The Wraith Of The Czarina





"In the exercise of his duties as one of the pages-in-waiting,

Ribaupierre followed one day his august mistress into the throne-room

of the palace. When the Empress, accompanied by the high officers of

her court and the ladies of her household, came in sight of the chair

of state which she was about to occupy, she suddenly stopped, and to

the horror and astonished awe of her courtiers, she pointed to a

visionary being seated on the imperial throne. The occupant of the

chair was an exact counterpart of herself. All saw it and trembled,

but none dared to move towards the mysterious presentment of their

sovereign.



"After a moment of dead silence the great Catherine raised her voice

and ordered her guard to advance and fire on the apparition. The

order was obeyed, a mirror beside the throne was shattered, the vision

had disappeared, and the Empress, with no sign of emotion, took the

chair from which her semblance had passed away." It is a striking

barbaric scene!



"Spirits of the living" of this kind are common enough. In the

Highlands "second sight" generally means a view of an event or

accident some time before its occurrence. Thus an old man was sitting

with a little boy on a felled tree beside a steep track in a quarry at

Ballachulish. Suddenly he jerked the boy to one side, and threw

himself down on the further side of the tree. While the boy stared,

the old man slowly rose, saying, "The spirits of the living are strong

to-day!" He had seen a mass of rock dashing along, killing some

quarrymen and tearing down the path. The accident occurred next day.

It is needless to dwell on second sight, which is not peculiar to

Celts, though the Highlanders talk more about it than other people.



These appearances of the living but absent, whether caused by some

mental action of the person who appears or not, are, at least,

_unconscious_ on his part. {88} But a few cases occur in which a

living person is said, by a voluntary exertion of mind, to have made

himself visible to a friend at a distance. One case is vouched for by

Baron von Schrenck-Notzig, a German psychologist, who himself made the

experiment with success. Others are narrated by Dr. Gibotteau. A

curious tale is told by several persons as follows:--





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