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four seconds, I should think. You may fancy I was neither nervous nor excited, when I tell you I did not disturb mamma, but sat there for three or four hours longer, till papa came in. I own I was shocked, but not nervous or excited. Papa was surprised and grieved to see me looking so ill when he came, and attributed it to being up too late. Not wishing to frighten mamma, I said nothing about the vision till next day ; when papa, anxious to dispel my fears, said : ‘ Why, you silly child, what nonsense! Here am I, strong and well, and yet a night or two since, when I went to bed, I saw opposite me a bed, myself lying dead on it; and every time I opened my eyes I saw the same.’ Within a week from this he was taken ill, and died in a few weeks. During the last week of his illness scarcely a night passed but I saw some apparition. The first time I was disturbed was just about a week before his death. I was lying awake, not at all nervous, for I had not the least idea that I should lose my papa. My face was turned to the wall, when I felt the pressure as of a heavy hand on the pillow behind me. Ice-cold fingers touched me, and a cold hand encircled my neck. Such horror seized me that I must have become insensible, for sense and recollection left me. Next morning I mentioned this to mamma. All that week, to the time of papa’s death, I saw women in white, and sometimes in black, at my bedside. \Vhat was very strange, too, all the night that poor papa was dying, I saw two women in the room, besides mamma and the nurse. When I entered, or looked up from papa, who required our unceasing care, I saw a strange woman in black standing behind nurse, and another at the door. After his death I saw no more of them, at least not till my sister was seriously ill. She at the time of papa’s death was poorly with influenza ; nothing serious. She had taken a powder to SINGULAR casn or HALLUCINA'I‘ION. 245
induce perspiration the previous night; but hearing, about seven next morning, from our cries, that papa was going, she rushed from her bed without throwing anything round her, and kissed him just as he breathed his last sigh. Then she refused to go to bed again, threw herself down on the rug in the parlour, with her head to the fire, where she persisted in lying, and kept calling for brandy-and-water, which was foolishly brought her by the servant and nurse, we being too distracted to notice anything. The consequence was, she became feverish, and was obliged to take to her bed. In the meantime, I bore up as well as I could, feeling that as eldest child I should not give way, but endeavour to comfort the others, and poor mamma; so till night I never shed a tear, but went in with every one who called to where papa lay. But in the evening, I could not restrain myself any longer, and had hysterics. On one of these occasions, a gentleman friend carried me fainting into the street for air. It was very quiet, when suddenly we both heard a loud voice, coming from we could not tell where, and saying, in distressed and agonized tones, ‘ Fanny, Fanny, Fanny!’ as much as to say, ‘Oh, do not, I entreat you, distress yourself so 1’ In amoment I was calm and strong. We neither of us said a word about the voice, but entered the house at once. Next day he asked me if I had heard it. I told him I had; and, seeing that the thought greatly agitated me, he added, ‘ Oh, I dare say it was some one calling Harry!’ but I knew better, for nothing could be more distinct than the voice and words. A day or two afterwards, I went to my sister’s room to sit with her, as she was lonely. It was about seven in the evening. As I ascended the stairs with a lamp in my hand, I saw two women robed in black at the top, one each side of the stairway. I was suffering too deeply to feel fear, so
went on. The figures disappeared as I neared them; As I entered the room where my sister lay, I saw papa behind the door, looking very pale. I looked several times to make sure I had not been deceived, and each time saw him there. I sat down on the bed with my back towards the figure, until I could bear it no longer, when I called some one else to take my place, for I knew no one else in the house could see the spectre. I think it was the next day the doctors said we must all leave the house at once, or we, too, should have the fever; so we went to the house of a friend.
“ One evening, a few days after my arrival, a. loud ring at the door-bell woke me. I started up, and saw, as I imagined, one of the ladies of the house by my side. I spoke to the figure, and it vanished; and at the same time I heard my friends saying something about ‘ poor Sophia,’ my sister’s name. Greatly alarmed, I called to them to bring a light, as I was sure I had seen some one in my room. I then asked who it was that rang at that early hour (about four or five o’clock). They told me it was one sent out to say that there was a change in my sister. I thought they meant a favourable change, so fell asleep, feeling happier and more hopeful than I had felt since papa's death. The same day my friends broke the tidings of my sister’s death to me as gently as possible. It had taken place about three o’clock in the morning, and mamma. had at once sent to acquaint us with the melancholy intelligence.
' “ From that time till last May I saw nothing. Last Queen’s-birthday I had been out, walking about with a gentleman friend. Towards evening we came in, and I went to my room to change my walking-dress. I had nearly finished dressing, and had only to get on my slippers, when, turning round, I saw papa standing near the door. So distinct was it that I felt frightened, and,
snatching up the lamp, I rushed from the room. When I reached the parlour, where they were all sitting, I felt re-assured and somewhat ashamed; and, as in my hurry I had forgotten my slippers, I determined to return for them. So, taking the lamp, I opened the folding-doors between the front and back parlours, and ran up against the figure. I met no resisting power; had I done so, I should have hurt myself severely, no doubt. I was greatly agitated when I saw it, and rushed back to mamma, who inquired what was the matter with me, I looked so ill. I told her what, I had seen.
“ One night, some months after this, a gentleman friend called. He had not been long present before I had occasion to go up-stairs for something. I did not take a lamp, not being afraid, but went in the dark. Coming down, just as I reached the bottom of the stairs, I saw papa standing within a foot or two of me. A soft phosphoric radiance seemed to surround him. He was very pale, as I saw distinctly by the strange light, though all was dark around me. I was very much frightened, as I should have to pass close to him to reenter the parlour. My brain seemed to reel as I ran desperately past and gained the room where they were all sitting. When I told them how I had been alarmed, some one went into the passage, but saw nothing.
“ The last, and by far the most horrible vision I ever had, was on the 8th of December last (1858). I woke up one morning before dawn, but, as mamma burns a lamp every night, it was quite light in our room. I had been awake about ten minutes or a quarter of an hour, and could not go to sleep, do what I would. However, as my'rnind was very pleasantly occupied, I did not mind much. Of a sudden I heard a heavy stamp, as if some one were trying to attract my attention by stamp
ing with the foot. I raised my head, and to my horror saw an old person, who might have been a man or a woman; for the figure had on a white dressing-gown, and a kind of black skull or Glengariff cap. I could not see any hair, or should have been better able to judge of the sex. The face was that of a corpse, pinched and drawn by long illness and old age. The profile was turned towards me, and was delicate and regular, and clearly defined against the wall at the side of it. One hand was across the chest or waist, and the other hanging straight down. I rose on my elbow the better to make my observations. There were no clothes hanging in that part of the room, so that I could not have been deceived by anything of that kind. It stood by mamma’s side, and as I gazed took three steps, each accompanied by a heavy stamp, and stopping at every step. I was perfectly calm while taking in all these particulars, but after the third step I was overcome by terror, as the figure was coming round my side; and clasping my little sister, as if even her tiny form would yield me protection, I prayed that the Almighty would remove the vision, and cause mamma to wake. I only heard one step after that. After a few minutes I determined to tie a knot in my handkerchief, under the pillow, as I knew mamma would say in the morning it was all a dream. Just as I was about to do this she woke. I spoke to her, and taking courage looked at my watch, and found that it was about twenty minutes to six. I did not mention what I had seen till next day, or rather until it was light. I feel convinced that it was a forewarning of either my grandfather’s or grandmother’s death, as they have both been failing rapidly of late.
‘ “ I forgot to mention one case that happened before the last, and which should have had the precedence. One