I cannot end this chapter more appropriately than by relating a very remarkable case of “optical illusion” which was seen by myself alone. It was in the month of July, 1880, and I had gone down alone to
Brighton for a week's quiet. I had some important literary work to finish, and the exigencies of the season made too many demands upon my time. So I packed up my writing materials, and took a lodging all to myself, and set hard to work. London
I used to write all day and walk in the evening. It was light then till eight or , and the Esplanade used to be crowded till a late hour. I was pushing my way, on the evening of the 9th of July, through the crowd, thinking of my work more than anything else, when I saw, as I fully thought, my step-son, Francis Lean, leaning with his back against the palings at the edge of the cliff and smiling at me. He was a handsome lad of eighteen who was supposed to have sailed in his ship for the
five months before. But he had been a wild young fellow, causing his father much trouble and anxiety, and my first impression was one of great annoyance, thinking naturally that, since I saw him there, he had never sailed at all, but run away from his ship at the last moment. I hastened up to him, therefore, but as I reached his side, he turned round quite methodically, and walked quickly down a flight of steps that led to the beach. I followed him, and found myself amongst a group of ordinary seamen mending their nets, but I could see Francis nowhere. Brazils
I did not know what to make of the occurrence, but it never struck me that it was not either the lad himself or some one remarkably like him. The same night, however, after I had retired to bed in a room that was unpleasantly briliant with the moonlight streaming in at the window, I was roused from my sleep by someone turning the handle of my door, and there stood Francis in his naval uniform, with the peaked cap on his head, smiling at me as he had done upon the cliff. I started up in bed intending to speak to him, when he laid his finger on his lips and faded away. This second vision made me think something must have happened to the boy, but I determined not to say anything to my husband about it until it was verified. Shortly after my return to
, we were going, in company with my own son (also a sailor), to see his ship which was lying in the docks, when, as we were driving through Poplar, I again saw my stepson Francis standing on the pavement, and smiling at me. London
That time I spoke. I said to Colonel Lean: “I am sure I saw Francis standing there. Do you think it is possible he may not have sailed after all?”
But Colonel Lean laughed at the idea. He believed it to be a chance likeness I had seen. Only the lad was too good-looking to have many duplicates in this world.
We visited the seaside after that, and in September, whilst we were staying at Folkestone, Colonel Lean received a letter to say that his son Francis had been drowned by the upsetting of a boat in the surf of the
, in the Bay of Callao , on the 9th of July – the day I had seen him twice in Brazils Brighton, two months before we heard that he was gone.
In one of Wiltshire’s most stately houses, that of Littlecote, a wicked man has left his ghostly marks in the old rooms. In the corridors and staircases you can still hear silent whispers of a secret murder. For more than two centuries Littlecote Hall, near Hungerford, was owned by the Darell family… who beghosted the house and the entire neighbourhood…
In the 20th century the Wills family was living in Littlecote. It was Major George Wills who told the tale of how his dog began to bark in the middle of the night, awaking the whole household. The animal stood in front of the bedroom door, its hair standing on end, quivering in terror – while the Major saw this woman pass by, wringing her hands, appearing to be looking for someone.
Haunted Littlecote Hall | Socyberty
Tower and graveyard in St Andrews, Scotland
The night is dark, so very dark
The hour grows late, and I am weary
Soon they’ll come, one by one
Shiftless souls, from places, dreary...
Read More In:
The Battle of Souls
The Battle of Souls
My sister Cecil lives with her family in
, and many years ago I went down there to visit her for the first time since she had moved into a new house which I had never seen before. She put me to sleep in the guest chamber, a large, handsome room, just newly furnished by Oetzmann. But I could not sleep in it. The very first night some one walked up and down the room, groaning and sighing close to my ears, and he, she, or it especially annoyed me by continually touching the new stiff counterpane with a “scrooping” sound that set my teeth on edge, and sent my heart up into my mouth. I kept on saying: “Go away! Don't come near me!” For its proximity inspired me with a horror and repugnance which I have seldom felt under similar circumstances. Somerset
I did not say anything at first to my sister, who is rather nervous on the subject of “bogies”, but on the third night I could stand it no longer, and told her plainly the room was haunted, and I wished she would put me in her dressing-room, or with her servants, sooner than let me remain there, as I could get no rest. Then the truth came out, and she confessed that the last owner of the house had committed suicide in that very room, and showed me the place on the boards, underneath the carpet, where the stain of his blood still remained. A lively sort of room to sleep all alone in.
