This story was found by Jacques Bergier who read about it in an American parapsychology magazine and contacted Captain Rihm.  By this time, the Captain had retired, but he perfectly remembered the essential details of the case, which allowed Jacques Bergier to resume it in his work Le Livre du Mystere.  Later, Guy Breton, whose work I have translated, took up the investigation and was able to obtain, thanks to journalists who gained access to the Police files, some precisions which Bergier did not have.

***

The problem can be resumed in two points:

1.  A man mysteriously disappears without a trace in New York on the evening of 14 June 1876.

2.  An individual, having the features and clothes of the missing man appears, no less mysteriously, in a crowd on Broadway on the evening of 14 June 1950.

Did the man from 1876 leap into the future?

We know that the first fact relates indubitably to Rudolf Fentz Senior.  The second, however, does not necessarily imply a “reappearance” of the 1876 person.  There could be other explanations.

A collective hallucination has to be excluded because the body of the man run-over in Times Square was autopsied and buried.

***

Broadway around 1860 was a calm neighbourhood with provincial charm.

There is the possibility that a friend of the Fentz family, knowing of Rudolf Fentz’ disappearance, decided to play a practical joke.

This hypothetical person would have dressed up in similar clothes to the missing man, in 1950, would have mingled with the crowd on Broadway, would have drawn attention to himself by his strange comportment and would have committed suicide exclusively so that the Police, when they find the dollars and papers dating from 1876 in his pockets, would be placed before an insoluble enigma.  That seems a bit far-fetched.

***

For the moment, we have to be content with Jacques Bergier’s explanation:

“We find ourselves before a flagrant, irrefutable example of instantaneous “chronotransfer” or time travelling.”

According to him, this man would have penetrated, without knowing it, “some crack in the spatial-temporal continuum”.  This co-author of the Matin des Magiciens adds:

“Perhaps he is not the only one…”

He is doubtless alluding to the sudden and inexplicable disappearances of some people…

***

Broadway’s aspect in 1950 would have stunned a man from the XIXth Century who was used to the slow rhythm of a big village and hadn’t seen cars, skyscrapers, cinemas, television, or even electricity before.

There are people who run away, mountaineers who fall into crevasses, solo sailors who sink in the middle of the ocean, hikers who perish in forest fires and perfect crimes…

However, there are also the people who literally “disappear” before the eyes of witnesses.  Here is an example.  It is something which took place in the United States in 1880.  On the 23 September to be precise.  On this day, the weather is fine and David Lang, a farmer in the neighbourhood of Gallatin, Tennessee, is walking in a field with his wife and children.  Around six o’clock, as the sun is starting to set, the Langs come back towards the farm.  When they are less than fifty metres from the road, the children see a car belonging to Judge August Peck, a friend of the family, arriving.  They call out:

“Look!.  There’s Mr Peck!”

David Lang immediately raises his hand and calls out:

“Hello, August!”

Mrs Lang waves to him.  Then she turns toward her husband and remains stunned:  he has disappeared.  She searches all around her.  No-one.  Then she calls:

“David, where are you?”

Judge Peck leaps from his car and runs over.  He is white-faced.

“What happened to David?”

“I don’t know.  He was here a minute ago…”

“I know.  I saw him wave to me…  And I was going to respond when, before he had even lowered his arm, he had disappeared.”

Everyone then inspects the ground without finding the slightest hole, the slightest crack where the unfortunate farmer could have fallen.

For days, the terrain is tested without any trace of an excavation being found.   And no-one ever found out what happened to David Lang who had disappeared in a field, in the midst of his family, before the eyes of his friend Judge Peck…

***

It is possible that David Lang also found himself in another time.  Some scientists no longer dismiss this possibility.

***

Guy Breton concludes that eyes are opening, that Science is advancing with giant steps and that one day, it will be announced in the media as a perhaps rare, but perfectly explicable thing, that Mr Rudolf Fentz Senior did not return home one evening in June 1876, because he had been run over by a car, in 1950…

***

In 1876, the only cars that Rudolf Fentz would have seen looked like this. Nothing in these primitive engines announced the sumptuous Cadillacs which were to be seen 74 years later on Broadway.

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