Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive By William Dudley Pelley


Chapter XVI

I KNEW that I was witnessing a display of phenomena that might happen, even to expert researchers, but once in a lifetime—and yet might be repeated, if one were fortunate, no later than tomorrow night. Less than an hour had gone by, and I had already witnessed the equivalent of manifestations that might compose a whole evening’s sιance, and a most satisfying sιance at that. The victrola played on at my right, and in between records, if a materialization had not appeared, I could hear the suppressed breathing of the score of persons around me, striving as I was striving to accredit that they were all seated in Mayor La Guardia’s New York, with the long strings of automobiles flowing down the Drive below in the beautiful orchestration of Sunday night traffic, and the problems of the war-torn world to be faced in the morning. Most of the materializations, I noted, usually appeared in about the middle of the second playing of any given hymn on the machine, when Nora would instantly hush the music …

Suddenly the curtains parted, the music was stopped, and a figure speared that puzzled as it disquieted me—not that I recognized it, for it was a stranger and yet a somewhat different type of entity than had materialized to the present. Edward, beyond the cabinet, rose to his feet.

“This,” he announced solemnly, “is evidently a personage from a very high plane of eternity.” And he bent toward it with instinctive solicitude.

The man standing sedately before the drapes was not tall—in a few moments I was to stand within a foot of him and find myself looking down slightly into his face. He was dressed in vestments such as I had never witnessed on any cleric of any church. A mitre of some sort seemed to be on his head. He looked eithty years old. A long silvery beard dropped halfway down his chest. There was a quiet restraint, a poise, a dignity to him that might be felt merely by surveying

“He gives the name of Ari,” announced Edward, “and is here to speak to George.”

The friend beside me started up. “It’s my special protective guardian,” he declared in a whisper. “He materialized twice for me down in Florida.”

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

This then was the spirit whom George had reported to me as having done something that I considered truly remarkable in the way of phenomena. One night, in a Florida sitting, he had called George up and talked with him privately about his life and affairs. He had seemed so paternal, so kindly, so solicitous, that George had begun to have a sincere affection for the gentleman. When he had turned to depart, he had asked George, “would you like to have something to remember me by?”

George, of course, had answered affirmatively.

“Have you a pair of scissors or a knife in your pocket?” George had a pocketknife and produced it.

Ari had twisted up a lock of his beard and held it taut. “Cut it off,” he had directed.

George had told me that while striving to do this, he had seen the pull of the flesh where the hairs grew out and Ari’s grasp of the lock had been faulty. But he had served the strand and received it in his fingers. “Put it in a locket,” Ari had said. “It will be a constant connection between us.” George, of course, had wondered how that could be, for he rightly expected that his ethereal guardian would presently dematerialize. But when the latter had done so, to George’s amazement the lick of hair had not! George had carried it from the sιance and shown it to me in Indianapolis. This then, was the dignitary who had done this wonder and I hoped I was going to be able to ask him how he had performed it.

George, up before the cabinet with Ari, called me to them. He introduced me. Ari laid his right hand with firm pressure on my wrist. I could see him plainly then. I judged his race to be Persian.

“I’m so glad to be able to introduce my friend to you, Ari,” George said, to make conversation.

The venerable one laughed pleasantly.

“My son,” he returned, “we on This Side know William’s work even better than you do. But it gives me great pleasure that we meet face to face.”

I said, “George has shown me the keepsake you gave him in Florida. From the scientific angle, I’ve wondered how such a thing could be managed. How did the hair lock remain in existence on this side when you returned to the higher octave?”

Again that poised, easy laugh from the visitor. “It was meant to remain on your side of life,” he responded. “I fixed it so that it would.” He put emphasis on the “would”.

What more could be said? Any discussion of the higher life processes was impossible at the moment.

I went back to my seat and presently George followed. Ari had spoken a pleasant word to the guests and stepped backward behind the drapes.

AS THOUGH purposely to display a diversity of types a lad of some fifteen years stepped out of the cabinet a moment or two after the next record had

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

been played. He was clad in ordinary boy’s clothing of this period—trousers and blouse-shirt with four-in-hand tie—but seemed to be afflicted with a slight curvature of the spine.

“Tony!” cried the medium’s husband, springing up as though a bit surprised himself.

Tony greeted Edward. He seemed pleased with himself that he had contrived it. Edward explained.

