SOME OCCULT PHENOMENA
[October 21, 1880.]
There were thirteen of them, and they sat down to dinner just as the clock in the steeple chimed midnight. The sheeted dead squeaked and gibbered in their graves; the owl hooted in the ivy. “For what we are going to receive may the Secret Powers of Nature and the force of circumstances make us truly thankful,” devoutly exclaimed the domestic medium. The spirits of Chaos and Cosmos rapped a courteous acknowledgment on the table. Potage a la sorciere (after the famous recipe in Macbeth) was served in a cauldron; and while it was being handed round, Hume recited his celebrated argument regarding miracles. He had hardly reached the twenty-fifth hypothesis, when a sharp cry startled the company, and Mr. Cyper Redalf, the eminent journalist, was observed to lean back in his chair, pale and speechless. His whole frame was convulsed with emotion; his hair stood erect and emitted electro-biological sparks. The company sat aghast. A basin of soup dashed in his face and a few mesmeric passes soon brought him round, however; and presently he was able to explain to the assembled carousers the cause of his agitation. It was a recollection, a tender memory of youth. The umbrella of his boyhood had suddenly surged upon his imagination! It was an umbrella from which he had been parted for years: it was an umbrella round which had once centred associations solemn and mysterious. In itself there had been nothing remarkable about the umbrella. It was a gingham, conceived in the liberal spirit of a bygone age; such an umbrella as you would not easily forget when it had once fairly bloomed on the retina of your eye; yet an everyday umbrella, a commonplace umbrella half a century ago; an umbrella that would have elicited no remark from our great-grandmothers, hardly a smile from our grandmothers; but an umbrella well calculated to excite the affections and stimulate the imagination of an impulsive, high-spirited, and impressionable boy. It was an umbrella not easily forgotten; an umbrella that necessarily produced a large and deep impression on the mind.