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 There is NO Death by Florence Marryat

 

CHAPTER X - THE STORY OF THE GREEN LADY

The story I have to tell now happened a very short time ago, and every detail is as fresh in my mind as if I had heard and seen it yesterday. Mrs. Guppys-Volckman has been long known to the spiritualistic world as a very powerful Medium, also as taking a great private interest in Spiritualism, which all media do not. Her means justify her, too, in gratifying her whims; and hearing that a certain house in Broadstairs was haunted, she became eager to ascertain the truth. The house being empty, she procured the keys from the landlord, and proceeded on a voyage of discovery alone. She had barely recovered, at the time, from a most dangerous illness, which had left a partial paralysis of the lower limbs behind it; it was therefore with considerable difficulty that she gained the drawing-room of the house, which was on the first floor, and when there she abandoned her crutches, and sat down on the floor to recover herself Mrs. Volckman was now perfectly alone. She had closed the front door after her, and she was

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moreover almost helpless, as it was with great difficulty that she could rise without assistance. It was on a Summer's evening towards the dusky hour, and she sat on the bare floor of the empty house waiting to see what might happen. After some time (I tell this part of the story as I received it from her lips) she heard a rustling or sweeping sound, as of a long silk train coming down the uncarpeted stairs from the upper story. The room in which she sat communicated with another, which led out upon the passage, and it was not long before the door between these two apartments opened and the figure of a woman appeared. She entered the room in which Mrs. Volckman sat, very cautiously, and commenced to walk round it, feeling her way along the walls as though she were blind or tipsy. She was dressed in a green satin robe that swept behind her--round the upper part of her body was a kind of scarf of glistening white material, like silk gauze--and on her head was a black velvet cap, or coif, from underneath which her long black hair fell down her back. Mrs. Volckman, although used all her life to manifestations and apparitions of all sorts, told me she had never felt so frightened at the sight of one before. She attempted to rise, but feeling her incapability of doing so quickly, she screamed with fear. As soon as she did so, the woman turned round and ran out of the room, apparently as frightened as herself. Mrs. Volckman got hold of her crutches, scrambled to her feet, found her way downstairs, and reached the outside of the house in safety. Most people would never have entered it again. she, on the contrary, had an interview with the landlord, and actually, then and there, purchased a lease of the house and entered upon possession, and as soon as it was furnished and ready for occupation, she invited a party of friends to go down and stay with her at Broadstairs, and make the acquaintance of the Green Lady, as we had christened her. Colonel Lean and I were amongst the visitors, the others consisting of Lady Archibald Campbell, Miss Shaw, Mrs.

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Olive, Mrs. Bellew, Colonel Greck, Mr. Charles Williams, and Mr. and Mrs. Henry Volckman, which, with our host ,and hostess, made up a Circle of twelve. We assembled there on a bright day in July, and the house, with its large rooms and windows facing the sea, looked cheerful enough. The room in which Mrs. Volckman had seen the apparition was furnished as a drawing-room, and the room adjoining it, which was divided by a portiere only from the larger apartment, she had converted for convenience sake into her bedroom. The first evening we sat it was about seven o'clock, and so light that we let down all the venetians, which, however, did little to remedy the evil. We had no cabinet, nor curtains, nor darkness, for it was full moon at the time, and the dancing, sparkling waves were quite visible through the interstices of the venetians. We simply sat round the table, holding hands in an unbroken Circle and laughing and chatting with each other. In a few minutes Mrs. Volckman said something was rising beside her from the carpet, and in a few more the Green Lady was visible to us all standing between the medium and Mr. Williams. She was just as she had been described to us, both in dress and appearance, but her face was as white and as cold as that of a corpse, and her eyes were closed. She leaned over the table and brought her face dose to each of us in turn, but she seemed to have no power of speech. After staying with us about ten minutes, she sunk as she had risen, through the carpet, and disappeared. The next evening, under precisely similar circumstances, she came again. This time she had evidently gained more vitality in a materialized condition, for when I urged her to tell me her name she Whispered, though with much difficulty, Julia! and when Lady Archibald observed that she thought she had no hands, the Spirit suddenly thrust out a little hand, and grasped the curls on her forehead with a violence that gave her pain. Unfortunately, Mr. Williams' professional engagements compelled him to leave us on the following day, and Mrs.