“Tony,” he said standing in big-brotherly fashion beside the youthful visitor, “was formerly a newsboy in Chicago. He made the passing a couple of years ago by being struck by a truck on Evanston Avenue. He drops in to see us at these meetings quite often. Sometimes he sings for us. Don’t you, Tony?” “Sure, I sing!” boasted Tony. “But I don’t think I’ll do it tonight.” The assembly at once pressed him to favor it. But Tony had all the embarrassment of a Chicago newshawk suddenly plunged into a gathering in a drawing room. No, he wouldn’t sing. He just wanted to say hello to Eddie and then get gone. “Loads of folks are waiting to get in,” he declared. It was a queer little episode. Tony hadn’t some to meet anybody in the group. He just wanted to be neighborly and that was that. Having gotten a certain gratification from being thus noticed, he opened the drapes behind him and his personal appearance for the evening was over.

WE HAD to wait a long time now. I wondered if the ectoplasmic force was dwindling. But I presently understood.

A dignified gentleman who must have stood six feet tall, with a well -shaped bald head,a nd a gown resembling an Episcopalian rector’s surplice, with stole, over sinewy shoulders and chest, presently walked out of the cabinet and stood for a moment regarding us all. The woman at my right cried, “Doctor Wainwright!”

“Yes,” the personage responded gravely, “I am Doctor Wainwright. I wish to speak to you first, my dear, about your treatments. Will you please come up here for a short consultation?”

The lady needed no urging. She joined him, with a couple of women friends, in front of the cabinet. The assembly waited.

I gathered from what I overheard of the conversation that the woman was suffering from an internal trouble with which mortal physicians could scarcely cope.

At some previous sιance this higher-octave physician had come through to her and promised to assist her doctor in flesh to bring about an amelioration of her condition, if not her cure. He made the clairaudient recommendations to her mortal doctors, I gathered, and they gave the treatments, whether aware of the source of their prescriptions or not. But the patient was not cooperating, as she should. Hence this personal contact. He went on explaining something medical for at least five minutes. Finally he dismissed her, and noted the group. Edward asked him if he could not speak them all a word of comfort during the terrible times through which the earth was passing.

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

“We in the higher spheres of life,” Dr. Wainwright responded after a moment’s cogitation, “do not look upon what is happening now on your plane as ‘war’. Neither should any of you privileged persons consider it as such. What the earth world is passing through at present is a stupendous renovation.” Dr. Wainwright spoke measuredly, choosing his words most carefully.

“The time has come in modern history,” he went on in substance, “for a gigantic housecleaning of all the dark, wicked, mischief-force who so shamefully afflict man and his institutions—especially his political and economic institutions. They are due to expose themselves presently throughout all humanity for their blunderings, their greeds, their inabilities to inspire or direct man in his worldly predicaments and dilemmas. Before the present sequence is run they will be stripped of their influence because of their own inadequacies. Great wrongs that have afflicted the nations for generations are due to be righted. The earth and its society must come back into a moral balance.” Someone asked how far American would get into the war. “There will be no such enemy destruction of life and property in the United States as there had been in countries abroad,’ he replied. “At least, those on the plane to which I have progressed seem not to be aware of it. But you must remember that we have no more access to the intentions of the Almighty than you have. We are simply living in a higher and more delicate world of Matter. We have ways of seeing things begin to occur in the astral that are presently to mature in event in the mortal, but it is for a limited time ahead only. This thing I do want you to remember and to count on, however: All of us in these higher states of life have positive knowledge of a great leader who is presently to rise here in North America and by his wise counsel and direction—gained from the same high sources from which we get out counsel and direction—straighten out most of the embroilments in which American humankind finds itself in these moments. You can plan on the coming of such a leader, though you must not question me specifically concerning his identity. He is not so well known now as he is to be shortly. Probably he will come in result of the terrible blunders and shortcomings of those who have had the conflict in charge in its opening phases. He will resuscitate the United States from the spiritual, more than from the political, angle. And when he comes, not the least among you will have much difficulty recognizing him.”

The doctor started to back toward the cabinet as he concluded this message. Then with a grave bow to the thoughtful assembly, he stepped inside …

NOW FOLLOWED at least an hour of entities of strictly private significance to other sitters present. The mothers of several persons, clad I most cases in ethereal flowing robes, mode themselves substantial and discoursed with sons or daughters quite after the manner I have described. On one occasion the son of one of the women spectators visited her for several minutes, expressing his gratitude that he was out of mortality for the sequence now running on earth.

“I did my share in the first World War,” he informed us. “I’m glad I don’t have to

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

go through another such experience under present conditions.”

