An Extraordinary Wedding by Edward Page Mitchell
Professor Daniel Dean Moody of Edinburgh, a gentleman equally well
known as a profound psychologist and as an honest and keen-eyed
investigator of the phenomena sometimes called spiritualistic, visited
this country not many months ago and was entertained in Boston by Dr.
Thomas Fullerton at his delightful home on Mount Vernon Street. One
evening when there were present in Dr. Fullerton's parlors, besides
himself and his Scotch guest, Dr. Curtis of the medical school of the
Boston University, the Reverend Dr. Amos Cutler of the Lynde Street
Church, Mr. Magnus of West Newton, three ladies, and the writer, the
conversation turned to subjects of an occult character.
"There once lived in Aberdeen," said Professor Moody, "a medium
named Jenny McGraw, of slender intellectuality, but of remarkable
psychic strength. Two hundred years ago you good people of Boston would
have hanged Jenny for a witch. I have seen in her cottage
materialization for which I could not and cannot account by any
hypothesis of deception or of hallucination. I have seen forms come
forth, not from any cabinet or trick closet, but extruded before my
eyes from the person of Jenny herself, hanging nebulous in the air for
a moment and then slowly taking corporate shape. That there was no
vulgar trick about this I am willing to stake my scientific reputation.
One night Plato himself, or an eidolon claiming to be Plato, emerged
from Jenny McGraw's bosom and conversed with me for full fifteen
minutes upon the duality of the idea, the medium, in the meanwhile,
Dr. Fullerton exchanged a significant glance with his wife. Their
guest intercepted it and said:
"You don't believe me? No wonder."
"Not that," rejoined Dr. Fullerton. "Your testimony as a scientific
observer is worthy of all possible respect. But what became of Jenny
"She was a dull, unsympathetic young woman, hardly to be classed as
a rational being. So far from becoming interested in these wonderful
manifestations exhibited through her organization, she was excessively
annoyed by them, and I believe she finally left Scotland to escape the
troublesome spirits and the still more troublesome mortals who flocked
to her cottage and sadly interfered with her washing, ironing, and
"A Yankee girl," said Mr. Magnus, "would have turned such powers to
account and have made her fortune."
"Jenny McGraw," replied Professor Moody, "whom I believe to be the
only medium in the world capable of producing materializations in the
broad light and independently of her surroundings, was thrifty enough,
like all Scotchwomen, but she hadn't the intelligence to recognize the
opportunity. She was frequently advised to go before the public. Advice
is wasted on the Scotch. I don't know where she is at present"
Dr. Fullerton again glanced at his wife. Mrs. Fullerton arose and
touched a bell.
The door soon opened, and there appeared a lumpy, red-haired
domestic, who curtsied awkwardly as she entered the room.
"Did ye rang, ma'am?" she asked.
"Jenny," said Mrs. Fullerton, "here is an old friend of yours from
The girl showed no sign of surprise. Scarcely a shade of recognition
passed over her stupid countenance as she walked sullenly up to the
professor and sullenly took his extended hand.
"I didna ken ye was cam to America, Maister Moody," she said, and
looked around as if she would be glad to escape the learned
"Now, with your permission, Mrs. Fullerton," said the professor,
looking over Jenny McGraw's shoulder toward his hostess, "we will ask
the young woman if she will kindly assist us in an investigation which
we purpose to make."
Jenny looked up suspiciously and turned her small, dull eyes from
her master to her mistress, and from her mistress to the door.
"I'm na ower fond of sic investigatin'," she stolidly remarked, "an'
it gies me a pain in the breast to brang oot the auld ghaists, as ye na
doot remember wull, Maister Moody."
For a long time the girl stubbornly refused to renew her relations
with the mysterious yonder. I have forgotten what argument or plea it
was that at last won her to a reluctant consent. I have not forgotten
The room was as light as the full blaze of five gas jets could make
it. Under this blaze, and surrounded by the partly amused, partly
skeptical company, jenny was seated in a Turkish easy chair. She did
not form an attractive picture, short, squat, sandy, freckled, and
peevish-eyed as she was. "Good Lord!" I whispered to a neighbor. "Do
glorified spirits choose such a channel as that when they wish to come
back to us?"
"Hush!" said Professor Moody. "The girl is passing into a
The swinish eyes opened and closed. A sluggish convulsion fluttered
across the flabby cheeks. A sigh or two, a nervous twitching of her
chair, breathing heavily.
"Ineffectively simulated coma," whispered Dr. Curtis to me, "and not
the work of an artist. This is a farce."
For fifteen or twenty minutes we sat in patience, the stillness
broken only by the rough respiration of the girl. Then one or two of
the party began to yawn, and the hostess, fearing that the experiment
was becoming a bore, moved as if to break up the circle. But Professor
Moody raised his hand in protest. Before he dropped it he made a rapid
gesture which directed all our eyes toward Jenny McGraw.
Her head and bust seemed to be enveloped in a dim, thin film of
opalescent vapor, which floated free about her, yet was fixed at one
point, as a wreath of blue smoke hangs at the end of a good cigar. The
point of attachment appeared to be in the neighborhood of Jenny's
heart. She had stopped breathing loudly, and was as pale as the dead;
but her face was no whiter than that of Dr. Curtis. I felt his hand
groping for mine. He found it and clutched it till it was numb.
While we watched, the vapor that proceeded from Jenny's bosom grew
in volume and became opaque. It was like a dark, well-defined cloud,
floating before our eyes, here gathering itself in and extending itself
there, till at last the shape was perfect.