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Volckman had been too recently ill to permit her to sit alone, so that we were not able to hold another seance for the Green Lady during our visit. But we had not seen the last of her. One evening Mrs. Bellew and I were sitting in the bay window of the drawing- room, just between the lights, and discussing a very private matter indeed, when I saw (as I thought) my hostess' maid raise the portiere that hung between the apartments and stand there in a listening attitude. I immediately gave Mrs. Volckman the hint. Let us talk of something else, I said in a low voice. Jane is in your bedroom. 0! no! she's not, was the reply. But I saw her lift the portiere, I persisted; she has only just dropped it. You are mistaken, replied my hostess, for Jane has gone on the beach with the child. I felt sure I had not been mistaken, but I held my tongue and said no more. The conversation was resumed, and as we were deep in the delicate matter, the woman appeared for the second time.

Mrs. Volckman, I whispered, Jane is really there. She has just looked in again.

My friend rose from her seat. Come with me, she said,  and I will convince you that you are wrong.

I followed her into the bedroom, where she showed me that the door communicating with the passage was locked inside.

Now, do you see, she continued, that no one but the 'Green Lady, could enter this room but through the one we are sitting in.

Then it must have been the 'Green Lady', I replied, 'for I assuredly saw a woman standing in the doorway''

That is likely enough, said Mrs. Volckman; but if she comes again she shall have the trouble of drawing back the curtains.

And thereupon she unhooped the portiere, which consisted of two curtains, and drew them right across the door. We had hardly regained our seats in the bay window before

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the two curtains were sharply drawn aside, making the brass rings rattle on the rod, and the Green Lady stood in the opening we had just passed through. Mrs. Volckman told her not to be afraid, but to come out and speak to us; but she was apparently not equal to doing so, and only stood there for a few minutes gazing at us. I imprudently left my seat and approached her, with a view to making overtures of friendship, when she dropped the curtains over her figure. I passed through them immediately to the other side, and found the bedroom empty and the door locked inside, as before.

There is NO Death by Florence Marryat

 

CHAPTER XI - THE STORY OF THE MONK

A lady named Uniacke, a resident in Bruges, whilst on a visit to my house in London, met and had a seance with William Eglinton, with which she was so delighted that she immediately invited him to go and stay with her abroad, and as my husband and I were about to cross over to Bruges to see my sister, who also resided there, we travelled in company--Mr. Eglinton living at Mrs. Uniacke's home, whilst we stayed with our own relations. Mrs. Uniacke was a Medium herself, and had already experienced some very noisy and violent demonstrations in her own house. She was, therefore, quite prepared for her visitor, and had fitted up a spare room with a cabinet and blinds to the windows, and everything that was necessary. But, somewhat to her chagrin, we were informed at the first sitting by Mr. Eglinton's control, Joey, that all future seances were to take place at my sister's house instead. We were given no reason for the change; we were simply told to obey it. My sister's house was rather a peculiar one, and I have already alluded to it, and some of the sights and sounds by which it was haunted, in the chapter

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headed Optical Illusions. The building is so ancient that the original date has been completely lost. A stone set into one of the walls bore an inscription to the effect that it was restored in the year 1616. And an obsolete plan of the city shows it to have stood in its present condition in 1562. Prior to that period, however, probably about the thirteenth century, it is supposed, with three houses on either side of it, to have formed a convent, but no printed record remains of the fact. Beneath it are subterraneous passages, choked with rubbish, which lead, no one knows whither. I had stayed in this house several times before, and always felt unpleasant influences from it, as I have related, especially in a large room on the lower floor, then used as a drawing-room, but which is said to have formed, originally, the chapel to the convent. Others had felt the influence beside myself, though we never had had reason to suppose that there was any particular cause for it. When we expressed curiosity, however, to learn why Joey desired us to hold our seance in my sister's house, he told us that the medium had not been brought over to Bruges for our pleasure or edification, but that there was a great work to be done there, and Mrs. Uniacke had been expressly influenced to invite him over, that the purposes of a higher power than his own should be accomplished. Consequently, on the following evening Mrs. Uniacke brought Mr. Eglinton over to my sister's house, and Joey having been asked to choose a room for the sitting, selected an entresol on the upper floor, which led by two short passages to the bedrooms. The bedroom doors being locked a dark curtain was hung at the entrance of one of these passages, and Joey declared it was a first rate cabinet. We then assembled in the drawing-room, for the purposes of music and conversation, for we intended to hold the seance later in the evening. The party consisted only of the Medium, Mrs. Uniacke, my sister, my husband, and myself. After I had sung a song or two, Mr. Eglinton became restless and moved away from the

