The Boy Who Saw His Shadow Walk: Interesting People #4
Story of a Young Man Who Several Times Each Week Saw His Double.
A local physician with a slight leaning toward spiritualism was met by a reporter yesterday, who, in a casual sort of way, asked him whether he had heard of the story, now going the rounds of the press, concerning the Philadelphia bride, who sued her husband for a divorce, because she saw his “double” in the room almost every night immediately after 12 o’clock.
“You will remember the groom himself admitted seeing the double on such occasions, but said he was in a sort of a trance at the time, and was perfectly helpless either to arouse himself or go to his wife’s assistance,” said the reporter.
“Yes, I have read an account of that affair, and though three or four years ago I should be inclined to laugh at it as a piece of foolishness or look upon it in the light of a horrible nightmare, I must confess that, taking all the circumstances into consideration, I must believe every word of it. The newspaper account of the bride leaving her bed and approaching the shadow at the glass may be exaggerated somewhat, but from investigation of other cases of similar nature I am forced to the confession that I am confirmed in my belief that the account was a truthful one.”
“And you firmly believe that while the groom was in bed, cold and apparently lifeless, his double, his exact counterpart was in front of the bureau glass, shaving himself?”
“Indeed I do.”
“What reason have you for thinking so?”
“I could cite several reasons; but let me state to you something which happened in this very city only two years ago, and I think I can convince you that I have some reason to believe in this strange occurrence. A handsomely dressed lady of good standing in society called upon me, accompanied by her 18-year-old son, who was to all appearances, perfectly healthy and as bright as any boy of his age could be. The lady unhesitatingly said that she did not know as I could help her any, ‘but,’ she continued. ‘I have tried hard to believe that he is troubled with some disease of a peculiar nature which perhaps, can be cured.’ She finally told me that two or three times every week, in the dead of night, while sleeping in his chamber, her son apparently faints away, and with eyes wide open stares at a perfect counterpart of himself of a shadowy nature stalking into the room. The mysterious figure walks up and down the room, remains there two or three minute, and then vanishes as the traditional ghosts are said to do.
“The boy was perfectly able to recount his experience when he regained consciousness, and once or twice, other members of the household, believing the boy’s story to be nothing but a dream or nightmare, went to bed with him, and they went through the same experience as the Philadelphia bride you speak of. The boy was as cold as death as his image stalked into the chamber and vanished.”
“Did you effect a cure?”
“Certainly not. It is incurable. It is not a disease, but something which I cannot explain. The person affected is lifeless. His spirit leaves him and takes a shadowy form.”
“Then you believe in spiritualism?”
“How can I do otherwise? I slept with the boy one night for the purpose of convincing myself, and I shall never forget that night as long as I live. I thought the matter over from time to time, looked up several authorities on such matters, and the result is that I know as much about it now as I did when I started. To sum it up, it is not a disease or an optical illusion, but a stubborn, indisputable fact, and more than that I cannot say. There may be some people inclined to laugh at that Philadelphia story; but I look at it in a more serious light, and worthy of any amount of study and investigation.
Coshocton [OH] Daily Age 26 January 1884: p. 6
You’ll find the “Philadelphia Story,” in a post called “The Doppelganger Divorce,” over at Mrs Daffodil. Both the man in that story and the boy in this one are able to see their doubles while deathly cold and paralyzed. Is it a form of the Old Hag–although the victim sees himself, instead of an evil old woman or other bedroom intruder? This post has some suggestions for neurological explanations of the phenomenon. Any others? Send in duplicate to chriswoodyard8 AT gmail.com.