Madame d’Esperance - Shadow Land - 16 The strongest man in Silesia against Walter the spirit
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
SHADOW LAND OR LIGHT FROM THE OTHER SIDE by Elisabeth d’Esperance(1897)
Among the doctor's most intimate friends was a gentleman whom I will here call Herr X. This gentleman enjoyed the reputation of being the strongest man in Silesia, and he was evidently proud of it. He spent much of his time in athletic exercises and frequently boasted to the doctor of some of his feats of strength and was always listened to good-humouredly.
"Strong as you are though," remarked the doctor one day, “I don't believe you could hold down that table, if "Walter" chose to lift it."
"Don't you think so Well, my dear Sir, if Walter has no objection I'll soon satisfy you on that point; I’d like to see the ghost or the man either, for that matter, that I could not beat if it is a question of strength."
"Suppose we try him," said the doctor to me. "It would do no harm to take the conceit out of this young man."
I had no objection, so seated myself at one end of an oblong table, and waited for what might come. To my surprise Herr X removed his coat, unfastened his wristbands, squared his shoulders, and laid hold of the unoffending table as though it were some unruly animal that required keeping in its place by sheer strength.
Seeing that the table made no attempt to move, all this preparation seemed superfluous and I watched Herr X with no little curiosity. He held the table down as though he would crush it through the floor. The muscles of his arms were strained to their utmost tension; beads of perspiration stood on his forehead, the veins swelled, and he seemed to be exerting all his strength, but the table did not try to move. Every now and again he would relax his hold for a moment to wipe away the moisture from his brow; and then the table would give little short quick jumps, which instantly caused Herr X to redouble his efforts and to make a grab at the table, as a cat would pounce on a mouse that was about to escape its clutches.
This went on for something over half an hour, but with the exception of these small signs of life the table remained perfectly passive. At the expiration of that time, Herr X stood upright and dried his face and neck, remarking that "the spirits knew better than to tackle him."
I felt disappointed and judging from the doctor's expressions he was also feeling some degree of chagrin.
At this juncture the table began to move in a gentle rocking manner, and seeing this Herr X made a fresh attack, but this time the table kept on its gentle regular movements neither quicker nor slower, neither diverging an inch more to the right nor to the left, in spite of the strength which Herr X tried to exert.
He did his best; he held on as if for his life; he threw himself on the table where he was rocked as in a cradle. The spectacle of this Hercules struggling with a table was so intensely funny, that I felt helpless with laughter. At last he gave up in anger.
"It is a down-right swindle." he exclaimed angrily: "it is not fair."
"What is a swindle? What ist't fair" demanded the doctor.
"Why that style of wrestling, it is all a trick on that Walter's part. He just made me exhaust myself before ever he started, and it is no test of strength. I suppose," he said rather suspiciously, "you, think I have been beaten, but I protest against that manner of wrestling. If Walter will play fair I'll guarantee I'll hold the table in spite of him but I won’t go in for that style again."
His indignation was so ludicrous that it was with difficulty we could refrain from tormenting him as to the uselessness of his wasted strength.
Herr X became a spiritualist, not because its teachings appealed to him, not because he was interested in knowing of the existence of another life, but because he found a table which had played a trick on him, and made him exhaust his strength before beginning the contest in which he was worsted.