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

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead

Chapter III. Aimless Doubles.

_A Manchester Parallel._

The following narrative, supplied by Mr. R. P. Roberts, 10, Exchange Street, Manchester, appears in the "Proceedings of the Psychical Research Society." It is a fitting pendant to Mr. Kidd's story:--

"The shop stood at the corner of Castle Street and Rating Row, Beaumaris, and I lived in the latter street. One day I went home to dinner at the usual hour. When I had partly finished I looked at the clock. To my astonishment it appeared that the time by the clock was 12.30. I gave an unusual start. I certainly thought that it was most extraordinary. I had only half-finished my dinner, and it was time for me to be at the shop. I felt dubious, so in a few seconds had another look, when to my agreeable surprise I found that I had been mistaken. It was only just turned 12.15. I could never explain how it was I made the mistake. The error gave me such a shock for a few minutes as if something had happened, and I had to make an effort to shake off the sensation. I finished my dinner, and returned to business at 12.30. On entering the shop I was accosted by Mrs. Owen, my employer's wife, who used to assist in the business. She asked me rather sternly where I had been since my return from dinner. I replied that I had come straight from dinner. A long discussion followed, which brought out the following facts. About a quarter of an hour previous to my actual entering the shop (_i.e._ about 12.15), I was seen by Mr. and Mrs. Owen and a well-known customer, Mrs. Jones, to walk into the shop, go behind the counter, and place my hat upon the peg. As I was going behind the counter, Mrs. Owen remarked, with the intention that I should hear, 'that I had arrived now that I was not wanted.' This remark was prompted by the fact that a few minutes previous a customer was in the shop in want of an article which belonged to the stock under my charge, and which could not be found in my absence. As soon as this customer left I was seen to enter the shop. It was observed by Mr. and Mrs. Owen and Mrs. Jones that I did not appear to notice the remark made. In fact, I looked quite absent-minded and vague. Immediately after putting my hat on the peg I returned to the same spot, put my hat on again, and walked out of the shop, still looking in a mysterious manner, which induced one of the parties, I think Mrs. Owen, to say that my behaviour was very odd, and she wondered where I was off to.

"I, of course, contradicted these statements, and endeavoured to prove that I could not have eaten my dinner and returned in a quarter of an hour. This, however, availed nothing, and during our discussion the above-mentioned Mrs. Jones came into the shop again, and was appealed to at once by Mr. and Mrs. Owen. She corroborated every word of their account, and added that she saw me coming down Rating Row when within a few yards of the shop; that she was only a step or two behind me, and entered the shop in time to hear Mrs. Owen's remarks about my coming too late. These three persons gave their statement of the affair quite independently of each other. There was no other person near my age in the Owens' establishment, and there could be no reasonable doubt that my form had been seen by them and by Mrs. Jones. They would not believe my story until my aunt, who had dined with me, said positively that I had not left the table before my time was up. You will, no doubt, notice the coincidence. At the moment when I felt, with a startling sensation, that I ought to be at the shop, and when Mr. and Mrs. Owen were extremely anxious that I should be there, I appeared to them looking, as they said, 'as if in a dream or in a state of somnambulism.'" ("Proceedings of the Psychical Research Society," Vol. I. p. 135-6.)