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Fifty Years A Medium by Estelle Roberts

 

CHAPTER FIVE

 

HAUNTING

 

Haunted houses and sometimes the furniture in them are of special interest to people sensitive to psychic emanations because of the immense energy that is nearly always present. Even people who are not normally receptive of psychic phenomena can often sense its presence, though they may not appreciate its source. Tax them with it and they will tell you vaguely that it is "just a feeling" and will probably deny it if you suggest they are being influenced by the supernormal. Because of my mediumship a visit to one of these places is a fascinating experience. The emanations are so strong that they reveal scenes of unusual detail and crystal clarity.

 

Maurice Barbanell, one of the most experienced and best­informed psychic investigators, invited me to accompany him to the home of a woman who kept an antique shop in Hammersmith. I have no knowledge of antiques. As far as I was concerned the large, ornate bed we were shown on arrival might have been made in any country and in any century. The only information offered was that the bed was haunted, and this I had no need to be told. As soon as I entered the room I was conscious of its sinister associations. So strongly did they reach out and flood my mind, that I was almost overwhelmed by the impressions I received.

 

Fragments of its history came flooding into me and I described them aloud without pause. It was, I said, a great estate and occupied the principal room of a medieval ducal chateau. I saw a man asleep in the bed, and watched him being stabbed while he slept. The killer then ransacked the room in search of some papers, which I knew he would not find because they were


 

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concealed in a hollow leg of the bed. Failing in his search, the killer dragged the body from the bed and threw it into the moat.

 

This was the third murder to have been committed in this bed. The first victim had been poisoned and the second bludgeoned, the occupant's head being smashed in so that blood had spurted over the bed-head.

 

The present owner agreed that these details confirmed the information she had obtained from other sources. She told us that, though many potential customers had come to look at the bed, none had liked it well enough to buy it. Her opinion, with which I agreed, was that prospective buyers were influenced by the bed's evil emanations, though they were not conscious of this being the reason. She told of a craftsman she had called in to make some repairs to the bed shortly after she had bought it. After making a survey of the work to be done he told her that he would prefer to have no more to do with it. "There's something about that bed I don't like," he said. "There is a feeling of murder about it, and I would rather not touch it."

 

Later she herself became aware of the bed's disturbing influence, and began to think there was something in the craftsman's vaguely expressed fears. At this stage I was called in. I had no doubt that my reading of the bed's history was correct in every detail. The clarity of the impressions I received permitted of no other version. The haunting was caused by the anxiety of the stabbed man for the safety of his hidden papers, important, perhaps to the heirs of his estate.

 

Whether the papers were later found in the hallowed out leg of the bed I never heard. Probably they were not, as news of their discovery would certainly have come to me. But failure to find them did not surprise me at all because, as I have said, it was an ornate bed with much rich carving. A craftsman who could produce such exquisite work would have had no difficulty in concealing the entry to any hiding-place he cared to contrive behind its elaborate ornamentation. I advised the owner to destroy the bed, not in an attempt to prove that it contained this secret receptacle but because it radiated so much terror and sorrow. No good, I felt, could come from preserving a piece of such melancholy memory.

 

In November 1935 I was invited to investigate a house, which, it turned out, was also haunted by an earthbound spirit in search of missing papers. The house, in Surrey, was owned by a wealthy


 

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businessman and shared by his secretary and housekeeper. Ever since they had taken possession they had been disturbed by sporadic visitations, but these had increased in frequency to such an extent that the occupants were becoming thoroughly unsettled.

 

The owner had several times been awakened by the piteous howling of a Dalmatian dog which shared his bedroom. Each time the howling was followed by the sound of footsteps moving about the house in places where there was no human being. The secretary had been awakened several times at night to find a ghostly face peering at her from the darkness. The housekeeper had a similar unnerving story to tell. Altogether it was not the sort of atmosphere in which anyone could live comfortably for any length of time.

 

Accompanied by two male companions I went to investigate. After walking through the rooms, the three of us stopped in a long unfurnished gallery which ran from the living apartments to an empty room in an ornamental tower forming one corner of the house. Here, where the vibrations were strongest, I was confident we would get the most positive results.

