site logo

The Cow With The Bell

Categories: Waking Hallucinations
Scary Books: The Book Of Dreams And Ghosts
: Andrew Lang

I had given a glass ball to the wife of a friend, whose visions proved

so startling and on one occasion so unholy that she ceased to make

experiments. One day my friend's secretary, a young student and

golfer, took up the ball.

"I see a field I know very well," he said, "but there is a cow in it

that I never saw; brown, with white markings, and, this is odd in

Scotland, she has a bell hanging from her ne
k. I'll go and look at

the field."

He went and found the cow as described, bell and all. {60b}

In the spring of 1897 I gave a glass ball to a young lady, previously

a stranger to me, who was entirely unacquainted with crystal gazing,

even by report. She had, however, not infrequent experience of

spontaneous visions, which were fulfilled, including a vision of the

Derby (Persimmon's year), which enriched her friends. In using the

ball she, time after time, succeeded in seeing and correctly

describing persons and places familiar to people for whom she

"scried," but totally strange to herself. In one case she added a

detail quite unknown to the person who consulted her, but which was

verified on inquiry. These experiments will probably be published

elsewhere. Four people, out of the very small number who tried on

these occasions, saw fancy pictures in the ball: two were young

ladies, one a man, and one a schoolboy. I must confess that, for the

first time, I was impressed by the belief that the lady's veracious

visions, however they are to be explained, could not possibly be

accounted for by chance coincidence. They were too many (I was aware

of five in a few days), too minute, and too remote from the range of

ingenious guessing. But "thought transference," tapping the mental

wires of another person, would have accounted for every case, with,

perhaps, the exception of that in which an unknown detail was added.

This confession will, undoubtedly, seem weakly credulous, but not to

make it would be unfair and unsportsmanlike. My statement, of course,

especially without the details, is not evidence for other people.

The following case is a much harder exercise in belief. It is

narrated by the Duc de Saint Simon. {62} The events were described to

Saint Simon on the day after their occurrence by the Duc d'Orleans,

then starting for Italy, in May, 1706. Saint Simon was very intimate

with the duke, and they corresponded by private cypher without

secretaries. Owing to the death of the king's son and grandson (not

seen in the vision), Orleans became Regent when Louis XIV. died in

1714. Saint Simon is a reluctant witness, and therefore all the