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

A man of letters was born in a small Scotch town, where his father was the intimate friend of a tradesman whom we shall call the grocer.  Almost every day the grocer would come to have a chat with Mr. Mackay, and the visitor, alone of the natives, had the habit of knocking at the door before entering.  One day Mr. Mackay said to his daughter, “There’s Mr. Macwilliam’s knock.  Open the door.”  But there was no Mr. Macwilliam!  He was just leaving his house at the other end of the street.  From that day Mr. Mackay always heard the grocer’s knock “a little previous,” accompanied by the grocer’s cough, which was peculiar.  Then all the family heard it, including the son who later became learned.  He, when he had left his village for Glasgow, reasoned himself out of the opinion that the grocer’s knock did herald and precede the grocer.  But when he went home for a visit he found that he heard it just as of old.  Possibly some local Sentimental Tommy watched for the grocer, played the trick and ran away.  This explanation presents no difficulty, but the boy was never detected. {191}

Such anecdotes somehow do not commend themselves to the belief even of people who can believe a good deal.

But “the spirits of the living,” as the Highlanders say, have surely as good a chance to knock, or appear at a distance, as the spirits of the dead.  To be sure, the living do not know (unless they are making a scientific experiment) what trouble they are giving on these occasions, but one can only infer, like St. Augustine, that probably the dead don’t know it either.

Thus,

MY GILLIE’S FATHER’S STORY

Fishing in Sutherland, I had a charming companion in the gillie.  He was well educated, a great reader, the best of salmon fishers, and I never heard a man curse William, Duke of Cumberland, with more enthusiasm.  His father, still alive, was second-sighted, and so, to a moderate extent and without theory, was my friend.  Among other anecdotes (confirmed in writing by the old gentleman) was this:—­

The father had a friend who died in the house which they both occupied.  The clothes of the deceased hung on pegs in the bedroom.  One night the father awoke, and saw a stranger examining and handling the clothes of the defunct.  Then came a letter from the dead man’s brother, inquiring about the effects.  He followed later, and was the stranger seen by my gillie’s father.

Thus the living but absent may haunt a house both noisily and by actual appearance.  The learned even think, for very exquisite reasons, that “Silverton Abbey” {192} is haunted noisily by a “spirit of the living”.  Here is a case:—­

THE DREAM THAT KNOCKED AT THE DOOR

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