from "Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive" - William Dudley Pelley
THE MEDIUM was Bertie Lilly Candler. She was a handsome woman of some forty years, with a head of lovely auburn hair and sincere blue eyes. Later I was to learn that she had been raised in the Methodist denomination in Atlanta, Ga., and had begun to exercise her phenomenal powers following the death of her brother Howard, after she had married and started living in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was accompanied in this New York visit by her husband Edward, who superintended her séance work. My friend George had cleverly arranged the day before I saw the phenomena I am about to describe, that he was to arrive “with a friend” at the borrowed studio where Miss Candler—as she is professionally known—was to go into her trance, and that we were to be slipped into reserved chairs after the other spectators had assembled and just before the lights were dimmed, that any possible notoriety attendant upon myself might in nowise embarrass either medium or hostess.
Twenty persons were gathered at 8:15 when George and I pushed the bell of an apartment on the twelfth floor of a residence skyscraper overlooking the Hudson River. We were admitted just as the hostess was requesting a group of women present to accompany the medium into an adjacent room while she divested herself of her usual clothes and donned her séance robe—a plain gown of olive satin. This to forestall any late charge of fraud, or of taking into the cabinet with her anything that might be extraneous to unassisted phenomena. The room in which the sitting was being held was about twelve feet wide by twenty feet long. The length of it ran east and west in the building. At the western end was a small angular platform, containing a rostrum and a studio piano, raised fifteen inches from the main flooring. This flooring was carpeted with what appeared to be a heavy dark green Brussels rug.
We entered from the public corridor through the main door in the room’s southeastern corner. The room had only one other door, farther west in the southern wall, opening into a little hallway off which were chamber, bathroom, and kitchenette. These details are important in what followed. The cabinet consisted of a collapsible wooden framework with heavy red velours drapes on brass hooks. It made a little compartment about five feet square and seven feet high, inside which was nothing but a plain wooden chair turned sideways to the audience. Several people examined this cabinet beforehand, finding it absolutely empty of anything but the chair. At the right of the cabinet outside was a chair where the medium’s husband usually sat throughout his wife’s séances. He personally greeted and interrogated the materialized people as they emerged, and made certain that no sitter who was called close to the cabinet, crossed between the materialization and the medium, thus interfering with, or cutting off, the ectoplasmic cord. To the left of the cabinet outside was a small table holding a portable victrola with a pile of sacred records, subsequently played between manifestations. At the northern corner of the platform opposite the cabinet was a small spotlight with a ruby lens, focused on the front curtains. This illumination, after the eyes became accustomed to it, was sufficient to reflect throughout the whole room and show all the sitters in silhouette. At least nobody could move in the room without its being discernible. After a time Miss Candler came from the chamber in the satin robe, nodded to acquaintances in the room who had been at some of her sittings before, and went into the cabinet. Before the floor lamps were switched off and the ruby spotlight turned on, she sat herself on the chair, gathered the robe about her feet, lifted a corner of the front drape and called out naively to everyone, “Good night!”
Unique to add, Miss Candler’s little Pomeranian trotted after her into the cabinet and stretched near her feet. I had it whispered to me that the pet always did that, and slept soundly throughout the whole proceeding. It certainly was there asleep, and had to be awakened, after the floor lamps were snapped on at the end of the séance. Inasmuch as some twenty-five entities were to materialize in the ensuing three hours, of all ages and both sexes, it hardly seems possible that a dumb animal—especially a dog—would have slept soundly while they passed in and out of that cabinet, had they been mortal actors putting over any hoax …
One of them, at least, would have stepped on it!
WITH the floor lamps snapped off and the red light turned on, the woman who owned the apartment and acted as hostess—and who was herself one of New York’s most famous trumpet mediums—requested that we open the proceedings by reciting the Lord’s Prayer in unison. That finished, our hostess put on the first record. It was, “Nearer, My God to Thee.” The record contained three verses. When it was finished, we waited. Nothing happened.
Our hostess put on another hymn, “Abide With Me.” When its three verses had finished in turn, a period of electric silence followed. Suddenly it was cut by a voice. It was a girl’s voice, possibly fourteen to sixteen years old. It came from behind the drapes.
“Hello, everybody!” it rang out, clear as a bell. “I’m Silverleaf!”
Now I had heard about Silverleaf from George. She was not so much Miss Candler’s “control”, as her mediumistic companion. Usually Miss Candler’s brother, Howard—at whose decease, as aforesaid, she had truly begun her mediumistic work—acted as her control. But Howard did not seem to be with her this night. Silverleaf took charge of the sitting.
She had not only talked with George in Florida but had materialized at all of Miss Candler’s séances, which George had attended. He had come to know her rather intimately during the fortnight spent in the South.
He had described her to me as an attractive young Indian girl, who usually appeared with a band of jewels around her head, two heavy braids down her breast over an Indian jacket, and a skirt of a billowy white material resembling poplin. On one occasion George had playfully challenged her as to whether her braids were real. She had taken one of them and brushed it across his nose and face. She called him Uncle Jo-Jo. Many of those present had been at Miss Candler’s sittings before and met Silverleaf. They responded to her greeting. “I’m coming out a minute,” Silverleaf went on. “Medie,” meaning the medium, “isn’t quite asleep yet. Hello, Uncle Jo -Jo!”
