The Histories I - The Co-Incidents
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On the fourth of August, 1909, a woman named Martha Pankhearst was clearing up the house after a big evening meal with her family. She lived by Mink Cove, a scattering of houses on Digby Neck, Nova Scotia. Through the window above the kitchen sink, she could just make out the lights in the town of Weymouth over the bay.
As she was washing the dishes, at about 9.30pm, there was a flash of electric blue light which caused her to look up from her work. The sky behind Weymouth was lit with a bright turquoise light, and in a few seconds, the room was shaking. She held onto the side of the sink, transfixed by what she saw. Her husband, David, ran into the room asking what was going on. By way of a reply, she pointed out of the window. A loud rumble could now be heard getting louder and they both looked on at the strange sky.
This phenomenon was witnessed by only a few people. In New Tuskett, south of Weymouth, a pig breeder saw the same light in the sky, and it still looked to be behind Weymouth. A girl in Barton, to the north, saw the very same thing.
All eye witness accounts placed the centre of the strange light at Weymouth. However, no one in that town saw anything strange in the sky at all. They did, however, have to deal with a fire that started near the centre of town at close to midnight. This burnt down quite a few buildings, including two churches.
The Langton Grange, a refrigerated steam cargo ship spent the 4th August traversing the Irish Sea. En route from Glasgow, its intended destination was Newport in Wales. Captain Graves ran a crew of 53, after dropping his pilot off at Greenock. The ship was running in ballast, ready for its next cargo pickup in Newport.
At around 1.30am, the Captain saw that a heading adjustment was needed. They had spotted Stumble Head lighthouse for a moment, but a fog descended over the ship quite quickly, and a proper bearing could not be taken. An hour later, The Langton Grange struck an underground rock and became stranded. It took over four days for the ship to finally break in two and sink beneath the waves. All those on the ships roster were saved.
Captain Graves was found to be at fault, and was censured. Others among the crew, though, felt that there was more to the story.
David Gimmel, an engineer on the crew, writes this to his fiance in Bristol:
I am stuck in Newport for a few days while they carry out the investigation. Still getting over the shock of it! It was a grim night, that's for sure.
They are bound to be blaming the Captain, and by all accounts he made some errors there. But something else was going on. One of the holds was off limits during that stretch from Glasgow. Someone was inside it though. We could hear them banging and clattering around. And the fog that overcame us dropped down like a ton of bricks!
Something conspired against us, that for sure. Something… unnatural.
The ships records from that day show no cargo, or passengers en route from Glasgow to Newport.
28 year old, George Henri Duchemin was a Parisian pork butcher. He was skilled at his job, but preferred to live off his mother's paltry salary.
Unsurprisingly, she eventually refused his request for money. George responding by murdering her, and stealing what little money was in her possession.
When asked about the murder, George said,
“I asked her to give me a 50-franc-note, which I knew she possessed. She said, ‘No, you shall have no more money from me.’ Then I went into a passion, seized my mother, who was only partly dressed, and determined to strangle her. In five minutes she fell to the floor. But she was not dead, and was groaning, so I took out my knife and cut her throat.”
George was sentenced to death, and early in the morning of the 5th August, 1909, crowds began to gather around La Sante prison. Paris had not seen the fall of a Guillotine blade in over ten years, and the event was a special occasion for the public.
Because of the public interest in the execution, little was made of the deaths of some twenty people who were trampled to death in the crowd. The throng down a nearby sidestreet suddenly rushed towards the main roads, having no thought to those poor souls who they were trampling on. Louise Beranger later wrote to her mother about the occurrence.
"I was so scared. Terrified. I was just walking along towards the prison with my friend Florette. There was shouting from behind us, and we turned to see the ground opening up. A great blackness was there, in the middle of the street, and then this thing climbed out. It was Death. It had to be Death, coming for that mother-killer. We ran. We went mad and we ran!"
In the Flatiron district of Manhattan, New York, The Masonic Hall occupies the entire end of a block, between 23rd and 24th street. Apart from an ornate golden doorway, and some stained glass, it otherwise looks like a run-of-the-mill office building. On August 4th, 1909, this was the venue for a talk by the infamous President of the Theosophical Society: Mrs Annie Besant. Her subject was "Reincarnation".
Despite the heavy rain, the Masonic Hall was packed with damp postulants eagre to hear Besant's ideas.
The New York Times reported on the proceedings, indicating that to make her points about reincarnation, orthodoxy and science clear, Mrs Besant took the cases of children born and brought up under different circumstances.
"Here is a baby, dead after a few hours of life. Orthodox churches say he is gone to heaven. But is that fair to those of us who have to grow up, meet temptation, perhaps fall and go to hell? The first soul got to heaven without any effort; the second is damned even though it may have done pretty stout fighting.
"Here is a slum child, and it is born under such conditions that it is practically doomed to end life a criminal, and to go to hell, according to orthodox churches. Here is a genius, born in a good bodym, surrounded by careful guardians and teachers, coaxed into virtue, dying an honorable death, with good works piled up behind, and going to heaven. But is this fair to the slum child? It is not! The slum child had no chance!"
At the time, reincarnation was a largely unknown theory in the west, especially amongst the masses. Besant painted a picture of an ever upward struggle, life after life, with innumerable chances for betterment.
In the audience was one Arthur Legge-Phillips, recently arrived from London. He listened with great interest, rising at the end to applaud. He then walked briskly towards an area which should have been off limits.
He found the stairs that led down to the basement area, and made his way to the farthest corner where the electric lights did not reach. It took just over a year for him to be found.
A rat-catcher had been hired by the Hall, and during his search of the basement, the desiccated remains of Legge-Phillips were found. He had apparently died face down, positioned within a large circle.
Four incidents, seemingly unconnected, except for the fact that they apparently happened at exactly the same time. It would take one man's tenacity, and over two years of travel and research to link these four events, and eventually many others, to a small group of people that met regularly in London, England.