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Title: Ghosts I Have Seen - And Other Psychic Experiences
Author: Tweedale, Violet
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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GHOSTS I HAVE SEEN

AND OTHER PSYCHIC EXPERIENCES

BY

VIOLET TWEEDALE


NEW YORK
FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY
PUBLISHERS

_Copyright, 1919, by_
FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY

_All rights reserved_



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                                    PAGE

I "SILK DRESS" AND "RUMPUS"                                   1

II THE GHOST OF BROUGHTON HALL                               14

III CURIOUS PSYCHIC EXPERIENCES                              33

IV EAST END DAYS AND NIGHTS                                  48

V THE MAN IN THE MARYLEBONE ROAD                             66

VI THE GHOST OF PRINCE CHARLIE                               74

VII PILGRIMS AND STRANGERS                                   91

VIII SOME STRANGE EVENTS                                     98

IX POMPEY AND THE DUCHESS                                   114

X THE INVISIBLE HANDS                                       124

XI DAWNS                                                    133

XII PEACOCK'S FEATHERS--THE SKELETON HAND AT MONTE CARLO    146

XIII I COMMIT MURDER                                        157

XIV THE ANGEL OF LOURDES                                    175

XV THE WRAITH OF THE ARMY GENTLEMAN                         184

XVI AN AUSTRIAN ADVENTURE                                   197

XVII ACROSS THE THRESHOLD                                   211

XVIII HAUNTED ROOMS                                         221

XIX "THE NEW JEANNE D'ARC"                                  241

XX HAUNTED HOUSES--"CASTEL A MARE"                          251

XXI THE SEQUEL                                              263

XXII THE HAUNTED LODGE                                      276

XXIII AURAS                                                 291

XXIV ADIEU                                                  307



GHOSTS I HAVE SEEN



CHAPTER I

"SILK DRESS" AND "RUMPUS"


From the terrible conditions of the present I have turned back to the
past, for a little joy and a great deliverance.

In the present one lives no longer from day to day, but from hour to
hour, and even a fleeting memory of the joys that are no more refreshes
the soul--wearied, and fainting with a pallid anxiety that wraith-like
envelops the whole being in a thrall of sadness.

To-day I heard music which I had known and loved in the happy, careless
long ago, and whilst I was lost in a dream of half-forgotten bliss I
smelt the fragrance of mimosa flower. I cannot describe the sensations
of joy that thrilled through my whole being. An involuntary moving of
the spirit, an emergence into a dream world, described by the Greeks as
"ecstasy." The music fashioned the invisible link, and I was back again
on a hillside where the mimosa grew in native abundance. Now, one thinks
of France only as a hideous battle plain, but memory, the true
dispensator of time, is never bound by years. She keeps ever fresh, in
glowing colors, those ideal moments that gather up the utter joys of
life into one divine sheaf of memory.

It is not only for its great uses that we must have memory, but for its
joys. It rends the gray veil shrouding present existence, and shows us
life as what it really is. A phantasmagoria of wonder, wrapped in
mystery.

The day of miracles is not past, it never will be past, but if you want
miracles you must have the power of seeing them.

I have written in this book of the miracles I have seen. Some of them
any one can see, others are reserved for the delectation of the few.

I have written of strange visitants from other realms, and of that vivid
illumination which at moments lays bare the hidden springs of life, when
the spirit emerges beyond the limit of human thought, and familiar
things, beyond the horizon of life, and touches a sphere beyond
immortality. It is a condition that the grave has nothing to do with, a
beholding beyond the frontiers of the soul.

I have written of the spiritual life, for without this spiritual life a
palace would be no wider than a tomb. The vastness of the spirit world
defies description. It can choose its own pathways, and any one of these
long, long roads leading to the great mysteries.

It is now almost universally acknowledged that psychic experiences, of a
specific nature, occur at certain times to certain people, that are not
explicable by any known science. Generally, they are experiences which
point to the continuity of the human consciousness with a wider
spiritual environment, from which the normal man is shut off.

A few such experiences that have come to me I record.

I hope that I have never tried to convince others of the truth of these
experiences. If I have done so it has been unconsciously done. I am
absolutely persuaded that such phenomena can only become convincing when
personally experienced. Such matters ought not to be accepted on
hearsay. It is mere folly for one woman to attempt to demonstrate to
another the existence of the human soul. The most that A can communicate
to B, of any part of her own experiences, is so much of it as is common
to the experiences of both.

I have proved conclusively to my own consciousness that I am linked up
with a wider consciousness from which, at times, such experiences flow
in.

I know my soul to be in touch with a greater soul, which at moments
enters into communication with me, and opens out a vastness which it is
impossible to translate into words, and which annihilates space and
time.

I have had my vision, and I know. Therefore I am quite unmoved by
criticism or ridicule.

I believe that what has come to me will come to all, and there is no
need to hurry the process. We are simply a tiny part of a whole, which
has neither beginning nor end. We live in a universe which is infinite
in time and space, which has always existed in some form, and will go on
in some form for ever. The discovery of the law of the indestructibility
of matter has proved this beyond a doubt.

At some second in time our Universe will be dissolved into new systems,
for the life of a solar system lasts only a second in eternity, but that
need not worry us yet. There is lots of time for man to realize his
soul, and all will doubtless do so at some moment in their many earth
lives.

The classic idea is that the Golden Age lies in the past, but the Stoic
doctrine of recurring cycles in the ages of the world seems to suggest
that the Golden Age may return.

There are people to-day who ask, "Is this the end of the world?"

More probably it is the end of an age. The harvest may be ripe for the
sickle to be thrust in. The opposition of good and evil may have reached
their fullest manifestation. It may be the hour in eternity for a
complete readjustment of the little ant-hills we call great nations.

We know the rise and fall of nations to be an historical fact,
apparently based on an immutable law. This recurring phenomenon cannot
be explained, though there are theories. Possibly the true one may be
found in the failure or compliance to respond to the challenge: "Advance
to a higher spiritual plane or perish." It may be that the right of
continuance depends upon the answer to that challenge.

What brought about the decline of those mighty civilizations whose
monuments of antiquity seem to mock our pride? What insidious disease
brought about the fall of Rome? The beauty and inspiration of Greece was
arrested by some swift decay, and the giant temples and Pyramids of
Egypt, and the Mounds of Mesopotamia, testify to a grandeur far
surpassing ours.

In the world's morning time, before the mists began to clear, we can
trace the rise and fall of a score of mighty Empires. From out their
present tombs of tragic silence arise figures, colossal sculptured
figures, with faces and forms of commanding power. Assyrians, a mighty
race, leaving behind whole libraries of record, chiseled upon
indestructible pages. The lost arts of three thousand years ago.

Earlier still the earth resounded to the thunder of Xenophon's
thousands, and the chariots of Persia sweeping after them. Lying deeper
still in the shroud of antiquity the Pharaohs emerge as mighty
conquerors, and we can dimly discern in the Empire of the Chaldeans the
movement of a gorgeous civilization, and the majestic figures of men
versed in mystic, and, to us, unknown lore. In Italy, memorials of a
refined people, who were precursors of Roman power, have been found,
forms of perfect grace in delicate vases and coins of gold and silver.
The old Etruscan art is traced back to the Assyrians' sculpture. The
snowy crown of ancient Greece budded and bloomed in the mighty halls of
Assyria's splendor, hundreds of years before Christ. No phantom world
could furnish a mightier or more resplendent host.

Reading of those proud and mighty civilizations brings the simple life
of the Nazarene very near to us in years, it also shows us how quickly
great splendors are sanded over by the hands of time. The British Museum
holds the sculptured records of twenty-five hundred years. Whilst the
flames, kindled by the mob of Christian monks, from the great
Alexandrian library rose to Heaven, the temple fronts of the Pharaohs,
the Pyramids, the Sphinx, loomed out of the conflagration. The impotent
torches of the fanatics were powerless against such imperishable
records. What of our records? Will these ancient civilizations be
remembered when the fame of modern nations has vanished utterly? Which
has the best chance of enduring in the future? The paper and pasteboard
of to-day, or the monuments of stone, to which the Monarchs of bygone
Empires entrusted the history of their unsurpassed grandeur?

"If thou hadst known in this thy day, even thou, the things which belong
to thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes."

This is the epitaph written across the tombs of all nations now
crumbling into dust.

"The things which belong to thy peace." The things which never die or
fade, whose continuity is never broken, the Divine seeds that cannot
perish, the things which are immortal. The winged soul in its æon-long
pilgrimages through eternity to home.

I find it easy to write to-day upon psychic subjects, for everywhere I
discern the dawn of what Conan Doyle, in his deeply interesting book,
calls "The new revelation."

To one who, for the last forty years, has been immersed in all branches
of occult research, the change of view that has come over the world in
four years is very remarkable. Every one is now interested in the human
soul, and all that appertains to it. The speeding up in the number of
psychic experiences coming to light is enormous. So often now I come
across "the last man in the world to see or hear anything" who has just
been accorded a startling experience, and the rank skeptic is becoming a
thing of the past.

Whilst sitting in solitude it is interesting to let one's thoughts slip
back to childhood, and trace the present life in the mirror of the old.
I discover that in the immediate now there is nothing new, but only that
which has its symbol in the old. I seem to get only the much clearer
vision of what once was vague and cloudy, or wholly unconsidered by the
mind of youth.

In that garden of memory I can set old happenings in a new light, and
measure my slow footprints in the age-long journey behind me. Two facts
emerge from out such musings. Firstly, the journey of my soul takes a
spiral path, which at intervals brings me face to face with the old
things that I have learned to modernize by dressing in fresh thought
forms, as new perceptions are won. Perceptions prophetic of the greater
capacity for attainment when the Divine Power is permitted to unfold
itself without let or hindrance.

Secondly, the further on the soul journeys the more solitary the road
becomes. One by one the old companion pilgrims drop away. Perhaps it is
that on that long, lone trail the traveler must be free.

Very early in my life came the consciousness that everywhere about me,
in the infinitely above, in the infinitely below, permeating heart, mind
and soul, is life--endless, eternal.

On this shoreless ocean of existence, without form or name, the soul is
afloat. Birth and death are the tides, the ebb and flow of the ocean of
life. The human soul is but a ripple on the sea of existence, and
phenomenal life is but a flash in the eternity of eternities. All the
teeming lives of effort around us, all the travail and suffering to
which humanity is destined, are ordained for the great purpose of soul
evolution. God sets the balance at every grave. That which distinguishes
every man is the vast dower of our nature, eventually the same to all,
the passing incidents of station, fortune, talent, are mere surface
varieties.

I find in my mind the existence of something illimitably beyond mind,
doubtless a common experience. I do not know what that something is, but
it is very real, and it invariably shows me how cribbed, cabined and
confined this life really is. I cannot even tell what it is that
confines me. I only know that there is a limitless world full of
infinite possibilities all around me. I seem always to have known this,
but I cannot grasp it. True, at rare intervals, I catch a glimpse
through a rift in the clouds, then they close again.

At such moments I experience an ecstasy of heart sweet happiness, so
marvelously sweet, so pure, so near Divine with its deep wordless
thoughts of infinite beauty. Such regions are not so much impenetrable
as ineffable. They are glimpses gained at some great altitude, from
which I can look down on the mortal pageant and behold mysteries in
which I take no part, but by which I am encircled, as an island, by
infinity. Such are luminous and splendid moments, when the soul beholds
the world in its real mystic beauty. It is the hour of transfiguration,
in which the veil drops from the heart and the film from the eyes, so
that we see life as God means it to be.

Often, as a mere child, when lying awake in those nights, whose
stillness have a quality of awe, the silence would be broken by weird,
barbaric songs which wafted a sense of old, wild adventurous life, and
in a curious quality of mystery I saw violet mountains sleeping in
sunlight, above a sea of amethyst. Childish visions, but sacred nights.
Very many years passed before I understood them.

On hot velvety nights in June a curious scent of smoke would come to me,
the measured hollow beating of bells, and a tremulous far-away piping.
Years after, I stood alone one evening on the slopes of Etna, amid the
pale asphodels and the desolation of tumbling lava fields, and I heard
the pipes of Pan, the reed pipe of the herd boy, and linked the past
with the present. Again, passing through a region where the smoke rose
from the charcoal burners' fires the scent of an ancient memory came
vaporing up, the unfamiliar scent that puzzled my childhood, and I was
away in a flash, to wait for the soul to free herself and return from
the world's edge.

I had to journey further east before I heard again at dawn the ring of
camel bells as a caravan broke camp, and then I understood the visions
of my youth, as I listened to the measured hollow beating, and watched a
strange medley of eastern traffic trail away across the desert.

Sometimes, when the nursery clock seemed to tick more loudly than usual,
I saw a gigantic water-wheel, and behind it massive rocks with the hewn
tombs of ancient kings, and beyond them lay distant glamorous mountains,
white sails creeping amid warm purple isles, set in a gulf of turquoise.
Sometimes I have dreamed holy things, and waked to find myself over-awed
by the sublimity of the vision and the glory of the Universe.

So many of those childish visions I have identified in later life, but
there is one which eludes me. It is a great white road leading to the
farther east, and I see it drenched in white sunlight. Tinkling mule
trains pass along it, and I know now it is in some way connected with
Ida that saw ancient Troy, and the Capital of Pontus, the seat of
Mithridates' Court, and the Empire of Trebizond. Some day, who knows, I
may walk upon it.

Looking back I can recollect nothing psychic happening to me before the
age of six. I can fix that date upon which I became actually aware of
the other world. It all happened through "Silk dress" and "Rumpus."

I slept in a bed in one corner, and my younger brother slept in another
corner. The room was large, and at the top of a modern, quite ordinary,
town house. Two flights of stairs ran down to the ground floor. "Silk
dress" was something we were extremely interested in, but I cannot
recollect that we were ever in the least afraid.

When we first became aware of "silk dress" I do not know, but in looking
back across those many years I think that in the beginning we must have
accepted "it" as something or somebody "real." Only after several
experiences did it dawn upon us that "it" was not real. By then we had
passed beyond the stage when we might have felt fear. After we had gone
to bed we were left quite alone in the dark, and the nurses went down to
supper. The younger children slept in another room. It was during such
periods of silence that "silk dress" began its ascent.

Just as we were dropping off to sleep one of us would murmur drowsily,
"Here comes silk dress." Then we lay quite still, very wide awake again
and listened intently.

From far down on the ground floor we heard footsteps quietly and
methodically ascending, and the rustle of a silk dress. We could hear
quite distinctly when "it" arrived at the first floor, which was
occupied by our parents, then "it" passed on to the next flight of
stairs leading to our floor.

The sound of footsteps and the rustle of the silk dress became more and
more clearly audible as "it" drew ever nearer. We could tell the second
at which "it" passed from the last step on to the corridor which led
past our half-open door. Then there was a thrilling moment or two, when
the tip-tap of shoes, and the swish of silk on the linoleum was quite
loud, but the footsteps never halted. They always swept past the
half-closed door, and went on into a small room beyond, which was used
for storing boxes. Then dead silence fell again.

In those days we never heard the word "ghost" mentioned, yet I cannot
recollect thinking of "silk dress" as anything but a visitor from the
other world. We talked of "it" freely in the household, but probably
because we expressed no fear, no one seemed in the least interested. On
wakeful nights we occupied ourselves in waiting for "it," and on wet
nights we could not hear "it" clearly because the rain pattered so
loudly on a large skylight outside our door. What interested us
enormously was the fact that we never heard "it" descend again. How "it"
got down in order to mount once more was a great puzzle.

"Rumpus" was quite another matter, quite another order of manifestation.
"Rumpus" always began when we were sound asleep, and "Rumpus" always
wide awakened us. "They" came at longer intervals, about every ten days,
whilst "it" came on most nights. During the summer mornings in the
North, when one could often read a book in the light of a one a. m.
dawn, "they" were very interesting, because when "their" hour, five a.
m., arrived the room was flooded with sunshine. In winter mornings, when
the room was in black darkness, we were merely bored, and cross at being
roused, and we simply lay still and endured "them" till they had quite
finished. But in the summer mornings we always sat up in bed and
intently watched something we never saw.

When "Rumpus" roused us brusquely from our slumbers it was by means of a
demoniac pandemonium. The room was in possession of "them," and "they"
crashed, and banged, and tossed about the furniture in the most reckless
fashion. Crash went the wardrobe, bang went one chair after another,
hurtling across the room. Crash went wardrobe back into its place again,
clang went the fire-irons. Rushing collisions, and rappings on the
window-panes, thuds on the floor, rattlings and clatterings of crockery,
jingling of brass, creakings and groanings of expostulation from the old
sofa, clanking of the fireguard, a veritable tornado of noise, enough
surely to awaken the dead, yet out of the living it only awakened--us.
No one else in the house ever heard it, and our vivid descriptions were,
perhaps, naturally attributed to nightmare.

We, of course, knew that it was nothing of the sort. We were, indeed,
very wide awake during the ten to fifteen minutes the pandemonium
continued, and our eyes were kept darting from side to side following
the track of the noises, as they grew in volume and intensity. Creak,
groan, crash! No mistaking the spot where that deafening sound came
from. That was the old mahogany wardrobe being hurled face downwards on
the floor, but whilst our eyes were riveted on its statuesque and utter
immobility jingle, clank, from the fender, where the fire-irons
commenced to jig. A wildly confused uproar over all the room, then boom,
thud, beneath us, and our beds shivered convulsively, and sent thrills
of wild excitement coursing through our nerves.

Suddenly the tumult would cease. The mystery lay in the fact that we
never saw anything move, though we distinctly heard everything moving,
and could feel our beds reel beneath us.

I have no explanations to offer of those happenings. They are very
clearly fixed in my objective memory, and when we were both grown up,
and had finally left that house my brother used often to say to me, "Do
you remember 'Silk Dress' and 'Rumpus'?"

Such recollections crowd back upon me now, with many other images of
childhood. No sooner do I recollect one than another emerges like a
shining cloud from below the horizon. Where have they been lying hidden
during all those flying years? They have dwelt deep down in the eternal
memory, the heart of God which beats in all humanity. Within that heart
are stored æonic treasures. They lie ever in wait to be bidden arise and
cross the threshold.



CHAPTER II

THE GHOST OF BROUGHTON HALL


I was about six years old when my family moved to a brand new house in
Claremont Crescent, that had just been erected on the outskirts of
Edinburgh. There were still some green fields unbuilt upon, and some
fine old trees left standing close to us, and those were still included
in a triangular group of three grand old Manors--Broughton Hall, Powder
Hall, and Logie Green. All three had the reputation of being badly
haunted. The first named stood almost within a stone's throw of our end
of the Crescent, and was occupied by an ancient family named Walker, who
had held the property for generations. They still existed as a very
charming relic of Scotch antiquity, and they had always been friends of
our family.

The house from the outside was very grim and forbidding-looking. It was
hidden from the eyes of the curious behind very high walls, and was
entered upon by two huge gates, always kept closed.

Inside, the house was most interesting and attractive. There were many
closed rooms and winding staircases, and odd steps in long, dark
corridors, but the rooms that were lived in were beautiful of their
kind. There were desks with secret drawers, wonderful pieces of
Chippendale, tenderly cared for, quantities of rare old china and cut
glass, and on the walls hung glorious Romneys and Hoppners, which
fetched huge prices at Christie's when the household was finally broken
up by death.

The family consisted of three sisters, Fanny, Hope, and Kitty, the
latter a widow, named Mrs. Chew. There were two brothers, Adam and John.
The former lived with his sisters. John was a minister, and only paid
visits. There was a nephew, the heir, William Stephens, who also paid
long visits to the Hall. Though, at the date of which I speak, about
1870, he must have been at least sixty, he was always referred to as
"the Laddie."

The three sisters occupied distinct positions in the house. Mrs. Chew
acted as cook, though servants were kept, and she always sat in the
kitchen, only coming "through" to the dining-room for her meals. Miss
Hope was the worldly member of the family. She had been to London Town,
and could not be relied upon to stop at home. She looked after the
polishing of the furniture, the old glass and china. Miss Fanny was the
lady of the family. She always sat in the best parlor. Every one waited
on her, and she was never permitted to do anything for herself.

She dressed for the part in thick, black satin, with, in winter, a white
silk embroidered Chinese shawl, and, in summer, old Brussels lace.
Across her forehead was a band of black velvet, with a pear-shaped pearl
depending between the eyebrows. Over her snow-white hair was flung a
piece of old lace surmounting a wreath of artificial flowers. Her
claw-like hands were covered by lace mittens and many rings. I saw her
constantly, and she was always idle. I never saw her read, or sew, or
knit, and often I wondered what she thought about, as she sat there
always in the same chair, year in year out, and with no companion but a
large gray parrot. True, her surroundings were delightful. From her
chair near the fire she could look out on the quaint old garden, always
full of flowers, and she could glance around her at the many beautiful
objects the room contained.

I especially admired one Hoppner. The subject was a beautiful woman,
with a mass of powdered hair, seated by an open window. Her cheek was
supported in her hand, and at her elbow was a quaint little wicker cage
containing a bird. I think the artist meant to suggest that both were
captives. Though quite well in health, Miss Fanny never left the house,
even to walk in the garden.

My father and I went very often to call upon those curious old people,
who were so utterly out of touch with modern life, backward though life
was then in the Northern Capital. We arrived at all sorts of hours, but
refreshments were always produced. An amazingly rich cake, and fruity
old port, served in large quarter-pint cut-glass rummers. It was not
considered polite to refuse those offerings, which were always kept in a
corner cupboard, and served by Mrs. Chew, who emerged from the kitchen,
or Miss Hope, who left her housework to greet us.

Though Broughton Hall was commonly reputed to be haunted, no one seemed
to know what form the ghost took. I was great friends with Mr. Adam, a
majestic, clean-shaven old man, who carried his chin very high above an
enormous black silk stock, and often I tried to draw him on the subject
of the ghost, but without success. He took it very seriously, and warned
me that "I wouldn't be any the better for having seen it. Besides," he
always concluded, "it's a family affair." The sisters were even more
uncommunicative.

My father and I were profoundly interested in this ghost. There was
something about the whole establishment that was extremely promising,
from the ghost-hunter point of view. The consequence of this was that we
were always on the prowl. Nothing discouraged us, and we spared neither
time nor trouble. There is no research which requires such infinite
patience as psychic research. Several years passed before the great
moment arrived, and when it did arrive it was all over in about four
minutes.

My father had a way of suddenly looking up from his work and saying,
"Let's go to Broughton Hall." I would at once rise, and together we
would pass out into the night, without either hats or coats. Very
eccentric, it may be said, but then we frankly were very eccentric. We
would steal away together around the Crescent, and down the road till we
reached the great gates. Very softly we opened and closed them, and
keeping well in the shadow of the trees and bushes we would creep round
the silent house.

I cannot describe the thrill of those nocturnal adventures. It was all
so eerie, so full of vague, terrifying possibilities. I don't know what
we expected to see, and we were generally back again in our own house in
half an hour; but one night our patience really was rewarded.

It was November, dry, but wild and bitterly cold. Billowy white snow
clouds scudding before a brisk north wind threw us alternately into
light and darkness, as they covered and uncovered the face of the full
moon. We had emerged from our house about half-past nine, and had
reached the back of Broughton Hall. The house was shrouded in darkness
and dead silence, every blind was close drawn, and the suggestion was
one of utter emptiness. My father and I were walking apart, I being
right under the shadow of the walls, whilst he was in the middle of the
paved court, which had neither hedge nor walls, but met the edge of the
field running up to it.

Suddenly I heard him whisper "Hush!" though we never did utter a word
whilst close to the house. His arm was pointing in front of him. I
stared ahead, and then I saw, clearly lit by the moon, a woman who had
apparently just rounded the corner of the house. She was running hard,
straight towards us, and her feet made no sound on the round cobble
stones.

Terror suddenly seized me, and I darted across to my father, and got
well behind him, seizing him firmly round the waist. The woman came on,
rushing wildly. She had nearly reached us, and I was almost thrown over
as my father faced her, and backed to allow her to pass. I peeped round
him, and saw a woman, ghastly pale, and distraught-looking, clad in a
white nightdress. Two long strands of black hair streamed out behind
her, and her bare arms were outstretched in front. In a flash she had
passed, and absolutely silently, and I found myself lying on the ground
alone, and my father vanishing in hot pursuit.

Needless to say I very quickly picked myself up again, and joined the
chase. Terror lent me wings, and in a minute or two I came up with him,
standing breathless by the gate.

"Vanished into thin air just as I reached her. That's always the way.
You can't catch them," he said.

We made a little détour before going home, in order to discuss the
great event. We had no doubt that we had seen a genuine apparition. We
knew all the occupants of the Hall, and the woman had vanished in the
open, and in full flight, just as my father had come up alongside her.
He cautioned me against mentioning our adventure to any one, and I kept
silence until years after, when Broughton Hall was pulled down and its
inmates were all dead.

Before going on to our next ghostly adventure I will say a few words
about my father, Robert Chambers, who in those days was something of a
celebrity, and a very remarkable man.

In appearance he was very handsome, extremely tall and well built, and
with features that were well-nigh perfect. It was the fashion in his
time to wear the hair rather long, and his was dark and very curly. He
always dressed well, in the style of the country gentleman, rather than
as a town dweller.

In character he was extremely independent, and was utterly indifferent
to two things--money and public opinion. His intellect was
extraordinary, and it was commonly said that he knew a great deal about
most things, and something about all things.

In Scotland, in those days, it was not considered necessary to trouble
about the education of girls. No one ever tried to educate me,
consequently at a very early age I was absolutely free to devote myself
entirely to my father, and we were inseparable. Our intercourse was not
that of father and daughter. It was that of confidential friends of an
equal age. At that period my mother was more or less of an invalid, and
had her own attendants.

My father and I went every morning at ten o'clock to the old business
house of W. and R. Chambers, in the High Street of Edinburgh, and
remained there till half-past two, when we walked home together,
sometimes paying a call or two on the way. Though a mere uneducated
child I helped him in his literary work, and at odd hours committed to
memory many poets. We returned to four o'clock dinner, the correct hour
in those days, and at six o'clock a porter arrived with my father's bag,
containing manuscripts to be read and selected for _Chambers' Journal_.
From six p. m. till midnight he worked at reading manuscript, not typed
then, and proof correcting.

Twice a week we went to the theater--there was only one in Edinburgh
then. It was managed by a hard working couple, Mr. and Mrs. Howard, who
sometimes filled up a week by acting themselves. I am bound to say we
spent most of our time in the Green Room, and I knew every turn and
twist behind the curtain. This turned out to be lucky for us.

One night we went to a performance given by the Arthur Sullivan Company,
and about halfway through a cry of "Fire" was raised. Great masses of
burning stuff began to drop from the ceiling down into the auditorium.
Instantly there was a panic, and a terrible stampede, and my father and
I leaned forward, protecting our heads behind the backs of the stalls in
front, whilst the mad rush climbed over us. When all was clear in front
of us we made our way to the back of the stage, and escaped quite
easily. I looked behind me, and I can see now the dense mass of
struggling humanity wedged in the doorway.

I remained safely with Mrs. Howard whilst my father ran around to the
front and helped to extricate the dead. The theater was burned to the
ground, but was very rapidly built up again.

My first literary effort must here be recorded. I collaborated with
Professor Andrew Wilson in writing the pantomime of "Ali Baba and the
Forty Thieves."

Andrew Wilson was Professor of Natural Science, and an extremely
versatile person--a passionate love of the drama was added to his many
scientific attainments. We wrote the dialogue together, in one long
revelry of laughter, and I was responsible for the words of the songs.
As a literary effort I can only describe it as appalling. The pantomime
was, however, a great success. The audacity of our utter incompetence
proved highly successful, and the critics justly described it as "The
funniest Pantomime in Scotland." No wonder the audience laughed from
start to finish.

My father always called at once upon any celebrity who happened to be
passing through the city, and thus I became acquainted with many
interesting and amusing people. Henry Irving was amongst the number. We
always called upon him on our way to business, a little before ten. If
he was playing for a week we called on him every morning, and often
looked into the Green Room at night. He and my father were great
friends, and at the hour of our visit he was always propped up in bed
having breakfast. I used to perch on the bed whilst the two men talked.
Irving's nightshirt interested me (pyjamas had not come in then). It was
white cambric with two enormous double frills down the front, and quite
a pierrot ruffle round his neck. He was profoundly interested in the
occult, and told me that a ghost he had once seen had suggested to him a
particular action of his whilst playing in "The Bells." At the moment
when he parted the curtains, and looked wildly out, shouting hoarsely,
"The Bells, the Bells."

Through Irving we came to know the Baroness Burdett Coutts, his ardent
admirer. She was very kind to me, and presented me with a green silk
dress, but I always thought her a very melancholy woman, even when
entertaining many interesting people in her celebrated corner house in
Piccadilly, with its white china parrot swinging in the window. She was
much attached to my father, and treated him with a humble and touching
deference.

Robert Chambers was a very keen sportsman, who fortunately did not
require much practice to keep up his game. He held championships in golf
and bowling. He was too ardent a naturalist and ornithologist to care
for shooting, but he was an expert angler. He was also a born actor and
mimic, and used to keep a Green Room in roars by "taking off" any of
"the profession" called for, and I never heard a better ventriloquist.
He adored music, and played the flute well. As a platform speaker he was
extremely fluent and perfectly at ease.

His indifference to money resulted in his never having a penny in his
pocket at night, no matter how much he took with him in the morning, and
one of my tasks was to prevent his being fleeced by those who lay in
wait for him. He took any amount of trouble over impecunious and
incompetent authors, and constantly re-wrote their work for them in
order to make it fit for publication. He was a unique editor, and his
labors in the cause of charity were strenuous, secret, and, I fear,
rather indiscriminate.

During this period of my life, the head of the house, William Chambers,
was still living, with his quaint old wife, in the West End of
Edinburgh. William, who had survived his more versatile brother, Robert
(my grandfather), was a little shriveled-up old man, with a dry and
severe manner. Most people were afraid of him, few liked him, but I got
on with him famously. I have always been extremely proud of the fact
that he rose from nothing to great wealth. There must be something fine
in a man, who, as a lad, rose at four a. m. to read classics to an
intelligent baker, whilst the batch of bread was being baked, and who
gladly accepted as payment a copper or a roll.

William and Robert Chambers had left their widowed mother to fend for
themselves. The family was at the lowest financial ebb. Much money had
been spent on the French refugees who flocked into Scotland in 1810, and
there was nothing to spare now. We were originally French, like so very
many of the old Scotch families. The first of us in history is recorded
as Guillaume de la Chaumbre, who, as the most prominent man in Peebles,
signed the Ragman Roll in 1296. My people had always lived in the dales
of the Tweed, so very appropriately I married a man called Tweedale.

Towards the end of his life William Chambers amused himself by spending
many thousands on the restoration of St. Giles' Cathedral, an historic
church which had fallen into great disrepair. This was a time of great
interest for me, and I used to spend hours helping the workmen to gather
up the thousands of human skulls that paved the church to a good depth.
There were tombs laid bare of many celebrated people of the long ago,
and these had to be identified, and carefully kept intact, until finally
given a safer resting-place.

William Chambers had been offered a baronetcy some years previously, but
he refused it. He told me he did not consider it a dignified thing for a
man of letters to bear any other honor than that accorded to brain power
by a benefited world. He and his brother Robert were the pioneers of
cheap and good educational literature for the laboring man, and the
avidity with which this literature, "Chambers' Information for the
People," was consumed, appeared to be a fitting reward. In those days it
was an unheard-of thing for a publisher to be honored by a title. Now,
however, on the eve of the re-opening of St. Giles' Cathedral, Her
Majesty, Queen Victoria, commanded William Chambers to accept a
baronetcy. The old couple were much agitated, but had to submit, and the
Queen announced her intention of performing the opening ceremony.

When the day arrived William Chambers lay dead in his house, and my
father and I took the place of the old couple. The Queen was indisposed,
and Lord Aberdeen took her place.

After the ceremony both Lord Aberdeen and Lord Rosebery urged upon my
father to take up the baronetcy, more especially as he was his uncle's
heir, but this he utterly refused to do.

Old Lady Chambers, the widow, discarded her title immediately and
remained Mrs. Chambers till the day of her death.

It must have been at least a month after William Chambers' death that he
visited me in a very vivid dream. I dreamed that he was standing beside
my bed, and suddenly he bent over me and whispered in my ear, "I've left
you all my money." On waking I had totally forgotten the dream, but
later in the day an old servant of ours said to me, "I saw the wraith
of your Uncle William last night, but he had nothing to say to me."

Then my dream flashed back to me. A day or two afterwards I said
suddenly to the old family lawyer, "Was there ever a question of Uncle
William leaving his money to me?"

The dry answer was, "Yes! at one time there was a question of that." I
could never extract anything further from him on the subject.

Though now possessed of considerable wealth my father made no difference
in his mode of life, and he continued to work just as hard as ever, and
to give away large sums of money. He never wanted anything for himself,
but was always ready to give to others. He had a great love of precious
stones, and always carried about little packets of diamonds, which
looked like packets of chemists' powders. Had I desired I could have
loaded myself with jewels. He never denied me anything and we continued
our close companionship, the only difference now being we took some
holidays in the form of afternoons off.

On one of these occasions we saw our second ghost.

We went to pay a visit to a very old woman, whose name I cannot
remember. She lived alone with one servant in an ancient dwelling in
Inveresk. The house was a large one, and was enclosed by very high
walls, which entirely isolated it from the busy streets that surrounded
it. The original old garden remained, in all its beauty, and the rooms
were full of quaint heirlooms.

We were always made very welcome, and the servant at once produced a
delicious tea, consisting of fresh baked scones, butter made of real
cream--margarine being not then invented--home-made strawberry jam, and
home-laid eggs. Russian eggs were not then imported.

I must here interpose that deliciously innocent telegram sent by an
Aberdeen merchant in the first days of the Great War, and which set all
England and Scotland mad to see the fur and snow-clad Russian troops
passing through to the Front. The telegram ran as follows:--

    "Twenty thousand Russians arrived."

The twenty thousand Muscovites were only twenty thousand stale eggs, but
Lord Kitchener's order was, "Let it stand."

To return to my story.

One glorious late spring evening we were seated at tea, and the window
was thrown wide to the perfumed garden, where lilacs, and wallflowers,
and lilies of the valley rioted gloriously. The birds were in full song
in this peaceful sanctuary, which might have been a hundred miles away
from a town. My father had put his invariable question to the old woman,
"Have you seen her again?" Sometimes the answer was Yes, sometimes No. I
gathered that this question referred to the old woman's dead daughter,
her only child. This daughter had been violently insane for many years
and had remained under her mother's protection. She had died some years
previously, at the age of fifty-five, having endured a terribly long
martyrdom.

Suddenly my father broke off the conversation.

"My God! there she is!" He half rose from his chair and stared through
the open window. I looked in the same direction. A woman was strolling
aimlessly along the path just outside. There was a curious uncertainty
about her movements. She walked like a blind person, who has neither
stick nor arm to guide her. Strangely enough I never thought of
connecting this woman with the ghost of the mad daughter. She looked so
natural, so commonplace. Her hollow face was quite gray, and her dark
hair was drawn tightly back from it, and rolled in an ugly knob behind.
Her dress was of some dark material, her boots were of cloth, and her
hands and arms were rolled up in a stuff apron she wore.

There she was, vacantly wandering in the garden, in the lovely spring
evening, with the blackbirds and thrushes singing their hearts out all
around her, and I did not comprehend why such an ordinary, unattractive
looking person should so deeply interest my father.

I turned round to say something to the old woman, then I instantly
understood. She had gone down on her knees, and had hidden herself by
throwing the end of the tablecloth over her head.

Then I turned my eyes back to the apparition. I don't suppose she was
visible for more than four minutes. I remember my father uttering
consoling words to the effect that "she's gone," and helping the old
woman into her chair again, when we resumed our tea and conversation, as
if nothing unusual had occurred.

Looking back upon these incidents I contrast the infinite trouble we
took in our hunt for ghosts, with present-day psychical research. I
think of the innumerable half hours we spent at Broughton Hall, and only
once were we rewarded by seeing anything. We visited the old woman at
Inveresk whenever we found time. There was nothing in the least
inspiring or interesting in her conversation, yet to us there was an
unspeakable charm about her outward circumstances.

There was the spiritual charm of the silent old house, with its
vibrating memories of the long departed. The charm of the cloistered
peace, amidst which the woman lived and dreamed, shut away from the
world by the high walls. It was a retreat in which to meditate, and that
always appealed to me. A dwelling with a beautiful view has a great
charm, but it draws the thoughts always outward to the external. Still,
when I pass a quiet old homestead, hidden away in its own flowery old
garden from the eyes of the world, it attracts me far more than the
far-flung grandeur of many a stately English mansion.

Only in such retreats of ancient peace can the thoughts be turned
continuously inward, to their true bourne--the temple of the living God.

I seem to have been born with an ingrained belief in the enormous virtue
of renunciation. Self-sacrifice, I am certain, is the foundation stone
upon which is built the moral progress of man. I had occasion to prove
this for myself at a comparatively early age. My mother suddenly became
much more ailing than usual, and began to suffer a great deal of pain. A
consultation of doctors was called by our own family physician, and two
of the greatest surgeons in Edinburgh arrived one morning at our house.

After about an hour they came into the room in which I awaited them.
Their faces were very grave. They informed me, as kindly as they could,
that they had arrived at the unanimous opinion that my mother was
suffering from internal cancer, and that she might possibly live another
six months. Our own doctor confessed that he had long suspected this,
and the two surgeons corroborated his opinion. There was no doubt in
their minds, as the disease had openly declared itself.

I took this shock in perfect silence for a minute or two, then I decided
upon my first course of action. I asked them in the meanwhile to keep
this matter secret from every one, even from my father.

To this they rather demurred, saying that it was only right that he
should know the truth, and that he would certainly question them. I then
urged that our family doctor had known of this, and had hidden his
knowledge up to to-day. It would be easy enough for him to go on hiding
the truth for a short time longer.

The doctors sought to know my reason for this secrecy; it would do no
good, the truth would have to come out. I could give no reason. I had no
reason, only a very strong instinct, and I wanted time. I asked for a
fortnight, after which I would myself inform my father of the nature of
my mother's malady.

They agreed to this, doubtless much relieved that so unpleasant a task
was removed to other shoulders, and they went away.

That night I did not sleep. I had too much to think out. My mother must
not die. I had to form some plan to save her, if it were humanly
possible. She was absolutely necessary, I considered, to the younger
children. She would be required for some years yet. My life was wholly
given up to my father, I had become necessary to him, and this left me
no time to mother the young ones. His health was not of the best. A
curious tendency to hemorrhage kept him constantly weak. If he had a
tooth drawn bleeding would continue for days after. He needed all my
attention.

At that particular time I possessed something--never mind what--that
meant more to me than anything else in the whole wide world. It was the
greatest thing I had in life. I decided before morning that with this,
my one great possession, I would strike a bargain with the Almighty. I
would give Him a fortnight to consider it. I would offer Him the
greatest thing in my life in exchange for my mother's life.

Quite conceivably He might refuse to consider the proposition, in which
case I stood to lose everything. I could never again recover what I
proposed to risk, but I came to the deliberate conclusion that it was
worth it. The case demanded a desperate remedy.

Having made up my mind, I went about the business in the crudest and
most practical manner. I set aside certain odd half hours during the
coming fortnight, in which I would state my case. I wanted God to have
every opportunity of considering my suggestion on its simple merits.

I began by pointing out to Him why it was so necessary that my mother
should live, and then I went on to say that He might be sure I asked
nothing for myself. I proposed to give in exchange for my mother's life
the greatest thing I possessed on earth, a thing that doubtless was of
little interest to Him, but nevertheless meant a very great deal to
me--in fact, my all. I really had nothing else of any value to offer.

Now, in thus addressing the Almighty, I was not acting as a primitive
savage, for I had considered the subject of Deity for several years, and
had studied most of the great theologians. I addressed Him thus as a
Spirit of too supreme a potency, of too extraneous a mentality and
majesty, to be addressed in any other terms but plain downright
reasoning. Elaborate and propitiatory words were good enough for earthly
princelets, but ridiculous when offered up to the Supreme Creative
Power. That was my way of looking at it, and I began at once to carry
out my plan. There was no time to lose. Meanwhile, no living soul, save
the doctors, knew of my secret.

At the end of the second day my mother was free from pain. At the end of
the first week she was recovering rapidly. The family doctor was
intensely puzzled, but still adhered to his original conviction. On the
eighth day I ceased my half-hourly reasoning with God. I merely thanked
Him for concluding the bargain. He had accepted my sacrifice, the
greatest I could make, and there that matter ended. I felt, without the
smallest irreverence, that we were quits.

At the end of the month the two great surgeons returned, at our own
doctor's request. I awaited them with perfect assurance and
tranquillity. When they came in to me they still looked perturbed. They
told me that they had examined my mother, and found all traces of the
malady had disappeared. They could not account for it, they reiterated
their former diagnosis, dwelling upon certain facts, in very natural
self-justification. They expressed, in the very kindest manner, their
deep regret for all the suffering and anxiety they must have caused me,
and said how very lucky it was that no one had been made aware of their
original convictions, save myself. The case was extraordinary, abnormal,
there was nothing more to say. Then they went away for the last time.

My father was greatly puzzled at their refusing to accept any fee, and
to the day of his death our own doctor, whenever he found me alone,
referred to the case as the most marvelous he had ever come across. My
mother quite regained her health, and died many years after from lung
trouble.

One other great sacrifice I had to make a year or two after. My father
was entirely confined to bed with a severe attack of internal
hemorrhage, and at the same time my youngest sister was threatened with
consumption. She was ordered to go to the South of France immediately.

It was decided that I must go with her, as she could not be trusted to
strangers. My mother, absolutely restored to health, would be left with
my father, who had also a good nurse valet.

My father and I bade each other farewell one early morning in February,
1888. We knew we would not meet again on earth.

Only one other curious incident do I remember in connection with that
town house we lived in. On the night of the 28th December we were all
assembled in the library, most of us were reading, and a violent wind
storm was howling round the house. Suddenly my father laid down the
proof sheets he was correcting, and took out his watch. Then he turned
to us and said: "At this moment, seven fifteen, on Sunday the 28th of
December, 1879, something terrible has happened. I think a bridge must
be down."

The next day we learned that the Tay Bridge had been blown down at that
very hour, and the train and its occupants hurled to death in the waters
below.



CHAPTER III

CURIOUS PSYCHIC EXPERIENCES


After my father's death I began to live a much more independent life. I
was financially independent, and I proceeded to London, where I felt I
would have a wider range of intellectual companionship. I lived in
hotels and dispensed with all chaperonage, thus leaving myself free to
join my mother on the Riviera in the early spring months.

I never cared for dancing, and always having had the companionship of
people who were years older than myself, I had made few girl friends. My
first cousin, Lady Campbell, wife of Sir Guy Campbell, Bart., 60th
Rifles, and another first cousin, Menie Muriel Dowie, were the only two
I really saw much of.

Lady Campbell was, and is, a very attractive woman, possessed of great
charm of manner. Exceedingly cultured and intelligent, she is also an
artist to her finger tips. As girls we used to be fond of attending
Queen Victoria's Drawing-rooms. A bevy of us would take lunch with us in
the carriages, and thoroughly enjoy our day out. I was the last woman to
kiss the hand of Queen Victoria at a Drawing-room. I was stopped by a
Court official just as I was moving forward, and told to wait as "Her
Majesty is going to withdraw." The present Dowager Queen Alexandra, as
Princess of Wales, then took her place. On this occasion I heard the
Queen say, "Let this lady pass." I was then told to proceed.

Being very tall I had always a certain difficulty in getting down low
enough to kiss the tiny Queen's hand. After I had passed, and as I
backed out of "the presence," I saw Her Majesty being assisted out of
the queer little half chair, half stool she used. She never held another
Drawing-room, and I regret that, being abroad, I had not the honor of
making a last curtsy to the little coffin as it passed through the
streets of London.

Menie Muriel Dowie was a brilliant bohemian, as can be gathered by those
who have read her book, "A Girl in the Carpathians." I have never known
any woman who was possessed of so many natural talents. She is as much
at home in skilled and polished diplomacy as in practical agriculture.
She has always been a great traveler, yet a delicate woman. Only her
indomitable spirit kept her going in her youth, as it still does in her
beautiful house in Green Street, and her model farm in Gloucestershire.

My greatest older friends were Mrs. Lynn Linton, the novelist, Browning,
the poet, Lord Leighton, the painter, and Mrs. Proctor, widow of Barry
Cornwall, and mother of Adelaide Proctor, the poet. All people old
enough to be my parents.

I had a great admiration for Mrs. Lynn Linton's strong, cold intellect;
it was so invigorating, and she was so self-reliant, an uncommon thing
for a woman to be in those days. We had long arguments over matters
occult, but I never could make the least impression upon her strong
materialism. "I won't leave this earth even with you," she used to
protest. She was a great friend and admirer of my aunt, Lady Priestley,
also a woman of very fine intellect, who devoted herself to scientific
pursuits. Had she been a man, or had she lived in the present day, when
woman has at last come into her own, she would have made a very strong
mark.

Robert Browning, whom I had known for some years, used to drop in very
often to have a chat, and I rejoiced in him exceedingly as a born mystic
of a high order. We often discussed the possibility of his work being
directed from the other side, and we argued as to whether he received
inspiration from various quarters, or whether he was the beloved of some
poet of a former age, who, active still in the spirit world, expressed
his great thoughts through Robert Browning on earth. So many people at
that time frankly said they could not understand Browning's poetry, and
this I told him was to be attributed to lack of the mystic perception.
Now that mysticism has so enormously developed, his work is much more
comprehensive to the world.

I had alas! only one year of really close friendship with him, for he
died the year after I came to London.

One curious thing Browning told me.

He dropped in one night to see me, after dinner at a house where
Millais, the painter, had been one of the guests.

"Johnnie Millais told me an odd thing to-night," he said. "He's
constantly seeing figures appearing and disappearing on the face of the
canvas he's working upon."

"What sort of figures?" I asked.

Browning shot out his cuff.

"Here they are. I knew you'd be interested, so I took them down for you.
Better write them down for yourself, but don't mention the subject to
him or any of his family."

I fetched a piece of paper and copied from Browning's cuff.

"13. 1.8.9.6. The figures don't always come in that order," he said,
"but more often than not they do. The 13 always comes up as 13, but he's
seen 9.6.1.8. What do you make of it?"

"At present nothing, but the future may throw light upon the
phenomenon," I answered.

I never mentioned this occurrence to any one, and, indeed, forgot all
about it till some years after Millais' death, when I came upon my notes
in an old box. I then realized that the great painter had been looking
upon the dates of his own death. He died on August 13th, 1896.

One night some one, I have not the least idea who, came to me in my
sleep and bade me take up pencil and paper, and write to dictation.
Still sound asleep I did as I was bidden. I always kept writing
materials by my bedside.

In the morning I remembered nothing of this till my eye fell upon some
sheets of paper. The writing upon them was mine, but very big and
untidy. Then I recollected the command I had received in the night and
eagerly read what I had written. Here it is. I gave Browning a copy as
he was so deeply interested--

     "A solitary cottage stood on the edge of a bleak moorland. The sun
     sank behind the low horizon, and left marshy pools glowing like
     living opals. A stream of homeward flying rooks made a streak of
     indigo across the topaz sky where gauzy wind-riven clouds floated
     westward. The sacred hush of eventide brooded under the calm wings
     of night.

     "Out on the waste wandered the Angel of 'Sleep,' and the Angel of
     'Death' with arms fraternally entwined, and whilst the brotherly
     genii embraced each other, night stole down with velvet footfall,
     and the green stars peered forth.

     "Then the Angel of Sleep shook from out his hands the invisible
     grains of slumber, and bade the night wind waft them o'er the
     world. And soon the child in its cradle, the tired mother, the aged
     man, and the pain-laden woman were at peace. The curfew tolled out
     from the distant hamlet and then was still.

     "Inside the cottage a rushlight burned faintly, indicating the
     poverty of the room, and illuminating the death-like features of
     the boy who lay on the bed. By his side, worn out, sat the father,
     his horny hand clasped in that of his child.