“Hello, Silverleaf,” called back George. “Do you know who I’ve got with me?’
“Sure I know who you’ve got with you,” she said with a rippling laugh. “You’ve got Uncle Billy with you. Hello, Uncle Billy!”
“Hello, Silverleaf,” I returned, having been at trumpet sittings before and not feeling inhibited at carrying on my end of such conversations.
Thereupon Silverleaf began to call out and greet other sitters personally. She never missed the correct name. Finally she called to our hostess, “Put on another hymn, Nora, then I guess we’ll be about ready.”
The hostess put on “Lead Kindly Light.”
Now understand me, what I am about to relate I saw with my own eyes, I heard with my own ears, and I touched with my own hands. There is no secondhand information to any of it. And I had my friend George for witness as to the accuracy of what I am reporting. When the final verse of “Lead, Kindly Light” had died away, the front of the drapes moved in the ruby lamp’s focused illumination. Out of the cabinet stepped an Indian girl of about sixteen years, with long braids down each side of a dark pretty face, her shoulders covered by a beaded jacket, and a flowing white skirt billowing down from her belt. She came out without the slightest hesitancy and with a child’s delighted cry of, “Well, here I am!”
A chorus of greetings met her. Somehow it seemed, despite my clandestine presence there, that I had to be singled out for attention, though my last name never was spoken in the three hours that followed. The room was then deathly silent. You could have heard the proverbial pin drop.
Silverleaf came tripping over to where George and I sat, about midway between the two doors along the southern wall. She stood before us. Just what was expected of me, I wasn’t sure. George said, “I wanted Uncle Billy to meet you in person, Silverleaf.”
“I told you I knew all about Uncle Billy,” repeated Silverleaf. “See, I’ve got on the same dress tonight that I had on down in Florida, Uncle Jo -Jo.”
The voice of Mrs. Candler’s husband interrupted us from across the room. “Get up, William,” he suggested. “Come back nearer to the cabinet here.” I arose. To my astonishment, Silverleaf put her hand on my forearm and held me as she backed before me toward the cabinet. It felt as the hand of any 16-year-old girl would feel. There was nothing waxen or ethereal about it.. it was no papier-maché hand.
What on earth we talked about when I got in correct position facing her in front of the cabinet, where I did not obstruct the beam from the ruby lamp, I don’t for the life of me recall. If I did I would set it down. But I remember George calling out to the girl, “Smooth Uncle Billy’s face with one of your braids, Silverleaf, just to show him they’re real, the same as you did mine down in Florida.”
With a naive little chuckle, Silverleaf caught up her right-hand braid and brushed it playfully across my features. I had expected to feel coarse Indian hair. Instead it was soft as silk and delicately perfumed with lotus. I say that I smelled that beautiful scent and yet I couldn’t have done it with nostrils alone, for unknown to many of my friends I lost my sense of smell during a siege of typhoid in Vermont in 1921. Later I had it explained to me that while the “smell buds” in my nostrils were destroyed, the nerves of smell back to the brain centers were not, and it had been these that caught the supernatural perfume. Then came another startling incident. I thought that Silverleaf had done with me and started back to my chair. To my astonishment, it seemed that she wasn't done with me, because I sensed her running after me, I felt her hand in the crook of my right elbow, and she playfully whirled me around to face her. I weigh 154 pounds. No ethereal “phantom” grabs hold of a 154-pound man and has strength enough to turn him completely about. As I recall, it was some trivial promise about listening at times for her voice in my clairaudient ear, so that having thus met her I could identify her, that caused the whirligig. Anyhow, I got back to my seat and Silverleaf turned her attention to the rest of the sitters.
She stood in the center of the group, half-way down the room, and addressed practically every person there in turn, calling each one by his or her first name and asking after personal affairs or suggesting times when they had met before. She seemed to take particular delight in her costume and showed it off with the savoir faire of the professional manikin. Her poise was adorable. Finally she said that she had to go back into the cabinet and help “build up the ray” for others.
I asked “What ray?”
“The materializing ray,” she answered.
What she alluded to was, that to obtain such results in actuality, this was what took place: As the medium sank into deeper and deeper trance, her body began to release its ectoplasmic content, which poured out through its orifices into a sort of pool in the cabinet before her. This is one of the chief reasons for the cabinet at all, that such exhibition does not frighten or disgust the spectator. Into this flood of released ectoplasm, the more tenuous Light Body of the materializing entity steps and concentrates—with the help of “guides” like Silverleaf who are in the cabinet discarnate—on what his or her physical appearance was in mortality. This concentration acts as a sort of magnetic ray that begins to draw up the ectoplasm around the discarnate Light-Body like mercury filling up the glass stem of a thermometer. When the Light-Body, or pattern-self, is completely substantialized, the materialization is accomplished and the discarnate entity can leave the cabinet, to all intents a normal human being.
Don’t say, “It can’t be done!” It can be done, and is done in a thousand bona fide séance rooms on five continents year after year. It is the operating of a law just as natural as the growth of a blood clot in a woman’s womb into a perfectly formed human being, within the first twenty -five days after conception, though too minute to be recognized for what it is. One is no more a mystery than the other.