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piano, saying the influence was too strong for him. He began walking up and down the room, and staring fixedly at the door, before which hung a portiere. Several times he exclaimed with knitted brows, What is the matter with that door?  There is something very peculiar about it. Once he approached it quickly, but Joey's voice was heard from behind the portiere, saying, Don't come too near. Mr.Eglinton then retreated to a sofa, and appeared to be fighting violently with some unpleasant influence. He made the sign of the cross, then extended his fingers towards the door, as though to exorcise it: finally he burst into a mocking, scornful peal of laughter that lasted for some minutes. As it  concluded, a diabolical expression came over his face. He clenched his hands, gnashed his teeth, and commenced to grope in a crouching position towards the door. We concluded  he wished to get up to the room where the cabinet was, and let him have his way. He crawled, rather than walked, up the steep turret stairs, but on reaching the top, came to himself suddenly and fell back several steps. My husband, fortunately, was just behind him and saved him from a fall. He complained greatly of the influence and of a pain in his head, and we sat at the table to receive directions. In a few seconds the same Spirit had taken possession of him. He left the table and groped his way towards the bedrooms, listening apparently to every sound, and with his hand holding an imaginary knife which was raised every now and then as if to strike. The expression on Mr. Eglinton's face during this possession is too horrible to describe. The worst passions were written as legibly there as though they had been labeled. There was a short flight of stairs leading from the entresol to the corridor, closed at the head by a padded door which we had locked for fear of accident. When, apparently in pursuit of his object, the Spirit led the Medium up to this door and he found it fastened, his moans were terrible. Half a dozen times he made his weary round of the room, striving

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to get downstairs to accomplish some end, and to return to us moaning and baffled. At this juncture, he was so exhausted that one of his controls, Daisy, took possession of him and talked with us for some time. We asked Daisy what the Spirit was like that had controlled Mr. Eglinton last, and she said she did not like him--he had a bad face, no hair on the top of his head, and a long black frock. From this we concluded he had been a monk or a priest. When Daisy had finished speaking to us Joey desired Mr. Eglinton to go into the cabinet; but as soon as he rose, the same Spirit got possession again and led him grovelling as before towards the bedrooms. His guides therefore carried him into the cabinet before our eyes. He was elevated far above our heads, his feet touching each of us in turn; he was then carried past the unshaded window, which enabled us to judge the height he was from the ground, and finally over a large table, into the cabinet.

Nothing, however, of consequence occurred, and Joey advised us to take the Medium downstairs to the supper room.

Accordingly we adjourned there, and during supper Mr. Eglinton appeared to be quite himself, and laughed with us over what had taken place. As soon as the meal was over, however, the old restlessness returned on him, and he began pacing up and down the room, walking out every now and then into the corridor. In a few minutes we perceived that the uneasy Spirit again controlled him, and we all followed. He went steadily towards the drawing-room, but, on finding himself pursued, turned back, and three times pronounced emphatically the word Go. He then entered the drawing-room, which was in darkness and closed the door behind him, whilst we waited outside. In a little while he reopened it, speaking in quite a different voice, said, Bring a light! I have something to say to you. When we reassembled with a lamp we found the Medium controlled by a new Spirit, whom Joey afterwards told us was one of his highest guides.

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Motioning us to be seated, he stood before us and said, I have been selected from amongst the controls of this Medium to tell you the history of the unhappy being who has so disturbed you this evening. He is present now, and the confession of his crime through my lips will help him to throw off the earthbound condition to which it has condemned him. Many years ago, the house in which we now stand was a convent, and underneath it were four subterraneous passages running north, south, east, and west, which communicated with all parts of the town. (I must here state that Mr. Eglinton had not previously been informed of any particulars relating to the former history of my sister's home, neither were Mrs. Uniacke or myself acquainted with it.)