015 - There Is No Death, by Florence Marryat: The Spirit of the Flemish Woman in the Cap of Mechlin Lace
Another sister of mine, Blanche, used to live in a haunted house in
, of which a description will be found in the chapter headed “The Story of the Monk” (see "There Is No Death in Bruges-la-Morte”). Long, however, before the monk was heard of, I could not sleep in her house on account of the disturbances in my room, for which my sister used to laugh at me. But even when my husband, Colonel Lean, and I stayed there together, it was much the same. Bruges
One night I waked him to see the figure of a woman, who had often visited me, standing at the foot of the bed. She was quaintly attired in a sort of leathern boddice or jerkin, laced up the front over a woollen petticoat of some dark color. She wore a cap of Mechlin lace, with the large flaps at the side, adopted by Flemish women to this day; her hair was combed tightly off her forehead, and she wore a profusion of gold ornaments.
My husband could describe her as vividly as I did, which proves how plainly the apparition must have shown itself. I waked on several occasions to see this woman busy (apparently) with the contents of an old carved oak armoir which stood in a corner of the room, and which, I suppose, must have had something to do with herself.
My eldest son joined me at
on this occasion. He was a young fellow of twenty, who had never practised, nor even enquired into Spiritualism – fresh from sea, and about as free from fear or superstitious fancies as a mortal could be. He was put to sleep in a room on the other side of the house, and I saw from the first that he was grave about it, but I did not ask him the reason, though I felt sure, from personal experience, that he would hear or see something before long. Bruges
In a few days he came to me and said: “Mother, I'm going to take my mattress into the colonel's dressing-room to-night and sleep there.”
I asked him why.
He replied: “It's impossible to stay in that room any longer. I wouldn't mind if they'd let me sleep, but they won't. There's something that walks about half the night, whispering and muttering, and touching the bedclothes, and though I don't believe in any of your rubbishy spirits, I'll be ‘jiggered’ if I sleep there any longer.”
So he was not “jiggered” (whatever that may be), as he refused to enter the room again.
My eldest daughter was spending a holiday with me once after my second marriage, and during the month of August. She had been very much overworked, and I made her lie in bed till .
One morning I had been to her room at that hour to wake her, and on turning to leave it (in the broad daylight, remember), I encountered a man on the landing outside her door. He was dressed in a white shirt with black studs down the front, and a pair of black cloth trousers. He had dark hair and eyes, and small features; altogether, he struck me as having rather a sinister and unpleasant appearance.
I stood still, with the open door in my hand, and gazed at him. He looked at me also for a minute, and then turned and walked upstairs to an upper storey where the nursery was situated, beckoning me, with a jerk of his hand, to follow him.
My daughter (remarking a peculiar expression in my eyes, which I am told they assume on such occasions) said: “Mother! What do you see?”
“Only a spirit,” I answered, “and he has gone upstairs.”
“Now, what is the good of seeing them in that way?” said Eva, rather impatiently (for this dear child always disliked and avoided Spiritualism), and I was fain to confess that I really did not know the especial good of encountering a sinister-looking gentleman in shirt and trousers, on a blazing noon in August. After which the circumstance passed from my mind, until recalled again.
A few months later I had occasion to change the children's nurse, and the woman who took her place was an Icelandic girl named Margaret Thommassen, who had only been in
for three weeks. I found that she had been educated far above the average run of domestic servants, and was well acquainted with the writings of Swedenborg and other authors. England
One day as I walked up the nursery stairs to visit the children in bed, I encountered the same man I had seen outside my daughter's room, standing on the upper landing, as though waiting my approach. He was dressed as before, but this time his arms were folded across his breast and his face downcast, as though he were unhappy about something. He disappeared as I reached the landing, and I mentioned the circumstance to no one.