     "And the two brother Angels advanced, hand in hand, and peered in
     at the window, and the Angel of Sleep said: 'Behold how gracious a
     thing it is, that we can visit this humble dwelling and scatter
     grains of slumber around, and send oblivion to the weary watcher. I
     am beloved and courted by all. How merciful is our vocation.' And
     silently he entered the room.

     "He kissed the eyelids of the weary watcher, and as he did so some
     grains fell from out the wreath of scarlet poppies that lay like
     drops of blood upon his brow.

     "But the Angel of Death sat without, his pallid face shrouded in
     the sable of his wings.

     "And he spake to the Angel of Sleep, 'Of a truth thou art happy and
     beloved. The welcome guest of all, whereas I am shunned, the door
     is barred as against a secret foe, and I am counted the enemy of
     the world.'

     "But the Angel of Sleep wiped away the immortal tears from the dark
     and mournful eyes of his brother Death.

     "'Are we not children born of the one Father?' said he, 'and do not
     the good call thee friend, and the lonely, the homeless, the weary
     laden bless thy hallowed name when they wake in Paradise.'

     "And the Angel of Death unfurled his sable wings and took heart.
     And as Lucifer the light-bringer paled in the violet Heavens he
     silently entered the dwelling. With his golden scythe he cut the
     silver cord of life, and gathered the child to his faithful bosom."

The evenings I most enjoyed were those I spent in the studio of Felix
Moscheles, the great apostle of peace. There one met all the genius and
talent in London, and any genius of foreign nationality who happened to
be visiting England. The cosmopolitan element always attracted me, and I
went to several frankly revolutionary houses, where red ties flaunted,
and where those Russian Nihilists found a welcome who were constantly
rushing over here to escape Siberia. Through them I learned to
understand what the real woes of Russia were, and to expect the present
revolution as the inevitable result of brutal repression and
misgovernment.

During one winter at Nice I renewed my acquaintance with one of the most
remarkable mystics of modern times, Marie, Countess of Caithness and
Duchesse de Pomar.

I had first met her in Edinburgh in 1872 when she was on the eve of her
second marriage with Lord Caithness. My father and mother attended her
very quiet wedding. Now we met again many years after at her beautiful
home, the Palais Tiranty, Nice. Lady Caithness was widowed for the
second time, Lord Caithness having died in 1881, and lived alone with
her devoted son, the Duc de Pomar. She had a magnificent home in Paris,
"Holyrood," Avenue Wagram. This house contained a large lecture hall
filled with gilt chairs, and hung round with fine pictures. Leading from
this hall down a flight of marble stairs one came to a chapel or séance
room, used for direct communication with the spirit of Mary Stuart, and
said to have been built "under the Queen's instructions."

This presupposes Queen Mary to be still on "the other side." Other
occultists maintain that she has reincarnated again in the person of a
very old Empress, who still lives on earth.

It has been often said of Lady Caithness that she believed herself to be
the reincarnation of Mary Stuart. During all the years I knew her
intimately I never heard her even hint at such a belief, and the fact
that she believed herself to be in touch with the Queen on "the other
side" precludes in my opinion the possibility of her having formed such
a conception.

What may have given rise to the suggestion was the fact that she dressed
after the fashion of the Scottish Queen, and was surrounded by "Mary
relics." Also, there is no doubt that she had a deeply sympathetic
interest in the unfortunate Queen, and had elevated her memory into what
amounted almost to a religion. In the chapel there is a full length
lovely portrait of Mary, which is so lighted and arranged that it gives
the impression of a living woman. Leading out of the dining-room was the
bedroom of Lady Caithness, a sumptuous apartment. The bed was a state
bed, plumes of ostrich feathers uprose at each corner. At one end was a
crown, and behind the pillows was a fresco painting representing Jacob's
Ladder, with a multitude of angels ascending and descending. Often Lady
Caithness received in bed, as was the habit of the French Queens of
former days.

The jewels possessed by Lady Caithness were the most gorgeous I have
ever seen. Nothing worn by crowned heads, at the many English Courts I
have attended, were comparable to them. I can remember an Edinburgh
jeweler inviting my father and me to inspect some diamonds belonging to
her that he was cleaning. There was a long chain of huge diamonds
reaching to the knees, with a cross attached, which no casual observer,
not possessing the jeweler's guarantee as we did, would have believed to
be genuine. When standing receiving her guests in the beautiful salons
of the Palais Tiranty, clad in crimson velvet, she looked a very
wonderful figure, for she possessed exceptional personal beauty as well.

As may be supposed, a woman of such commanding presence who was known to
possess a deep interest in the occult, could secure the services of the
best mediums the world over. I sat with her through many séances,
successful, barren, and indifferent, conducted by mediums of various
nationalities. I remember one conducted by a South American medium,
where the "controls" became very noisy and troublesome, and threatened
to do serious damage. The medium could not be roused out of the trance
she had fallen into, and it had really become necessary to put an end to
the performance. She was a very big, heavy woman, and had sunk half off
her chair on to the floor. I suggested to Lady Caithness that if we
could drag or carry her into another room matters might then quiet down,
but I added dubiously, "She must be a great weight."

Lady Caithness replied with a smile: "Try. You'll probably find her very
light indeed."

I did try, and this was the only time in my life that I had the
opportunity of proving to myself how tremendously a medium loses weight
whilst genuine manifestations are in progress. I found it quite easy to
lift this woman, who in ordinary circumstances must have weighed at
least twelve or thirteen stone.

Sir William Crookes has given to the world a very interesting account of
his work in weighing mediums, before and during materialization. He
always found that a great decrease in weight took place during the
materializations, proving how enormous is the drain on the strength of
the medium. Such evidence is most valuable, as coming from our greatest
chemist.

On this particular night I had no doubt as to the genuineness of the
medium. Had she been a fraud she would have stopped the séance at once,
on seeing how annoyed Lady Caithness was. She had every reason to
conciliate her, and was greatly distressed to hear that her services
would no longer be required. The troublesome spirits followed her into
the next room, but gradually subsided as we succeeded in bringing the
woman back out of her trance.

I used to go very often to the theater at Nice with Lady Caithness. She
had her own box, and often invited Don Carlos of Spain, and other
distinguished personages, to accompany her. One night we went to hear
the incomparable Judic. We were only a party of three, the third being
Prince Valori.

The Prince was then a man past middle age. He suggested a magnificent
ruin, retaining as he did the battered remains of great good looks, and
it was plain to see that his valet was exceedingly skillful. He
possessed also a European reputation for heiress hunting, but to the day
of his death he never succeeded in catching one, though it was said he
had pursued his quarry in all parts of the world. Perhaps the figure he
placed upon his ancient lineage and his personal charm was too high;
perhaps he had begun his quest too late in life, though the position of
a widowed Princess Valori would certainly not have been without
attraction. I attributed his single blessedness to quite a different
cause.

That night, whilst my attention was fixed on the stage, I became dimly
aware that some one had entered our box, but until the song was over I
did not turn round to look who it was. We always had visitors coming and
going. When at last I did glance round I saw nothing remarkable. Only a
man in fancy dress seated behind Valori, a man whom I had never seen
before.

At that period Nice went mad during the winter season. The most
extravagant amusements were entered into with a wild zest, by the very
cosmopolitan society of extremely wealthy people. There were fancy
dress balls every night somewhere, and no one thought it strange to see
bands of revelers in fancy costume walking about the streets and
thronging the cafés at all hours of the night.

I was not therefore astonished to see this man in fancy dress, leaning
familiarly over the back of Prince Valori's chair. He was a very thin
man, with very long, thin legs, and he was dressed entirely in chocolate
brown--a sort of close-fitting cowl was drawn over his head, and his
curious long, impish face was made more weird by small, sharply pointed
ears rising on each side of his head. He appeared to have "got himself
up" to look like a satyr, or some such mythical monstrosity. He was not
introduced to me at the moment, and other people entering our box whom I
knew, I forgot about him. When the box cleared before the next act I
noticed he had gone.

A week or so after this I went to a fancy dress ball given by a Russian
friend of mine--Princess Lina Galitzine. There was a great crowd, and a
number of Grand Dukes and Grand Duchesses, some of whom had driven long
distances from their villas and hotels in Mentone, Monte Carlo, and
Beaulieu, etc. I soon saw Prince Valori making his way towards me,
dressed very magnificently, in a French costume of the eighteenth
century. By his side moved the man in brown.

Now that I saw "the satyr" under brilliant light he struck me at once as
something peculiar. His walk was alone sufficient to attract attention.
He strutted on tiptoes, with a curious jerk with every step he made.
Those who remember Henry Irving's peculiar walk may form some idea of
"the satyr's" movements. They were Irving's immensely exaggerated. I
concluded that Valori was bringing him up to present him to me, but
such proved not to be his intention. Valori shook hands, coolly
requested the young American to whom I was talking to move off and find
some one to dance with, and seated himself in the vacated chair. "The
satyr" stood by his side and said nothing. I thought this very odd, and
glancing, whenever I could do so unobserved, at the silent brown figure,
I began to feel uneasy and shivery. It was impossible, whilst he stood
there listening to all we said, to ask Valori who he was, and no mention
was made of him.

As soon as I could I escaped to talk to some one else, and for an hour
or two I avoided both. During this time I asked several people who "the
satyr" was, but no one seemed to have noticed him in the crowd. At last,
when seated at supper with the late James Gordon Bennett, who did not
usually go to balls, but had looked in here for half an hour for some
purpose of his own, I found myself seated next to a very charming Pole,
married to a Russian, the Princess Schehoffskoi. I knew her to be a
genuine mystic, one of the group who first instituted spiritualism into
the Russian Court circles. I seized an opportunity, whilst Gordon
Bennett was occupied with some one else, to ask her who the brown satyr
was who had attached himself to Valori.

She was at once absorbed in the question, and, lowering her voice, she
said, "Why, how interesting! Don't you know that is his 'Familiar' who
is constantly in attendance upon him. People say they became attached
whilst he was attending a 'Sabbath' in the Vosges, and he can't get rid
of it."

"A Sabbath!" I echoed blankly.

"Yes! Surely you have heard of a 'Witch's Sabbath.' They still hold them
at Lutzei, and each person receives a 'Familiar.' Those 'Sabbaths' are
the most appalling orgies and hideously blasphemous. The 'Familiars'
have names--Minette, Verdelet, etc. I had an ancestor who owned a
'Familiar' called Sainte Buisson. His name was de Laski. Of course, he
was a Pole, and a Prince of Siradia, and he came across Dr. Dee, the
necromancer of Queen Elizabeth's time. They seem to have entered into a
sort of partnership."

All this the Princess told me quite seriously, and I found out later
from her that Satanism or devil worship was largely practiced in France.
It is interesting to note that the names of the French war mascots of
the moment are all taken from the names of well-known "Familiars" in
occult lore.

"Then the 'satyr' attached to Valori is not human flesh and blood; how
horrible!" I whispered back. "Have many people seen him? Is he always
there?"

The Princess nodded, "The clairvoyantes here all know about it, and I
myself have seen him, not here, but in Paris. I shall go in search of
Valori directly after supper."

"And I shall go home to bed," I answered.

The next morning I met Valori, alone, on the Promenade des Anglais. He
turned and strolled by my side, and I determined to put a straight
question. After a little trivial conversation I said, "By the way, who
is that brown man, dressed like a Satyr, who has been with you lately?"

I watched Valori's face as I put the question, and as I saw the change
that came over it I felt very sorry and ashamed of having spoken. He
looked so utterly dejected and miserable.

"You also?" he muttered, then fell to silence.

I gathered that the same question had been put to him before, and I
hastened to reassure him. "Don't answer. My question was impertinent;
let us speak of other things," I said hastily, but he remained silent,
staring down at the ground. Then suddenly he said--

"I am not the only one in the world so afflicted."

I did not pursue the subject. His words were true. That evening I
received a large bouquet of Russian violets, and on a card was written
the following French proverb:--"La réputation d'un homme est comme son
ombre, qui tantôt le suit et tantôt le précède; quelquefois elle est
plus longue et quelquefois plus courte que lui."

At that time the whole Riviera was swarming with professional
clairvoyantes, and it soon "got wind" that Prince Valori's "Familiar"
was walking about with him. He treated the matter almost as lightly as a
distinguished English General treated his "Familiar."

The Englishman, General Elliot, who commanded the forces in Scotland,
was a very well-known society man, about twenty-five years ago. He had a
name for his Familiar, "Wononi," and used actually to speak aloud with
him in the middle of a dinner-party. The General occupied a very
distinguished position, not only in his profession, but in the social
world, and to look at he was the very last man that one would associate
with matters occult.

In 1895 Marie, Duchesse de Pomar and Countess of Caithness, died. She
had the right to claim burial in Holyrood Chapel, and a very simple
stone marks her last resting-place. To her I owe the warmest friendship
of my life, for it was in her opera box I met the present Lady Treowen,
born a daughter of Lord Albert Conynghame, who afterwards became the
first Lord Londesborough. To the many who know and love her, Albertina
Treowen represents a type of perfect breeding, alas! fast becoming
extinct in these days. She has lived the reality of noblesse oblige, has
the rare gift of perfect friendship, and combines a rare refinement of
mind with strong moral courage.



CHAPTER IV

EAST END DAYS AND NIGHTS


If we had found the golden thread of meaning which gives coherence to
the whole; if we had been taught as our religion that every man and
woman was receiving the strictest justice at the Divine hands, and that
our conditions to-day were exactly those our former lives entitled us
to, how different would be our outlook on life. As it is, men have
fallen away in their bitter discontent from a God in whose justice they
have ceased to believe, and of whose impartiality they see no sign.

I doubt if any religion extant has claimed such a wide diversity in its
adherents as Christianity. Calvin, Knox, Torquemada, the Archbishop of
Canterbury, and Kaiser Wilhelm. Mr. Gladstone, and Czar Nicolas. The
Pope of Rome, and Spurgeon. Even those nine names, which might be
multiplied indefinitely, show us diametrically opposed readings of the
same faith.

It would be of enormous benefit to us if we studied all the great
religions, and separated from each the obviously false from the true,
and appropriated the latter. The Bible would gain enormously in value if
studied in conjunction with other sacred books written before the advent
of Christ.

A careful study of the ancient faiths will reveal a wonderful
similarity. We are beginning to break down the limitations which have
been presumptuously cast around the conceptions of the Divine teachings.
We begin to see that not only in Palestine, but in all the world, and
amongst all peoples, God has been revealing Himself to the hearts of
men.

It is always folly for the orthodox to hold up hands in holy horror at
the views of the unorthodox. It is a selfish standpoint, and makes
matters no better. Doubt does not spring from the wish to doubt. It
arises solely from the play of the mind on the facts of daily life
surrounding us. The truth remains, that, unless the Church recovers
those vital doctrines that she has lost, and which alone make life
rational to the intelligent, she will be finally abandoned when the
present generation dies out.

We can never rest content with a faith which flatly contradicts the
facts of life which surround us, and press in on us from every side in
our daily existence. We hold that what we undoubtedly find in life ought
to have its complement in religion. The searching temper of our vast
sacrifices in war are thrusting faith down to primitive bed-rock.
Orthodoxies and heterodoxies will not matter much now. What will matter
will be honesty, effectiveness, and a rational explanation of life. For
nineteen hundred years we have professed the religion of what others
said about Christ. Now the hour is approaching when we must try the
religion of what Christ said about us and the world.

I was always of a very inquiring turn of mind, and I had abandoned
orthodoxy before I was twenty. I had read everything I could lay my
hands on, and I emerged after a year or two, an out-and-out agnostic, in
the popular sense of the term.

I had, however, no intention of remaining in that condition. I was
convinced there must be some link between Science and Religion, and that
a just God, worthy of all worship, was to be found, if only I knew where
to seek. I can look back on this crude stage of my life, and see what a
nuisance I must have been, with my defiant disbelief and constant
questioning. I became an ardent truth-seeker, but my demands, I can now
realize, grew out of my palpitating desire to reduce the world of
disorder to the likeness of a supreme and beneficent Creator. If God be
just and good, then what is the explanation of this hideous discrepancy
in human lives?

Following on this came the question: "Is it possible that a just God is
going to judge us, one and all, on our miserable record of three score
years and ten?"

"Whatsoever ye soweth that shall ye reap." So the criminal and the
savage were to be judged by their deeds, though, through no fault of
their own, they were born under circumstances which precluded any
glimmer of light to shine in on their darkness. "Ah!" but I was told,
"God will make it up to them hereafter. Of course, He won't judge them
as He will judge you."

This seemed to me pure nonsense. I could not understand a God who
arranged His creation so badly. Whilst in London I started out on a
search for truth.

Amongst those who accorded me interviews were Cardinal Newman and the
late Archdeacon Liddon. The former was exquisitely sympathetic and
patient, but he gave me no mental satisfaction. I helped him for some
weeks in the great dock strike, and then we drifted apart for ever.
Liddon listened patiently, then told me flatly he could not solve the
mysteries I sought to probe. I also was accorded an unsatisfactory
interview with Basil Wilberforce. After a lapse of thirty years we met
again, though I never recalled to him the visit I had paid him in my
youth, being sure he must have forgotten all about it. I found him
enormously changed mentally. He had outgrown all resemblance to his
former mental self.

At that early period some one happened to mention to me that a certain
Madame Blavatsky had just arrived in London, bringing with her a new
religion. My curiosity was at once fired, and I set off to call upon
her.

I shall never forget that first interview with a much maligned woman,
whom I rapidly came to know intimately and love dearly. She was seated
in a great armchair, with a table by her side on which lay tobacco and
cigarette paper. Whilst she spoke her exquisite taper fingers
automatically rolled cigarettes. She was dressed in a loose black robe,
and on her crinkly gray hair she wore a black shawl. Her face was pure
Kalmuk, and a network of fine wrinkles covered it. Her eyes, large and
pale green, dominated the countenance--wonderful eyes in their
arresting, dreamy mysticism.

I asked her to explain her new religion, and she answered that hers was
the very oldest extant, and formed the belief of five hundred million
souls. I inquired how it was that this stupendous fact had not yet
touched Christendom, and her reply was that there had never been any
interference with Christian thought. Though judge of all, Christianity
had been judged by none. The rise of Japan was a factor of immense
potency, and in time would open out a new era in the comprehension of
East by West. Then the meaning would flash upon the churches of the
words, "Neither in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem."

I explained to her my difficulties, which she proceeded to solve by
expounding the doctrines of reincarnation and Karma. They jumped
instantly to my reason. I there and then found the Just God, of whom I
had been in search. From that day to this I have never had reason to
swerve from those beliefs. The older I grow, the more experience I
gather, the more I read, the more confirmed do I become in the belief
that such provide the only rational explanation of this life, the only
natural hope in the world to come.

I have offered those beliefs to very many people whom I discovered to be
on the same quest as I had been. I have never once had them rejected by
any serious truth-seeker, and I have seen them passed on and on by these
people to others, forming enormous ramifications which became lost to
view in the passage of time and their own magnitude.

In these early days there was little literature available for the
student, but the circle of clever brains which rapidly surrounded
Blavatsky set to work with a will under her guidance, and now, after the
lapse of thirty years, there is an enormous literature always commanding
a wide sale, and the little circle that gathered round "the old lady"
has swollen into very many thousands.

What was the secret of Helena Petrovski Blavatsky's instant success? I
have no doubt that it lay in her power to give to the West the Eastern
answers to those problems which the Church has lost.

In her way Blavatsky was a true missioner. "Go forth on your journey for
the weal and the welfare of all people, out of compassion for the world
and the welfare of angels and mortals," was the command given by the
Lord Buddha to his disciples, and Christ, following the universal ideal,
five hundred years later, commanded, "Go ye into all the world and
preach the Gospel of the whole Creation."

I began to study those, to me, new doctrines at once, and I also took up
their occult side, no light task, but one of absorbing interest. Not
till then did I fully realize that in no one human life could that long,
long path be trodden, in no new-born soul could be developed those
divine possibilities of which I could catch but a fleeting illusive
vision.

"Thou canst not travel in the Path before thou hast become the Path
itself." Did not the Christ warn his followers that the Path must be
trodden more or less alone? "Forsake all and follow Me." So, also in the
Bhagavad Gita it is written: "Abandoning all duties come unto me alone
for shelter. Sorrow not, I will liberate thee from thy sins."

"The secret doctrine" written by Blavatsky proved a mine of wealth, and
I read the volumes through seven times in seven different keys. The
works of A. P. Sinnett, text books then, and now brought up to date by
expanding knowledge, were extremely helpful. For advanced students "The
Growth of the Soul" is unsurpassed. A very short time elapsed before
mental food was supplied for practically every branch of mysticism and
occult development, and students flocked into headquarters from all
parts of the world.

It is interesting to remember the two adjoining villas in Avenue Road,
St. John's Wood, where we used to congregate to study, and hear lectures
thirty years ago, and to look now on the stately buildings in Tavistock
Square. They are designed by the great architect Lutyens, whose wife,
Lady Emily, is an ardent theosophist. I am glad that I have lived to see
these doctrines take firm root in the West, and grow so amazingly that
in all cities they are now held by vast numbers, and even in cases where
they have not been finally adopted they are acknowledged to be the only
logical conclusion for those who desire to possess a rational belief. I
am glad that I can look back with love and profound gratitude to Helena
P. Blavatsky, the woman who grafted on the West the wisdom of the ages.
I have no doubt that she is enabled to see the mighty structure raised
on her small beginnings, and doubtless she has met on "the other side"
men and women whose debt to her is equally as great as mine.

Blavatsky began by exploding the theory that men are born equal. If this
one life were all, then this great error ought, in common justice, to be
absolute truth, and every man should possess common rights in the
community, and one man ought to be as good as another. If every soul
born to-day is a fresh creation, who will in the course of time pass
away from this life for ever, then why is it that one is only fitted to
obey, whilst another is eminently fitted to rule? One is born with a
tendency to vice and crime, another to virtue and honesty. One is born a
genius, another is born to idiocy. How, she asked, could a firm social
foundation ever be built up on this utter disregard of nature? How
treat, as having right to equal power, the wise and the ignorant, the
criminal and the saint? Yet, if man be born but once it would be very
unjust to build on any other foundation.

Re-incarnation implies the evolution of the soul, and it makes the
equality of man a delusion. In evolution time plays the greatest part,
and through evolution humanity is climbing. "Souls while eternal in
their essence are of different ages in their individuality."

Many of us must know people who though quite old in years are children
in mind. Men and women who having arrived at three score years and ten
are still utterly childish and inconsequent. They are young souls who
have had the experiences of very few earth lives. Again, we all know
children who seem born abnormally old. Infant prodigies, musicians,
calculators, painters who have brought over their genius from a former
life.

I remember once meeting with a curious experience, which is not very
easy to describe. It was an experience more of feeling than of seeing.

I was standing in Milan Cathedral. In front of me and behind was
gathered a crowd of peasants. High Mass was being celebrated, and all
the seats were occupied.

After a few moments I began to feel a curious sensation of being
intently watched. Some penetrating influence was probing me through and
through, with a quiet but intensely powerful directness. I had the
sensation that my soul was being stripped bare. I looked round, but
could see nothing to account for my sensation. Every one seemed intent
on their devotions. I began to wonder if some malicious old peasant was
throwing over me the spell of the evil eye, but again my feelings were
not conscious of an evil intent; it was more an absorbed speculation
directed towards me. Some one was probing my soul, speculating on my
spiritual worth or worthlessness, with an intensely earnest yet cold
calculation.

Just in front of me stood a peasant woman of the poorest class. Her back
was towards me, and over her shoulder hung a baby of not more than a
year old. Suddenly I met the eyes of the child full. Then I knew. As a
psychological experience it was most interesting, but it sent a little
thrill of creepiness through me.

The baby did not withdraw its gaze, but continued leisurely to look me
through and through. The eyes were large and gray, the expression that
of a contemplative savant, with a faint dash of irony in their glance. I
do not pretend to be anything but what is now called "psychic," but I am
certain that those windows of the soul, with that age-long experience
flooding out of them, would have arrested the most material person. My
husband, who is accustomed to my "flights of imagination," was very much
struck by that look of maturity, that suggestion of æonic knowledge.

Blavatsky taught me to look on man as an evolving entity, in whose life
career births and deaths are recurring incidents. Birth and death begin
and end only a single chapter in the book of life. She taught me that we
cannot evade inexorable destiny. I made my present in my past. To-day I
am making my future. In proportion as I outwear my past, and change my
present abysmal ignorance into knowledge, so shall I become free.

I have often heard Blavatsky called a charlatan, and I am bound to say
that her impish behavior often gave grounds for this description. She
was foolishly intolerant of the many smart West End ladies who arrived
in flocks, demanding to see spooks, masters, elementals, anything, in
fact, in the way of phenomena.

Madame Blavatsky was a born conjuror. Her wonderful fingers were made
for jugglers' tricks, and I have seen her often use them for that
purpose. I well remember my amazement upon the first occasion on which
she exhibited her occult powers, spurious and genuine.

I was sitting alone with her one afternoon, when the cards of Jessica,
Lady Sykes, the late Duchess of Montrose and the Honorable Mrs. S.----
(still living) were brought in to her. She said she would receive the
ladies at once, and they were ushered in. They explained that they had
heard of her new religion, and her marvelous occult powers. They hoped
she would afford them a little exhibition of what she could do.

Madame Blavatsky had not moved out of her chair. She was suavity itself,
and whilst conversing she rolled cigarettes for her visitors and invited
them to smoke. She concluded that they were not particularly interested
in the old faith which the young West called new; what they really were
keen about was phenomena.

That was so, responded the ladies, and the burly Duchess inquired if
Madame ever gave racing tips, or lucky numbers for Monte Carlo?

Madame disclaimed having any such knowledge, but she was willing to
afford them a few moments' amusement. Would one of the ladies suggest
something she would like done?

Lady Sykes produced a pack of cards from her pocket, and held them out
to Madame Blavatsky, who shook her head.

"First remove the marked cards," she said.

Lady Sykes laughed and replied, "Which are they?"

Madame Blavatsky told her, without a second's hesitation. This charmed
the ladies. It seemed a good beginning.

"Make that basket of tobacco jump about," suggested one of them.

The next moment the basket had vanished. I don't know where it went, I
only know it disappeared by trickery, that the ladies looked for it
everywhere, even under Madame Blavatsky's ample skirts, and that
suddenly it reappeared upon its usual table. A little more jugglery
followed and some psychometry, which was excellent, then the ladies
departed, apparently well satisfied with the entertainment.

When I was once more alone with Madame Blavatsky, she turned to me with
a wry smile and said, "Would you have me throw pearls before swine?"

I asked her if all she had done was pure trickery.

"Not all, but most of it," she unblushingly replied, "but now I will
give you something lovely and real."

For a moment or two she was silent, covering her eyes with her hand,
then a sound caught my ear. I can only describe what I heard as fairy
music, exquisitely dainty and original. It seemed to proceed from
somewhere just between the floor and the ceiling, and it moved about to
different corners of the room. There was a crystal innocence in the
music, which suggested the dance of joyous children at play.

"Now I will give you the music of life," said Madame Blavatsky.

For a moment or two there fell a trance-like silence. The twilight was
creeping into the room, and seemed to bring with it a tingling
expectancy. Then it seemed to me that something entered from without,
and brought with it utterly new conditions, something incredible,
unimagined and beyond the bounds of reason.

Some one was singing, a distant melody was creeping nearer, yet I was
aware it had never been distant, it was only becoming louder.

I suddenly felt afraid of myself. The air about me was ringing with
vibrations of weird, unearthly music, seemingly as much around me as it
was above and behind me. It had no whereabouts, it was unlocatable. As I
listened my whole body quivered with wild elation, and the sensation of
the unforeseen.

There was rhythm in the music, yet it was unlike anything I had ever
heard before. It sounded like a Pastorale, and it held a call to which
my whole being wildly responded.

Who was the player, and what was his instrument? He might have been a
flautist, and he played with a catching lilt, a luxurious abandon that
was an incarnation of Nature. It caught me suddenly away to green
Sicilian hills, where the pipes of unseen players echo down the mountain
sides, as the pipes of Pan once echoed through the rugged gorges and
purple vales of Hellas and Thrace.

Alluring though the music was, and replete with the hot fever of life,
it carried with it a thrill of dread. Its sweetness was cloying, its
tenderness was sensuous. A balmy scent crept through the room, of wild
thyme, of herbs, of asphodel and the muscadine of the wine press. It
enwrapt me like an odorous vapor.

The sounds began to take shape, and gradually mold themselves into
words. I knew I was being courted with subtlety, and urged to fly out of
my house of life and join the Saturnalia Regna. The player was speaking
a language which I understood, as I had understood no tongue before. It
was my true native tongue that spoke in the wild ringing lilt, and I
could not but give ear to its enchantments and the ecstasy of its joy.

My soul seemed to strain at the leash. Should I let go? Like a powerful
opiate the allurement enfolded me, yet from out its thrall a small
insistent voice whispered "Caution! Where will you be led: supposing you
yield your will, would it ever be yours again?"

Now my brain was seized with a sense of panic and weakness. The music
suddenly seemed replete with gay sinfulness and insolent conquest. It
spoke the secrets which the nature myth so often murmurs to those who
live amid great silences, of those dread mysteries of the spirit which
yet invest it with such glory and wonderment.

With a violent reaction of fear I rose suddenly, and as I did so the
whole scene was swept from out the range of my senses. I was back once
more in Blavatsky's room with the creeping twilight and the far off
hoarse roar of London stealing in at the open window. I glanced at
Madame Blavatsky. She had sunk down in her chair, and she lay huddled up
in deep trance. She had floated out with the music into a sea of earthly
oblivion. Between her fingers she held a small Russian cross.

I knew that she had thrust me back to the world which still claimed me,
and I went quietly out of the house into the streets of London.

On another occasion when I was alone with Madame Blavatsky she suddenly
broke off our conversation by lapsing into another language, which I
supposed to be Hindustanee. She appeared to be addressing some one else,
and on looking over my shoulder I saw we were no longer alone. A man
stood in the middle of the room. I was sure he had not entered by the
door, window or chimney, and as I looked at him in some astonishment, he
salaamed to Madame Blavatsky, and replied to her in the same language in
which she had addressed him.

I rose at once to leave her, and as I bade her good-by she whispered to
me, "Do not mention this." The man did not seem aware of my presence; he
took no notice of me as I left the room. He was dark in color and very
sad looking, and his dress was a long, black cloak and a soft black hat
which he did not remove, pulled well over his eyes.

I found out that evening that none of the general staff were aware of
his arrival, and I saw him no more.

I remember clearly the first night that Annie Besant came to
headquarters as an interested inquirer. She arrived with the socialist,
Herbert Burrows. Madame Blavatsky told me she was destined to take a
very great part in the future Theosophical movement. At that time such a
thing seemed incredible, yet it has come to pass.

About this period I went to live in the East End of London, Haggerston
and Whitechapel, where I had a night shelter of my own. There I saw into
what surroundings children were born, how they grow up, and how their
parents live and die. I have seen so much of the lives of the outcast
poor that I can feel nothing but the most passionate pity for them,
even though I can now look upon them as souls just beginning to climb
the ladder of evolution.

My night shelter was for women only, and was purposely of the roughest
description. The floor was bare concrete, and round the walls were heaps
of millers' sacks I had bought cheap, owing to mice having eaten holes
in them.

According to our laws the legal age at which a girl can marry is
thirteen, and I used to get many of these girl wives in for the night,
as their lawful husbands used to turn them out of doors. I discovered
that it was no uncommon practice for a man to buy one of those children
from the parents for a few pence, the parents' consent being necessary.
The marriage was solemnized, and the child wife was used only as a
drudge to slave for the husband and his mistress, who was of a more
suitable age to become his mate.

I used to be very much troubled by women in the throes of delirium
tremens. They would come in quite quietly when the shelter opened,
strip, pick up a sack and get into it, and then lie down and at once go
to sleep. After a few hours' dead slumber they would get up, raving mad,
and disturb all the other sleepers. The reason of this peculiar form of
D. T. was explained to me by a doctor in the neighborhood. The publicans
kept a pail behind the bar, into which was thrown the dregs of every
species of liquor sold during the day. This concoction was distributed
cheap at closing time, and its effects were cumulative.

One night I had a curious experience. The room was unusually quiet, and
I had closed my eyes, but I was not asleep. I opened them, and, in the
bright light of one unshaded gas jet, I saw a dark figure moving. Its
back was towards me, and I instantly thought a plain clothes policeman
had entered, no unusual occurrence, without my hearing him. In these
days detectives used often to escort the West End ladies on slumming
expeditions, and they usually called on me. Then I saw this figure was
clad in dark robes, and was very tall. Again I thought, this is some old
Jew who has crept in, and I was just about to rise and eject him, when
something suddenly stopped me.

_I saw through him and beyond him._ I then and there realized that
feeling of hair of one's head rising on one's scalp is no mere figment
of speech.

The figure moved softly round the room, it made no sound whatever, and
as it came to each sleeper it bent down, as if closely scrutinizing each
face. It occurred to me that it was looking for some one. I began to
dread the moment when the search was over, and the figure would turn its
face towards me. I felt that my hair had turned into the quills of a
porcupine. I wanted to shut my eyes, but dared not. Then before that
quest was over, the figure straightened itself and turned full towards
me. My fears instantly fell away from me like a fallen mantle, for
though I knew the visitor had come from the other side, there was
something so profoundly sad in the pale weary face, that compassion
quite eclipsed fear. Another second and it had vanished.

I lived in Whitechapel during the dread visitation of "Jack the Ripper,"
and all women at once adopted the habit of walking in the middle of the
road amongst the horses and carts. Fortunately there were no motors in
those days to add to the confusion. When we came to the house or alley
we wished to enter, we made a sudden dash for it.

One night I had occasion to pass the entire night by the bedside of a
dying prostitute. She lived in one of four rooms, all occupied by the
same class, and all opening into a court not larger than ten feet by
ten. I suppose I must have been very tired, for I fell asleep, and about
five a. m. I woke and found I was alone, the woman was dead. I went out
into the court, hearing a sudden noise of excited voices, and discovered
that "Jack" had been at work in the adjoining room, only separated from
mine by a match-board partition. Portions of the unfortunate woman were
neatly arranged on a deal table. I had heard absolutely nothing. Later
on that same day I revisited the scene, and found a curious contrast.
Seeing his way to a cheap furnished lodging, a coster had married his
donah in a hurry, and the wedding breakfast was being eaten off the
blood-stained table!

It was in those days that I developed into a convinced Suffragist. I saw
that until men and women came together to improve and mold our
civilization, very little improvement could be expected. The son of the
bondwoman is not on a level with the son of the free woman, and we saw
that the struggle must go on until we were accorded the right to govern
our own lives.

I could always see the anti's point of view, for, had I thought only of
my own position as an isolated unit, a vote would have seemed to me a
needless responsibility. No social worker who has penetrated to the
depths can maintain this attitude, and so, in company with all other
women workers, I entered on the crusade which has just terminated in
victory. Much as I dislike militancy, I am convinced that it hastened
our victory by very many years, by bringing the subject before the
world. Also the enormous number of idle and, formerly, indifferent
women, who have rushed into work in answer to their country's call, has
helped our cause enormously. I have invariably found that directly a
woman enters the ranks of active labor, her views, however strongly they
have been opposed to us, at once swing round. Once a woman _proves for
herself_ the disabilities under which we labor, she is at once
converted. To the very many women who suffered acute physical torture
during the militant campaign, our easy victory must seem passing
strange.



CHAPTER V

THE MAN IN THE MARYLEBONE ROAD


It is thirty years ago since I became a convert to Spiritualism. At that
time I made up my mind that I would attend fifty séances, and if, out of
that number, I did not come across one that I could be absolutely
certain was genuine I would attend no more. Spiritualism, in itself,
never interested me, but I was determined to see for myself if there was
really anything in it.

I attended twenty-nine séances before I happened on one that was
absolutely convincing. Several had been almost convincing, but a
loophole for fraud had remained, and so long as that was the case I
persevered.

I went one summer morning to see an old man who lived in the Marylebone
Road. I was shown up into a sunny little room on the first floor. It had
neither carpet, curtains nor window blind, and it looked on the street.
The furniture consisted of a plain, uncovered deal table in the middle
of a clean planked floor, and eight plain uncovered deal chairs were
ranged round the walls. The room was utterly destitute of ornament,
there was not even a clock, and I was the only occupant.

Soon the old man entered, a very ordinary looking person, and civilly
asked what I wanted.

I said that I understood he was possessed of psychic powers, and I would
like to see an exhibition of them.

He smiled and answered, "My fee is two-and-six for a quarter of an
hour. Choose your own phenomenon, and I'll see what I can do."

I was puzzled at first, and looked round the bare walls for inspiration.
There was not even a photograph or picture. Then suddenly I thought of
something rather silly.

"Please make those four chairs opposite to us cross the floor and mount
on to the table," I said.

The old man drew his chair quite close to mine, "Then give me your
hand." I removed my glove and did as he asked.

He looked, not at the chairs, but into my face, and I at once warned
him.

"I am no good as a subject for hypnotism, so it is useless to try."

He laughed and answered, "I am not a hypnotist, but I see you have
power. You may as well lend me some. You are young, and I am old."

At that second my attention was distracted by a grating sound, and I
forgot all about my companion. I saw the four chairs leave the wall and
advance towards the table, in exactly the position, and tilted forward,
they would be in if a human hand was dragging them across the floor.
There appeared to be four invisible hands at the work. Then, one by one,
they were neatly balanced, one on the top of the other, on the table.

When the manifestation was complete I remembered the old man, and looked
round at him. He was watching the business, as keenly interested as I
was.

"Good boys! good boys," I heard him murmur.

"How is it done?" I asked him.

He shrugged. "The Petris (spirits) do it. I don't."

"Then ask 'the Petris' to put the chairs neatly back again."

"The Petris" performed this feat very expeditiously, and I paid
two-and-sixpence and departed. There was no loophole here for fraud, not
a wire, or string, or any human manipulation, and I was not hypnotized.
I never have been. For that sort of test I had seen enough.

Shortly after I witnessed a materialization in broad daylight. I was
free to move about the room, and stand by the medium as she lay bound
and deeply entranced. I was free to make any examinations I pleased,
whilst others present conversed with the spirit, and I left the house
absolutely convinced of the genuineness of that phenomenon.

That was the last test séance I attended, and for years afterwards I did
not interest myself in spiritualism, nor did I attend many private
sittings.

Towards the close of the South African War I was ordered from "the other
side" to begin again, but on different lines. I was ordered to be a
medium.

A man whom I barely knew, and who had passed over, wished to communicate
with his people. This put me in a quandary. I hardly knew his people,
and their social position was not such as could be treated
unceremoniously by a casual acquaintance. I had never heard that they
were interested in "other side" subjects. The very little I knew of them
suggested quite the reverse.

I consulted with my husband. "One cannot," I argued, "go up to people
who are almost strangers and tell them their son wishes to communicate
with them through me."

My husband quite saw the difficulty, but it had always happened that
when any one wished to communicate with us, and we paid no attention, we
were given no peace till we did take heed, and sat down with an Ouija
board to receive the message. He therefore proposed that we should
consult Mr. A. P. Sinnett, now such a well-known writer on Occultism,
and an old friend of ours. We therefore laid the matter before him.

His reply was uncompromising.

"Do as you are told from the other side. It is not for you to question
or consider the social consequences to yourselves."

This advice we immediately followed, and we were met with the utmost
kindness and sympathetic understanding. Sittings were arranged,
communication established. Test questions were put, which we did not
understand, but which were satisfactory to the questioners, and for many
years the sittings continued until the "other side" made arrangements
for a change of mediums and I was set free for other work. I say, set
free, because during all those years we had held ourselves entirely at
the disposal of this wonderful spirit, who communicated through me, and
it is no exaggeration to say that our daily lives, our worldly plans,
entirely depended upon his wishes. He had his own work to do, and our
earth lives were always arranged to suit his convenience.

About the same time as the above experience began my husband was
disturbed by noises in his library, and he came to the conclusion that
some one had something to say and was determined to say it. One evening,
when the disturbance prevented serious reading, we sat down with the
Ouija board. The result was as follows--

A spirit who purported to be a well-known soldier of fortune who had
lately committed suicide, desired to give a message. This astonished us,
as we had known him only slightly, and we wondered why he had chosen to
bestow his attentions on us. He said he was very unhappy because he owed
a certain sum of money to a friend, whom I will call B. This money B.
could have refunded to him if he would communicate with a certain London
address, which the departed soldier gave us in full.

We knew B., and knew that he had been a close friend of the departed. We
also knew that B. was on the Gold Coast. We promised, however, to send
him the message, and that was the last we ever heard of the soldier.

My husband wrote to B. on the Gold Coast simply giving him the message
and leaving it at that. We were sure B. was an absolute skeptic. He was!
and did nothing till his return to England three years later, when he
applied at the address which he happened to have kept, and received his
money.

I first became interested in Occultism, not only through my own very
early experiences, but through hearing as a mere child that my
grandfather, Robert the younger of the two well-known publishing
brothers, W. and R. Chambers, had investigated spiritualism to his
entire satisfaction.

In those days, about 1860, scientific men did not trouble about occult
subjects, which were deemed beneath their notice. Science was so
strictly orthodox that my grandfather published his "Vestiges of
Creation" anonymously. It created an enormous sensation, and upon that
book and the writings of Lamarck, Darwin founded his "Origin of
Species." Robert Chambers determined to go to America and investigate
for himself the reported marvelous happenings there. He had sittings
with all the renowned mediums, bringing to bear upon their phenomena the
acumen of his scientific mind, and he returned to Europe a convinced
believer. He carried on regular sittings with Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall
and other intellectuals, and with General Drayson, then a young beginner
who went very far in his investigations before he died.

About the year 1885 I happened to be staying at Hawarden with Mr. and
Mrs. Gladstone, and the only other guest, outside the family party, was
the late Canon Malcolm McColl, through whose instrumentality I became a
member of the Psychical Society.

McColl was a most interesting personality, a leading light on matters
occult, and a famous recounter of ghost stories. He was also _persona
grata_ in the Gladstone household, and Mrs. Gladstone often spoke to me
of their deep love for him.

I forget now what led up to the subject, but one night, when we were
sitting talking, I told Mr. Gladstone that my grandfather, Robert
Chambers, had been a convinced spiritualist. The Canon at once tried to
draw the G.O.M., and to our mutual amazement his arguments in favor of
the return of the disembodied soul to earth were met by concurring short
ejaculations, such as "Of course! Naturally! Why, certainly!"

Then quite suddenly Mr. Gladstone began to prove to us that the old
Biblical scribes were convinced spiritualists. From his intimate
knowledge of the Bible he quoted text after text in support of his
contention. "Here He worked no wonders because the people were wanting
in faith," he compared to the present day medium's difficulty in
working with skeptics. When Christ asked, "Who has touched Me? Much
virtue has passed out of Me," He but spoke as many a modern healer
speaks on feeling a failure of power. "Try the spirits whether they be
of God," is what all spiritualists of to-day should practice rigorously.

Conan Doyle, in his book, "The New Revelation," touches upon those
facts, and it was only on reading his book with profound interest that I
remembered the impressive talk I had so many years ago with Mr.
Gladstone. As Conan Doyle truly says, "The early Christian Church was
saturated with spiritualism."

What, it may be asked, is the value to a woman of psychic experiences,
whose reality may be convincing to herself, but never to others?

Firstly, there is this enormous value for me, that certain psychic
experiences I have had make a future existence, after so-called death, a
certainty.

Secondly, other varieties of psychic phenomena have furnished me with
unmistakable proof that I possess an immortal soul.

Thirdly, still other varieties of experiences have provided me with the
implicit belief in a God, who is in actual touch with Humanity.

Again, all soul experiences, begotten from out the supreme mystery of
Being, show us that our real life is not contained in our present normal
consciousness, but in a vastly wider, grander plane, which, as yet, is
but dimly sensed by the few.

Those who have bathed in "the light invisible" can bring glory to those
in gloom. They visit, but no longer live in the day. Their glory is in
the night, when they walk with the Immortals, and bear with them the
golden lamps of life eternal. Those who have realized the powers within,
powers which not only are the pillars of infinite harmony, but the
mainspring of eternal life, have builded on a rock which no tempest can
destroy.


    "'Tis time
    New hopes should animate the world,
    New light should dawn from new revealings to a race
        Weighed down so long."

                         PARACELSUS.



CHAPTER VI

THE GHOST OF PRINCE CHARLIE


Scotland in the autumn of the pre-war days was a very gay place. The big
country houses were filled with shooting parties, and for the Autumn
Meetings, Ayr races, Perth races, and games, The Inverness Gathering,
etc. The dates were so arranged that one could go the round, and thus
dance through several weeks. I used to go regularly to Inverness, and
afterwards visit friends in the surrounding neighborhood. One of the
most delightful houses to visit was Tarbat, belonging to the Countess of
Cromartie. Any one who has read her unique books must have come to the
conclusion that Lady Cromartie is a mystic of no ordinary type, but only
those who know her intimately are aware how predominating in her
character is this inborn mysticism.

I first remember the two sisters, Lady Sibell and Lady Constance
Mackenzie, hanging on to their father's arms as they walked about
Folkestone. They were then tiny tots, and I was staying with their
mother, the beautiful Lilian, daughter of Lord Macdonald of the Isles.
Beautiful was the only word to describe Lord Cromartie's wife--and Lily
seemed the most suitable name that could have been bestowed upon her.
She was intensely musical and interested in ghosts. Born the daughter of
a Highland chieftain she understood how to live the life of a great
Scottish noblewoman. She was always very kind to me, and I used to stay
with her very often.

In 1893 Lord Cromartie died, and his eldest daughter, Lady Sibell,
became Countess of Cromartie in her own right--the title going in the
female line. As a child the young Countess had been a great reader. I
remember she used often to be missing, and found in some quiet room
buried in a book. To this day she has the faculty of so absorbing
herself in a book that no amount of talking and noise in the room
penetrates her ears. Lady Constance was quite different, devoted to
out-of-door life, and I shall never forget how adoring the old people on
the properties were to her, and how she loved them. One sterling and
unusual quality she had. I never heard her say an unkind word of any
one.

In 1899 the Countess of Cromartie married Major, now Colonel Blunt, and
she has three fine children, two boys and a girl.

One of the most remarkable facts about her is her agelessness. She never
alters with the years. Her white delicate skin, her girlish figure and
dark glowing eyes, always retain their look of extreme youth.

I have said that her mysticism must at once become apparent to the
readers of her books, but to those, who like myself have known her from
childhood, her psychic powers have always been extraordinary.

I remember one autumn staying at Tarbat with only a very few other
guests, I forget now who they all were. It had been a dead, still day.
One of those sad, brooding days one gets so often in the north. In the
afternoon, when we were out walking, Lady Cromartie said suddenly to me
and a Miss Drummond, whom we were both very fond of, "There is going to
be an earthquake to-night."

We received this piece of information as a joke, and I thought nothing
more of the matter till tea-time, when a gorgeous sunset was
illuminating the heavens. As we were standing at the window looking out
at it we were all startled by a tremendous roar, more like a very loud
peal of thunder than anything else, yet we knew, by the look of the sky,
that it could not have been thunder. Every one offered a different
opinion as to what the noise could mean, but Lady Cromartie calmly said,
"The noise is in the earth, not in the sky; it is the forerunner of the
earthquake."

We now began to take this earthquake business more seriously. Sibell
Drummond, also very psychic, said she knew the noise came from the
interior of the earth, and that very early that morning she had heard
the same sound, only much more distant. We asked Lady Cromartie how she
could possibly tell that an earthquake was coming. Such convulsions are
not common enough in Scotland to admit of lucky guesses.

"I can tell those things of Nature; something in me is akin to them,"
she explained. "It is quite certain this earthquake will come before
morning."

As the sun went down the quiet weather changed, and by bed-time it was
blowing such a gale that we forgot all about Lady Cromartie's prophecy.
At one o'clock in the morning, when we were all asleep, the earthquake
arrived, and awakened us all instantly. My bed rocked, and the china
clattered, and I heard a big picture near my bed move out from the wall
and go back again. Some of us got up, but there was only the one sharp
shock. In the morning we heard that considerable damage had been done.
Several houses and stables had been razed to the ground, and some
animals killed and people injured.

Another curious incident I remember happening during a visit to Tarbat.

