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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 correspondent of my own, a dressmaker in the North of England, sends me the following circumstantial account of how she saw her own double without any mischief following:--

"I have a sewing-machine, with a desk at one side and carved legs supporting the desk part; on the opposite side the machine part is. The lid of the machine rests on the desk part when open, so that it forms a high back. I had this machine across the corner of a room, so that the desk part formed a triangle with the corner of the room. I sat at the machine with my face towards the corner. To my left was the window, to my right the fire; at each side of my chair the doors of the machine walled me in as I sat working the treadles. Down each side of the machine are imitations of drawers. The wood is a beautiful walnut. I was sewing a long piece of material which passed from left to right. It was dinnertime, so I looked down to see how much more I had to do. It was almost finished, but there, in the space near the window, between the wall and the machine, was a full-sized figure of myself from the waist upwards. The image was lower than myself, but clear enough, with brown hair and eyes. How earnestly the eyes regarded me; how thoughtfully! I laughed and nodded at the image, but still it gazed earnestly at me. At its neck was a bright red bow, coming unpinned. Its white linen collar was turned up at the right-hand corner.

"When I got down to dinner I told my brother George I had seen Pepper's Ghost, and it was a distinct image of myself, clear enough, and yet I could see the wall and the side of the machine through the image, and George said, 'Had it a red bow and white collar on?' 'Oh, yes,' I said. 'It was just like me, only nicer, and when I laughed and nodded, it looked grave.' 'Very likely,' said George. 'It would think you very silly. And was its bow coming unpinned?' 'Yes,' I replied; 'and the right point of its collar was turned up.' He reached me a hand-mirror, and I saw that my bow was coming unpinned and the right point of my collar was turned up. So it could not have been a reflection, or it would not have been the right point, but the left of my collar that was turned up."

_The Wraith as a Portent._

In the North country it is of popular belief that to see the ghost of a living man portends his approaching decease. The Rev. Henry Kendall, of Darlington, from whose diary (unpublished) I have the liberty to quote, notes the following illustration of this belief, under date August 16th, 1870:--

"Mrs. W. mentioned a curious incident that happened in Darlington: how Mrs. Percy, upholsterer, and known to several of us, was walking along the street one day when her husband was living, and she saw him walking a little way before her; then he left the causeway and turned in at a public-house. When she spoke to him of this, he said he had not been near the place, and she was so little satisfied with his statement that she called in at the 'public,' and asked them if her husband had been there, but they told her 'No.' In a very short period after this happened he died."

The phenomenon of a dual body haunted the imagination of poor Shelley. Shortly before his death he believed he had seen his wraith:--