The ghost of the librarian
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Frank Podmore – Apparitions and thought transference
[also quoted in Death and its Mystery – After Death – Camille Flammarian]
In 1880 I succeeded my predecessor as librarian. I had never seen him, nor any photograph or portrait of him. People may have spoken to me about him and about his appearance, but that was all.
One evening in March, 1884, I had remained in the library until rather late, and was working, alone. Suddenly I realized that I should miss my train if I did not hurry. It was then fifty-five minutes past ten, and the last train left at five minutes past eleven. I rose hastily, took up some books in one hand and the lamp in the other, then went out through a hallway.
As my lamp lighted up this hallway I perceived a man at the other end, and it occurred to me at once that a burglar had broken in - a thing that was not impossible. Instantly I went back to the room I had just left, put down the books, took up a revolver, held my lamp behind me and again went along the hallway to a corner where it seemed to me that the burglar might have hidden himself, in order to make his way, from that point, into the main room.
But I could find no one, and saw only the room, lined with shelves of books.
Several times I shouted to the intruder to show himself, hoping that my call would be heard by a policeman. Then I saw him again. I noted that he seemed to be examining the shelves of books. His head was bald, colourless; his eye-sockets were very sunken. I went toward him. He was an old man with high shoulders. He swayed from side to side as he gazed at the books ; he continued to look at them, turning his back to me. With a dragging step he left the shelves and made his way silently toward the door of a little lavatory opening on the room in which the books were, a lavatory which had no other door. I followed the man into it, and, to my great surprise, found no one.
I examined the window (it measured about fourteen by eighteen inches), and found it securely locked.
I opened it and looked out.
Outside was a pit ten feet deep; no one could have got out of it unaided. He could not have escaped. Deeply mystified, I admit that I began to have, for the first time, what might be called "a feeling of supernatural fear."
I left the library and found that I had missed my train. The next morning I told my story to a clergyman of that region, who, when he heard my description, replied,
"Why, that's the old librarian!"
Soon afterward I was shown a portrait of my predecessor; the resemblance was very striking. The deceased had lost all his hair, his eyebrows, and his eyelashes; he had, if I remember rightly, been the victim of an explosion. He had high shoulders, and walked with a waddling gait. Later inquiry proved he had died at about the time of year at which I saw the figure.
The source of the experienceOrdinary person
Concepts, symbols and science items
Perceptions - accessing perceptions
Perceptions - what happens to perceptions
Perceptions - what has perceptions