A few days later, Margaret Thommassen asked me timidly if I believed in the possibility of the spirits of the departed returning to this earth. When I replied that I did, she appeared overjoyed, and said she had never hoped to find anyone in
to whom she could speak about it. She then gave me a mass of evidence on the subject which forms a large part of the religion of the Icelanders. England
Margaret told me that she felt uneasy about her eldest brother, to whom she was strongly attached. He had left
a year before to become a waiter in Iceland , and had promised faithfully that so long as he lived she should hear from him every month, and when he failed to write she must conclude he was dead. She had heard nothing from him now for three months, and each night when the nursery light was put out, someome came and sat at the foot of her bed and sighed. Germany
She then produced his photograph, and to my astonishment I recognized at once the man who had appeared to me some months before I knew that such a woman as Margaret Thommassen existed. He was taken in a shirt and trousers, just as I had seen him, and wore the same repulsive (to me) and sinister expression. I then told his sister that I had already seen him twice in that house, and she grew very excited and anxious to learn the truth.
In consequence I sat with her in hopes of obtaining some news of her brother, who immediately came to the table, and told her that he was dead, with the circumstances under which he had died, and the address where she was to write, to obtain particulars. And on Margaret Thommassen writing as she was directed, she obtained the practical proofs of her brother's death, without which this story would be worthless.
In my war bonnet now
with all the feathers I’ve collected
I catch myself
Looking back to see a flash
of the gems in the reflection.
I’ve only ever worn them
for this reason.
Full poem by Nisa West:
Inside Looking Out | Authspot
My oldest memory of the other
world where I lived
another life is a summer
evening and I am
and my mother
is a black widow sitting
by my bed in the last light
of a day that only brought
darkness and death and night
falls through the window
of the silent attic
when she sings,
no when she sighs slow
and sadly this madly
"Only what dies,
shall live, my son.
So I have to release
the immortal soul
from the body
that is a tomb."
And night falls
infinitely and forever
I will be
Here is a virtual recital of a poem called "Pain", written and recited by an unknown girl of approximately 9 years of age, somewhere in the early sixties. The precise diction sounds rather Victorian, so "poetry animator" Jim Clark has used a photograph of an unknown Victorian girl of similar age as the visual image of the reader.
Twelve o'clock and where once
the groom and his bride
it's pitch black now and every
room is deserted.
Except the one where
a grand piano is playing
- do you see the pianist?
Night after night
caught in a web of white light
he's playing the same
over and over again
- do you see him?
The keys are touched
by invisible fingers when
a ghostly band joins in on this
into the fog,
until the groom and his bride
return to Highgate and the clock
strikes midnight again.
As I have alluded to what my family termed my “optical illusions”, I think it as well to describe a few of them, which appeared by the context to be something more than a mere temporary disturbance of my visual organs. I will pass over such as might be traced, truly or otherwise, to physical causes, and confine myself to those which were subsequently proved to be the reflection of something that, unknown to me, had gone before.
In 1875 I was much engaged in giving dramatic readings in different parts of the country, and I visited
I had a charming bedroom, cheerful, bright and pretty, and replete with every comfort, and I would retire to rest “dead beat”, and fall off to sleep at once, to be waked perhaps half-a-dozen times a night by that inexplicable something (or nothing) that rouses me whenever I am about to enjoy an “optical illusion”, and to see figures, sometimes one, sometimes two or three, sometimes a whole group standing by my bedside and gazing at me with looks of the greatest astonishment, as much as to ask what right I had to be there.
But the most remarkable part of the matter to me was, that all the figures were those of men, and military men, to whom I was too well accustomed to be able to mistake. Some were officers and others soldiers, some were in uniform, others in undress, but they all belonged to the army, and they all seemed to labor under the same feeling of intense surprise at seeing me in the hotel.
These apparitions were so life-like and appeared so frequently, that I grew quite uncomfortable about them, for however much one may be used to see “optical illusions”, it is not pleasant to fancy there are about twenty strangers gazing at one every night as one lies asleep.