When Silverleaf had withdrawn into the cabinet, our hostess put on a fresh sacred record. As its final verse died away, the front drapes rippled and parted. Another young girl stepped through—a white girl. She was dressed in a pretty lace frock with a sort of bridal net falling from her hair. Edward got her identity and called out to her father and mother who were seated on George’s left. They arose and hastened forward.
The mother gave a sharp cry, “It’s really you, dear!” Recognition was instantaneous. Gertrude, it seemed, had caught a chill at her high school graduation dance, taken to bed, and Passed Over of quick pneumonia. This, apparently, was the first time that the parents had seen her in materialization. The reunion was poignant. I had noticed the careworn father and mother seated beyond George just before the lights went off. The father had something like a fold of cardboard in his hands and I had thought it a pad of paper for taking notes. Presently I was to find out what it was.
They talked swiftly, eagerly, of events that had taken place in the family since the girl’s passing. She gave them what she could of her own experiences in the octave above the mortal. Then still in the ruby light, the father opened the cardboard folder.
“I brought this along just in case we actually saw you tonight,” he explained. And he handed it to her. The whole thing was played out not four feet from me and I could hear plainly every word that passed.
The girl took the folder, opened it herself, and held it down against her skirt in order to get the ruby light-beam upon it.
“Why, it’s me in my graduation dress!” she cried.
“Yes, dear,” the mother said. “You remember it was taken the day you went to the dance, but you left us before the photographer delivered it.”
“And there’s another picture in here,” Gertrude said. She looked at it closely.
“Why, it’s Tommy!”
I gathered that Tommy was a younger brother.
Somehow that recognition of the picture hit me as being a more accurate proof of identity of a departed soul than even the things that subsequently happened to myself.
Gertrude handed back the photographs. Suddenly, with a surge of emotions, she threw both arms around her father and mother. The three of them embraced there—like the three normal persons, which they were—loath to give each other up.
Could that father and mother ever conceive thereafter that their beloved daughter was dead, or that she had “perished”? What Mosaic numskull was it who had written back over the years, “The dead know not anything,” and ‘There is no device nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest?” Rubbish!
THE BREAKAWAY had to come between Gertrude and her parents. Seeing her withdraw and go backward into the cabinet was not unlike having her die a second death to them, I suppose, in that she could not walk out of that meeting with them. When the drapes had fallen before her figure, we were brought back to realities by another bit of sacred music coming from the victorla. Who would emerge from the cabinet next? We had not long to wait.
The curtains parted, the form of an elderly lady stepped through. She paused a moment and then stepped back. The drapes fell before her figure.
A second time she opened the drapes. This time she stepped through and at least six feet out into the room. She cried with a husky Irish brogue: “Dennis!” Mind you these voices were not spookish whispers, unless their possessors did not particularly want the whole roomful to hear what they were saying to their intimates.
An Irish traffic policeman who was present, but not in uniform, sprang up with an exclamation. Apparently this was his mother.
“Dennis, me son, me son!” she cried.
What they said privately up close together I could not hear, for the woman dropped her voice a few moments. Then louder we heard her say, “Oh why do ye have to be all the toime standing down under thim terrible elevated tracks with the trolley cars going past ye, and thim trucks nearly hitting ye? A dozen toimes a day, me bye, ye give your mither the conniption fits that they’re going to take your toes off.”
“Are you there with me, mother?” the copper asked incredulously.
“All the toime I’m with ye, to keep ye from harm. But ye scare the wits from ye mither a dozen toimes an hour. Why don’t ye give up the job, Dennis, and git a dacent job at man’s wages?”
“Somebody has to do that sort of thing, mother,” Dennis argued.
“Yes, I suppose so. But do ye take care of yourself. And I know there’s going to be a new wedding ring on your finger in the spring. May ye be happy, me son!”
“That's pretty realistic,” I whispered to George in the ruby dark, as a new hymn played sweetly.
“Look!” George cried presently. Out from the curtains had stepped a tall foreign-looking cleric in vestments that seemed to me to be of the Greek Catholic church as I had seen them in Siberian mosques in 1918. He wanted his sister Mischa.
A stocky Slav girl sprang up and came forward. After the usual emotional greetings, they began talking about family affairs, with references to papa and mama and other relatives and their troubles, which the brother contended he was daily helping to iron out. We thought it was to be just another of those domestic visits which mean nothing to a stranger excepting the humanness of the problems. Suddenly, however, the Russian said, “Do you recall, Mischa, how we once played and sang together at the piano?” Indeed, Mischa did.
“Would you play an accompaniment for me,” the brother asked wistfully, “and let me sing with you again?”
Mischa acted embarrassed. She didn’t enthuse. “Some other night, brother,” she begged.
“Oh, all right—nichivo!” the man said, the tone of disappointment bitter in his voice.
The audience broke out in a storm of protestations. “Play, Mischa, play!” they insisted.
The brother, in retreat toward the cabinet, seemed to pause and wait.
“What do you want me to play?” she asked him.
“Would you play The Rosary?”
