Ghosts of the Prairie
" The Ghost Story that Never Was"
An Excerpt from the book "Haunted Indiana 2"
by Mark Marimen
In the annals of Indiana Ghostlore one can find a wide variety of bizarre and sometimes inexplicable tales. From accounts of encounters with graveyard apparitions to hauntings at large metropolitan shopping malls, the list of ghostly tales is varied and fascinating. Each of these stories is unique and each carries with it it's own unique ambiance and charm.
However, one of Indiana's most interesting ghostly tales is singular precisely because, in the end, it has no ghost. It is a humorous and ironic story of the age old struggle between the members of the magical arts community and the pseudo-religion called spiritualism. It is a story, some would argue, that speaks to the gullibility of human nature and the willingness of the unscrupulous to make a profit in feeding the human need for hope of life after death. It is truly the greatest Indiana ghost story that never was.
Proponents of the movement that has come to be known as spiritualism claim to be able to trace the origin of their religion back to the mysterious religious rites practiced by the priests of Egypt and Persia. Such an historical lineage may be a bit suspect at best, but what is certain is that more directly and recently, the birthplace of modern spiritualism can be traced back to a ramshackle wooden farmhouse near Hydesville New York.
It was there in the year 1848 that the seeds of a movement that would sweep the nation and the world were sewn. The events themselves began innocuously enough. In March of that year, strange knocking sounds reportedly began to be heard emanating from the bedroom of two sisters, Margaret and Kate Fox. According to the tale (which has been told and retold over the ensuing decades) their father, John, investigated the origins of the mysterious sounds but could find no apparent source. He then questioned his daughters regarding the strange noises, but they denied any knowledge of their origins, despite the fact that the knocking seemed to only occur when one or both girls were in the room.
Over the next several days, the sisters are said to have begun to make a game of communicating with whatever invisible presence was producing the knocks. At first, the girls would call out a question and ask the "spirit" (whom they named "Mr. Splitfoot") to knock once for yes and twice for no. In this way, the spirit was able to accurately answer a number of questions. Within a few days, the girls are said to have devised an elaborate code in order to allow the spirit to communicate more completely. An alphabetical code was developed, whereby a single knock would represent the letter A, two knocks the letter B and so forth. In this way, entire messages could laboriously be conveyed.
According to the old legends, it was through this code that the spirit revealed itself to be that of a peddler who had been murdered in the house by a former owner. Some stories suggest that neighbors did recall a peddler staying at the home some years earlier, never to be seen again. Other stories state that subsequent excavation in the basement produced a partial human skull and teeth. However, no such claims can be historically verified.
One thing that is certain is the attention that the Fox sisters soon garnered in their neighborhood through their ability to communicate with the spirit. As word of the strange events occurring at the Fox farm began to leak out into the surrounding community, neighbors gathered there each night in hopes of witnessing these bizarre "conversations". Few were disappointed.
Holding court in their sitting room, the Fox sisters would cheerfully pose questions to the spirit and before the entranced audience of neighbors and friends the spirit would tap out it's spectral answers. Word continued to spread and soon crowds were flocking to the small farmhouse. Reports ran rampant concerning the strange occurrences and it was not long before the local press took notice.
In light of subsequent events, the accounts of the day regarding whatever phenomena occurred in the Fox home in Hydesville must be viewed with some suspicion. It will never be known what, if any, supernatural talents the Fox sisters may have possessed, but what is known beyond question is that, with a little aid, they were experts at self-promotion.
Under the careful tutelage of their elder sister Leah, Margaret and Kate where taken to Rochester, New York, where they began to give "parlor seances" in some of the more affluent homes in the city. Here, the pair were able to reproduce the strange rapping that had first brought them to public consciousness and, still employing their alphabetical code, claimed to bring messages from the great beyond.
Soon, hundreds were congregating to the seances and the fame of the Fox sisters grew. So successful (and lucrative) were these events that eventually older sister Leah, acting on "instructions from the spirits," rented a large downtown meeting hall in Rochester for her sisters to do a public presentation. This event was immediately sold out and more performances were scheduled.
Now the girls' fame truly began to catch hold. Newspaper articles concerning them appeared in several Rochester newspapers and then in newspapers in New York City. From there, the news spread to the press in Chicago and across the nation. Some of the articles hailed the pair as miracle workers, while others claimed to expose them as frauds. However, the controversy over their supposed powers only served to feed the fires of curiosity developing around them.
By now, the Fox sisters had become big business, and soon Leah took her sisters on the road. As they began to play to larger and larger houses, their repertoire of "mediumistic skills" increased to include objects moving, tables rising and even, at one point, the spirit of Ben Franklin making an appearance to join in the fun. As the storm of controversy continued to break around them, their fame grew to even greater heights.
