Allan Kardec

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A warning from beyond the grave

The following fact was reported by the Patrie on August 15th, 1858:

“Last Tuesday I started to tell you, maybe too recklessly, a heartbreaking story. I should have thought that there is no touching story: there is only well told stories and that the same fact described by different persons may cause the audience either to fall asleep or give them the shivers of fear. As I entertained myself with a fellow traveler on a trip from Cherbourg to Paris, Mr. B... told me a marvelous tale that if I had annotated it would have allowed me the opportunity to give you a thrill of excitement.

However, I made the mistake of trusting my terrible memory that I profoundly regret. Nonetheless, here is the adventure that proves today, August 15th, that it is really a fact.

Mr. S..., a historical name that, even these days, is surrounded by consideration, was an officer during the Directory. On business or pleasure he used to travel to Italy.

In one of our central departments, he was caught by surprise by the sudden shadows of the night, feeling happy for having found shelter in a kind of suspicious cabin, where he was offered an ordinary supper and a makeshift bed in the barn.

He was used to adventures and the tough duties of war hence he ate until full and then went to bed, falling deeply asleep, without a murmur.

During the night, a terrible apparition perturbed his sleep. He saw a form rising from the shadows, heavily marching towards his bed, stopping by his head. It was a man in his fifties, whose uneasy gray hair was blemished by blood; his chest was naked and his twinkled throat was cut open, still showing the wounds. He paused for a moment, staring at the sleepy traveler with his deep black eyes; then the pale figure got animated; his pupils became shiny bright like two pieces of lit charcoal. He seemed to make a huge effort and with a trembling and muffled voice he pronounced these strange words:

- I know you! You are a soldier and like me a man of courage and incapable of faulting with his word. I come to ask you for a service that others have promised but did not deliver. I have been dead for three weeks. The owner of this house, helped by his wife, surprised me in my sleep and slit my throat. My corpse is hidden under a pile of compost, to the right, at the end of the chicken pen. Tomorrow go and seek the local authorities, bring two policemen to bury me. The owner of the house and his wife will betray each other and you will deliver them to justice. Good-bye. I count on your pity. Do not forget the request of an old brother in arms.

“Awakening, Mr. S... remembered his dream. He rested his head on his elbows while meditating. His emotion was obvious but disappeared at sunrise and like Athalie, he said:

- A dream! Should I be worried about a dream?

He betrayed his heart’s message, and listening only to the voice of reason, he packed and left.

Then came the afternoon when he completed another stretch of his journey, stopping over in a boarding house to spend the night. He had just closed his eyes when the shadow appeared a second time to him, sad and almost intimidating:

- I am impressed and afflicted, said the ghost, by seeing a man like you to perjure and fail with your duties. I expected more loyalty from you. My body lies unburied and my murderers live in peace. Friend, my vengeance is in your hands. In the name of honor, I demand that you return at once.

Mr. S... spent the rest of the night under great agitation. At dawn he felt ashamed for his fear but continued his journey.

In the afternoon came a third stop and a third apparition. This time the ghost was livid and terrifying. He held a bitter smile on his white lips. He spoke with a rude voice:

- It seems that I have misjudged you; that your heart, like the others, is insensitive to the claims of the unfortunate ones. For the last time I come to invoke your help and appeal to your generosity. Go back to X... and revenge me or otherwise may you be cursed.

Mr. S... did not hesitate this time. He turned back on his feet traveling to the suspicious hostel where he had spent the first of those lugubrious nights. He went to the judge’s house and requested the escort of two policemen. Just as they saw the police the guest’s murderers became pale and confessed to the crime, as if a superior force had forcibly driven them to the fatal confession. The legal process was prepared swiftly and the culprits were given the death penalty.

As for the poor policeman whose cadaver was found under a pile of manure, to the right, at the end of the chicken pen, he was buried in sacred grounds, having the priests prayed for the peace of his soul.

