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

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead

Chapter IV. The Hypnotic Key.

Whatever hypothesis we select to explain these mysteries, they do not become less marvellous. Even if we grant that it is mere telepathy, or mind affecting mind at a distance without the use of the recognised organs of sense or of any of the ordinary conducting mediums, what an enormous extension it gives to the ordinary conception of the limits of the human mind! To be able instantaneously to paint upon the retina of a friend's eye the life-like image of ourselves, to make our voice sound in his ears at a distance of many miles, and to communicate to his mind information which he had never before heard of, all this is, it may be admitted, as tremendous a draft upon the credulity of mankind as the favourite Theosophical formula of the astral body. Yet who is there who, in face of the facts and experiences recorded above, will venture to deny that one or other of these hypotheses alone can account for the phenomena under consideration?

It is obvious that when once the possibility of the Double is admitted, many mysteries could be cleared up, although it is also true that a great many inconveniences would immediately follow; the establishment of the reality of the double would invalidate every plea of _alibi_. If a man can really be in two places at one time, there is an end to the plea which is most frequently resorted to by the accused to prove their innocence. There are other inconveniences, which are alluded to in the following letter from a lady correspondent, who believes that she has the faculty in frequent, although uncertain and unconscious, use:--

"'I saw you yesterday, and you cut me.' Such was the remark I frequently heard from my friends: in the broad daylight they saw me in street or tram, etc. Once a personal friend followed me into church on Christmas Day in a city at least 100 miles from where I really was. Another time I sat two pews in front of a friend at a cathedral service. When I denied having been there, she said, 'It's no good talking: I saw you, and you didn't want to wait for me.' 'But,' I said, 'you have my word that I was not there.' 'Yes,' she said, 'but I have my sight, and I saw you.' Of course, I naturally thought it was some one like me, and said, perhaps rather sarcastically, 'Would it be very strange if any one else bore some resemblance to me?' 'No,' said my friend, 'it would not; but someone else doesn't wear your clothes.' On one occasion I remember three people saw me where I certainly was not physically present the same day; all knew me personally. I often bought books of a man who kept a second-hand bookstall. One day he told me that he had a somewhat rare edition of a book I wanted, but that it was at the shop. I said, 'I'll come across to-morrow for it if I make up my mind to give the price.' The next day I was prevented from going, and went the day after, to hear it was sold. 'Why didn't you keep it?' I asked. 'I thought you did not want it when you came yesterday and did not buy it.' 'But I didn't come yesterday.' 'Why, excuse me, you did, and took the book up and laid it down again while I was serving Mr. M., and you went away before I could ask you about it; Mr. M. remarked that it was strange you did not answer him when he spoke.' When I asked the gentleman referred to, he confirmed the story. Mrs. B. also saw me lower down the same street that morning.

"Still it never struck me that it was anything strange; I was only rather curious to see the woman who was so like me. I saw her in an unexpected manner. Going into my room one night, I happened to glance down at my bed, and saw a form there. I thought it strange, yet was not startled. I bent over it, and recognised my own features distinctly. I was in perfect health at the time, and no disaster followed."

_Queen Elizabeth's Double._

In a volume published by Macmillan & Co., entitled "Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celt," I find the following references to the Double:--

"If this phantom be seen in the morning it betokens good fortune and long life to its prototype; if in the evening a near death awaits him. This superstition was known and felt in England even in the reign of Elizabeth. We quote a passage from Miss Strickland's account of her last illness:--

"'As her mortal illness drew towards a close, the superstitious fears of her simple ladies were excited almost to mania, even to conjuring up a spectral apparition of the Queen while she was yet alive. Lady Guildford, who was then in waiting on the Queen, leaving her in an almost breathless sleep in her privy chamber, went out to take a little air, and met her Majesty, as she thought, three or four chambers off. Alarmed at the thought of being discovered in the act of leaving the Royal patient alone, she hurried forward in some trepidation in order to excuse herself, when the apparition vanished away. She returned terrified to the chamber, but there lay the Queen still in the same lethargic slumber in which she left her.'"

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