A British clergyman was taking a summer evening walk over the downs near Marlcombe Hill. He was composing in his head a congratulatory letter to a good friend whose birthday would be two days later, on August 20, 1874.
He had barely begun when a voice spoke sharply in his ear: “What, write to a dead man; write to a dead man?”
The clergyman turned hastily around, expecting to see someone behind him. There was only the fading light glazing on the grasses with gold. “Treating the matter as an illusion, I went on with my composition.” The same voice spoke again, this time louder with some impatience, “What, write to a dead man; write to a dead man?”
Again, he turned around. Again, there was no one there. But now he was afraid that it wasn’t an illusion.
After hurrying home, he wrote the letter and sent it anyway. “In reply [I] received from Mrs W the sad, but to me not unexpected, intelligence that her husband was dead.”