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Scottish Ghost Stories (Elliott O'Donnell) online

Scottish Ghost Stories


"Can you give me any information," I asked, "about a lady whose Christian name was Jane?" "That sounds vague!" Miss Bosworth said. "I've met a good many Janes in my time."

"But not Janes with pale yellow hair, and white eyebrows and eyelashes!" And I described her in detail.

"How do you come to know about her?" Miss Bosworth said, after a long pause.

"Because," I replied with a certain slowness and deliberation characteristic of me, "because I've seen her ghost!"

Of course I knew Miss Bosworth was no sceptic--the moment my eyes rested on her I saw she was psychic, and that the superphysical was often at her elbow. Accordingly, I was not in the least surprised at her look of horror.

"What!" she exclaimed, "is she still there? I thought she would surely be at rest now!"

"Who was she?" I inquired. "Come--you need not be afraid of me. I have come here solely because the occult has always interested me. Who was Jane, and why should her ghost haunt George Street?"

"It happened a good many years ago," Miss Bosworth replied, "in 1892. In answer to an advertisement I saw in one of the daily papers, I called on a Miss Jane Vernelt--Mademoiselle Vernelt she called herself--who ran a costumier's business in George Street, in the very building, in fact now occupied by the chemist you have mentioned. The business was for sale, and Miss Vernelt wanted a big sum for it. However, as her books showed a very satisfactory annual increase in receipts and her clientele included a duchess and other society leaders, I considered the bargain a tolerably safe one, and we came to terms. Within a week I was running the business, and, exactly a month after I had taken it over, I was greatly astonished to receive a visit from Miss Vernelt. She came into the shop quite beside herself with agitation. 'It's all a mistake!' she screamed. 'I didn't want to sell it. I can't do anything with my capital. Let me buy it back.' I listened to her politely, and then informed her that as I had gone to all the trouble of taking over the business and had already succeeded in extending it, I most certainly had no intention of selling it--at least not for some time. Well, she behaved like a lunatic, and in the end created such a disturbance that I had to summon my assistants and actually turn her out. After that I had no peace for six weeks. She came every day, at any and all times, and I was at last obliged to take legal proceedings. I then discovered that her mind was really unhinged, and that she had been suffering from softening of the brain for many months. Her medical advisers had, it appeared, warned her to give up business and place herself in the hands of trustworthy friends or relations, who would see that her money was properly invested, but she had delayed doing so; and when, at last, she did make up her mind to retire, the excitement, resulting from so great a change in her mode of living, accelerated the disease, and, exactly three weeks after the sale of her business, she became a victim to the delusion that she was ruined. This delusion grew more and more pronounced as her malady increased, and amidst her wildest ravings she clamoured to be taken back to George Street. The hauntings, indeed, began before she died; and I frequently saw her--when I knew her material body to be under restraint--just as you describe, gliding in and out the show-rooms.

"For several weeks after her death, the manifestations continued--they then ceased, and I have never heard of her again until now."

If I remember rightly the account of the George Street ghost here terminated; but my friend referred to it again at the close of his letter.

"Since my return to Scotland," he wrote, "I have frequently visited George Street, almost daily, but I have not seen 'Jane.' I only hope that her poor distracted spirit has at last found rest." And with this kindly sentiment my correspondent concluded.

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