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This book is a faithful record, so far as I can make it, of the most
marvellous phenomena which have come under my observation during the
last sixteen or seventeen years. I have used my notes (made immediately
after the sittings) and also my reports to the American Psychical
Society (of which I was at one time a director) as the basis of my
story. For literary purposes I have substituted fictitious names for
real names, and imaginary characters for the actual individuals
concerned; but I have not allowed these necessary expedients to
interfere with the precise truth of the account.
For example, _Miller_, an imaginary chemist, has been put in the place
of a scientist much older than thirty-five, in whose library the
inexplicable “third sitting” took place. _Fowler_, also, is not intended
to depict an individual. The man in whose shoes he stands is one of the
most widely read and deeply experienced spiritists I have ever known,
and I have sincerely tried to present through _Fowler_ the argument
which his prototype might have used. _Mrs. Quigg_, _Miss Brush_,
_Howard_, the _Camerons_, and most of the others, are purely imaginary.
The places in which the sittings took place are not indicated, for the
reason that I do not wish to involve any unwilling witnesses.
In the case of the psychics, they are, of course, delineated exactly as
they appeared to me, although I have concealed their real names and
places of residence. _Mrs. Smiley_, whose admirable patience under
investigation makes her an almost ideal subject, is the chief figure
among my “mediums,” and I have tried to give her attitude toward us and
toward her faith as she expressed it in our sittings, although the
conversation is necessarily a mixture of imagination and memory. _Mrs.
Hartley_ is a very real and vigorous character–a professional psychic,
it is true, but a woman of intelligence and power. Those in private life
I have guarded with scrupulous care, and I am sure that none of them,
either private or professional, will feel that I have wilfully
misrepresented what took place. My aim throughout has been to deal
directly and simply with the facts involved.
I have not attempted to be profound or mystical or even scientific, but
I have tried to present clearly, simply, and as nearly without bias as
possible, an account of what I have seen and heard. The weight of
evidence seems, at the moment, to be on the side of the biologists; but
I am willing to reopen the case at any time, although I am, above all,
a man of the open air, of the plains and the mountains, and do not
intend to identify myself with any branch of metapsychical research. It
is probable, therefore, that this is my one and final contribution to
the study of _the shadow world_.
CHICAGO, _July, 1908_.