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The book of dreams and ghosts (1897)

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Author Topic: The book of dreams and ghosts (1897)  (Read 355 times)
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« Reply #60 on: August 14, 2009, 01:26:08 pm »

CHAPTER XIV.
Spiritualistic Floating Hands. Hands in Haunted

Houses. Jerome Cardan's Tale. "The Cold

Hand." The Beach-comber's Tale. "The Black

Dogs and the Thumbless Hand." The Pakeha

Maori and "The Leprous Hand". "The Hand of

the Ghost that Bit."

 

HANDS ALL ROUND.
NOTHING was more common, in the séances of Home, the "Medium," than the appearance of "Spirit hands". If these were made of white kid gloves, stuffed, the idea, at least, was borrowed from ghost stories, in which ghostly hands, with no visible bodies, are not unusual. We see them in the Shchapoff case, at Rerrick, and in other haunted houses. Here are some tales of Hands, old or new.

 

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« Reply #61 on: August 14, 2009, 01:26:17 pm »

THE COLD HAND
  [Jerome Cardan, the famous physician, tells the following anecdote in his De Rerum Varietate, lib. x., 93. Jerome only once heard a rapping himself, at the time of the death of a friend at a distance. He was in a terrible fright, and dared not leave his room all day.]

  A story which my father used often to tell: "I was brought up," he said, "in the house of Joannes A FOLLET.
 
Resta, and therein taught Latin to his three sons; when I left them I supported myself on my own means. It chanced that one of these lads, while I was studying medicine, fell deadly sick, he being now a young man grown, and I was called in to be with the youth, partly for my knowledge of medicine, partly for old friendship's sake. The master of the house happened to be absent; the patient slept in an upper chamber, one of his brothers and I in a lower room, the third brother, Isidore, was not at home. Each of the rooms was next to a turret; turrets being common in that city. When we went to bed on the first night of my visit, I heard a constant knocking on the wall of the room.

  "'What is that?' I said.

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« Reply #62 on: August 14, 2009, 01:26:27 pm »

 "'Don't be afraid, it is only a familiar spirit,' said my companion. 'They call them follets; it is harmless enough, and seldom so troublesome as it is now: I don't know what can be the matter with it.'

  "The young fellow went to sleep, but I was kept awake for a while, wondering and observing. After half an hour of stillness I felt a thumb press on my head, and a sense of cold. I kept watching; the forefinger, the middle finger, and the rest of the hand were next laid on, the little finger nearly reaching my forehead. The hand was like that of a boy of ten, to guess by the size, and so cold that it was extremely unpleasant. Meantime I was chuckling over my luck in such an opportunity of witnessing a wonder, and I listened eagerly.

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« Reply #63 on: August 14, 2009, 01:26:37 pm »

 "The hand stole with the ring finger foremost over my face and down my nose, it was slipping into my mouth, and two finger-tips had entered, when I threw it off with my right hand, thinking it was uncanny, and not relishing it inside my body. Silence followed and I lay awake, distrusting the spectre more or less. In about half an hour it returned and repeated its former conduct, touching me very lightly, yet very chilly. When it reached my mouth I again drove it away. Though my lips were tightly closed, I felt an extreme icy cold in my teeth. I now got out of bed, thinking this might be a friendly visit from the ghost of the sick lad upstairs, who must have died.

  "As I went to the door, the thing passed before me, rapping on the walls. When I was got to the door it knocked outside; when I opened the door, it began to knock on the turret. The moon was shining; I went on to see what would happen, but it beat on the other sides of the tower, and, as it always evaded me, I went up to see how my patient was. He was alive, but very weak.

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« Reply #64 on: August 14, 2009, 01:26:50 pm »

 "As I was speaking to those who stood about his bed, we heard a noise as if the house was falling. In rushed my bedfellow, the brother of the sick lad, half dead with terror.