In this convent there lived a most beautiful woman--a nun, and in one of the neighbouring monasteries a priest who, against the strict law of his Church, had conceived and nourished a passion for her. He was an Italian who had been obliged to leave his own country, for reasons best known to himself, and nightly he would steal his way to this house, by means of one of the subterraneous passages, and attempt to overcome the nun's scruples, and make her listen to his tale of love; but she, strong in the faith, resisted him. At last, maddened one day by her repeated refusals, and his own guilty passion, he hid himself in one of the northern rooms in the upper story of this house, and watched there in the dark for her to pass him on her way from her devotions in the chapel; but she did not come. Then he crept downstairs stealthily, with a dagger hid beneath his robes, and met her in the hall. He conjured her again to yield to him, but again she resisted, and he stabbed her within the door on the very spot where the Medium first perceived him. Her pure soul sought immediate consolation in the Spirit spheres, but his has been chained down ever since to the scene of his awful crime. He dragged her body down the secret

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stairs (which are still existent) to the vaults beneath, and hid it in the subterraneous passage. After a few days he sought it again, and buried it. He lived many years after, and committed many other crimes, though none so foul as this. It is his unhappy Spirit that asks your prayers to help it to progress. It is for this purpose that we were brought to this city, that we might aid in releasing the miserable soul that cannot rest. I asked, By what name shall we pray for him? Pray for the distressed Being. Call him by no other name. What is your own name? I prefer to be unknown. May God bless you all and keep you in the way of prayer and truth and from all evil courses, and bring you to everlasting life. Amen. The medium then walked up to the spot he had indicated as the scene of the murder, and knelt there for some minutes in prayer. Thus concluded the first seance at which the monk was introduced to us. But the next day as I sat at the table with my sister only, the name of Hortense Dupont was given us, and the following conversation was rapped out. Who are you? I am the nun. I did love him. I couldn't help it. It is such a relief to think that he will be prayed for. When did he murder you?'' In 1498." What was his name? I cannot tell you. His age. Thirty-five!   And yours?  Twenty-three.  'Are you coming to see us tomorrow?"  I am not sure.

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On that evening, by Joey's orders, we assembled at seven. Mr. Eglinton did not feel the influence in the drawing room that day, but directly he entered the seance room, he was possessed by the same Spirit. His actions were still more graphic than on the first occasion. He watched from the window for the coming of his victim through the courtyard, and then recommenced his crawling stealthy pursuit, coming back each time from the locked door that barred his egress with such heart-rending moans that no one could have listened to him unmoved. At last, his agony was so great, as he strove again and again, like some dumb animal, to pass through the walls that divided him from the spot he wished to visit, whilst the perspiration streamed down the Medium's face with the struggle, that we attempted to make him speak to us. We implored him in French to tell us his trouble, and believe us to be his friends; but he only pushed us away. At last we were impressed to pray for him, and kneeling down, we repeated all the well-known Catholic prayers. As we commenced the De Profundis the Medium fell prostrate on the earth, and seemed to wrestle with his agony. At the Salve Regina and Ave Maria he lifted his eyes to Heaven and clasped his hands, and in the Pater Noster he appeared to join. But directly we ceased praying the evil passions returned, and his face became distorted in the thirst for blood. It was an experience that no one. who had seen could ever forget. At last my sister fetched a crucifix, which we placed upon his breast. It had not been there many seconds before a different expression came over his face. He seized it in both hands, straining it to his eyes, lips, and heart, holding it from him at arm's length, then passionately kissing it, as we repeated the Anima Christi. Finally, he held the crucifix out for each of us to kiss; a beautiful smile broke out on the medium's face, and the Spirit passed out of him.

Mr. Eglinton awoke on that occasion terribly exhausted. His face was as white as a sheet, and he trembled violently. His first words were: They are, doing something to my

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forehead. Bum a piece of paper, and give me the ashes. He rubbed them between his eyes, when the sign of the cross became distinctly visible, drawn in deep red lines upon his forehead. The controls then said, exhausted as Mr. Eglinton was, we were to place him in the cabinet, as their work was not yet done. He was accordingly led in trance to the armchair behind the curtain, whilst we formed a Circle in front of him. In a few seconds the cabinet was illuminated, and a cross of fire appeared outside of it. This manifestation having been seen twice, the head and shoulders of a nun appeared floating outside the curtain. Her white coif and chin-piece were pinned just as the religieuses are in the habit of pinning them, and she seemed very anxious to show herself, coming close to each of us in turn, and reappearing several times. Her face was that of a young and pretty woman. Joey said, That's the nun, but you'll understand that this is only a preliminary trial, preparatory to a more perfect materialization. I asked the apparition if she were the Hortense Dupont that had communicated through me, and she nodded her head several times in acquiescence. Thus ended our second seance with the Monk of Bruges.