Mischa went to the piano on the dais. That she was an expert musician was evident the instant her fingers’ touched the keys. She sounded off on the proper chord. Then, to my stupefaction at least, the brother who had remortalized himself for this epochal evening by courtesy of the gracious Florida woman asleep inside that cabinet, cleared his throat and started in with the words. He sang the three verses without slip or falter, though sometimes not quite making the true tone on the high notes. There he was, within five feet of me, doing that thing, his voice having quite as much volume as any man’s in that room. My eyes had grown quite accustomed to the red light by this time. His figure between me and the opposite wall was as opaque as any figure within reach of my vision. It was perfectly made. I could see the man’s chest rise and fall. His accent, not pure English, often flatted on the words. But singing the song seemed to mean a lot to him. When the solo was over, he thanked his sister like a grateful little boy. The approval of the audience, of course, was noisy.
“It’s quite like old times,” he murmured to Mischa as he finally backed toward the cabinet. A moment later, he had disappeared from out sight.
“What do you think of that?” asked George.
“If I hadn’t heard it with my own ears, I wouldn't have believed it,” I replied. The victrola hymn had started up again.
A portly German father stepped out from the drapes and called to his son and his family, sitting directly opposite the cabinet. The son brought up his new bride to be introduced, a girl who had never seen the old gentleman in flesh. The conversation began in German and finished in German—for a full ten minutes. Not knowing German, I could not follow it. But it seemed to be all about relatives, for I distinguished several Christian names, both men and women.
Suddenly, when the German had finished his visit, the voice of Silverleaf called to the hostess over the drapes, “put on the Bells of St. Mary, Nora!”
It took a moment to find the record out of the pile by the aid of a tiny flashlight. Nora played it once and nothing happened. But just as it started up a second time, the drapes parted and the figure that advanced out of the cabinet was that of a nun, muttering in what I took to be Latin. She was clad in sharp blacks and whites in headdress and girdle. Her presence was so impelling that the audience forgot to welcome her audibly.
Strangely enough, the room happened to be so silent for an instant that as the Sister trod past me—within at least two feet of where I was leaning forward—I could hear the scuff of what seemed to be her naked feet on the nap of the heavy Brussels rug. That too was pretty convincing evidence in view of what happened when she later “went out.” She moved toward one of the women at the back of the room and spoke. The woman started up. What relation she was to the nun I could not make out. But if I recall correctly, the woman was perplexed over whether or not she should give up her present work and take up nursing.
“No,” the nun advised against it. “If I were you I would keep on where you are. You are doing more good to humanity.”
On and on they talked about more family complications. The way in which these good people—striving against time to cram all their troubles and sorrows into a brief few minutes of contact—choking hectically over the questions and answers, was heart-rending.
But the nun kept her poise and terminated the interview. Back near the cabinet—I should say some three feet in front of it and yet standing slightly off-center forward the right—she suddenly raised both arms heavenward. She looked like one of those Angels of Mercy on the Red Cross posters. I heard a hoarse whisper: “She’s blessing us. Listen!”
It was a Catholic blessing, uttered in Latin. The nun was talking swiftly, almost parroting her words.
And as she repeated the blessing, I beheld her start to sink through the floor with a curious twist of her uniformed figure.
I blinked my eyes. I did everything but pinch myself or jab a pin in my leg. What on earth was I seeing?
The nun’s figure sank further. She went down to her knees, her waist, her shoulders. Finally her head went out of sight—through the rug! It was like watching a person sink beneath the surface of water.
Finally we watched the awesome sight of two upraised arms and hands, still heavy with vestments, thrusting upward from the carpet. Finally the left hand nearest me vanished. The right hand lingered as a pool of fluorescence on the rug for ten or fifteen seconds, and then that too disappeared. No part of her had gone back into the cabinet. She had dematerialized—sloughed off her clothing of substantiality—directly before our eyes! I was to have a second such demonstration before the night was over.
It was to be my own paternal grandfather!
“THE DOOR IS NOW UNLOCKED”
I knew that I was witnessing a display of phenomena that might happen, even to expert researchers, but once in a lifetime—and yet might be repeated, if one were fortunate, no later than tomorrow night. Less than an hour had gone by, and I had already witnessed the equivalent of manifestations that might compose a whole evening’s séance, and a most satisfying séance at that. The victrola played on at my right, and in between records, if a materialization had not appeared, I could hear the suppressed breathing of the score of persons around me, striving as I was striving to accredit that they were all seated in Mayor La Guardia’s New York, with the long strings of automobiles flowing down the Drive below in the beautiful orchestration of Sunday night traffic, and the problems of the war-torn world to be faced in the morning. Most of the materializations, I noted, usually appeared in about the middle of the second playing of any given hymn on the machine, when Nora would instantly hush the music …
Suddenly the curtains parted, the music was stopped, and a figure appeared that puzzled as it disquieted me—not that I recognized it, for it was a stranger and yet a somewhat different type of entity than had materialized to the present. Edward, beyond the cabinet, rose to his feet.
“This,” he announced solemnly, “is evidently a personage from a very high plane of eternity.” And he bent toward it with instinctive solicitude.
The man standing sedately before the drapes was not tall—in a few moments I was to stand within a foot of him and find myself looking down slightly into his face. He was dressed in vestments such as I had never witnessed on any cleric of any church. A mitre of some sort seemed to be on his head. He looked eighty years old. A long silvery beard dropped halfway down his chest. There was a quiet restraint, a poise, a dignity to him that might be felt merely by surveying him.
