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The Restraining Hand






"About twenty years ago," writes Mrs. Elliot, "I received some letters
by post, one of which contained 15 pounds in bank notes. After
reading the letters I went into the kitchen with them in my hands. I
was alone at the time. . . . Having done with the letters, I made an
effort to throw them into the fire, when I distinctly felt my hand
arrested in the act. It was as though another hand were gently laid
upon my own, pressing it back. Much surprised, I looked at my hand
and then saw it contained, not the letters I had intended to destroy,
but the bank notes, and that the letters were in the other hand. I
was so surprised that I called out, 'Who's here?'" {80a}

Nobody will call this "the touch of a vanished hand". Part of Mrs.
Elliot's mind knew what she was about, and started an unreal but
veracious feeling to warn her. We shall come to plenty of Hands not
so readily disposed of.

Next to touch, the sense most apt to be deceived is hearing. Every
one who has listened anxiously for an approaching carriage, has often
heard it come before it came. In the summer of 1896 the writer, with
a lady and another companion, were standing on the veranda at the back
of a house in Dumfriesshire, waiting for a cab to take one of them to
the station. They heard a cab arrive and draw up, went round to the
front of the house, saw the servant open the door and bring out the
luggage, but wheeled vehicle there was none in sound or sight. Yet
all four persons had heard it, probably by dint of expectation.

To hear articulate voices where there are none is extremely common in
madness, {80b} but not very rare, as Mr. Galton shows, among the sane.
When the voices are veracious, give unknown information, they are in
the same case as truthful dreams. I offer a few from the experience,
reported to me by himself, of a man of learning whom I shall call a
Benedictine monk, though that is not his real position in life.





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Previous: The Vision And The Portrait



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