Украденное тело

the stolen body


Mr Bessel was a partner in the company Bessel, Hart, and Brown, of St Paul's Churchyard. Among those researchers concerned with the study of the mind, he was known as a very thorough investigator, but also as someone always prepared to listen to new ideas. He was unmarried and occupied rooms in the Albany, near Piccadilly. He was particularly interested in the transfer of thought and in apparitions of the living. In November 1896 he and Mr Vincent, of Staple Inn, began experiments to see if it was possible to send an apparition of themselves through space, by the power of thought.

At an arranged time, Mr Bessel shut himself in one of his rooms in the Albany and Mr Vincent in his living room in Staple Inn. Each then fixed his thoughts on the other, and Mr Bessel attempted, by the power of thought, to transfer himself as a 'living ghost' across the space of two miles to Mr Vincent's apartment. On several evenings this was tried without any satisfactory result, but on the fifth or sixth attempt, Mr Vincent did actually see or imagine he saw an apparition of Mr Bessel standing in his room. He noticed that Mr Bessel's face was white, his expression was anxious, and his hair was untidy. For a moment Mr Vincent was too surprised to speak or move, and in that moment the figure seemed to glance over its shoulder and disappear.

They had arranged to attempt to photograph any apparition, but Mr Vincent was too slow to use the camera on the table beside him. However, excited by the first sign of success, he wrote down the exact time and at once took a taxi to the Albany to tell Mr Bessel.

He was surprised to find Br Bessel's outside door open to the night, and lights on in the apartment. More surprising than this, a champagne bottle lay smashed on the floor, a table had been pushed over, and there were black fingermarks on the walls. One of the curtains had been torn down and thrown on to the fire and the smell of burning filled the room.

A shocked Mr Vincent hurried to the porter's house at the entrance to the Albany. 'Where is Mr Bessel?' he asked. 'Do you know that all the furniture is broken in his room?'

The porter said nothing, but came to Mr Bessel's apartment. When he saw the mess, he said, 'I didn't know about this. Mr Bessel's gone away. He's mad!'