  "'When you got up,' he said, 'I felt a cold hand on my back. I thought it was you who wanted to waken me and take me to see my brother, so I pretended to be asleep and lay quiet, supposing that you would go alone when you found me so sound asleep. But when I did not feel you get up, and the cold hand grew to be more than I could bear, I hit FAIRY NANCY.
 
out to push your hand away, and felt your place empty — but warm. Then I remembered the follet, and ran upstairs as hard as I could put my feet to the ground: never was I in such a fright!'

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« Reply #65 on: August 14, 2009, 01:27:00 pm »

 "The sick lad died on the following night."

  Here Cardan the elder stopped, and Jerome, his son, philosophised on the subject.

  Miss Dendy, on the authority of Mr. Elijah Cope, an itinerant preacher, gives this anecdote of similar familiarity with a follet in Staffordshire.

   

  "Fairies! I went into a farmhouse to stay a night, and in the evening there came a knocking in the room as if some one had struck the table. I jumped up. My hostess got up and 'Good-night,' says she, 'I'm off'. 'But what was it?' says I. 'Just a poor old fairy,' says she; 'Old Nancy. She's a poor old thing; been here ever so long; lost her husband and her children; it's bad to be left like that, all alone. I leave a bit o' cake on the table for her, and sometimes she fetches it, and sometimes she don't."

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« Reply #66 on: August 14, 2009, 01:27:09 pm »

THE BLACK DOG AND THE THUMBLESS HAND.
  [Some years ago I published in a volume of tales called The Wrong Paradise, a paper styled "My Friend the Beach-comber". This contained genuine adventures of a kinsman, my oldest and most intimate friend, who has passed much of his life in the Pacific, mainly in a foreign colony, and in the wild New Hebrides. My friend is a man of education, an artist, and a student of anthropology and ethnology. Engaged on a work of scientific research, he has not committed any of his innumerable adventures, warlike or wandering, to print. The following "yarn" he sent to me lately, in a letter on some points of native customs. Of course the description of the Beach-comber, in the book referred to, is purely fictitious. The yarn of "The Thumbless Hand" is here cast in a dialogue, but the whole of the strange experience described is given in the words of the narrator. It should be added that, though my friend was present at some amateur séances, in a remote isle of the sea, he is not a spiritualist, never was one, and has no theory to account for what occurred, and no belief in "spooks" of any description. His faith is plighted to the theories of Mr. Darwin, and that is his only superstition. The name of the principal character in the yarn is, of course, fictitious. The real name is an old but not a noble one in England.]

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« Reply #67 on: August 14, 2009, 01:27:32 pm »

"Have the natives the custom of walking through fire?" said my friend the Beach-comber, in answer to a question of mine. "Not that I know of. In fact the soles of their feet are so thick-skinned that they would think nothing of it."

  "Then have they any spiritualistic games, like the Burmans and Maories? I have a lot of yarns about them."

  "They are too jolly well frightened of bush spirits to invite them to tea," said the Beach-comber. "I knew a fellow who got a bit of land merely by whistling up and down in it at nightfall.1 They think BLACK DOGS.
 
spirits whistle. No, I don't fancy they go in for séances. But we once had some, we white men, in one of the islands. Not the Oui-ouis" (native name for the French), "real white men. And that led to Bolter's row with me."

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« Reply #68 on: August 14, 2009, 01:27:46 pm »

>[ 1 Fact.]<
 




  "What about?"

  "Oh, about his young woman. I told her the story; it was thoughtless, and yet I don't know that I was wrong. After all, Bolter could not have been a comfortable fellow to marry."

  In this opinion readers of the Beach-comber's narrative will probably agree, I fancy.

  "Bad moral character?"

  "Not that I know of. Queer fish; kept queer company. Even if she was ever so fond of dogs, I don't think a girl would have cared for Bolter's kennel. Not in her bedroom anyway."

  "But she could surely have got him to keep them outside, however doggy he was?"

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« Reply #69 on: August 14, 2009, 01:28:09 pm »

"He was not doggy a bit. I don't know that Bolter ever saw the black dogs himself. He certainly never told me so. It is that beastly Thumbless Hand, no woman could have stood it, not to mention the chance of catching cold when it pulled the blankets off."

