From the book Beyond the Vail
Dictated by visible full-form spirit materializations
through the mediumship of William W. Aber
Suicide and its Results
The awful lesson of a clandestine marriage and a wonderful romance, though the picture of a real life as related in her own handwriting by a spirit using the nom de blame of Grace, and this is the writing, to-wit:
I have been requested by Dr. Reed to relate my experience in earth life and in spirit life, in order for you to draw comparison between the two.
I wish to keep my full name a secret, as my mother is still living, and the recital to her of my sufferings would grieve her sorely. Therefore I shall give my Christian name, Grace. Here this spirit, talking in a whisper, said: 'When you are done with the earth life, you will find me and who I am, for I shall meet you as you come over here, reveal to you, and then you will know.' Then the writing continued of her childhood and youth to the age of twenty years:
I was born and reared in a New England village. My father married quite late in life a woman many years younger than himself, and I was the only child of the union. Early in life he had secured a finished education, and when his once ample fortune had disappeared, he turned his education to account by teaching, and for some years was the village school-master.
I was always very studious and he encouraged me in every way in my studies, so that at the age of eighteen I had acquired an excellent education.
My greatest fault was the love of fine dress, and, although father had a very limited income, he managed to indulge me in many ways.
Every summer our little village was crowded with city people of moderate incomes, as a usual thing, who could not afford to spend their summers at a fashionable resort. But occasionally we would have wealthy people, tired of the crowded resorts and in search of novelty or attracted by the wonderful curative power of our pure mountain air.
I had a good musical education, and always took part in the village concerts and sang in the church choir. I possessed the peculiar combination of light hair and dark eyes, in fact my mirror reflected a very pleasing image, and instead of my parents trying to control my vanity, they encouraged it. Time went on until I was in my twentieth year.
That summer brought to our village a handsome young man in the person of a young lawyer in search of a quiet place to spend the season. After a successful winter at the bar, he found he had overworked himself, and his physicians prescribed rest in some quiet, out-of-the-way place. R. was very sociable and, being fond of music and a fine singer, we soon drifted together. At first we only exchanged a few words in regard to music and the cultivation of the voice. These little formalities grew into longer conversations. At last he asked permission to call on me at home. I granted his request with pleasure, and many happy hours we spent together in the old home.
The Mother's Warning Unheeded
R. was a polished flatterer and I was eager for praise, and my mother noticed my infatuation for him before I realized it myself. She remonstrated with me and tried to show the utter folly of my love for one in his station. Dear mother, with a foresight that is given to few, seemed to see that my love for him only meant sorrow for me. But, foolish, rebellious girl that I was, I would not listen to her warning and rushed headlong to my doom! In order to appear fair in the eyes of R., I forced my father to go far beyond his means to furnish me with the finery I would have.
Treachery Unobserved by the Confiding Victim
R. asked me to be his wife, and I was very happy although he told me we would have to be married secretly on account of his father. He said his father was in ill health and could not stand the shock of his marrying below his station. In a few years, he said, we could tell his father, and all would be well; and, poor fool that I was, I consented to the bane of civilization, a clandestine marriage! But then how beautiful the future seemed to me! In that glorious future I would have every wish granted. I would live in a beautiful home and have servants to do my bidding.
The Last Night at Home
In my selfishness I had no thought for the dear ones at home who had toiled and sacrificed for years in order that I might be happy; but during all eternity I shall not be able to efface from my memory my last night at home. It was late in the autumn, and the leaves were beginning to fall, covering the ground with as many colors as Jacob's coat. Everything around me seemed sad but myself. As usual, after our simple tea was over, my father opened his worn Bible to read a chapter and offered a prayer before bedtime. For some (to me then) unaccountable reason, he asked heaven's blessing on my future welfare. Oh, how I longed to throw myself in his arms and tell him all, for I dearly loved my father! But the impulse was banished as quickly as it came, and I whispered to my conscience that I would care for my parents well when I became rich. And, bidding them good-night, I retired to my room to wait with patience until all should grow quiet, and I could slip away unnoticed.
Leaving the Dear Old Home Forever
At last all was still, and, throwing a loose cloak over my dress, I slipped out at the back door. Though the 'still, small voice' whispered to me to return. I would not heed it, but finding R. waiting for me at the corner of the street with a light buggy, we drove to a nearby town, where I wanted that we be married, but he persuaded me to wait until we had reached the city, for, he said, we were 'already married in the eyes of God.' So we took the train for New York.
When we reached the city I insisted on a marriage ceremony, and we were married, as I supposed, in a dingy little office that bore a justice of the peace sign on the door. But long afterward I learned that the quondam justice was the lowest kind of scoundrel and a friend to R. R. was very kind to me at first, and I was very happy. But after awhile he began staying away from home, and when I questioned him about his absence, his ready excuse was his 'business.' And I knew that a lawyer's time is not his own, therefore I accepted his excuse without question.
One morning he told me that he was going away on a business trip and might be away several weeks, and I entreated him to allow me to accompany him, as it would be so lonesome to me there, with only the company of the servants. But he refused to take me.
R. had been gone for perhaps an hour when a messenger boy came with a letter for me. I recognized R.'s handwriting on the envelope, and tore it open with trembling finger and the words in that letter seared my soul as with a red-hot iron. I had never known real misery until that moment. His letter told me that he was going away to return no more, that I should never look upon his face again. He said that our marriage was a sham one and, more bitter than all, he advised me to return to my father. Traitor that he was, to advise me to return to a home that I had left for him.
