Forgotten night or Manouze, the witch
(the thousand second night of the Arabic talesdictated by the spirit of Frédéric Soulié)
Preface by the Editor
During the year of 1856 the experiments with the spiritist manifestations held in Mr. B... house at
the Rue Lamartine attracted a select and large crowd of people. The communicating spirits in that
circle were more or less serious. Some have said things of remarkable wisdom, of notable depth, as
one can judge from the Spirits’ Book that was initiated and in its most part accomplished there.
Others were less serious: their cheerful humor was given to jester, but fine and never inconvenient
jester. Among those was Frédéric Soulié who came on his own, unsolicited, but whose unexpected
visits were always an enjoyable pastime to everyone. His conversation was witty, fine, vivacious,
opportune, having never denied the author of the “Mémoires du Diable” as a matter of fact, he
never attributed importance to himself and when enquired about complex philosophical issues he
frankly confessed his insufficiency to solve them, saying that he was still too much attached to
matter and that he preferred the funny things to the serious ones. Vide capítulo XII, número 154.
The medium who served him as interpreter was Ms Caroline B..., one of the daughters of the owner
of the house, a medium of the exclusively passive kind, who had no consciousness about what she
wrote, being able to talk and laugh her head off, what she used to do with pleasure, while her hand
jotted the words on the paper. The mechanical means used for a long time was the planchettes with
a pencil, described in The Mediums’ Book. Later the medium used the direct psychgraphy.
Some may ask what proof do we have that the communicating spirit was of Frédéric Soulié and that
it was not someone else. This is not the place to discuss the subject of identity of the spirits. We
shall say only that Soulié’s identity was confirmed by a thousand and one details that cannot escape
a careful examination. Several times a word, a gesture, a reported personal fact came to confirm that
yes, it was him, and on several occasions he left his signature which was confronted with the
original. One day someone asked for his picture therefore the medium that could not draw and had
never seen him, made a sketch of impressive similarity.
Nobody in the session had had any relationship with him during his life. Why then would he come
uninvited? The fact is that he had associated himself to one of the participants, never revealing the
reason: he only showed up when that person was present; he would come and leave with that
person, hence when that person was not there he would not come either and – interesting thing! –
When he was there it was difficult, if not impossible, to have communications from other spirits.
Even the familiar spirit of the house would yield to him, saying that he would do the honors of the
house, out of pure kindness.
One day he announced that he would bring us a romance, using his marked style. Indeed, soon after
he started a story that had a very promising beginning. The theme was druidic and the facts that
took place in the Armorica during the Roman Empire. Unfortunately he stopped before the task was
initiated, as the constant work was not his strong point; he seemed to be feeling well in his kind of
lazy life. After dictating a few pages he stopped the work but said that he would write another one,
less troublesome. That was when he wrote the tale whose publication we started. More than thirty
people witnessed that production and can attest its origin. We do not take it as a highly
philosophical piece of work but as an original sample of a hard work obtained from the spirits.
It is remarkable how everything is articulated, connected through an impressive art. The most
extraordinary is the fact that the theme was resumed over five or six different occasions and
sometimes after breaks of two or three weeks. Well, on every restart the subject continued as if
written at once, without any obliterations, reticence or the need to recover what had been said
We published it as it came out from the medium’s writings, without changing anything, neither the
style, nor the ideas or the connection of the facts.
Some repetition of words as well as typos was observed, and then Soulié himself assigned the
correction to us, saying that he would assist us in the task.
When all was finished he wanted to review everything, making occasional changes of minor
importance, and then authorizing us to publish it as we wished, gladly passing the copyright to us.
Nevertheless, we thought appropriate to introduce it in the Review only with the approval of the
deceased friend, who held the actual rights, hence we owe him the current production from beyond
the grave, for his presence and request. The title was given by the spirit of Frédéric Soulié himself.
A Forgotten Night
In Bagdad there was a woman from the times of Aladdin. I will tell her story.
In one of the suburbs of Bagdad, not far from the Sultan Sheherazade’s palace, lived an old woman
named Manouze. She was a motive of horror to the whole town as she was a witch of the most
terrible kind. Scaring things happened at night in her house; so much that after sunset nobody
ventured to pass by her doorway, except some lover trying to find a potion for his rebel partner or an
abandoned woman looking for some remedy for the wound inflicted by her lover, after leaving her.
One day, when the Sultan was more upset than usual and there was great desolation in town, the
Sultan wanted to kill his favorite wife and following his example all husbands were unfaithful to
their wives, a young man left the magnificent solar, located by the side of the favorite lady’s palace.