Spiritualism is, or was, a tabooed subject in
Father, mother, and son exclaimed simultaneously. “Good gracious!" they said, “don't you know that the hotel was built on the site of the old barracks? The house immediately behind it, which formed part of the old building, was vacated by its last tenants on account of its being haunted. Every evening at the hour the soldiers used to be marched up to bed, they heard the tramp, tramp, tramp of the feet ascending the staircase.”
“That may be,” I replied, “but they knew their house stood on the site of the barracks, and I didn’t.”
Places with dark and disturbing histories exist throughout the world. Read some really scary urban legends. Visiting scary places is all about going to locations where the spirits of the dead still roam the world. Even scarier are those places infested with other worldly spirits that are not human. Decide for yourself whether these stories are scary but true or just myths and hoaxes.
Bessie Little Bridge, Dayton
The ghost of a murdered girl named Bessie Little returns regularly to this bridge on Ridge Street. She was murdered there on August 27.1896. by her boyfriend, Albert J. Frantz. Bessie was pregnant and Albert didn’t want to have to marry her, so he shot her in the head and arranged the scene to suggest a suicide. For some reason, however, he shot her twice, so it was obvious that she hadn’t done it to herself. On November 19.1897. Albert J. Frantz #28896 was strapped into the electric chair at the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus and put to death for first degree murder. Back in Montgomery County, Bessie Little’s ghost continues to haunt the bridge.
Here is a "virtual video" of the poet, novelist and literary critic Andrew Lang, reading his poem "Ballad of Christmas Ghosts". Andrew Lang (1844-1912) was a prolific Scots man of letters, and contributor to anthropology. He now is best known as one of the most important collector of folk and fairy tales.
J. Barba's statue dominates a tomb in the Old Graveyard of Poblenou (Barcelona).
Photo by EudaldCJ, on Flickr
And here is some music: Enchanting You - Listen while you read:
And here is some music: Enchanting You - Listen while you read:
A black widow came to me
"As in ancient times,
crown thy head
with thorns and celebrate
this celestial body of mine
as I kiss you
to your Death.
Drink my blood-red wine
and enjoy the joy of my flesh
and the fresh flowers blooming
in my country flooding
and honey, run with me
through the woods and love me
Copyright by Patrick Bernauw, Memoirs of Lord Halloween.
No one is completely sure when mankind started believing in the existence of ghosts. It appears that many of concepts like the burials and funerals were early attempts to appease the spirits of the dead so they wouldn’t disturb the living.
This first known recorded true life accounts of ghosts were also two of the strangest. Plutarch in the 1st century AD and Pliny in 50 AD detailed a couple of haunting spirits complete with chains, groans, and accusations of murder. Plutarch told of a home in one community that so plagued the neighbors they shut up the dwelling, but Pliny had a longer tale.
Five really awesome ghost stories, featuring Pliny's story, the ghost of Catherine Howard (picture above), Borley Rectory, the ghosts of Shropshire and the Ouija-Board in:
5 Strangest Ghost Stories - Weird Worm
The grave of "John Condon, age 14", the youngest soldier to be killed in the Great War, is reputedly the most visited grave of the entire Western Front. According to recent investigations however, John Condon was not age 14, but age 18 when he was killed in May 1915, after only two months on the Western Front, in a German gas attack at a place called "Mouse Trap", near Ypres. The two unknown British soldiers exhumed in 1923, were misidentified as the privates Condon and Carthy. The true identity of the man buried in the grave marked "John Condon" is probably rifleman Patrick Fitzsimmons of the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles.
Click on the title for the photograph, the poem and an awesome John Condon song.
Click on the title for the photograph, the poem and an awesome John Condon song.
Tomb of Mozart, Main Cemetery Vienna, Austria
by S. Ruehlow, on Flickr
The clock ticks away the hour
of midnight and in a web
of white light a piano
is playing a little
But where is the pianist?
Look at the keys, they go up
and down as the Rondo dances
through the deserted street
with this Lord and his Lady
in her jewellery.
And the clock ticks away
the hour of midnight
when they jump
in the canal
as they always did
and always do
The poem was inspired by the short poetic novel Bruges-la Morte, by Georges Rodenbach. Listen while you read to this Very Slow and Spooky French Cancan...
