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

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead

Chapter III. Madame B. and Her Three Souls.

And in effect, as soon as Léonie III. was summoned into communication, she accepted the responsibility of this counsel. "What was it that happened?" asked M. Janet, "when Léonie II. was so frightened?" "Oh! nothing. It was I who told her to keep quiet; I saw she was annoying you; I don't know why she was so frightened."

Note the significance of this incident. Here we have got at the root of a hallucination. We have not merely inferential but direct evidence that the imaginary voice which terrified Léonie II. proceeded from a profounder stratum of consciousness in the same individual. In what way, by the aid of what nervous mechanism, was the startling monition conveyed?

Just as Mme. B. was sent, by means of passes, into a state of lethargy, from which she emerged as Léonie II., so Léonie II., in her turn, was reduced by renewed passes to a state of lethargy from which she emerged no longer as Léonie II. but as Léonie III. This second waking is slow and gradual, but the personality which emerges is, in one important point, superior to either Léonie I. or Léonie II. Although one among the subject's phases, this phase possesses the memory of every phase. Léonie III., like Léonie II., knows the normal life of Léonie I., but distinguishes herself from Léonie I., in whom, it must be said, these subjacent personalities appear to take little interest. But Léonie III. also remembers the life of Léonie II.--condemns her as noisy and frivolous, and is anxious not to be confounded with her either. "Vous voyez bien que je ne suis pas cette bavarde, cette folle; nous ne nous ressemblons pas du tout."

We ask, in amazement, how many more personalities may there not be hidden in the human frame? Here is simple Madame B., who is not one person but three--first her commonplace self; secondly, the clever, chattering Léonie II., who is bored by B., and who therefore wants to demolish her; and thirdly, the lordly Léonie III., who issues commands that strike terror into Léonie II., and disdains to be identified with either of the partners in Madame B.'s body.

It is evident, if the hypnotists are right, that the human body is more like a tenement house than a single cell, and that the inmates love each other no more than the ordinary occupants of tenemented property. But how many are there of us within each skin who can say?

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