I resolved, then and there, that I would never return to my home until I had hunted him the ends of the earth, if need be, and made him acknowledge me as his wife. And, after a short time growing calmer, I changed my morning dress for one more suitable for street wear, and left the house in the search, and first sought the office of the man who performed the marriage ceremony, but could get no trace of him or R., though searching for days, but all without avail. My stock of money was small and after I had paid and dismissed the servants, it soon dwindled away.
I then saw that I must seek work and a cheaper boarding-place and went to the minister of the church that I was in the habit of attending, and laid my case before him, and asked his assistance, but he told me that he could do nothing for me unless I had good reference, and that was impossible for me to give. And, although I advertised in one of the leading dailies and tried the intelligence office for work, it was all unsuccessful because I could give no reference. And, worse still, I was frequently insulted on account of my pretty face. And I prayed to God to open the way for me for honest work, but my Prayers were unanswered. And I parted with all my jewels to satisfy the greed of my landlady. And when all had been sacrificed but my wedding-ring, and my landlady was threatening me with expulsion, I resolved to make one more effort for work, and, that failing, to then take my life. Friends, I could not lead a life of shame, and that was the only means of escape open to me. I walked all day seeking work, but could not find any. It was growing dark when I returned to my lodging-house.
Oh, what an alternative! I went to my room and meditated for a long time. Finally I decided to sell my ring for enough money to purchase some drug to end my life. And I went and did sell my ring for enough chloroform to end my miserable existence. Friends, I trust you will never know what it is to be in a strange city without friends. But with the chloroform clutched tight in my hand I crept back to my room. I did not take it at once. I could not. Oh, how I longed to see the dear ones at home! But I felt that I had caused them sorrow enough and I dared not let them know I had ended my own life, so I destroyed everything that I had left that would serve to identify my body, and inhaled the drug that would bring me the forgetfulness I so longed for.
No matter what may happen to you, friends, do not be guilty of self-murder. I know that the sufferings of one who has murdered another are fearful when they awake to the full knowledge of their deed, but I do not think their anguish can exceed that of suicides when the awakening comes to them. However, my death was very peaceful. I felt a sinking sensation, and then everything was a blank. How long this condition lasted I do not know.
(Reader, contemplate the scene at the beginning of this chapter as you peruse the following)
When my spirit awoke, I was standing in the room. On the bed lay an emaciated form of myself. Oh the lines of suffering on that cold face. For a time I stood looking at my body. How free from care I felt! Then came a revulsion of feeling. I thought of what might have been, and wept bitter tears. Friends, doesn't it seem singular that a spirit should weep over its earthly life.Yet many of us do.
With proper training I would have been a useful member of society. Now I was helpless, as I thought the rain was, as it come down in torrents and beat the easement with a weird sound. Yet nothing could have been more weird than the scene within, a spirit weeping over its dead body! I wept until I felt relieved and gradually the room faded from my view and I seemed in a dim light, my conscience kept saying:
'Oh, why did you take your own life?' until I was almost mad. My thoughts continually traveled back to my past life. How many things I found to condemn and so few to praise! Oh, where was I ? I had so often longed for solitude in some peaceful place when I was experiencing so much trouble. Now my solitude was complete. Yet it was distasteful to me. I could see now that it would have been best for me to have humbled my pride and returned home. Friends, I shall not try to tell you of my sufferings (mental) during the first year of my life in the spirit world. You can have no conception of their depths.
A Lady Spirit, Not the Son of God, Leads to Redemption
At last a spirit from a higher sphere came to me and offered me assistance. Oh, how gladly I accepted it! She taught me to help myself by helping others. And my self-imposed duty is to impress homeless, friendless creatures as I once was. That self-murder is not the end of their sufferings, but the real beginning. Don't think that my progress has been rapid, for it has not. I have had many things to learn and many more to unlearn, since I began to progress.
But What Became of R ?
I had been in spirit life only a short time when I began seeking for R. At last I reached him, and found him but a wreck of his former self. He was so changed by disease and suffering that I scarcely knew him and I rejoiced to think that he was indeed suffering. For weeks and months I dogged his footsteps and tormented him all I could. I was not able to show myself to him, but I could impress him very strongly, and I did. His life was going out with consumption, and, after I grew to realize my position and his, I pitied him; but it was a long time before I could forgive him.
Friends, your likes and dislikes do not leave you the instant you enter the spirit spheres, and it requires continued effort to banish a hatred you have nourished for months. And I felt that he had deprived me of all that was beautiful in life, and had even caused my death.
Of Her Father, Her Home Now, Her Work, and Advice of Warning
My father came to spirit life a short time after I did, and he has helped me in many ways. We often go to meet mother, although she does not realize that we are with her.
My home in spirit life is very beautiful. I have been able to keep more than one young girl from leaving her home to go among strangers without the consent of father or mother, and I have kept many more from suicide.
It is best, friends, to live out the allotted years of earth life. It would have been best for me, and I think it would be best for everyone.
I have gradually outgrown the dark conditions that surrounded me at first, but the struggle has been long and bitter. Thanking you for your patience, I bid you good-night.
And the white-robed spirit vanished from our sight.