Jane Of George Street Edinburgh





The news that, for several years at any rate, George Street,

Edinburgh, was haunted, wrote a correspondent of mine some short time

ago, might cause no little surprise to many of its inhabitants. And

my friend proceeded to relate his experience of the haunting, which I

will reproduce as nearly as possible in his own words. I quote from

memory, having foolishly destroyed the letter.





I was walking in a leisurely way along George Street the other day,

towards Strunalls, where I get my cigars, and had arrived opposite No.

--, when I suddenly noticed, just ahead of me, a tall lady of

remarkably graceful figure, clad in a costume which, even to an

ignoramus in fashions like myself, seemed extraordinarily out of date.

In my untechnical language it consisted of a dark blue coat and

skirt, trimmed with black braid. The coat had a very high collar,

turned over to show a facing of blue velvet, its sleeves were very

full at the shoulders, and a band of blue velvet drew it tightly in at

the waist. Moreover, unlike every other lady I saw, she wore a small

hat, which I subsequently learned was a toque, with one white and one

blue plume placed moderately high at the side. The only other

conspicuous items of her dress, the effect of which was, on the whole,

quiet, were white glace gloves,--over which dangled gold curb

bracelets with innumerable pendants,--shoes, which were of patent

leather with silver buckles and rather high Louis heels, and fine,

blue silk openwork stockings. So much for her dress. Now for her

herself. She was a strikingly fair woman with very pale yellow hair

and a startlingly white complexion; and this latter peculiarity so

impressed me that I hastened my steps, determining to get a full view

of her. Passing her with rapid strides, I looked back, and as I did so

a cold chill ran through me,--what I looked at was--the face of the

dead. I slowed down and allowed her to take the lead.



I now observed that, startling as she was, no one else seemed to

notice her. One or two people obviously, though probably

unconsciously, possessing the germs of psychism, shivered when they

passed her, but as they neither slackened their pace nor turned to

steal a second look, I concluded they had not seen her. Without

glancing either to the right or left, she moved steadily on, past

Molton's the confectioner's, past Perrin's the hatter's. Once, I

thought she was coming to a halt, and that she intended crossing the

road, but no--on, on, on, till we came to D---- Street. There we were

preparing to cross over, when an elderly gentleman walked deliberately

into her. I half expected to hear him apologise, but naturally nothing

of the sort happened; she was only too obviously a phantom, and, in

accordance with the nature of a phantom, she passed right through him.

A few yards farther on, she came to an abrupt pause, and then, with a

slight inclination of her head as if meaning me to follow, she glided

into a chemist's shop. She was certainly not more than six feet ahead

of me when she passed through the door, and I was even nearer than

that to her when she suddenly disappeared as she stood before the

counter. I asked the chemist if he could tell me anything about the

lady who had just entered his shop, but he merely turned away and

laughed.



Lady! he said; what are you talking about? You're a bit out of your

reckoning. This isn't the first of April. Come, what do you want?



I bought a bottle of formamints, and reluctantly and regretfully

turned away. That night I dreamed I again saw the ghost. I followed

her up George Street just as I had done in reality; but when she came

to the chemist's shop, she turned swiftly round. I'm Jane! she said

in a hollow voice. Jane! Only Jane! and with that name ringing in my

ears I awoke.



Some days elapsed before I was in George Street again. The weather had

in the meanwhile undergone one of those sudden and violent changes, so

characteristic of the Scottish climate. The lock-gates of heaven had

been opened and the rain was descending in cataracts. The few

pedestrians I encountered were enveloped in mackintoshes, and carried

huge umbrellas, through which the rain was soaking, and pouring off

from every point. Everything was wet--everywhere was mud. The water,

splashing upwards, saturated the tops of my boots and converted my

trousers into sodden sacks. Some weather isn't fit for dogs, but this

weather wasn't good enough for tadpoles--even fish would have kicked

at it and kept in their holes. Imagine, then, the anomaly! Amidst all

this aqueous inferno, this slippery-sloppery, filth-bespattering

inferno, a spotlessly clean apparition in blue without either

waterproof or umbrella. I refer to Jane. She suddenly appeared, as I

was passing The Ladies' Tea Association Rooms, walking in front of me.

She looked just the same as when I last saw her--spick and span,

and--dry. I repeat the word--dry--for that is what attracted my

attention most. Despite the deluge, not a single raindrop touched

her--the plumes on her toque were splendidly erect and curly, her

shoe-buckles sparkled, her patent leathers were spotless, whilst the

cloth of her coat and skirt looked as sheeny as if they had but just

come from Keeley's.



Anxious to get another look at her face, I quickened my pace, and,

darting past her, gazed straight into her countenance. The result was

a severe shock. The terror of what I saw--the ghastly horror of her

dead white face--sent me reeling across the pavement. I let her pass

me, and, impelled by a sickly fascination, followed in her wake.



