‘No, he doesn’t seem to think so. Some were raised up round; he was sitting down, and some were raised up at the back of him. Some were standing, and some were sitting, he thinks.’
(Here is a correct description, anyhow; it is an even chance whether he is sitting or standing, and, the sitting chance being taken, the rest is padding. We are told on page 279 that another photograph showed him standing, so that a hit could have been scored if the other chance had been taken.)
O. J. L.: ‘Did he have a stick?’
‘He doesn’t remember that.’
(Yet the presence of a stick in the picture is hailed on page 110 as one of the strikingly correct peculiarities mentioned by Raymond. Be it noted that the stick was spoken of in connection with one of the three photographs that the family was said to have _before he went away_, and is used as ‘evidence’ concerning _the one sent home from France_.)
O. J. L.: ‘Was it out of doors?’
Feda (_sotto voce_): ‘What you mean, “yes practically,” must have been out of doors or not out of doors. You mean yes, don’t you?’
Feda thinks he means ‘yes,’ because he says ‘practically’.
O. J. L.: ‘It may have been a shelter.’
‘It might have been. Try to show Feda. At the back he shows me lines going down. It looks like a black background, with lines at the back of them. (Feda here kept drawing vertical lines in the air.)’
(The shelter is suggested by O. J. L.; Feda takes the hint and visualises the shelter. Most shelters have vertical lines in their structure. Such lines occur in the photograph and are strong ‘evidence.’ The background is not black except for two open windows.)
The only revelation worthy of attention is this: ‘He remembers that some one wanted to lean on him; but he is not sure if he was taken with some one leaning on him…. The last what he gave you, what were a B, will be rather prominent in that photograph. It wasn’t taken in a photographer’s place.’ (Few out-door groups are.)
In the photograph he has some one’s hand resting on his shoulder, and an ambiguous guess scores a hit. As for B, Sir Oliver writes: ‘I have asked several people which member of the group seemed most prominent; and except as regards central position a well-lighted standing figure on the right has usually been pointed to as the most prominent. This one is “B”, as stated, namely, Captain S. T. Boast.’
Some initials are guessed–C, B, R, and K. As there are twenty-one people in the group, and the alphabet contains only twenty-four letters (excluding X and Z), it is hardly a mathematical surprise that seventy-five per cent. are correct.
So much for the photograph that proved to be ‘exactly as he described it’ (Sir Arthur) and ‘one of the best pieces of evidence that has been given’ (Sir Oliver).
‘All sorts of details of his home life’ we must suppose refers to the scenery of Woolacombe, the tent, the boat that went (or didn’t) on land, the song about Hululu and the Hottentot, the fishing rods that are not understood at present, and so on.
As a test of unintentional garbling I asked a professional man, who had read _Raymond_ sympathetically, to give me a short account of what the medium said about the photograph. Here is his version, and it must be understood that he knew I should criticise it:–
‘Sir Oliver Lodge was told by a medium that Raymond wished to tell him about a photograph taken in France. The medium said the photograph was of a group of officers including Raymond–a photo Sir Oliver had not seen. _There were lines running vertically in the background. Raymond is seated._ Some one’s knee was preventing him from sitting comfortably and annoyed him. He was holding a stick. _The photo was out of doors_, but in a sheltered position.’
The only points in which this tallies with the book description of what the medium (not Sir Oliver) said are those shown by the words in italic. The rest is garbled, and for the garbling my friend and Sir Oliver are about equally responsible.
I have since asked other intelligent people to read the chapter and then write out the story; the result is generally similar to that just given. The affair is such a to-do about nothing that the sympathetic and uncritical reader, deceived by the fuss, thinks there must be something in it and makes additions of his own to account for his belief. Had he read it critically he would have recognised the emptiness of the story, but once he is impressed by it he must improve it or become aware of its flimsiness.