At breakfast one morning Lady Cromartie told us that she had a very
vivid dream just before daylight. She dreamed that if she went into a
certain room in the house she would find some jewels that had been
hidden there. She seemed to have been told this in her sleep by some one
she did not know. The room was indicated, but not the spot where the
jewels lay. The present Duke of Argyll, always keenly alive to psychic
phenomena, was of our party, and he at once proposed that directly after
we had finished breakfast we should all proceed to the room, rarely
used, but formerly a business room, and make a thorough search.

By the way, I cannot refrain here from suggesting what a wonderful book
of Scottish ghost stories the Duke could give us if he chose. His
repertoire was endless and most thrilling, and he knew how to tell a
ghost story.

After breakfast we adjourned to the room indicated in the dream, and
began our search. The only likely place seemed a large bookcase, full of
books, with cupboards beneath. All the doors were locked and keyless. A
pause ensued whilst keys were fetched from the housekeeper's room, and
for a long time we could find nothing to fit the doors, but at last we
were rewarded. The cupboards below were opened, disclosing a quantity of
rubbish. Old books, estate maps, fishing tackle, every sort of thing,
but no jewels.

At last the Duke, down on his knees fumbling amongst the dust, drew
forth two tin japanned boxes. He shook them, and the thumping inside
proved that they were not empty. The trouble was they also were locked
and keyless. Again there was a scramble to fit keys. We were all on the
tiptoe of excited expectation.

At last both boxes were opened, and there lay the jewels. Fine,
old-fashioned pieces that had lain there, who knows for how long, and
probably had belonged to Lady Cromartie's grandmother, "the Countess
Duchess" 3rd Duchess of Sutherland.

Still another reminiscence of beautiful Tarbat.

Lady Cromartie asked me to join a shooting party she and Major Blunt
were giving, to meet Prince Arthur of Connaught.

I arrived one evening in wild winter weather. There had been a heavy
snowstorm, and the sky looked as if there was considerably more to come.
I found all the other guests had already arrived, and we were a very
merry party. It was Prince Arthur's first "shoot" in the far North, and
his first experience of what Scotland could provide in the way of autumn
weather, and he was glad to avail himself of a thick woolen sweater of
mine, which I was proud to present to him. He was perfectly charming to
us all, and there was, owing to his simplicity, no sense of stiffness
introduced into our party. That evening, after dinner, he was strolling
round the room, looking at the pictures, and he paused opposite a framed
letter, written by Prince Charles Edward during the '45 to the Lord
Cromartie of that time, who was his earnest supporter.

"Why!" exclaimed Prince Arthur, "that letter is written by 'The
Pretender,' isn't it?"

There was no answer. A thrill of horror ran through the breasts of the
ardent Jacobites present. Dead silence reigned.

Then I could stand it no longer. "Please, sir," I said, "we all call him
Prince Charles Edward Stuart."

Prince Arthur turned round laughingly. "I beg his pardon and all of
yours," he exclaimed in the most charming manner, and the hearts of all
the outraged Jacobites warmed to him at once.

I was just about to creep into bed, very late that night, and very tired
after my long, cold journey in a desperately sluggish train, when Lady
Cromartie peeped in at my door. Her wonderful dark eyes were ablaze, and
I knew at once she had something psychic to tell me. Her eyes looked
like nothing else in the world but her eyes, when she is on the track of
a ghost, or one of her "other side" experiences.

"I have just seen Prince Charles Edward," she announced.

I took her firmly by the arm. Prince Charles Edward means a very great
deal to me, and I don't let anything pass me by that concerns his
beloved memory.

"Tell me quick. Where did you see him?" I asked.

"I was just going to get into bed when I saw him standing looking at me,
at the far end of the room. He was smiling, and as I stared back at him
he slowly crossed the floor, his smiling face always turned to me, and
vanished through the wall," was Lady Cromartie's answer.

Then I told her of a certain feeling I had experienced earlier in the
evening. At the moment when our Jacobite hearts were stung to deep,
though fleeting resentment, we had formed a thought form, powerful
enough to reach the spirit of Bonny Prince Charlie on "the other side."
Our spirits had called on him, and he had heard and responded. Why not?
If we believe in the immortality of the soul, the soul of Prince Charles
Edward surely lives. Where? On the Astral plane, where the souls of all
must go to divest themselves of the lower passions of earth, and the
veil between the Physical plane and the Astral plane is wearing very
thin in these days.

For many of us there are rents through which we are permitted to see the
old friends who are not lost but gone before, and who await us in a
sphere where we in turn will await the coming of those who follow after.
Indeed, the time does not now seem to be so far distant when so-called
death will be pushed one stage further back, and the transference of the
soul from earth to the Astral plane will no longer be treated as
severance. What then will be termed the severance we now call death? It
will be the passing of the cleansed soul from the Astral plane to the
Heaven world, for a period of blissful rest before the life urge compels
the reincarnating ego to take on once more the veil of flesh, in a
transient human world.

I doubt if it is possible for an English person to comprehend what it
means to be a Jacobite. One is born a Jacobite or one is not. I was born
a Jacobite, and I never lose my passionate love and regret for the
sufferings and sorrows of Prince Charles Edward. No female figure in the
past attracts me so much as does Flora MacDonald. Had I lived during the
'45 I would have worn the white cockade, and parted with my last "shift"
for the love of Bonny Prince Charlie. All very ridiculous, many may say,
but there it is. That is what it means to be born a Jacobite.

My grandfather was an ardent Jacobite, and consorted largely with old
Jacobite families. The Sobieski Stuarts often made their home with him.
Grand looking men of striking physique and good looks. Robert Chambers
used to tell a story of the ghost Piper of Fingask; the property of a
fine old Jacobite, Sir Peter Murray Threipland. The baronetcy is now
extinct.

One night, whilst my grandfather was visiting Sir Peter, they were
sitting at supper in the old dining-hall. The two old sisters of Sir
Peter, Eliza and Jessie, were present. Suddenly the faint strain of the
pipes was heard in the distance, surely no uncommon sound in Scotland,
where every Laird has his own piper to play round the dining-table, yet
a sudden silence fell upon the little party of four. All ears were
listening intently, and straining eyes were blank to all but the
evidence of hearing. The noise grew louder, the piper seemed to be
mounting the stone staircase, yet his brogues made no sound as he
ascended.

Sir Peter dropped his head down into his arms folded upon the table. He
sought to hide the fear in his old eyes. The women sat as if chiseled
out of granite, gray to the lips. The piper of Fingask had come for one
of them. Which? Now the piper of death was drawing very near, the skirl
of his pipes had nearly reached the door. In another moment, with a full
blast of triumph that beat about their ears as it surged into the hall,
he had passed, and had begun his ascent to the ramparts. The skirl was
dying away into a wail. Miss Eliza spoke: "He's come for you, Jessie."
There was no response. The piper of Fingask was playing a "Last Lament"
now, as he swung round the ramparts.

True enough he had come for Miss Jessie, and very shortly after she
obeyed the call.

To this day there are men and women who never forget to offer up their
passionate regret for Prince Charles before they sleep. I know of one
old Scottish house where his memory is an ever-present, ever-living
thing. The shadowy old room is consecrated to him. On the walls hang
portraits of him, and trophies of the '15 and the '45 stand round in
glass cases. On one table lies a worn, white cockade, yellow with age,
and a lock of fair hair clasped by a band of blackened pearls. In a tall
slender glass there is always, in summer-time, a single white rose.

Above is the portrait of the idol of the present house, who gave in the
past of their all in life and treasure, for the cause they hold so
sacred, so dear. I cannot look upon that gay, careless, handsome face
without the tears rising to my eyes. His eyes smile into mine.
Involuntarily I bend before him. What was the power in you, Prince
Charles Edward Stuart, that drew from countless women and men that wild
unswerving devotion? Which made light of terrible hardships, which
followed you faithfully through glen and corrie? What is that power
which you still exert over those to whom your name is but a memory, but
who still, when they think on you or look upon your pictured face, cry
silently in their hearts for the lost House of Stuart? "Oh! waes me for
Prince Charlie!"

One must be Scotch to understand that the Union did nothing to unite
England and Scotland. To the Scottish plowman the Englishman is still a
foreigner, whom he dislikes. Scotch and English servants do not work
well in the same house. To us, Mary Queen of Scots lived "only the
other day." When the House of Stuart passed from us our history ended.

Our old houses are full of ghosts, the atmosphere is saturated with the
tragic history of the past, the very skies seem to brood in melancholy
over the soil, where so many wild bloody scenes were enacted. To the
Psychic, Scotland is a land not yet emerged from the dour savagery of
the past. Once, on visiting an historic old castle, my host pointed out
to me a group of seven old trees standing close to the entrance.

"Seven skeletons lie there," he said. "My grandfather went after a
neighboring clan who had raided his cattle. He brought back seven men
with halters round their necks and strung them up to those trees. Holes
were dug beneath, and they all dropped into them by degrees, and then
the earth was shoveled over them again."

What will become of all those grand old places in the future? They are
so costly to maintain. I think of all those lying around our own
Aberdeenshire home; Fyvie Castle, a great stately pile, beautiful to
look upon always, but more especially so when the red fires of a winter
sunset blaze upon its many windows, and turn to rose the mantling snow
on battlements and towers, whilst all around is wrapped in a garment of
spotless white: House of Monymusk, Craigston Castle, Craigievar.

I have just mentioned a few, all have their ghosts, and some have a
curse upon them.

A friend of ours came to see us, not very long ago, and told us of a
horrible experience he had been through recently.

He had been visiting a great house in the North, noted in Scottish
history. The new Laird had only entered into possession during the last
few years, on the death of a near relative, who had died from excessive
drinking, the Scotchman's curse. Our friend had heard that this dead
Laird "walked," but he had not met any one who had actually seen his
ghost. After spending a pleasant evening with his host, and going
through many reminiscences of his former visits to the house, and to the
late Laird, who in spite of his fatal propensities had been a gallant
gentleman and a great sportsman, our friend retired to bed.

The room he slept in was a large one, and the bed faced the door, and a
washstand stood on one side of it. He remembered the room, having slept
in it on former occasions. He was roused in the night by some one rather
noisily fumbling at the handle of his door, which was not locked. He sat
up in bed and called out, "Who is it?"

There was a full moon riding in a clear, frosty sky, and the room was
only in semi-darkness. He stared at the door, which at that moment burst
open, and standing in the aperture was a man, the dead Laird. Outside,
was a long corridor with several windows, through which the moonlight
poured. Against this silvery background stood the huge figure of the
late Laird. He leaned forward, supporting himself by holding with both
hands to the framework of the door, and with a glowering, half-drunken
stare his eyes were fixed on the startled occupant of the bed.

A panic seized our friend, who felt that if that menacing figure
advanced into the room he would go mad. There was only one door, and no
other means of escape, and very stealthily he slid to the opposite side
of the bed, and reaching out, seized the water-bottle on his washstand.

This action did not pass unnoticed by his terrible visitor. Suddenly
relaxing his hold on the doorposts, he dropped down on his knees, and
began rapidly crawling on all fours towards the bed, his inflamed eyes
blazing with anger.

Our friend did not wait for his arrival. With a blood-curdling yell he
hurled the water-bottle full at his old friend, and leaping from the
other side of the bed tore to the door and fled down the passage, as if
pursued by a pack of devils. Hardly knowing what he did, he battered
with his hands on the door of the room he knew to be occupied by his
host and hostess, shouting out at the same time a call for assistance.
Then he heard the voice of the wife saying to the husband, "It's
Charlie. Open the door. I believe he's seen poor Angus."

He had indeed seen "poor Angus," and for the last time, he assured us.
Old friendship could not stand the test of so horrible an apparition.
The room was empty when he returned to it with his host. Angus had gone
back again to the land of the shadows, and only the scattered fragments
of the water-bottle remained as a souvenir of his visit.

Several servants had seen Angus, and it was difficult to keep the house
staffed. One old housemaid, who had been in the family many years, had
seen him frequently, and had even ventured to remonstrate with her
former master, bidding him go back to his shroud and sleep peacefully in
his grave like a respectable man, but apparently to no purpose. Angus
preferred to "walk" and to terrify all to whom he had the power to show
himself.

Speaking of the Duke of Argyll has reminded me of some curious
occurrences in connection with Lord Colin Campbell. At one time of my
life, soon after my father's death, I saw a good deal of him. He was
then studying law and intended later to practice in India. This plan he
carried out, and in India he died, the result of a chill.

Lord Colin was a very interesting man, a keen geologist and something of
an artist. There were few subjects he was not interested in, and though
somewhat shy of the subject, he had a decided aptitude for ghosts.

One day in London he brought to my house a small gold cross fixed to a
slab of gray marble, and asked me if I would keep it for him. He
explained that it was an exact reproduction of the old stone cross of
Inverary. He was then living in Argyll Lodge, Campden Hill, and I said I
should have thought there was room enough for it there. I could not
understand why he brought it to me. He looked uneasy and said he wished
to get rid of it out of the house. When pressed to say why, he confessed
that there was something uncanny about it. He thought it made him "see
things," and he added, "Garry hates it."

Garry was a fine, sable collie, devoted to his master and he to it.
Garry had the misfortune to break his leg, and this caused Lord Colin
acute distress. The leg was set, and the dog lay in a large clothes
basket, and eventually got well. Garry was just recovering when Lord
Colin brought me the cross.

He became more expansive in a few moments, and said that he had seen a
figure bending over the cross, as if to examine it. The figure had a
hood, and he thought it must be the ghost of a monk. He had seen this
many times, and Garry often growled, and his hair bristled at the very
moment when his master caught sight of the apparition. Anything that
distressed the dog must be removed, and knowing how interested I was in
ghosts he had brought the cross to me.

Of course I was delighted to have a chance of witnessing psychic
phenomena of any kind, but alas, though I kept the cross for years, and
only sent it lately to the present Duke, I never saw anything in
connection with it.

I did, however, see something interesting in connection with Lord Colin.

One hot June evening, in London, I was sitting alone by the open window.
The day had been very exhausting; it was one of those hot spells that
come so often before regular summer sets in, and I was glad to rest
quietly and do nothing.

The street was wonderfully quiet at that hour, nine o'clock, when all
the world of fashion was dining, and the daylight was strong enough to
read by, had I so desired. Suddenly my attention was attracted by a
slight noise behind me, and glancing round at the open door I saw that
Lord Colin and his dog had just entered the room, as was their habit,
unannounced. In his hand he carried a huge bunch of white and mauve
lilac blossoms. I had not expected him that evening, but I was very
pleased to see him, and exclaimed, "Why, Colin, what a glorious bouquet!
I can smell it already."

He was smiling as he and his dog moved up the long room towards me, but
he said nothing. I had risen and held out my hand, but when about
halfway across the floor both he and the dog vanished entirely and quite
suddenly.

I shall never forget my utter amazement and consternation. I could not
disbelieve the evidence of my own senses, for I was absolutely certain
I could still smell the lilac, and I had no doubt whatever that I had
seen Lord Colin and his dog.

I sat down again and fell to considering the extraordinary circumstance.
I was perfectly well and normal, I had not been thinking of Lord Colin,
and yet in the midst of other thoughts a sound had attracted my
attention, and looking round I had seen him enter with his dog. For the
space of quite two minutes both had been visible. I got up again and
timed the whole affair by my wrist watch. The room I sat in was very
long. I was at one end, and the door at the other. It took me just one
minute to walk leisurely forward over the ground they had covered,
before they vanished from my sight.

I sat down again and began to wonder if Lord Colin was ill, or was he
dead, and why was he carrying lilacs? 'Phones were uncommon things in
those days; I had no means of communication with Argyll Lodge.

For an hour I sat considering the wonderful vividness of my curious
experience. The daylight had faded into a close, soft twilight, but I
wanted no artificial light. Then just as ten o'clock was striking I
heard a voice in the hall below; a voice I was sure was Lord Colin's,
and he was answered by one of my servants. Steps sounded on the stairs,
and in another moment in he walked with Garry, and in his hand he
carried a big bunch of white and mauve lilacs.

I stood staring at him in the dim twilight. Was this the real man and
dog at last?

"I know it's awfully late to pay a call, but I thought you would like
some lilac," he exclaimed; "it's so lovely in our garden just now," and
he held out the flowers.

I took them and bade him be seated. Garry came to me and rested his nose
on my lap. For a moment I could not speak.

"Aren't you well?" asked Colin.

Then I recovered myself, but I did not tell him what had happened only
an hour before. As we talked I discovered that he had intended to come
at nine o'clock, and was just starting when a relative arrived and
detained him.

On another occasion he told me of a curious dream he had as a boy.

Queen Victoria came to Inverary to pay a visit to the Duke and Duchess
of Argyll, Lord Colin's parents, and it was arranged that the young sons
of the house should act as pages to Her Majesty. The night of the day on
which the Queen arrived, Colin dreamed that some one whom he did not
know came to him and said, "To-morrow the Queen will give you twenty
shillings."

When the boy wakened up in the morning he remembered this dream, and all
day long he was on the outlook for its fulfillment. The hours passed,
but though he was often in her presence and kept as close to her as he
dared, the Queen never produced her purse. Just before reëntering the
house towards evening, she suddenly turned to John Brown, her constant
attendant, and said something which Colin did not catch. What was his
joy on perceiving that surly henchman extract from a shabby old purse a
filthy Scotch one pound note, which he handed to Her Majesty.

"My little Colin, here is a present for you," said the Queen, and making
his best bow the boy accepted the gift. His dream had come true.

John Brown was the terror of all the great nobles whom the Queen was
pleased to visit. Her Majesty took him everywhere with her, and he was
her closest attendant. Born of the humblest Scotch parents on the Estate
of Balmoral, he died in the position of a potentate in a royal
residence. His manners were terribly rough and objectionable, and his
behavior to the gentlemen with whom he constantly came into contact was
insulting to the last degree. He had one invariable habit. When the
Queen paid a visit naturally her honored host was in waiting to hand her
out of her carriage. Brown contrived to nip down from his perch at the
back of the carriage, just at a certain moment, and with a violent push
thrust aside the prince, duke or peer who sought to do honor to the
Sovereign.

Some of the gentlemen about the Court paid him very liberally, not for
civility, but simply to desist from his habitual insults, and it has
been said that Disraeli discovered some method of conciliation, but
Brown took an absolute pleasure in insulting all who had occasion to
approach Her Majesty. Latterly he drank very heavily, and when he died,
to the unutterable relief of all and sundry he bequeathed all his
savings and possessions, even the watch he wore, to Her Majesty. His
many poor relatives living in cottages on the estate never saw a penny
of his money, nor so much as a button from his doublet.



CHAPTER VII

PILGRIMS AND STRANGERS


We are all of us, in this world, strangers and pilgrims, and to each
human being, in turn, and in varied ways, comes the knowledge, "A
stranger with Thee and a sojourner as all my Fathers were."

Like ships that pass in the night "we exchange signals with one
another," and pass on our different ways through the ocean of life. I
think it is the sea that most clearly brings home to me the transitory
nature of our pilgrimage. Leaning over the side of a ship in mid ocean,
and watching a trail of smoke from another ship on the horizon, I am
always impelled to wonder about its human cargo. Who and what are they,
and for what distant shores are they bound? Again one sweeps the far
horizons only to find them empty of aught but a vast tumbling expanse of
waters. Then, without warning, we are wrapped in a dense blanket of fog.
The sirens sound insistently, and are at once answered by ships on every
side. It is startling to find there are many so near, but utterly
invisible. In a few minutes we have emerged again into distance and
clear skies, and again there is nothing that meets the eye but the empty
watery expanse.

Looking back on my life I can recall many meetings with fellow pilgrims
that apparently were purely accidental, yet they left their mark upon
my life. Meetings such as those, when two souls thrown together by the
force of circumstances, in quiet far-away places; or in the marts of the
world, become in a few short hours like old and tried friends. How often
have I heard it said, even after one short hour, "I feel as if I had
known you all my life." Such I look upon as epochs in my pilgrimage,
milestones and guiding stars on my life's road. Yet the limitations of
such epochs are obvious enough. Time on earth is circumscribed, still
there is subconsciously the instant recognition of two kindred souls who
hear and remember, who instinctively know that once, perchance many
times before, they have landed together on the shores of time, from the
storm-tossed bark of life.

It seems strange that those chance meetings should have no continuity. I
remember one such meeting in the East, and how utterly by chance it
seemed to come about. It lasted for three days, yet after three hours I
knew more of my fellow pilgrim and he of me than we would have known of
each other in three months at home. We were both quite alone, but I
remember his recalling the pre-Buddha words written a thousand years
before the coming of the Christ: "Thou shalt not separate thy Being from
Being, and the rest, but merge the ocean in the drop, the drop within
the ocean. So shalt thou be in full accord with all that lives, bear
love to men as though they were thy brother pupils, disciples of one
teacher, the sons of one sweet mother."

When we bade each other good-by and I boarded my ship we told each other
we would meet again, but instinctively we knew we never should. I have
forgotten his name, but all else I can remember very clearly, and the
wonderful comradeship two souls, drifting together for a second in time,
can give each other. He gave me the sufi mysticism of Omar Khayyam, and
I can still see the English face burnt dark with eastern suns, under the
snowy turban, and the brilliant parrot swinging on a palm bough above
his head. I can still hear the low grave voice reciting the quatrains of
Persia's astronomer poet, written a thousand years ago. They fitted in
with our surroundings:--

    "There was a door to which I found no key.
    There was a veil past which I could not see!
    Some little talk awhile of Me and Thee
    There seemed, and then no more of Me and Thee."

I suppose we all have many such recollections in our lives, and it is
impossible (for me) to believe them to be a mere matter of chance, for,
always on parting, I have been conscious that I have received some
lasting good, or it has mercifully chanced that I have been able to help
a stranger and pilgrim on a difficult way.

Again, I remember another interesting meeting. A woman was sitting alone
on a bench in the outskirts of Cairo, and her worn face was turned to
the dying fires of sunset. She was very shabby and poor looking, and
obviously she was a European. In my casual glance I caught something
familiar, and after going on some paces I felt a compelling force
bidding me return. I sat down beside her and at once spoke to her. I
knew who she was when she turned her face to me, and the hideous
contrast of her past and her present appalled me. She does not know
to-day that I am aware of her real identity. She is in England, and all
now is well with her. One can always, as the pre-Buddhist taught us,
"Point out the way however dim and lost amongst the Host, as does the
evening star to those who tread their path in darkness."

Again, it is strange to tell why unknown pilgrims should leave their
mark upon us for all earthly time, pilgrims to whom one has never
spoken, and of whom one knows nothing. When I was quite a child I passed
every day through a very quiet and well-to-do street of dwelling-houses.
At a window behind two flower-pots, sat a woman whom I supposed to be
sewing, though her hands were hidden from view. I can see her as clearly
now as I saw her then, over forty years ago in the northern capital. The
pale, tragic profile, the down-drooped eyelids, the meekly-banded hair.
I used to wonder about her constantly. She possessed me, and interested
me at that time more than anything else in my life. Even to this day she
comes unbidden into my mind at frequent intervals.

Again from my bedroom window in Belgrade I used to watch another woman.
She came out on her balcony twice a day, always at the same hours. She
put her hands on the rails, and turned her dark, southern face up to the
skies, and there she would stand for an hour, gazing fixedly above. I
never once saw her eyes drop to the busy street below, and once a
prisoner, dragging his heavy chains behind him, paused and looked up and
cried out to her for bread. She appeared not to hear him, her rigid
attitude never relaxed.

It is the thoughts of such pilgrims, as one conjectures them to be, that
form the interest, or perhaps it really is something more, a far-off
kinship, stretching invisible threads down through the ages. With both
those women I had a feeling of kinship. I had picked them out of the
world's crowd, because of some silent influence they exerted over me,
the lingering power of some far back, forgotten touch, which had once
drawn us together. I know that in my life I had met those "that I have
loved long since and lost awhile."

For me there was purpose in those "stars" that shine through my life, as
looking back they show me where I had arrived at the moment of their
uprising, and their rays pierce the penumbra shadows wherein the soul
lies hid. Each star showed me the lees in the cup of destiny, brought to
me a new revelation of soul, and elucidated for me something of the
mystery of life.

Again, surely there is Divine purpose in those islets of friendship
which jewel-like stud the gray vesture of ordinary existence. They are
close, warm, and utterly sincere, often for many long years, then they
are suddenly sundered by the inrush of some invading force which cuts
them off in their full bloom. Sometimes the Master Death bids them pass
on, sometimes the break comes by some utterly trivial, yet inexorable
fiat of human destiny.

In the clash of human interests it must needs be that pain must come to
some. Life cannot be all serenity and peace to the pilgrims who toil
upon its stormy way, its _via dolorosa_. Such crises teach us the just
attitude that should prevail in all such trials and circumstances. Amiel
says, "There is one wrong man is not bound to punish, that of which he
himself is the victim. Such a wrong is to be healed, not avenged." For
hate there is but one antidote--love. The art of forgetfulness is not
yet a science, but to forget the evil one has but to remember the good.
Love knows neither saint nor sinner, for she seeks in every heart the
hidden gem of good. She thinks no ill, because she knows the trials of
each one are penalty enough for deeds already done. Neither in the case
of Death's intervention, nor in the case of human misunderstanding
should there be sorrow for lost friendships, though there must
inevitably be regret.

Love brings with it suffering, for all who love suffer with those they
love. Unkindness and injustices are hard to bear, and the loss of those
we love is a bitter pain, but those whose hearts are great enough still
find others on whom to lavish love. Are there not many who need it, and
are there not great rewards for those who have love to spare. To be
required, to be appealed to, and turned to as a help and refuge. Such
are the prizes for those whose hearts are always alight with love, who
from one flame can kindle many.

When death looses the silver cord, and souls seem torn asunder for ever
more, there will be sadness of spirit. When a break comes, perhaps
through third-party treachery, there may come the sense of eternal
severance, but is it eternal? I doubt it. More probably there lies
before us an existence of clearer judgment and understanding, of vaster
possibilities, in which we shall know, even as also we are known. Though
now we see each other through a glass darkly, a day will come when we
shall no longer see in part, but face to face. When faith, hope and love
shall be reunited, and we shall realize that the greatest of these three
is love, which suffereth long, and is kind and thinketh no evil.

Again, there are these loves in one's life, some fleeting, some
lasting, that are too sacred to write of, and of which one never speaks.
The joys and sorrows they brought, the prose or poesy of our intercourse
are graven deep on the heart. Whether it be they still walk by our side,
or have gone west to rest after labor, we must learn to say with the
pre-Buddhists of old time: "Do not grieve for the living or the dead.
Never did I not exist for you... nor will any one of us ever hereafter
cease to be."

Such sacramental hours sanctify the variety of our lot, combine the
pathos of love and death, and stretch through the corridors of memory
into the hush and shadow of the haunted past; where all the mystery of
such hours seem gathered for inspiration. There linger the symbols of
our sojourn here. How potent, yet how fragmentary they are! The scent of
a flower, the long embrace, the hand held out in vain, the flash of
recognition, the chime of the clock which altered the course of the
pilgrimage. The meek hands folded on the still breast. Such symbols
abide with us like the image of a Divine form, some echo of immortal
music, some lingering word of angels. Their cadences come ever back to
us from infinite distances, ghostly chords and evanescent. Harmonies
which come and go too fitfully for apprehension.



CHAPTER VIII

SOME STRANGE EVENTS


After my marriage my husband and I passed some time in the United States
and Canada; we then returned to England and took a place in
Cambridgeshire. We were both very fond of racing, and attended all the
meetings at Newmarket.

One day I drove by appointment to the house of a neighbor who had asked
me to meet Miss Catherine Bates, author of that interesting book, "Seen
and Unseen."

Just before I started my husband, half in fun, and knowing Miss Bates to
be a psychic, said, "Ask her what horse is going to win the
Cambridgeshire."

I promised to put the question and drove off. I had a most interesting
visit, but I totally forgot to ask Miss Bates for the winner of the
coming race.

It was not until I was seated in the victoria, exchanging a few parting
words with the two ladies standing in the doorway to bid me good-by,
that I suddenly recollected my husband's request. As the horses were
starting I called out to Miss Bates--

"Tell me what's going to win 'The Cambridgeshire?'"

The answer was prompt and clear:

"Marco to win, ---- for a place." (I regret I cannot remember the name
of the second horse.)

As I drove away I waved my thanks, and directly I got home I told my
husband--"Marco to win, ---- for a place."

He was much interested in this "tip" from so well-known a psychic, and
of course we backed "Marco to win and ---- for a place" for all we were
worth. I wish I could remember the odds. I only know that they were
"long."

The event duly came off, and I wrote to Miss Bates thanking her for the
good turn she had done us.

Her reply astounded me.

She began by saying she had not heard me put any question to her
regarding the winner of the Cambridgeshire, and went on to say that she
knew nothing about racing, and knew none of the horses' names, therefore
it was impossible that she could have given me the "tip."

Her hostess cared nothing for racing, and was as ignorant as she was
upon the subject, but she did remember hearing me call out to Miss
Bates, "What's going to win the Cambridgeshire?"

I then questioned our coachman and footman. Both distinctly remembered
my calling out the question, and both, keen on racing, listened for the
reply, but they heard none.

Where did that answer come from? I cannot tell. Was some spirit
interested in racing hovering near? Did he contrive to drop the "tip"
into my mind, open at that moment and eager to catch the response?

A year after the event I have recounted above, I was resting one
afternoon in the summer-time. I had been ill, and was not yet strong
enough to lead an ordinary life, and I was lying on a sofa in a top
floor room. The room immediately beneath me was the drawing-room, and
the weather being hot all the windows were wide open. The house we
inhabited was quite isolated in its own park, and the village was about
half a mile distant. My husband was from home, and I was alone in that
particular part of the house, the servants' quarters being at the back,
and shut off from the rest.

Out of the absolute quiet suddenly came the sound of music. Some one was
playing my piano in the drawing-room below. This, in itself, caused me
irritation, but no surprise. I was not well enough to entertain callers
at tea, due in half an hour, and I had given orders that I would see no
one, but it had happened before that the musical neighbors had called,
and whilst waiting for me had sat down to the piano.

I was too annoyed to hasten downstairs. I lay waiting for the butler to
come to me and inform me why my orders had been disobeyed. Meanwhile I
listened to the music, and wondered greatly who the brilliant pianist
could be. I did not recognize the music, but it sounded quite modern,
and requiring a great amount of technique. The player was, however, a
most brilliant performer, who had acquired considerable skill.
"Evidently a professional," I thought, and wondered all the more who it
could possibly be.

Still there were no signs of the ascending butler, and time continued to
pass. I began to feel obstinate, and determined to remain where I was,
until I was correctly informed of the caller's identity.

The music steadily continued, every note borne to my ears as clearly as
if I had been in the room with the performer. "Very wonderful music, but
soulless," I concluded, and though my curiosity was growing every
moment my obstinacy prevailed, and I remained where I was. At last,
after quite twenty minutes, the music suddenly stopped; it broke off in
the middle of a movement.

I rose at once, and went downstairs feeling very cross. I pushed open
the drawing-room door and entered. It was absolutely empty, but the
piano, which had not been opened for several weeks, was open now. I went
to the window which commanded the avenue; not a soul was in sight. Then
I rang the bell, and when the butler entered the following dialogue took
place:----

"Who was the caller who has just been?"

"There have been no callers to-day, madam."

"But surely you heard the piano being played?"

"We heard a lot of music, but we thought it was you playing, madam."

"Then you all heard it?"

"All of us in the hall heard it, madam."

I left it at that. Suddenly it came to me that I had better not push my
inquiries further. Until that second it had never occurred to me that
the performer might be a disembodied spirit.

The butler did not leave the matter alone, but made every inquiry at the
Lodge, and also of the out-door servants, but nothing came of it. No one
had seen a stranger, and the silver was intact. My maid told me some
time afterwards that the household had shaken down to the conviction
that I had really been the performer, and that my recent illness had
caused me to forget the fact. I let this conviction remain unshaken, but
I marveled at the lack of musical discrimination my household displayed.
The disparity between my strumming and the brilliant execution of my
spirit guest was so vast that I could not even feel flattered by their
mistake.

A year or two after we took a cottage on the Thames, and there, during
our summer visits, I had an uncomfortable time.

There was something wrong with the sideboard end of the dining-room. For
a long time I could not make out what it was. My attention was
constantly being attracted to the spot. If I passed the door I thought
instantly of the sideboard. In plain language, I was constantly being
invited, by some invisible person, to come in and have a drink. If I was
putting anything away in the sideboard the suggestion was always very
strong. On the outside stood a tantalus of spirits and soda water, ready
to refresh any calling boating men. Inside the cupboards were wine
decanters.

I always resisted the suggestion, I suppose because I did not happen to
want anything to drink--for years I have been a total abstainer, and at
the time I certainly did not realize the menace of those suggestions.

Now and again I caught sight of a small oblong gray cloud hovering in
front of the sideboard but it was not till many months afterwards that I
saw something much more definite. The gray shadow had become the clearly
defined shade of a small woman. She hovered about the spot in a
wavering, undecided manner. It was apparent that she was seeking
something. One day, in a flash, I recognized the truth, the suggestion
came from her. She was inviting me to drink with her.

My husband and I set to work to find out who this unfortunate woman had
been when she dwelt on earth. We discovered a very sad story. She had
been a celebrity of the half world, and I had actually seen her in the
flesh. She had traveled to Monte Carlo one winter in the next sleeping
compartment to ours, and she had lived for some years in our riverside
cottage. Latterly she had fallen an incurable victim to drinking, and
had died of it. Poor little soul; my heart went out to her in deepest
pity, but I was glad to leave the cottage forever, when in 1898 we went
to live at my husband's place, Balquholly, Aberdeenshire.

Some people, perhaps once in their lives, become sensitive enough to
recognize a visitor from the Astral plane. If the occasion is not
repeated they believe themselves to have been victims of hallucinations.
Others find themselves seeing and hearing, with increasing frequency,
something to which those around them are blind and deaf. They realize,
in fact, that they are in touch with the Astral plane, the region lying
next to our world of dense matter, and often some Astral entity on the
lowest levels of that plane is continuously striving to work through
their mediumship. The world is very far from realizing this danger. What
are those entities working for?

The man or woman who has led a decently pure life on earth will have no
attraction to the lowest levels, contiguous with earth, of the Astral
plane, and will, at so-called death, pass swiftly through it. But, alas!
the vast majority have by no means freed themselves from all lower
desires before passing over, and it takes a considerable time before the
evil forces generated on earth work themselves out on "the other side."

The length of man's detention on the lower level will depend entirely
on the earthly life he has lived, and the quality of the desires he has
indulged in.

The desires of a drunkard, a debaucher, are as strong after death as
before. The present Bishop of London made that very clear in one of his
Easter addresses, but the subject finds it impossible, without a
physical body, to gratify his lusts. Occasionally it can be done in a
vicarious manner, when he is able to seize on a like minded person and
obsess him or her, or when he finds a medium who consciously or
unconsciously panders to his desires. For this reason I hold it to be
imperative for safety's sake, that every genuine medium should be a
total abstainer.

How often one is asked the question: "What is a medium?"

It is a difficult question to answer in a few words. I should put it
thus----

A medium is one whose principles, physical, mental, spiritual, are so
loosely bound together that an Astral entity can draw from him without
difficulty the matter it requires for manifestation. The very essence of
mediumship is the ready separability of the principles.

In the case of the poor little woman I have mentioned, she was fortunate
enough not to meet with (in me) a sensitive, through whom her passion
could be vicariously gratified.

Such unfulfilled desires gradually burn themselves out, and the
suffering caused in the process no doubt goes to work off evil Karma
generated in the past life. It is the soul that desires, the body is but
the tool to grasp the desire, and after death old lusts crowd upon the
departed. Thirsty with no throat; sensual with no body to grip the foul
desire, soon it is learned that the worst evils and the hardest to undo
have been woven out of the mind.

Here is another story or two relating to one of the most puzzling
mysteries in ghost lore--the phenomena of temporary hauntings.

Why do ghosts suddenly take possession of a house with which, in their
incarnate days, they have had no connection?

Such ghosts differ from those only seen once. They take up their abode
in a dwelling which has absolutely no traditions of haunting. They will
be seen and heard on many occasions, for a few months, possibly for a
few years. They will then suddenly depart, and be seen or heard no more.

Such apparitions cannot readily be traced to any defunct friend or
member of the family. They have no known connection with the house in
which they appear, and no one can form the faintest conception why they
should suddenly elect to "walk" within those four walls, which hitherto
have been normal and free from "other side" visitors.

A case of this description happened to my youngest brother, who, before
he bought his present country house, lived in a detached, new building,
not far from the Dean Bridge, in Edinburgh.

He had occupied this house for some years previous to his experience,
and had neither heard nor seen anything of a spooky nature. The
manifestation only lasted for a few weeks. Nothing in the form of a
ghost was seen, but much was heard.

I will give the story in my brother's own words:

"On a certain evening, a year or two ago, I went out after dinner to
visit some friends, and returned home about half-past eleven.

"Not feeling inclined to go to bed, I took up a book and sat down to
read for half an hour.

"About a quarter-past midnight I suddenly became aware that stealthy
footsteps were coming upstairs. Looking at my watch I thought it very
strange that any of the maids should be still up at such a late hour.

"The door was well ajar, and I arose from my chair, listening intently,
as I crossed the room. The footsteps were now quite distinct, and I knew
at once they were not those of any woman. They were the stealthy
footsteps of a man, and naturally I at once concluded that he was a
burglar.

"I calculated swiftly that he would either enter the room in which I
stood, or he would go on and up the next flight of stairs to the
bedrooms. In any case, he had to be faced and caught. I realized that,
and I much regretted I had nothing at hand which would help me, should
he prove to be armed.

"There was, however, no time for further thought. Every second brought
him nearer, and taking up a position just behind the door, I waited till
he arrived on the landing, and until he came to the spot when he must
either turn in, or go on upstairs.

"The moment came, almost at once. With a sudden bound I sprang out to
close with him. Lo! and behold! nothing was to be seen! Nothing was now
to be heard, except the ticking of a clock.

"I stood still and absolutely astounded. The footsteps had been no trick
of imagination, I was very sure of that. Had I not heard them stealthily
beginning the ascent of the stairs, and grow louder the nearer they
approached me?

"I mopped my brow. Would any self-respecting burglar have come on, and
up a lighted staircase, and along a landing towards a room which he must
have known was still occupied, as the light shone through the half-open
door? Are burglars ever as rash as that?

"Then I reminded myself that as there was no burglar in the case my
speculations were mere waste of time.

"I put out the lights, and went to bed in a very uncomfortable frame of
mind.

"The next day, when I returned home from business, my housekeeper
informed me that a strange man had been walking about the house. She had
not seen him, though she had looked for him--that was the curious part
of it, but she had heard him quite distinctly, several times, and she
didn't like it one little bit. Not that she was frightened! Oh! dear no,
but it was uncanny, and she thought she had better tell me. I thanked
her and assured her that there was nothing to fear. The house was quite
new, and uncanny things never happen in new houses. I advised her not to
mention the subject to any one but me, and told her that I was not going
out again that evening.

"After dinner I settled down in my room, to wait for the footsteps I
instinctively felt sure would return. I kept the lights burning on
stairs and landing, and set the door half open, placing my chair in such
a position that I could see any one who passed outside the room on the
landing. This time I did not think of arming myself. I had come to the
firm conclusion that the sounds came from no person living in the flesh.
As no house adjoined mine I had no 'next door' on which to lay the
blame for the disturbance.

"Sure enough, about an hour earlier this time, the unknown, unseen
visitor began his ascent of my staircase. I cannot describe my feelings
during those moments of waiting for 'it' to pass. I can only say they
were intensely unpleasant, and I hope I may never again have to confess
myself to be a wretched coward. A burglar would at that moment have
appeared to me in the guise of a dear friend.

"However, the thing had to be faced, there was no one else that I could
put onto the job, and so I simply sat still and waited, with my eyes
fixed on the landing outside. The steps came on, distinct enough, and
growing nearer and louder. They arrived on the landing, they reached my
door, they passed, and proceeded to mount the next flight of steps to
the bedrooms. I had seen absolutely nothing.

"I rose and walked out on to the landing, and looked up at the brightly
lit staircase. I could mark, by the sound, the progress made by those
invisible feet. They passed on to the bedroom floor, and with heartfelt
gratitude I heard them enter, not mine, but an empty room. I heard
nothing more that night. Presumably the ghost remained quietly in his
comfortable quarters.

"The next day came more complaints from the housekeeper. The 'strange
man' not only promenaded the house at intervals, but he had the
impertinence to ring several bells. I wondered if a whisky and soda left
casually on his dressing-table would appease his thirst for summoning
the servants in this irritating fashion.

"For some days after this we were left in peace, and I began to hope
that 'it' had betaken itself to the house of some other chap, but no
such luck!

"One evening I was in the dining-room decanting some wine before dinner.
It was just seven o'clock, when I heard 'its' footsteps again. This time
they were coming downstairs. I went to the door and looked out. There
was no one to be seen. I reëntered the dining-room and shut 'it' out. I
suppose 'it' had been having a rest in the bedroom. I trusted 'it' meant
to have a night out.

"A moment or two later I heard a click near the fireplace, and looking
towards the spot whence this sound came, I saw the handle of the bell
being pulled back. In another second the bell rang.

"When the maid answered it I was ready for her.

"'Oh! don't you know what that is?' I inquired with mild sarcasm. 'Only
mice crossing the wires. Nothing to be frightened of in that, is there?'

"I stuck to this all through the weeks that followed. The maids ceased
to answer the bells, and went early to bed in a bunch. They no longer
required rooms to themselves.

"In a few months the trouble stopped as suddenly as it had begun. 'It'
had evidently found other quarters more to 'its' liking. The mice were
equally obliging. They ceased running across the wires."

What theory will explain this species of haunting which is quite common?
May it not be that this disembodied entity attached itself to my brother
whilst he was out, and like a lost dog followed him home? There must be
countless entities wandering about all over this globe, seeking an
abiding-place for their restless souls. People who find themselves as
bereft of friends on the other side of death, as they were in earth
life. Those who have friends here have doubtless friends there.

In old days we used to think of a post-mortem abode as somewhere in the
skies. Some even mentioned a receiving station in the bowels of the
earth. Now I find that the majority of educated people have come to
regard so-called death as merely a change of consciousness, and the
immediate post-mortem sphere of our activities to be a region
interpenetrating this earth.

       *       *       *       *       *

A county neighbor of ours in Aberdeenshire told me of a very tantalizing
experience he had a very few years ago of temporary haunting. This was a
case of seeing, not hearing.

The time was late autumn, and his family had gone south for the winter,
leaving him alone for a week or two to finish up the shooting.

One night, immediately after he had dined, he ran upstairs to his
bedroom to fetch something. On coming out of his room again, what was
his astonishment to see, walking in front of him, a tall young lady,
very smartly dressed in the height of the prevailing fashion. She wore
black satin, cut very low and without sleeves, and she moved very
quietly along the passage, and proceeded to go downstairs. She never
turned her elaborately coiffed head, and he could not see her face. He
followed, too speechless with amazement to address her. Who on earth
could she be? Where was she going? Nine o'clock at night; only two old
servants in the house! In the depth of the country, and nine miles away
from anywhere! And this charming young lady who so unexpectedly had made
her appearance to brighten his solitude!

What a surprising adventure! The situation was piquant to say the least
of it.

He followed immediately behind the attractive vision. He even wondered
what room he would have prepared for her. So absolutely real did she
look, that not for a second did he doubt she was ordinary flesh and
blood.

When describing her afterwards to me he said, "I can assure you I saw
the actual white flesh of her bare arms and shoulders. I was close
behind her."

The lady moved composedly on, walking with supple grace and perfect
self-possession. She was not in the least hurried or flustered. She
reached the bottom of the stairs, and he had a momentary fear that she
would make for the front door, where surely a Rolls Royce would be
awaiting her. Not so! She walked straight into the dining-room. He
followed.

As he entered the door she had gained the opposite end of the room,
where the sideboard stood.

For a second she stood still, turned and glanced round at him with an
enchanting smile of delicate raillery. Then she deliberately walked
through the sideboard and wall beyond, and was lost to sight.

The beholder of this ghost had never seen anything of the sort before,
and was, if anything, a disbeliever in psychic phenomena. He is a
perfectly healthy, normal country gentleman, whose principal hobby is
sport, and who prefers a country life out of doors to the life of an
intellectual student.

Needless to say the occurrence puzzled him beyond measure. He could not
"place" the lady, and was certain that he had never seen her before. Her
dress proclaimed her to be absolutely modern.

Though in roundabout ways he tried to find out if any woman, answering
to her description, was visiting at the time in any of the neighboring
country houses, he failed entirely to get any result.

Being rather shy of the chaff he knew would be indulged in at his
expense, he mentioned the incident to no one. He took careful notes of
date, time, and other particulars, and kept a strict watch, but the lady
appeared no more during his stay, and before Christmas he went south to
rejoin his family.

He did not forget the experience. When the following autumn came round
he found himself again in the North, under exactly similar
circumstances. Eagerly he anticipated the anniversary of his first
ghost. He was waiting for her on the landing outside his bedroom door,
and suddenly she sprang into sight from nowhere. To-night he had
determined to lay hold of her, but he calculated without his ghost. She
sped downstairs, this time as if she was well aware that he was in
pursuit. They gained the dining-room almost neck to neck, and this time
she made no pause before slipping through the wall. She simply looked
back at him over her shoulder, and smiled at him enchantingly,
provokingly. Then he found himself alone.

The following year was blank. She came no more.

Why did she come to that house, with which, it is certain, she had no
connection? Why did she only appear twice, and both times on the same
date?

Such are the questions one asks in vain, but such fugitive visions
suggest the whisperings of a voice which calls out in the wilderness,
and leads through life's enigmas to the final awakening.

There are visions of beauty to which we are blind, and joyous harmonies
we do not hear. There are depths of feeling we have not plumbed, and
heights we have not aspired to, yet I am sure if we but place ourselves
in a simple attitude of receptiveness, we will draw nearer to the glory
of the unseen, and Nature's finer forces will draw nearer to us.



CHAPTER IX

POMPEY AND THE DUCHESS


Have animals souls?

I unhesitatingly answer "Yes."

If my dog has not a soul then neither have I--my dreams of immortality
are merely a delusion. I base my belief upon the God-like qualities
found in animals--the highest quality of all, love, pure, and
unadulterated by self-seeking.

The oldest scriptures of the world tell us that when wild animals die
their life flows back into a group soul, a mass, as it were, of
undifferentiated life essence. As the animal becomes domesticated, as a
dog or cat learns to live with man, shares in his joys and sorrows, to
be his constant companion, then it advances rapidly in evolution. It is
developing human qualities, and in due time will no more return to merge
in the group soul, but be born into the human family. A lowly human
family it is true, a primitive savage to begin with, but that animal has
passed one of the most important milestones on the long, lone trail. It
will never more return to the world in the form of the beast, henceforth
it will commence its slow ascent from the most elementary human body to
the exalted heights of a god. They tell us in the East: "First a stone,
then a plant, then an animal, then a man, and finally a God." This is
how the wisdom of the East understands Divine evolution.

Cases where the ghosts of animals have been seen are becoming quite
common. Before describing the astral apparitions of some of our animals,
I will recall a very interesting case which was investigated in recent
years at Ballechin, Perthshire. The accounts of the Ballechin hauntings
are contained in a big volume, but at present I am only concerned in the
four-footed ghosts that were seen. The trouble began upon the death of
the eccentric owner, old Major Stewart, in 1876. He had frequently
stated his intention of haunting the place after his death, and,
furthermore, had asserted his determination to "walk" in the form of one
of his many dogs, a favorite black spaniel.

The family, anxious, as they thought, to be on the safe side, had all
the pack, numbering fourteen, destroyed at the death of their master,
but this wholesale slaughter of the innocents proved of no avail.

The first intimation of its futility was immediately apparent. The wife
of the old Major's nephew and heir was seated one day adding up accounts
in the dead man's study, when the room was suddenly invaded by the old
doggy smell, and an unseen dog pushed distinctly up against her.

Many other unpleasant incidents followed after, but the really great
happenings did not begin till 1896, when a shooting tenant, after a week
or two, was compelled to quit the house, and forfeit the considerable
rent he had paid in advance.

