After a long voyage by train, then in a small cart, the American, Harold Wilmot, and the Irishman, William Tait, arrive at the industrialist’s home in Connecticut.
When Mrs Wilmot comes to greet them, the Irishman receives a shock: the young woman before him is the one whom he had seen in the ship’s cabin: the same blue eyes, the same hair-do, the same impish air.
Harold Wilmot, who has noticed his friend’s emotion, leads everyone to the salon and undertakes to recount his voyage. Suddenly, Mrs Wilmot, who has been looking at William Tait with a strange expression on her face, interrupts her husband:
“It’s curious. I have the impression that I have already met this gentleman… “
Her husband asks her where.
“I don’t know… Ah! yes… You resemble someone in my dream… “
She turns to her husband.
“One afternoon, I was in this armchair; I went to sleep and had a very clear dream. I was in my dressing-gown and I was travelling across the sea, during a big tempest. I was looking for your boat. Suddenly, I saw a steamship painted black. I landed on the deck, went through a salon and entered a cabin… There, a detail struck me: the upper bunk was longer than the lower one. A man was lying on the top one and was looking fixedly at me. He was a redhead with a beard, exactly like you, Sir… I was rather troubled for an instant, then I went over to you, Harold, and kissed you on the forehead… After which, I left… “
Harold Wilmot forces himself to laugh:
“In the middle of a storm!… With your yellow dressing-gown…”
“Ah no! I was wearing the new dressing-gown that I had just bought. It is very pretty, you’ll see it tonight. It is white, with blue stripes… “
This story is known through the Society for Psychical Research. This English society is well over a century old and is the ancestor of all parapsychological societies. As soon as it heard about this story – William Tait had talked about it abundantly, upon his retun to Ireland – the S. P. R. made a very long and very serious enquiry. It interrogated: firstly, all the boat’s passengers, including of course William Tait and Harold Wilmot; secondly, Mrs Wilmot, to verify the time during which she had dreamed (time which, allowing for time zone differences, coincided exactly with the time of William Tait’s vision); thirdly, Mrs Wilmot’s friends, for the young woman had been so troubled by her dream – dream which she remembered with extraordinary clarity – that she had talked about it to those around her.
The Society for Psychical Research was therefore able to acquire the certitude that we are in the presence of an exceptional case of “telepathic apparition”, a case where any kind of trickery was excluded… And it published the result of the enquiry in its magazine….
A telepathic apparition is what parapsychologists call the apparition of the ghost of a living person… When people speak of ghosts, they are generally evoking the apparition of a dead person; but, from time to time, apparitions of a living person’s double are also seen… This was the case, for example, for Emilie Sagee, the teacher who lived in 1845 and who divided into two in front of her pupils.
Specialists consider the Wilmot case as a complete case, in that Mrs Wilmot’s double not only left her dream to haunt her husband’s dream, but it was seen by a witness who was awake…
There is no satisfactory explanation for these phenomena. Guy Breton, whose work I have translated, thinks that it would be a mistake to see in this case any manifestation of the supernatural. He says that it is certainly just a question of a simple power of the human mind. And that one day, perhaps, we will know how to master this power and use it to project ourselves throughout the world. He adds, with humour, that the problem of the noise made by supersonic aircraft would then be resolved…