They Walked Among Us
by Louie Harris


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Eventually, it was the turn of one of the substitute sitters to be greeted. As Rohan (the materialised spirit) was about to take his hands in welcome, the man sprang forward and grabbed him!

Throwing his arms around the spirit figure, he held on to him tightly, shouting, "I've got you!" The sitter was obviously convinced he had captured the draped medium in the act of duplicity, masquerading as a spirit form.

As Rohan's figure quickly dematerialised there was a loud groan from Alec in the cabinet. Then carne a cry of pain as the ectoplasm swiftly returned to his body with the impact of a sledge-hammer.

The treacherous sitter fell dazed to the floor as the "solid" body he had held so tightly minutes before disappeared. I threw myself on him, desperately flailing with my hands, sobbing: "Oh don't! You'll kill my husband! You fool, you'll kill him!"

The man looked up at me, his eyes wide, terrified. The realisation dawned on him it had not been the medium he had grasped, but what it purported to be, a fully materialised spirit form.

Meanwhile the second impostor, taking advantage of the commotion that ensued, rushed to the window and pulled aside the closed curtains, having previously tampered with them during the "meditation" session earlier. This revealed his confederates outside the window. They had a battery of cameras focused on the seance room, on the cabinet in particular.

Lenses immediately clicked furiously as flash bulbs exploded. I glanced frantically in the cabinet's direction, and realised with profound relief that our guides were doing all in their power to protect their medium. They had swathed the curtains around Alec, completely enveloping him so that he was immune to the blinding flashes of light being so ruthlessly directed at him.

I was utterly bewildered and sick with dread for Alec, knowing what he must have suffered by the sudden impact of the returning ectoplasm. It all happened so quickly everybody was stunned.

The two journalists were the first to recover. They made a dash for the door in a bid to escape, but my niece Phyllis and her husband, Trevor, followed close on their heels in hot pursuit. One chose the kitchen exit. Trevor rescued him from the clutches of the dog who added its services in intercepting the fleeing man. The other ran wildly down the passage and was cornered by a very irate Phyllis and several male sitters in the lounge. This, to his chagrin, he found securely locked. Escape was impossible. All arrogance deserted him. He cringed apologetically.

"You tried to kill my uncle," Phyllis raged. "Why? Did you think he was a fake?" When the man did not answer,

Phyllis went on angrily, "Now you know he isn't." In disgust she told him to leave and take his friend with him. Two very frightened men, sobered by what they had seen, ran off into the night to join their confederates in a waiting car parked some distance down the street.

When Alec came out of trance he was patently very ill. He had a severe pain which persisted for some weeks in his solar plexus. A doctor was called. He treated Alec weekly for many months. Rohan, too, suffered adverse effects and needed, we were told by the scientist, a period of recuperation.

There was a sequel to this unhappy encounter. A short time after the "exposure", Alec and I were sitting in conversation with a doctor friend when my husband stopped speaking in mid sentence and was entranced. Alec's eyes closed, his face became relaxed. A soft baritone voice announced, "Rohan."

"I have come to tell you," he said, "that greater care must be taken of the medium. If there should be a repetition of the accident which took place a few weeks ago we will not be able to protect the medium as we then did. It was fortunate it was I who was materialised at the time. I knew what to do and was able to take the full shock of the encounter. By the time it reached the medium it was less severe. But I doubt that I shall be able to do this again. Take care!" I thanked Rohan and promised it would never occur again if it was humanly possible to avoid such a catastrophe. I then raised a point which had been worrying me.

"Rohan, what about all those photographs they took and are going to publish?" I asked.

"Do not worry about that," he said. "We have made certain all the films will be blank."

So it turned out to be. The magazine had promised readers in a previous issue it would give full photo coverage to the "exposure" of Alec's mediumship. These pictures never appeared. Obviously there were no photographs to print.

When Vidie heard how the exchange of seats had been engineered she was very upset and reacted in her typical outspoken manner. She wrote a letter to the man who had originally secured the two seats. "Herewith your 30 pieces of silver!" were among her words. The Biblical inference was appropriate and, she hoped, humiliating to the perpetrator of such shameful treachery.

I noticed a great change in Alec after the exposure attempt. His health was not as robust as before. Something seemed to have gone out of him. He slowed down considerably. Alec had always been such an energetic person, constantly looking for things to do about the home. Now everything seemed to be an effort.

Vidie thought a trip to Britain might help Alec, and restore his zest for living. In May 1962 we accompanied her to the United Kingdom. Alec did not look at all well. I decided that as soon as we reached Cardiff he should see our doctor and have a check-up.
We visited Peggy, our dear pianist friend of yore, and spent happy hours chatting of the old days.

After we left her, and were on our way to visit Alec's brother I noticed that Alec's driving was very erratic. He seemed to have difficulty keeping the car on a straight course. Alec managed to negotiate the vehicle through Cardiff's busy streets without mishap. We were driving slowly along a quiet road where his brother lived when the car suddenly swerved violently and landed on the pavement, where it came to a halt. Alec was slumped in his seat looking very strange.

"I can't feel anything down my right side," he gasped. "My right leg and arm are numb." His speech was slightly slurred.

Fortunately my brother-in-law, anticipating our arrival, was waiting by his gate. He saw the mishap take place and quickly ran to give assistance. Moving Alec into the passenger seat, he got behind the wheel and took us to his house. He then drove us back to an aunt's home. Alec refused to allow a doctor to be called. He did not wish to disturb the household. By then, it was midnight.

The doctor came early next morning and told me he would get my husband to hospital at once. As we were in Cardiff where all our old healing circle members lived, I felt Alec would be better at home receiving treatment from them. The doctor reluctantly agreed, provided Alec was watched very carefully.

Alec was sedated for five days. When the doctor made another examination he was very surprised at the improvement in my husband's condition. But Alec continued to make good progress. We remained in Cardiff for a further four weeks. Vidie came down to drive us back to London.

The sea air and plenty of rest on our return trip did Alec a lot of good. He seemed very much better. When we arrived in Durban to stay with our children they were dismayed at the change in their father.

It took two years before he was anything like his old self again.

Once home, we gave occasional circles, but only for immediate friends, not the public. Alec's confidence in sitters had been sadly shaken. He could never again be completely relaxed and at ease as in the days before the seance room betrayal. His health was not as good as previously. Spirit friends had difficulty in materialising.

When we first sat nothing happened, but we were asked to be patient as there would have to be a period of redevelopment. There did not seem to be enough power for materialisations to form completely, or as strongly, as before. Sometimes they could not build to their proper height. On other occasions only portions of their figures took shape, perhaps an arm, leg or face, unrecognisable in incompleteness. When a form did build fully there would be a long wait until the next materialisation. Before the incident, when one spirit form returned to the cabinet another would step out almost immediately.

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