Grave of George Rodenbach, Père-Lachaise (photo by Gus Hertzog)
Only the dead are dancing
through the living
when evening is falling
and grey people are put to rest
when evening is falling
and grey people are put to rest
and shallow shadows
of past centuries
as a statue.
and hear a voice
whispering behind a hatch
and hear a voice
whispering behind a hatch
about a past
tense not fully
You will hear my heavy steps
like boots, slow and determined
on the second floor and
you will not see me.
You will see
my tall shape in the bedroom
of your children: featureless
face in the dark
Dracula cape screaming and
you will not hear me.
Stay awake at night
after the lights go out
for no more than ten minutes
and you will hear me
moving, picking up things and softly
putting them down.
Take a shower,
I’ll scratch your back
and leave tiny scars
like claws and you
will not see me.
You will hear me
whisper in your ear:
You will hear me sigh:
This Tombstone Tale was inspired by the article "Help! Our House Is Haunted"
I had a friend many years ago in
One evening the medium I have alluded to above, Mrs. Fitzgerald, who was a personal friend of mine, was at my house. After dinner she put her feet up on the sofa – a very unusual thing for her – and closed her eyes. She and I were quite alone in the drawing-room, and after a little while I whispered softly: “Bessie, are you asleep?”
The answer came from her control “Dewdrop”, a wonderfully sharp Red Indian girl. “No ! she’s in a trance. There’s somebody coming to speak to you! I don't want him to come. He’ll make the medium ill. But it’s no use. I see him creeping round the corner now!”
“But why should it make her ill?” I argued, believing we were about to hold an ordinary séance.
“Because he’s a live one, he hasn’t passed over yet,” replied Dewdrop. “Live ones always make my medium feel sick. But it’s no use. I can’t keep him out. He may as well come. But don’t let him stay long.”
“Who is he, Dewdrop?” I demanded curiously.
“I don’t know! Guess you will! He’s an old friend of yours, and his name is George.” Whereupon Bessie Fitzgerald laid back on the sofa cushions, and Dewdrop ceased to speak.
It was some time before there was any result. The medium tossed and turned, and wiped the perspiration from her forehead, and pushed back her hair, and beat up the cushions and threw herself back upon them with a sigh, and went through all the pantomime of a man trying to court sleep in a hot climate.
Presently she opened her eyes and glanced languidly around her. Her unmistakable actions and the name “George” – which was that of my friend, then resident in
– had naturally aroused my suspicions as to the identity of the influence, and when Bessie opened her eyes, I asked softly: “George, is that you?” India
At the sound of my voice the medium started violently and sprung into a sitting posture, and then, looking all round the room in a scared manner, she exclaimed: “Where am I? Who brought me here?” Then catching sight of me, she continued: “
! Is this your room? Oh, let me go! Do let me go!” Florence
This was not complimentary, to say the least of it, from a friend whom I had not met for eleven years, but now that I had got him I had no intention of letting him go, until I was convinced of his identity. However, the terror of the spirit at finding himself in a strange place seemed so real and uncontrollable that I had the greatest difficulty in persuading him to stay, even for a few minutes. He kept on reiterating, shivering convulsively: “Who brought me here? I did not wish to come. Do let me go back. I am so very cold… so very, very cold!”
“Answer me a few questions,” I said, “and then you shall go. Do you know who I am?”
“Yes, yes… you are
“And what is your name?”
He gave it at full length.
“And do you care for me still?”
“Very much. But let me go.”
“In a minute. Why do you never write to me?”
“There are reasons. I am not a-free agent. It is better as it is.”
“I don’t think so. I miss your letters very much. Shall I ever hear from you again?”
“And see you?”
“Yes… but not yet. Let me go now. I don’t wish to stay. You are making me very unhappy.”
