Our narrator is psychic researcher and Spiritualist Emily Katherine Bates.
Clairvoyance can be extraordinarily accurate even in detail, as another story connected with Mrs. Chester and which came under my personal knowledge, will show.
I went to see some friends in London a few years ago on my return from abroad and was at once hailed by the following incident which had just happened to them. A friend of theirs (whom I did not know until later in the afternoon) had lost a very large and valuable ruby set in a ring with small diamonds surrounding it. The stone had been given to this lady’s grandfather by an Indian Rajah in the old Company’s days, and was quite an heirloom for its historical associations in addition to its great intrinsic value.
The lady lived near Elm Park Gardens and on a very wet and muddy morning had been into several shops in that neighborhood on her way from morning service close by. She had taken off her gloves in church and had not replaced them, was holding up her skirts out of the rain and mud and carrying several small parcels as she stood at her own front door and rang the bell. As a matter of fact she and her mother were expecting a lady and gentleman to lunch, who will figure in the story later on. As she stood waiting at the door, muffled up in a waterproof and holding her dripping umbrella, she chanced to glance at her bare hand and to her horror saw that the enormous ruby had disappeared, leaving the diamond setting intact. She turned back instantly, after depositing her parcels with the maid, and retraced her steps to the two or three shops visited, but all in vain! She was forced to return home and to conceal her trouble and annoyance as best she could whilst entertaining her guests. The moment she could leave the house, she went round to my friends in Evelyn Gardens and told them of her sad loss and asked if one of them would consult a clairvoyant for her. Her reason for not going herself to a clairvoyant was that she considered all such things wrong and therefore evidently preferred that her friends should take any moral risks that might attach to the possible recovery of her property. I think I had given Mrs. Chester’s address to these ladies. Anyway they promised Miss X. (the owner of the ruby) that they would see what could be done in the matter. The stone was lost on a Thursday morning and on Friday they visited Mrs. Chester, having settled beforehand to bargain with her that she should not be paid unless the lost article was recovered through her. She agreed to these terms and took up the crystal. Nothing had been said about a ring, brooch, or any other piece of jewelry but merely the statement made that they came to consult her about some “lost property.”
“You need not tell me anything more,” she said quickly; ” I can see what it is in the crystal. It is a stone—a stone out of a ring.” Then she turned round and said, ” But you have not lost it, either of you; the person who lost it ought to have come about it herself. It is giving me a very poor chance.” However this may have been, she seemed very quickly to get into Miss X.’s atmosphere and began describing a peculiar dining-room table with carved corners; and this my friend at once recognized as the dining room table belonging to Mrs. X. Then she said, “The stone has been picked up by an honest man but he does not know what to do with it. He is a workman and has a white cap and working clothes. At first he thought it was a bit of red glass because it is so large, but he has taken it home. I see his home and a narrow mantel-shelf there—he has put the stone in a little pill-box and placed it on the mantel-shelf. You must advertise the stone at once, so that he may read the advertisements and bring it back. Put the advertisements in shop-windows near to the place where it was lost—no use advertising in papers—he won’t get a chance of reading.”
Then Mrs. Chester went on to describe a scene and people acting in the scene, all utterly unknown to my friends. “I see a church and there is a wedding going on. It is either a widower or a widow who is being married, because there is a little child at the wedding and she belongs to either the bride or the bridegroom. Now they are coming down the church and I can see their faces as they pass.”
She then described both of the principal actors in the scene, neither of whom could be recognized by my friends. This, they confessed, disappointed them greatly, for on first hearing of the church and the wedding they were trying to work in some possible romance for their elderly friend who might some day meet a suitable widower!
As a curious fact, I may here mention that the wedding took place on the following Tuesday, but Miss X. was only present as a spectator. It is still more interesting to note that the bride and bridegroom were the two people who had lunched with Mrs. X. on the day the stone was lost and that the lady was a widow, with one little girl who was present at the ceremony. Either the lady or gentleman was a relation of Miss X. and the scene of their wedding must have been read from her psychic atmosphere four days before it took place.
Finally Mrs. Chester returned to the question of the stone and made the very definite statement that it would be found and probably within five days. “I can see a big 5,” she said, “so if it is not five days, it must indicate weeks or months but five days is more probable because I see so distinctly the scene when it is returned. There is an old lady sitting at that table I described and she has white hair and a white cap. There is a maidservant in the room and also a working man. He has brought the pill-box I saw on the mantel-shelf. There is a lot of white wool and the stone in the middle. Some one has brought down the ring and he won’t give up the stone until he sees if it fits or not.”
This was all that passed and my friends went away, promising to have the advertisement printed at once and put in the shop-windows according to Mrs. Chester’s instructions; also to return and give her the fee, should the stone be found within any reasonable time. On the following Tuesday morning, before lunch time Miss X. returned home to find the dining-room door open and the exact scene going on which had been so accurately foretold by Mrs. Chester.
Her mother, the working man, and the maid were all present, the latter having been sent up-stairs to fetch the empty ring which Miss X. had taken off her finger five days before.
The man had picked up the stone just outside the church door in all the rain and mud, and supposed at first that it was a valueless bit of glass. He took it home and washed it and then put it in the pill-box as described, being struck by the beautiful coloring and determined to look out for any advertisements in the neighborhood of the church where he had found the stone. He had declined to give it up without seeing the ring for himself, and this bit of identification was actually going on when Miss X. walked through the open door of the dining-room! The man received his five pounds with great delight and the X.’s were equally pleased to get back their precious heirloom. One last coincidence, to make the story quite complete.
Just as my friend had finished giving me all these details, the butler threw open the door and announced—Miss X.! So I made her acquaintance on the spot, and she not only showed me the magic ring, but allowed me to put it on my finger; endorsing every word of the story to which I had just been listening.
Do the Dead Depart, Katharine Bates, 1908
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil must say that it was most shabby of Miss X. to burden her kind friends with the “moral risk” of consulting a clairvoyante. It is tantamount to sending one’s batman out under fire to bring in the tea-tray. But at least there was a happy ending. If this were a Guy de Maupassant story, the ruby would be discovered to be merely coloured glass by the workman, who had tried to scratch his initials on glass with it, the original having been sold by the lady’s bankrupt Grandfather to support his mistress.
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.