On the third day we were all sitting at supper in my sister's house at about ten o'clock at night, when loud raps were heard about the room, and on giving the alphabet, Joey desired us to go upstairs and sit, and to have the door at the head of the staircase (which we had hitherto locked for fear of accidents) left open; which we accordingly did. As soon as we were seated at the table, the Medium became entranced and the same pantomime which I have related was gone through. He watched from the window that looked into the courtyard, and silently groped his way round the room, until he had crawled on his stomach up the stairs that led to the padded door. When he found, however, that the obstacle that had hitherto stood in his way was removed (by its being open) he drew a long breath and started away for the winding

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turret staircase, listening at the doors as he passed to find out if he were overheard. When he came to the stairs, in descending which we had been so afraid he might hurt himself, he was carried down them in the most wonderful manner, only placing his hand on the balustrades, and swooping to the bottom in one flight. We had placed a lamp in the hall, so that as we followed him we could observe all his actions. When he reached the bottom of the staircase he crawled on his stomach to the door of the drawing-room (originally the chapel) and there waited and listened, darting back into the shadow every time he fancied he heard a sound. Imagine our little party of four in that sombre old house, the only ones waking at that time of night, watching by the ghastly light of a turned down lamp the acting of that terrible tragedy. We held our breath as the murderer crouched by the chapel door, opening it noiselessly to peep within, and then, retreating with his imaginary dagger in his hand, ready to strike as soon as his victim appeared. At last she seemed to come. in an instant he had sprung to meet her, stabbing her first in a half stooping attitude, and then, apparently, finding her not dead, he rose to his full height and stabbed her twice, straight downwards. For a moment he seemed paralysed at what he had done, starting back with both hands clasped to his forehead. Then he flung himself prostrate on the supposed body, kissing the ground frantically in all directions. Presently he woke to the fear of detection, and raised the corpse suddenly in his arms. He fell once beneath the supposed weight, but staggering to his feet again, seized and dragged it, slipping on the stone floor as he went, to the head of the staircase that led to the cellars below, where the mouth of one of the subterraneous passages was still to be seen. The door at the head of this flight was modern, and he could not undo the lock, so, prevented from dragging the body down the steps, he cast himself again upon it, kissing the stone floor of the hall and moaning. At last he dragged himself on his knees to the

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spot of the murder, and began to pray. We knelt with him, and as he heard our voices he turned on his knees towards us with outstretched hands. I suggested that he wanted the crucifix again, and went upstairs to fetch it, when the Medium followed me. When I had found what I sought, he seized it from me eagerly, and carrying it to the window, whence he had so often watched, fell down again upon his knees. After praying for some time he tried to speak to us. His lips moved and his tongue protruded, but he was unable to articulate. Suddenly he seized each of our hands in turn in both of his own, and wrung them violently. He tried to bless us, but the words would not come. The same beautiful smile we had seen the night before broke out over his countenance, the crucifix dropped from his hands, and he fell prostrate on the floor. The next moment Mr. Eglinton was asking us where he was and what on earth had happened to him, as he felt so queer. He declared himself fearfully exhausted, but said he felt that a great calm and peace had come over him notwithstanding the weakness, and he believed some great good had been accomplished. He was not again entranced, but Joey ordered the light to be put out, and spoke to us in the direct voice as follows:

I've just come to tell you what I know you will be very glad to hear, that through the medium's power, and our power, and the great power of God, the unhappy spirit who has been confessing his crime to you is freed tonight from the heaviest part of his burden- the being earth-chained to the spot. I don't mean to say that he will go away at once to the spheres, because he's got a lot to do still to alter the conditions under which he labours., but the worst is over. This was the special work Mr. Eglinton was brought to Bruges to do, and Ernest and I can truly say that, during the whole course of our control of him, we have never had to put forth our own powers, nor to ask so earnestly for the help of God, as in the last three days. You have all helped in a good work 

