Ling Look and Yamadeva – communications from beyond the grave
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
From Miracle Mongers And Their Methods By Houdini
Ling Look, one of the best of contemporary fire performers, was with Dean Harry Kellar when the latter made his famous trip around the world in 1877. Look combined fire-eating and sword-swallowing in a rather startling manner. His best effect was the swallowing of a red-hot sword. Another thriller consisted in fastening a long sword to the stock of a musket; when he had swallowed about half the length of the blade, he discharged the gun and the recoil drove the sword suddenly down his throat to the very hilt. Although Look always appeared in a Chinese make-up, Dean Kellar told me that he thought his right name was Dave Gueter, and that he was born in Buda Pesth.
Yamadeva, a brother of Ling Look, was also with the Kellar Company, doing cabinet manifestations and rope escapes. Both brothers died in China during this engagement, and a strange incident occurred in connection with their deaths.
Just before they were to sail from Shanghai on the P. & O. steamer Khiva for Hong Kong, Yamadeva and Kellar visited the bowling alley of The Hermitage, a pleasure resort on the Bubbling Well Road. They were watching a husky sea captain, who was using a huge ball and making a "double spare" at every roll, when Yamadeva suddenly remarked, "I can handle one as heavy as that big loafer can." Suiting the action to the word, he seized one of the largest balls and drove it down the alley with all his might; but he had misjudged his own strength, and he paid for the foolhardy act with his life, for he had no sooner delivered the ball than he grasped his side and moaned with pain. He had hardly sufficient strength to get back to the ship, where he went immediately to bed and died shortly afterward. An examination showed that he had ruptured an artery.
Kellar and Ling Look had much difficulty in persuading the captain to take the body to Hong Kong, but he finally consented. On the way down the Yang Tse Kiang River, Look was greatly depressed; but all at once he became strangely excited, and said that his brother was not dead, for he had just heard the peculiar whistle with which they had always called each other. The whistle was several times repeated, and was heard by all on board. Finally the captain, convinced that something was wrong, had the lid removed from the coffin, but the body of Yamadeva gave no indication of life, and all save Ling Look decided that they must have been mistaken.
Poor Ling Look, however, sobbingly said to Kellar, "I shall never leave Hong Kong alive. My brother has called me to join him." This prediction was fulfilled, for shortly after their arrival in Hong Kong he underwent an operation for a liver trouble, and died under the knife. The brothers were buried in Happy Valley, Hong Kong, in the year 1877.
All this was related to me at the Marlborough-Blenheim, Atlantic City, in June, 1908, by Kellar himself, and portions of it were repeated in 1917 when Dean Kellar sat by me at the Society of American Magicians' dinner.