The above fact came to the notice of that inveterate ghost-hunter, the
late Marquis of Bute, and he, and several other members of the Psychical
Society, hired the house, and went into residence. _The Times_ of June,
1897, contains elaborate details of the various experiences and the
names of the investigators.

The phenomena they describe are very startling, but perhaps the most
unnerving specter was the frequent appearance of a black spaniel, which
was seen by numerous persons. One member of the party had brought a
black spaniel of his own. He saw it run across the room, when at that
moment the real dog--his own--entered and began to fraternize with the
ghost dog.

Two ladies occupying the same bedroom had a curious experience. A pet
dog on the end of the bed began to whine, and looking to where its eyes
were fixed they saw, not the black spaniel, but two black paws on the
table by the bed.

Various other sorts of dogs were seen by many people. The black spaniel
by no means had the monopoly, and dogs, purposely brought by the
investigators to aid them in their elucidation of the mystery, made
friends or exhibited mistrust of the pack of ghost dogs haunting both
house and grounds.

Twice in my life I have seen the wraith of our own dogs, "Pompey" and
"Triff." Pompey was a big brindled bulldog of terrifying aspect and
angelic nature. My husband and I adored him, and his death caused us
great grief. Indeed, the whole household mourned him long and deeply.
One day, about ten days after his death, I suddenly caught sight of him
walking in front of me down the avenue.

On the spur of the moment I called him by name, then he vanished.

I mentioned this occurrence to my maid, who at once told me the
kitchenmaid had seen him in exactly the same place.

When alive on earth "Pompey" had a habit of stealing into a guest's room
when the early tea was brought up. He would lie in wait in a dark
corner and then attempt to enter behind the maid or valet. When the door
was shut again he would emerge from his hiding-place, and attempt to
leap on the bed. He was exceedingly gentle and affectionate, but
externally he was so forbidding that his offers of friendship were not
always accepted, and he was a great weight.

One day a Mrs. Shelton came to stay with us, and the next morning asked
to have her room changed, because "Pompey" had kept walking round her
bed all night, and she had not been able to sleep. She was sure it was
"Pompey," because she recognized his peculiar, heavy, slithering
movements.

Some time after this Millicent, Duchess of Sutherland, came to pay us a
visit. She had been very overworked, and needed a complete rest. She
brought with her a maid and a small French bulldog, and she and the maid
occupied a suite of three rooms, two bedrooms and a bathroom, shut off
from the rest of the house by a heavy swing door.

The French bulldog was accustomed to sleep in the maid's room. We had no
dog left of our own. The beautiful Duchess went to bed about half-past
ten; she was very tired and ought to have slept well, but she didn't.

In the night she was awakened by what she took to be her own bulldog
prowling round her bed, yet its footsteps sounded strangely heavy.

She knew nothing about "Pompey's" ghostly visits; we had been careful
not to mention them.

When she came downstairs the next morning she told us what a disturbed
night she had passed through. She was awakened soon after midnight by
the restless movements of a bulldog round her bed. She did not doubt it
was her own dog, that owing to the forgetfulness of her maid had been
left asleep under her bed. She called it, and at the same time switched
on the light, but could see no signs of any dog at all. Rather puzzled,
but concluding that she must have been mistaken, she composed herself to
sleep once more.

Before very long the noise began again. A bulldog with its heavy,
slouching tread was moving about round her bed.

This time the Duchess got up, and made a thorough search of her room,
but could see nothing in the shape of any animal. Yet so convinced was
she that a dog had been in the room, that she determined to look into
her maid's room to see if her own dog was there.

She opened her maid's door, which was shut, and went into the room. The
woman was asleep, and on the bed at her feet slept the French bulldog.

There was nothing to be done but to go back to her own bed once more,
and try to sleep in spite of the disturbances.

This was the story the Duchess told us, and added to me, "If he comes
again to-night I shall come along to your room and rouse you."

It did not come again. The peculiarity of "Pompey's" visits was that
they only occurred once to each stranger, though he came several times
to me, as was but natural.

We honored his memory by raising to him a large granite headstone, on
which was inscribed--

    "Soft lies the turf on one who finds his rest,
    Here, on our common Mother's ample breast,
    Unstained by meanness, avarice and pride,
    He never flattered and he never lied.
    No gluttonous excess his slumbers broke,
    No burning alcohol, no stifling smoke.
    He ne'er intrigued a rival to displace,
    He ran, but never betted on a race.
    Content with harmless sports and moderate food,
    Boundless in love, and faith and gratitude.
    Happy the man, if there be any such,
    Of whom his epitaph can say as much.

                    "On this spot
          are deposited the remains of one
        who possessed beauty without vanity,
              strength without insolence,
              courage without ferocity,
      and all the virtues of man without his vices.
    This praise, which would be unmeaning flattery
            if inscribed over human ashes,
         is but a just tribute to the memory of
                     'Pompey' a dog.
         Born 1891.                Died 1902."

Our next dog, "Triff," was a very handsome sable collie. Of course, we
became devoted to him, and when he also passed away we felt very
desolate without him.

For a long time I never could feel that he had left me. Though I could
not see him, I used to speak to him, just as if I could see the dear
presence I so strongly felt. It was hard that I never could catch a
glimpse of him, because others did. The butler saw him many times, and
my maid caught sight of him twice.

One often reads in ghost books of abnormal animal-like creatures being
seen by psychics, but it is rare to meet with living individuals who can
testify to such personal experiences.

I remember Lilian, Countess of Cromartie, telling me of a strange
incident that once happened to her.

She was walking alone one bright summer morning in Windsor Great Park.
Suddenly she saw an amazing looking creature loping slowly towards her.
It resembled an enormous hare. That is to say, its legs and head were
those of a hare, but its size was that of a goat, and its horned head
was half-goat, half-hare. This creature, loping without any fear, and
with a hare's movement straight towards her, caused her to pause. She
stood still and breathlessly waited its approach. It passed quite close
to her, and as it did so she struck at it with her parasol. Instantly it
disappeared.

Princess Frederica of Hanover, always intensely interested in psychic
phenomena, and herself no tyro in psychic knowledge, told me many years
ago that she had seen several different sorts of abnormal animals, quite
unknown to this earth, and under circumstances which left no doubt as to
their actual existence.

Many years ago there was much talk amongst a certain set of an
experience that had come to a foreign Grand Duchess and her husband, who
spent much of their time in England. This couple were traveling in the
wilds of Greece, and one night they wandered out together on to a bare
mountain side. Sitting down to rest they were enjoying the beauty and
utter loneliness of the moonlit scene, when they suddenly heard the
galloping of many horses' hoofs approaching them. This astonished them
greatly, as they were in so wild and unfrequented a part of the country.
There was no road near them, and it seemed strange to hear horses
galloping so fast on such rough ground at night, even though there was a
moon.

Husband and wife stood up immediately in order to show themselves. The
sound suggested a headlong rush, and they feared that in another second
a whole regiment might ride over them.

They had not long to wait. A troop of creatures, half-men, half-horses,
tore past them, helter-skelter. Fleet and sure-footed they thundered by,
and they brought with them the most wonderful sense of joy and
exhilaration. Neither the Grand Duchess nor her husband felt the
smallest fear; on the contrary, both were seized by a wild elation, a
desire to be one of that splendid legion. The thundering of their hoofs
spread over the hills, and died away into the distance.

On returning to their camp the husband and wife found an uproar.
Something had gone wrong with the Greek servants, who were shivering
with terror, and struggling with equally terrified horses to prevent a
stampede. All that could be learned from the Greeks was that they had
heard something, something known of and greatly feared.

I happened to hear the Grand Duchess tell of her weird experience, and I
have often wondered in later years if Algernon Blackwood had also heard
the story, and founded upon it his fascinating book, "The Centaur."

There were several people in the room whilst the Grand Duchess was
unfolding, in the most impressive manner, this strange event. Amongst
them was the first Lady Henry Grosvenor, born Miss Erskine Wemyss of
Wemyss Castle.

She told us that when a child of seven years old, she had passed through
some minutes of such absolute terror, that as long as she lived she
would never forget the experience.

With another child, and a nurse in attendance, she was playing one
summer morning out of doors. After a little while the nurse rose from
her seat amongst the heather, and wandered away a short distance, out of
sight but not out of hearing.

A few moments after the two little girls heard some bushes behind them
rustling, and a huge creature, half-goat, half-man, emerged and
leisurely crossing the road in front of them plunged into the woods
beyond and was lost to sight. Both children were thrown into a paroxysm
of terror, and screamed loudly. The nurse ran back to them, and when
told what was the matter scolded them for their foolish fancies. No such
animal existed, such as they described, an animal much bigger than a
goat, that walked upright, and had but two legs, and two hoofs, that was
covered with shaggy brown hair from the waist downward, and had the
smooth skin of a man from the waist upward!

The nurse bade them come home at once, and as they gained the road Miss
Wemyss pointed down into the dust. Clearly defined was the track of a
two-hoofed creature that had crossed at that spot. The nurse stared for
a moment or two, then with one accord they all ran. She never took her
charges near that spot again.

Lady Henry said that the memory of that experience was so firmly grafted
on her mind that she could always recall with perfect clarity the exact
appearance of this appalling creature. In after years, when grown up,
she realized from pictures that what she had seen was a Faun or Satyr.
Such pictures or statues always sent a thrill of horror through her. She
attributed this apparition to the fact that she and her companion were
playing close to the site of a Roman camp, and the road was an old Roman
road.

She went on to say that the Grand Duchess had given her courage to tell
this incredible story. It was as absolutely real to her as was the
passing of the Centaurs to the Grand Duchess.

The whole scene stood out in brilliant light as a picture before her,
whenever she thought of it, which she very often did. She never
mentioned it to any one, as she felt that no one would believe her. She
could always smell again the scent of summer, and the odor of pine
trees, and hear the trickling of water from a tiny stream. She could
always see a wide, white road, ribbon-like stretching away to the
horizon. Then, suddenly, she and her young companion stood face to face
with a presence, a hideous, unspeakable shape, that was neither man nor
beast.

She believed that there was a real world beyond the glamour and vision
of our ordinary senses, and sometimes this veil was lifted for a few
seconds. She believed that much of the tradition of mythical creatures
represented solid fact, and that it was possible there were failures of
creation still extant. Again, might there not be races fallen out of
evolution, but retaining as a survival certain powers that to us appear
miraculous. A very gifted being was Miminie Erskine Wemyss, who married
Lord Henry Grosvenor. One of my earliest memories is the thrill her
beauty gave me when first I saw her, as she walked into church, a silver
prayer-book, slung on a silver chain, depending from her arm.



CHAPTER X

THE INVISIBLE HANDS


All through my life there have come to me moments never to be forgotten.
Often the incidents that so deeply impressed me were utterly trivial in
themselves, still they were sacramental, inasmuch as they proved to me,
absolutely and conclusively, the immortality of the soul, and the power
possessed by the soul after so-called death to concern itself with
terrestrial happenings. Such moments are sacramental, in the sense that
Nature is sacramental, in its showing forth of God's glory, and the
manifestation of His handiwork.

       *       *       *       *       *

I was sitting near the library window, reading, in the fading light of a
quiet November afternoon. It was one of those utterly still, mournful
days, with a gray, brooding sky, save where, in the west, a pale
primrose sunset was bathing the horizon in light. I was reading "Man and
the Universe," by Sir Oliver Lodge, and had arrived at page 137, which
ends Chapter VI.

In those days, the year was 1908, I always tried to arrange at least one
week of perfect quiet for the study of a new book which I had just
ordered. I would calculate on which day the post would bring it to my
country home, and I would arrange my life accordingly. This may sound
rather ridiculous, but the truth is that a book like "Man and the
Universe" is such a pure intellectual treat to me, that I like to gloat
over it, to taste it slowly, and imbibe it gradually. I try to spin out
the joy of it as long as possible by reading slowly, and thinking over
the problems presented.

At last I put the book down on a table by my side. I was in no hurry. It
lay on its back, open, the pages uppermost; just where I had stopped
reading. I fell to wondering on the words I had just read.

"A reformer must not be in haste. The kingdom cometh not by observation,
but by secret working as of leaven. Nor must he advocate any compromise
repugnant to an enlightened conscience. Bigotry must die, but it must
die a natural, not a violent death. Would that the leaders in Church and
State had always been able to receive an impatient enthusiast in the
spirit of the lines--

    "Dreamer of dreams! no taunt is in our sadness,
    What e'er our fears our hearts are with your cause,
    God's mills grind slow; and thoughtless haste were madness,
    To gain Heaven's ends we dare not break Heaven's laws."

I must have sat thinking for quite ten minutes when my attention was
suddenly attracted by a sound. The sound of paper leaves being rustled.
The room was so dead still that the faintest sound would have called my
attention, but this sound was by no means faint. I turned my head and
looked at the book I had been reading, because, from it, unmistakably
the noise proceeded.

I beheld a most enthralling phenomenon. Unseen hands were turning over
the pages.

A thrill of intense excitement ran through me, and I stared at the book
in breathless interest. The hands seemed to be searching for some
particular passage. The number of the page upon which the passage was
printed was not, apparently, known to the searcher. I will try to
describe what actually happened.

Several leaves of the book were turned over rather rapidly, each leaf
making the usual sound which accompanies such an ordinary physical
action. Then, as if fearing that the passage required had been
overlooked or passed by, several leaves were turned back again.

This manifestation continued for at least ten minutes, and I could see
nothing but the pages of the book being turned quite methodically, as by
a human hand.

At moments there was rather a long pause in the search, and at the first
pause I thought the demonstration might be over, but once again the
invisible entity resumed the search, and I found myself saying, "He
found something there that interested him. That is why he stopped." For
no reason I can give I felt certain my visitor was a male spirit.

On the second pause in the search occurring I had no doubt that again he
had found something that interested him. The whole manifestation was
very leisurely and wonderfully human. As I sat watching the book being
manipulated by unseen fingers, every smallest action suggested design.
One could not doubt as to what was taking place. At length there came a
pause longer than usual. The book lay flat on its back wide open. There
was now no quiver of the leaves. The invisible entity had found what he
wanted and gone.

I curbed my curiosity for five minutes more, then feeling convinced
that I was again alone I stretched out my hand, took the book and,
rising, carried it close to the window.

There was still enough light to read by, and the leaves were open at
pages 172-173.

I had only read as far as page 137.

I scanned them eagerly, and at once discovered that a mark had been made
on the margin of page 172. A long cross had been placed against a
paragraph. The mark was such as might have been made by a sharp
finger-nail. The words marked were--

"I want to make the distinct assertion that a really existing thing
never perishes, but only changes its form."

To-day the mark is as clearly visible on the page as on the day it was
made. I can form no conjecture as to who the entity was, but he
certainly knew the contents of the book. No one watching the search
could doubt that, or that he was desirous of impressing upon the readers
of the book a certain fact stated therein, which must have previously
attracted his attention.

In the year 1900 we took a house for the winter months in the West End
of London.

It was a small house though joined on either side by great mansions, and
once upon a time it had actually been a farmhouse standing amid smiling
fields.

It retained many relics of its ancient origin in fine oak paneling and
quaint nooks and corners, and had been for many of its latter years the
town residence of a man whose type had practically died out, the perfect
type of our old English aristocracy.

The bedroom I occupied was exceedingly comfortable and warm. The bed,
placed against the wall, was exactly opposite to the fireplace, so that
lying on my right side I looked straight at the fire and could see the
whole room.

I was constantly on the alert, as I knew how full of history such a
house must be, but for several weeks I neither saw nor heard anything in
the least unusual.

One night, quite unexpectedly, a change occurred. I no longer had the
room to myself. A stranger occupied it with me.

It was a cold, snowy night, and I was lying in bed facing the fire and
courting sleep, when I heard a sudden noise which was totally different
to the sounds made by the dying fire. Take a large sheet of stiff
writing paper in your hand and crush it up between your fingers and you
will hear the sound I heard. Quite a loud and distinct noise if you
happen to be in a very quiet room, at an hour when all the household has
retired to bed.

Naturally, I instantly opened my eyes and looked out into the room,
which was lit brightly enough by the fire to make all the objects it
contained quite distinct.

An armchair was drawn up close to the fire; half an hour before I had
been seated in it warming my toes before getting into bed; now it was
again filled.

In it sat a man turned sideways towards me. He was lying back with his
legs stretched straight out in front of him towards the fire. One of his
arms hung over the arm of the chair, and in his clenched hand was a
large piece of paper or parchment.

His finely cut profile was clearly outlined, he was clean shaven, and he
stared into the fire, his chin sunk in a high black stock.

His hair was powdered and tied behind by a large black bow, and he wore
bright blue cloth knee breeches, white stockings, silver buckled shoes,
and many gold buttons on his blue coat. I did not take in all those
details at once; I had ample leisure to do so later. For, I suppose, a
full two minutes, I stared very hard at him, and lay very still, knowing
full well I was looking at a ghost. Then very cautiously I drew the
bedclothes over my head, and shut out the startling vision. I was
invaded by wild panic.

I have never been one of those timid women who are frightened by their
own shadows. I require to be face to face with a tangible danger before
I put faith in its existence, yet, I confess that at that moment I knew
what actual fear meant. My heart beat thickly, then seemed to stop, and
I was instantly bathed in cold perspiration. I knew that the servants
were all in bed two flights of stairs below me, and my husband was out
of London, so no calling for help was any use. I therefore forced a sort
of spurious desperate courage, and began to be angry with myself for
being thus afraid when no cause for fear existed. I treated myself to a
scornful lecture. "You who profess to know all about ghosts, you who
have actually seen several ghosts, you coward to quail before this one!
Don't you know perfectly well that he won't hurt you, that he has a
perfect right to sit in that chair, and that it is your duty to speak to
him should he show any desire for conversation?"

"I am so terribly alone," pleaded my other self in feeble self-defense.

"Well, what of it? If the whole household was in the room what could
they do? You are not a child. Uncover your head and look the specter
boldly in the face."

The stillness and hush of deep night, at the hour when sleepers slumber
soundest, was upon the house. The traffic of London was muffled in a
heavy fall of snow. I could hear nothing but the feeble crackling of the
expiring fire in the grate, but gradually I rallied my courage and
faculties and peeped stealthily out.

There sat that dark form between me and the fire; there he lay in an
attitude of moody carelessness, watching the cooling embers as they
faded from scarlet to pink, from pink to yellow, and then fell tinkling
into heaps of white ashes. No statue was ever stiller. He did not move
in the least, but sat more like an effigy of a man carved out of stone
than a creature of flesh and blood.

I closed my eyes and re-opened them, to test the fact whether I was
awake or asleep and dreaming. No, I was broad wake and the room was
still fairly well lit, and there sat the phantom before the fire, the
proud, well-set head with its powdered curls distinctly visible in the
red glow of the firelight. I should think an hour must have passed thus,
whilst I gazed at the figure before me, taking in every detail. There
was no indication that he knew or cared for my presence. The figure sat
like a stone.

I came to the conclusion that the phantom was about thirty years of age,
and a sailor who had lived in the days of Nelson, judging by his clothes
and the pictures I had seen. I noticed particularly his hand clenched on
the paper. A white hand, with strong cruel-looking fingers. There is so
much character in hands. The face may be drilled into a mere mask, but
hands tell tales of their owners. I could imagine the hand that had
crushed the paper closing murderously on the throat of an adversary, or
gripped hard on the hilt of a dagger.

There were moments when the awful inertia of the figure began to play
havoc with my nerves, when I would have given anything to make that
impassive form move from out its dreary attitude of sullen brooding;
anything to cause the profile of the face, with all its gloom and pride,
to turn and front me, so that I might know the worst. But the figure
never turned, never stirred, but sat with stately head bowed under a
weight of thought.

Now and again a little flame would spurt up and glitter on his shoe
buckles, his brass buttons, but the fire was dying now, and gradually
the figure became more and more indistinct.

Then I slept. I had been feeling drowsy for some time, and fought
against it. I had violently resisted sleep, feeling a great repugnance
to losing consciousness whilst the specter still sat there, but the
blank force of sleep at length overpowered me. When I awoke the cold
gray morning light was stealing feebly in through the window. The chair
was empty. The figure was gone.

The next night I went to bed full of courage, but I was left alone. If
the sailor returned it was not until after I had gone to sleep.

A week later he came back. One moment the chair was empty, the next
moment with one wild heart throb I opened my eyes at the sound of
crackling paper, and the chair was filled. There he sat in his brooding
sullen attitude and continued so to sit till slumber vanquished me.
After that I saw him at constant intervals.

By this time I had entirely rid myself of all fear. I did not even
desire to change my room which would have been very inconvenient, and I
dreaded alarming the household and being left alone to conduct the
domestic duties. But though no longer afraid those constant visits began
to get on my nerves, and I consulted a Catholic friend who was always
sympathetic to the occult side of life.

She said at once that this spirit should be exorcised and set free from
the bondage of earth, and that she had an old friend, a Franciscan monk,
who was known to be a powerful exorcist. She offered to arrange the
matter, and I gladly accepted her suggestion.

It was on an early spring afternoon that Father Reginald Buckler came to
the house. In his white habit, sandaled feet and shorn crown, he looked
an incongruous figure in that fashionable locality already beginning its
social entertainments in view of the season's approach. He was a
charming, courteous old man, who took his mission very seriously. After
a few words of explanation we mounted to the bedroom floor.

There were four doors opening on to the little landing, and without
asking which of the doors led to the haunted chamber, he turned the
handle of the right one and entered. Still he put no question, but at
once proceeded with the Service of Exorcism.

Sprinkling the four corners of the room with Holy Water, he bade me
kneel down in the middle. Then he raised his Crucifix and offered up
prayers for the repose of the earth-bound soul, that he might be loosed
and set free.

For five weeks longer we remained in the house, but I never saw the
sailor again.



CHAPTER XI

DAWNS


We have been given many wonderful dawns this winter, and I have used
them eagerly as a cleansing of the war-weary mind and distracted soul.
In such ethereal apparitional dawns one walks with the Eternal, and all
temporal things fade away. Those pale silver daybreaks have a rapture of
their own, they suggest a fresh creation straight from the looms of God.
When the hours of day have drawn on the flaming sunset, that exquisitely
serene emotion of virgin tranquillity will have passed away, and the
horizon will be lurid and grand beneath a grave frowning sadness
gathered from the scenes of earth they have brooded over.

Such dawns beckon imperiously to the pilgrim, to leave the shelter of
the roof-tree, and come forth to walk with the immortals whilst the
Morning Star, the light-bringer, still shines, a white gold radiance in
the heavens, and the distance is still dissolved in veils of pearl and
opal.

Such daybreaks always rouse in me the urge for wider thought, for the
broad day of the mind. Out of the limitless beyond comes the certain
knowledge of a something unimagined, lying just outside human thought. I
am sure there is so much not yet imagined, something more than mere
existence.

There is a wine of happiness in tranquil daybreak, and an aloofness from
life that urges one to seek for that which is beyond comprehension. The
draught exalts the soul, and quickens it with unquenchable fire, until
the world falls away, far from one, as day wells out of still darkness.
Only at such moments do we reach the true horizon.

Again, there is an amnesty in such dawns, a glory of release from the
house of bondage. In the great silences, life, as we know it, is remote,
and the immensity is a magic that draws the soul, fusing it in a strange
passion, so that whatever fulfillment our existence holds is summed in
that hour of solitude.

A pale wash of translucent gold is thrown across land and sea. On the
far horizon a ship is set in relief, against a core of crimson flame
which heralds the sun. A dove coos softly, and on a bare branch a thrush
thrills in waves of sound, seeking in the universal ether to reproduce
its divine instinct in other feathered hearts that are attuned to its
melody.

Such joys as these are transitory, and never wholly possessed. They pass
the enclosures of life, and bring one nearer to the beating heart of
truth. The agonizing fear of losing hold on them is, in itself, the
cause of their dispersal. It is the same at rare moments of
semi-consciousness, when one has actually laid hold of a genuine astral
experience--and knows it. Then comes the frantic endeavor to hold on--to
pin the moment fast and tight, till the whole vision is absorbed. The
soul seems to hold its breath! How often, with bitter disappointment I
have rushed reluctantly into full waking consciousness--and only half
the story told. Fragmentary though such moments are their potency is
such that they endure through time. Thank God, that whilst the wedlock
of body and soul still holds undissolved there is scope for such joys.
They are uncommunicable, and may not be shared with others at will, and
they tell the soul that she is not of creation and cannot be contained
by law. At such hours she learns the truth, that she passes for a brief
span into the limited, from out the limitless whence she came. At such
sacramental hours one can pray the prayer of Socrates, offered up by the
banks of the Illissus:

"O Beloved God of the forests and flocks and all ye Divinities of this
place, grant me to become beautiful in the inner man, and that whatever
outward things I have may be at peace with those within. May I deem the
wise man rich, and may I have so much wealth, and so much only, as a
good man can manage to enjoy.

"Do we need anything else, Phædrus? For myself I have prayed enough."

       *       *       *       *       *

How many people now recall fragments of former lives! Ask the next man
you meet if he has any recollections of former existences, and be sure
he will not eye you askance as a fugitive from Bedlam. He may smile and
shake his head, and regret to say he isn't psychic, but he won't ask you
what on earth you mean. This is how we have progressed towards truth in
the last thirty years. The truth of reincarnation is being quietly
accepted by the West and is now openly preached from many pulpits. If
God is love, who could reconcile with any comprehensive idea of justice
and law in the world the lives and experiences of common humanity? How
reconcile the births taking place in one single day in their vast
diversity, by the hell for the criminal, born, nurtured and killed in
crime, who never had a chance, and Heaven for the happily born, who
need never have a temptation? What is the Divine Law lying behind this
seeming hideous injustice? Undoubtedly the continuous evolution of the
soul in bodies of matter. Men are looking now to the scheme of organic
evolution to provide the field for spiritual evolution. They are finding
it in the depths of their own consciousness.

I chanced upon one of those fragments of a past life, those islets in
eternity in a strange way. I was paying a visit to a stranger in
Cambridgeshire, and whilst awaiting her entry I walked round the room
looking at some lovely water-colored sketches that hung upon the walls.
When their owner entered, and after a few minutes' conversation, I said,
"How beautiful those Sicilian scenes are!"

She looked pleased and answered: "I'm so glad you recognize them. I
painted them. When were you last in Sicily?"

I had never at that time been in Sicily. I told her so, but I could not
tell a stranger that suddenly there had dawned upon me a keen
recollection of the country I had certainly been in, though not in this
life. The paintings, of course, dealt with a restricted field, but as I
looked at them one by one I saw mentally a wide landscape in which each
picture formed but a tiny spot. One I remember was a painting of a
wonderfully perfect temple, which occupied the whole space of the
picture. As I looked at it I saw wide rolling plains, and a wide expanse
of blue sea. This I later recognized in Girgenti.

A month or two afterwards my husband and I went to Sicily for the
winter, and, as I had expected, the island was perfectly familiar to me.
I knew exactly round which bend of the hill I should find a temple, but
Syracuse was really my spiritual home. It was there that I had played
out one of my many life dramas, and many incidents returned to me as I
wandered over the hills, and gathered maiden-hair ferns in the twilight
of the empty tombs.

Once I opened my eyes on Stromboli, one of the Æolian or Lipari Isles.
Instantly I felt a passion of love for it, an intuition of spiritual
delight which is utterly irreducible to terms. I have looked upon it
since, and always with an adoration impossible to paint with pen or
pencil. I have for weeks anticipated the moment when I should see it
again. It means something to me far beyond what the eye can see, the
tongue relate, and it is this something lying betwixt rhapsody and
lament which draws me by a tenuous chain of thought right back into the
womb of time, where buried memory stirs in its long sleep.

Stromboli, so the ancient poets tell us, was the home of the fiery god,
Vulcan. That explains much to me, but it unfolds a secret none may
learn.

It was in a flaming dawn that I first saw Stromboli rising from amid the
numerous isles surrounding it. From its cone shot a great plume of
smoke, like a giant ostrich feather, silver tinted. In its ethereal
loveliness it seemed to float in the void, half of earth, half of
heaven.

Neither bondage of words, nor the cold scrutiny of reason can impinge
upon a scene which draws the soul away upon a celestial pilgrimage. Free
and elate, she passes beyond the frontiers of life, and like the echoes
of the sea when a shell is held to the ear, she hears the pulse of earth
beat far away in unfathomable distance. The marvel of the uncreated
consumes her in a trance of unincarnate passion.

Those who have once adventured on such pilgrimages are never quite the
same again. They become children of "the Divine unrest." They have
experienced a moment in which earth and flesh dissolve, in which law is
not, in which creeds and covenants find no place, and the hold upon
common life with its moving mirages is blotted out. Time and space are
annulled, the æon and the second are one. The soul unswathed, has risen
from the tomb where the life urge has laid it, and is aglow with the
transcendental fires of eternal being. In after days the soul learns to
set barriers against such visitants. One must not look upon the other
side of the moon too often, for fear one is drawn away from home and
kindred. The time is not yet, but it will surely come.

One other curious happening I must relate. Years ago, one autumn when I
was in the far north there came a magnificent visitation of falling
stars and many aerolites dropped to earth. The display was predicted,
and I was on the lookout. It came in a rain of gold and seemingly from
all points of the compass. For hours I watched a sight far more
marvelous than anything I had anticipated.

When at last I reluctantly went to bed I had a strange dream or, rather,
astral experience. I was a Hungarian gipsy, the head or queen of an
enormous clan. I heard wild Hungarian music, and saw enormous crowds of
my people gathered round me. They were very savage and picturesque, and
a ceremony was proceeding.

On the ground, and in the center of a great ring of people, stood a
large bowl filled with blood. I stood in front of it and watched the
swearing in of new adherents to my clan, by means of the "blood
covenant." The blood that filled the bowl had been drawn from the veins
of my people, and the new adherents were each required to drink from it
and swear their allegiance. Only one thing troubled me all through what
seemed a long ceremony. My feet caused me pain, and I was aware that
they were bare, as were the feet of all my people.

So vivid was the dream that I could visualize my whole life as I lived
it on the plains of Hungary, and the scenery surrounding me was lit up
by a glorious sunset. There were hundreds of horses grazing loose, as
far as the eye could reach, and flocks of enormous white geese, amid
which great storks strutted.

Suddenly I awoke with the acute pain in my feet uppermost in my mind. I
found myself clad only in my nightgown, walking bare-footed on the rough
gravel paths of the garden, whence I had watched the stellar display. I
had been walking in my sleep, and the sudden unaccustomed stony hardness
of the path under my bare feet had awakened in me the recollection of a
past life, in which I had lived, a wild nomad in southern Hungary.

This is the one and only occasion in my life in which I have known
somnambulism. Luckily my memory did not fail me on waking and, some time
after, when I was able to revisit the scenes of that long ago pilgrimage
I was quite familiar with my surroundings.

Buda Pest and the lands lying southward were then my home, a roving home
and tent life of infinite variety.

Thus the dead of vanished years are disguised in the present living.

I have no doubt that many people who have not had the interesting
experience of remembering one or more of their former incarnations have
been able through some trivial incident to recollect happenings long
vanished from their memory. Sometimes the scent of a flower, the glimpse
of a scene, a chance word or expression will vividly recall some episode
lying hidden for many years in the subconsciousness. Again it will be
pulled over the threshold from past to present, from the storehouse of
the eternal memory into the everyday working consciousness or mind.

This is not a book for scientists. I will therefore go into no elaborate
metaphysics, but will sketch as simply as I can what I mean by
subconsciousness. I use the term for the region or zone within us which
stores up the residues of past thoughts and experiences. Scientists tell
us there are three realms of mind, the super-conscious, the conscious,
the subconscious. The conscious mind is what we commonly use. It belongs
purely to the objective world, and its instruments are the five senses.
The subconscious mind is the storehouse for experiences on the human
plane of man's long past. The super-consciousness is independent of the
five senses. It is a faculty of perception closely akin to the One force
in the Universe, which is inseparably related to all created things. It
possesses the attributes of Infinity, is indestructible, immortal,
undying. We may forget a fact for many years, then suddenly we remember
it. I believe it has come back to us again across the threshold from the
subconscious region to our consciousness or mind which is open to
everyday observation.

I have become convinced, by personal experience, of the existence in us
of this region below the threshold of our ordinary conscious life. When
I was young there were many problems I wished to solve, and in this
effort human aid often failed me. My plan was to "sleep on" a problem,
ardently desiring before "dropping off" that an answer might be accorded
me. I suppose this desire was of the nature of prayer, though addressed
to no Deity. Almost invariably the solution was clear and unmistakable
to me in the morning.

I lost this great advantage at the age of twenty-one, but even now I can
sometimes "get at" a solution by leaving the question severely alone,
after turning it well over in my mind. The solution will suddenly pop
up, often weeks after I have tried to get at it, and when it comes
there, it arrives apropos of nothing, so to speak. It simply dawns in
the thick of quite other subjects, which happen at the moment to occupy
my mind.

Though I can no more demonstrate to others the existence of the
subconsciousness than I can prove the existence of the immortal soul, I
have got sufficient proof to satisfy myself, and I believe the same
knowledge is open to many of us. Within our being are sympathetic chords
that can vibrate to all the symphonies of Nature. There are visions of
beauty and depths of feeling which may be seen and felt, if heart and
mind are open to the higher influences. The finer forces of Nature, and
her immutable laws, are ready to draw nigh to us if we desire to welcome
them, and are eager to place ourselves in harmony with the Infinite
Source of being. We are in the keeping of the best and highest, and
whatever things are pure, whatsoever things are beautiful, whatsoever
things are true and high and holy will gravitate towards us in
proportion to the degree we desire them. The mysterious gift of
existence is in itself a beckoning ideal, and a foregleam of the final
awakening that will surely be ours.

Now what does the subconsciousness contain?

Firstly, I believe it to be permeated by Deity, and the Divine
indwelling. It is the seat of Genius. I believe a genius to be one who
is capable of drawing from the contents of his subconsciousness that
which outwardly appears as a creation. It is said that genius creates
and talent copies. I believe that a man becomes great when he represents
the results of countless lives in his individuality, and each life is an
arc of the infinite life of the Universe. The man with æons of
experience behind him is infinitely more _en rapport_ with his
subconsciousness than those younger, more immature souls who have as yet
experienced few earth lives and who constitute the bulk of humanity.

The eternal mind finds its home in the subconsciousness, by which I mean
that nothing is really forgotten by man. This lapse of memory is the
passing of the subject from the ordinary mind into the subconsciousness,
whence it may later be recovered again. The memory of all our former
incarnations I believe to lie hidden in the subconsciousness. It is from
this region or zone that one gets sudden uprushes of memory, and such
uprushes are induced by stumbling on a chance link between the two zones
of consciousness.

Some chance incident, such as the presence of my bare feet upon the
rough gravel, touches a correspondence on the other side of the
threshold, and lays bare old scenes to the observation of the ordinary
mind. It is noteworthy that the matter contained in this up-rushing is
recognized first, and the means which brought about the uprush is
recognized secondly.

I believe there is a vital communication between consciousness and
subconsciousness which could be enormously developed and utilized by
practice. The age in which we live has produced the most marvelous
triumphs of mind over matter. Access to the subconsciousness is becoming
commoner and simpler. We have broken in and harnessed material forces in
a manner undreamt of fifty years ago. Yet there is an alas! a fact which
detracts from all our legitimate pride in our achievement--the base uses
to which our triumphs have been put. The whole of our inventive power
has been turned against the life that gave it birth. The parents are
being consumed by their own offspring.... Matter evolved out of spirit
has threatened destruction to the latter.

The threshold between our ordinary consciousness and the region of
subconsciousness seems to me like a bridge which is rarely used, and
which separates the country known from the country unknown. I live in
the country known, but if I can touch a button at my end I can get a
response instantaneously transmitted from the country unknown. The
trouble is to find the button. At present I only press it at long
intervals and by the merest chance. Still it is something of an
achievement to have convinced one's self that such a region actually
does exist.

I believe this subconsciousness of ours is in direct contact with the
Great Creative Power. "It is God that worketh" in man, and its vital
communications are hidden in the infinite eternity. Says a Sufi ideal:
"To abide in God after passing away is the work of the perfect man, who
not only journeys to God--passes from plurality to unity--but in and
with God--continuing in the unitive state he returns with God (his
subconscious self) to the phenomenal world from which he sets out, and
manifests unity in plurality."

Though at present, to all outward seeming, the evolution of the beast is
consummated, there is a something that flatly contradicts this apparent
certainty. That something is man's subconsciousness, and the Divinity it
enshrouds, and which fiercely and irrevocably is set against the
bestiality into which he is plunged. War has never been so universally
hated as it now is. It is in this vital fact, which cannot be too
strongly emphasized, that our future hope lies.

I believe this vital fact to be so strong that entire regeneration is a
certainty. Where hitherto this force has lain dormant or been dispersed,
disunited and weak in spiritual utterance, it is now a collective force
concentrated in millions of lives. All over the earth it is now gathered
_en masse_, and that stupendous aggregate, vivified, sharpened, and
intensely accentuated by untold suffering will revolutionize all former
weak and fatalistic acquiescence in the inevitability of war. Millions
of men have descended into hell, they are there now, but they will arise
again from amongst the dead, and ascend one day into the Heaven of
peace, and thence they will judge the quick and the dead by a new
standard. The standard of the God within, whose voice has been heard at
last from out the din of battle. It is the same God who has said to the
East:--

"Have perseverance as one who dost forever more endure. Thy shadows
(physical bodies) live and vanish, that which is in thee shall live
forever, that which in thee knows is not of fleeting life, it is the
man that was, that is, that will be, for whom the hour shall never
strike."

To-day we all use, in some cases automatically, the powers and aptitudes
developed in us in the long and painful evolution of the physical form.
As evolution proceeds we will gain a vastly greater control over the
subconsciousness, and in æons to come "in the flight of the alone to the
alone" union will be achieved. The two will be merged in one.

The Lord Buddha has said that to enter Nirvana is to become fully
conscious of our fundamental oneness with the universal life.

"I and my Father are one." Christ's sense of oneness with the Father was
essentially Nirvanic.

We have not yet accustomed ourselves to think of evolution in any terms
but the material, as a power inherent in matter, Darwin's physical
evolution stood for pure materialism. Bergson now carries us a step
farther. He introduces us to a spiritual principle. His creative
evolution is a spiritual activity seeking freedom of expression in
matter. Darwin's struggle for existence is by Bergson transmuted into
life, expressing itself through material forms, and life and matter are
in constant conflict. Again he points out that the spiritual principle,
life, has not "had it all its own way." It has experienced checks, but
in two modes of activity it has succeeded, in instinct and intelligence.
Thus he draws for us the grandiose upward sweep of a Divine activity.
Curbed, it is true, by the crust of matter, but finding ever higher
capacities, and higher expression towards that ultimate reality which is
creative life and to me is union with that higher self lying in the
subconsciousness of all men.



CHAPTER XII

PEACOCK'S FEATHERS--THE SKELETON HAND AT MONTE CARLO


A sea voyage once provided me with a wonderfully lucky experience,
inasmuch as it saved me from an extremely bad accident.

I was returning quite alone from the East in a ship crammed full of
women and children, most of them soldiers' wives and families going home
to escape the hot weather. Many of them were attended by ayahs.

Two days out we ran into a raging storm, and everything was battened
down. Owing to the weather, and the excessive crowding, the conditions
below soon became very unpleasant, and I asked the captain if I might
take possession of the ladies' summer drawing-room on the upper deck and
close to the bridge. Seeing that it would not be used by any one else
for some time to come he kindly agreed, and I at once settled myself in
my eyrie with a few books, and prepared for some days of solitude.

But as the storm did not abate the suffering women and children below
claimed my attention. They were confined in an atmosphere which was
appalling, they were all terribly ill and utterly helpless. The mothers
were unable to attend to their children, most of whom were infants, and
the ayahs suffered horribly. Having no cabins they lay groaning on the
floors of the corridors, drenched with water as the ship was awash from
stem to stern, and tossed hither and thither as she rolled heavily.

It was never easy to descend from my perch aloft, but the sufferers had
to be aided, and day after day I never knew a dry moment till I lay down
at night. So far the summer drawing-room remained fairly water-tight in
spite of being swept continually by heavy seas, but the noise of the
elements was absolutely deafening, and when the captain called upon me
we had to shout in each other's ears.

With his connivance I got a shelter rigged up on what appeared to be the
only dry spot on board. It was about twelve feet square and walled in
with sailcloth, and there the sailors helped to carry a number of tiny
children. They were to remain there during the best hours of the day,
until their mothers and nurses were capable of attending to them once
more.

I took charge at first and found my task no light one. The babies did
not seem to appreciate my blandishments. They cried persistently, but
luckily their voices were drowned in the roaring of the wind.

At last a cabin boy chanced to look in, and at once sized up the
situation. He signaled to me that he knew of something that would ease
the tension and then he disappeared. In five minutes he was back
brandishing a large bunch of peacock's feathers. These he shook in the
face of each infant in turn, at the same time making the most hideous
grimaces at them. It was an anxious moment for me, but luckily the
effect was electrical. The babies suddenly forgot to yell, they stiffly
maintained their equilibrium and stared in a sort of indignant
amazement. Then, gradually, as the boy kept going round the circle
repeating the process, smiles and dimples began to appear, and in five
minutes more the whole crêche was laughing.

I applied for permission to annex that boy; he was indeed a treasure,
and the joy in the peacock's feathers never palled. His gutta-percha
face had an infinite variety of expression, which he could instantly
turn on to suit all occasions. It was a fascinating sight to see him
going round the group feeding each baby out of the same bottle, one of
the old-fashioned horrors with a long indiarubber tube and teat. Those
infants who had contemptuously rejected all my offers of nourishment now
sat expectantly agape waiting their turn. The scene always reminded me
of the artificial feeding of fowls, by the man who goes round the pens
squirting liquid down each gaping throat.

When we landed at Marseilles there was a wonderful parting between the
babies and the cabin boy. They clung to him to the last, and howled
dismally when they were carried off by their haggard mothers.

One night, during the height of the storm I was asleep on the fixed red
velvet seat running round the walls of the summer drawing-room. I lay
just under a porthole, to which was attached a rope. The other end of
the rope was tied round my arm to prevent my being thrown to the floor
by the rolling of the ship.

At five o'clock in the morning I was suddenly awakened by hearing my
husband's voice shouting in my ear. (My husband not being on board, but
in our home in the North of Scotland.)

"Sit up! Sit up!" shouted his voice commandingly.

Considerably startled I threw myself into a sitting position, and as I
did so a gigantic wave shattered the porthole, and the heavy fragments
of glass fell on to the pillow where a second before my face had lain.

Of course, the water poured in and over me in volumes, and stopped my
wrist watch at five a. m., but I had got used to salt water, and in a
few minutes the weary captain had waded in, and was disentangling me
from my rope and congratulating me on my lucky escape.

I told him how it was that I had escaped, and he was not in the least
skeptical. On the contrary, he said that he had known some curious
things happen in his time, for which there was no accounting; but he
always kept a black cat on board.

Had the safety of his ship not claimed his whole attention I believe he
would have told me some of his experiences, but when, at last, the
weather abated he was too much in need of rest to be bothered by any
one.

My husband had no knowledge of the service he had rendered me. At five
a. m. that morning he was asleep at home, and had no premonition of
danger, or any recollection on waking of the rôle his astral counterpart
had undoubtedly played.

What is this astral counterpart of man? His soul and spirit dwells in a
shroud of flesh, and the feat of getting out of that shroud of flesh at
will is the aim of all occultists. It is to the astral world they go,
soul and spirit encased in the astral sheath we term the astral body.

During sleep, or in trance, when the normal physical senses are in
abeyance, when the body is unconscious in sleep, the mind continues to
act in the realm corresponding to the suggestions given when awake. The
world at large is open to the highly developed man, and he will
sometimes bring back from his astral plane expeditions memories of what
he has seen and heard.

In deep slumber the physical body in healthful repose remains where it
has lain down to rest, but the man's higher principles, the astral body
encasing the soul and spirit, is invariably withdrawn, and in
underdeveloped persons hovers in the immediate neighborhood. In such
cases the higher principles, the astral body, soul and spirit of St.
Paul's Gospel, are not sufficiently developed to roam, and remain near
the physical body in a brooding sleep. All cultured persons in the
present day have their astral senses fairly well developed, and have the
power during sleep to go where they will, but as yet few have the power
to retain the memory of it when returning to the body.

In some cases the astral man during sleep is specially attracted to some
one point, and he invariably travels towards it; in other cases he will
drift aimlessly about on the astral currents, meeting with experience of
all sorts and with people in a similar condition whom he knows. Is there
anything very extraordinary in all this, and is not the condition of
deep unconscious sleep a demonstration in itself that the physical
consciousness has departed elsewhere? As it is no longer functioning on
the Physical plane clearly it has found another realm in which it can
temporarily exercise its activities.

My husband once had a rather interesting experience of his own, on the
Astral plane. He was in bed and asleep on the Physical plane, and he
believes that the time must have been between eleven p. m. and twelve a.
m. He simply became aware that he was functioning consciously on the
Astral plane, and was intensely interested.

He found himself in a strange house of medium size, and he was floating
at the top of a flight of stairs leading to an ordinary entrance hall
below. At the foot of the stairs hung a lighted lamp, and below the lamp
stood a man and woman, who were apparently exchanging a word or two
before bidding each other good-night.

My husband instantly conceived the idea of testing and proving his
belief, that he was consciously afloat on the Astral plane. If this
belief was true, then he ought to be able to pass through the couple
standing below, without their being in the least aware of his presence.

In a flash he was downstairs, and his belief stood the test. His
imponderable astral body passed without feeling or shock through two
ponderable bodies of flesh and blood, and he was out on the other side.
The excitement of the adventure awakened him, and he brought back to the
Physical plane a clear recollection of all that had happened.

When one thinks of it, the possible presence of total strangers in one's
house is rather alarming. Luckily for us such wanderers rarely bring
back to waking consciousness the memory of their nocturnal escapades.
When we are more advanced in "other side" knowledge we will doubtless
refrain from intruding upon the privacy of our neighbors' dwellings, and
confine our attentions to realms which are free to all.

It is curious how constantly one hears of the ghosts of priests and
monks being seen. I have not met any one yet who has encountered the
wraith of an Anglican parson, or a Nonconformist preacher. I wonder why?
I presume the latter do sometimes "walk."

Once upon a time, when we were in Rome, my husband and I went to keep an
appointment with Monsignor Stonor, who was a great celebrity, and an
extremely handsome and charming man. We were being shown upstairs by a
servant, and the hour was eleven o'clock on a sunny spring day. I was
walking first, my husband following, and at the top of the stairs,
coming slowly downward, was an old priest carrying a huge portfolio,
under which he seemed to be staggering. He passed the servant, and as he
neared me I noticed that the cassock which he wore was torn in great
rents in several places. His gray hair hung on his shoulders, though his
crown was shaven, and his face was the color of old ivory.

I moved slightly to give him and his burden room to pass, and as he did
so our eyes met. His were very strange. They were exactly like points of
live flame.

Something about his whole presence struck me as so weird that I turned
involuntarily and looked back.

As I did so, I saw my husband walk straight through him. My husband saw
nothing. Then I knew and understood.

I did not mention this incident to Monsignor Stonor, but some time after
I met his sister, Viscountess Clifden, at Monte Carlo. She was an
intimate friend of mine, and one day when an opportunity offered I told
her the little story, and asked her if she had ever met with anything of
the sort herself. She replied that personally, she had not, but she had
heard that several people encountered at different times the old priest
in her brother's rooms, though he himself had seen nothing of this
apparition.

Lady Clifden enjoyed nothing more than a little flutter at the tables.
She never missed a single day during her long sojourns at Monte Carlo.

Every one knows that the Anglican church-goers in the Principality hurry
from church to gaming rooms in order to stake on the numbers of the
hymns. Lady Clifden used also to hurry from Mass with any numbers she
had caught up, and she considered Sunday her lucky day. Suddenly her
luck changed.

She told me that on the previous Sunday she had just pulled off a nice
little coup, and was about to grasp it, when, to her horror she saw a
skeleton hand stretched forth. Before she could collect her scattered
senses the skeleton hand had raked in her gold. Where that gold had gone
to worried and puzzled her dreadfully. So it did me! I never heard the
last of it. She could not get over her loss.