His mother explained, in introducing him to the group, that he had been badly wounded in the AEF in 1918, and had dragged out a miserable existence as a disabled veteran till death released him some five years bygone. A most poignant note was introduced on another occasion by the deceased fiancι of one of the young women present stepping suddenly from between the drapes, being instantly recognized, and the two of them embracing after she had left her seat impulsively and hurried to him.

“Oh, it’s so hard to get along with you gone, Harry,” the young woman sobbed. “It’s all that I can do to live day after day. Life seems so bleak, so barren.”

With his arms about his erstwhile sweetheart, the young man patted the pretty bowed back, and sought to soothe her. “But can’t you understand,” he argued gently, “that I’m not ‘gone’, that I’m right close to you day after day, helping you as I never could help you had I stayed I life with you?” No, she couldn’t, and she said so. So they clung to each other—and everyone present must have felt a bit embarrassed, as though violating some sort of privacy by thus looking on.

I couldn’t help wondering what the skeptics and ignoramuses—who contend so raucously that no “dead” person has ever “come back”—would say, to sit witnessing such a reunion as this, a young man stepping into mortality for brief ten minutes to put his arms around a beloved sweetheart whom he had been obliged to part with, when he had to go ahead of her into the more exquisite phases of experiencing Consciousness. But the evening was getting on. Between half-past ten and eleven o’clock it was and after the vivtrola records had run out, to be succeeded by a beautiful rhythmic humming of “Holy Night” on the part of the sitters, that the curtains trembled, were pulled energetically open, and a white figure stepped through without the slightest pause or hesitation, heading straight for my chair.

SOMEHOW I seemed to know telepathically when this Lady in White walked out, that she had materialized for me and none other, though I couldn’t tell who she was at once. As she crossed the space of rug, she seemed to loom above me in unnatural proportions.

Presently I was to see that this effect was supplied by swathes of chiffon about her head and held together on the center of her breast. “Dudley, my son!” she cried raggedly as I got to my feet. Now there had been only one such woman who had gone on the other side, who had ever used my middle name in addressing me as a lad, and that was my maternal grandmother. But could this be my maternal grandmother? She had blue eyes, as my maternal grandmother had blue eyes. She had something of the same contours of face. But my mother’s mother, Hanna, had been an elderly woman—some sixty-five or seventy years old—when making the Passing in 1912. this lady did not look a day over forty, if that old, and her figure lacked my Grandmother Goodale’s portliness.

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

On the other hand, I had heard plenty in other sιances of a process in the higher dimensions of certain souls’ “growing back to a norm” of maturity and remaining there until progressing along to loftier planes of consciousness. Was my grandmother going that? Certainly in the ensuing few moments I had small doubt about its being my grandmother’s spirit. I followed her to a position in front of the cabinet where the ruby spotlight gave maximum illumination. “You poor boy,” she crooned, “what a terrible time you are going through! And all so unfair and unmerited!” probably had I known Grandmother in her middle life, I might not have felt so confused at having a person apparently younger than myself at the moment—at least in looks—designate herself as my mother’s mother.

Feeling stranger in her presence therefore, I scarcely knew how, or what, to reply. But of this thing I took note.

Her mental or emotional anguish was poignant to behold. Her distress was so great that it called up counter-sympathy. As a struggled for poise, she asked me—“what’s the matter? Can’t you see me? Haven’t I done what I’ve ever done anything of this sort, you know.”

“I can’t see you all right, Grandmother,” I assured her.

“I can’t stay very long … it’s all so awkward, so different from anything I’ve ever been used to. But I had to come to you tonight to try to cheer and encourage you in the awful ordeal you’re being called to suffer. It’s all part of your career, my son. Fancy talking to you, though, now that you’re a man grown, face to face!” How does one talk to one’s grandmother whom one hasn’t seen in substantiality in over thirty years? One thing is certain. One doesn't feel facetious …

This blue-eyed lady, however, had nothing of the ethereal about her except for the chiffon headscarf and robes. She seemed to have considerable difficulty holding the latter together in front. She kept pulling the folds together with her left hand while she tried in a sort of affectionate caress to pass her right hand over my hair and down about my shoulders.

“It’s all in one’s life work, I suppose,” I said tritely.

“But will you remember my words of counsel, son? Will you surely remember them?”

“Meaning what? What counsel?”

“This counsel—that no matter what predicament you think that you’re in, with in authorities or anyone else, ‘the door has been unlocked already!” Will you remember that? ‘The door has been unlocked already.’ Promise you’ll remember that.”

“I promise,” I said.

