Madame Hortense prophesies her own miscarriage
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Death and its Mystery - compiled by Camille Flammarion
On Friday, the eighth of last May I hypnotized Madame Hortense M. On the day of which I speak, this lady was in a state of admirable lucidity. I was alone with her and her husband, and she seemed especially preoccupied with her personal future. Among other unexpected things she said this to us:
"I have been pregnant for fifteen days, but the child will not be born at the proper time; this causes me bitter grief. On next Tuesday, the twelfth of the present month, I shall be frightened by something and fall, and as a result I shall have a miscarriage."
I confess that in spite of all I have seen, one of the points in this prophecy roused my senses.
“What will you be afraid of, Madame?" I asked, with an expression of interest which was far from feigned.
"I don't know at all."
“But from what direction will it come? Where will you fall?"
“I cannot tell you I know nothing about it.”
"Is there no way of avoiding all this?"
"If, however, we should not leave you?”
“It will make no difference."
“And will you be very ill?”
“Yes, for three days.”
“Do you know exactly what will happen to you?”
“On Tuesday, at half-past three, just after I have been frightened, I shall have a fainting-fit which will last eight minutes. Afterward, I shall be seized, with violent pains in my back which will last all the rest of the day and continue all night. Wednesday morning I shall begin to lose blood. This flow will increase rapidly and become very abundant. However, there is nothing to worry about, for it will not kill me. On Thursday morning I shall be much better, I shall even be able to leave my bed for almost the whole day, but at about half-past five in the evening I shall have a new loss of blood which will be followed by delirium. Thursday night will be good, but by Friday night I shall be quite out of my head.”
Madame Hortense said no more, and without taking everything she said literally we were so much impressed, that we did not dream of questioning her further. Nevertheless her husband, who was very much disturbed, asked her with indescribable anxiety if she would be out of her head for long.
“For three days" she answered with perfect calm.
Then she added with a sweetness that was full of grace: “Come, don't be anxious. I shall not stay out of my head and I shall not die; I shall suffer, that's all."
Madame Hortense was awakened, and, as is usual, retained no memory of what had happened. When I was alone with her husband, I especially urged him to keep secret from his wife all these occurrences which, although they were perhaps imaginary, would be quite capable of depressing her painfully if she were aware of them; besides, in the interests of science, it was important for her to be left in ignorance of them. Monsieur H- promised everything, and I know his character well enough to feel sure that he kept his promise. As for me, I had carefully taken notes of all the predicted events, and the next day I had occasion to speak of them to Dr. Amédée Latour.
The fatal Tuesday arrived; fear for Madame H-- was the only thing that occupied me. When I reached their home she was lunching with her husband and seemed in the best possible spirits.
“My good friends” I said as I entered, “I am at your disposal until evening, if it does not disturb you.”
"You are heartily welcome,” answered Madame Hortense, “but on one condition, which is that you will not talk too much about hypnotism."
“Madame, I will not speak of it at all, if you will consent to sleep for me only ten minutes."
She accepted, and shortly after lunch I put her to sleep.
“How are you, Madame?"
"Very well, Monsieur, but not for long.”
“How is that?"
She repeated her conclusive statement of Friday: “Between three and four o'clock, I shall be frightened by something, I shall fall, a copious loss of blood will result.”
“What will frighten you?"
“I don't know."
“Nevertheless, try to find out."
“I know nothing about it."
“Is there no way to escape this fatality?”
"This evening, Madame, I shall be able to contradict you.”
“This evening, doctor, you will be very anxious about my health, for I shall be very ill."
I had nothing to answer to that, for the moment. It was necessary to wait and I waited.
When she was awakened a few minutes later, Madame remembered nothing; her face, which had been saddened by the visions of her dream, took on again all its natural serenity. As she had done before she went to sleep, she talked and jested with us, with no mental reservations, and once more resumed those gay sallies which were so natural to her and which she knew so well how to utter. As for me, I was in a state of mind impossible to describe: I was lost among conjectures and hypotheses which sometimes shook my faith: I suspected everything, I suspected myself.
Having quite made up our minds not to leave her for a second we kept watch of her least movements; we closed the windows tightly for fear some accident occurring in the street or in the neighboring houses should make the prophecy come true. Finally, if any one rang, one of us went into the hall to see who it was.
It was a little after half-past three. Madame Hortense, who was much astonished at the little attentions with which she saw herself beset and who could not penetrate the mystery of our precautions, said to us, as she rose from the arm-chair in which we had made her sit down:
“Will you permit me, gentlemen, to remove myself a moment from your inconceivable solicitude?"
"Where do you intend to go, Madame?” I cried, with an air of anxiety which I could not hide.
“But, good heavens, Monsieur, what is the matter with you? Do you think I have plans of suicide?"
"No, Madame, but-"
“But what? I know I am indiscreet, but the truth is I am concerned over your health."
“Then, Doctor" she answered laughing, “all the more reason for letting me go out !"
The reason was plausible, there was but little ground for insisting.
Nevertheless, my friend wished to see the thing through and said to his wife:
“Will you permit me to go with you as far as there?”
“What! So it’s a wager then!”
“Precisely, Madame, a wager between us, which I shall certainly win, although you have sworn to make me lose.”
Madame Hortense looked from one to the other of us and remained dumbfounded! She accepted the arm other husband offered her and went out with a peal of laughter.
I laughed also, yet for all that I felt I know not what presentiment that the decisive moment had come. It is so true that this idea had taken possession of me that I did not dream of reëntering the drawing room but stayed like a Swiss at the door of the antechamber where I had no reason to be.
All at once there was a piercing cry and the sound of a body falling on the landing. I dashed upstairs. At the door of the bathroom my friend held his wife fainting in his arms.
It was indeed she who had cried out. The noise I had heard had been that of her fall. At the moment when she had left the arm of her husband to ender the room, she had suddenly come upon a rat – there where they swore they had never seen a single one in twenty years – and had been so suddenly and terribly frightened that she had fallen backward, without its being possible to catch her.
After that events took place as she had foretold they would.
Who, after such happenings, would still dare to set a limit to what is possible or to define human life?