It was no use suggesting that the hand had belonged to one of the
emaciated harpies who prey upon the unwary. Lady Clifden knew all about
them, and was a match for the whole gang, had they attacked her. She
insisted that the hand that had grasped her gold had neither skin nor
flesh upon it, and that she had seen the two bare arm bones from wrist
to elbow. We compromised on the suggestion of a third party that it must
have been the devil himself, and that the heat he is supposed to
engender had melted the gold entirely away.

Monte Carlo is a very interesting place for the clairvoyant to be in,
more especially if her vision extends to seeing auras. Perhaps nowhere
on earth are the basest human passions more swiftly and violently
aroused, and several times, when some tragedy was being enacted, or some
enormous coup was being brought off, I have been unable to see details,
because they were hidden within a dense envelop of dark crimson clouds.

In the rooms a crowd collects swiftly, and from a hundred human auras,
all gathered in one compact mass, stream forth emanations of the basest
description. Cupidity, envy, revenge, lust of the vilest, despair, ruin,
death.

I remember being met one night by a friend in the Attrium who was very
excited. "Hurry up," she cried, "the double Duchess has broken the bank
and is still playing."

I went into the gambling rooms, and looked for the table at which the
Duchess of Devonshire was staking. I knew she would attract a big crowd
if she was winning.

I found the table easily enough, not because it was surrounded by a
crowd of people, but because it was hidden by a dark and dense crimson
fog.

With patience I got through this fog, and watched the handsome Duchess
of Devonshire, formerly Duchess of Manchester, and born a Hanoverian,
playing with a great quantity of gold, and a pile of thousand franc
notes. By bending low down, almost level with the table, I found I got
completely out of the fog, and could see clearly underneath it.

One night there was a rush outside, and a huge ring formed to watch "a
scrap" taking place between two celebrated members of _la haute
cocotterie de Paris_.

They were fighting with formidable hatpins, and I understood that the
prey they fought over was Leopold, King of the Belgians.

I ran with the crowd, the gambling rooms emptied in a twinkling, for the
combat took place in the Casino Square. I squeezed through the excited
mob till I got behind the backers of both parties, who were holding the
ring and defying the police.

It was a wonderful sight to witness the combined play of flaming red
auras, shot through with vivid flashes like lightning, and blazing
jewels.

The duel ended with a few scratches, much tearing of gorgeous raiment
and disheveled hair.

How interesting it was to the mystic to feel the psychology of that
crowd, and see the thin veneer of civilization stripped off, leaving
nothing but the human tiger and ape. Both ladies were eventually led off
the arena by the police, not, be it understood, to the police-station,
but to their own sumptuous apartments. All the time they shrieked and
chattered like infuriated macaws, and between the shrieks they
administered resounding smacks upon the cheeks of their patient escort.

Monte Carlo was a wonderful place in those days, in which to study human
nature at its best and worst. In latter years it has become meretricious
and shabby, and the old magnificence is seen no more. Fifteen to twenty
years ago all that was greatest in Europe, Asia, and the Americas,
congregated there, and crowned heads mingled freely with the scum of the
earth. Constant _habitués_ were the Duchess of Devonshire, and her son,
Lord Charles Montague; the Duchess of Montrose, known to the ring at
Newmarket as "Bobs," and always the personification, to listen to and
look at, of a Thames bargee. Leopold of Belgium, Ferdinand of Bulgaria,
Grand Dukes of Russia, potentates from India, all hobnobbing together
and gambling heavily.

I often wonder now what has befallen those brilliant stars of the
half-world firmament. Emmeline d'Alençon with her "bobbed" hair, and
her passionate love of animals and birds. The demure Jeanne Ray, who
came out every morning to her garden gate, and distributed food to the
crowd of paupers and cripples. I have seen peasants kiss the hem of her
dress as she walked on an afternoon along the Promenade des Anglais. The
beautiful, soulless Mérode, the fierce, stately Otero, and many others
who thought nothing of wearing fifty to a hundred thousand pounds' worth
of jewels on one evening.

Where are they now? If living they are old! Old! a word more dreaded by
their class than death.



CHAPTER XIII

I COMMIT MURDER


I will now relate a very unpleasant experience that befell me thirty
years ago, but which has by no means exhausted itself in the passage of
years. It still, at long intervals, recurs to me as vividly as when
first I passed through the painful hours of its unfoldment.

It was the month of July, and I was making a tour by road through a
portion of Scotland, driving my own horse. I was accompanied by a groom
and a maid.

One evening we arrived at a well-known inn on Deeside, where I had
arranged to pass a couple of nights. I found my room ready for me, an
ordinary hotel bedroom, and after supper I retired very early to bed,
feeling very sleepy after a long day in the open air.

Towards morning I had a vision. I was a woman who had committed the
crime of murder; and I went in hourly terror of discovery and arrest, as
the police were actively in search of the criminal. Up to the present I
had succeeded in evading them, and no shadow of suspicion had yet fallen
upon me, but I lived in constant haunting dread that sooner or later
some chance clue would direct their attention to me, and I should be
arrested and brought up for trial.

I had no clue in the vision as to how the murder had been committed. My
victim was a man, and a sensation, vague and cloudy, suggested that a
quick poison was the mode of destruction I used, but I never gathered
why I murdered him, or what relation, if any, he was to me.

The vision was confined to my miserable sensations of fear of detection,
and the trouble was that I seemed utterly powerless to keep away from
the scene of my crime, a large mansion in the West End of London.

Not only did I haunt the outside of the house, but I had several times
contrived to penetrate into the interior without being discovered, the
house having stood empty since the crime.

It was a dark, foggy night when I determined again to effect an
entrance, and I listened intently in the street before darting up to the
front door and fitting my key in the lock. There was not a sound, and I
found myself in the interior with the door softly closed behind me.

I carried a candle, which I was about to light, when I saw that the
large hall was not in its usual darkness. A dim light burned in a
pendant globe, and looking round I perceived abundant evidences that the
house was again occupied. Several pairs of men's gloves were neatly
folded on the hall table, and a man's silk hat was neatly covered with a
cloth. There was not the faintest sound to be heard in the house, and
the hour was between eleven and midnight.

Very softly I crept up the wide staircase. My heart was beating
tumultuously, and I was in an agony of apprehension. On the first
corridor I entered the room where I had concealed the body of the man I
had murdered. I had dragged it there and hidden it in a great dress
wardrobe. I opened the wardrobe door and found the interior had been
filled with women's clothes, they were swathed in linen sheets. Amongst
them I began to search with both hands, but, of course, found no signs
of the body, which had long since been removed. However, in some
unaccountable way the action of searching seemed to comfort me, and soon
I turned to retrace my steps and gain the street once more.

At that second I heard some one approaching, and quick as thought I
slipped into the wardrobe and pulled the door close. Some one entered
the room and then left it again. In a few more moments the house was
again silent as the grave, and I began to creep downstairs very softly.

When halfway down, at a bend which brought me in full view of the hall
and the front door in the background, I stopped short at a sound.

Some one was about to enter, some one was fumbling with a latch key at
the other side of that door. Another moment and that some one would
enter and I would be discovered. There was but one chance. Whoever it
was might not come upstairs. He or she might strike off to the left of
the hall, where a corridor ran to that end of the house.

I cannot attempt to describe my agonizing terror of suspense, yet I did
not lose my presence of mind. Instantaneously I decided what to do,
should the one about to enter elect to come straight upstairs.

I hastily lit my candle, carefully shading it with my hand, and
crouching low I peered through the banisters, towards the front door. It
opened, and a man entered, middle-aged, well dressed, a gentleman, and
an utter stranger to me.

He closed the door and turned the key, but drew no bolts. Then he threw
off a heavy coat, and placed his hat and gloves on the table. My heart
beat to suffocation, as I waited to see which way he would go. He was
whistling softly to himself and, turning, began to walk across the hall,
heading for the stairs.

Then the moment for action came. I knew now I should have to pass him in
order to make my escape. I threw myself into the tragic pose of a
somnambulist. I wore a long floating cloak, and I knew my face was white
as death, and my eyes wide with sheer terror.

With both hands, one of which held the lighted candle, outstretched
gropingly, with distraught gaze fixed in wild vacancy, I slipped
silently down the few remaining steps and sped noiselessly in my soft
shoes straight across the hall towards him.

Though I never turned my eyes upon him I was aware that he had stopped
dead short, and was staring at me in startled amazement. Then fear
suddenly invaded him, I could feel it. He fell back as if to let me
pass, as I glided silently nearer to him and to the door.

He was backing away from me now, then in another instant, he had turned
and fled along the corridor. One more moment and I was safely outside,
on the pavement.

I woke up to a brilliant summer morning pouring in at my open window,
but I was in no mood to enjoy its loveliness. I was bathed in cold
perspiration, I was shivering with pure unadulterated fear. I was
prostrate with the violent revulsion of feeling, from acute dread of
discovery to partial immunity on gaining the street and escaping from
the house. The vividness of every detail was crystal clear, and attended
by all the violent emotions such an adventure and escape would
naturally arouse in me, had they happened in the world of realities.

It was hours before I could shake off the horror of the vision, and I
left the hotel that day. Nothing would induce me ever to pass another
night under that roof.

I had no recurrence of the vision till three months after, then it came
again, with all its attendant horrors, when I was asleep in my own bed
at home. This was succeeded at long intervals by a vision of my
condition of mind as an undiscovered criminal, always evading detection,
but without the vision of my return to the scene of the crime. During
the last thirty years I have had recurrences of the complete and partial
vision, but at long intervals.

A few years ago I happened to be standing with my host in an enormous
stone hall, in one of the greatest houses in England. We were discussing
the house, and its uncomfortable vastness. There were suites of
apartments in outlying parts where whole families might hide for days if
housemaids were careless. To reach the dining and drawing-rooms from the
bedrooms, if one was tired, was a real weariness.

We were looking up at the great gallery, running round the hall. It was
reached by four wide flights of stairs at different corners, and it was
full of all sorts of recesses, and massive pieces of old furniture and
screens. On the spur of the moment I said to my host, "Wouldn't it be
uncanny if we were to see a strange face looking down on us?"

To my surprise, he answered: "Oh! that has often happened. I've often
seen strangers looking down. At one time I took them to be inquisitive
members of my own household, whom I didn't know by sight, and one day I
complained about it, to the housekeeper. She looked very much disturbed
and told me she had seen the same thing herself. The house is opened on
certain days to the public, and she was half inclined to think one of
the visitors had escaped from the crowd, and hidden herself for several
days, as it was not on a public day that the figure was seen."

"Is it always the same figure?" I asked.

"Oh, no," replied my host. "Always a different one, and always some one
quite ordinary and modern looking. The strictest orders are given that
none of the servants' friends are to be allowed in this part of the
house, and the housekeeper has always been with us and is thoroughly
trustworthy. The fact remains an unsolved mystery."

The housekeeper was a very agreeable old woman of the real,
old-fashioned type. Very rustling in the evening, in a rich silk gown,
and wearing some fine piece of jewelry presented to her by one or other
of the crowned heads who had visited the famous house. I had asked her
before I left about these mysterious appearances, and she had no
explanation to offer. She had ascertained beyond a shadow of a doubt,
that they had nothing to do with the household.

"They were always just ordinary looking men and women, such as one meets
in the streets every day. Sometimes they seem to have hats on, sometimes
their heads appear uncovered," she explained.

This fits in with a belief I have always held that we constantly rub
shoulders with the disembodied, without being in the least aware of it.
As the Bishop of London once said: "We will find ourselves exactly the
same persons ten minutes after death as we were ten minutes before
death."

There are many occasions when we cannot express feeling in intellectual
terms owing to the poverty of language. One's life not being a matter of
intellectual perception, but a conscious experience, little of it can be
made known. The mystic life is really incommunicable.

We regard the Universe through the lens of five very imperfect senses,
conscious all the time that there are certainly many more mediums for
the expression of consciousness.

Perception is a manifestation of consciousness, and varies enormously in
individuals, ranging often above and beneath the normal. Undoubtedly
perception can be enormously extended by practice, not only in seeing
material objects, but in approaching the borderland of other worlds.

The sight of the Psychic or Medium is not so much vision as a
consciousness of the thoughts and feelings of others. It is a sensation
rather than a process of thinking, sensation not as we commonly accept
the term, but sensation through which mental objects are realized with
as great a clarity of vision as physical objects are seen with the naked
eye.

This intuitive vision is near akin to ordinary physical vision, inasmuch
as the object seen has a real concrete existence. The Psychic feels
vibrations and absorbs them.

My explanation of my vision in the Highland inn is that the actual
criminal had slept the night before in the room I occupied, and
happening to be mediumistic I at once began to absorb the vibrations,
and became steeped in all the circumstances, environment, and
conditions thrown off by the criminal in connection with the crime.

The vibrations were intensely strong, and still fresh and concentrated.
I absorbed them so fully that still at times they steal back across the
threshold of my subconsciousness, the vehicle which registers and
retains all impressions.

During sleep, when one is off guard, the gate is often ajar, and old
memories and incidents steal through, and range at will through the
ordinary consciousness.

In daily, normal existence the mind is merely a whirlpool, but
undoubtedly the criminal would concentrate mentally on every detail of
her crime. There would be a focalization of her mind; a concentration of
her whole mental faculties upon this one single subject, and when the
mental force is reduced from its normal, dissipated condition into
coherency, its power is unlimited. It is possible to catch a physical
disease by sleeping in an infected bed. It is quite as easy to catch a
mental disease by the same means. Many emotions are highly contagious,
notably fear. All are invisible to human sight, and there is rarely any
warning. A Psychic may sense something unpleasant before infection is
established. In fact, this often happens to quite normal individuals.
Something in the atmosphere of a place conveys a warning, is unpleasant
or uncongenial and it is avoided. If a warning was conveyed to me in the
Highland inn I was too tired to heed it.

At one time in my life I saw a great deal of two intimate and charming
friends, Lord and Lady Wynford. Alas! both have now passed over.

Lady Wynford was born Caroline Baillie of Dochfour, and owing to her
Scotch blood, and her relationship with many of our great Scotch
families, she was profoundly interested in ghosts. Lord Wynford, on the
contrary, had an absolute horror of the subject, and always left the
room whilst it was under discussion. Though very dissimilar, husband and
wife were the best of friends. She was very handsome and a brilliant
woman of the world. He was shy, retiring, and deeply religious. A
perfect example of a true gentleman of the old school, and an aristocrat
to his finger-tips. I was devoted to them both, and they were very kind
to me in giving me their warm friendship, though at the time of which I
write I was only a girl of about twenty years old.

At that period the great topic of conversation amongst ghost-hunters was
Glamis Castle, the most celebrated of all haunted houses. No ghost book
is ever considered complete without reference to this celebrated Castle,
and the story usually narrated is, that in the secret room some abnormal
horror lived, and that the heir, Lord Glamis, and the factor, had to be
told of its existence by the Earl of Strathmore in person. This
information was of so terrible a nature that it changed not only the
lives of those two men, but even their personal appearance. They grew
aged and haggard in a single night.

This story was readily discussed in old days by members of the
Strathmore family, who were just as keen as outsiders were to probe the
mystery. To-day it is universally believed that the monstrosity is at
last laid to rest, and that though other ghosts still walk the Castle,
the worst has departed forever.

I went one afternoon to see the Wynfords in the hotel in which they
stayed whilst in Scotland, and found Lady Reay with them. She was a
wonderful woman in her way, and preserved her youth up till very late in
life. Lord Wynford was not present, and Lady Wynford at once greeted me
by exclaiming, "We are going to stay at Glamis next week, and Lady Reay
has been there and seen a ghost."

"But not _the_ ghost," admitted Lady Reay.

"Then what did you see?" I inquired.

She then told the following story, which has a sequel:--

"I had been in the Castle for three nights and much to my satisfaction
seen absolutely nothing. We were a very cheery party, and every one was
frightfully thrilled and nervously expectant, but we were very careful
not to breathe the word 'ghost' before our host and hostess.

"On the fourth night I was awakened by a moaning sound in my room, and I
opened my eyes. The room was in total darkness, but I saw something very
bright near the door. I shut my eyes instantly, and pulled the
bedclothes over my head in a paroxysm of fear. I longed to light my
candles, but didn't dare, and the moaning continued, and I thought I
should go quite mad.

"At last I ventured to peep out again. I saw a woman dressed exactly
like Mary Tudor, in her pictures, and she was wandering round the walls,
flinging herself against them, like a bird against the bars of a cage,
and beating her hands upon the walls, and all the time she moaned
horribly. I'm sure she was the ghost of a mad woman. Her face and form
were lit up exactly like a picture thrown upon a magic lantern screen,
and every detail of her dress was clearly defined.

"Luckily she never looked at me, or I should have screamed, and I
thought of Lord and Lady I. sleeping in the next room to mine, and
wondered how I could reach them. I was really too terrified to move, and
the ghost kept more or less to that part of the room where the door was
situated.

"I must have lain there awake for two or three hours, sometimes with my
head buried under the clothes, sometimes peeping out, when at last the
moaning suddenly stopped. I opened my eyes. Thank God, I was alone. The
ghost had departed.

"I lay with wide open eyes till daybreak. Then the first thing I did was
to run to the mirror to see if my hair had turned white. Mercifully it
hadn't, but I looked an awful wreck.

"I told just a few people what I had seen, and contrived to get a wire
sent me before lunch. Early in the afternoon I was on the way to
Edinburgh."

Such was the story Lady Reay related.

Thirteen years later Captain Eric Streatfield, who was a nephew of Lord
Strathmore, and an intimate friend of my husband, told me exactly the
same story. He was a boy of six at the time, when the lady of Tudor days
appeared moaning in his room, and he said he would never forget the
misery of the night he passed. He was very much interested in hearing
that Lady Reay had gone through the same experience. He told me another
extraordinary story.

Whilst, as a school boy, he was visiting at Glamis Castle with his
parents, he noticed that they began to behave in rather a peculiar
manner. They were often consulting alone with one another, and
constantly scanning the sky from their bedroom window, which adjoined
his. For two or three days this sort of thing went on, and he caught
queer fragments of conversation whispered between them, such as, "It
doesn't always happen. We might be spared this year, the power must die
out some day."

At last one evening his father called him into his room, where his
mother stood by the open window. In his hand his father held an open
watch.

His mother bade him look out, and tell them what sort of night it was.
He replied that it was fine, and still and cold, and the stars were
beginning to appear.

His father then said, "We want you to take particular note of the
weather, for in another moment you may witness a remarkable change.
Probably you will see a furious tempest."

Eric could not make head or tail of this. He wondered if his parents had
gone mad, but glancing at his mother he noticed that she looked
strangely pale and anxious.

Then the storm burst, with such terrific suddenness and fury that it
terrified him. A howling tempest, accompanied by blinding lightning and
deafening thunder, rushed down upon them from an absolutely clear sky.

His mother knelt down by the bed, and he thought that she was praying.

When Eric asked for an explanation he was told that when he was grown up
one would be given him. Unfortunately the moment never came. An aunt had
told him that the storm was peculiarly to do with Glamis, and was
something that could not be explained.

Lord and Lady Wynford paid their visit to Glamis, and I looked forward
eagerly to their return in a week's time. I went to see them the day
after their arrival back again, and was met by Lady Wynford alone.
Before I could question her she began to speak of the visit.

"I don't want you even to mention the word Glamis to Wynford," she said
very gravely. "He's had a great shock, and he's in a very queer state of
mind."

She paused, and I ventured to ask, "But what sort of shock?"

Then she gave me the following account:--

"Wynford and I occupied adjoining bedrooms. We were having a delightful
time. Glorious weather, and a lot of very pleasant people. I really
forgot all about there being any ghost. We were out all day, and very
sleepy at night, and I never heard or saw a thing that was unusual.

"Two nights before we left something happened to Wynford. He came into
my room and awakened me at seven o'clock in the morning. He was fully
dressed, and he looked dreadfully upset and serious. He said he had
something to tell me, and he wished to get it over, and then he would
try not to think of it any more. I was certain then that he had seen or
heard something terrible, and I waited with the greatest impatience for
him to continue. He seemed confronted with some great difficulty, but
after a long pause he said--

"'You know that I have always disbelieved in the supernatural. I have
never believed that God would permit such things to come to pass as I
have heard lightly described. I was wrong. Such awful experiences are
possible. I know it to my own cost, and I pray God I may never pass such
a night again as that which I have just come through. I have not slept
for a moment. I feel I must tell you this, in fact, it is necessary that
I tell you, because I am going to extract a promise from you. A promise
that you will never mention in my hearing the name of this house, or the
terrible subject with which its name is connected.'

"I was speechless for a few minutes with perplexed amazement. I had
never heard Wynford speak like that, nor had I ever seen him so terribly
upset.

"'But,' I said at last, 'aren't you going to tell me what has so
unnerved you?'

"He began pacing up and down the room. 'Good God, no,' he exclaimed, 'I
couldn't even begin to tell you. I have no words that would have any
meaning or expression. Don't you understand, there is no language to
convey such happenings from one to the other. They are seen, felt,
heard! They cannot be uttered. There are some things on earth I know of
now, that may not be related to the spoken word. Perhaps between a man
and his God, but not even between you and me.'

"We were silent again for some minutes, during which he continued to
pace the room, his head drooped on his breast. I was really seriously
alarmed. I even feared for his reason, and I couldn't form the smallest
conjecture as to what had been the nature of his experiences. I was
quite convinced of one thing. What he had seen was no ordinary ghost,
like Lady Reay's Tudor Lady. She might have amazed him, but it required
something much more terrible and awe-inspiring to have reduced him to
such a condition of mental misery and desolation.

"I wanted to comfort him, to sympathize with him, but something about
him held me at arm's length. It was his soul that was suffering, and
with his soul a man must wrestle alone. I felt that his deep religious
convictions of a lifetime had been violently dislocated, for all I knew
shattered entirely, and I felt profound compassion for him. I may have
had doubts, on many points. I confess to being a worldly skeptic, but
Wynford's faith has always been so pure and childlike, and I have
striven never to jar him on religious subjects. Now I feel as if
somehow, everything that he has ever had has been taken away from him.

"At last I said, 'Don't you think we had better leave to-day? We can
easily make some excuse.'

"He stopped and looked straight at me, so strangely.

"'No, I can't leave to-day. I must stay another night here. There is
something I must do. Now will you give me your promise never to mention
this subject to me again? We may not be alone together again to-day. I
want to get it over. Promise.'

"I gave him my promise at once. I dared not have opposed him. I was
horribly frightened. He went out of the room at once, and I lay thinking
and shivering with dread. 'What was it he had to do? Why could we not
leave to-day?' It was all so mysterious.

"Well! the day passed in an ordinary manner, and if Wynford was more
grave than usual I don't think any one noticed it. Then came the night I
so dreaded. Of course I didn't sleep at first, I was too anxious, and I
heard him come up to his room half an hour after I did. The door between
our rooms was closed, and I lay awake listening intently. I heard him
moving about; I supposed he was undressing, and his man never sits up
for him. Then after a time there were occasional creaks which I knew
came from an armchair, and I knew that he had not gone to bed.

"I suppose I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I was aware
of was Wynford's voice. He was speaking to some one, and seemed to be in
the middle of a conversation. When he ceased speaking I strained my ears
to catch a reply. I could hear no words, only his voice. Then a reply
did come, and it simply froze the blood in my body, and I felt bathed in
ice, and had to put my finger between my teeth, they chattered so
horribly.

"The reply was a hoarse whisper, a sort of rasping, grating undertone,
that was not so much a whisper as an inability to speak in any other
voice. There was something almost inhuman in those harsh, vibrating, yet
husky words, spoken too low for me to catch. I knew at once that no
guest, no member of the family, spoke like that, and I could not
conceive that it could be a servant. What could Wynford have to say to
any servant of Lord Strathmore?

"A clock somewhere in the Castle struck three. No; I was certain that
the presence with him, whatever else it might be, was no human being
dwelling under the roof of Glamis.

"At times they seemed to hold an argument; sometimes Wynford's voice was
sharp and decisive, at other times it was utterly weary and despondent.
I dreaded what the effect might be upon him of this awful night, but I
could do nothing but lie shivering in bed, and pray for the morning.

"How long it went on for I can't say, but the conviction came to me
suddenly that Wynford had begun to pray. His voice was raised, and now
and again I fancied I could hear words. The rasping whisper came now
only in short, sharp interjections or expostulations, I don't know
which. The even flow of Wynford's words went quietly on, and I began to
be certain that he was praying for the being who spoke with that
terrible whisper. It occurred to me that he might even be trying to
exorcise some unclean spirit.

"At last a silence fell. Wynford stopped praying, and I hoped that the
terrible interview was at an end. Then it began again, and for quite an
hour the prayers went on, with long periods of silence in between. I
heard no more of the terrible, husky whisper.

"I fell asleep again and did not awake till my maid brought me early
tea. No sooner had she gone than Wynford entered, fully dressed. Though
he looked desperately tired and wan, he seemed quite composed, and as if
some weight had been removed from off him. He said he was going for a
stroll before breakfast, and, of course, I remembered my promise and put
no questions. I have come to the conclusion that a hundred people may
stay any length of time at Glamis and see or hear nothing. The hundred
and first may receive such a shock to the nervous system that he never
really recovers from it."

Such was the mysterious story that Lady Wynford unfolded. I saw her
husband the next day, but beyond being graver than usual in his manner I
detected no difference in him. He never referred, even in the most
indirect way, to his visit, but he must have inferred by my silence that
I had been warned not to mention the subject. Many others must, however,
have done so, for every one, who at that period passed a night under
Glamis Castle roof, was eagerly questioned by friends and acquaintances
on their return.

The only occasion on which I visited Glamis was on the night of a ball,
given in honor of the Crown Prince of Sweden. The curiosity of the
guests was held in check by servants being stationed at certain doors,
and entrances to corridors and staircases, to inform rude explorers that
they could not pass. It is hard to believe that such a course of action
was necessary, but I personally watched little parties being turned back
towards the ballroom and sitting-out-rooms, showing that intense
curiosity may even prove stronger than good breeding.

What Wynford saw that night will never be known, but one fact remains.
It left so deep an impression upon him that he was never the same man
again. He became graver and more wrapped up in his own thoughts month by
month, and the change that ended in his death his wife attributed to
those nights passed in Glamis Castle.



CHAPTER XIV

THE ANGEL OF LOURDES


One lovely summer evening I was standing in a hotel bedroom, washing my
hands. I was in Lourdes, and I was pondering upon a certain long flight
of stone steps that I could see quite clearly from my window. At the top
of the steps, which were cut in the face of the wooded hillside, stood a
great Calvary, and from dawn till darkness pilgrims made the hard ascent
upon their knees. The stones were worn and grooved by the stream of
human beings making their painful way to the foot of the Cross.

The atmosphere of Lourdes is very impressive to the Psychic. One
breathes the concentrated essence of prayer. No one goes there who is
not on prayer intent, and in the public streets, gardens and churches
one comes across kneeling figures lost in Divine contemplation. No one
heeds them; all are on a like mission, and sometimes men and women stand
for hours with outstretched arms. Human crosses, oblivious to all, lost
in a mystic rapture which takes count of neither time nor place.

I turned my head towards the window. The sun had just set behind the
mountains, and the sky was illuminated by a rosy afterglow. Down in the
valley the shadows were beginning to lengthen, but I could still see the
Calvary on the hillside, and the dark human stream slowly moving up the
stony way, the _Via Dolorosa_ of the Cross.

At that moment the sense of a presence swung into my field of
consciousness, and contracted my vague faculties to focus. Something
moving in the sky above caught my eye.

How shall I describe the sight?

I saw an angel floating above the mountains.

The figure, wingless, yet floating in erect grace, was of great size,
and wrapped entirely in cloudy gray. The head was bare and slightly
bent, as if looking down on earth. The movements were smooth and
gliding, as a feather floats in the wind. The distance was too great--I
judged about a quarter of a mile--for me to distinguish the features,
but owing to its great size the figure was clearly visible and deeply
inspiring.

It was a vision on which none could look intently without feeling the
weight of a mighty awe. It gathered up the wandering emotions of the
heart, and all a lifetime's ideals of beauty, grandeur, sublimity, in
one serene presentation.

The vision floated on majestically, across the valley and the little
town with its praying multitudes. In about three minutes It had passed,
and was lost in the pearly mists of the gathering night.

And whilst the vision lasted I was acutely conscious of that innumerable
concourse of kneeling forms below, all struggling upwards to the Cross.

It seems to me that the devout, of other faiths than that of Rome, lose
much by not taking advantage of Lourdes. For many years, thousands of
pilgrims from all corners of the earth have bent their steps towards the
shrine, and poured out their souls in a passion of supplication. This
tremendous concentration of faith, love and fervent adoration, often
ecstatic thanksgiving for answered prayer, must find an echo in the
Heaven World to which they are sent.

It is so easy at Lourdes to feel that the Throne of Grace has been
actually reached, because one can sense the pathway, the ladder made by
human love, praise and faith, down which, I doubt not, the Angels of God
are always passing. It is easier to concentrate the mind in a place
where religious thought has been poured out for many years, because one
insensibly becomes calmed, and tranquilized, and aided by the atmosphere
thousands of others have created.

At Lourdes there is nothing to attract the scoffer, and thousands of
hearts filled with reverence and devotion reënforce each year the
already powerful vibrations, and leave the place the better and richer
for their presence.

How few people realize that they have never seen themselves? How many
can tell what they really look like?

A very, very few can, and I am amongst the number.

I wakened one morning in summer, and opened my eyes on my sunlit bedroom
at home. Instantly I saw something which thrilled me with vivid
interest. I saw myself!

I was emerging out of a corner of the room, and composedly approaching
the bed. There was no doubt as to recognition. I knew instantly I was
looking on my own face for the first time, and it was something of a
shock to discover that I was more or less of a stranger to myself. I saw
how false a looking-glass can be. I had not begun to know myself.

With absorbed interest I stared very hard, in my intense desire to
imprint on my memory my own image. I approached the bed, and as I did
so, I seemed to shrink, fade, and waver. Then suddenly I vanished--into
my recumbent body.

For a few minutes afterwards I was too concerned with my physical
condition to ponder on the vision of my real self. I was tossing
violently in the bed, in an inner distraughtness which was most
disturbing. Then, as my nervous system began to calm down, I strove to
imprint on my memory the recollection of what I really looked like.

My face, even in the wonder of those few moments in which I had seen it,
expressed emotions I had never seemed to know. Nothing was as I had
believed it to be. All the traits that went to form my character needed
readjusting, and all seemed curiously imperfect. I could not remember
how I was clothed, though I had seen myself from head to foot. I suppose
I was too engrossed in studying my face to think of my body.

The vision left me with a blank sense of utter disillusionment and
failure. Nothing in me was finished or complete. My expression suggested
a character which was horribly crude, imperfect and rudimentary. Looking
at myself afterwards in the mirror, I came to the conclusion that it
lied, or that in waking life I wear a mask.

It is salutary to behold one's spiritual portrait, a thing not visible
to the mind alone but to the physical sight. In a flash comes the
knowledge that dwelling in us are forces, not yet grasped by mortal
mind, that cry for recognition. There have been moments in all lives, I
believe, when a glimpse is caught of the Olympian heights to which it is
possible to rise. Glimpses, alas! of the evanescent thing we know
ourselves in truth to be.

Sometimes, on the Astral plane, it happens that friends meet under
strange circumstances, and one figures largely in the doings of another.
The memory of those nocturnal adventures is brought through and clearly
recollected in the morning.

One such occurrence I will relate, and it is peculiar and unusual.

An old friend of ours, a man who has devoted his life to the development
of his spiritual faculties (not to be confused with the development of
mediumship and phenomena), had a series of dreams in which he appeared
to be two people. He himself was the same tall, slender man he is in
daily life, but in this psychic experience a much smaller man moved
always on his left side, and somehow seemed to symbolize his waking
personality.

The central figure in one of these unusual experiences was a young man
who was unknown to our friend, and who had died abroad. His body had
been embalmed and brought home for burial, and our friend had been shown
photographs of him, and had also communicated with him through automatic
writing. This much was imprinted on his physical memory.

Now, whilst lying asleep one night, the spiritual counterpart of our
friend became aware that the body of the young man was exposed and could
be seen. His companion, or other self, the shorter man who moved by his
side, shrank back with horror from such a suggestion, just as our friend
would instinctively have done in waking consciousness, but he himself
was determined to see the body, and went straight through a door facing
him, into a room where it was lying on a low table.

Now comes the moment when I began to figure in this experience. I was
standing on the opposite side of the table, making vigorous passes over
the young man's body, which appeared to be fashioned out of pinkish
clay. The trunk and legs looked as though I had roughly modeled them
with my hands. The head was more highly finished. It was sharp and
distinct in outline, and our friend recognized it instantly as being a
representation of the young man whose portraits he had seen. He stared
at the face with great interest, and taking up a cloth, gently wiped the
cheek where a fleck of foam lay. This action seemed to vivify the body,
for it began to mutter and murmur indistinctly. Apparently it was alive,
and not dead.

Our friend relates that this discovery gave him such a shock that he
lost the thread of memory which he was bringing back to his physical
body on the bed. The next moment he woke up. My recollection, a
perfectly clear one, of these happenings, was that he simply vanished
from the scene, leaving me alone with the body, which I continued to
manipulate.

Afterwards, through automatic writing, our friend was told by the
departed young man, that this astral vision signified the collecting of
etheric matter to fashion a body in which he could function on etheric
planes.

On another occasion our friend had the experience of walking about on
the other side with the young man, who was dressed in an ordinary tweed
suit, and being taken by him to various acquaintances, to whom he was
introduced. With the exception of the above experience, he believes that
this was the first time he had ever seen him. The interesting point of
both experiences is, that both I and our friend brought back on waking,
a clear and similar recollection of the episode in which we were jointly
concerned.

This friend of ours is a disciple of "The Flaming Heart," called by
Catholics "The Sacred Heart." He writes to me thus:--

"I see now more clearly than before that the Christ self within uses its
powers as a whole, just as the personal man uses intellect, will, and
feeling, all three being energized by love, which is the element of
interest in the several activities."

"So the self of love works out and manifests as--

    Love and Life         Beauty.
    Love and Power        Goodness.
    Love and Knowledge    Wisdom.

"The Love element saves us from wrong living, wrong doing or wrong
thinking. So we go from strength to strength, by yielding the lower self
to the transmuting power of the Higher."

It was long before I came to understand the full significance of the
Flaming Heart. It was plain to see what its realization meant to our
friend. He radiates an extraordinary serenity of mind, an atmosphere of
strength and peace, a calm in the midst of storm which apparently
nothing can shake. Pre-eminently, when in his presence, one is conscious
of a commanding power which will only be used for exalted purposes. This
clear subjection of the lower self, to the transmuting power of the
Higher self, has worked such marvels in him that one longs to grasp the
secret of his success.

A few years passed, and still the heart of the mystery eluded me. This
year, 1918, it came to me in a flash.

The experience I am about to relate may have happened to many others. To
me, it was a tremendous revelation.

I was kneeling one morning in front of the Altar, at Early Celebration.
I have always felt, through the Eucharist, the possibility of great
spiritual development, and often there comes to me at such moments, a
mystical response to the inner mysteries of the Sacrament. I have never
looked for supernatural happenings, hallucinations, or psychic
excitements, but my spiritual instincts are always alive and craving
satisfaction. This they have never before received in any really lasting
degree.

Now came a new Divine illumination.

Two clergymen were officiating at the celebration. I had just received
the bread from the one, and had raised my head and hands to receive the
cup from the other, when suddenly I went quite blind.

The vicar, who was moving towards me, was blotted out. I stared at a
black veil utterly impenetrable, and I was aware of a tremendous
internal dislocation. My heart beat tumultuously, and felt as if thrust
out of place. Then my sight was restored.

I saw before me, not the man, bearing in his hands the chalice, but a
flaming heart of fire, from which radiated out living, scintillating
streams of golden light. They filled the background with their quivering
radiance, and I was conscious of shrinking back, and bowing my head as
the supernal vision approached me and enveloped me in Its aura.

The cup had been transmuted by Divine alchemy into the Flaming Heart of
love's sacrifice, and I was given to taste of the living waters of Life.

For a few minutes I was quite unconscious of where I was. I had been,
indeed, caught up into the seventh Heaven. I know now that I acted
mechanically, and to outward semblance I behaved in the orthodox manner,
but when I raised my head again the vicar had passed on and the vision
had vanished. Nothing had happened to distract the attention of others.

I returned to my seat conscious that I had been taught the meaning and
marvelous significance of the Flaming Heart. I understood the words of
the great mystic, St. John.

     "In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

     "And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness overcame
     it not.

     "There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man,
     coming into the world."

I know that the Flaming Heart of Divinity dwells in the breasts of all
humanity, that the soul is no empty shell, but the shrine of the Divine
Presence, and that Presence is the Guide and Light of Life.

I have seen revealed the inner mystery of the sacramental life. Through
a rift in the veil of the material, the hidden life of eternity was
symbolized for me in the Flaming Heart, the true Eucharistic Mystery.



CHAPTER XV

THE WRAITH OF THE ARMY GENTLEMAN


To some people life is an unspeakable tragedy; to others it is a mere
farce. To all it is a profound mystery.

What am I? Where have I come from? Where am I going? What is this
mysterious ego that thinks and acts?

From Darwin we learn that the human body has taken a million years to
evolve its present form. Is it logical to suppose that there is no
scheme of evolution for the immortal soul, in which it can preserve its
individuality through the ages? The mills of God grind slowly, and what
is seventy or eighty years in eternity, in which we develop the highest
and most complex organism we can conceive of--the Soul?

Five hundred and thirty-five years B. C. Pythagoras was teaching the
reincarnation of the immortal soul in his celebrated school. Plato,
Socrates, Aristotle, Philo, Virgil, Cicero, Euclid, the Egyptians and
the Hindoos taught the same doctrine. In the days of Christ the
transmigration of souls was an accepted belief, and in 250 A. D. Origen,
the greatest of the Christian Fathers, was still teaching the same
doctrine. Justin Martyr recognized the presence of the Logos in Jesus,
and Socrates and Clement of Alexandria affirmed that the same philosophy
had brought the Greeks to Christ. To this day it remains the belief of
three-fourths of the human race.

In our country, though a rapidly growing faith, Buddhism fails to
command the attention it otherwise would, for two reasons. Firstly, we
have never been a religious-minded people, and are now very much less so
than formerly. What are loosely termed religious subjects interest a
very few, and bore intensely the great majority. Out of our forty-four
million souls, a mere handful are interested in a future life. The rest
prefer not to take the problem into consideration, though they are ready
to accept a small dose of conventional religion, ready-made and
pre-digested. Secondly, faith in the transmigration of souls in a
succession of physical bodies only becomes an urgent mental necessity, a
vitally necessary explanation of life's inequalities, to those who mix
with the outcast poor. Such persons are again comparatively few, and, to
those of them who think, life without reincarnation is simply an
incomprehensible and chaotic puzzle.

Once the faith is grasped that life between birth and death is only a
tiny fragment of the æons allotted to us, in which to develop
spiritually, divine harmony; love and justice reappear. Only thus can
one see light. But if the tardy growth of this all-sufficient
illumination is slow to take root, it must be remembered that to the
ordinary, well-to-do person it makes no appeal.

"Am I my brother's keeper?" is generally answered in the negative, and
the hypocritical rejoinder, covering a mountain of selfishness, that it
is an impertinence to pry into the lives of the poor, is the facile
excuse for sitting at ease and cozening the conscience into the belief
that the poor are God's affair. Even the devout and pious, who may feel
deep compassion for the sorrow of the destitute, have no spur to prick
their mental apathy, unless they mix freely and constantly with the
poor and oppressed. Only then will come the perplexed question: Where
can I see in all this overwhelming misery the Divine hand of love and
justice?

The Christ who established his Brotherhood with us, by proclaiming God
the Universal Father, told us that "Before Abraham was, I am," and I
suppose that most people, who accept anything, accept the pre-existence
of Christ. Yet how few of us can remember anything of our own past
lives, and how merciful it is that we cannot. How utterly overwhelming
such memory would be! The future is as carefully hidden from us as the
past, yet our previous lives have been by no means unfruitful.

The experiences we have gathered in the past years of this life are
nearly all forgotten, yet our development has gone on, and the records
are stored in the subconsciousness, sometimes to be pulled across the
threshold and displayed in a complete panorama before the dying eyes.
The statements to this effect made by those who have been resuscitated
when at the point of death by drowning, are too numerous to be discarded
as mere fables.

Undoubtedly we all contain the germs of sin at birth, but few educated
people now accept the statements that we are born sinful because our
parents sinned, or because of the moral delinquencies of those of Eden.
Certainly we all bear the consequences of others' sins, but the cruel
injustice of a God who deliberately punishes present humanity for the
sins of past humanity is too revolting a conception of the Creator to
gain acceptance to-day.

This very fact shows that we have advanced spiritually. So base a
conception of the Almighty is violently repugnant to serious thinkers.
The intuitive consciousness of man postulates the over-ruling spirit as
a power representing perfect justice and love, and the innate instinct
to believe that we ourselves are in some mysterious way akin to this
Divine Ideal keeps ever alive the belief in our Divine origin.

What is the grand apotheosis of each human life? The Christ spirit; a
scheme of regenerative redemption, simple, natural, yet superlatively
grand.

If one asks whether the orbs in space take precedence of personal will
and intelligence, or personal will and intelligence take precedence of
the orbs in space, one has only to ask whether builders or buildings
have priority. Do pictures originate the artist? do books originate the
author? If one begins to study with a belief in spirit as power and
cause, one can account for all things, but to start with matter as a
foundation is to fail absolutely to account for either matter or spirit.

In some infinite womb the vital Heavens, the visible Universe must have
existed before time was. We see all elements have their affinities, all
stars their course, all atoms their polarity. We see the wheel of
Ezekiel symbolizing the whole scheme and fabric of Nature.

Heaven works not only with stupendous immensities but with small
minorities. Atoms of unutterable minuteness are streaming into the
unseen atmosphere every second from the souls and bodies of the human
race. When the soul seeks, aspires after God, the most vital of all
atoms go forth with the breath, as light from the sun to the earth.
Surely we and our angel kindred inhabit one house of which the most
distant provinces are in touch with the center of all. Heaven and earth
are bridged by the spirit ladder of love, and the soul can inbreathe the
spirit of God as the body inbreathes oxygen.

The contemplative mind beholds every day the passage of things invisible
into sight, the transfer of the seen into the unseen, and all is
natural. The life throb of the palpable world is a pulsation going forth
every instant from the eternal energy, drawing out by an ethereal medium
from the invisible and intangible, that which is visible and tangible.

I will speak now of the passage of a thing invisible into sight. How, to
me, it became so I cannot tell. I don't know.

One summer evening my husband and I were occupying two communicating
bedrooms in a London hotel, contiguous with one of the great railway
stations. We had to make an early start in the morning, and had come
there to be near our train.

I awakened in the early morning hours. The gray dawn was just beginning
to show through the bars of the Venetian blinds lowered before the two
windows. Those bars had not been adjusted, and they also admitted a
rather bright light from a street lamp. I judged it to be somewhere
about four o'clock, but I did not look at my watch. I was too
pre-occupied in looking at something else.

My bare arm was stretched outside the coverlet, and I was aware that
what had awakened me was a cold wind blowing on my skin. The furniture
of the room was dimly outlined, and at first I vaguely threw my
half-open eyes around without perceiving anything unusual, but gradually
my senses, shaking off their drowsiness, became aware of movement
between the bed and the window. Something tall and gray was wavering
like a pillar of smoke betwixt me and the struggling daylight. I closed
my eyes again with a creepy feeling, a disinclination to look again, but
my bare arm, which still lay outside the coverlet, received another
intimation that roused me to keen alertness. A chill wind was blowing
over my skin.

I drew in my arm hastily, and opened my eyes. That tall gray something
had approached much nearer to me, and now I could distinguish with
perfect clearness the figure of a man, but such a wavering, fluid form
that one moment seemed on the point of dissolving into thin air, and the
next moment gathering itself together again in clear cut outline.

For what seemed to me a long time I stared at the gray apparition. I
felt a cold fear, a rigid horror creep over me, and but for the
recollection of my husband's nearness, and the open door between us, I
might have fainted from pure terror. I thought of calling to him, but
something sinister in that wavering shadow made me desist. At times the
form came quite close to the bed, but I could never see the face
clearly; it was vague and undetermined in outline, in fact, not
completely materialized. Not for a second did that wavering movement
cease, that floating, shimmering motion 'twixt bed and window, of what I
knew to be the ghost of a man.

How long this unpleasant state of things continued I do not know. I was
perfectly well aware that a ghost should be addressed in sympathetic
terms, should be asked if any human help can be rendered, but at the
time it never once occurred to me to speak. Gradually, as I watched that
retreating then advancing form, at moments opaque, then almost
transparent, I lost consciousness and fell asleep again.

I was awakened a few hours later by a loud knocking at my door. I slid
instantly out of bed, turned the key, and was confronted by the
chambermaid, bringing my early tea.

"Who was the man who killed himself in this room?"

Luckily, the woman did not drop the tray, as I hurled at her this abrupt
question. She set the tea down on a table and turned to me a scared
face, as she answered by another question:

"How ever did you find out that?"

"Never mind how I found out. Please answer me. I won't get you into
trouble," I said firmly.

"It was an army gentleman. He shot himself here the night before last.
That's all I know," was her subdued answer.

Poor "army gentleman"! So you were revisiting the scene of your last
tragedy, or had you ever left that confined space between four walls
which witnessed the supreme mental agony of the suicide?

What had prompted me to put that sudden question to the chambermaid? I
could not tell. In the moment of waking, slipping out of bed and opening
the door, no recollection had come to me of my earlier experience, but
betwixt that experience and my abrupt waking at her knock knowledge must
have been somehow afforded me of the tragedy. I knew a man had done
himself to death in that room shortly before I occupied it.

A day or two afterwards I read an account of the inquest held upon the
body. A rankling sense of unjust treatment had preyed upon his brain.

Suicide whilst of unsound mind was the verdict. Poor "army gentleman," I
fear I could have been of little service to you, even if I had opened
up some form of communication between myself and your disembodied soul!

When one remembers how many persons occupy even one room in a hotel in
twelve months, it seems natural that psychic phenomena should be common
to such houses. Undoubtedly many tragedies must be enacted in every
hotel within a comparatively short space of time, and one may, in utter
unconsciousness, occupy a bedroom in which, but the night before, murder
or suicide has taken place.

Some years ago, I had occasion to pass a night in one of the big West
End hotels of London. It was very full, and I had to be content with a
very indifferent room on the main entrance floor, and looking to the
back. The window had iron bars in front of it, through which one could
slip one's head, but not one's shoulders. The reason for the bars was
obvious. A wide mews ran on a level with this floor of the house, and
failing this obstruction any one could have stepped with perfect ease
from the pavement into the room.

Thrusting my head through the bars I could see from end to end of the
mews. On the left there was no exit, on the right was a narrow lane
running down the side of the hotel, and leading into the main
thoroughfare. The mews seemed very quiet, clean and respectable, and for
one night only I decided that the room would do. I was very tired after
passing two nights in a train, and went early to bed and fell asleep at
once.

I ascertained afterwards that I had been sleeping for five hours, when I
was suddenly awakened by a loud noise of scuffling feet, accompanied by
a gurgling choking sound, as if some one was struggling to find
utterance, to gain breath.

To be awakened by a noise out of a sound sleep is always a startling,
uncomfortable experience. If the astral body has been wandering far
afield, it has to return to the physical body in far too great a hurry
for comfort. There is always more or less of a dislocating jar under
such circumstances. The startled sensation is greatly accentuated when,
in place of waking to dead silence, one awakens to unaccountable and
very unpleasant sounds.

I lay perfectly still, with every nerve tingling, and every muscle taut,
and listened intently. The noise came from the window which was shut,
and my heart began to beat more thickly with a dread and terror which
had neither form nor shape. Slowly I remembered the mews outside, and
felt instantly thankful that because of its proximity I had shut the
window, instead of sleeping with it wide open, as is my custom.

Was murder taking place out there? What was that hideous, choking sound,
that surged in with guttural gasps from out the darkness, and which
suggested nothing so much as a frenzied struggle of loathing and
agonized fear?