Mission accomplished, Mr. S... was quick to leave the region towards the Alps, never looking back. The first time he stopped to rest in a bed the ghost showed up once again, no longer showing ferocious and irritated eyes but sweet and benevolent, saying:

- Thank you my brother. I wish to thank you for your service to me. You will see me again only once. I will come to warn you two hours before your death. Good-bye.

Mr. S... was then about thirty years old. For another thirty years not a single vision came to disrupt his peaceful life. But on August 14th, 182... on the eve of Napoleon’s celebrations, and still faithful to Napoleon’s party, he had gathered about twenty old soldiers of the Empire over dinner. The gathering was very enjoyable and happy and the host, although old, was healthy and strong. They were having coffee in the living room. Mr. S... felt like smoking his pipe and remembered that he had left the tobacco in his bedroom. Since he was used to prepare it himself he left the guests momentarily and went up to the first floor where his bedroom was located. He had not taken any light with him.

Once he got to the large hall that led to the room he had to suddenly stop and reach for the wall. The ghost of the murdered man stood across the corridor from him, at the other end. The ghost did not say a word, not even a gesture, disappearing after a few moments.

It was the promised warning.

Mr. S... who was a man of strong character, after that brief and fainting moment, recovered his courage and cold blood to proceed to his room, grab the box of snuff and return to the living room. He mingled with the others, joining the conversations, showing his joviality and customary sense of humor.

At midnight the guests left. He then sat down and spent about three quarters of an hour meditating. Then, feeling good and having organized his business, he retired to his room to go to bed.

When he opened the door, a gunshot knocked him dead, exactly two hours after the apparition of the ghost. The bullet that shattered his skull was addressed to this servant.


The author of the article wished to keep his promise to the newspaper about telling something touching, at any price, resorting to a story that he reports with great imagination or is the story true?
We cannot guarantee. As a matter of fact, this is not important. Real or fictitious the essential here is to know if the fact is at all possible.

Then, let us not hesitate and say: yes, the warnings from beyond the grave are possible. The numerous examples attesting them are out there, whose authenticity could not be mistrusted. If the anecdote of Mr. Henry d’Audigier is then apocrypha there are plenty of the same kind that are not and we can even say that this one has nothing of extraordinary.

The apparition would have happened in his dream, which is very common. However, it is notorious that they can also visually happen in the waking state. The warning at the instant of death is not uncommon but the facts of that kind are very rare as the Providence’s wisdom hides the fatal moment from us. Thus, it is only exceptionally that it is revealed to us and for unknown reasons.

The following is an example of a more recent, less dramatic analogous case, but whose accuracy we can ensure.

Mr. Watbled who was a business man and the president of the Boulogne Chamber of Commerce, died on July 12th last, under the following circumstances: His wife had died twelve years earlier and her death had brought him a permanent sorrow; she appeared to him over two consecutive nights in the beginning of July and told him: God had mercy on our souls and wants us to unite soon. She added that the encounter was scheduled for the next July 12th and, as a consequence, he should get ready. In fact, since then he went through a remarkable change: he progressively atrophied. He soon prostrated without any suffering, exhaling his final breath on the very scheduled day, in his friends’ arms.

The fact is not contestable in itself. The skeptical may only discuss the cause, which they will certainly attribute to the imagination.

It is well known that similar predictions, made by future tellers, have had, not infrequently, a fatal ending. In such a case it is understandable that the organs, having the imagination excited by that idea, experience a radical alteration. More than once the fear of death has caused death. But here the circumstances are different.

Those who deeply studied the spiritist phenomena will realize the fact; as for the skeptical, those have only one argument: “I do not believe, hence this is not possible.” Once questioned about this the spirits have said: “God chose that well-known man so that the event would be noticed and provided food for thought.” The incredulous incessantly asks for proofs. God gives them every time through the phenomena that sprout everywhere. Nevertheless, these are the words that apply to them: “have eyes but do not see, have ears but do not hear.”

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