“He gives the name of Ari,” announced Edward, “and is here to speak to George.”
The friend beside me started up. “It’s my special protective guardian,” he declared in a whisper. “He materialized twice for me down in Florida.”
This then was the spirit whom George had reported to me as having done something that I considered truly remarkable in the way of phenomena. One night, in a Florida sitting, he had called George up and talked with him privately about his life and affairs. He had seemed so paternal, so kindly, so solicitous, that George had begun to have a sincere affection for the gentleman. When he had turned to depart, he had asked George, “would you like to have something to remember me by?”
George, of course, had answered affirmatively.
“Have you a pair of scissors or a knife in your pocket?”
George had a pocketknife and produced it. Ari had twisted up a lock of his beard and held it taut.
“Cut it off,” he had directed.
George had told me that while striving to do this, he had seen the pull of the flesh where the hairs grew out and Ari’s grasp of the lock had been faulty. But he had severed the strand and received it in his fingers.
“Put it in a locket,” Ari had said. “It will be a constant connection between us.”
George, of course, had wondered how that could be, for he rightly expected that his ethereal guardian would presently dematerialize. But when the latter had done so, to George’s amazement the lick of hair had not! George had carried it from the séance and shown it to me in Indianapolis.
This then, was the dignitary who had done this wonder and I hoped I was going to be able to ask him how he had performed it.
George, up before the cabinet with Ari, called me to them. He introduced me.
Ari laid his right hand with firm pressure on my wrist. I could see him plainly then. I judged his race to be Persian. “I’m so glad to be able to introduce my friend to you, Ari,” George said, to make conversation.
The venerable one laughed pleasantly.
“My son,” he returned, “we on This Side know William’s work even better than you do. But it gives me great pleasure that we meet face to face.”
I said, “George has shown me the keepsake you gave him in Florida. From the scientific angle, I’ve wondered how such a thing could be managed. How did the hair lock remain in existence on this side when you returned to the higher octave?”
Again that poised, easy laugh from the visitor. “It was meant to remain on your side of life,” he responded. “I fixed it so that it would.” He put emphasis on the “would”.
What more could be said? Any discussion of the higher life processes was impossible at the moment.
I went back to my seat and presently George followed. Ari had spoken a pleasant word to the guests and stepped backward behind the drapes.
As though purposely to display a diversity of types a lad of some fifteen years stepped out of the cabinet a moment or two after the next record had been played. He was clad in ordinary boy’s clothing of this period—trousers and blouse-shirt with four-in-hand tie—but seemed to be afflicted with a slight curvature of the spine.
“Tony!” cried the medium’s husband, springing up as though a bit surprised himself.
Tony greeted Edward. He seemed pleased with himself that he had contrived it. Edward explained.
“Tony,” he said standing in big-brotherly fashion beside the youthful visitor, “was formerly a newsboy in Chicago. He made the passing a couple of years ago by being struck by a truck on Evanston Avenue. He drops in to see us at these meetings quite often. Sometimes he sings for us. Don’t you, Tony?”
“Sure, I sing!” boasted Tony. “But I don’t think I’ll do it tonight.”
The assembly at once pressed him to favor it. But Tony had all the embarrassment of a Chicago newshawk suddenly plunged into a gathering in a drawing room. No, he wouldn’t sing. He just wanted to say hello to Eddie and then get gone. “Loads of folks are waiting to get in,” he declared.
It was a queer little episode. Tony hadn’t come to meet anybody in the group. He just wanted to be neighborly and that was that. Having gotten a certain gratification from being thus noticed, he opened the drapes behind him and his personal appearance for the evening was over.
We had to wait a long time now. I wondered if the ectoplasmic force was dwindling. But I presently understood.
A dignified gentleman who must have stood six feet tall, with a well-shaped bald head, and a gown resembling an Episcopalian rector’s surplice, with stole, over sinewy shoulders and chest, presently walked out of the cabinet and stood for a moment regarding us all. The woman at my right cried, “Doctor Wainwright!”
“Yes,” the personage responded gravely, “I am Doctor Wainwright. I wish to speak to you first, my dear, about your treatments. Will you please come up here for a short consultation?”
The lady needed no urging. She joined him, with a couple of women friends, in front of the cabinet. The assembly waited.
I gathered from what I overheard of the conversation that the woman was suffering from an internal trouble with which mortal physicians could scarcely cope.
At some previous séance this higher-octave physician had come through to her and promised to assist her doctor in flesh to bring about an amelioration of her condition, if not her cure. He made the clairaudient recommendations to her mortal doctors, I gathered, and they gave the treatments, whether aware of the source of their prescriptions or not. But the patient was not cooperating, as she should. Hence this personal contact. He went on explaining something medical for at least five minutes. Finally he dismissed her, and noted the group. Edward asked him if he could not speak them all a word of comfort during the terrible times through which the earth was passing.
“We in the higher spheres of life,” Dr. Wainwright responded after a moment’s cogitation, “do not look upon what is happening now on your plane as ‘war’. Neither should any of you privileged persons consider it as such. What the earth world is passing through at present is a stupendous renovation.” Dr. Wainwright spoke measuredly, choosing his words most carefully.