  "What on earth are you talking about? I can understand a man attended by black dogs that nobody sees but himself. The Catholics tell it of John Knox, and of another Reformer, a fellow called Smeaton. Moreover, it is common in delirium tremens. But you say Bolter didn't see the dogs?"

  "No, not so far as he told me, but I did, and other fellows, when with Bolter. Bolter was asleep; he didn't see anything. Also the Hand, which was a good deal worse. I don't know if he ever saw it. But he was jolly nervous, and he had heard of it."

  The habits of the Beach-comber are absolutely temperate, otherwise my astonishment would have been less, and I should have regarded all these phenomena as subjective.

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« Reply #70 on: August 14, 2009, 01:28:21 pm »

"Tell me about it all, old ****," I said.

  "I'm sure I told you last time I was at home."

  "Never; my memory for yarns is only too good. I hate a chestnut."

  "Well, here goes! Mind you I don't profess to explain the thing; only I don't think I did wrong in telling the young woman, for, however you account for it, it was not nice."

  "A good many years ago there came to the island, as a clerk, un nommé Bolter, English or Jew."

  "His name is not Jewish."

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« Reply #71 on: August 14, 2009, 01:28:28 pm »

"No, and I really don't know about his breed. The most curious thing about his appearance was his eyes: they were large, black, and had a peculiar dull dead lustre."

  "Did they shine in the dark? I knew a fellow at Oxford whose eyes did. Chairs ran after him."

  "I never noticed; I don't remember. 'Psychically,' as you superstitious muffs call it, Bolter was still more queer. At that time we were all gone on spirit-rapping. Bolter turned out a great acquisition, 'medium,' or what not. Mind you, I'm not saying Bolter was straight. In the dark he'd tell you what you had in your hand, exact time of your BOLTER'S EYES.
 
watch, and so on. I didn't take stock in this, and one night brought some photographs with me, and asked for a description of them. This he gave correctly, winding up by saying, 'The one nearest your body is that of ——'"

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« Reply #72 on: August 14, 2009, 01:28:37 pm »

 Here my friend named a person well known to both of us, whose name I prefer not to introduce here. This person, I may add, had never been in or near the island, and was totally unknown to Bolter.

  "Of course," my friend went on, "the photographs were all the time inside my pocket. Now, really, Bolter had some mystic power of seeing in the dark."

  "Hyperæsthesia!" said I.

  "Hypercriticism!" said the Beach-comber.

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« Reply #73 on: August 14, 2009, 01:28:50 pm »

"What happened next might be hyperæsthesia — I suppose you mean abnormal intensity of the senses — but how could hyperæsthesia see through a tweed coat and lining?"

  "Well, what happened next?"

  "Bolter's firm used to get sheep by every mail from ——, and send them regularly to their station, six miles off. One time they landed late in the afternoon, and yet were foolishly sent off, Bolter in charge. I said at the time he would lose half the lot, as it would be dark long before he could reach the station. He didn't lose them!

  "Next day I met one of the riggers who was sent to lend him a hand, and asked results.

  "'Master,' said the rigger, 'Bolter is a devil! He sees at night. When the sheep ran away to right or left in the dark, he told us where to follow.'"

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« Reply #74 on: August 14, 2009, 01:29:03 pm »

 "He heard them, I suppose," said I.

  "Maybe, but you must be sharp to have sharper senses than these riggers. Anyhow, that was not Bolter's account of it. When I saw him and spoke to him he said simply, 'Yes, that when excited or interested to seek or find anything in obscurity the object became covered with a dim glow of light, which rendered it visible'. 'But things in a pocket.' ' That also,' said he. ' Curious isn't it? Probably the Rontgen rays are implicated therein, eh?"'

  "Did you ever read Dr. Gregory's Letters on Animal Magnetism?"

  "The cove that invented Gregory's Mixture?"

  "Yes."

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