I lay shuddering and quaking as with the grip of ague. My imagination
instantly constructed the scene so vividly suggested by the nature of
the sounds. A man's hands were on the throat of a woman, and he was
deliberately strangling the life out of her struggling body. I was sick
with unspeakable agonies of dread, and for quite five minutes I could
not summon force or motion to my limbs.

If some unfortunate was being done to death it was clearly my duty to
run to the window and give the alarm by shrieking "murder," but now I
began to wonder if that awful struggle was taking place outside or just
inside my room. Though the mews was well lit my blind was drawn down,
and the room was in darkness, except for a faint reflection shining in
from a street lamp. I had only to stretch out my hand in order to switch
on a light above my bed, but a paralysis of fear held me.

That noise of infinite pain, of frantic, dying agony, those convulsive,
ghastly groans and scuffling of feet, and wrestling, writhing bodies,
were spell-binding beyond the power of human conception, and the most
awe-inspiring fantasy. I tried to reason with myself, but the horror
scattered all reasoning, yet a sense of duty, of natural humanity, and
anger with my own fears, kept tugging at me. It seemed as if the sounds
were losing force, were beginning to die out. I was lying still in
abject terror, whilst a fellow-creature was being deliberately done to
death.

A blind fury with myself, and the murderer, suddenly superseded fear.
Without turning on the light I jumped out of bed, and knocking up
against the furniture in my haste, I dashed towards the faint light
coming in from the street. In another moment I had thrust aside the
blind, and thrown the window wide. I know I shouted out something; I
have no idea what. I thrust my head out between the iron bars, and
looked to right and left. I could see absolutely nothing. The street was
quite empty, and so well lit that I could see from end to end of it.

I drew in my head, and stood there silently, and quivering still with
excitement, as one does when awakened with the broken fragments of an
evil dream.

Then, suddenly, a sensation of bristling fear took possession of me once
more, unreasoning and unreasonable fear, clutching at my heart with a
grip of ice. The noise had not ceased, it continued more faintly, and it
came from a corner of my room to the right of the window. Murder had
been done in the room in which I now stood, and was being re-enacted
now. The certainty rushed on me with the force of a whirlwind.

I was dimly conscious of human voices in the mews, of a window being
thrown open. My cry had awakened other sleepers. I left my window open,
and let the blind fall before it. Then I crept softly across to the
opposite side of the room, whence the dying sound proceeded. The victim
was almost dead. I could hear nothing but a gasping, rattling sigh, and
then silence. The silence of death.

I was roused from my trance of horror by the measured tread of a
policeman outside. I heard him speaking with others, then, seeing
nothing to account for the disturbance in the mews, he went away again,
and I fell asleep from utter mental exhaustion.

When I awoke the sun was in the room, and I looked towards the corner
where the tragedy of the darkness had been enacted. How peaceful and
innocent the room now looked, in the light of a cheerful summer morning,
and how thankful I was to know that I would be far away from it in a
very few hours.

Yet another hotel story comes to me as I write.

My sister and her husband came to Torquay to spend a couple of nights
and took rooms in one of the principal hotels. They had not announced
their arrival beforehand, and the manageress took them upstairs to see
several vacant rooms. There was one not shown to them, but the door was
wide open, and my sister seeing that it was unoccupied walked in, and
said she preferred it to any of the others, because of its particular
view.

For some unknown reason the manageress was greatly against their taking
it; she raised every sort of objection, but my sister was firm, and
finally the luggage was carried up and she began to unpack, whilst her
husband went down to order tea.

After a few minutes, and whilst she was on her knees beside the trunk,
she heard some one moving in the room behind her, but she could see
nothing. It occurred to her, however, that some tragedy might have taken
place in that particular room, which would explain the reluctance of the
manageress to let them hire it. Not being of a nervous disposition, my
sister thought no more of the matter, and went downstairs to join her
husband.

That night she was awakened by something, she never knew what, but on
opening her eyes she saw a rather disturbing vision. Close to the door
stood the figure of a man, looking straight towards her. His figure was
brilliantly luminous, and stood out clearly and distinctly in the
darkness of the room.

She awakened her husband, who sat up in bed and stared back at the
figure. He saw it as clearly and distinctly as his wife saw it, and for
some considerable time they watched it, until it gradually faded out.

What is so sad is that they did not address this ghost. They had every
opportunity, for at the same hour the same figure appeared the next
night. It never tried to approach them: it simply stood there quietly
for about an hour, and then vanished. Probably it was the wraith of a
suicide. The fact remains that very few people do address the ghosts
they see. Even if they are not afraid, it never seems to occur to seers
that to speak to the disembodied might be a very kind and helpful thing
to do.

On their return home my brother-in-law told this story to some friends
at his Club, and a stranger who was present said that he was aware there
was a haunted room in that Torquay hotel, for he knew some one else who
had seen it.



CHAPTER XVI

AN AUSTRIAN ADVENTURE


Only once did I ever see an elemental of the terrifying type, and I have
no desire to repeat the experience.

Several years ago I was traveling alone on my way to Bohemia. With me,
in the railway carriage, I had an aluminum traveler's typewriter,
enclosed in, and fastened down to a leather case. I had also a large
leather dispatch box, containing several chapters of a new novel I was
writing, and which I meant to finish whilst abroad.

At the last moment, just as I was starting on my journey, a friend had
given me a small Russian ikon, and I had put that in the box with my
writing materials.

On reaching the frontier into Austria, I got out with the other
travelers, carrying the typewriter in my hand to ensure its safety. A
porter brought along the dispatch box, and the luggage from the van to
the Custom House.

I had nothing to declare and said so, but when the officials came to
look at the typewriter and the contents of the dispatch box, their civil
attitude changed, and I was curtly told that I would have to remain
behind, in order that a more thorough examination might be made.

There was little use in expostulating, no one took the smallest notice
of any explanations I made, and I had the unhappy fate to behold all my
fellow travelers stream out onto the platform, and make for the waiting
train, and the growing conviction that they would proceed on their
journey without me.

When alone with the officials I had the field to myself, and I explained
that I was a British subject, and a British novelist, but they merely
looked at me with the same blend of incredulity my fellow countrymen so
often favor me with, when they accidentally discover that I am
synonymous with the writer, Violet Tweedale.

How well I know the look and the words accompanying it: "Are you Violet
Tweedale, the novelist? Well! who'd have thought it? I never would have
guessed."

Their expression says plainly enough, "You don't look capable of writing
out a laundry bill, far less a novel."

Seeing that my statements made no impression upon the Customs officials,
I resigned myself to an unknown fate, and in a few moments, looking
through the open door, I had the misery of seeing my train glide out of
the station, leaving me behind.

An animated conversation now began which occupied at least ten minutes,
and my typewriter and dispatch box were subjected to a most rigid
scrutiny. I kept on imploring the officials not to break the typewriter,
but they paid no heed, and at last, after playing about with it for some
time, they requested me to give them an exhibition of its powers. Alas!
it was too late. The machine was thoroughly upset with the rough
fingering it had been subjected to, and I could not get it to work.

I saw that this fact was set down as another black mark of suspicion
against me, and they then began another long discussion upon the ikon. I
began to be so bored and tired that I sat down on my trunk, lit a
cigarette, and attempted to preserve a certain amount of outward calm,
whilst mentally I raged furiously within.

I noticed that a messenger had been sent out of the room, but could not
catch the object of his errand. When all chattering and gesticulating
together, they abandoned ordinary German, and fell into a dialect of
their own which I could not understand.

In a few moments the messenger returned with two more officials, and a
waiter from the station restaurant. The waiter was given a chapter of my
novel--each chapter had an ordinary exercise book to itself--and told to
translate my English into German.

I presume he honestly tried to do his best, but the translation bore no
resemblance to the original. Even the officials soon wearied of the
fumbled nonsense, and the waiter was sent away.

Then the head official informed me that I might continue my journey by
the next train, but I must consider myself under arrest, till further
information concerning my business and identity was obtained. He
informed me, finally, that I was a Russian spy.

I retaliated by informing him that I was a British subject. That my
husband was at that moment in Bavaria, and directly I could communicate
with him he would obtain my release through our Embassy at Vienna. Never
did I regret anything more than my own stupidity in having left my
much-viséd passport behind me in England.

The typewriter was then closed down, tied with string and heavily
sealed. I was ordered to carry it myself, and place it in the very
center of an empty luggage wagon.

As I complied it flashed upon me that they had never seen a typewriter
before, and suspected it to be a sort of infernal machine. My dispatch
box disappeared altogether, and I got into a first-class carriage,
accompanied by two very smart attendants. They wore cocked hats, much
gold braid, and many gold buttons, and they each carried a sword and a
revolver, with which to shoot me, I presume, if I tried to run away.

We three were not alone in the carriage. In a corner sat a dark man with
a small black mustache, and smoking a very long cigar. He was neatly
dressed in a long dust coat, and on his smooth black hair he wore a
brown Homburg hat. In one dark eye was a single monocle, through which
he regarded me with a mild surprise.

I saw at once that if I was to be burdened with the constant society of
my two officials for several days, the only thing to do was to make
friends with them. The circumstances had not arisen through any fault of
theirs, and they had to obey the orders of their superiors. Both were
men who looked between the age of thirty to forty, and they had quite
pleasant faces. I began by offering them cigarettes from my case--no
Customs officials object to enough tobacco being carried to last out a
journey--and they accepted my civility with profuse thanks.

The man in the corner still regarded us from time to time with interest,
and when we had finished our cigarettes he leaned forward and most
politely offered us each a big cigar. The voice of this person so
amazed me that in refusing with thanks, and saying I never smoked
cigars, I looked very closely at him. The voice was that of a cultured
gentlewoman, and that was exactly what this person turned out to be. Not
a man, but a woman dressed exactly to resemble a man. When she stood up
I saw that she wore a divided skirt, and by the manner in which my
guards addressed her when they accepted her cigars, I knew that she was
some great personage. Later on I discovered that she was a member of the
Imperial House of Austria. She spoke English perfectly, and I explained
my position, which seemed to amuse her immensely. We found that we had
mutual friends, and we were chattering most amicably when I reached my
destination.

Evidently a wire had preceded us, for other officials were waiting on
the platform to take possession of the typewriter, and I said good-by to
it, as I thought, forever.

The amazement of the hotel manager may be imagined when he saw me arrive
under escort. Though I had engaged my rooms he had never seen me before,
and I was secretly uneasy lest he should refuse to take me in under the
circumstances, but my attendants appeared to possess unlimited
authority. I was shown into a good bedroom at the very end of the
corridor. The manager spoke perfect English, and I explained my position
from my point of view. He was quite civil, but I thought rather
non-committal. He evidently did not like the situation, but at that
moment I had a stroke of luck.

There entered the head waiter, carrying the usual paper of
identification which one always fills in abroad. His face was quite
familiar to me. I never forget a face, but I cannot always fit a name to
it. Where had I seen this man before? Then in a flash I remembered. It
was in Egypt.

When I had filled the paper, both men remaining in the room, I recalled
myself to his memory, and the occasions when he had waited upon some
members of our royal family, to whose table I had been bidden. These
occasions had been of comparatively recent happening, and though
possibly not being quite sure in his recollection of me, he remembered
our royal family perfectly, and several little personal incidents that
had occurred whilst we were all in the same hotel.

For instance, there had been a very brilliant ball given at the hotel,
and the royalties had looked on for several hours, and included me in
their circle. This man had been specially detailed to wait upon the
circle, all the evening.

This conversation produced a great effect upon the manager, who
volunteered to make matters as easy as he could for me, till the Embassy
moved. The officials would sit by the door, and not at my table during
meals, and they would be accommodated with chairs in the corridor by the
top of the staircase, instead of outside my bedroom door. He regretted
that they would closely follow me whenever I went out, but doubtless I
would communicate with my husband at once, and the mistake would soon be
corrected.

After I had had some tea, I began to feel quite light-hearted, and I
unpacked and wrote to my husband in Bavaria.

That night when I went to bed I locked my door securely, and composed
myself to sleep after a tiring and disturbing day. I had been in a
railway "sleeper" all the night before, and though I sleep like a top in
a train, I am always unusually sleepy on the following night in bed.

It was summer-time, and very hot weather, and my blinds were drawn up
and the window thrown wide open. No houses faced me; I looked out on a
big public garden.

I was soon fast asleep, but was awakened again by some noise in the
room. I lay still for a little, listening intently, all the unpleasant
incidents of the past day rushing back upon me. The noise was not
continuous, but now and again came the sound of something soft, dragging
about the floor. The room was fairly light, with the glow of a waning
moon, and I judged the hour to be between two and three o'clock.

At last I determined to ascertain what produced this curious sound. I
had an electric light over my bed, and I sat up and suddenly switched it
on.

Then I realized with horror that I was in the presence of something I
had never encountered before, but had often read and heard of. An
elemental of a malignant type, and of grotesque form.

Just for an instant I saw nothing but what looked like an enormous
pillow, but suddenly out of this grayish-green pillow emerged a head of
frog-like shape, and two bright yellow eyes were fixed on mine. I
suppose I was too terrified even to remember what my sensations were. A
sort of paralysis of fear and horror held me spellbound. There it
squatted, thrusting out its misshapen head, its yellow eyes regarding me
fixedly. I have no idea how long it remained there, or how long we
continued to gaze at one another, but I gradually became aware that it
was receding from view. It grew smaller and smaller, and dimmer and
more indistinct, till at length it vanished altogether.

Elliott O'Donnell mentions in one of his books having seen such
creatures, and of having had a number of such cases reported to him, but
generally as the forerunners of illness. To such phantasms he has given
the name of "Morbas," and he believes that certain apparitions are
symbolical of certain diseases "if not the actual creators of the
bacilli from which these diseases arise." This seems to me to be a
reasonable explanation of such phenomena, but in my case there was no
disease in question. I was perfectly well at the time, and remained so.
It is possible, however, that a sick person might have occupied my room
the night before. One never knows in hotels, and I had not then read
O'Donnell's explanation and made no inquiries. Many of the experiences
related in his deeply interesting books are no doubt regarded as
fiction, but I know that they are cases common to very many psychics.

For some time I lay awake, fearful of a recurrence of the horrible
phenomenon, but gradually sleep overcame me, and I did not wake again
till seven o'clock on a lovely summer morning.

That day I took two long walks, closely followed by my escort. They
walked immediately behind me, and often we stopped to converse, or to
sit down to rest and smoke a cigarette together. They told me all their
family history, and about their wives and children, and really they made
themselves as agreeable as they possibly could. In the afternoon we
climbed up the mountains to one of the many cafés, and had chocolate and
cakes, which they thoroughly enjoyed. When I finally went back to the
hotel for the night they complained of being tired, and hoped I would
not walk so far on the morrow. Their idea of enjoyment was the usual
foreign custom of taking a seat outside a street café, and sitting there
hour after hour idly watching the passers-by, smoking endless cigarettes
and drinking beer.

That night I prepared myself for a recurrence of the abnormal phenomenon
I had witnessed, and gathered up all my courage, and decided to attack
it with the Sacred command. For a long time I lay awake, but nothing
happened, and finally I fell asleep.

I awoke to pandemonium. My room was in a hub-bub of high-pitched noise.
Screams of glee and frolic, shouts of thin laughter, and pattering feet
with little thuds interspersed. The sounds were all pitched in an
unknown key. They can best be described as ordinary sounds intensely
rarefied, and pitched in so high a treble that they had run out of the
scale altogether.

It was a much darker night, and very hot. Thunder clouds hung over the
town, and now and again there was a gleam of lightning and a mutter of
distant thunder. I peeped over the edge of the bed, but could see
nothing. The noises continued with unabated merriment. A hundred
creatures of sorts apparently were playing round me.

Summoning all my courage I sat up and switched on the light. What I saw
must read like pure nonsense to the majority, but nevertheless I mean to
record facts as they happened to me.

About a dozen small forms, half-man, half-animal, were playing leap-frog
round the room. They were about three feet in height, some slightly
smaller, and though their bodies, legs and feet were human, their heads
resembled apes.

I forgot all about being afraid, they were so amazingly grotesque, and
they were so thoroughly happy. One would go down on all fours, and the
creatures immediately behind him would leap his back, and so on down the
chain, and all the while they kept up that shrill, high-pitched note of
intense enjoyment.

I have come to the conclusion that it was the light that finally put an
end to their revels. They took no heed of me, but gradually their
energies flagged, they faded and became blurred in outline; one by one
they simply went out like sparks until not one was left.

Though I occupied that room for a month I was never disturbed again.
Perfect quiet reigned for the rest of my stay.

At the end of five days a police official came to call upon me, and
informed me that my identity had been perfectly established by the
British Embassy at Vienna, and that my escort was now withdrawn. He also
begged to return my typewriter, rendered utterly useless I discovered,
to my great dismay, and the dispatch box arrived intact the next
morning.

I have no explanation to offer of the phenomena I have described. They
belong to the many unsolved mysteries that constantly surround us. It
will be said that my mind was in an excited and abnormal condition owing
to my adventures in the Customs House, and that I probably imagined the
scene instead of really seeing the creatures I have described.

I agree that probably my mental faculties, for the time being, were
possibly abnormal, but I hold that when the consciousness is in an
abnormal condition it is naturally much easier to see the abnormal. At
ordinary times the veil of the flesh seems denser, and the consciousness
much less acute.

The question seems to me to hang more on the query--do such creatures
actually exist, than on the argument did I, or did I not see them? There
are creatures living in the physical world quite as horrible to look
upon as the astral entities I saw. The octopus and some apes, for
instance. Innumerable people of unimpeachable veracity have testified to
seeing grotesque and hideous creatures, which can only be placed in the
category of astral denizens, and in that category I place the phenomena
I certainly witnessed on two successive nights.

The following story has been given to me by a barrister who kindly
allows me to give his name:

    E. F. WILLIAMS, B.A.
    Trinity College, Cambridge.

"It is clear that Needle Jim was murdered by the proprietor, Corbett of
the Tally Ho, and that his wraith haunted the spot. Horses appear to be
as sensitive as dogs are to apparitions, and there are several instances
on record where horses have been the means of bringing murder to light.

"It is a difficult matter, indeed, to be asked to write a ghost story if
you do not believe in ghosts; however, I will endeavor to relate the
nearest approach to one which has come within my knowledge.

"The winter of the year 1849 was an exceptionally severe one, very heavy
falls of snow and deep drifts in many places, especially in the
neighborhood of Worcester, near which the scene of my story lies.

"It was, in those days, the custom of packmen as they were called, to
travel around the country with various assortments of goods--calling at
the various farmhouses and cottages offering their wares for sale; some
would have cutlery, some laces and ribbons, but the packman with whom we
are concerned carried pins, needles, and such like, hailing from
Redditch, where they are manufactured. He used to go his round four
times a year, and was known by the name of Needle Jim.

"About the beginning of January, in spite of the snow, Jim left
Worcester for Upper Onslow, Clayton and Broadway, with a view of going
to Cleobury Mortimer, Wyn Forest, and back to Redditch. Apparently he
was seen at Onslow and Clayton, but after that, there was no further
trace of him.

"Now at the village of Broadway, there is a little cider house called
the Tally Ho, and a few cottages. The road is narrow, with three very
sharp corners, protected only from a very steep dingle by an ill-kept,
low, out-of-repair hedge--very dangerous on a dark night. The old
proprietor of the inn, named Corbett, lived there with his old wife, and
was in the poorest of circumstances, the customers at the inn not being
very numerous. Nothing more was heard of Needle Jim.

"Now opposite the Tally Ho, on the far bank of the dingle, was a piece
of ground facing the south, and old Corbett thought it would make an
excellent cherry orchard. So the hitherto impecunious Corbett bought a
portion, and when he had bought it he fenced it round, and from the
opposite side it looked exactly the shape of a coffin, and the coffin
piece it is called to this day.

"At the time of which I am writing, if was permissible after a man had
been hung, for his relatives to take the body away home for burial. One
day, two men arrived at the Tally Ho, with such a body fastened across
the back of a horse; tying up the horse they went into the inn for some
refreshment, shortly to be called out by a woman who said the horse,
burden and all, had jumped over the hedge into the dingle and was lying
at the bottom. They hurried down and there found the horse with his neck
broken and his ghastly burden under him. It was a curious fact that
after the disappearance of Needle Jim, horses approaching this corner
broke into heavy sweats and showed great signs of fear, and a number of
people preferred to travel by the longer route, _via_ the Hundred Horse.

"Some years ago some alterations were being made to the front of an old
hotel in a little country town about five miles from the scenes depicted
above, and on raising the large flagstone of the bottom step, there was
discovered the skeleton of a man with his skull smashed. The old folks
declared it must be the body of the missing packman; anyhow, after the
discovery, the spirit or ghost seems to have departed from the precincts
of the Tally Ho.

"Now I am not a believer in ghosts or their allies, but when I was a
small boy I went on my pony accompanied by two servants, who were taking
a parcel to a house next door to the Tally Ho, and whilst they were
inside the house, all at once the pony snorted and started full gallop
for home as hard as he could go; we parted company going down a steep
hill, and I have often thought it was a good thing for me we did, for if
he had bolted into his stable (which he did do) I should probably have
had my head smashed, as the doorway was very low.

"Still, I do not believe in ghosts, I think it is more convenient not
to!"



CHAPTER XVII

ACROSS THE THRESHOLD


Once upon a time I had an interesting experience showing how often one
may be in the presence of the disembodied without being in the least
aware of the fact.

It was a bright, cold day in October, with a biting wind and brilliant
sunshine. About midday I was walking up a long avenue leading to a great
house. On either side of me, for a mile or so, lay flat, open grass
country, pasturages full of grazing cattle. The trees bordering the
avenue stood at about thirty feet apart; they were gigantic beeches of
considerable age. Their silvery trunks of wide girth were smooth and
straight, and in no way impeded the view on all sides. The avenue was
wide and straight and bordered by grass out of which the trees sprang.

As I turned in at the lodge gate I noticed, without any particular
interest, a woman walking in front of me, but in a very few moments I
began to pay more attention to her obvious peculiarities. She was about
twenty-five to thirty feet ahead of me, moving in the same direction,
and the view I had of her back began to puzzle me. On that decidedly
chilly morning she wore a white muslin dress, a material never used out
of doors even in summer in that northern clime. Over her shoulders
floated something mauve and flimsy, and on her head was what looked like
an old-fashioned poke-bonnet.

Her back looked young, and yet she was a creature of a bygone century,
and knowing every one within a twenty-mile radius of where I walked I
speculated as to who she could possibly be.

Perhaps what puzzled me most was how she had managed to avoid the
attention of the village children, who would at once have been alive to
the novelty of her whole appearance. I looked forward to hearing all
about her at the big house, and as seemed highly probable, meeting her
face to face and obtaining an introduction to her.

Then it suddenly occurred to me to overtake her and pass her; we were
both walking very slowly. I at once quickened my steps, but somehow I
never seemed to gain on her. Even this did not rouse in me the faintest
suspicion of being in the presence of a disembodied soul, it merely
sharpened my curiosity and urged me to greater efforts.

I moved from the road to the grass which I calculated would deaden the
sound of my footsteps, then I began to run.

Still no success! The lady never turned her head to right or left, but
was clearly aware of my pursuit, for apparently without the least effort
she kept her distance from me.

At the moment when I was feeling rather baffled and very much puzzled I
caught sight of my friend, N., in the distance coming to meet me. "Ah!"
I thought, as I at once slowed down to draw breath, "she will have to
pass her and she'll tell me what her face is like."

I kept eyes and attention closely fixed on the two figures as they drew
nearer and nearer to one another. Now the stranger appeared to be
exactly at an equal distance between us, when, lo! she simply vanished
as utterly and entirely as the electric light one switches off in a
room. One second there she was, perfectly and clearly visible, the next
second, there she was not. I looked foolishly around, though I knew that
neither to right or left was there any hiding-place, moreover my eyes
had been fully upon her when she vanished, flicked out--

How well I remember N. running up to me and without any greeting, we
both simultaneously burst out--

"Did you see her?"

N. told me that the inside of the poke-bonnet was empty. The lady had no
face.

Of course we gazed around and searched behind the boles of the trees,
but we were both aware how foolish any such proceeding was, for we had
both been staring hard at her when she disappeared.

There was a bygone tragedy connected with that part of the avenue, but
on discussing the matter with the owner of the great house we all had to
come reluctantly to the conclusion that the woman we had seen had no
connection with that story. A former Lady Dalrymple had been murdered by
one of her servants in the avenue about a hundred years previously, but
the portraits of the deceased and the lady we had seen bore not the
smallest resemblance. It was said that "Lady Dalrymple walked"--a tall,
massive figure clad in a dark, heavy cloak sprinkled with snow. She had
been done to death one January night in a snowstorm which had hidden her
remains for several days.

The apparition we had seen was that of a very slender girl or young
woman. The interesting fact that I wish to emphasize is that had this
young drama in muslin turned aside, slipped through the light fence,
and struck off across the fields it would never have occurred to either
N. or me that she was not physical. We would have speculated as to who
she was, but out of common civility we would not have followed her. We
would have made casual inquiries as to who she was, simply out of
curiosity aroused by her peculiar attire, and then the trifling incident
would have been forgotten.

That sudden vanishing has rooted the experience firmly in my mind, and I
have long since become convinced that the little story I have just told
is an extremely common one. I believe such disembodied spirits are
constantly with us, and that many of us see them, pass them in the
streets, stand beside them in crowds, and accept them perfectly
naturally as physical entities in no way different from what we are
ourselves.

Many people believe that our faculties have a limit beyond which we
cannot go, but this is certainly not so, as it is now proved that some
people have the X-ray sight by nature and can see far more than others.
This faculty has nothing to do with keenness of sight, it is a question
of sight which is able to respond to different series of vibrations.
Undoubtedly there are many entities about us who do not reflect rays of
light that we can see, yet who may reflect those other rays of rates of
vibration which can be photographed.

It is extremely difficult for the average person to grasp the reality of
that which we cannot see with our physical eyes, and to realize how very
partial our sight is, yet science continually demonstrates to us worlds
of teeming life of whose very existence we should be ignorant so far as
our senses are concerned.

What ought clearly to be grasped is the fact that we are not separated
from the so-called dead, save by the limitation of our consciences. We
have not lost those gone before, we have only lost the power to see
them, and very occasionally that power is restored to us, by what means
we know not. All visible things are the result of invisible causes, and
doubtless those denizens of the subtler worlds come amongst us with a
distinct purpose in view. Sometimes that purpose can be traced to
remorse, revenge, a quest, a strong attraction to the scene of a crime,
but in many other cases no object can be discerned.

The condition of the observer is constantly found to be absolutely
normal. The mental conditions of both myself and N. were, as far as we
could tell, quite normal. Our mental activity was no greater, no more
vivid or more accurate than usual, yet we both saw an object that was
beyond normal sense and rational vision.

The fact that so often there is no connecting link between the
apparition and his or her surroundings induces me to believe that we are
everywhere surrounded by the denizens of the other world, and on rare
occasions we catch a glimpse of them.

Here is another utterly trivial story which emphasizes the above
suggestion.

I was lunching with my husband in a house built within the last fifty
years. The only former occupants were known to us. We were discussing a
letter I had that morning received and I said: "I'll go and fetch it for
you to read." I rose and left the dining-room, and pushed open the
half-closed door of the adjoining drawing-room.

What was my astonishment to behold standing in the middle of the floor
a tall, dark man, a total stranger. He stood exactly between the door
and a large bow window, through which poured a flood of sunshine, and I
paused involuntarily and stared at him. Not that there was anything the
least peculiar about him, and, indeed, his air of great respectability
instantly banished the flashing thought of "Burglar."

The stranger returned my stare with perfect composure, and in a second
or two during which we regarded each other I had time to observe his
appearance. He was well dressed, all in black, with a modern, black
broadcloth frockcoat buttoned close. He was very tall and strongly
built, his face was sallow and heavy featured, and he wore a short,
black beard. I bowed and addressed him:

"I'm sorry! I didn't know any one was waiting. Do you wish to see me or
my husband?" I said politely.

The man made no reply, but at once began to glide, not walk, towards a
closed glass door leading to a conservatory on the left. His eyes never
left mine. Without opening the door he passed through it and vanished.

Then I realized and darted after him, throwing open the door and staring
beyond. Nothing! Nothing physical could have passed through a glass door
without shattering it, and that is all there is to this story. The man
had no connection with us nor, so far as we could learn, with the former
occupants of the house.

A very old friend of mine, Mrs. Sinclair, wife of the late Sir
Tollemache Sinclair's second son, told me of an experience she and her
mother once had when visiting a cousin, Major Fetherston Dilke, of
Maxstoke Castle, Warwickshire. The Castle is ancient and surrounded by
a moat, and within the moat lies a tennis court. In order to reach their
rooms on the ground floor, Mrs. Sinclair and her mother had to pass
through a great stone hall filled with fine old oak and armor. Beyond
that their way lay through the remains of an old chapel, which once had
been extensively damaged by fire.

One evening after playing tennis till rather late, Mrs. Sinclair and her
mother hastened indoors to change for dinner. As they passed through the
chapel Mrs. Sinclair saw her mother suddenly shrink back against the
wall; at the same time she exclaimed, "Oh, May, stand aside and let that
person pass."

Mrs. Sinclair looked round, but could see no one. Again her mother cried
out insistently:

"Oh, do let her pass."

"But no one is here," Mrs. Sinclair assured her. Then seeing that her
mother looked terrified she took her by the arm and hurried her to their
rooms.

When the door was shut Mrs. Sinclair tried to soothe her mother's
agitation, and asked her what she had seen, and why she was so
disturbed.

Her mother replied: "There was a young woman in the corner who was
trying hard to escape observation, and the sight of her gave me the most
uncomfortable feeling. She was not a maidservant, and wore no cap. She
was dressed in a mauve print gown with a violet sprig upon it. She might
have been a needle-woman." Mrs. Sinclair calmed her mother as well as
she could, and they went down to dinner together.

During the meal what was her horror to hear her mother say to their
host, "Oh, William, I feel sure there are ghosts in the Castle. I've
seen one to-night."

There was a most uncomfortable silence after this, and Major Fetherston
Dilke looked terribly agitated.

After dinner, when the ladies were alone in the drawing-room, Mrs. Dilke
asked Mrs. Sinclair what they had seen, and on being told she explained
that before a death in the family a certain housekeeper, who had been
murdered, always haunted the chapel, and in consequence of this warning
always coming true her husband was exceedingly nervous of this
apparition. Nothing more was said upon the subject during Mrs.
Sinclair's stay, but before the end of the year Major Fetherston Dilke
lay dead.

Such warnings are very common, and very hard to understand. They suggest
that the apparition knows of the approaching death of a certain person,
and that it has the power to make itself visible to certain persons, at
certain times. Why this warning should be given is a baffling mystery.
Again, why did not Mrs. Sinclair see this ghost when her mother so
plainly saw it?

The fact is that all sorts of most unlikely persons see apparitions,
even the rankest unbeliever and the most matter-of-fact individual, and
they generally see them at most unexpected moments.

I remember one day walking along a country road, and seeing a dog-cart
in the distance coming towards me. As it drew nearer I saw that it
contained (the late) Lord Wemyss, and on recognizing me he drew up and
jumped down.

"I've got a confession to make to you," he said. "I wouldn't tell any
one else for the world. I'd have the life chaffed out of me. I've
actually seen a ghost."

"I'm not in the least surprised. Why shouldn't you see a ghost?" I
retorted.

"Well! I never believed in them, and I didn't think I was the sort of
man who'd ever see one. Now, if it had been Arthur Balfour there would
have been nothing in it. He's a member of the Psychical Society, and all
that sort of thing."

"But being a member of the Psychical Society does not predispose one to
see ghosts," I expostulated, but Lord Wemyss remained very puzzled.

He told me that when about half a mile from his own front door at
Gosford, East Lothian, he saw a man walking in front of him in the same
direction, going towards the house. In a vague sort of way he wondered
for a moment where this man had suddenly sprung from, as he had not
noticed him before, but there was nothing unusual in his appearance to
arouse curiosity. He was a stranger and looked like a foreman in his
Sunday clothes.

Lord Wemyss walked on, always keeping about ten yards between himself
and the stranger. At a certain point he fully expected he would strike
off by a path leading to the servants' and tradesmen's entrance, but
rather to his surprise, the man did no such thing. He pursued an
undeviating course towards the main entrance, and on observing this Lord
Wemyss became more interested, and looked at him more closely.

Still there was something remarkable to be observed, and concluding that
the man, being a stranger, did not know of any other entrance, he
quickened his steps in order to come up with him. In this he failed--the
man kept his distance, and just as he reached the door he vanished from
sight.

I tried hard to persuade Lord Wemyss to tell this story to Mr. Balfour,
who was so intimate a friend, but I believe he never did so. The
interest lies in the long time, during a half-mile walk, in which the
ghost was under observation, also in the fact that until the man
disappeared on the doorstep Lord Wemyss had never suspected that the
stranger was other than ordinary flesh and blood.

So many people have confided their ghost stories to me, and swore me to
secrecy, that I am convinced such experiences are very common, and only
remain hidden either from fear of being laughed at or from being thought
to suffer from hallucinations.



CHAPTER XVIII

HAUNTED ROOMS


How is it that one can "feel" a room is haunted? What is it that gives
one the strong impression that there is something unpleasant about a
certain room, a something that sets it apart, as a place to be avoided?

The mind operates with the senses. It receives impressions through the
air as sound, or through the ether as sight, and so forth. Through the
various senses we catch the vibrations of consciousness belonging to our
environment, near or far. Psychically developed persons possess an
increase of sensibility which enables them to see, hear, and feel more
acutely than most people. Wherever some great mental disturbance has
taken place, wherever overwhelming sorrow, hatred, pain, terror, or any
kind of violent passion has been felt, an impression of a very marked
character has been imprinted on the astral light. So strong is this
impression that often persons possessing but the first glimmer of the
psychic faculty are deeply impressed by it. But a slight temporary
increase of sensibility would enable them to visualize the whole scene.
That such impressions should be imprinted on the astral light is no more
wonderful than ordinary photography, or the impression of the human
voice upon the cylinders of a gramophone.

To me, a haunted room is always full of shadows. That is how I see it.
That is one of several ways by which I distinguish it from other rooms.
Other people do not always see these shadows, and the room may actually
be flooded with sunshine when I enter it for the first time. This makes
no difference to what I see. The shadows are there, despite the
sunshine.

There are long-drawn-out shadows, which seem to take their rise in the
corners of the room, and creep across the floor. They are not
motionless, but in constant vibration and re-formation, like smoke
drifts. Such shadows are not of a uniform gray, but tinged by dull
colors, dark red, sulphur yellow, muddy brown. In a haunted room there
is always a shadow above one's head. A hovering cloud between the
ceiling and midway to the floor.

Then there are the sensations I feel when entering a haunted room.
Little shivers run through me, and what I take to be nervous excitation
sets all my spine jangling, and the tiny nerve threads quivering. The
sensation of icy cold water trickling down my back is most unpleasant.

At times a profound melancholy falls upon me, often blended with a
poignant compassion for some one, I know not whom. At other times a
sensation of violent repulsion invades my being, which has actually, in
some cases, produced physical sickness. Again, there is the helpless
feeling, and that is the hardest to bear of all such psychic
disturbances. The feeling that something is about to occur in that room
which I will be powerless to ward off.

What can one do when paying a visit if one is ushered into a bedroom by
one's hostess which one instantly knows to be "unhealthful"? I cannot
find a better word to describe many a haunted room. This experience has
several times happened to me, and unless I know my hostess very well, I
am obliged to sleep in this unhealthful atmosphere.

On one occasion I was invited to dine and sleep with some old friends,
who had taken on lease an old castle in the neighborhood of St. Andrews,
where I happened to be staying. They had only been in residence for a
month or two, an old brother and an old sister, whom I had known all my
life.

In spite of this long friendship they were not the sort of people to
whom I could have said, "Would you mind giving me another room? The one
you have selected for me is haunted, and if I remain in it I will have
no sleep. I shall not even dare to try to sleep, but shall have to keep
awake all night to ward off the evil." They would have been both shocked
and indignant at such a suggestion, and probably have concluded that I
had gone stark staring mad.

I had accepted a seat in a carriage belonging to some friends in St.
Andrews, who were also going to the castle to dine, but who were
returning to sleep in their own homes in the town.

It was twilight when we drove up the long avenue, and caught a first
glimpse of the exterior. A typical old Scotch castle, very large, with
high-peaked roofs and pepper-box turrets, and all built of gray stone.

About an hour before dinner I was conducted to my room. My evening dress
was already spread upon the bed, and the housemaid was arranging my
toilet articles on the dressing-table.

"I think you will be comfortable here, my dear," said my kind hostess,
and I thanked her with a sinking heart as she went away.

As the housemaid prepared to follow her I said, "Am I the only person
sleeping on this floor?"

She answered, "You are the only one in this wing, miss."

"It is a very large house, I suppose?"

"Twenty-six bedrooms," answered the housemaid, "but we've shut up most
of them. This one has such a good view that Miss Young thought it ought
to be used." With that she went away, and I looked round.

Six lighted candles and a big wood fire seemed only to accentuate the
profound gloom and depression of the large, irregular room. The very
first thing I did was to throw a towel over the face of the mirror on
the dressing-table. Then I investigated every nook and corner.

There was a powdering closet formed in a pepper-box turret. The carpet
of the room stopped short at its door, and inside the boards looked
loose and uneven. I fetched a candle and soon discovered that the
floorboards lifted up quite easily, and beneath them was a black yawning
hole, an _oubliette_, through which wretched prisoners were cast in days
not so long ago.

I replaced the boards, telling myself that in the morning I would have a
look at the outside of this black shaft. It probably ended, as most of
such places did end in the old Scotch castles, in a big dungeon
underground.

Inside my big room there were sloping ceilings, and great beams, and an
enormous fireplace had been bricked up to suit more modern requirements.
There were two doors, the one I had entered by and another which was
locked and keyless. The window, with the view, was hidden by heavy red
curtains, and the atmosphere was musty and dank, like that of a vault.

As I stared around me I could not help thinking what an unfortunate
thing it is to be born without any imagination. Any one possessed of a
spark of that quality would have hesitated before putting a young guest
into so gloomy a chamber, the only room occupied in that wing.

"No sleep possible here," I told myself grimly, as I began to dress.
Then I set myself to "feel after" what was really wrong with the room.
Supposing I did fall asleep, what would happen? Would some one come and
try to strangle me in the night? That had actually happened to many
people. Would I suddenly awake to the fact that some one unseen was
pulling off the bedclothes? That was also a trick common to ghostly
visitants.

Gradually I gathered impressions, very unpleasant ones. I became
positively certain that I was being watched intently. Some one, present
in the room, though unseen by me, was watching my every movement. That
some one violently resented my occupation of the room, was intensely
hostile, and meant to make things nasty for me later on that night.
Wherever I moved I felt that malignant eyes followed me, and I kept
glancing over my shoulder at every crack of the furniture, and the
scratching of a mouse in the wainscot. It was in the stretches of dead
silence that the presence became most imminent, most menacing, and I had
a strong instinct to set my back against the wall and face right out
into the room.

Again I was confronted by the mirror problem. I had become certain that
it must remain covered. If I looked into its surface I knew I would see
something horrible. Something kept whispering to me, "Never mind how you
look, never mind if your bodice is all awry, or your skirt all askew, or
your hair all bulging out on one side. Don't uncover the mirror if you
value your sanity. What there is to be seen can only become visible in
the mirror. Don't worry after explanations, or why this should or how it
could be. Do as I tell you. Keep the mirror covered and when you come up
to bed keep your back to the wall."

Dressing was a very rapid process that night, and when completed, so far
as circumstances would allow, I found I still had twenty minutes to wait
until the dinner gong would ring. I sat down with my back against the
wall, and surveyed the depressing apartment with a gloomy anticipation.
Where was that stealthy watcher, whose baleful eyes I felt were fixed
upon me? I could see nothing. I could only feel acutely that I was not
alone, and that I was "in for" an awful night.

Oh! to get away, and leave that malignant unseen watcher in undisputed
possession of his dismal abode! I was quite certain of the gender! Then
a chance of deliverance flashed over me. I could return after dinner to
St. Andrews with the friends who had brought me. But I had accepted the
invitation to stay the night. What possible excuse could I make for
cutting short my visit? In this case the truth was no use; in fact,
worse than useless. Not only would my host and hostess utterly fail to
understand what I was talking about, but they would be exceedingly
indignant, and look upon me as absolutely insane.

As falsehood had to be resorted to, I surely could invent some plausible
excuse that would hurt no one's feelings, but the only excuse I could
think of was illness. I must tell my hostess that I feared I was "in
for" an illness of some sort, and the wisest thing to do was to drive
back to St. Andrews and be laid up in my own bed. The most hospitable
person would rather not have a sick guest under her roof. The excuse I
proposed to make seemed to me to be the one most likely to be accepted
without much fuss.

I did not determine upon this plan without a certain amount of wavering.
"After all," I told myself, "it is only for one night, and what can this
entity do but give you a very creepy and disturbed night. You will have
to sit up against the wall, and defend yourself by the power of the
Cross, bidding it begone, in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Ghost. This you may have to do many times, but the night won't last
forever, and you had best try to make the best of things, and not risk
offending old friends."

It did seem hard that I dared not tell the truth. Had the entity been in
the flesh how easy it would have been. Who has not, at some time or
another in her life, found herself unwittingly to be an unwelcome guest,
and made to feel "if you don't go away at once you will regret it"?
Sometimes one comes across persons who for some private reason dread
being overlooked, or who love their hermitage so dearly that they refuse
to be amiable, to even the most swiftly passing guest. Old people are
often like that, every one knows, or has known, of such people in the
flesh. Yet how few believe that such unpleasant traits persist just as
strongly after so-called death, as before. What should suddenly change a
man's whole disposition the moment he "shuffles off this mortal coil"?

I felt I was now in the presence of one who dreaded being overlooked,
and who sought to get rid of me by every device in his power.

Whilst thinking thus my mind was irrevocably made up for me.

My attention was suddenly drawn towards a soft stealthy noise. Padded
footsteps. Something had come near, and was creeping warily round in
front of me. I felt the eyes upon me. I was being regarded more closely.
What was about to follow?

I leapt to my feet, and raising my arm made the sign of the Cross. "I
bid you begone, in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."

There was a moment's pause of utter silence. The atmosphere struck
suddenly chill as ice. A curious sensation of emptiness crept over the
room. I was alone, but for how long would I remain alone?

I hurried downstairs and tried to play my part, and during the course of
the evening I told my falsehoods as naturally as I could. At half-past
ten I drove off to St. Andrews with a light heart, and an utter
indifference to the consequences.

I believe that my falsehoods did not, however, "go down," for I never
was asked again to that house.

Perhaps it was as well, for I certainly never would have set foot in it
again, and I had sacrificed the truth quite sufficiently upon this one
occasion.

I had no difficulty in finding out what sort of reputation the castle
bore. Every one agreed that it was haunted. I asked one elderly woman
who had lived all her life in St. Andrews, and who knew the whole
country intimately, what she thought of S. Castle.

"Horrible, haunted old place. I can't think how the Youngs could have
taken it," she replied.

"But what sort of ghosts haunt it?" I asked.

"Old Sir James and his son. They were in league with the Devil, and the
son, another James, used to murder people and throw them down into the
dungeon. He was beheaded in the reign of Charles the First."

"Have you known any one who has ever seen anything?" I persisted.

"No, but my father remembered as a young man seeing a pile of human
bones being removed from the dungeon, and buried in the churchyard. The
late people lived to be very old, and always kept Sir James' wing shut
up. Now the place has changed hands, and probably the Youngs will never
be disturbed. They are installed in the most modern part of the house,
and won't need to use the haunted wing."

It must not be supposed that all haunted houses or rooms are unpleasant
to live in. People in the flesh are either pleasant or unpleasant,
disturbing or tranquil to live with, and so it is with their astral
counterparts. When they elect to haunt the scenes of their old
activities some ghosts are so inoffensive that they can be lived with
under the most tranquil conditions.

One autumn we took a shooting lodge in the far North of Scotland, and
though I recognized at once that it was frequented by an entity from the
"other side," I experienced no uneasy feelings whatever.

We had not been in residence longer than three hours before this ghost
put in an appearance.

We were in a lively confusion of unpacking and settling down. Several
large trunks had been carried upstairs, and set down on a wide corridor
on to which the bedrooms opened.

I was on my knees unpacking one of those trunks, our dog "Pompey" was
seated beside me superintending matters, and my maid was standing at my
side waiting to carry various articles into the different rooms. The
hour was midday, and the early autumn sunshine flooded the house.

Suddenly "Pompey" growled, and turned towards the staircase, with all
his hair bristling. I also looked round and saw a tall, quite ordinary
man mounting the staircase.

I thought nothing of this, supposing him to be the factor whom we
expected, and I rose to my feet at once. He came on along the corridor
straight towards us, and looking directly at us, but when within about
ten feet from where we stood he suddenly vanished.

I heard my maid give a sharp exclamation, and at the same instant
"Pompey" made a furious dash at the spot, and growling angrily began to
pursue something invisible to us, down the stairs.

I followed as quickly as I could. I feared "Pompey" would be lost if he
ran out into the deer forest surrounding us on all sides. I caught him
at the deer fence, edging the vegetable garden, and induced him with
some difficulty to return to the house.

My maid and I compared notes. What I had seen accorded exactly with what
she had seen. She soon got over her uncomfortable experience, and though
I never saw this entity again, I often felt him near me. He was,
however, of so colorless a personality, that he never proved in the
least disturbing to any one in the house.

At the time of which I write the Astral Plane was not so generally
recognized as an actual residential quarter as it is now. In these days
a halfway house for the soul was not considered necessary for
Protestants. They either went direct to heaven or hell, according to
their manner of life on earth. The Catholics alone had their Purgatory,
to which the departed souls repaired, there to slough off the passions
of earth and fit themselves for higher realms.

Purgatory and the Astral Plane mean the same thing now to the vast
majority of thinkers. A halfway house for the soul. A condition of
consciousness interpenetrating this earth, which may actually be visited
under certain conditions by those still possessing a physical body, an
abode so contiguous to this world as to make the words of the Poet
literally true--

"All houses wherein men have lived and died are haunted houses."

In these days I used to get severely chaffed on the subject of the
Astral Plane. Frivolous young things would say to me, "Hello! been on
the Astral Plane lately?"

One day I was undergoing a certain amount of good-natured chaff from a
number of young people at Dunrobin Castle. I defended my beliefs
vigorously, and at last the present Lady Londonderry, then Miss Chaplin,
the Duke's niece, challenged me to pick out the haunted room in the
Castle.

I had never at that time been in any part of the building save in one
bedroom, and the public rooms. I at once took up the challenge, and the
Duke remarked that I had my work cut out for me, as several of the rooms
had a reputation for being haunted.

I replied that I would undertake to pick out a room where life was still
actively carried on by those who had suffered something terrible on that
spot in the past, and who were now denizens of the Astral Plane.

A small crowd of us then started, led by Miss Chaplin, and we went from
room to room. She opened the door and remained with the others on the
threshold. I walked into each room alone and gathered impressions.

In several of the rooms I felt the presence of astral entities, but
nothing of a strong or unpleasant nature. At last we came to a room
occupied by a maid, sitting alone, sewing, and I felt instantly that my
quest was at an end.

There was a sharp atmosphere of anguish that was quite unmistakable;
some ghastly tragedy had taken place within those four walls, but I said
nothing before the sewing woman. I felt drawn towards the window, the
trouble was centered there. If I remember rightly, the room was high up,
and overlooking, not the sea, but a paved courtyard.

I walked back to the others with my finger on my lip, and Miss Chaplin
closed the door behind me.

"We need not go any further; that is the haunted room," I said, in a low
voice that could not reach the woman inside.

"You're right. You've found it," was the answer.

I heard the story when we went downstairs, but I can only recollect that
it had to do with a Lady Sutherland, who had been brutally flung out of
the window.

I will now relate a curious incident of haunting by elementals, and it
will be seen that such hauntings may quite easily appear to the ordinary
observer as an abnormal occurrence to which no clue can be given.

