Friday, September 5, 2014

Tolling of the Bells

A Canadian resident of Prince Edward Island told this 1st person account in the 1950s.

My wife and I moved to Charlottetown in October of 1953. It was my first time on the island but since we both had relatives on the island it felt like a homecoming.

A few weeks after moving into our new home I was awakened one night by the tolling of a church bell.

When I heard the sound I sat bolt upright, I noticed goose bumps forming all over my arms. My wife awoke and then quizzed me on what was wrong.

I couldn’t put into words what I was feeling. A strong sense of dread overtook me as the bells continued to toll slowly… two, three, four more times.

Noticing my confusion she stated it was probably just a midnight service somewhere.

Still uncomfortable, I lied back down. A sense that something was wrong overwhelmed me.

I sat back up as the bell tolled two more times, five, six… my wife impatient announced over the sounds, “Go back to sleep for heaven’s sake.”

The bell continued to toll, seven, eight…then all was quiet.

A knot of unease had formed in my stomach and I had trouble getting back to sleep. I shivered at one point feeling the proverbial sense something had walked over my grave.

I awoke the next morning feeling that the tolling of the bell held some kind of unfathomable significance.

After breakfast, I visited the local dry goods store. As I paid for my purchases I noticed a cousin of mine huddled in a group of men at the back of the store. When he spotted me he waved me over.

The group was having an animated discussion about the bells heard the night before.

My cousin asked one man standing to the side to catch me up. The group became silent as this man started to speak.

When I heard the bells ringing at St. John’s I went outside in my undershirt. My neighbor was already outside.

We both agreed it was probably just teens playing a prank. We headed toward the churchyard.

As we arrived the bell rang for the fifth time. We spotted 3 women standing framed by the church door. They all wore white and they appeared to be glowing.

Wondering who they were we approached but the door slammed shut as we drew closer. My neighbor grabbed the door handle but it was locked.

We peered in a window and saw one of the three women walking up the stairs that led to the belfry. The bell then tolled for the sixth time.

Within moments the minister arrived and unlocked the door. When we entered there was no sign of the women on the ground floor.

The bell tolled for the seventh time as we headed for the belfry stairs. At the top we discovered the room was empty. The bell rope was tied firmly in place even though the bell was still vibrating.

As we searched the church from top to bottom we heard the bell ring once more--for the eighth time. We found no one in the church.

The bell was now silent. We left the building mystified by what we had heard and seen.

As this man finished retelling this story several others in the group wondered aloud if the sound of the church bell could possibly be a harbinger of some kind-- warning of a disaster.

Later that day I went down to meet my wife’s cousin at the dock who was arriving for a visit. It was a chilly day and I waited for hours but the ship never arrived.

Once at home, I got the same feeling of dread I had felt the night before as the church bell tolled. I told my wife something was wrong.

She told me I was being silly and that the steamer had probably just had mechanical problems and was waylaid for repairs.

The next day the news that came was grim. The ship had sunk en route to Prince Edward Island. All eight passengers onboard--including my wife’s cousin-- had died.

Later, I remembered the church bell had tolled eight times. The last three rings tolled just after the two men had seen the three glowing women.

Three of the eight people who died when the steamer sunk were women.

Did all eight victims toll their deaths?

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