 

Presently we were joined in our vigil by the three occupants of the house. All six of us sat, a little tense and on edge, waiting to see what would happen. Red Cloud made the first move. I became aware that he was with us when I heard his voice telling me to walk along the gallery towards the empty room. I got to my feet and had taken only two or three steps when I saw, ahead of me, a man in what seemed to be a monk’s habit.

 

“Can any of you see this figure?” I asked my companions. None of them could.

 

“Have those of you who live here ever seen a man wearing a cloak and cowl?”

 

“Yes,” the secretary and the housekeeper answered almost in concert.

 

“He’s here now,” I said, “searching a cabinet.” The cabinet was old fashioned and heavy, the only piece of furniture in the whole length of the gallery.

 

“He won’t find anything in there,” said the owner of the house. “It’s empty.”


 

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As though he had heard and understood, the spirit figure left the cabinet and moved into the tower room, where he mounted a small iron staircase, disappearing at the top through a closed door that led to the roof.

 

As we had done all we could in the gallery for the time being, we left to the comfort of the drawing room. Here Red Cloud took control and speaking through me, he told us what lay behind these visitations. The spirit form I had seen was a brother of a former owner of the house who had been strangled to death in an upstairs room. Before his death the murdered man had concealed some ancient manuscripts which his earthbound brother was now perpetually hunting.

 

“Is there anything distinctive about the papers?” the present owner asked Red Cloud.

 

“They are of parchment, written in Latin and Hebrew, each sealed with a great seal.”

 

“What must be done with them when they are found?”

 

There will be no rest for this unhappy spirit or for those who inhabit this house until the parchments have been destroyed.”

 

When I came out of the trance our host excused himself and returned some minutes later with a large metal studded box. He placed it on the table and opened the lid wide so we could all see inside. Then, almost reverently, he withdrew some parchment documents, carrying the biggest seal I had ever seen. The seal was already broken and our host carefully opened each document in turn.

 

“As you will see,” he said quietly, “they are written in Latin and Hebrew.”

 

I was never told whether or not the papers were destroyed. Since, as recently as last year, I heard the hauntings were continuing, I am sure they were not destroyed.

 

 

A particularly unpleasant case was brought to my notice by Colonel Castello. The Colonel, who had experienced many reunions with his war-pilot son through my mediumship, now sought my help for two of his friends. They were a married couple, living in a


 

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country house which they declared was the subject of some sort of hoodoo.

 

Ever since they had moved in, calamities, great and small, had increasingly befallen them. In as many months, half-a-dozen deaths had occurred, ranging from domestic pets to the girl’s own mother. This accumulation of misfortunes had so preyed on her mind that she was beginning to be obsessed with unreasoning fear for the life of her small son. Of course, all this might have been a chain of circumstances simply explained by an overlong streak of bad luck. Or there might be something in the hoodoo theory. Colonel Castello asked me to find the answer.

 

A party of six of us motored into the country. As soon as I entered the house I was accosted by the spirit form of a previous owner who was roaming around in a highly disgruntled frame of mind protesting: “Look what they’ve done! They’ve cut down all me damn trees!” Though he was unhappy at all the tree-felling, he was a harmless old fellow, entirely without malice. If the misfortunes of the household were attributable to supernormal influences, I was sure he had no hand in them.

 

With myself leading, the eight of us then proceeded to walk round the house. All went well until we entered a bedroom where, from the bed, came one of the most powerful manifestations of evil I have ever experienced. It was so strong that it pulled me up short, and my eyes were drawn irresistibly to the bed. I saw there what I had never seen before – the center of emanation of the evil I could feel about me. It was like a giant, obscene fungoid growth, gently pulsating and looking as malevolent as it undoubtedly was.

 

My natural reaction was to back away from it, but Red Cloud presented himself to my clairvoyant vision and told me to keep standing where I was. Then, impelled by his gentle reassuring presence, I allowed myself to advance to the bed. Involuntarily my hands shot out and, with an intense feeling of revulsion, I felt my fingers sink deep into the disgusting mass. Perhaps six times I felt it quiver beneath my grasp as Red Cloud destroyed its evil energy with vibrations of purifying power. Then the “thing” began to shrink and subside, and before long was no more.