“Say after me, ‘The door has been unlocked already.’”

“‘The door has been unlocked already,’” I repeated. Inasmuch as not a soul in that room but myself and George knew that I was in any particular sort of trouble, it was on the whole convincing for a materialized soul to proceed directly to giving of such solicitude.

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

“That’s all I can say. I’ve got to go now. ‘The door has been unlocked already.’” With another caressing gesture at my head and shoulders, she began to withdraw from me.

An instant later she had vanished behind the curtains.

I WAS so upset in my feelings when I again sought my chair, that I scarcely gave any attention to the spirit that now came forth from the cabinet and greeted everyone in the voice of another child—a second little Indian girl, apparently, some ten to twelve years old.

She had not come there to meet anyone in particular. I gathered vaguely that her prime purpose was in displaying a new dress that enveloped her, somewhat after the pattern of Silverleaf’s. She gave some fanciful and lowery name, but I was thinking, thinking, thinking … The child was obsessed with the fact that on the following afternoon, on the plane in which she resided, she was going to a party … Had that recent materialization been that of my grandmother or had it not? If so, and this was an example of “growing back young,” what a lot of surprises some people were in for, at making the Passing themselves and greeting their loved ones on the other side, to find the latter not “lame, halt, blind or aged” as they might have gone out of flesh, but radiantly mature in the golden summer of middle existence. Certainly my “grandmother” had called me by the only name that she would use in addressing me face to face. The solicitude for me was unquestionable. And her message had plenty of consolation in it after what I had been through in the South that past week. “The door is unlocked already!” what would that mean but that the tide had definitely turned for me, and that the “out” was ready for me to experience as the days and weeks rolled onward? I was still preoccupied with my thoughts in ruby dusk when I realized that Edward was calling “William”! That meant me again. I took up at the cabinet.

A portly man of some sixty to seventy years was standing before the curtains. He was clad in modern male costume and giving his name as Frederick William.

Frederick William had been the name of my father’s father. Why should I be deserving of so much attention this epochal evening?

“MY SON, my son!” this entity cried thickly as I stood before him and his right hand reached out and tightened on my wrist.

“Is it you, Grandfather?” I cried in new perturbation. Then in the upset one feels in all such situations, I recall exclaiming, “—but what have you done with your thick gray whiskers?” My Grandfather Pelley, as long as I had known him, had worn a patriarchal beard halfway down his chest. This was my grandfather’s figure all right, but his beard was black, and not nearly so long. “But, my son,” he chuckled, “whiskers have generally gone out of fashion. All the same I’ve got some on—can’t you see them?”

No, I couldn’t see them, and peered closer into his face. “You’ve got something

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

on,” I argued banally, “but the light s so poor, or y eyes aren’t accustomed to it, that I can’t tell what it is.”

“My son, don’t let’s waste such important time arguing over such a matter as whiskers. I haven’t worn mine on my present plane for years.” I wondered what was required of me. How could I ever ask him the intimate family detail that I wanted to ask him, with all these strangers present and hanging on every word? Knowing that many persons with Second Sight had often described him as being on the platform with me and seeming to counsel me as I had addressed past audiences, I felt he should be in a position to approve or condemn my present work. Not thinking how else to put it, I asked— “Well, granddad, how am I doing?”

This brought of a titter of laughter around the circle. My grandsire joined in it. His hand, as strong and virile as it ever had been in life—and he had been a powerful man—continued on my wrist. “My son, you’re doing fine,” he said huskily after a moment. “In fact, there’s times when it seems to your watching relatives that you’re doing too much.”

“Too much,” I echoed. “How could that be possible?”

“You make so much progress in your work yourself that you’re not allowing the time for the rest of humanity to catch up. However, they’ll do that in time. Be patient. What I particularly wanted to do tonight was to thank your friend George for the aid he’s been to you in getting your printing works established. The books that you’re printing are doing more good throughout the land than you’ll ever know till you get in our position and see it. Will you call him up?” I called to George and he responded.

“This is my paternal grandfather, Frederick William,” I announced—as though he had not been hearkening to every word spoken by either of us from the first. George acknowledged the introduction and my grandfather ran his left hand under George’s elbow.

“Just let me thank you, dear fellow,” he said, “for the help you’re giving to our grandson.”

George started to deprecate it.

“No, no,” cried the old gentleman, “you’re as much a part of his lifework as his own wits or pen. And all his relatives are grateful and are showing it by seeing that the two you don’t get into serious trouble.”

