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Scottish Ghost Stories (Elliott O'Donnell) online
CASE IV - JANE OF GEORGE STREET, EDINBURGH
"Lady!" he said; "what are you talking about? You're a bit out of your reckoning. This isn't the first of April. Come, what do you want?"
I bought a bottle of formamints, and reluctantly and regretfully turned away. That night I dreamed I again saw the ghost. I followed her up George Street just as I had done in reality; but when she came to the chemist's shop, she turned swiftly round. "I'm Jane!" she said in a hollow voice. "Jane! Only Jane!" and with that name ringing in my ears I awoke.
Some days elapsed before I was in George Street again. The weather had in the meanwhile undergone one of those sudden and violent changes, so characteristic of the Scottish climate. The lock-gates of heaven had been opened and the rain was descending in cataracts. The few pedestrians I encountered were enveloped in mackintoshes, and carried huge umbrellas, through which the rain was soaking, and pouring off from every point. Everything was wet--everywhere was mud. The water, splashing upwards, saturated the tops of my boots and converted my trousers into sodden sacks. Some weather isn't fit for dogs, but this weather wasn't good enough for tadpoles--even fish would have kicked at it and kept in their holes. Imagine, then, the anomaly! Amidst all this aqueous inferno, this slippery-sloppery, filth-bespattering inferno, a spotlessly clean apparition in blue without either waterproof or umbrella. I refer to Jane. She suddenly appeared, as I was passing The Ladies' Tea Association Rooms, walking in front of me. She looked just the same as when I last saw her--spick and span, and--dry. I repeat the word--dry--for that is what attracted my attention most. Despite the deluge, not a single raindrop touched her--the plumes on her toque were splendidly erect and curly, her shoe-buckles sparkled, her patent leathers were spotless, whilst the cloth of her coat and skirt looked as sheeny as if they had but just come from Keeley's.
Anxious to get another look at her face, I quickened my pace, and, darting past her, gazed straight into her countenance. The result was a severe shock. The terror of what I saw--the ghastly horror of her dead white face--sent me reeling across the pavement. I let her pass me, and, impelled by a sickly fascination, followed in her wake.
Outside a jeweller's stood a hansom--quite a curiosity in these days of motors--and, as Jane glided past, the horse shied. I have never seen an animal so terrified. We went on, and at the next crossing halted. A policeman had his hand up checking the traffic. His glance fell on Jane--the effect was electrical. His eyes bulged, his cheeks whitened, his chest heaved, his hand dropped, and he would undoubtedly have fallen had not a good Samaritan, in the guise of a non-psychical public-house loafer, held him up. Jane was now close to the chemist's, and it was with a sigh of relief that I saw her glide in and disappear.
Had there been any doubt at all, after my first encounter with Jane, as to her being superphysical, there was certainly none now. The policeman's paroxysm of fear and the horse's fit of shying were facts. What had produced them? I alone knew--and I knew for certain--it was Jane. Both man and animal saw what I saw. Hence the phantom was not subjective; it was not illusionary; it was a _bona fide_ spirit manifestation--a visitant from the other world--the world of earthbound souls. Jane fascinated me. I made endless researches in connection with her, and, in answer to one of my inquiries, I was informed that eighteen years ago--that is to say, about the time Jane's dress was in fashion--the chemist's shop had been occupied by a dressmaker of the name of Bosworth. I hunted up Miss Bosworth's address and called on her. She had retired from business and was living in St. Michael's Road, Bournemouth. I came to the point straight.