Outside a jeweller's stood a hansom--quite a curiosity in these days

of motors--and, as Jane glided past, the horse shied. I have never

seen an animal so terrified. We went on, and at the next crossing

halted. A policeman had his hand up checking the traffic. His glance

fell on Jane--the effect was electrical. His eyes bulged, his cheeks

whitened, his chest heaved, his hand dropped, and he would undoubtedly

have fallen had not a good Samaritan, in the guise of a non-psychical

public-house loafer, held him up. Jane was now close to the chemist's,

and it was with a sigh of relief that I saw her glide in and

disappear.



Had there been any doubt at all, after my first encounter with Jane,

as to her being superphysical, there was certainly none now. The

policeman's paroxysm of fear and the horse's fit of shying were facts.

What had produced them? I alone knew--and I knew for certain--it was

Jane. Both man and animal saw what I saw. Hence the phantom was not

subjective; it was not illusionary; it was a bona fide spirit

manifestation--a visitant from the other world--the world of

earthbound souls. Jane fascinated me. I made endless researches in

connection with her, and, in answer to one of my inquiries, I was

informed that eighteen years ago--that is to say, about the time

Jane's dress was in fashion--the chemist's shop had been occupied by a

dressmaker of the name of Bosworth. I hunted up Miss Bosworth's

address and called on her. She had retired from business and was

living in St. Michael's Road, Bournemouth. I came to the point

straight.



Can you give me any information, I asked, about a lady whose

Christian name was Jane?



That sounds vague! Miss Bosworth said. I've met a good many Janes

in my time.



But not Janes with pale yellow hair, and white eyebrows and

eyelashes! And I described her in detail.



How do you come to know about her? Miss Bosworth said, after a long

pause.



Because, I replied with a certain slowness and deliberation

characteristic of me, because I've seen her ghost!



Of course I knew Miss Bosworth was no sceptic--the moment my eyes

rested on her I saw she was psychic, and that the superphysical was

often at her elbow. Accordingly, I was not in the least surprised at

her look of horror.



What! she exclaimed, is she still there? I thought she would surely

be at rest now!



Who was she? I inquired. Come--you need not be afraid of me. I have

come here solely because the occult has always interested me. Who was

Jane, and why should her ghost haunt George Street?



It happened a good many years ago, Miss Bosworth replied, in 1892.

In answer to an advertisement I saw in one of the daily papers, I

called on a Miss Jane Vernelt--Mademoiselle Vernelt she called

herself--who ran a costumier's business in George Street, in the very

building, in fact now occupied by the chemist you have mentioned. The

business was for sale, and Miss Vernelt wanted a big sum for it.

However, as her books showed a very satisfactory annual increase in

receipts and her clientele included a duchess and other society

leaders, I considered the bargain a tolerably safe one, and we came to

terms. Within a week I was running the business, and, exactly a month

after I had taken it over, I was greatly astonished to receive a visit

from Miss Vernelt. She came into the shop quite beside herself with

agitation. 'It's all a mistake!' she screamed. 'I didn't want to sell

it. I can't do anything with my capital. Let me buy it back.' I

listened to her politely, and then informed her that as I had gone to

all the trouble of taking over the business and had already succeeded

in extending it, I most certainly had no intention of selling it--at

least not for some time. Well, she behaved like a lunatic, and in the

end created such a disturbance that I had to summon my assistants and

actually turn her out. After that I had no peace for six weeks. She

came every day, at any and all times, and I was at last obliged to

take legal proceedings. I then discovered that her mind was really

unhinged, and that she had been suffering from softening of the brain

for many months. Her medical advisers had, it appeared, warned her to

give up business and place herself in the hands of trustworthy friends

or relations, who would see that her money was properly invested, but

she had delayed doing so; and when, at last, she did make up her mind

to retire, the excitement, resulting from so great a change in her

mode of living, accelerated the disease, and, exactly three weeks

after the sale of her business, she became a victim to the delusion

that she was ruined. This delusion grew more and more pronounced as

her malady increased, and amidst her wildest ravings she clamoured to

be taken back to George Street. The hauntings, indeed, began before

she died; and I frequently saw her--when I knew her material body to

be under restraint--just as you describe, gliding in and out the

show-rooms.



For several weeks after her death, the manifestations continued--they

then ceased, and I have never heard of her again until now.



If I remember rightly the account of the George Street ghost here

terminated; but my friend referred to it again at the close of his

letter.



Since my return to Scotland, he wrote, I have frequently visited

George Street, almost daily, but I have not seen 'Jane.' I only hope

that her poor distracted spirit has at last found rest. And with this

kindly sentiment my correspondent concluded.





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