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to free a poor soul from earth, and to set him on the right road, and we are grateful to you and to the Medium, as well as he. He will be able to progress rapidly now until he reaches his proper sphere, and hereafter the Spirits of himself and the woman he murdered will work together to undo for others the harm they brought upon themselves. She is rejoicing in her high sphere at the work we have done for him, and will be the first to help and welcome him upward. There are many more earthbound spirits in this house and the surrounding houses who are suffering as he was, though not to the same extent, nor for the same reason. But they all ask for and need your help and your prayers, and this is the greatest and noblest end of Spiritualism--to aid poor, unhappy spirits to free themselves from earth and progress upwards. After a while when this Spirit can control the Medium with calmness, he will come himself and tell you, through him, all his history and how he came to fall. Meanwhile, we thank you very much for allowing us to draw so much strength from you and helping us with your sympathy, and I hope you will believe me always to remain, your loving friend, Joey.

This account, with very little alteration, was published in the Spiritualist newspaper, August 29th, 1879, when the seances had just occurred. There is a sequel to the story, however, which is almost as remarkable as itself, and which has not appeared in print till now. From Bruges on this occasion my husband and I went to Brussels, where we diverted ourselves by means very dissimilar to anything so grave as Spiritualism. There were many sales going on in Brussels at that moment, and one of our amusements was to make a tour of the salerooms; and inspect the articles put up for competition. During one of these visits I was much taken by a large oil painting, in a massive frame, measuring some six or seven feet square. It represented a man in the dress

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of a Franciscan monk-i.e., a brown serge robe, knotted with cords about the waist-kneeling in prayer with outstretched hands upon a mass of burning embers. It was labeled in the catalogue as the picture of a Spanish monk of the order of Saint Francis Xavier, and was evidently a painting of some value. I was drawn to go and look at it several days in succession before the sale, and I told my husband that I coveted its possession. He laughed at me and said it would fetch a great deal more money than we could afford to give for it, in which opinion I acquiesced. The day of the sale, however, found us in our places to watch the proceedings, and when the picture of the monk was put up I bid a small sum for it. Colonel Lean looked at me in astonishment, but I whispered to him that I was only in fun, and I should stop at a hundred francs. The bidding was very languid, however, and to my utter amazement, the picture was knocked down to me for seventy-two francs. I could hardly believe that it was true. Directly the sale was concluded, the brokers crowded round me to ask what I would take for the painting, and they told me they had not thought of bidding until it should have reached a few hundred francs. But I told them I had got my bargain and I meant to stick by it. When we returned the next day to make arrangements for its being sent to us, the auctioneer informed us that the frame alone in which it had been sent for sale had cost three hundred francs, so that I was well satisfied with my purchase. This occurrence took place a short time before we returned to England, where we arrived long before the painting, which, with many others, was left to follow us by a cheaper and slower route.

The Sunday after we reached home (having seen no friends in the meanwhile), we walked into Steinway Hall to hear Mr. Fletcher's lecture. At its conclusion he passed as usual into a state of trance, and described what he saw before him. In the midst of mentioning people, places, and incidents unknown to us, he suddenly exclaimed: Now I see a very

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strange thing, totally unlike anything I have ever seen before, and I hardly know how to describe it. A man comes before me-a foreigner-and in a dress belonging to some monastic order, a brown robe of coarse cloth or flannel, with a rope round his waist and beads hanging, and bare feet and a shaved head. He is dragging a picture on to the platform, a very large painting in a frame, and it looks to me like a portrait of himself, kneeling on a carpet of burning wood. No! I am wrong. The man tells me the picture is not a portrait of himself, but of the founder of his Order, and it is in the possession of some people in this hall tonight. The man tells me to tell these people that it was his spirit that influenced them to buy this painting at some place over the water, and he did so in order that they might keep it in remembrance of what they have done for him. And he desires that they shall hang that picture in some room where they may see it every day, that they may never forget the help which Spirits on this earth may render by their prayers to Spirits that have passed away. And he offers them through me his heartfelt thanks for the assistance given him, and he says the day is not far off when he shall pray for himself and for them, that their kindness may return into their own bosoms.

The oil painting reached England in safety some weeks afterwards and was hung over the mantelpiece in our dining-room, where it remained, a familiar object to all our personal acquaintances.

 

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1995 - 2015