You have seen a dim, meaningless object under a lens gradually
define itself as it was brought into focus, and suddenly stand out
clear and sharp. Or, better, you have seen at a shadow pantomime a
vague, amorphous cloudiness intensify and take shape as the person
approached the screen, until it became a perfect silhouette. Now,
imagine the silhouette stepping forth into your presence a solidified
fact, and you get some idea of the marvelous transition by which this
shadow from a world we know not of stepped forth into the midst of our
I looked across the room at the Reverend Dr. Cutler. He was clasping
his forehead with both hands. I have never seen a more striking picture
of mingled horror, terror, and perplexity.
The newcomer was a man of twenty-eight or thirty, of fine features
and dignified bearing. He made a courteous bow to the assemblage, but
when he saw that Professor Moody was about to speak put his finger to
his lips and glanced back uneasily at the medium. I fancied that an
expression of disgust stole over his handsome countenance when he
perceived how unlovely was the gateway through which he had returned to
earth. Nevertheless, he kept his eyes fixed upon Jenny McGraw's pallid
face and folded his arms as if waiting.
We were now thoroughly under the spell of this mysterious happening.
With eager expectation, but without surprise, we saw again the
phenomena of the cloud, the shadow, the concentration, and the
Slowly out of the white mist and nebulous shadow there took form the
most beautiful woman that mortal eyes ever beheld. It was a woman--a
living, breathing woman, her magnificent lips slightly parted, her
bosom rising and falling beneath a garment of wonderfully woven
texture, her glorious black eyes shining upon us till our heads swam
and our thoughts reeled. It would be easier to fathom the secret of her
being than to describe the unearthly beauty that startled and awed
The first corner unfolded his arms, and with the tenderness of a
lover and the deference due a queen, took the shapely white hand of the
marvelous lady and led her forth to the middle of the room. She said no
word, but suffered herself to be guided by his hand, and stood like an
empress scanning our faces and habiliments with a puzzled curiosity in
which it was possible to detect the slightest trace of disdain. He
spoke at last in a low voice.
"Friends," he slowly said, "a great love carried one who was lately
a mortal into the presence of a goddess. A greater good fortune befell
him than his small sacrifices had earned. I cannot speak more plainly.
Hear our entreaty and grant it without questioning. There is here a
servant of the church, duly qualified to pronounce the only words that
can crown a love like mine. That love reached back over centuries to
meet its object, and was sealed by a willing death. We come from
another world to ask to be joined in wedlock according to the forms of
Strange as it may seem, the preceding events had so attuned our
consciousness to the spirit of the surroundings that we heard this
extraordinary speech without amazement. And when Mr. Magnus of West
Newton, who would preserve his cool, matter-of-fact manner in the
company of archangels, audibly whispered, "Eloped, by Jove, from the
spirit land!" His words jarred harshly in our ears.
The Reverend Dr. Amos Cutler displayed most strikingly the effect of
the glamor that had been thrown over our nineteenth-century common
sense. That pious man rose from his chair with a dazed and helpless
look in his face, and, like one walking in his sleep, advanced toward
Raising his hand to command silence, he solemnly and deliberately
asked the questions that by usage of the church are preliminary to the
marriage rite. The man responded in a clear, triumphant tone. The bride
answered only by a slight inclination of her beautiful head.
"Then," continued Dr. Cutler, "in the presence of these witnesses, I
pronounce you man and wife. And God forgive me," he added, "for lending
myself to the Devil's works by the sacrilege of this act."
One by one we passed up to take the bridegroom's hand and salute the
bride. His hand was like the hand of a marble statue, but a radiant
smile brightened his face. At a whispered suggestion from him, she bent
her regal head, and allowed each one of us to kiss her cheek. It was
soft and blood-warm.
When Dr. Cutler saluted her she smiled for the first time and, with
a rapid, graceful movement detached from her black hair a great pearl
and put it in his hand. He gazed at it a moment and, then on a sudden
impulse, flung it into the open grate. In the hot blaze, Dr. Cutler's
wedding fee whitened, calcined, crumbled, and disappeared.
Then the bridegroom led his wife back to the chair where the medium
still sat entranced. He clasped her close in his arms. Their melting
forms interblended in shadowy vapor, and, fading slowly away, this
newly married couple found their nuptial pillow in the bosom of Jenny
One day after Professor Moody had left Boston, I went to the
Athaeneum Library in search of certain facts and dates regarding the
Franco-Prussian war. While turning over the leaves of a bound file of
the London DAILY NEVVS for 1871 my eyes happened to fall upon the
The Vienna FREIE PRESSE says that at four o'clock in the afternoon
of July 12 a young man of good appearance shot himself through the
heart in the east corridor of the Imperial Gallery. It was at the hour
of closing the gallery, and the young man had been warned by an
attendant that he must depart. He was standing motionless before Herr
Hans Makart's fine picture of "Cleopatra's Barge," and paid no heed to
the admonition. When it was repeated more emphatically he pointed in an
absent manner to the painting, and having remarked, "Is not that a
woman worth dying for!" drew a pistol and fired with fatal effect.
There is no clue to the suicide's individuality except that afforded
at the Golden Lamb Hotel, where he was registered simply as "Cotton."
He had been in Vienna several weeks, had spent money freely, and had
frequently been observed at the Imperial Gallery, always before this
picture of Cleopatra. The unfortunate youth is believed to have been
I made a careful copy of this brief story, and sent it, without
comment, to the Reverend Dr. Cutler. A day or two later he returned it
with a note.
"The events of that night at Dr. Fullerton's," he wrote, "are to me
as the events of a dimly remembered dream. Pardon me if I say that it
will be a kindness to let me forget them altogether."