What is an elemental? It is only when the mystic has advanced in her
studies that she discovers how manifold evolution is, and how small a
part humanity really fills in the economy of nature.

When the microscope is used myriads of germs of life, unsuspected by us,
are revealed; even so the invisible planes connected with this earth
contain myriads of forms of life, of whose existence most of us are
unconscious. When we read of a "good or bad elemental" it must always
be either an artificial entity, or one of the many varieties of nature
spirits that is meant. I will deal now with a case of the artificial
variety.

Such elementals are formed out of the elemental essence lying behind the
mineral kingdom. It is the monadic essence, or material used in
creation, or it may be called the outpouring of Divine force into
matter. This elemental essence is marvelously sensitive to human
thought, however fleeting. It responds instantly to the vibrations set
up consciously or unconsciously by human will or desire. The influence
of thought can mold a living force, good or evil, into an existence,
evanescent or lasting. Such shapes possess a certain appropriateness to
the character of the desire which calls them into existence, though they
generally possess distortions, either unpleasant or terrifying.

Persons who play with, or use for some malign purpose, Black Magic,
generally have a swarm of such semi-intelligent entities surrounding
them, and professional Black Magicians can call artificial elementals of
great power into existence, and use them for their fell designs.

As a rule, however, the enormous inchoate mass of entities, known as
elementals, are beings of human thought creation, created in no
malicious spirit, but more often the result of curiosity, and tampering
with a very dangerous power, as yet little understood. The amateur
magician on passing over to the other side by no means loses his taste
for the grotesque and abnormal, and often continues to play pranks on
those left behind, by means of the dangerous powers he has acquired
whilst on earth.

I was visiting some old friends in the South of England. Some years
before they had succeeded to a fine inheritance, and it was the first
time that I had stayed with them in that house. I did not experience any
uncomfortable sensations in the bedroom appointed to me. It was early
summer-time when there is but a short spell of darkness, and I was on
such intimate terms with my hostess, herself a psychic, that I had only
to say I disliked the atmosphere of my bedroom, to have it changed.

The former mistress of the house had been a very remarkable woman whom I
had known intimately. She was brilliantly clever and accomplished, and
charming to talk to, but unfortunately she took a vivid interest in
occultism of the wrong sort--in Black Magic. Anything to do with spells,
witchcraft, elementals, incantations, attracted her enormously, and she
had a very considerable knowledge of the subject. I have no doubt she
could have worked a great deal of mischief had she been so inclined, but
luckily her designs were more impish than malign.

I often warned her that there was undoubted danger in such researches,
and that she was certain to attract about her elementals of a most
undesirable kind, but my warnings went unheeded, and to the time of her
death her interest in the dark subject never flagged.

She had not died in the house I had come to stay in, but it occurred to
me as I dressed for dinner that I was in her old bedroom.

This suggestion came to me suddenly, and to the accompaniment of a
sound. A sound more felt than heard, a sound known to the spirit rather
than to the ear; a tiptoe silence hovering on the brink of sound's
threshold.

My surroundings gave a very pleasant impression. A glorious sunset was
flooding the west. My room was full of golden light, and the window was
flung wide to the warm summer air. There was nothing to be recorded
either ghostly or uncanny, yet something was present which made me
uncomfortable. Strange thoughts, bizarre fancies, found lodgment in my
mind, and I stood rigid, listening intently. The room was full of
secrets. They seemed suddenly to creep forth and whisper together.

There it was again! that soft echo of a sound which was like no other
sound. An eerie, uncanny sensation crept down my spine, a strange,
undefinable feeling of uncertainty, not yet amounting to fear. I moved
towards the corner of the room, whence the sound proceeded, and as I
approached, out of that corner dropped down a huge gray moth, a second
dropped down after it, and both lay with outstretched wings on the white
coverlet of the bed.

Now I have always had a peculiar antipathy to moths, the big furry sort.
I can handle a spider, and bear with a black beetle, but with big woolly
moths I cannot live happily. I saw one once under a microscope, and it
was covered with horrid looking parasites. I am aware that other
creatures are similarly afflicted, but this microscopic vision
accentuated my horror of all big moths. They seem to me repulsive,
sinister, and uncanny creatures. The curious thing is that though I
dislike them they adore me, and I always know that if there is one in my
parish it will find me out.

On this occasion I felt a very natural desire to laugh at myself. Of
course, the creatures had at once discovered me, and this was all that
had resulted from my uncomfortable sensations. A feeling of scorn swept
over me. Two moths had rustled softly. Could anything be more banal,
more commonplace? I flung a towel over them, and finished dressing. Then
I rang for the housemaid.

When she came I told her she must accomplish the destruction of the
occupants of my bed. I could see no moths flying about outside, but
nevertheless the window must be kept closed till I opened it again in
the dark, before getting into bed.

She told me that she was always particular to close the windows before
bringing in a light, as the bats were a nuisance. I assured her that I
had no objection to a room full of bats, but I could not sleep in a room
full of moths. She promised to look about the room whilst it was still
light, and destroy any she found. I closed the window myself and went
down to dinner.

We were but three women present; my hostess, myself, and a friend of
ours, and we spent a delightful evening together talking of old times.

That night, before beginning to undress, I blew out my candle, and
throwing up the window I stood looking forth upon enchantment. It was
still light, with a luster that filled all space, and it seemed wicked
to shut out such beauty. Westward the stars were pale, but southward one
great dull red star shone low down on the horizon. The owls were
haunting the gardens with their banshee notes. It was a night for the
revelation of the fairy folk, elves and pixies, fauns and dryads,
elfins, nymphs and satyrs. A night when she tells her secrets to her
lovers in the psalmody of nature, when the spirits of earth, fire, air,
and water utter softly to human souls, if they will but incline the ear
to hearken to the message.

If I want a definition of God I shall go, not to the bell and the book,
but to a starlit, fragrant garden, where I can look long and deep into
the passion of Creation's eyes. I will be as the old gray poet who
wrote--

    "I am he that walks with the tender and growing night,
    I call the earth and sea, half hid by the night.
    Press close magnetic, nourishing night,
    Night of the South wind, night of the large, few stars."

Across the hushed magic came silver sweet the strokes of eleven from the
village church, and the spell was broken. I closed the window, lit my
candles, and prepared for bed.

Just before extinguishing my lights, and re-opening the window, I
carried a candle to the side of the bed with a box of matches. What was
my horror on discovering that the turned-down bed and both pillows were
liberally strewn with enormous gray moths. The sight was extraordinary,
I literally could not believe my eyes. I stood there staring, and
mechanically counting them. Twenty--thirty. I turned back to the
dressing-table with the candle still in my hand. What was I to do? If I
had the courage to destroy them, what sort of condition would the bed be
in after?

I am writing of actual facts, and without the least exaggeration. The
smallest of those moths must have been quite an inch long in their fat
gray bodies, and quite three inches long across the wings. I thought I
knew most moths by sight and name, but I had never seen any like these
before. What depressed me most was the fact that moths are attracted by
candle-light. I had been burning four candles for quite twenty minutes,
and not a moth had forsaken the bed for the flame. I was positively
certain that they had not flown in whilst I stood in the dark of the
open window. They were far too big and numerous to have escaped
observation. What was I to do? I could not use that bed, and I now felt
a strong repulsion for the room. I regretted deeply that the household
must all be in bed, because I knew that no description I could give
would convey anything like actuality, and the truth was certain to
appear wild exaggeration.

I made up my mind at once. I knew there were several unoccupied rooms on
either side of me, and taking my lighted candle I placed it, still lit,
in a basin on the marble-topped washstand. It should remain lit all
night, and in the morning I would come to search for victims. The other
candles I extinguished, all but one to take with me, and leaving the
window still shut I softly left the room. I entered the next bedroom and
approached the bed. Of course, there were no sheets, but the white dust
sheet covering the blankets was spotless--there was not a moth to be
seen anywhere. Blowing out my candle I opened the window, and getting
into bed between the blankets I was soon fast asleep.

I awakened to glorious sunshine, and looked at my wrist watch, which I
had placed beside my bed. Six o'clock and a lovely warm summer morning.

I jumped out of bed, full of curiosity regarding my visitors of
over-night, and returned to my own room. Not a trace of a moth to be
seen anywhere. The candle had burnt itself out, no singed wings or
blackened bodies lay near. The window was shut. I threw it wide, and
then I went round the room shaking curtains, looking behind pictures,
and climbing on a chair I examined the top of the wardrobe. Not the
faintest signs of the great gray drove of the night before. Where could
they all have vanished to?

I gave it up, and got into my own bed, to await the advent of my early
tea. I hated having to tell the housemaid that I had been driven into
another room, but I knew she would find out the fact for herself. She
was obviously incredulous, and assured me she had thoroughly searched
the room, and seen but two winged creatures; those she had removed from
the bed. I had seen for myself when coming to bed that the window had
remained shut. She had often seen one or two brown moths in the rooms at
night, but she owned that never before had she seen huge gray ones.

The matter was left at that, and during the day I told my hostess of my
adventure, and she at once ordered the room I had slept in to be
prepared for me, in case I might encounter the same difficulties again.
I dressed for dinner in the moth-room, without catching sight of one.
When bedtime came we three women all entered the room together.

On approaching the bed, and looking down on it, no one spoke for a
moment. Then my fellow guest exclaimed:

"Well, I must say that if I had not seen this with my own eyes I never
would have believed it."

The bed was liberally sprinkled with large gray moths.

My hostess shivered. "Come away, and let us shut the door. It's too
horrible," she said.

During the remainder of my visit I was perfectly comfortable in my new
room, and the curious fact must be stated that after I had left the
moth-room the moths forsook it too. I could discern a pitying
incredulity in the housemaid's attitude towards me afterwards. She had
seen but two, and she did not believe in the drove.

My hostess and friend who had witnessed the phenomenon at once agreed
that there was something more in it than an entomological curiosity. I
would have given much for the opinion of a naturalist. What, I wonder,
would he have made of that fat, gray flock sprinkling the bed? What
species of moth would he have declared them to be?

I have searched in many books since and never found anything the least
resembling them, and I retain my original, firm belief that they were
nothing more or less than a flock of elementals, sent forth as a
practical joke by a practiced magician on the other side.



CHAPTER XIX

"THE NEW JEANNE D'ARC"


Before writing on the above subject, which is proving to-day of
absorbing interest to a very large number of people, Protestant as well
as Catholic, I will point out a curious fact that is occultly connected
with it.

At certain periods in our normal life, certain subjects lying quite
outside our earthly experience begin quite suddenly to be talked of and
written upon. No one knows why, no one, outside occultism, can even form
a conjecture why such subjects should suddenly obsess the brains of a
considerable number of persons, why they should crop up in the most
unexpected places, or why they should form the foundations of a
considerable mass of literature.

It would appear as if they were floating in the air at some particular
time, and masses of people catch them up like germs, and carry them
about until their power is exhausted.

I will give an instance. In the years just before the war "The Great God
Pan" drifted across our mental horizon and was at once drawn into our
aura.

No one knows anything about "The Great God Pan." He is supposed to
belong to mythology, but novelists of distinction at once began to write
upon him, not one after the other, but simultaneously. I read at least
three thrilling novels in which he figured largely, and I myself was
impelled to write a novel upon the same subject.

I began the book knowing nothing of the god, beyond what I could gather
from the London Library, and Frazer's "Golden Bough," but as I proceeded
I was conscious of new information drifting in from without, and on
finishing the book I found that other authors had been at work on the
same subject.

"The Great God Pan" appeared on the stage, and a popular actress sang a
song about him. One heard his name mentioned constantly in society, and
hideous stories were told of him in Bohemian art circles. He was the
bugbear of the séance room, journalists mentioned him in quite serious
articles, and I once heard his name spoken from a pulpit.

The bare fact of this seemingly inconsequent disease (for it almost
amounted to a disease with us) drifting into our stolid British
atmosphere was not curious to the occultist, who is aware that at
certain times, certain subjects are flooded in on us from "the other
side" by those who have our welfare at heart.

I never heard any explanation of why Pan should have come here to play
quite an important part in our mental lives, or why he should have
obsessed so many of us for about a couple of years. The more one
discovered about him the less one liked him, but psychics are led to
believe that there are many schemes of evolution hovering about us, and
interpenetrating our own, though not visible to our normal
consciousness.

It may therefore be that "The Great God Pan" did actually come into our
atmosphere, and thus his individuality impressed itself upon those whose
minds were plastic to such impressions. Possibly he arrived on this
earth much as an aerolite arrives, drawn out of his own orbit by the
superior attraction of this globe.

"The Great God Pan" was, what might be termed, the forerunner of the
devil's reincarnation. The belief in a personal devil was rapidly dying
out amongst us, in spite of "The Sorrows of Satan," and the belief in
"The Prince of this World" so insisted upon throughout the Old and New
Testaments.

There is no more engrossing subject for the occultist to indulge in than
gathering together every verse in the Bible dealing with "The Evil One,"
and trying, with the aid of ancient traditions, to piece a coherent
story together. When one gets a certain distance in the study one comes
to the conclusion that there is a great deal more in it than meets the
eye. It is a vast subject, and I think the most profoundly occult
mystery extant and undeciphered.

The devil now occupies a prominent position in the collective thought of
the nation. An enormous number of people believe now in his existence,
who would have scorned the bare idea before 1916. It was in that year
that he began to loom large in the beliefs of quite materially minded
people, and his advent into actual, active existence at once complicated
matters terribly.

Said a well-known writer to me, "I think there is something in it. It's
very tiresome. I was just beginning to settle down in my beliefs, now
I'm all upset again by this conception of a personal adversary to the
Supreme Ruler."

In the early weeks of 1917 a new impression drifted in on us.

Some angel came down and stirred the pool of the world, and left with us
"The Sacred Heart."

"The Sacred Heart" was the forerunner of "The New Jeanne d'Arc," Claire
Ferchaud.

There is nothing that has more astonished the Catholic world than
hearing "The Sacred Heart" talked of by Protestants, and actually
adopted by them as a sacred symbol. Hitherto it has been exclusively a
part of Catholic worship.

There was such a demand for the little metal "Sacred Heart" images (a
figure of the Christ, with hands outstretched and a flaming heart at His
breast), that can be carried about in the pocket, that they were not to
be bought in England, and were hard to procure abroad. Enormous numbers
had been sent to the front by persons belonging to all denominations,
who treasured one of their own at home. Very suddenly "The Sacred Heart"
became an object of veneration amongst thousands to whom Roman
Catholicism was anathema.

Then came the demand from France that "The Sacred Heart" should be
placed above the tricolor.

I had not heard of Claire Ferchaud before the beginning of 1918, though
her Divine Mission began about six years previously.

Occultists began to speak of her amongst themselves as one who would yet
save France. This hope was never lost sight of in the country's darkest
hours. Now there is a steadily growing demand amongst the educated
British public to learn all that can be known about this girl who has
been called "The New Joan of Arc."

In 1916 she was summoned to appear before an Ecclesiastical Commission
at Poitiers in the same room in which "The Maid of Orleans" was
interrogated, before being placed at the head of the Army of
deliverance.

Both Claire Ferchaud and her communications were subjected to the
strictest scrutiny. The result was entirely in her favor. Her writings
were examined by Father Vaudrious, D.D., M.S.D., who declared them
inspired, and equal to those of St. Catherine of Sienna and St. Teresa.
Finally they were taken to Rome, and submitted to a commission appointed
by the Holy See. The result being that she was ordered to continue her
mission. The writings deal with devotion to "The Sacred Heart" and the
dignity of priesthood.

One is irresistibly reminded of the opening scenes at Lourdes, whilst
Bernadette Soubirons was alive, in 1858. Again, one cannot but recall a
certain similarity betwixt certain events in the life of the Maid of
Orleans and the events taking place now in the life of Claire Ferchaud.

Claire is a girl twenty-two years old, the daughter of a peasant
proprietor in the village of Ranfillières, a mile from Lublande, Deux
Sèvres Dept., France. Her parents are alive, and she has two sisters and
three brothers. The father and one brother fought during the war,
another brother was a prisoner, and the youngest assists on the farm.
One of the sisters works on the farm, and the eldest sister is a
réligieuse at the community of La Sagesse.

Claire was tending her father's flocks when the first great revelation
came to her nine years ago; then she was but thirteen years old. She had
crept into a thicket to read, and suddenly the Divine Master appeared to
her and bade her lay down her book. He told her she had been chosen for
a Divine Mission, and that He would guide and instruct her. He showed
her "The Sacred Heart" covered with wounds.

On recounting her vision to her priest, she was treated with coldness
and disbelief, and on her telling him two years later that Our Lord
daily appeared to her in Holy Communion she was treated still more
coldly.

Until he himself received a sign he maintained an attitude of utter
disbelief. What happened soon after whilst he was celebrating Holy Mass,
entirely convinced him.

At that particular part of the Canon when the priest divides the Sacred
Species he saw blood issue from the Sacred Host. Nor was this all. A
week afterwards he observed Claire Ferchaud in a trance in his own
church, and he saw her using a handkerchief as if wiping some object in
front of her, which he could not see. Blood stains appeared on the
handkerchief, and increased as she repeated the action.

Filled with amazement he sought later for an explanation, and she told
him.

"Our Lord appeared before me suffering greatly because of the terrible
sins of the world, and He asked me to do for Him what Veronica did on
the road to Calvary. To wipe away the bloody sweat that trickled down
His face. I saw the Sacred Heart, riddled with wounds, and the deepest
wound of all was inflicted by France, the eldest daughter of the Church,
on whom He had lavished so deep a love. Once before He appeared to me
walking upon ears of corn which He crushed to powder."

The priest after hearing this explanation took the handkerchief to the
bishop, who listened to the wonderful story with sympathetic attention.
He examined the blood-stained handkerchief minutely, and sent for a nun.
"If," he said, "the stains are what they are represented to be they
cannot be washed out."

The bishop put the matter to the test, and watched the nun endeavoring
to remove the stains. It was all in vain, and the bishop standing by his
own test declared the mission of Claire Ferchaud to be Divine.

Every night, between eleven and twelve o'clock, Claire beholds
apparitions, and receives the sacred teaching that was promised, and it
was in 1916 that she was ordered to Poitiers to undergo
cross-examination.

Unfortunately the further development of Claire Ferchaud's mission
cannot yet be communicated to the world, but in time it will be, and
very startling and wonderful it will seem.

Meanwhile she encountered very strong opposition. With considerable
difficulty the Deputy of Vendée arranged a meeting between Claire and M.
Poincaré. Claire implored him to permit the emblem of the Sacred Heart
to be placed on the Standards of France, as the one condition of
success. Unfortunately M. Poincaré had to refuse, owing to political
reasons, though as proof of her mission she disclosed an incident only
known to him which happened after the victory of the Marne.

The same adverse influence operated at her interview with M. Clemenceau.
This appointment was arranged by the Archbishop of Rheims, Cardinal
Lucon. The Archbishop implored M. Clemenceau to fix a day of public
intercession for France. This also the Prime Minister of France had
reluctantly to refuse.

It is openly stated that before the later French successes the emblem of
the Sacred Heart was secretly sewn upon the flags of France, and it is
also affirmed that General Foch is a devoted lover of the Sacred Heart,
and bears its emblem with him wherever he goes.

Great changes have come about in the village where Claire Ferchaud
dwells. Formerly a sleepy, neglected little place, it is now converted
into a scene of the greatest activity.

From all parts of France the pilgrims come--some on foot, having walked
many miles, some in motors and horse-driven vehicles. Hundreds of
soldiers find their way there, and it is estimated that from fifteen to
twenty thousand people pass through Lublande in a month.

With the consent of her bishop, Claire Ferchaud has formed a small
community of nine, and is now established in a temporary convent
adjacent to her parish church at Lublande. It is believed that her
Divine Mission will be accomplished in 1922, and that she will then be
released from earthly life.

Claire has predicted a stormy period for France after peace has been
signed. According to her prophecy there will be violent unrest until
rulers arise who possess firm religious convictions. At the beginning of
the war she affirmed that the French Army would never prosper until the
troops were commanded by a true son of the Church. This affirmation she
claimed to receive from a Divine source. When Maréchal Foch took over
the supreme command she was satisfied that victory, so far as the French
arms were concerned, was assured.

As all the world knows, and as all may learn who read Hyndman's life of
his old friend Clemenceau, the Prime Minister of France, like the
majority of his colleagues, is frankly atheistical. Claire Ferchaud
claims to have received the Divine intimation that until this condition
of mind is superseded by a public acknowledgment of a supreme divine
power, a supreme arbiter over the destinies of the world, the affairs of
France can never prosper. She predicts that in 1922 rulers will arise
who will bow before a Power superior to their own human energies.

The first part of her prophecy has come true. A man of God won his way
to the front, and saved France and the Allies at the darkest hour of
their tribulation.

The supreme command was vested in a man of profound religious
convictions, who carried his beliefs and observances openly into the
arena of war.

I translate the words written lately to me by one who has served under
Ferdinand Foch. They throw a brilliant light upon a great soul.

"I can see him now, alone and unattended, at an hour when the Church of
Cassel was deserted, praying and seeking comfort in the great sorrow, of
which he never spoke. He had lost his only son, and one of his daughters
was widowed. In spite of his indomitable energy there was about him an
air of profound melancholy and sadness.

"At certain moments his eyes seemed to say, 'I approach the twilight of
my life in the consciousness of being a good servant who will repose in
the peace of God. My faith in life eternal, in a good God, has sustained
me in my hardest hours. Prayer has illumined my soul. See to it, you
young men of France, who are without a great ideal, without any
conception of the spiritual side of life, there can be nothing for you
but discouragement and feebleness. We demand of you great sacrifices to
the end. Accept those sacrifices as I accept mine, who believe that
spirit must prevail over matter.'"



CHAPTER XX

HAUNTED HOUSES--"CASTEL A MARE"


I have never yet met any one who was not interested in haunted houses.
Even the most blatant skeptic always wants to "hear all about it,"
though he has predetermined to treat the story with his habitual
scoffing incredulity. Of all the departments of psychical research none
commands more general interest than a "spooky" house, and there are few
people who cannot name a dwelling which has acquired the reputation for
being haunted by denizens of the other world.

Of course, any house that falls into serious disrepair, and remains
unoccupied for some long period, any dwelling whose owner permits decay
to proceed unchecked, and dilapidation to run its course, at once
suggests the thought to the beholder, "what a haunted looking old
place," and rumor, in such cases, quickly supplies all the old
phenomena, even though tradition be totally absent. Tramps are always on
the lookout for such shelters, and their damped-down fires catch the eye
of some scared rustic who happens to be passing in the dark. Rats and
the winds of heaven play hide-and-seek through the deserted rooms and
corridors, and owls find sanctuary in the surrounding gardens. Their
cries, varying from the exultant shriek to the mournful wail, add a
weird suggestiveness to the abiding melancholy of such abandoned
habitations.

There is so much talk nowadays of hauntings and ghosts, that it seems
strange we should know so very little about them. I have never heard a
really convincing explanation of why ghosts should haunt certain houses,
and I have no explanation of my own to offer. If ghosts could be
commanded, if one could be sure of witnessing certain phenomena that
have been elaborately described to one, then there might be the ghost of
a chance of advantageous investigation. No such opportunities seem to be
afforded the investigator. He may watch for months and see nothing, yet
the elusive wraith may turn up before several witnesses on the very
night after he has abandoned his quest out of sheer boredom and
discouragement.

Some seven years ago, whilst wintering in Torquay, I heard a great deal
of gossip about a villa on the Warberries, which was reputed to be badly
haunted. For the last forty to fifty years nobody, it was said, had been
able to live in it for any length of time. Several people asserted that
they had heard screams coming from it as they passed along the high
road, and no occupant had ever been able to keep a door shut or even
locked.

The house is at present being pulled down, therefore I commit no
indiscretion in describing the phenomena connected with it.

"Castel a Mare" is situated in what house agents would describe as "a
highly residential quarter." It is surrounded by numerous villas,
inhabited by people who are all very "well to do," and who make Torquay
their permanent home. The majority of these villas lie right back from
the road, and are hidden in their own luxuriant gardens, but the
haunted house is one of several whose back premises open straight on to
the road.

No dwelling could have looked more commonplace or uninteresting. It was
built in the form of a high box, three storied. It was hideous and
inartistic in the extreme, but along its frontage looking towards the
sea and hidden from the road, there ran a wide balcony on to which the
second floor rooms opened, and from there the view over the garden was
charming. When I first went to look at it, dilapidation had set in.
Jackdaws and starlings were busy in the chimneys, the paint was peeling
off the walls, and most of the windows were broken. Year after year
those windows were mended, but they never remained intact for more than
a week, and during the war there has been no attempt at renewal. Even
the agents' boards, "To be let or sold" dropped one by one from their
stems, as if in sheer weariness of so fruitless an announcement.

It was not long before I obtained the loan of the keys, and proceeded to
"take the atmosphere." It was decidedly unhealthful, I concluded, though
I neither heard nor saw anything unusual during the hour I spent alone
in quietly wandering through the deserted rooms. I found no trace of
tramps, and all the closed windows were thickly cobwebbed _inside_, an
important fact to notice in psychic research. I fixed upon the bathroom
and one other small room, as the _foci_ of the trouble, and left the
house with no other strong impression than that my movements had been
closely watched, by some one unseen by me. It was no uncommon sight in
pre-war days to see several smart motor cars drawn up at the gate.
Frivolous parties of explorers in search of a thrill drove in from the
surrounding neighborhood, and romped gayly through the house and out
again, and I discovered that several of those visitors had distinctly
felt that they were being followed about and watched.

My husband and I were naturally much interested in this haunted
dwelling, so accessible, and so near to our own house. We determined
that if we could make friends with the owner we would do a little
investigation on our own. Numerous people, on the plea that the house
might suit them as a residence, got the loan of the keys, and spent an
hour or two inside the place, wandering about the house and garden, but
the owner was getting tired of this rush of spurious house-hunters. He
was beginning to ask for _bona fides_, so we determined honestly to
state our purpose.

The proprietor was an old builder who owned several other houses. He
received me very civilly, even gratefully. He would willingly give us
the keys for as long a period as we required them. "Castel a Mare"
brought him extreme bad luck; he longed to be rid of it, and he added
that after our investigations, if my husband could give the house a
clean bill of health it would be of enormous benefit to him, in enabling
him to let or sell it. He did not seem very hopeful, but stated it to be
his opinion that the hauntings were all nonsense, and that the screams
people heard were the cries of some peacocks that lived in a property
not far off. This sounded very reasonable, and I promised him that if we
could honestly state that the house was perfectly unhealthful, we would
permit our conclusions to be made public.

My husband and I decided that the hour one p. m. till two p. m. would be
the quietest and least conspicuous time in which to investigate.
Doubtless the night would have been better still, but it would have
created too much excitement in the neighborhood, and callers to see "how
we were bearing up" would have defeated our object. Between one and two
all Torquay would be lunching, and we could easily slip in unobserved,
and we would require neither lights nor warm comforts.

We started at once, my husband keeping the keys, and making himself
responsible for the doors. Though the window-panes were badly broken
there were no openings large enough to admit a small child, and, as I
have said, the network of cobwebs within was evidence that no human
being entered the house by the windows. The front door lock was in good
order, and so were most of the other locks in the house. We shut
ourselves in, and after a thorough examination of the premises we
mounted to the first floor. Three rooms opened on to it, belonging to
the principal bedroom--a smaller room and a bathroom opening out of the
big bedroom. My husband closed all the doors, and we sat down on the
lower steps of the bare staircase leading to the floor above. That day
we drew an absolute blank, and at two o'clock we closed every door in
the house, and just inside the front door we made a careless looking
arrangement of twigs, dead leaves, pieces of straw and dust, which could
not fail to betray the passing of human feet, should anybody possess a
duplicate key to the front door and enter by that means.

The second day we found our twig and straw arrangements intact, but not
a single door was shut, all were thrown defiantly wide. This seemed
rather promising and we went upstairs to our seat on the steps, and
carefully reclosing the doors immediately in front of us, sat down to
await events.

Quite half an hour must have passed when suddenly a click made us both
look up. The handle of the door, but a couple of yards distant from me,
leading into the small room, was turning, and the door quietly opened
wide enough to admit the passing of a human being. It was a bright sunny
day, and one could see the brass knob turning round quite distinctly. We
saw no form of any sort, and the door remained half open. For perhaps a
couple of moments we awaited developments, then our attention was
suddenly switched off the door by the sound of hurrying footsteps
running along the bare boards on the corridor above us. My husband
rushed up and searched each empty room, but neither saw anything nor
heard anything more. Before leaving the house we shut all doors, and
locked all that would lock. Such was the meager extent of our second
day's investigations.

On the third day the doors were all found wide flung. No door opened
before our eyes as on our former visit, but a brushing sound was heard
ascending the stairs, as if from some one pressing close against the
wall.

For about a fortnight nothing happened beyond what I have recounted, but
I was strongly conscious that we were being watched. The most
unhealthful spots were the bathroom, a servants' room entered by a
staircase leading from the kitchen, and the stable, a small building
immediately to the right of the house. The bathroom was in great
disrepair, long strips of paper hung from the walls, and an air of
profound depression pervaded it. Obviously it had once been merely a
large cupboard, and it had a window admitting light from a passage
behind it.

We had never once failed to find every door which we had closed thrown
wide on our return, and one day we locked the bathroom, and removing the
key we looked about for some spot in which to secrete it. On that floor
was nothing large enough to hide even so small an object as a key, so we
took it downstairs to the dining-room. In a corner lay a rag of linoleum
about six inches square, under this we placed the bathroom key and left
the house.

That afternoon a house agent called and asked for the loan of the keys.
He told us that a brave widow, who knew the history of the house,
thought it might suit her to live in, and he proposed to take her over
it and point out its charms. He would return the keys to us directly
afterwards. I took advantage of this occasion to say to the agent that
probably the screams some people had heard proceeded from the peacocks
in the neighborhood.

He shook his head and answered, "We hoped that might prove to be the
case, but we have ascertained that it is not so." He seemed despondent
about the place, even though what we had to tell him was as yet nothing
very formidable or exciting. What we did not tell him was that we had
locked up the bathroom, and hidden the key. We left him to discover that
fact for himself.

He returned with the keys in about an hour, and I asked him what the
widow thought of "Castel a Mare."

"She thinks something might be made of it. The cheapness attracts her,"
he answered.

"But it will need so much doing to it," I demurred. "What did she think
of the bathroom?"

"She said it only needed cleaning and repapering. The bath itself she
found in good enough condition."

So the bathroom door was open, in spite of our having locked it and
hidden the key!

After the agent had gone we went to the house. Every door stood wide.
The bathroom key was still in its hiding-place, and the door open. We
replaced the key. The ghosts laughed to scorn such securities as locks
and keys.

For a month or two we pursued our investigations, then we returned the
keys to the owner. Though we had seen and heard so little it was
impossible to give the house a clean bill of health, and the old builder
was much cast down. A few days afterwards we received a letter from him
offering us the house as a free gift. It would pay him to be rid of the
ground rent, and the place was as useless to him as to any one else. We
thanked him and refused the gift.

About this period I was lucky enough to get into touch with a former
tenant of "Castel a Mare," and this lady most kindly gave me many
details of her residence there. About thirty years ago she occupied it
with her father and mother, and they were the last family to live in it
for any length of time, and for many years it has remained empty.

Soon after their arrival this family discovered that there was something
very much amiss with their new residence. The house, the garden, and the
stable were decidedly uncanny, but it was some time before they would
admit, even to themselves, that the strange happenings were of a
supernatural order.

The phenomena fell under three headings: a piercing scream heard
continually, at any hour and during all seasons; continuous steps
running along corridors, and up and down stairs; constant lockings of
doors by unseen hands.

The scream was decidedly the most unnerving of the various phenomena.
The family lived in constant dread of it. Sometimes it came from the
garden, sometimes from inside the house. One morning whilst they sat at
breakfast, they were violently startled by this horrible sound coming
from the inner hall, just outside the room in which they sat. It took
but a moment to throw open the door, but, as usual, there was nothing to
be seen.

On another occasion the family doctor had just arrived at the front
door, and was about to ring, when he was startled by the scream coming
from inside the house. This doctor still lives in the neighborhood, and
is one of many people who can bear witness to the fact.

The footsteps of unseen people kept the family pretty busy. They were
always running to the doors to see who was hurrying past, and up and
down stairs. Very soon the drawing-room became extremely uncomfortable,
and practically uninhabitable. It was always full of unseen people
moving about. The lady of the house never felt herself alone, and when
she found herself locked into her own room, the behavior of her astral
guests seemed to her to have become intolerable. The master of the house
no more escaped these attentions than did the rest of the inhabitants,
and finally all keys had to be removed from all doors.

One night some guests, after getting into bed, heard some one open the
door of their room and enter. Astonishment kept them silent, and in a
minute or two their visitor quietly withdrew and closed the door again.
They concluded that it must have been their hostess, and that thinking
they were asleep she had not spoken, yet still they thought the incident
very strange. The next morning they discovered that no member of the
household had entered their room.

On another occasion a lady who had come to help nurse a sick sister saw,
one night, a strange woman dressed in black velvet walk downstairs.

Animals fared badly at "Castel a Mare." A large dog belonging to the
family was often found cowering and growling in abject fear of something
visible to it, but not to the human inhabitants, and the harness horse
showed such an invincible objection to its stable, that it could only be
got in by backing.

Later on I was told that a member of the Psychical Society had visited
"Castel a Mare," and had pronounced the garden to be more haunted than
the house.

It is interesting to note how absolutely untenable badly haunted houses
become. No matter how skeptical, how resolutely material the tenants may
be, the phenomena wear them down to a humble surrender at last. After
all, what can people do but quit a residence which is constantly showing
incontrovertible evidence that it is possessed by numerous unseen
entities that defy analysis?

Every one is interested in getting rid of this weird disturbance, but
how to do it? The skeptic is resolute in unmasking the fraud, but finds
himself balked by intangibility. He hears the scream at his door, and
rushes to arrest the miscreant, but sees no one to grapple with.
Domestic difficulties become acute. No warning is given, no wages asked.
The servants decamp, too scared to care for anything but putting
distance between themselves and the nameless dread. Visitors begin to
fight shy of the house. They have heard the screams.

Month after month the master of the house, thinking of his rent, and his
reputation for sanity, and what the loss of both would mean to him,
clings to skepticism as his only hope and refuge. He is not going to be
driven forth by any such stuff and nonsense as ghosts! Why! there are no
such things! "Seen things? heard things?" Well, yes, he has, but, of
course, there must be some rational explanation. A man who has fought
for king and country is not going to be defeated and put to flight by a
pack of silly women's stories. He will soon get to the bottom of the
whole affair, then woe betide the practical joker!

When alone he racks his brains in vain. He is furious with himself for
having heard the scream, and tells himself he must be "going dotty." He
is puzzled, baffled, irritated, but more determined than ever to "stick
it out." Who can the "joker" be who is demoralizing his household, who
has even dared to lock him into his own room? He thinks of his wife and
family, and of their shattered nerves; he thinks of his terrified
servants, and of his dog, which can no longer be persuaded to enter the
house. He feels he must look elsewhere for the disturber of his peace.
But where? He keeps careful watch unknown (as he thinks) to his family.
The steps approach him, pass close to him, then die away in the
distance, leaving him fuming, impotent. He finds it necessary to wipe
his brow, which enrages him still more. At dead of night he watches on
the staircase, with all lights full on.

Silence, utter silence! Absolutely nothing to be seen or heard. He
thinks of going to bed. He always said the whole thing was "tommy rot."
The deathly silence is suddenly rent by a piercing scream at his very
elbow, and he leaps to his feet, growling out an oath below his breath.
He looks wildly round on every side of him. Nothing! Something strange
is happening to his head. He passes his hand over his hair. It seems to
be creeping along his scalp, and he thinks of the quills of a porcupine.
"What the devil is he to do?" "Go to bed," answers inclination, "you're
doing no good here. Yes! Go to bed; that's the sensible thing to do."

The next morning every one asks him if he heard "it." He acknowledges to
himself that his temper is becoming vile.

The day comes when he is left alone with his family. The staff has fled
and he feels rather broken.

At last he gives in, and agrees to seek another home, but it is not to
the ghosts he gives in, but to the nervous fancies of a pack of silly
women. He feels wonderfully light-hearted, however, now that his mind is
made up, and a glow of magnanimity pervades him. "If you do a thing at
all do it well and _at once_," he tells himself, and promptly hires
another house in another neighborhood.

When questioned by his men friends he laughs. The man in the street
might understand certain things that he could tell, but the man in the
club, never! "All tommy rot, my dear chap, but my wife got nervous, and
the servants! You know what they are. Scared by the scratch of a mouse.
For the women's sake I thought it best to quit. You know what women are,
when they once get an idea into their heads!"



CHAPTER XXI

THE SEQUEL


In 1917 a friend rang me up and asked me if I would form one of a party
of investigation at "Castel a Mare." The services of a medium had been
secured, and a soldier on leave, who was deeply immersed in psychic
research, was in high hopes of getting some genuine results.

I accepted the invitation because a certain incident had once more
roused my curiosity in the haunted house.

During our investigations I had been disappointed at not hearing the
much-talked-of scream, the more so after learning from the former
tenants how very often they had heard it. When I did at last hear it I
was walking past the house on a very hot summer morning, about eleven
o'clock. I was not thinking of the house, and had just passed it on my
way home, when a piercing scream arrested my attention. I wheeled round
instantly; there was not a doubt as to where the scream came from, but
unfortunately, though there were people on the road, there was no one
near enough to bear witness. The scream appeared to come from some one
in abject terror, and would have arrested the attention of any one who
happened to be passing. I mean that had no haunted house stood there,
had the scream proceeded from any other villa, I am sure that any
passer-by would have halted wonderingly, and awaited further
developments.

"Castel a Mare" lay in absolute silence, under the blazing sunshine, and
in a minute or two I walked on. I could now understand what it must have
meant to live in that house, in constant dread of that weird and hideous
sound resounding through the rooms or garden.

This incident made me eager to join my friend's party, and on reaching
the house I found a small crowd assembled.

The medium, myself, and four other women. The soldier, and an elderly
and burly builder belonging to the neighborhood, who was interested in
psychic research. Eight persons in all.

As there was no chair or furniture of any description in the house, we
carried in a small empty box from a rubbish heap outside, and followed
the medium through the rooms. She elected to remain in the large
bedroom, on the first floor, out of which opened the bathroom, and she
sat down on the box and leaned her back against the wall, whilst we
lounged about the room and awaited events. It was a sunny summer
afternoon, and the many broken panes of glass throughout the house
admitted plenty of air.

After some minutes it was plain to see that the medium had fallen into a
trance. Her eyes were closed, and she lay back as if in sound sleep.
Time passed, nothing happened, we were all rather silent, as I had
warned the party that though we were in a room at the side of the house
farthest from the road, our voices could plainly be heard by passers-by,
and we wanted no interference.

Just as we were all beginning to feel rather bored and tired of
standing, the medium sprang to her feet with surprising agility, pouring
out a volume of violent language. Her voice had taken on the deep
growling tones of an infuriated man, who advanced menacingly towards
those of us who were nearest to him. In harsh, threatening voice he
demanded to know what right we had to intrude on his privacy.

There was a general scattering of the scared party before this
unlooked-for attack, and the soldier gave it as his opinion that the
medium was now controlled by the spirit of a very violent male entity. I
had no doubt upon the point.

Then commenced so very unpleasant a scene that I had no doubt also of
the medium's genuineness. No charlatan, dependent upon fraudulent
mediumship for her daily bread, would have made herself so intensely
obnoxious as did this frail little woman. I found myself saying, "Never
again. This isn't good enough."

The entity that controlled her possessed superhuman strength. His voice
was like the bellow of a bull, as he told us to be gone, or he would
throw us out himself, and his language was shocking.

I had warned the medium on entering the house that we must be as quiet
as possible, or we would have the police walking in on us. Now I
expected any moment to see a policeman, or some male stranger arrive on
the scene, and demand to know what was the matter.

The majority of our party were keeping at a safe distance, but suddenly
the control rushed full tilt at the soldier, who had stood his ground,
and attacking him with a tigerish fury drew blood at once. The big
builder and I rushed forward to his aid. The rest of the party forsook
us and fled, pell-mell, out of the house and into the garden. Glancing
through a window, near which we fought, I saw below a row of scared
faces staring up in awed wonder.

The scene being enacted was really amazing. This frail little creature
threw us off like feathers, and drove us foot by foot before her, always
heading us off the bathroom. We tried to stand our ground, and dodge her
furious lunges, but she was too much for us. After a desperate scuffle,
which lasted quite seven or eight minutes, and resulted in much torn
clothing, she drove us out of the room and on to the landing. Then
suddenly, without warning, the entity seemed to evacuate the body he had
controlled, and the medium went down with a crash and lay at our feet,
just a little crumpled disheveled heap.

For some considerable time I thought that she was dead. Her lips were
blue, and I could feel no pulse. We had neither water nor brandy with
which to revive her, and we decided to carry her down into the garden
and see what fresh air would do. Though villas stood all round us, the
foliage of the trees gave us absolute privacy, and we laid her flat on
the lawn. There, after about ten minutes, she gradually regained her
consciousness, and seemingly none the worse for her experiences she sat
up and asked what had happened.

We did not give her the truth in its entirety, and contrived to account
for the blood-stained soldier and the torn clothing, without unduly
shocking and distressing her. We then dispersed; the medium walking off
as if nothing whatever had occurred to deplete her strength.

Some days after this the soldier begged for another experiment with the
medium. He had no doubts as to her genuineness, and he was sure that if
we tried again we would get further developments. She was willing to
try again, and so was the builder, but with one exception the rest of
the party refused to have anything more to do with the unpleasant
affair, and the one exception stipulated to remain in the garden. She
very wisely remarked that if she came into the house there was no
knowing what entity might not attach itself to her, and return home with
her, and she was not going to risk it. Of course this real danger always
had to be counted upon in such investigations, but as the men of the
party desired a woman to accompany the medium, I consented, and we
entered the house once more, a reduced party of four.

After the medium had remained entranced for some minutes, the same male
entity again controlled her. The same violence, the same attacks began
once more, but this time we were better prepared to defend ourselves.
The soldier and the stalwart builder warded off the attacks, and tried
conciliatory expostulations, but all to no purpose. Then the soldier,
who seemed to have considerable experience in such matters, tried a
system of exorcising, sternly bidding the malignant entity depart. There
ensued a very curious spiritual conflict between the exorcist and the
entity, in which sometimes it seemed as if one, then the other, was
about to triumph.

Those wavering moments were useful in giving us breathing space from the
assaults, and at length having failed, as we desired, to get into the
bathroom, we drove him back against the wall at the far end of the room.
Finally the exorcist triumphed, and the medium collapsed on the floor,
as the strength of the control left her.

For a few moments we allowed the crumpled up little heap to remain
where she lay, whilst we mopped our brows and regained our breath. The
soldier had brought a flask of brandy which we proposed to administer to
the unconscious medium, but quite suddenly a new development began.

She raised her head, and still crouching on the floor with closed eyes
she began to cry bitterly. Wailing, and moaning, and uttering
inarticulate words, she had become the picture of absolute woe.

"Another entity has got hold of her," announced the soldier. It
certainly appeared to be so.

All signs of violence had gone. The medium had become a heart-broken
woman.

We raised her to her feet, her condition was pitiable, but her words
became more coherent.

"Poor master! On the bed. Help him! Help him!" she moaned, and pointed
to one side of the room. Again and again she indicated, by clenching her
hands on her throat, that death by strangulation was the culmination of
some terrible tragedy that had been enacted in that room.

She wandered, in a desolate manner, about the floor, wringing her hands,
the tears pouring down her cheeks, whilst she pointed to the bed, then
towards the bathroom with shuddering horror.

Suddenly we were startled out of our compassionate sympathy by a
piercing scream, and my thoughts flew instantly to the experiences of
the former tenants, and what I myself had heard in passing on that June
morning of the former year.

The medium had turned at bay, and began a frantic encounter with some
entity unseen by us. Wildly she wrestled and fought, as if for her life,
whilst she emitted piercing shrieks for "help." We rushed to the
rescue, dragging her away from her invisible assailant, but a
disembodied fighter has a considerable pull over a fighter in the flesh,
who possesses something tangible that can be seized. I placed the medium
behind me, with her back to the wall, but though I pressed her close she
continued to fight, and I had to defend myself as well as defend her.
Her assailant was undoubtedly the first terrible entity which had
controlled her. At intervals she gasped out, "Terrible doctor--will kill
me--he's killed master--help! help!"

Gradually she ceased to fight. The soldier was exorcising with all his
force, and was gaining power; finally he triumphed, inasmuch as he
banished the "terrible doctor."

The medium was, however, still under the control of the broken-hearted
entity, and began again to wander about the room. We extracted from her
further details. An approximate date of the tragedy. Her master's name,
that he was mentally deficient when the murder took place. She was a
maidservant in the house, and after witnessing the crime she appeared to
have shared her master's fate, though by what means we could not
determine. The doctor was a resident physician of foreign origin.

At last we induced her to enter the bathroom, which she seemed to dread,
and there she fell to lamenting over the dead body of her master, which
had lain hidden there when the room was used as a large cupboard. It was
a very painful scene, which was ended abruptly by her falling down
insensible.

She had collapsed in an awkward corner, but at last we lifted her out,
and carried her downstairs to the garden. When I tried to revive her
with brandy I found that her teeth were tightly clenched. I then tried
artificial respiration, as I could feel no pulse. Gradually she came
back to life, quietly, calmly, and in total ignorance of what had
occurred. The most amazing thing was that she showed no signs whatever
of exhaustion or mental fatigue. We were all dead beat, but not so the
fragile-looking little medium, though externally she looked terribly
disheveled and draggled.

This was the last time I set foot in the haunted house, which is now
being demolished, but I still had to experience more of its odd
phenomena.

The date and names the medium had given us were later on verified by
means of a record of villa residents, which for many years had been kept
in the town of Torquay.

There is no one left now who has any interest in verifying a tragic
story supposed to have been enacted about fifty years ago. It must be
left in the realms of psychic research, by which means it was dragged to
light. Certain it is that no such murder came to the knowledge of those
who were alive then, and live still in Torquay.

If there is any truth in the story it falls under the category of
undiscovered crimes. The murderer was able somehow to hide his
iniquities, and escape suspicion and punishment. I do not know if it is
intended to build another house on the same site. I hope not, for it is
very probable that a new residence would share the fate of the old.
Bricks and mortar are no impediment to the free passage of the
disembodied, and there is no reason why they should not elect to
manifest for an indefinite period of time.

There can be no doubt that the scream was an actual fact. There are so
many people living who heard it, and are willing to testify to the
horror of it. Amongst those living people are former tenants, who for
long bore the nervous strain of its constant recurrence.

There remains one other weird incident in connection with "Castel a
Mare" which I will now try to describe.

In the winter of 1917 I was engaged in war work which took me out at
night. Like every other coast town Torquay was plunged at sunset into
deepest darkness, save when the moon defied the authorities. The road
leading from the nearest tramcar to our house was not lit at all, and
one had to stumble along as best one could, even electric torches being
forbidden.

I was returning home one very dark, still night about a quarter past
ten, and being very tired I was walking very slowly. Owing to the inky
darkness I thought it best to walk in the middle of the road, in order
to avoid the inequalities in the footpath at each garden entrance to the
villas. At that hour there was no traffic, and not a soul about.

Suddenly my steps were arrested by a loud knocking on a window-pane, and
I collected my thoughts and tried to take my bearings. The sound came
from the left, where two or three villas stand close to the road. All I
could distinguish was a denser blot of black against the dense
surroundings, but by making certain calculations I recognized that I
stood outside "Castel a Mare." The knocking on the pane lasted only a
moment or two, and was insistent and peremptory. I jumped to the instant
conclusion that some one was having "a lark" inside, and was trying to
"get a rise" out of me. I was too tired to be bothered, and moved on
again with a strong inclination towards my own warm bed, when the
knocking rang out more peremptory than ever. It seemed to say "Stop!
don't go on. I have something to say to you." Involuntarily I stood
still again, and wished that some human being would pass along the road.
I really would not have cared who it was, policeman, soldier,
maidservant. I would have laid hold of them and said, "Do you hear that
knocking? It comes from the haunted house."

