as a Thought Body, capable of locomotion and speech, which can transfer itself wherever it pleases, clothing itself with whatever clothes it desires to wear, which are phantasmal like itself. Short of that hypothesis, I do not see any explanation possible; and yet, if we admit that hypothesis, what an immense vista of possibilities is opened up to our view!

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