If I could describe the fearful manner in which, during this conversation, he glanced every moment at the door, like a man who is afraid of being discovered in a guilty action, it would carry with it to my readers, as it did to me, the most convincing proof that the medium’s body was animated by a totally different influence from her own. I kept the spirit under control until I had fully convinced myself that he knew everything about our former friendship and his own present surroundings; and then I let him fly back to
, and wondered if he would wake up the next morning and imagine he had been laboring under nightmare… India
These experiences with the spirits of the living are certainly amongst the most curious I have obtained. On more than one occasion, when I have been unable to extract the truth of a matter from my acquaintances, I have sat down alone, as soon as I believed them to be asleep, and summoned their spirits to the table and compelled them to speak out. Little have they imagined sometimes how I came to know things which they had scrupulously tried to hide from me.
I have heard that the power to summon the spirits of the living is not given to all media, but I have always possessed it. I can do so when they are awake as well as when they are asleep, though it is not so easy. A gentleman once dared me to do this with him, and I only conceal his name because I made him look ridiculous. I waited till I knew he was engaged at a dinner-party, and then about in the evening I sat down and summoned him to come to me. It was some little time before he obeyed, and when he did come, he was eminently sulky. I got a piece of paper and pencil, and from his dictation I wrote down the number and names of the guests at the dinner-table, also the dishes of which he had partaken, and then in pity for his earnest entreaties I let him go again.
“You are making me ridiculous,” he said, “everyone is laughing at me.”
“But why? What are you doing?” I urged.
“I am standing by the mantel-piece, and I have fallen fast asleep,” he answered.
The next morning he came pell-mell into my presence. “What did you do to me last night?” he demanded. “I was at the Watts Philips, and after dinner I went fast asleep with my head upon my hand, standing by the mantel-piece, and they were all trying to wake me and couldn’t. Have you been playing any of your tricks upon me?”
“I only made you do what you declared I couldn’t,” I replied. “How did you like the white soup, and the turbot, and the sweetbreads?”
He opened his eyes at my nefariously obtained knowledge, and still more when I produced the paper written from his dictation. This is not a usual custom of mine – it would not be interesting enough to pursue as a custom, but I am a dangerous person to dare to do anything.
The old friend whose spirit visited me through Mrs. Fitzgerald had lost a sister to whom he was very tenderly attached before he made my acquaintance, and I knew little of her beyond her name. One evening, not many months after the interview with him which I have recorded, a spirit came to me, giving the name of my friend’s sister, with this message: “My brother has returned to
, and would like to know your address. Write to him to the Club, England Leamington, and tell him where to find you.”
I replied: “Your brother has not written to me, nor inquired after me for the last eleven years. He has lost all interest in me, and I cannot be the first to write to him, unless I am sure that he wishes it.”
“He has not lost all interest in you,” said the spirit. “He thinks of you constantly, and I hear him pray for you. He wishes to hear from you.”
“That may be true,” I replied, “but I cannot accept it on your authority. If your brother really wishes to renew our acquaintance, let him write and tell me so.”
“He does not know your address, and I cannot get near enough to him to influence him.”
“Then things must remain as they are,” I replied somewhat testily. “I am a public person. He can find out my address, if he chooses to do so.”
The spirit seemed to reflect for a moment; then she rapped out: “Wait, and I will fetch my brother. He shall come here himself and tell you what he thinks about it.”
In a short time there was a different movement of the table, and the name of my old friend was given. After we had exchanged a few words, and I had told him I required a test of his identity, he asked me to get a pencil and paper, and write from his dictation. I did as he requested, and he dictated the following sentence: “Long time, indeed, has passed since the days you call to mind, but time, however long, does not efface the past. It has never made me cease to think of and pray for you as I felt you, too, did think of and pray for me. Write to the address my sister gave you. I want to hear from you.”
Notwithstanding the perspicuity and apparent genuineness of this message, it was some time before I could make up my mind to follow the directions it gave me. My pride stood in the way to prevent it. Ten days afterwards, however, having received several more visits from the sister, I did as she desired me, and sent a note to her brother to the Leamington Club. The answer came by return of post, and contained (amongst others) the identical words he had told me to write down.
Will Mr. Stuart Cumberland, or any other clever man, explain to me what or who it was that had visited me ten days beforehand, and dictated words which could hardly have been in my correspondent’s brain before he received my letter? I am ready to accept any reasonable explanation of the matter from the scientists, philosophers, chemists, or arguists of the world, and I am open to conviction, when my sense convinces me, that their reasoning is true. But my present belief is, that not a single man or woman will be found able to account on any ordinary grounds for such an extraordinary instance of “unconscious cerebration”.
