Allan Kardec

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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. (NT).

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 before.

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 door opened.


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)

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