A man named John Burgess spent the nights in Highgate Cemetery with the hope of contacting some dead person, that is, a lost soul. For that tortuous way he aspired to be admitted as a member in the Society for Psychical Research (SPR). That was his great aspiration in life, but he did not have a qualification that would support him. He had tried to impress them by doing some somersaults, but Gurney was a much better acrobat, besides they did not need any acrobat at all. What they required -he was told- was someone who maintained contact with the dead. So Burgess made that decision to walk at night among the tombs, which for any other would have been unbearable, but not for him. Burgess was not afraid of anything except of his wife Mildred, and that only when she was present. In fact, that was an added reason to spend the nights away from home. He invented an excuse: he told her that he hunted owls and other nocturnal raptors. However, he never brought any wild game, to which he argued that he had bad aim. But that did not dissipate the suspicions of his wife, since Burgess had no firearm or any other kind. That’s why one night she followed him without him noticing.
It was a moonless night and there were only shadows in the cemetery. But as I said, Burgess was not afraid. He was determined to make friends with a ghost and thus be able to show off before the SPR. Unfortunately the ghosts with whom he had coincided until now turned out to be elusive and shun him. But that night his luck changed. Suddenly he saw a silhouette that was moving toward him at a brisk pace. “Finally a friendly dead!” he told himself happily, and before realizing he received such a slap that it left him senseless. When he came around, he found himself in bed with his wife snoring next to him. Was not that wonder worthy of being brought to the attention of the SPR? He got up in a hurry to get on the first bus to West Kensington and in two shakes of a lamb’s tail he was explaining the wonder to the senior staff of the Society. They were very interested and offered to accompany him to the cemetery that same night. Burgess was so excited that he did not even go home. He spent the day walking around London savoring his triumph. He already saw himself mingling with the most illustrious members of the SPR.
At night they all gathered at the entrance to the cemetery as they had agreed. As soon as he entered, Burgess began shouting: Hey, ghost, I’m John Burgess, I’ve brought some friends who want to meet you! Mr Sidgwick proposed that they separate, and the group scattered among the tombs. Sir William Barret was ringing a bell while reciting the Tibetan Book of the Dead. He was the first to receive a smack. One after another the members of the SPR were falling under the powerful open hand of what turned out to be a devilish female spirit. Burgess was left for the end. The ghost gave him such a beating that for a week poor John Burgess could not get out of bed… where again he had come around that memorable night just as he had the night before. What a prodigious thing!