The man wore a tunic and a turban of somber colors but under the simple outfit he sustained an air
of great distinction. He tried to go unnoticed along the houses, like a thief or a lover, afraid of being
caught by surprise, moving towards the region where Manouze the witch’s house was located. He
showed great anxiety on his face, denouncing an unsettling concern. The man walked quickly but
cautiously through the streets and squares.
As he arrived at her door he hesitated for a few moments, later deciding to knock. For a quarter of
an hour he went through a fatal anguish since he heard noises that the human ear had never heard
before: a pack of fiercely barking dogs; groaning outcries and chants from men and women after an
orgy and, to illuminate all that upheaval, lights running from top to bottom of the house, like the
will-o-the-wisp of all colors. Then, out of the blue, it all went quiet. The lights were out and the
The visitor hesitated for a moment, not knowing if he should proceed through the somber corridor
extending before his eyes. After walking and groping for about thirty steps he found himself in front
of a door, yielding to a room only illuminated by a cooper lamp of three tips, hanging from the
ceiling, at the center of the room.
The house, which should be inhabited by a large number of people, given the noise heard from the
streets, had now a deserted look. The huge room that, by its construction, should be the basis of the
edifice was empty, not to mention the stuffed animals of all kinds that guarded the place.
In the middle of the room there was a small table covered by witchcraft books and across from the
table, sitting on a large armchair, was an old lady only three feet tall. She was covered by her
turban and scarves to the point that her face was almost completely covered. As the stranger
approached, she raised her head revealing the most terrible looks that one can imagine.
- Here you are Mr. Nuredin – she said, staring at the young man with her hyena’s eyes. Come!
Since a few days ago my crocodile of ruby’s eyes has announced your visit. Tell me if it is
potion that you miss or if it is a fortune. But, what am I saying? Fortune! Wouldn’t yours
make the Sultan himself jealous? Aren’t you the richest as you are the most handsome? It is
a potion that you are likely looking for. Who is then the daring woman, so cruel to you? I
should not say anything. I know nothing. I am ready to hear your whining and to give you
the needed remedy, as long as my science can be useful to you. But why that look in your
face and why you don’t say anything? Are you afraid? Do I scare you? You now see me this
way but I was beautiful once; the nicest of all women in Bagdad. It was the suffering that
made me so ugly. But why bother with my sufferings? Come close, I shall hear you. I cannot
give you more than ten minutes, make it fast!
Nuredin did not feel safe. However, not willing to give away his perturbation before the old lady
that kept him unsettled, he stepped forward and said:
- Woman, I have come for a serious thing. My fate is in your hands. You shall decide between
my happiness and my death. This is what I have to tell you:
The Sultan wants to kill Nazara and I love her. I will tell you about the origin of such love
since I came here not to alleviate my pain but to save her from such an unfortunate fate, for I
do not wish to see her dead. You know that my palace is next door to the Sultan’s palace and
that our gardens share a border line. About six moons ago I was strolling in my gardens
when I heard an enchanting music following the most delicious female voice I have ever
heard. I wished to figure out where it came from thus I got closer to the neighbor’s garden to
realize that it was coming from a green pergola, occupied by the favorite of the Sultan.
Several days passed and I was absorbed by those melodious sounds. Day and night I
dreamed of the unknown beauty, whose voice had seduced me for in my mind she was
beautiful. Every evening I strolled through the same paths from where I had heard that
enchanting harmony. For five days it was all in vain. Finally, on the sixth day I heard the
music again. Then, not being able to contain myself any longer, I approached the fencing
wall only to realize that I could easily escalate it. I hesitated for a few moments and took the
firm decision: I then climbed the wall, passing to the neighbor’s garden.
It was then when I saw, not a woman but a houri, a favorite houri of Mohammed, a true
wonder! She did not show much of a surprise by seeing me but I threw myself at her feet,
begging that she should not be afraid but listen to me instead. I told her that her singing had
attracted me and I assured her that my attitude was profoundly respectful. She kindly
listened to me. We spent the first night talking about music. I also sang and offered to
accompany her. She consented so that we set up a date for the next day, at the same time.
She was more relaxed then. The Sultan was in his Council so that the vigilance was
somewhat diminished. The first two or three nights were dedicated to music. But music is
the voice of the lovers and from the fourth day on we were no longer strange to one another.
We were in love. How beautiful she was! How beautiful was her soul too! We foresaw our
escape several times. Ah! Why haven’t we done that? I would not be so unhappy now and
she would not be about to succumb. Such a beautiful flower would not be about to be
decimated by the sickle that would have denied a ray of light to those eyes.” (Continue in
the next issue)