johnwood1946

New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

A Ghost at Noonday

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From the blog at http://JohnWood1946.wordpress.com

This blog was dedicated, four years ago, to New Brunswick history and other stuff, and this posting definitely falls under the heading of other stuff. The following ghost story was published in the London Pall Mall Gazette in 1881. The New Brunswick connection is only that it was reprinted in the Fredericton Evening Capital on November 17 of that year. It’s a classic, in that the story is simple and about half of the text is dedicated to convincing the reader that it must be true.

Ghost

A Ghost at Noonday

We have received the following extraordinary narrative from a correspondent whose good faith and professional acuteness of observation we can vouch. He substantiates his story with full details of dates, names, and places, which, however, for the sake of the survivors he does not wish to be published. Without any further preface we lay his letter before our readers:

As my wife and I were sitting at breakfast with a guest whom I will call Mr.— then on a visit for the first time to our house and neighborhood, our maid-servant passed out of the room on her way to the kitchen. As she passed by the door Mr. A— started me by saying; “I saw a spirit of a man following that woman, who, as he passed, said distinctly in my hearing, ‘God judgeth not as man judgeth. I was innocent of the murder for which I was hanged. I was there but I did not strike the blow.’” “What is it like?” I asked. He replied by describing a young Irishman whom I recognized at once as the husband of my domestic, who a year or two before had been executed on the charge of murder. Mr. A—, a complete stranger to the locality, had only met me for the first time two days before, and he was totally ignorant of the crime in which my servant was so deeply interested. For obvious reasons the subject was never alluded to in our household where the widow was regarded with feelings of sympathy which led us to avoid as much as possible all reference to her husband’s fate. I had previously good reason to doubt whether the evidence against him justified his execution. He had died protesting his innocence. His family and friends were firmly convinced that, although he had been in the fight, it was not by his hand the fatal blow had been dealt. In addition to this, I had good reason to believe that the real murderer was still at large. You can easily imagine my surprise when Mr. A— thus suddenly ventured upon forbidden ground, and abruptly declared that the spirit of a man who had suffered the capital penalty, and whose personal appearance exactly coincided with that of the unfortunate Irishman, was actually following the servant about the house proclaiming his innocence in accents which, although inaudible to me, my guest declared were perfectly audible, to him. I had heard that Mr. A— was a “seer,” but I was not a little startled at the striking illustration of his particular facility. I remarked that it was very strange, and informed him that the woman whom he had just seen for the first time with her ghostly companion was really the widow of an executed felon. Some time afterward he exclaimed: “There he is again, repeating the same words!”

Intensely interested by this sudden and apparently supernatural confirmation of my suspicions, I determined to put the seership of my guest to what I regarded as a crucial test. I told Mr. A— that shortly afterward I was going into the town, and as I should be passing the spot where the murder was committed, perhaps his ghostly visitant might indicate the place where the dead man lay. Sometime afterward we started for the town. When we left the house Mr. A— remarked, “There he is following us,” alluding to the spirit. When we had proceeded part of the way along the road, which was quite unknown to my friend, I made a detour to a business call and went along another street, Mr. A— following me. Just as, without a word on my part, we were turning out of the main road, Mr. A— said, “The spirit is standing at the corner. We are not going in the right way toward the place where the murder was committed, and which he has promised to point out to me.”

I replied, “Oh, we shall come out on the main road by-and-by we reach the spot. We proceeded on about a quarter of a mile and having done my business and struck the main road again, which differed, I may remark, from none of the other roads we had travelled, Mr. A— soon afterward declared, “There is that man out there waiting for us.” As we continued our walk, I purposely refrained from uttering a word or even from thinking, as far as I could of the murder, so as to prevent any possibility of my companion obtaining any clue. As we were passing through one of the lowest parts of the town, Mr. A— suddenly exclaimed, “He tells me it was here the murder was committed. It was just there (pointing at the place where the murder was committed). I see the hubbub and confusion rise up before me as a picture, with the people round. He however, tells me again he did not strike the fatal blow. He does not excuse himself from being morally guilty, as being mixed up with those who accomplished the death of the man, but strongly maintains that he was not the murderer.” I will only add in relation to the last incident, that Mr. A— described the exact spot where the murder was committed, and the circumstances in connection therewith. How can you account for that? Mr. A— had never been in the town before; he had never lived within a couple of hundred miles of it; he did not know until a day or two before he arrived that he would ever visit it; he could not by any possibility have known that the poor woman in my employ was the widow of a man who was hanged. He had no conceivable interest in deceiving me, nor was he concerned to prosecute the matter any further.

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Written by johnwood1946

January 6, 2016 at 9:22 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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