 

My companions watched my actions, fascinated but uncomprehending. When it was all over I explained what I had seen and done, and promised the householders their hoodoo was at end.


 

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“But what was it, and what caused it to come here?” they wanted to know.

 

“It was what is known as a psychic rod,” I told them. “Red Cloud says that such a rod may build up anywhere where there is a strong concentration of wickedness.”

 

“But there is no concentration of wickedness here,” they protested.

 

“No longer perhaps, but who knows what happened here before your coming?”

 

“ ‘The evil that men do lives after them. . .’ ” Somebody quoted.

 

“Precisely that,” I agreed. “I think that if you care to do a little research you may find that this house was the scene of some forgotten tragedy or other.”

 

“I’ll make it my business to find out,” said the Colonel. And he did. He quickly discovered that the house was built on the site of a bloody feud which, growing out of lust and hatred, had lived grimly on this spot. The story, however, has its happier note. The owners of the house have lived in peace of mind ever since, which for me is the crowning achievement.

 

On the few occasions I have related this story to friends, it has prompted the same questions:

 

“How is it that you are able to see things which are not there – at least, not in the physical sense? And, seeing them, why do you react to them as if they were solidly material?”

 

The answers are presumably that my mind is functioning on the astral plane of consciousness, a condition in which my visions are clear and sharp, just as if I were seeing them with my physical eyes. Furthermore, the reactions and emotions they engender are no different from those produced by similar sights on the physical plane. My reaction to the psychic rod, for instance, was one of revulsion, indistinguishable from what I should have felt had been a tangible, growing thing.

 

Shortly before the last war I witnessed a remarkable example of one man’s high sense of moral duty. I have since thought much about this episode and wondered, not too cynically, I hope, how many other men would have behaved as he did. In similar


 

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circumstances, would they not have taken the easy way out and destroyed the few pages of evidence that no one knew existed?

 

I was asked to investigate at a house whose occupants were suffering physical violence at the hands of an earthbound spirit entity. The attacks always followed a similar pattern. Every now and then one of the residents using the staircase would be pitched down the steps. This was not only disconcerting but dangerous.

 

When I arrived at the house, I stood at the bottom of the staircase and looked up. There, half-way up, was the spirit figure of a grizzled old man who came directly to the point.

 

“If you come up here, I’ll push you down again,” he said.

 

“I don’t think you will,” I replied. “I’m coming up and if you are sensible you’ll go up too. We’ll talk things over when we get to the top.”

 

I’m staying here,” he answered, flatly.

 

“Very well. If you want to give battle, I’m ready.”

 

My words sounded bold, and were so intended. You must never show fear when dealing with an evil entity or even a fractious one.

 

I went up the stairs towards him . . . he stood his ground. As I came within his reach he put out his hand. Instead of pushing me backwards, as I expected, he wrenched at the string of beads I wore and scattered them in all directions.

 

“What’s happening? Your necklace is broken,” the watchers at the foot of the staircase exclaimed.

 

“It’s all right,” I reassured them. “No harm has been done.” I went on mounting the stairs while the old man retreated before me. At the top I stopped and said: “Tell me what is the trouble. Perhaps I can help you.”

 

“This is my house,” he replied. “And that man down there has robbed me of it.”

 

“Has he? How did he manage to do that?”

 

“Well, it wasn’t him really. It was his father before him. The old man cheated me of the place and I mean to get it back.”


 

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“Can you prove any of this?” I asked.

 

“I can. The papers are in a parcel on a shelf in the cellar, just where the thieving old devil hid them. They’re all there. You won’t want other proof.”

 

With the owner of the house, I descended to the cellar. There, high up on one wall, was a rough bracket shelf. On it we found a parcel, thickly coated with coal dust. We took it down and removed the grime. Then we carried it back upstairs. We cut the string. Inside was a jumble of papers, just as the old man had prophesied.

 

Subsequent examination proved that the old man had been cheated of his property. It was then that the present owner behaved so magnificently. Without more ado he transferred the deeds of the property to the surviving members of the old man’s family. This altruistic action ended the reign of the irascible spirit intruder whose presence on the staircase had become a menace to everyone in the house.

 

Murder and Suicide