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Ghost Stories

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The Dog Fanti






Mrs. Ogilvie of Drumquaigh had a poodle named Fanti. Her family, or
at least those who lived with her, were her son, the laird, and three
daughters. Of these the two younger, at a certain recent date, were
paying a short visit to a neighbouring country house. Mrs. Ogilvie
was accustomed to breakfast in her bedroom, not being in the best of
health. One morning Miss Ogilvie came down to breakfast and said to
her brother, "I had an odd dream; I dreamed Fanti went mad".

"Well, that _is_ odd," said her brother. "So did I. We had better
not tell mother; it might make her nervous."

Miss Ogilvie went up after breakfast to see the elder lady, who said,
"Do turn out Fanti; I dreamed last night that he went mad and bit".

In the afternoon the two younger sisters came home.

"How did you enjoy yourselves?" one of the others asked.

"We didn't sleep well. I was dreaming that Fanti went mad when Mary
wakened me, and said she had dreamed Fanti went mad, and turned into a
cat, and we threw him into the fire."

Thus, as several people may see the same ghost at once, several people
may dream the same dream at once. As a matter of fact, Fanti lived,
sane and harmless, "all the length of all his years". {4}

Now, this anecdote is credible, certainly is credible by people who
know the dreaming family. It is nothing more than a curiosity of
coincidences; and, as Fanti remained a sober, peaceful hound, in face
of five dreamers, the absence of fulfilment increases the readiness of
belief. But compare the case of the Swithinbanks. Mr. Swithinbank,
on 20th May, 1883, signed for publication a statement to this effect:--

During the Peninsular war his father and his two brothers were
quartered at Dover. Their family were at Bradford. The brothers
slept in various quarters of Dover camp. One morning they met after
parade. "O William, I have had a queer dream," said Mr. Swithinbank's
father. "So have I," replied the brother, when, to the astonishment
of both, the other brother, John, said, "I have had a queer dream as
well. I dreamt that mother was dead." "So did I," said each of the
other brothers. And the mother had died on the night of this
dreaming. Mrs. Hudson, daughter of one of the brothers, heard the
story from all three. {5a}

The distribution of the fulfilled is less than that of the unfulfilled
dream by three to five. It has the extra coincidence of the death.
But as it is very common to dream of deaths, some such dreams must
occasionally hit the target.

Other examples might be given of shared dreams: {5b} they are only
mentioned here to prove that all the _waking_ experiences of things
ghostly, such as visions of the absent and of the dead, and of the
non-existent, are familiar, and may even be common simultaneously to
several persons, in _sleep_. That men may sleep without being aware
of it, even while walking abroad; that we may drift, while we think
ourselves awake, into a semi-somnolent state for a period of time
perhaps almost imperceptible is certain enough. Now, the peculiarity
of sleep is to expand or contract time, as we may choose to put the
case. Alfred Maury, the well-known writer on Greek religion, dreamed
a long, vivid dream of the Reign of Terror, of his own trial before a
Revolutionary Tribunal, and of his execution, in the moment of time
during which he was awakened by the accidental fall of a rod in the
canopy of his bed, which touched him on the neck. Thus even a
prolonged interview with a ghost may _conceivably_ be, in real time, a
less than momentary dream occupying an imperceptible tenth of a second
of somnolence, the sleeper not realising that he has been asleep.

Mark Twain, who is seriously interested in these subjects, has
published an experience illustrative of such possibilities. He tells
his tale at considerable length, but it amounts to this:--





Next: Mark Twain's Story




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