In the year 1882 (as recorded in the archives of the SPR) an antiquary of the city of Bristol received the visit of an old woman whom he would describe later as a witch. She wanted to sell him an oval mirror that she wore wrapped in a dirty cloth that in the past would have been colored but now it was as black as soot. The mirror was already old when the old woman had not yet been born, so the antiquarian was predisposed to buy it at a reasonable price, which for him meant dirt-chip.
“Why do you want to get rid of it?” he asked. “Because it does not work anymore”. The antiquary saw the opportunity to depreciate the mirror and, contemplating in it his own reflection, confirmed that the patina was worn and consequently the reflection obscured. “That’s not the problem,” replied the old woman, and clarified that it was a magic mirror. Upon hearing this, the antiquarian felt like laughing, but repressed laughter and instead made an offer to the old woman. After a brief bargaining they both reached an agreement and she left the shop.
The antiquarian rubbed his hands contentedly and hurried to pick up a picture blackened by time and hang the mirror in its place. While looking at it, he remembered its “magical” quality and erupted in a loud laugh. Instantly he received such a slap that stopped the laugh in its tracks. Furious, the antique dealer looked around for the aggressor but did not see anyone, so he let it go.
The next day, a regular client noticed the mirror and questioned the owner, who told him about the excellent acquisition. While both were contemplating the golden carved frame, the antiquarian told the anecdote of its presumed magical quality. The customer could not repress the laughter, and the antiquarian stupefied heard a solemn smack that hit the client’s face and almost pulled him back. The painful client turned to the antiquarian saying angrily: “How dare you?”, and hit him with a punch that knocked him down.
A few days later, two distinguished members of the Society for Psychical Research appeared at the antique shop, ready to unravel the mystery that the owner had brought to his attention. They found the mirror covered with a Turkish mat. The antiquarian immediately realized the disbelief of the two men when perceiving their mutual glares and smothered giggles. “For Heaven’s sake, do not laugh!” he warned. But one of them raised the mat, pressed his face to the mirror and disguising his voice said: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”.
The invisible punch that came out of the mirror, projected the SPR member at such a distance that, when the infernal noise of precious metals knocking together, shattering glasses and broken china ceased, the antique shop looked like a battlefield, in the midst of which laid the mourning body of the respectable Mr… (I omit his name for merciful reasons), with a bloody nose and an expression of stupor on his mustachioed face.
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