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

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead

Chapter II. The Evidence of the Psychical Research Society.

Mr. W. A. S., to quote another case, in April, 1871, at two o'clock in the afternoon, was sitting in a house in Pall Mall. He saw a lady glide in backwards at the door of the room, as if she had been slid in on a slide, each part of her dress keeping its proper place without disturbance. She glided in until the whole of her could be seen, except the tip of her nose, her lips, and the tip of her chin, which were hidden by the edge of the door. She was an old acquaintance of his, whom he had not seen for twenty or twenty-five years. He observed her closely until his brother entered the house, and coming into the room passed completely through the phantasm, which shortly afterwards faded away. Another person in the room could not see it. Some years afterwards he learned that she had died the same year, six months afterwards, from a painful cancer of the face. It was curious that the phantasm never showed him the front of its face, which was always hidden by the door. (Vol. II. p. 517.)

Sometimes, however, the Thought Body is both conscious and visible, although in most cases when visible it is not conscious, and retains no memory of what has passed. When it remembers it is usually not visible. In Mr. Dale Owen's remarkable volume, "Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World," there is a narrative, entitled "The Visionary Excursion," in which a lady, whom he calls Mrs. A., whose husband was a brigadier-general in India, describes an aerial flight so explicitly that I venture to reprint her story here, as illustrating the possibility of being visible and at the same time remembering where you had been:--

In June of the year 1857, a lady, whom I shall designate as Mrs. A., was residing with her husband, a colonel in the British army, and their infant child, on Woolwich Common, near London.

One night in the early part of that month, suddenly awaking to consciousness, she felt herself as if standing by the bedside and looking down upon her own body, which lay there by the side of her sleeping husband. Her first impression was that she had died suddenly, and the idea was confirmed by the pale and lifeless look of the body, the face void of expression, and the whole appearance showing no sign of vitality. She gazed at it with curiosity for some time, comparing its dead look with that of the fresh countenances of her husband and of her slumbering infant in the cradle hard by. For a moment she experienced a feeling of relief that she had escaped the pangs of death; but the next she reflected what a grief her death would be to the survivors, and then came the wish that she had broken the news to them gradually.

While engaged in these thoughts she felt herself carried to the wall of her room, with a feeling that it must arrest her further progress. But no, she seemed to pass through it into the open air. Outside the house was a tree; and this also she seemed to traverse as if it interposed no obstacle. All this occurred without any desire on her part.

She crossed Woolwich Common, visited the Arsenal, returned to the barracks, and then found herself in the bed-chamber of an intimate friend, Miss L. M., who lived at Greenwich. She began to talk; but she remembered no more until she waked by her husband's side. Her first words were, "So I am not dead after all." She told her husband of her excursion, and they agreed to say nothing about it until they heard from Miss L. M.