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

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead

Chapter II. Lord Brougham's Testimony.

A similar story to the foregoing one was supplied me by the wife of the Rev. Bloomfield James, Congregational minister at Wimbledon. (1891). It is as follows:--

"My mother, aunt, and Miss E., of Bideford, North Devon, were at school together at Teignmouth. The two latter girls formed a great friendship, and promised whichever died first would come to the other. About the year 1815 or 1816 my aunt Charlotte was on the stair coming from her room when she saw Miss E. walking up. Aunt was not at all frightened, as she was expecting her friend on a visit, and called out, 'Oh, how glad I am to see you, but why did you not write!' A few days afterwards news came of Miss E.'s death on that evening."

It is very rare that the apparition speaks; usually it simply appears, and leaves those who see it to draw their own inferences. But sometimes the apparition shows signs of the wound which caused its death. The most remarkable case of this description is that in which Lieutenant Colt, of the Fusiliers, reported his death at Sebastopol to his brother in Scotland more than a fortnight before the news of the casualty arrived in this country.

_The Case of Lieutenant Colt._

Captain G. F. Russell Colt, of Gartsherrie, Coatbridge, N.B., reports the case as follows to the Psychical Society (Vol. i. page 125):--

"I had a very dear brother (my eldest brother), Oliver, lieutenant in the 7th Royal Fusiliers. He was about nineteen years old, and had at that time been some months before Sebastopol. I corresponded frequently with him, and once when he wrote in low spirits, not being well, I said in answer that he was to cheer up, but that if anything did happen to him he was to let me know by appearing to me in my room. This letter, I found subsequently, he received as he was starting to receive the sacrament from a clergyman who has since related the fact to me.

"Having done this he went to the entrenchments and never returned, as in a few hours afterwards the storming of the Redan commenced. He, on the captain of his company falling, took his place and led his men bravely on. He had just led them within the walls, though already wounded in several places, when a bullet struck him in the right temple and he fell amongst heaps of others, where he was found in a sort of kneeling posture (being propped up by the other dead bodies) thirty-six hours afterwards. His death took place, or rather he fell, though he may not have died immediately, on September 8th, 1855.

"That night I awoke suddenly and saw facing the window of my room by my bedside, surrounded by a light sort of phosphorescent mist, as it were, my brother kneeling. I tried to speak but could not. I buried my head in the bedclothes, not at all afraid (because we had all been brought up not to believe in ghosts and apparitions), but simply to collect my ideas, because I had not been thinking or dreaming of him, and indeed had forgotten all about what I had written to him a fortnight before. I decided that it must be fancy and the moonlight playing on a towel, or something out of place; but on looking up again there he was, looking lovingly, imploringly, and sadly at me. I tried again to speak, but found myself tongue-tied. I could not utter a sound. I sprang out of bed, glanced through the window, and saw that there was no moon, but it was very dark and raining hard, by the sound against the panes. I turned and still saw poor Oliver. I shut my eyes, walked through it, and reached the door of the room. As I turned the handle, before leaving the room, I looked once more back. The apparition turned round his head slowly, and again looked anxiously and lovingly at me, and I saw then for the first time a wound on the right temple with a red stream from it. His face was of a waxy pale tint, but transparent looking, and so was the reddish mark. But it was almost impossible to describe his appearance. I only know I shall never forget it. I left the room and went into a friend's room, and lay on the sofa the rest of the night. I told him why, I also told others in the house, but when I told my father he ordered me not to repeat such nonsense, and especially not to let my mother know.

"On the Monday following I received a note from Sir Alexander Milne to say that the Redan was stormed, but no particulars. I told my friend to let me know if he saw the name among the killed and wounded before me. About a fortnight later he came to my bedroom in his mother's house in Athole Crescent in Edinburgh, with a very grave face. I said, 'I suppose it is to tell me the sad news I expect,' and he said, 'Yes.' Both the colonel of the regiment and one or two officers who saw the body confirmed the fact that the appearance was much according to my description, and the death-wound was exactly where I had seen it. His appearance, if so, must have been some hours after death, as he appeared to me a few minutes after two in the morning.

"Months later his little Prayer-book and the letter I had written to him were returned to Inveresk, found in the inner breast pocket of the tunic which he wore at his death. I have them now."

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