The Book of Dreams and Ghosts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 242 pages of information about The Book of Dreams and Ghosts.

Here follows my friend’s brother’s narrative, the name of the witness being suppressed.

CONCERNING THE MURDER OF SERGEANT DAVIES

There is at present living in the neighbourhood of —–­ an old lady, about seventy years of age.  Her maiden name is —–­, {140} and she is a native of Braemar, but left that district when about twenty years old, and has never been back to it even for a visit.  On being asked whether she had ever heard the story of Sergeant Davies, she at first persisted in denying all knowledge of it.  The ordinary version was then related to her, and she listened quietly until it was finished, when she broke out with:—­

“That isn’t the way of it at all, for the men were seen, and it was a forbear of my own that saw them.  He had gone out to try to get a stag, and had his gun and a deer-hound with him.  He saw the men on the hill doing something, and thinking they had got a deer, he went towards them.  When he got near them, the hound began to run on in front of him, and at that minute he saw what it was they had.  He called to the dog, and turned to run away, but saw at once that he had made a mistake, for he had called their attention to himself, and a shot was fired after him, which wounded the dog.  He then ran home as fast as he could, never looking behind him, and did not know how far the men followed him.  Some time afterwards the dog came home, and he went to see whether it was much hurt, whereupon it flew at him, and had to be killed.  They thought that it was trying to revenge itself on him for having left it behind.”

At this point the old lady became conscious that she was telling the story, and no more could be got out of her.  The name of the lady who keeps a secret of 145 years’ standing, is the name of a witness in the trial.  The whole affair is thoroughly characteristic of the Highlanders and of Scottish jurisprudence after Culloden, while the verdict of “Not Guilty” (when “Not Proven” would have been stretching a point) is evidence to the “common-sense” of the eighteenth century. {141}

There are other cases, in Webster, Aubrey and Glanvil of ghosts who tried more successfully to bring their murderers to justice.  But the reports of the trials do not exist, or cannot be found, and Webster lost a letter which he once possessed, which would have been proof that ghostly evidence was given and was received at a trial in Durham (1631 or 1632).  Reports of old men present were collected for Glanvil, but are entirely too vague.

The case of Fisher’s Ghost, which led to evidence being given as to a murder in New South Wales, cannot be wholly omitted.  Fisher was a convict settler, a man of some wealth.  He disappeared from his station, and his manager (also a convict) declared that he had returned to England.  Later, a man returning from market saw Fisher sitting on a rail; at his approach Fisher vanished.  Black trackers were laid on, found human blood on the rail, and finally discovered Fisher’s body.  The manager was tried, was condemned, acknowledged his guilt and was hanged.

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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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