“The time has come in modern history,” he went on in substance, “for a gigantic housecleaning of all the dark, wicked, mischief-force who so shamefully afflict man and his institutions—especially his political and economic institutions. They are due to expose themselves presently throughout all humanity for their blunderings, their greeds, their inabilities to inspire or direct man in his worldly predicaments and dilemmas. Before the present sequence is run they will be stripped of their influence because of their own inadequacies. Great wrongs that have afflicted the nations for generations are due to be righted. The earth and its society must come back into a moral balance.”
Someone asked how far American would get into the war.
“There will be no such enemy destruction of life and property in the United States as there had been in countries abroad,’ he replied. “At least, those on the plane to which I have progressed seem not to be aware of it. But you must remember that we have no more access to the intentions of the Almighty than you have. We are simply living in a higher and more delicate world of Matter. We have ways of seeing things begin to occur in the astral that are presently to mature in event in the mortal, but it is for a limited time ahead only. This thing I do want you to remember and to count on, however: All of us in these higher states of life have positive knowledge of a great leader who is presently to rise here in North America and by his wise counsel and direction—gained from the same high sources from which we get out counsel and direction—straighten out most of the embroilments in which American humankind finds itself in these moments. You can plan on the coming of such a leader, though you must not question me specifically concerning his identity. He is not so well known now as he is to be shortly. Probably he will come in result of the terrible blunders and shortcomings of those who have had the conflict in charge in its opening phases. He will resuscitate the United States from the spiritual, more than from the political, angle. And when he comes, not the least among you will have much difficulty recognizing him.”
The doctor started to back toward the cabinet as he concluded this message. Then with a grave bow to the thoughtful assembly, he stepped inside …
NOW FOLLOWED at least an hour of entities of strictly private significance to other sitters present. The mothers of several persons, clad in most cases in ethereal flowing robes, made themselves substantial and discoursed with sons or daughters quite after the manner I have described. On one occasion the son of one of the women spectators visited her for several minutes, expressing his gratitude that he was out of mortality for the sequence now running on earth.
“I did my share in the first World War,” he informed us. “I’m glad I don’t have to go through another such experience under present conditions.”
His mother explained, in introducing him to the group, that he had been badly wounded in the AEF in 1918, and had dragged out a miserable existence as a disabled veteran till death released him some five years bygone. A most poignant note was introduced on another occasion by the deceased fiancé of one of the young women present stepping suddenly from between the drapes, being instantly recognized, and the two of them embracing after she had left her seat impulsively and hurried to him.
“Oh, it’s so hard to get along with you gone, Harry,” the young woman sobbed. “It’s all that I can do to live day after day. Life seems so bleak, so barren.”
With his arms about his erstwhile sweetheart, the young man patted the pretty bowed back, and sought to soothe her. “But can’t you understand,” he argued gently, “that I’m not ‘gone’, that I’m right close to you day after day, helping you as I never could help you had I stayed in life with you?”
No, she couldn’t, and she said so. So they clung to each other—and everyone present must have felt a bit embarrassed, as though violating some sort of privacy by thus looking on.
I couldn’t help wondering what the skeptics and ignoramuses—who contend so raucously that no “dead” person has ever “come back”—would say, to sit witnessing such a reunion as this, a young man stepping into mortality for brief ten minutes to put his arms around a beloved sweetheart whom he had been obliged to part with, when he had to go ahead of her into the more exquisite phases of experiencing Consciousness. But the evening was getting on.
Between half-past ten and eleven o’clock it was and after the vivtrola records had run out, to be succeeded by a beautiful rhythmic humming of “Holy Night” on the part of the sitters, that the curtains trembled, were pulled energetically open, and a white figure stepped through without the slightest pause or hesitation, heading straight for my chair.
SOMEHOW I seemed to know telepathically when this Lady in White walked out, that she had materialized for me and none other, though I couldn’t tell who she was at once. As she crossed the space of rug, she seemed to loom above me in unnatural proportions.
Presently I was to see that this effect was supplied by swathes of chiffon about her head and held together on the center of her breast.
“Dudley, my son!” she cried raggedly as I got to my feet.
Now there had been only one such woman who had gone on the other side, who had ever used my middle name in addressing me as a lad, and that was my maternal grandmother. But could this be my maternal grandmother? She had blue eyes, as my maternal grandmother had blue eyes. She had something of the same contours of face. But my mother’s mother, Hanna, had been an elderly woman—some sixty-five or seventy years old—when making the Passing in 1912. This lady did not look a day over forty, if that old, and her figure lacked my Grandmother Goodale’s portliness.
On the other hand, I had heard plenty in other séances of a process in the higher dimensions of certain souls’ “growing back to a norm” of maturity and remaining there until progressing along to loftier planes of consciousness. Was my grandmother going that? Certainly in the ensuing few moments I had small doubt about its being my grandmother’s spirit. I followed her to a position in front of the cabinet where the ruby spotlight gave maximum illumination.
“You poor boy,” she crooned, “what a terrible time you are going through! And all so unfair and unmerited!” probably had I known Grandmother in her middle life, I might not have felt so confused at having a person apparently younger than myself at the moment—at least in looks—designate herself as my mother’s mother.