Alas! no one did come. The night lay like an inky pall all about me,
silent as the grave, save for that commanding order to stop which was
rapped upon a window-pane whenever I attempted to move on.

Though the being who thus sought to detain me could not possibly
distinguish who I was, or whether my gender was male or female, he could
certainly hear my footsteps as I walked, and the cool inconsequence of
his behavior began to nettle me. I was about to move resolutely on when
I heard something else. This time something really thrilling!

Peal after peal of light laughter, accompanied by flying feet. But such
laughter! Thin, high treble laughter, right away up and out of the
scale, and apparently proceeding from many persons. Such flying feet!
racing, pattering, rushing feet, light as those of the trained athlete.
I stood enthralled with wonder, for in the pitch-black darkness of that
house surely no human feet could avoid disaster. They were rushing up
and down that steep, bare wooden staircase that I knew so well, and the
laughter and the swift-winged feet sounded now from the ground floor,
then could be clearly traced ascending, till they reached the third and
last floor. Tearing along the empty corridors, they began the breakneck
descent again to the bottom, a pell-mell, wild rush of demented demons
chasing each other. That is what it sounded like.

I must have stood there for quite ten minutes, longing intensely for
some one to share in my experiences, but Torquay had gone to bed, and I
felt it was time for me to do likewise.

What could I make of the affair? Nothing! Rats? Rats don't laugh. Human
beings having a rag and trying to scare the neighborhood? No human being
could have run up and down that staircase in such profound darkness. It
would have been a case of crawling up with a firm hand on the banister
rail.

I gave up trying to think and turned resolutely away. As I did so the
knocking began again upon the window-pane.

"Do stop; oh! don't go away. Stop! stop!" it seemed to call after me
insistently as I quickened my footsteps and gradually outdistanced the
imperious demand.

What explanation have I to offer? None! The hallucinations of a tired
woman? That may do for the general public, but not for me. You see, I
was the person who heard it.

There are many haunted houses that are quite habitable, such as Hampton
Court Palace, etc. Where the apparition keeps strictly to an
anniversary, or where the phenomena are mild and inoffensive, their
presence can be endured with a certain amount of equanimity. The point
really lies in this. Are the ghosts who haunt a dwelling indifferent to,
or hostile to, the presence of their companions in the flesh? If the
situation is according to the latter, then the ghosts will certainly
score. They will rid themselves of the human inhabitants by a
wearing-down nerve pressure, which cannot be fought against with any
chance of success. If the ghosts are shy or indifferent, wrapped up in
their own concerns and containing themselves in a world of their own,
then there is no reason why the incarnate and discarnate should not live
peacefully together.

To-day, February 27th, 1919, I read the following in the _Morning
Post_:--

"Haunted or disturbed properties. A lady who has deeply studied this
subject and possesses unusual powers will find out the history of the
trouble and undertake to remedy it. Houses with persistent bad luck can
often be freed from the influence. Strictest confidence. Social
references asked and offered."

What would our grandparents have thought of this means of turning an
honest penny? I have no doubt the lady "possessing the unusual powers"
will be employed, and in many cases she will be successful. In the
majority of cases I venture to say that she will fail, simply because
the majority of cases are too elusive to be dealt with by human means.
How would this lady treat the "Castel a Mare" scream? How would she deal
with the next story I am going to relate?

It is a simple matter to compile a book of thrilling ghost stories if
direct evidence is not given, if names of persons and places are
suppressed.

I claim that my stories have a special interest and value, because I
have tried to restrict them to such as can be attested to by living
persons, closely related to me either by friendship or by family ties.
In a very few instances I have been obliged for obvious reasons to
suppress the names of houses and hotels. In these cases I am ready
personally to supply full information to genuine students of the occult,
if they are willing to approach me privately.



CHAPTER XXII

THE HAUNTED LODGE


A considerable number of people are alive who can testify to the truth
of the facts I now narrate. I regret that I have not been able to
investigate this case personally, but I hope to do so before very long.

In the spring of 1901, my sister and her husband, Major Stewart, rented
an old shooting lodge in Argyllshire. The place was charmingly situated,
the shooting and fishing excellent, and the scenery around was noted for
its romantic beauty.

Though the main portion of the house was old, a new wing had been added
for the sleeping accommodation of servants, and this arrangement shut
them off at night from the ancient part of the dwelling. The original
kitchen still remained in use.

The servants had been sent on in advance to prepare the lodge, and when
Major and Mrs. Stewart arrived they were at once confronted with the
information that the place bore a very evil reputation. The villagers
had not hesitated to prime the maids with all sorts of creepy stories,
eminently calculated to cause their precipitate departure. Luckily for
the master and mistress the maids had been with them for some years, and
were neither of a timid age nor disposition, so the household settled
comfortably down, in those long spring and summer days, which in the
north means practically no darkness.

My sister had banished the alleged hauntings from her mind, and probably
the maids had done likewise, for all was going quietly and well, when
suddenly, after a week's residence, there came a rude reminder.

Major and Mrs. Stewart were both awakened one night by unmistakable
sounds of very noisy burglars, who appeared to have broken into the
house through the kitchen quarters. The major lit a candle, and looked
at his watch. It was just on midnight. What puzzled them both was the
noise the intruders made. Burglars naturally tread softly and
stealthily, but these men stamped about in heavy boots, and were engaged
in throwing about heavy articles. There seemed to be quite a number of
accomplices involved in the enterprise, and they displayed an amazing
indifference to detection.

My sister and her husband decided that events could not be left to take
their course. This matter must be looked into. The major armed himself
with a loaded revolver. My sister armed herself with a lighted candle
and a box of matches, and together they crept softly downstairs on their
way to the kitchen.

All this time the noises continued. Stamping of heavy feet, crashing
down of heavy weights, but on the way downstairs a first glimmering that
the supernatural came into this affair began to dawn upon my sister. She
became aware that an invisible presence was following them.

The noises continued as they cautiously and silently crept towards the
kitchen. As they reached the door, suddenly utter silence fell. Inside
nothing was disarranged. There were no signs of burglars, everything was
as usual.

Considerably mystified Major and Mrs. Stewart returned to bed, and were
not disturbed again that night.

The next day, about four o'clock in the afternoon, the same sounds began
again. This time the noise was easily located in one of the unused
bedrooms on the top floor of the house. Heavily shod men were tramping
about the floor overhead, throwing down heavy boxes and making a
considerable disturbance.

Major and Mrs. Stewart ascended on tiptoe, and when outside the closed
door listened intently. There was no mistake this time. Nothing could
sound more human than the activity going on inside that room. Half a
dozen men at least were in possession of it, and those men had to be
confronted. Luckily they had no means of escape. This time they really
would be caught.

After a few minutes of silent listening the major, whose hand was on the
knob, threw open the door and bounded into the room.

Instant silence--nothing--not even the whisk of a defiant rat's tail!

The husband and wife sat down and stared at one another in utter
bewilderment. The bright spring daylight seemed to mock them as it
flooded every chink and cranny.

Shortly after this occurrence three guests came to stay, two women and a
man. They were given bedrooms on the top floor, but the room whence the
disturbance had come was left severely alone. The household, with one
accord, welcomed their advent as a pleasant distraction, and it was
unanimously agreed that they should be kept in absolute ignorance of
what had taken place.

The next morning the three guests all had the same story to tell, of
having had no sleep. Heavily booted men kept passing their doors, and
heavy articles were flung about in adjacent rooms. They had spent a
night of terror. No one had possessed sufficient courage to look out
into the corridor, along which the men were passing, and they had kept
lights burning in their rooms till full daybreak. They refused to sleep
again upon that floor.

My sister moved them down to the second floor, on which she herself
slept, and a thorough investigation of the house, outside and inside,
was made. No conclusion was come to.

The noises continued on the following night, but being overhead, and
more distant, they were more endurable.

A second male guest now arrived, and the assembled household waited in
breathless interest to see how the ghosts would affect him. Nothing
whatever was told to him, and he was lodged in a bedroom immediately
underneath the noisy one.

The next morning, after all had passed a disturbed night, it was found
that some of the noises had proceeded from the new guest. He had carried
some of his blankets out into the garden and had slept there. He
remained on, but refused to sleep in the house, and a tent was rigged up
for him outside. He stated that the disturbances were too much for his
nerves, though he had no idea what they were. His behavior, on the first
night, in retiring to the garden, was meant as a strong protest against
such treatment of a tired guest. His temper had got the upper hand of
him, after fruitless efforts to sleep, and, finally, he had tramped
downstairs with an armful of blankets, anticipating many apologies next
morning from host and hostess, and a peaceful night to follow.

The following day a new maid arrived. She slept in the old part of the
house, and shortly afterwards asked my sister if the house was haunted,
as she had been kept awake by "heavy people running past her door with
naked feet."

By this time it was only the influence of the staid old servants which
prevented the younger ones from taking flight. My sister and her husband
were not alarmed, they were profoundly interested.

The summer passed on, and there were days and weeks when nothing was
heard, then quite suddenly the disturbances would begin again. As the
noises sounded so very human it was extremely difficult to believe that
they really did not proceed from incarnate beings, and my sister told me
that time after time, as she listened, she would say to herself, "Now,
beyond a shadow of doubt there are men in that room." She would creep
upstairs, listen for some time with her hand on the door-knob--then
suddenly throw it open--to find nothing. She never wearied of trying to
surprise those invisible men.

At times when her husband was away from home, she would spend the entire
night in an obstinate attempt to solve the mystery. When she had no
guests, and the servants were asleep in their new wing, she would awake
to the noise. Taking her candle she would mount on bare, silent feet to
the floor above, and listen at the door, often for half an hour at a
time. She had no fear, but intense curiosity. It was easy to trace what
was going on in the room. Men were packing, moving heavy boxes, throwing
down heavy articles, walking about the floor with ponderous tread. First
they would be at one end of the room, then move on to the other.
Sometimes they approached so near the door behind which she stood, that
she expected to see it open, and to be confronted by several burly
ruffians. She would rush suddenly in, candle in hand, only to be
received in sudden, utter silence. Not even the scurry of a scared
mouse. After half an hour of patient waiting within the room, she would
leave it, close the door, and sit down on the staircase. In a few
moments the disturbance was again in full swing.

Were I writing an account of these hauntings for the Psychical Society I
should go into the most minute details; suffice it here to say, that
during all this time every sort of investigation had been carried out by
practical men and women, who had personally heard the disturbances, and
who were keenly interested in the phenomena.

Rats were, of course, the first natural suggestion, but no one put forth
this theory after having once, with their own ears, heard the
disturbances. No one could advance any rational conclusion. The whole
affair was baffling in the extreme.

It would have been simple enough to leave the place and forfeit the
rent, but my sister and her husband loved the sport and the beauty of
the surroundings, and were determined to remain, unless anything worse
developed. No one ever saw anything unpleasant, or even suggestive of
the supernatural, and the whole household had become more or less
indifferent to the noises. They brought no harm to anybody, and might be
safely ignored.

Mrs. Stewart had four Pomeranian dogs which did not produce a calming
effect upon their human companions. They were constantly seeing things,
bristling and showing every sign of terror. Into the noisy room they
refused to go, and they objected to being left a moment alone. They
slept in my sister's bedroom.

One night she was alone in the old house. Major Stewart had gone on
business to Edinburgh, and the servants had retired to bed in their own
wing. Mrs. Stewart was sitting in the smoking-room, reading an
interesting novel by the light of a lamp. A good fire burned, and the
four Poms were asleep on the hearth-rug. The door was slightly ajar, and
outside it ran a short corridor.

Suddenly, at its far end a terrible noise arose. A very different noise
to anything that had been heard before, and one so blood-curdling that
Mrs. Stewart at last knew the meaning of mortal fear.

Two men were fighting desperately, swaying and wrestling, and snarling
fiercely like two tigers locked in deathly combat. She glanced at the
dogs. They were sitting up, staring with terrified eyes at the door,
their bodies quivering, their little fangs showing. Then--with a
bound--they were off, tearing for dear life along the corridor towards
the stairs.

It was a situation that demanded considerable nerve. Impossible to sit
there alone in the dead of night, and listen to that hideous din, but a
few yards from the door. She must follow the dogs as swiftly as she
dared.

She took up the lamp and moved stealthily to the door. The corridor was
in complete darkness, and in that darkness the two men fought
desperately, and below their breath they raved, groaned, blasphemed,
incoherently. One long drawn out babel of breathless discord.

In an overwhelming rush of terror Mrs. Stewart made a dash for the
stairs, but while still in the corridor she heard flying feet
approaching her from the end she was trying to reach. She shrank back
against the wall, the flying feet passed in a wild tempestuous rush, and
as they did so the lamp was struck violently out of her hand, and she
was left in complete darkness.

She reached her bedroom and locked the door, then she lighted the
candles and looked for the dogs. She found them huddled together in
abject terror under her bed.

The next day my sister called upon the lady who owned the place, and
recounting her experiences asked to be told the origin of the hauntings.
She was told the following story:--

Many years previously a farmer, who was a widower, lived in the lodge
with an only son, who was grown up. The old farmer married again, a
pretty young girl, and the son fell in love with his stepmother. A
quarrel ensued, and a desperate conflict, in which the father stabbed
his son to death.

The Stewarts did not leave the haunted lodge till some long time after
the events I have narrated; in fact, my sister inhabited it after her
husband died, during a stay in the South of England.

It is difficult to form any conjecture as to the actual cause of the
disturbances. How do ghosts contrive to make such a noise? The common
answer would be, "They were astral noises heard clairaudiently." But was
every one in the house clairaudient? It is possible, but most unlikely.
When the noises began every one under that roof heard them, and
continued to hear them till they ceased.

The lodge is still to let, so perhaps the mystery may yet be unraveled.
Will a member of the Psychical Society not try his luck? The rent is
low, the sport, of more than one kind, is excellent.

In the course of time my widowed sister married again, and her second
husband has given me a curious and gruesome story of an experience which
came to him whilst he was still a bachelor. I will give it in his own
words:--

"About fourteen years ago I retired from the London Stock Exchange, and
owing to ill health I was advised by my doctor to take a long sea
voyage. This advice I followed, and much benefited by rest and sea air I
returned to London, after an absence of nine months.

"Always having lived an active life I could not contemplate settling
down in utter idleness, and I consulted my solicitor on the subject of
work.

"He told me that a client of his had just bought a flourishing and
well-known mill in North Wales. He proposed to run it for a time alone,
and then turn it into a company or syndicate, as he had not sufficient
capital of his own to ensure its ultimate success. In due time, my
solicitor gave me a letter of introduction to this man, and I went to
stay at his house close to the mill, which he had just bought.

"It was a rambling old place, which in the good old days had been a
coaching inn. Owing to bad management the landlord had failed, and for
many years it had stood empty and 'to let.' It was a queer idea, I
thought, to turn a coaching inn into a private residence, more
especially as I soon heard that it had a very evil reputation.

"Though I made many inquiries in the neighborhood I could never get
anything more definite than that there was some evil influence in the
house. Every one who lived in it came to a bad or violent end. I
concluded that its proximity to his work caused the mill owner to
purchase it, and I thought no more of the matter.

"If I was favorably impressed, my intention was to put a certain amount
of capital into the concern and learn the trade, but after staying for a
few days with the mill owner, I came to the conclusion that I would have
nothing to do with so odd a person.

"He was of medium height and very thin, with rather straggling hair
turning gray, and a sallow, hollow-cheeked face. He had a curious habit
of glancing suddenly behind him, as if some one had just tapped him on
the shoulder, and several other little traits bespoke an extreme
nervousness of disposition.

"One night I entered a room where he happened to be, and discovered him
staring at himself in a mirror. I suppose I exhibited some surprise, for
he wheeled round on me and cried, 'Well! how do you think I am looking?'

"Had I answered truthfully I should have said, 'Stark, staring mad.' His
face was ghastly pale, and his eyes were blazing. I made some careless
reply, and shortly afterwards left the house to play a game of billiards
with some acquaintances I had made. There I was given some interesting
information. The mill owner was a declared bankrupt.

"I returned to the house at ten o'clock, and at once retired to bed,
without again seeing my unfortunate host.

"The next morning I was awakened at half-past seven by my hostess
knocking at my door, and inquiring if I had seen anything of her
husband. I replied that I had seen nothing of him, but if she was
anxious I would dress quickly and have a look round for him. This offer
she accepted with gratitude. The station was not far distant, and she
suggested that he might have taken the train to Manchester. Would I go
and make inquiries?

"I was soon on the way, and interviewed a porter, who informed me he had
seen the mill owner about an hour ago, not on the platform, but staring
at the rails. The man had watched him, thinking his behavior suspicious,
and remembering the evil reputation of his dwelling, but after a while
he had turned away, and was last seen walking rapidly off in the
direction of his own home.

"I went back and reported what I had heard, and the very anxious wife
suggested that I should snatch a hasty breakfast and then make inquiries
at a farm a mile off, which was also their property. This I readily
consented to do. I was extremely sorry for the poor woman, and though
she did not make a confidant of me, I could see she was consumed with
anxiety.

"My errand was quite fruitless, nothing was known of the master, no one
had seen him, and back I went to the mill house, feeling by this time
that probably the wife had every cause for her anxiety.

"I saw nothing of her when I entered. I looked into every room on the
ground floor, and was just going to ring for a servant, when I fancied I
heard a faint cry.

"I went out into the hall and listened intently. The voice was calling
from somewhere below the ground, and I thought at once of the huge
cellars I had been shown, where once the good old ale had been brewed
and stored. I ran to the door which led to the cellars; it was open, and
then I clearly heard a woman's voice crying, 'Oh! bring a knife! bring
a knife quickly!'

"I darted back into the dining-room and caught up the first knife I
could find, a ham carver, then hastened to the door and began descending
the dark stairs.

"The cellars were fairly well lighted by two grated windows, and a
horrible sight met my eyes. There stood the wife, bending under the
weight of her husband, who was suspended by a rope round his neck from
the great beam overhead. One glance at the hideously distorted face, the
glazed eyes protruding from their sockets, the gaping mouth and swollen
tongue, told me the worst.

"Hastily I severed the rope, and the wife and her dead husband sank to
the ground together.

"There was little to be done. We laid the corpse flat on the stone
floor, and I persuaded her to leave it and come upstairs with me, and
wait for the arrival of the doctor and police. This she consented to do.
She was very quiet and composed, a curious apathy of indifference
possessed her, and I would far rather have seen her in floods of natural
tears.

"By evening the house had fallen into a dead silence. The doctor had
pronounced life to be extinct, and the corpse had been carried up to an
unused bedroom immediately over the smoking-room. The police found that
the mill owner had committed suicide by hanging. He had jumped off a
stone slab, after having adjusted the rope to the beam and his own
throat. With the exception of an old nurse who was devoted to her
mistress, the servants all departed in a body, and the house was left
brooding under a weight of intolerable depression.

"I did not blame the servants. As a matter of fact, there was nothing I
would have liked better than to quit the mill house there and then, and
never set foot in it again, but I had the desolate widow to consider. I
could not leave her alone, whilst there was still the smallest
possibility of my being of use. Added to this I had the queerest feeling
that she required protection, though from what I would have been at a
loss to say.

"Another feeling, which I combated violently, was a sensation of being
mocked and jeered at by some unseen entity. I was being urged to get out
of the house, to recognize my own impotence, to mind my own business,
and when I metaphorically replied, 'Get thee behind me, Satan,' I could
have sworn I heard a sly laugh.

"Of course I told myself all this was but the result of a shock to the
nerves, and I was not going to pay any attention to it, so despite my
intense longing to run out of the house I settled down with the daily
paper, a cigarette, and a novel in the smoking-room, and resolutely
turned my thoughts away from the tragedy.

"The widow, and her old nurse, who had promised me not to leave her
mistress for a moment, had retired together for the night, so I felt
satisfied, so far as they were concerned.

"I suppose I must have dozed off, for I was suddenly roused broad awake
by footsteps overhead, in the room where the corpse lay. I sat up
straight and listened intently. Were my nerves playing tricks with me?
No; certainly not. There was no mistaking that sound for hallucination.
It was perfectly clear and distinct. A man was walking about overhead,
and the only man save myself within these walls had hanged himself by
the neck until he was dead. There it was--the sound. A man's footsteps
pacing slowly up and down the floor of the bedroom above, from end to
end, backwards and forwards.

"I considered what I had better do. I was sure the widow and the old
nurse were in the bedroom, quite at the other end of the house. Probably
they were both asleep. I hoped so. What had I better do--nothing? Yet
this inaction irked me. My curiosity was intense. The supernatural had
never occupied much of my thoughts, but now it began to do so. Those
steps must proceed from the supernatural. There was no other
explanation. I was the only live man in the house.

"At last I could stand it no longer. I jumped up and proceeded upstairs.
The lights had been left to me to extinguish; they were still on, and I
saw at once that the door of the bedroom was open.

"I entered the room, lit the gas and searched every corner. No living
thing was present. The dead man lay in rigid lines beneath a sheet. I
left the room again in darkness, and carefully closing the door I went
softly along to the widow's room, and knocked very gently.

"The old nurse came to the door. She told me her mistress was asleep,
and that the doctor had given her a sleeping draught. Neither of them
had left the room since they entered it to go to bed, more than an hour
ago.

"I went downstairs again and took up the newspaper, but almost
immediately the footsteps began once more overhead, in the room where
the dead man lay.

"The sound was soft and stealthy at first, then it grew louder. The same
footsteps moving about the floor, up and down, up and down. I am not
ashamed to say that I felt a cold sweat break out all over me. I could
not stand that sound any longer. I made up my mind to go to bed.

"I removed my shoes and turned out the light. As I did so I could have
sworn I heard a sly, low laugh behind me. I crept upstairs. The door of
that horrible room was again open. With a shaking hand I closed it, and
hurried to my bedroom, locking the door at once.

"The next day I told my experiences to one of the acquaintances I had
made, and he volunteered to come in and keep me company until the
funeral was over. I gladly accepted his offer. I did not hear the
footsteps again. I conclude because the widow was sitting with us on the
following nights, and the ghost had no desire to terrify her."



CHAPTER XXIII

AURAS


I was born with the power to see auras, and I had attained to quite a
grown-up age before I discovered that every one could not see them.

What is an aura? You will see them glittering round the heads of saints,
and of The Christ in church windows. You will see them painted round the
head of the Blessed Virgin, round the head of the Infant she holds, but,
indeed, auras are the property of all, however humble and lowly. Nothing
that has life, be the spark ever so faint, is without its astral
counterpart, its tenuous surrounding atmosphere. Science has
demonstrated this. Auras have now been photographed.

Habitual seeing of human auras has made me no more or less observant of
them than I am of the human face. If I am asked by any one to say what
her aura looks like, I do so to the best of my ability, but at that
complacent moment it is a very tame affair, much like the aura that any
one may see surrounding a lighted candle. A medley of prismatic hues, no
color predominating.

Where auras become really interesting is in a room full of people. I
look down to the far end of the room where a group is seated talking. I
cannot hear what they are saying, but I can tell at once whether the
conversation is harmonious or otherwise.

Often there will be one member of the group whose aura is very
disturbed. It will emit flashes of brilliant red as he talks vehemently.
The aura of the man he is addressing has turned a sulky, leaden gray.

A woman who is sitting listening has an aura of intense boredom. The
colors are all there, but they have become faded, and the extreme tips
droop dejectedly, like so many wilted blades of grass.

The biggest aura I ever saw was that of the late Mr. Sexton, a great
orator whom I once heard in the House of Commons. Some people have mean,
tight little auras, others have great spreading haloes of brilliant
light. I met with a very unusual aura quite lately.

A young woman, Miss L., came to tea with me, a charming, cultured woman,
whose profession it is to keep a large girls' school. She is much
interested in occult matters, and we "got upon" the subject of a rather
wonderful case of spiritualism of which she knows the details--the
medium being a young girl whom I will call "Elsie."

Whilst I was talking to Miss L. I could not help observing something
very peculiar in her aura; it was all lopsided. In place of being a
complete circle around her head, it had a huge bulge out to the left. I
had never before seen an aura like that, and it interested me greatly.

Just before leaving she mentioned auras, and asked me what hers was
like.

I told her honestly that it was peculiar, lopsided, and bulging on one
side.

She laughed and said she knew that, because "Elsie" always chaffed her
about it, saying, "You wear your halo all awry." This was very
interesting confirmation of my power to see auras correctly. I don't
know "Elsie," I don't even know her name, which has been kept a secret,
but we evidently see Miss L.'s aura in exactly the same peculiar form.

The other day I was sitting reading by the window, and as I moved in my
chair I caught sight, "with the tail of my eye," of something bright at
the other end of the room. A patch of light about a foot deep, and two
feet long was coming from behind the edge of a tall screen that hid a
door. I rose and walked out of the room. Behind the screen was a maid,
whom I had not heard enter the open door. She was busy over some quiet
work, and it was her aura that I had seen, though she herself was hidden
from view.

Once before in my life my attention has been drawn to the aura of one
whom I could not at the moment see in the flesh.

I happened to be passing a glove shop in the south of France, and as I
strolled slowly past the door a blaze of yellow gold inside the shop
caught my eye, and attracted my attention. I paused at once and looked
through the open door. This great golden aura belonged to the Empress
Elizabeth of Austria, who was standing at the counter. Her back was
turned towards me, and I stood for a minute watching this aura of a
woman whose restless imagination, and passionate love for the bitter
wine of liberty, brought her finally to an absolutely fitting death. I
believe she would have chosen this death before all others, for at heart
she was a born anarchist. She fell painlessly by the dagger of
anarchism.

One effect of being able to see auras is that they fix certain incidents
firmly in the mind. I remember one such incident very clearly. I was
staying at Hawarden with the Gladstones whilst the Irish troubles of
'82 were at their height. One afternoon we were all assembled on the
lawn having tea; Mr. Gladstone was standing rather apart, his hands full
of papers, which had just been brought to him. I saw him unfold what
looked like a large poster, glance at it, then suddenly he dashed it to
the ground and stamped viciously upon it. I heard him give vent to some
exclamations of intense anger, but had I heard nothing I could not have
failed to know he was desperately annoyed over something, for he was
suddenly wrapped in a brilliant crimson cloud, through which sharp
flashes like lightning darted hither and thither. He was "seeing red."

I remember Mrs. Gladstone murmuring something about "posters being torn
down in Ireland," but I was too thrilled over her husband's aura to pay
much heed to what she said. I shall never forget that scene, and the
practical disappearance of Mr. Gladstone in the enveloping folds of a
great red cloud. In a minute or two he emerged, and resumed his habitual
aura, which extended to about two and a half feet beyond his head, and
was largely tinged with purple.

At Hawarden Church on Sunday, whilst he read the lessons, I watched his
aura with much interest, because it changed so continuously, and I
discovered that this change arose out of his absorption in what he read.
Only one little example can I remember to illustrate what I mean. "And
the heart of Pharaoh was hardened and he would not let the people go."

In reading those words aloud Mr. Gladstone's aura deepened to red, and I
saw he was very indignant with Pharaoh's behavior. During the sermon he
sat facing us in our pew, and in a chair just beneath the pulpit, and I
could tell by watching his aura just how he felt about the discourse.

Later on, just after the tragic murders by the Fenians in Phoenix Park
of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Bourke, I received a note from Mrs.
Gladstone, asking me to go to breakfast with them in their London house
in Buckingham Gate. When I arrived the first person I saw was Lady
Frederick Cavendish, calm and composed, and bearing her loss with quiet
stoicism, but the atmosphere of the house was very different from that
of Hawarden. A gloom was over all, and for the first time I noticed that
Mr. Gladstone's aura was depressed and tired. Its vigorous vibrations
had considerably slowed down, like a jet of flame that had been turned
low, and the extremities drooped dejectedly.

Though crimson red is the color of anger, there is a beautiful soft rose
which is the color of love. The "green-eyed monster" of jealousy history
has handed down to us from the ancient seers, also the "jaundiced"
appearance of envy. A gloomy, grumbling person has a very leaden gray
atmosphere, and one who has "a fit of the blues" shows he is "off color"
in his dull, muddy blue aura. But there is a beautiful sky-blue to be
seen in the auras of many artists and scientists. Very material, earthly
people have generally a deep, dull orange tinge in their astral
envelope, and there is a glorious golden yellow surrounding the heads of
the spiritually joyful and highly intellectual. Purple is the color of
power, greatness. Children have an aura of crystal whiteness, which
develops color after the age of seven.

I remember the aura of Frederic Myers very well. A large and intensely
spiritual halo. He is the only man I can remember in those days--about
'92-'96--as having an aura within an aura, though this phenomenon is now
becoming more marked. "A rainbow was about his head," those words
explain exactly what I mean. About a foot above his head circled a pure
rainbow, and this beautiful decoration looked as if it were superimposed
upon the original aura, which streamed out far above it. I have only as
yet, in these later years, seen this rainbow above the heads of two
people: one alive, Miss Maud Roydon, one alas! gone west--the
incomparable Elsie Inglis. I conclude it means a degree of
self-sacrificing spirituality, which as yet has been attained to by very
few. Indeed, I would venture further, and assert that it stands for a
certain initiation conferred upon "the beloved" by the Masters of
Wisdom.

King Edward was blessed by a very fine aura of constantly changing
colors. I remember once noticing this in the most unspiritual of
environments, and whilst the King was still Prince of Wales.

We were on Newmarket Heath, and His Majesty came up to me and said, "I
hear you are married." After a few minutes of friendly conversation,
which had taken an amusingly domestic turn, he said to me, "Now, how
much has your husband got a year?"

There was nothing in the question but the most friendly interest; still,
it will naturally seem strange that he should have possessed the
faintest curiosity as to the financial situation of so humble a member
of his people.

Whilst he put the question, and waited for the answer, his whole aura
and atmosphere deepened and intensified. He was actually interested in
my answer, and this I have always believed was the fundamental reason
of his great popularity. The power he possessed of throwing himself
heart and soul into the trivial, as into the great things of life. He
was intensely human, with a genuine fund of sympathy for the ordinary
affairs of life. He liked to know the domestic conditions of those whom
he honored with his friendship, and the first time I ever spoke to him,
at a dance given by the Rothschilds in Piccadilly, I saw at once that
the natural human simplicities of life absorbed him absolutely whilst
under discussion. Though a man who would not tolerate a liberty, the
easiest way to get on with him when alone, was to confide in him any
personal difficulty, and to forget who he was, always providing that one
had the good breeding to remember instantly that he was the king when
speaking to him in public.

The most occult day (to use the popular expression) I ever spent was the
26th June, 1902, the day of the postponed Coronation. I shall never
forget that warm summer day of stupendous gloom, and oppressive
darkness. There was something more than meteorology in that leaden pall
that hid the skies, and enveloped the whole of London. Even the densest
materialists were uneasy, startled and inquiring, for putting aside that
mighty aura of sorrow and gloom rising up to heaven from the hearts of
millions, there was, as it were, the response of heaven herself. That
dark and mournful response Nature assumed, when wrapping herself in a
shroud of leaden darkness she brooded over the city, like the pall of
death itself. That day the mystic walked in a dream, enmeshed in the
warp of great occult happenings being woven out in the loom of Karmic
fatality. It was impossible to settle down to doing anything. One just
"sat about," living every moment intensely.

Once, when presenting a girl at Court, during the present reign, I
noticed what a very striking aura John Burns possesses. This girl
naturally wished to see all she could, so we went to the Palace very
early, and found a seat in the Throne Room, close to where the King and
Queen would sit later on. In a short time celebrities began to stroll
into the royal circles, divided from us by a cord. First came the
present Lord Grey of Falloden, and then came Mr. John Burns, resplendent
in dark blue knee breeches and gold-embroidered coat. He moved about
quite familiarly inside the holy of holies, speaking first to one, then
another of the gathering little crowd. Being so close to him I observed
him with unusual interest. His aura is very large, and what I can only
describe as massive, and already it was tinged by the gray veil of
disappointment. I have seen him several times since, and the veil has
become more opaque. What interested me so profoundly in him that night
were the contrasts I knew to exist in his life, and which must have
profoundly influenced his outlook on human existence.

One afternoon I was walking alone up Piccadilly. There had been rumors
of coming riots, but no one in the West End gave any credence to such
silly stories, and the streets were full of the usual gay throng, intent
on amusement.

Suddenly, as I walked along, a youth on a bicycle dashed past the
pavement, shouting something I could not catch. More men on bicycles
followed. The promenaders began to "sit up and take notice." Carriage
horses were being smartly whipped up, and women began to scurry
nervously.

Then it seemed to me I could hear something above the roar of the
ordinary traffic, a hoarse prolonged shout. Servants now appeared on
doorsteps, and looked about anxiously for non-existent policemen, others
began closing outside shutters before windows. Just as I reached the
Naval and Military Club I saw that the servants had come out, and were
about to close both great gates--"In" and "Out." One of these men
pointed up the street and advised me at once to seek cover, and I saw in
the dim distance what looked like a mighty crowd advancing.

In a second I had darted through the gates, and was safely inside before
they closed upon the approaching mob.

I have only a very confused memory of what happened after. Of kindly
attentions from the members. Of women's shrieks as their carriages were
stopped, and their valuables taken from them. Of the deafening roar of
furious male voices, crashings of glass windows, howls of savage
exultation, as a hosier's shop close by fell victim to the rioters, the
clatter of hoofs from terrified horses. I could see nothing, but the
battering upon the club gates added tenfold to the terrifying din. The
members withdrew, taking me with them, to the house, and prepared to
hold it against the furious mob, should the gates give way.

Such wild moments are not easily forgotten, and why I looked upon John
Burns that night at Court with such a peculiar interest was because he
led that riot, and suffered imprisonment for so doing.

Looking upon him in Court dress, in the royal enclosure, on intimate
terms with the great of the world, though perhaps not the great of the
earth, knowing him to hold high office in the government, I marked the
change. Then throwing back my mind to those poignant hours in the past,
which he had created, I felt that nothing is too extraordinary to belong
to the careers of some men; they live through several lives in one.
Their Karma is so crowded with stirring events, in the working out of
the past, in the makings of the future, that nothing human can be any
longer strange to them. The auras of such men are naturally great,
because such contrasts of light and shade only come in the lives of men
possessed of great and lofty ideals.

For some years little has been heard of the former idol of Battersea. He
is facing west now, though a ray or two of dawning light may still touch
him in the near future. That wild idealism which comes to men who keep
their eyes fixed upon a dawn so long in coming, fades out behind the
veil of disillusion, as the days come not, and the years draw nigh with
no pleasure in them. Man's ingratitude to man is one of the cruelest
tests imposed upon the soul of idealism. The soul that can bear it
without a tinge of cynicism has risen to mighty heights.

Such grandeur of soul was possessed by Elsie Inglis. So impregnated was
she with pure love of humanity, that when her own country virtually
turned its back upon her, this irreparable disgrace, brought upon
themselves by her own people, cast no shadow upon her soul. In the years
before the war I often noted her lovely aura as I sat amongst an
audience, and watched her on a platform fighting woman's battle.

After the war broke out I only saw her once, by the merest chance. It
was then I marked that a rainbow was now about her head, and I knew at
once that tremendous events were in store for her, though the British
Government had refused her services. Ah! the poor little cramped mind of
England's officialism! yet has not this very poverty of imagination,
this iron-bound worship of worn-out tradition, brought to birth an
internationalism which could never have been ours without it? It drove
forth hundreds, thousands of ardent souls, to other lands. Rejected by
their own, they clasped the pierced hands of strangers, and laid down
their own incomparably gallant lives at the foot of a cross, whereon
hung those who had at length become their brothers through a commune of
agony.

Elsie Inglis received no honor or decoration from the people, or the
"Great of England." Only the body, worn very thin in the service of
humanity, was at last honored in death. Knowing the woman, and the stuff
she was made of, one can only feel intensely this was all as it should
have been. To offer Elsie Inglis a medal would have been a sacrilege.
"Hands off such souls as hers," is the cry one's every instinct rings
forth to the "bauble worshipers" of this world. Besides, and this is a
very great besides, those who go with a rainbow about their heads are
not destined for earthly honors. They have taken the great step, they
have received the great Initiation, a jewel in the blazing crown of
eternity, and for them no more are the laurel wreaths that perish. In
justice to those throned on high on earth, the above should be
remembered. If it is with Elsie Inglis, as I fully believe, she would
have understood that for her God and Mammon were eternally divorced,
and any attempt at worldly recognition would have been frustrated by
"The Lords of Eternal Light and Wisdom," whose chosen disciple she had
become.

The psychology of the people is a very interesting and curious study, to
the aura seer. The analysis of the collective mind awaits some great
writer who will give us a book of absorbing interest. Those who can see
auras have a great advantage, if they are public speakers. During the
period of my life, when I had a great deal of political platform work, I
was always very sensitive to my audiences, because I could see how they
were taking my remarks. I have always found big audiences of the people
very colorless in the main. Flashes of bright color would be apparent
all over the hall, but there was no sustained glow. Whilst sitting on
some one else's platform, often that of a great orator, I have marked
exactly the same phenomenon. The soul of the people is still young and
childlike. It has the indifference of extreme youth, the forgetfulness
and ingratitude of extreme youth.

I look back upon the fall of Parnell and Dilke, great minds whose
earthly careers were destroyed by the people. All the world knows why.
To-day I look on the "perpetrators" of the Gallipoli and Mesopotamia
tragedies, and I see they have all gone up higher in the esteem of the
people. They have risen in the world, and are looked upon as ripe for
even higher office. The poor human brain reels before such anomalies. I
was in London when the Gallipoli reports were given to the public. They
shook me to the very foundation of my being. I think they were given out
towards the end of the week, because I remember saying to myself, "on
Sunday morning the British working man and woman will read all this
abomination of desolation and crime in their Sunday paper."

Purposely I strolled about the London parks in the lovely afternoon of
that Sunday. Crowds were there, reading, courting, sleeping. I went home
realizing that no one cared. The collective aura of the people was as
serene and indifferent as ever.

I have come to think more kindly of our people's pathetic indifference,
because I am sure it is the indifference of very young souls, who have
passed through but few incarnations, and "know not what they do." I see
them exploited by the politicians, given a rag doll to amuse themselves
with, anything will do, from the big loaf to the "Kayzer," and sent to
the polls hugging their golliwog, but I doubt the returning troops being
so easily amused and deluded.

The state of the Universe is the expression of man's desire, and man is
really the builder of his own body, that "house not made with hands,"
though in his youthful ignorance he attributes both to an over-ruling
intelligence, whom he alternately blesses and curses. When men learn
that they must work with, and not against the mental laws, they will no
longer ask why God permits the world to be so full of misery. They will
cease to erect a scapegoat, because they will have learned that they are
the makers of their own misery or happiness.

Many people seem to think that the power to see auras must be very
useful in helping one to distinguish between friends and foes, but such
is not really the case. Auras exemplify individual character, not
individual predilections, and some of my friends being very bad
characters, indeed, have shocking auras. I had one great friend who, at
the beginning of our acquaintance, spent much of his time in prison,
which was really a blessing for his ill-used wife. His aura was
literally in tatters, just a little irregular circle of rags and
patches.

I had just succeeded in making him sober, by insisting constantly and
most seriously that he was "a cut above the public-house," and much too
superior a man to mix with such degraded companions, when the war broke
out. He went to the front, and on his first return to Blighty, badly
gassed, he came at once to see me. I really felt a sort of personal
pride in him, and an actual sense of personal possession in his
enormously grown aura. It was clear evidence of his sprouting soul. He
went back to France, but was wounded and again gassed, and this time his
return was final, as he was of no further use.

For a few months he did odd jobs with great difficulty, then, finally,
he succumbed to pneumonia. I was very proud indeed of his aura as I sat
beside his bed, his hand in mine. There was real love in my heart for
him that day. Here, indeed, was an infant soul that had begun to develop
on the right road, and the tattered aura of rags and patches had become
a neatly trimmed little halo round his poor tired head.

So he went west, and his broken body, wrapped in the British flag, went
to a soldier's grave, and a firing party gave him the Last Post.

His wife returned home to find that her neighbors, anxious to celebrate
the occasion, had brought their best china and had arranged a tea-party.
As we sat down, she turned to me and said:

"Well, thank God, my man's been buried like a gentleman."

When I came to think it over I arrived at the conclusion that "the worst
character in the slums" had not done so badly with his life, after all.
He had died like a gentleman. The British Flag is a strange case of
transubstantiation. At first, just so many pieces of common material
sold across a counter. Fashioned into the emblem of our Nation it
becomes a sacred symbol, taken kneeling like a sacrament, which indeed
it has become. What better shroud could any man ask for?

I am sorry that I have had no opportunity of seeing President Wilson's
aura, the man who has turned his face towards a heavenly ideal, and is
scattering the seed amongst all the nations. When a man sets out on such
a long radiant path, he will carry visibly in the daylight an
illuminated brow. He has brought to us the vision without which the
people perish.

The life of the heart has always meant much more to me than the life of
the head. The rebel by nature can only be held by love, and I have been
blest by twenty-eight years of perfect union with one who has given me
love for love, faith for faith, and complete intellectual understanding.
My life has also been wonderfully gifted by staunchest friends, who have
loved me through sunshine and storm, and who still clasp hands with me
across continents and seas.

I suppose I must have enemies. They say every one has, but they have
never made me aware of their enmity, perhaps because there is no room in
a very full heart to receive aught but love. If I were to single apart
one outstanding feature in my life, it would be the wonderful kindness
and friendship that has been given to me. Ah! how easy that makes it to
write lovingly of others.

Behind all this lies the master passion of the born mystic for
liberation. The constant ache and urge for real freedom, and power to be
victorious over all circumstances. At home in all scenes, restful in all
fortunes. There is the urge of the soul for universality of contact with
all humanity, independent of race, color or creed. The urge of the
spirit to smash the confines which pinion it down to earth.

I think it is really the urge of reincarnating life still clinging to
me. The knowledge that my immortal soul must return to the House of
Bondage, until perfection is reached, and there is the going out no more
from the Father's House, from a freedom which has become supreme.



CHAPTER XXIV

ADIEU


To-day there are many, an ever-swelling number, who behold with joy the
gates ajar, who standing in the twilight catch momentary glimpses of
dawn upon the horizon of time, who know by personal experience that they
have come into touch with a region where vast schemes are conceived, and
universal laws of boundless magnitude connected with the soul's eternal
pilgrimage are carried out.

Again, there are others, timid, shrinking souls to whom, by a mere
chance combination of circumstances, a glimpse has been shown which is
none too welcome. Such affrighted ones drop the eyelids from the
startling vision. They will have none of it, and they are free to accept
or reject, go on, or stand still.

Others, again, have actually been born with that super-normal sight
which can discern the workings behind the drop scene shrouding the
stupendous drama of cosmic government.

I have long been conscious that the veil has worn very thin between
myself and another world lying around me. As the years draw swiftly on,
and every second thrown back into eternity brings me nearer to blessed
deliverance I find the rents in the veil grow more numerous. They bring
single shining moments, which reveal the spirit of life, its motives and
consecration.

Through the driving storm wrack there will come quite suddenly a
brilliant heavenly glimpse. It never lasts long, but long enough to show
me reality. Something of the vastness of cosmos and the pathetic
minuteness of this earth, just a speck of star dust in the palm of God,
an atom of world stuff swinging in boundless space.

Something of the reality of those shining ones who guide the progression
of natural order, embodiments of resistless energy and of stateliest
imperial mien.

Glimpses that show to me what was in the mind of the great Christian
Mystic when he wrote of a mighty angel: "A rainbow was upon his head,
and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire."

Behind such visions extend vast ranges of being, quite outside my ken,
yet, nevertheless, speaking to me of things, for the expression of which
no words have yet been coined. Infinitely greater than anything that can
be said. Significant in meaning beyond expression, and far transcending
imagination.

Such glimpses show to me lives that as compared with ours, are as ours
to the tiniest insect afloat for an hour on the breath of the south
wind. Lives which ordain the fateful hour when the rise and fall of
empires, the destruction of nations, and the clash of worlds, and their
cosmic significance in world history shall begin or end. Where things
life promised but never gave come to full fruition.

Other glimpses and echoes from the Great Beyond bring to me the answer
to a problem, a few notes and a new melody, a new energy of hope and
love, an inspiration from the Great Brotherhood, whose lowliest
disciple I am, whose work to establish the Brotherhood, the true
affinity of humanity upon earth I hold most dear, most high.

In the present dark hour all the world is drinking of one chalice, its
wine the life outpoured for others. All humanity is partaking of one
bread, a body which has most truly and literally being given to be
broken. Death has left many songs unsung, a myriad graves are filled,
youth is blighted in the bud, in this white winter men call death, and
its cup is pressed close to the lips of love. Many are the hopes that
lie folded away in the quiet cemetery of the heart, where we lay flowers
of tender reminiscence. Yet, this sacrament of fellowship which is
eclipsed in the awful impoverishment of human life will one day be
swelled by the return of the young, fallen on the Field of Honor,
glorified and purified for their God-appointed work in evolution.

Perhaps I have gone a few steps farther than most people into the
mysterious beyond, come nearer reading the great riddle, for the
creature who is not afraid of thought and worldly condemnation, who is
not afraid of solitude or ridicule, will soon come near the truth, will
quickly catch the incommunicable thrill of advancing destinies. She will
cease to live under the despotism of days, the tyranny of years. She
will know that the swiftest touch cannot put a finger on the present,
and that there is but one recorder of time, the great star clock of the
sky.

The symbol of life is the Circle, not the Straight line, and each of us
lives over again the story of humanity, as in the shadow of pre-natal
gloom we repeat the physical evolution of the race. The increase of
knowledge but widens the horizon of the unknown promised land, to which
we are moving onward and upward throughout the ages.

However far the mind travels there is always deep down in the soul
stores of information awaiting transference to the surface of
consciousness. Rich mines of knowledge are there awaiting the day when
they will be uncovered, waiting in patience the day when some Divine
Adventurer will search for them and bring them to light.

However great its aspirations the soul but looks out upon an illimitable
horizon, and sees the human pilgrimage as a long Emmæus walk, with
hearts burning by the way. Always must there be mystery in life, because
life is spiritual, not material. The presence of mystery in life is the
presence of God, and the infinity of God shows that mystery must always
exist.

Such glimpses beyond the veil are all transfiguring. They exalt the
heart in a single flash to a glow point, and show the soul of the
Universe in the incandescent crucible of the eternal. In a deeply
beshadowed time such visions tell us all that we need know, and it is
this: God is with us and in us. Though obscure for the moment His
transcendence stands outside the change and flux of time, and His awful
sovereignty sways irresistibly the tides of human circumstances.

Hours must come when the pen falls from the nerveless fingers, the task
is left undone, when the weary cry goes up, "There is nothing we can
do!" We have been doing for so many thousand years, the years which the
locusts hath eaten. What have we achieved?

When such hours come, as come they must, is there nothing to fall back
upon but this awful confession of failure, this haunting undertone of
all our mortal life that many ages have not hushed?

Surely, yes! There is always for the mystic the unmeasured immensity of
soul land to explore, that Great Beyond and within which is infinite,
eternal, and of which we are all a part.

Ah! but it may be said, all are not mystics, to which I would reply, all
who desire can be mystics. For what, after all, is a mystic, but one who
enters into possession of the inner life? One who becomes fully aware of
her self-consciousness, and who gains thereby new faculties and
enlightenment. It places her in touch with that supreme reality which
some call God and some The Great Creative Power. The mystic knows that
power is to be found within through identification and submergence with
the Primordial Force which constitutes the ocean of life. She can always
pass the sky and clouds of earth, and enter the great, deep, real world
outside. It is always possible to her to seek a fairer world where the
only things that matter are the eternal verities, which should be taken
kneeling, like a sacrament.

    Love and life which is Beauty.
    Love and power which is Goodness.
    Love and knowledge which is Wisdom.

The Road of the Flaming Sacred Heart is strewn with insight, kindness
and sympathy, which gives eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, and a
voice to the dumb! It is paved with love that serves the humble and
defends the disinherited. Bravely it walks the _Via Dolorosa_, and it
"Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, its reward
to know the love of God, unutterable even to them that know."

The Mystic can face the future without fear, for the power has been
given her to take her soul, and like a carrier dove, loose it into
space, to speed away into the fathomless, the everlasting, the voiceless
deep whose silence is the "Welcome Home" of God.





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