It began playfully, with a fortune-telling game: hold a mirror over a well and you will see the face of your future husband. But the young woman on her father’s Virginia plantation never dreamed of the ghostly sights and strange visions that would arise from those waters.
The Christmas ghost story was a holiday tradition in the magazines and papers of the 19th century. Dickens popularized it; hacks hackneyed it; M.R. James brought it to the pitch of paranormal perfection. But by the time of this humorous piece, every possible change had been rung on the Christmas ghost story clichés.
Two curiously solid apparitions from the trenches of the Great War. “Lieut. Smith said that it was quite a common occurrence for men in the war zone to see the ghosts of their comrades who had been killed.”
An English Spiritualist performs a number of psychometric experiments in “Shell Mischief” with young ladies in darkened rooms. Of these experiments he wrote: “I draw the special attention of the medical profession to the serious physical injury many delicate persons receive, especially females; from the very common, very natural, and English-like custom of placing specimens of minerals, crystals, and shells upon the sitting-room tables and elsewhere.”
Samuel Guppy, husband to medium Agnes Nichol Guppy, was an ardent advocate of Spiritualism. When the famous American mediums Ira and William Davenport came to England to spread the truths of that religion, a session with Ira brought a naughty devil to Guppy’s door.