Feeling stranger in her presence therefore, I scarcely knew how, or what, to reply. But of this thing I took note.
Her mental or emotional anguish was poignant to behold. Her distress was so great that it called up counter-sympathy. As I struggled for poise, she asked me—“what’s the matter? Can’t you see me? Haven’t I done what I’ve never done anything of this sort, you know.”
“I can see you all right, Grandmother,” I assured her.
“I can’t stay very long … it’s all so awkward, so different from anything I’ve ever been used to. But I had to come to you tonight to try to cheer and encourage you in the awful ordeal you’re being called to suffer. It’s all part of your career, my son. Fancy talking to you, though, now that you’re a man grown, face to face!” How does one talk to one’s grandmother whom one hasn’t seen in substantiality in over thirty years? One thing is certain. One doesn't feel facetious …
This blue-eyed lady, however, had nothing of the ethereal about her except for the chiffon headscarf and robes. She seemed to have considerable difficulty holding the latter together in front. She kept pulling the folds together with her left hand while she tried in a sort of affectionate caress to pass her right hand over my hair and down about my shoulders.
“It’s all in one’s life work, I suppose,” I said tritely.
“But will you remember my words of counsel, son? Will you surely remember them?”
“Meaning what? What counsel?”
“This counsel—that no matter what predicament you think that you’re in, with in authorities or anyone else, ‘the door has been unlocked already!” Will you remember that? ‘The door has been unlocked already.’ Promise you’ll remember that.”
“I promise,” I said.
“Say after me, ‘The door has been unlocked already.’”
“The door has been unlocked already,” I repeated. Inasmuch as not a soul in that room but myself and George knew that I was in any particular sort of trouble, it was on the whole convincing for a materialized soul to proceed directly to giving of such solicitude.
“That’s all I can say. I’ve got to go now. ‘The door has been unlocked already.’” With another caressing gesture at my head and shoulders, she began to withdraw from me.
An instant later she had vanished behind the curtains.
I WAS so upset in my feelings when I again sought my chair, that I scarcely gave any attention to the spirit that now came forth from the cabinet and greeted everyone in the voice of another child—a second little Indian girl, apparently, some ten to twelve years old.
She had not come there to meet anyone in particular. I gathered vaguely that her prime purpose was in displaying a new dress that enveloped her, somewhat after the pattern of Silverleaf’s. She gave some fanciful and lowery name, but I was thinking, thinking, thinking … The child was obsessed with the fact that on the following afternoon, on the plane in which she resided, she was going to a party … Had that recent materialization been that of my grandmother or had it not? If so, and this was an example of “growing back young,” what a lot of surprises some people were in for, at making the Passing themselves and greeting their loved ones on the other side, to find the latter not “lame, halt, blind or aged” as they might have gone out of flesh, but radiantly mature in the golden summer of middle existence.
Certainly my “grandmother” had called me by the only name that she would use in addressing me face to face. The solicitude for me was unquestionable. And her message had plenty of consolation in it after what I had been through in the South that past week. “The door is unlocked already!” what would that mean but that the tide had definitely turned for me, and that the “out” was ready for me to experience as the days and weeks rolled onward? I was still preoccupied with my thoughts in ruby dusk when I realized that Edward was calling “William”! That meant me again.
I took up at the cabinet.
A portly man of some sixty to seventy years was standing before the curtains. He was clad in modern male costume and giving his name as Frederick William.
Frederick William had been the name of my father’s father. Why should I be deserving of so much attention this epochal evening?
“MY SON, my son!” this entity cried thickly as I stood before him and his right hand reached out and tightened on my wrist.
“Is it you, Grandfather?” I cried in new perturbation. Then in the upset one feels in all such situations, I recall exclaiming, “—but what have you done with your thick gray whiskers?” My Grandfather Pelley, as long as I had known him, had worn a patriarchal beard halfway down his chest. This was my grandfather’s figure all right, but his beard was black, and not nearly so long. “But, my son,” he chuckled, “whiskers have generally gone out of fashion. All the same I’ve got some on—can’t you see them?”
No, I couldn’t see them, and peered closer into his face. “You’ve got something on,” I argued banally, “but the light is so poor, or your eyes aren’t accustomed to it, that I can’t tell what it is.”
“My son, don’t let’s waste such important time arguing over such a matter as whiskers. I haven’t worn mine on my present plane for years.”
I wondered what was required of me. How could I ever ask him the intimate family detail that I wanted to ask him, with all these strangers present and hanging on every word? Knowing that many persons with Second Sight had often described him as being on the platform with me and seeming to counsel me as I had addressed past audiences, I felt he should be in a position to approve or condemn my present work. Not thinking how else to put it, I asked—
“Well, granddad, how am I doing?”
This brought of a titter of laughter around the circle. My grandsire joined in it. His hand, as strong and virile as it ever had been in life—and he had been a powerful man—continued on my wrist. “My son, you’re doing fine,” he said huskily after a moment. “In fact, there’s times when it seems to your watching relatives that you’re doing too much.”
“Too much,” I echoed. “How could that be possible?”
“You make so much progress in your work yourself that you’re not allowing the time for the rest of humanity to catch up. However, they’ll do that in time. Be patient. What I particularly wanted to do tonight was to thank your friend George for the aid he’s been to you in getting your printing works established. The books that you’re printing are doing more good throughout the land than you’ll ever know till you get in our position and see it. Will you call him up?”