Hardly had my grandfather gotten these words out than his voice wavered queerly. His shoulders and figure seemed to sway. The hand on my arm relaxed its clutch and dropped.

Suddenly, weird as it sounds to relate, though it did not seem as awesome to watch it happen, the old gentleman jack-knifed at the waist. My instinct was to reach out and catch him, but as I had been warned against seizing hold of these people during materializations since it might have serious effect on the medium, I pulled back a step, and then, before my eyes, I saw my grandsire begin to sink through the floor precisely as the nun had done, following her blessing. He sank through the floor directly at my feet. One moment he had been

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

standing before me, talking with me like any normal man. The next he had bent forward and in the bending, his feet had begun to go through the rug as though it were the surface of a pool of water. I stood there gaping while he sank down, down, till only his head was visible between George’s feet and mine. The next

moment he was gone!

There was nothing whatsoever to indicate that he had been there. I was close enough to the phenomena to see everything in utmost detail.

Somehow I got back to y chair and devoutly wished that the sitting would end. I was mentally, emotionally and spiritually punch-drunk. I had been so much that I wanted only get out and think! Happily enough, my grandfather’s was the last materialization for the night. From behind the draperies we heard Silverleaf exclaim: “Oh shucks! The power’s getting so weak that these things fall apart!” It was a queer but practical way to phrase it. a moment later she added philosophically: “Nope, I guess we can’t go along anymore tonight, even if there are a lot of folks left who’d like to talk with the rest of you. But I’ll tell you who’s here …”

Thereat the child started calling out names of persons who hadn’t been able to avail themselves of the mediumistic ectoplasm. She must have called out at least a dozen, every last one of them absolutely accurate. Twice she called out names of former women business associates of George’s. giving last names as well as first.

“Uncle Jo -Jo,” she said, “you remember Margaret G—, don’t you? She says she gave you a pair of cuff links and a stickpin one Christmas. Is that right?” “It most certainly is,” agreed George. “Tell her I had them stolen from my house when a prowler got in.”

“Oh, she knows that,” returned Silverleaf, matter-of-factly.

“What became of them doesn’t count. Any gift is only in the giving, anyhow. Uncle Billy!”

“Yes, Silverleaf,” I answered.

“A long time ago you had a daughter Harriet, didn’t you? She passed over when she was a teeny girl.”

“Two years old,” I agreed.

“I know. Well, she’s a big grown woman now. About thirty years old. And she says to tell you, ‘God bless Dad.’”

It was the first time in twelve years of psychical research that I had received trace of my daughter Harriet in the higher realms of life. “Well, I guess we’ve all got to go now. We’ve had a nice evening, haven’t we?” “A wonderful evening, Silverleaf,” responded the audience sincerely. “Then good night, everybody!”

“Good night, Silverleaf!”

Suddenly the maiden’s voice, still clear and lovely, began to sing— “Good night, dear one,

Good night, dear one,

Good night, dear one,

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

We’re going to leave you now!”

The tune was the well-known old song, “Good night, Ladies,” only when she arrived at the chorus, she altered it thus—

“Merrily we fade away, Fade away, fade away. Merrily we fade away,

Over the Sea of Love …”

The child’s voice trailed off, fainter and fainter, as if receding into remotest distance. Presently the room was silent. Edward said to George, “Open the door, George, so that we can get the indirect light from the bathroom.” George opened the door. The electric illumination was sickly, garish, as it came through the inner hallway. In a moment someone switched on a floor lamp. Edward went to the cabinet and tossed back the drapes.

“Wake up, Bertie,” he coaxed. “Everything’s over. People are ready to go home.”

Miss Candler was plainly to be seen by everyone. She sat slumped down I the wooden chair, head rolled on one side, unconscious in slumber. Edward shook her gently. She shuddered, yawned, sat up.

“It’s so frightfully hot in here!” were her first words since she had bidden us “Good night!” three hours before. “It feels like I’d been in a forest fire.”

Edward stayed beside her till she dame fully awake and then helped her to her feet. Coming from the cabinet, she paused before my chair. “How was it?” she asked. “Did you get anything?” “You’re a sweetheart!” I cried impulsively. “We got at least twenty-five people. It’s been the most amazing evening of phenomena I’ve witnessed in my life.” This was no exaggeration.

“I’m glad,” she said. She walked to a vacated chair and sat down, still rubbing her eyes and yawning.

The woman on my right asked me the time. I looked at my wristwatch. “Ten minutes past eleven o’clock,’ I said. Then I left the room, to get out in cool night air for a minute and light up a welcome cigar …