009 - There Is No Death, by Florence Marryat: Spiritual Visits


It was at one time my annual custom to take my children to the sea-side, and one summer, being anxious to ascertain how far the table could be made to net without the aid of “unconscious cerebration”, I arranged with my friends, Mr. Helmore and Mrs. Colnaghi, who had been in the habit of sitting with us at home, that we should continue to sit at the sea-side on Tuesday evenings as theretofore, and they should sit in London on the Thursdays, when I would try to send them messages through “Charlie”, the spirit I have already mentioned as being constantly with us.
The first Tuesday my message was: “Ask them how they are getting on without us,” which was faithfully delivered at their table on the following Thursday.
The return message from them, which Charlie spelled out for us on the second Tuesday, was: “Tell her London is a desert without her!”
To which I emphatically, if not elegantly, answered: “Fiddle-de-dee!”
A few days afterwards I received a letter from Mr. Helmore, in which he said: “I am afraid Charlie is already tired of playing at postman, for to all our questions about you last Thursday, he would only rap out: ‘Fiddle-de-dee!’”

"There Is a Great Danger Hanging Over My Children!"

The circumstance to which this little episode is but an introduction, happened a few days later. Mr. Colnaghi and Mr. Helmore, sitting together as usual on Thursday evening, were discussing the possibility of summoning the spirits of living persons to the table, when Charlie rapped three times to intimate they could.
“Will you fetch some one for us, Charlie?”
“Whom will you bring?”
“Mrs. Ross-Church.” (Note of the editor: Florence Marryat was then married to one Mr. Ross-Church.)
“How long will it take you to do so?”
“Fifteen minutes.”
It was in the middle of the night when I must have been fast asleep, and the two young men told me afterwards that they waited the results of their experiment with much trepidation, wondering (I suppose) if I should be conveyed bodily into their presence and box their ears well for their impertinence.
Exactly fifteen minutes afterwards, however, the table was violently shaken and the words were spelt out: “I am Mrs. Ross-Church. How dared you send for me?”
They were very penitent (or they said they were), but they described my manner as most arbitrary, and said I went on repeating: “Let me go back! Let me go back! There is a great danger hanging over my children! I must go back to my children!”
(And here I would remark par parenth├Ęse, and in contradiction of the guardian angel theory, that I have always found that whilst the spirits of the departed come and go as they feel inclined, the spirits of the living invariably beg to be sent back again or permitted to go, as if they were chained by the will of the medium.)
On this occasion I was so positive that I made a great impression on my two friends, and the next day Mr. Helmore sent me a cautiously worded letter to find out if all was well with us at Charmouth, but without disclosing the reason for his curiosity.
The facts are, that on the morning of Friday, the day after the seance in London, my seven children and two nurses were all sitting in a small lodging-house room, when my brother-in-law, Dr. Henry Norris, came in from ball practice with the volunteers, and whilst exhibiting his rifle to my son, accidentally discharged it in the midst of them, the ball passing through the wall within two inches of my eldest daughter’s head. When I wrote the account of this to Mr. Helmore, he told me of my visit to London and the words I had spelt out on the occasion. But how did I know of the occurrence the night before it took place?
And if I – being asleep and unconscious – did not know of it, Charlie must have done so!

My serial visits to my friends, however, whilst my body was in quite another place, have been made still more palpable than this. Once, when living in the Regent’s Park, I passed a very terrible and painful night. Grief and fear kept me awake most of the time, and the morning found me exhausted with the emotion I had gone through. About eleven o’clock there walked in, to my surprise, Mrs. Fitzgerald (better known as a medium under her maiden name of Bessie Williams), who lived in the Goldhawk Road, Shepherd’s Bush.
“I couldn’t help coming to you,” she commenced, “for I shall not be easy until I know how you are after the terrible scene you have passed through.”
I stared at her. “Whom have you seen?” I asked. “Who has told you of it?”
“Yourself,” she replied. “I was waked up this morning between two and three o’clock by the sound of sobbing and crying in the front garden. I got out of bed and opened the window, and then I saw you standing on the grass plat in your night-dress and crying bitterly. I asked you what was the matter, and you told me so and so, and so and so.”
And here followed a detailed account of all that had happened in my own house on the other side of London, with the very words that had been used, and every action that had happened. I had seen no one and spoken to no one between the occurrence and the time Mrs. Fitzgerald called upon me.
If her story was untrue, who had so minutely informed her of a circumstance which it was to the interest of all concerned to keep to themselves?

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