Photographs by Laura Burlton.
Florence Marryat On Stage
Florence Marryat (1833-1899) was a British novelist, playwright, spiritualist, revue singer and actress in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. She was the daughter of the famous author Captain Frederick Marryat and was particularly well known for her involvement with the spiritual movement – and mediums – of the late 19th century. Florence Marryat wrote about 90 novels, adapted some of them for the stage and even took a role in a drama she had written. Her most notable work is There Is No Death (1891) - this book is being fully published here on GhostWritings. You can read a short biography of Florence Marryat here.
A Spirit Alive in the Stalls
When I first joined Mr. d’Oyley Carte’s Patience Company in the provinces, to play the part of Lady Jane, I understood I was to have four days rehearsal. However, the lady whom I succeeded, hearing I had arrived, took herself off, and the manager requested I would appear the same night of my arrival. This was rather an ordeal to an artist who had never sung on the operatic stage before, and who was not note perfect. But as a matter of obligation and although I was very nervous about it, I consented to do my best.
At the end of the second act, during the balloting scene. Lady Jane has to appear suddenly on the stage, with the word “Away!” – I forget at this distance of time whether I made a mistake in pitching the note a third higher or lower. I know it was not out of harmony, but it was sufficiently wrong to send the chorus astray, and bring my heart up into my mouth. It never occurred after the first night, but I never stood at the wings again waiting for that particular entrance, “girded my loins together”, without a kind of dread lest I should repeat the error.
After a while I perceived a good deal of whispering about me in the company, and I asked poor Federici (who played the colonel) the reason of it, particularly as he had previously asked me to stand as far from him as I could upon the stage, because I magnetized him so strongly that he couldn’t sing if I was near him.
“Well!... Do you know,” he said to me in answer, “that a very strange thing occurs occasionally with reference to you, Miss Marryat? While you are standing on the stage sometimes, you appear seated in the stalls. Several people have seen it beside myself. I assure you it is true.”
“And when do you see me then?” I enquired with amazement.
“It’s always at the same time,” he answered, “just before you run on at the end of the second act. Of course it’s only an appearance, but it’s very queer."
I told him then of the strange feelings of distrust of myself I experienced each night at that very moment, when my spirit seems to have preceded myself upon the stage…
The Spirit in the Green Riding Habit
Being subject to “optical illusions”, I naturally had several with regard to my spirit child, “
”, and she always came to me clothed in a white dress. One night, however, when I was living alone in the Regent’s Park, I saw “Florence” (as I imagined) standing in the centre of the room, dressed in a green riding habit slashed with orange color, with a cavalier hat of grey felt on her head, ornamented with a long green feather and a gold buckle. She stood with her back to me, but I could see her profile as she looked over her shoulder, with the skirt of her habit in her hand. This being a most extraordinary attire in which to see “ Florence ”, I felt curious on the subject, and the next day I questioned her about it. Florence
!” I said. “Why did you come to me last night in a green riding habit?” Florence
“I did not come to you last night, mother! It was my sister Eva.”
“Good heavens!” I exclaimed. “Is anything wrong with her?”
"No, she is quite well.”
“How could she come to me then?”
“She did not come in reality, but her thoughts were much with you, and so you saw her spirit clairvoyantly.”
My daughter Eva, who was on the stage, was at that time fulfilling a stock engagement in
, and very much employed. I had not heard from her for a fortnight, which was a most unusual occurrence, and I had begun to feel uneasy. This vision made me more so, and I wrote at once to ask her if all was as it should be. Her answer was to this effect: “I am so sorry I have had no time to write to you this week, but I have been so awfully busy. We play “The Colleen Bawn” here next week, and I have had to get my dress ready for “Anne Chute”. It’s so effective. I wish you could see it. A green habit slashed with orange, and a grey felt hat with a long green feather and a big gold buckle. I tried it on the other night, and it looked so nice!” Glasgow
Well, my darling girl had had her wish, and I had seen it.
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