I called to George and he responded.
“This is my paternal grandfather, Frederick William,” I announced—as though he had not been hearkening to every word spoken by either of us from the first. George acknowledged the introduction and my grandfather ran his left hand under George’s elbow.
“Just let me thank you, dear fellow,” he said, “for the help you’re giving to our grandson.”
George started to deprecate it.
“No, no,” cried the old gentleman, “you’re as much a part of his lifework as his own wits or pen. And all his relatives are grateful and are showing it by seeing that the two you don’t get into serious trouble.”
Hardly had my grandfather gotten these words out than his voice wavered queerly. His shoulders and figure seemed to sway. The hand on my arm relaxed its clutch and dropped.
Suddenly, weird as it sounds to relate, though it did not seem as awesome to watch it happen, the old gentleman jack-knifed at the waist. My instinct was to reach out and catch him, but as I had been warned against seizing hold of these people during materializations since it might have serious effect on the medium, I pulled back a step, and then, before my eyes, I saw my grandsire begin to sink through the floor precisely as the nun had done, following her blessing.
He sank through the floor directly at my feet. One moment he had been standing before me, talking with me like any normal man. The next he had bent forward and in the bending, his feet had begun to go through the rug as though it were the surface of a pool of water. I stood there gaping while he sank down, down, till only his head was visible between George’s feet and mine. The next moment he was gone!
There was nothing whatsoever to indicate that he had been there. I was close enough to the phenomena to see everything in utmost detail.
Somehow I got back to my chair and devoutly wished that the sitting would end. I was mentally, emotionally and spiritually punch-drunk. It had been so much that I wanted only get out and think! Happily enough, my grandfather’s was the last materialization for the night. From behind the draperies we heard Silverleaf exclaim: “Oh shucks! The power’s getting so weak that these things fall apart!” It was a queer but practical way to phrase it. A moment later she added philosophically: “Nope, I guess we can’t go along anymore tonight, even if there are a lot of folks left who’d like to talk with the rest of you. But I’ll tell you who’s here …”
Thereat the child started calling out names of persons who hadn’t been able to avail themselves of the mediumistic ectoplasm. She must have called out at least a dozen, every last one of them absolutely accurate. Twice she called out names of former women business associates of George’s... giving last names as well as first.
“Uncle Jo -Jo,” she said, “you remember Margaret G—, don’t you? She says she gave you a pair of cuff links and a stickpin one Christmas. Is that right?”
“It most certainly is,” agreed George. “Tell her I had them stolen from my house when a prowler got in.”
“Oh, she knows that,” returned Silverleaf, matter-of-factly.
“What became of them doesn’t count. Any gift is only in the giving, anyhow. Uncle Billy!”
“Yes, Silverleaf,” I answered.
“A long time ago you had a daughter Harriet, didn’t you? She passed over when she was a teeny girl.”
“Two years old,” I agreed.
“I know. Well, she’s a big grown woman now. About thirty years old. And she says to tell you, ‘God bless Dad.’”
It was the first time in twelve years of psychical research that I had received trace of my daughter Harriet in the higher realms of life.
“Well, I guess we’ve all got to go now. We’ve had a nice evening, haven’t we?”
“A wonderful evening, Silverleaf,” responded the audience sincerely.
“Then good night, everybody!”
“Good night, Silverleaf!”
Suddenly the maiden’s voice, still clear and lovely, began to sing—
“Good night, dear one,
Good night, dear one,
Good night, dear one,
We’re going to leave you now!”
The tune was the well-known old song, “Good night, Ladies,” only when she arrived at the chorus, she altered it thus—
“Merrily we fade away,
Fade away, fade away.
Merrily we fade away,
Over the Sea of Love …”
The child’s voice trailed off, fainter and fainter, as if receding into remotest distance. Presently the room was silent. Edward said to George, “Open the door, George, so that we can get the indirect light from the bathroom.” George opened the door. The electric illumination was sickly, garish, as it came through the inner hallway. In a moment someone switched on a floor lamp. Edward went to the cabinet and tossed back the drapes.
“Wake up, Bertie,” he coaxed. “Everything’s over. People are ready to go home.
Miss Candler was plainly to be seen by everyone. She sat slumped down in the wooden chair, head rolled on one side, unconscious in slumber. Edward shook her gently. She shuddered, yawned, sat up.
“It’s so frightfully hot in here!” were her first words since she had bidden us “Good night!” three hours before. “It feels like I’d been in a forest fire.”
Edward stayed beside her till she dame fully awake and then helped her to her feet. Coming from the cabinet, she paused before my chair. “How was it?” she asked. “Did you get anything?”
“You’re a sweetheart!” I cried impulsively. “We got at least twenty-five people. It’s been the most amazing evening of phenomena I’ve witnessed in my life.”
This was no exaggeration.
“I’m glad,” she said. She walked to a vacated chair and sat down, still rubbing her eyes and yawning. The woman on my right asked me the time. I looked at my wristwatch. “Ten minutes past eleven o’clock,’ I said. Then I left the room, to get out in cool night air for a minute and light up a welcome cigar …
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