[The Theosophist, Vol. V, Nos. 3 & 4 (51 & 52), December-January,
1883-1884, pp. 64-66]
[This story was contributed by Gustave Zorn, F.T.S. We give a summary of its contents. Mrs. A—, then a girl of fifteen, had come home on vacation. Opposite her parents’ house was the home of her mother’s relatives. In it lived two unmarried brothers, cousins of Mrs. A—. The elder was past forty, and the younger, about twenty years of age. For sometime, the elder brother had noticed that considerable sums of money disappeared from his cash-box. Several servants were dismissed on suspicion, but the conditions did not improve. The younger brother led a dissipated life. His senior furnished him with all the money he requested, and there was no reason to suspect him. No one else knew of the losses that were taking place. During Mrs. A—’s stay at home, the younger brother was killed in a duel, and was laid out in the family state-room. Mrs. A—went to bid farewell to her deceased cousin, and, while her mother attended to some business, was left alone in the mortuary chamber, standing at the head of the dead man.
She suddenly saw the drapery over the door, leading to the private room of the deceased, part and an old gentleman whom she did not know emerge with a book under his arm. He went straight to the catafalque and stood at the foot of the coffin. He gazed earnestly at the dead man for a while, and then said in a calm and loud voice: “May thy offence be forgiven thee for the sake of thy mother!” He then bent over and kissed the forehead of the deceased. Without paying the slightest attention to the young girl, he brushed past her, crossed to the opposite wall, pressed a knob hidden among the carved wood-work, and uncovered a recess full of books and documents. Taking a pencil, he wrote for sometime on a page torn from the book he had brought with him. He then placed both book and paper in the recess and closed it by pressing the knob again. Then he went out as firmly as he had entered, parting and closing the drapery.
The young girl rushed to her mother, who had just returned to the room, but, on account of fright, could not describe what had taken place until later, when she related every detail of what she had seen.
On the basis of her description, her parents recognized the old gentleman as Theodore, the father of the two brothers, who had died long before. The knob in the wood-work was located,
and the recess, unknown up to that time, opened. The memorandum scribbled by the old gentleman contained the startling discovery that the real thief was the deceased brother. He had given letters of exchange for a large sum to a person in another town, whose exact address was given as well as the amount of the debt, and the time when it fell due. The note ended with an injunction that the surviving brother should pay the bill and thus save the honor of the family.
The book under the arm of the old gentleman proved to be the private account book of the young man killed, and contained proofs of the statements made in his note by the apparition. All other data were verified to be correct. The elder brother married sometime later. The posthumous letter in the old gentleman’s handwriting is in the possession of his daughter who is married to a man of very high social standing. Gustave Zorn concludes by saying that “the name of the lady who told me the above facts as well as those of the two brothers, and the married name of the daughter of the elder, are given to the respected editor of this journal,” which means H. P. B. Here follows H. P. B.’s own Editorial Note.—Compiler.]
EDITOR’S NOTE.—We have the pleasure of personal correspondence with the husband of the “young lady’s” daughter, a gentleman of Odessa, personally known to, and highly respected by, the writer’s friends and near relatives. The facts, as above given, and coming, as they do, from a thoroughly trustworthy source, would seem to checkmate the king on the Theosophical side, and put the doctrines of the Theosophists in an awkward predicament. Nothing of the kind, however, need be confessed to by one capable of looking beneath the surface, although the facts disclosed in the above narrative are not quite sufficient to allow us to come to a definite conclusion. This plea of insufficient data may appear rather strange at first sight, but the strangeness on closer examination will disappear entirely. No information is given above as to the age of the younger brother at the time of the father’s death; nor as to the latter’s feelings and anxieties at the time of death with regard to his motherless boy. We are, in consequence, obliged to make some assumptions, which all the surrounding circumstances most clearly suggest; if, however, they
are unwarranted by facts, we beg further particulars will be forwarded to us. It is but natural that the father should have felt unusually strong solicitude for the future of his young son, deprived, at a tender age, of both his parents; and the more so if his apprehensions for the continued honour of the family, of which, like all German aristocrats, he must have been extremely jealous, were roused, by early indications of the vicious habits which subsequently developed in his son so strongly. After this, the explanation becomes easy enough. The dying thought of the father, worked up to its highest pitch, under the circumstances described, established a magnetic link between the son and the astral shell of the father in Kamaloka. It is a well known fact that fear or great anxiety for everything left behind on earth is capable of retaining a shell, which must have otherwise dissolved, for a longer period in the earth’s atmosphere than it would in the event of a quiet death. Although the shell when left to itself is incapable of acquiring any fresh impressions, yet, when galvanised, so to say, by rapport with a medium, it is quite capable of living for years a vicarious life and receiving all the impressions of the medium. Another fact must always be borne in mind in seeking for an explanation of the phenomena of mediumship—namely, that the average stay of shells in Kamaloka before final disintegration is sometimes of very long duration. 25 to 30 years would not be too long, with a medium to preserve its vitality. With these preliminary observations, the present problem becomes easy of solution. The young man who met with such a tragic end was probably a medium to his father’s shell, and thereby gave it a knowledge of all the incidents of his wild and sinful career. The mute witness of the shell’s materialisation in the mortuary chamber must also have been a medium herself, and thus helped that phenomenon to take place. The dying young man’s contrition for his vicious life and anxiety to save the honour of the family, were reflected upon the father’s astral shell with all the intensity of dying energy, and gave rise to all that followed.