No less a personage than P.T. Barnum brought the Fox sisters to New York City, where they "entertained" the likes of James Fenimore Cooper and others. Famed newspaper editor Horace Greeley gave the sisters living quarters in his mansion during the time they were in the city. Following their popular run of public meetings in New York, the sisters began to tour the country, playing to packed houses and choruses of both acclaim and disapproval from the press across the US. Indeed, for the rest of their lives, the Fox sisters were never far from the limelight and never far from controversy.
In their later years, tragedy and self destruction followed close at the heels of the sisters. Indeed, both suffered from lifelong struggles with alcoholism and frequent financial difficulties. In time, both were to die prematurely, due to the effects of alcohol, and financially destitute.
However, the final curious chapter in their lives was written several years prior to their deaths when Kate, perhaps seeking to regain the limelight once again, came forward in public to proclaim that she and her sisters had been frauds. To an astonished gathering in a hall in New York City, Kate announced that the pair had first produced the strange knockings in their farm house through the use of their big toes. Strange as the tale sounded, she assured the audience that she and her sister were each born with a big toe that cracked at the joint when flexed. When either placed her foot on a wooden board, as they had originally on the floor of their Hydesville home and cracked the toe joint, the miraculous seemed to occur. The board, acting as a sounding board, amplified the cracking sound and made it appear as though it was coming from another part of the room.
From the distance of many years, such a story seems almost as preposterous as some of the other tales that had been told by the girls and no doubt some in the audience that night scoffed when hearing it. However, after explaining her method of producing the knocks, Kate then proceeded to take off her shoe and, placing her foot against the wooden stage, flexed the first toe of her right foot. Immediately the sound of knocking , which had so long ago launched the girls on their road to fame echoed from the stage. The crowd went away convinced that night and it seemed as though spiritualism had been dealt a deathblow.
However, as it has shown repeatedly in the following years, spiritualism was not so easily vanquished. In the wake of the fame of the Fox sisters, countless other mediums had began to tour the country and indeed the world. Many produced the same sort of phenomena as had Margaret and Kate, but some stretched the bounds of mediumship further, adding new wonders and mysterious phenomena to their presentations.
Such mediums frequently toured the country going from city to city, selling out to large crowds of the curious and devout wherever they went. Millions became their followers, including some of the most affluent and famous people of their time. Indeed, Mary Todd Lincoln is said to have had a special room in the White House reserved for her seances and later, the famed Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, became an avid spokesman for Spiritualism.
Of course, as the years passed, Spiritualism also garnered it's share of criticism as well. In particular, time and again Spiritualism has found it's greatest antagonists in the members of the magical arts profession. Beginning with famed magician Harry Houdini, these illusionists, trained in the methods of duping an audience, have come forward to expose fraudulent mediums and the methods they have employed. Indeed, many famous magicians have taken particular interest and pleasure in their persecution of Spiritualist mediums. However, despite the rancor of magicians and others, Spiritualism has continued to survive through the years.
In fact, in the late 1800's, so popular was Spiritualism that traveling mediums began to quit their migratory ways to found permanent "Spiritualist Camps," to which the faithful would throng each summer. History reveals that by the early 1880's, no less than seventeen such camps had sprung up across the nation.
A combination of retreat center, summer camp and religious shrine, these camps did a huge business in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Participants were welcomed to come and camp on the grounds of these camps, or to rent rooms or cabins. While staying at the camp, the faithful would attend lectures given by prominent spiritualists of the day and nightly public or private séances put on by the host of mediums resident there.
Perhaps the most well known camp in the nation and today the oldest, is located near Indianapolis in the small town of Chesterfield. Well renowned in spiritualist circles as a Mecca for supernatural activity, Camp Chesterfield was founded in 1887 and has been in continual use since that time. Growing from a few tents and ramshackle buildings, the camp has evolved into a sprawling campus of lodges and cottages, some used to accommodate guests and some in use by the dozens of mediums who gather there each season. The first of several large meting halls was built there in 1891 and since that time, these halls have been used for large public seances as well as lectures.
Through the many years and despite countless efforts to discredit the activities housed there, Camp Chesterfield has survived. Some would credit this survival to the truth of the tenants taught there and others simply to the gullibility of the human spirit, but in the end, it must be said that those managing the camp have shown great resilience, as well as a good deal of ingenuity, in catering to the public thirst for the supernatural.
With the deep involvement of camp Chesterfield in the realm of the "the spirits," it is only natural that a whole legion of ghost stories would evolve from the place. Ghosts have, after all, been the stock and trade of this camp for many years. However, the most unusual story to come from the camp is not one that is chronicled in the Chesterfield archives. Indeed, the camp itself takes pains to deny that the incident occurred at all, yet the story has filtered down through the decades primarily in the magic community of Northwest Indiana. It is admittedly a rather bizarre ghost story, especially since it contains no ghost at all. In point of fact, this story is extraordinary precisely because it is an "unghost story".
The tale begins in the late 1940's, when Camp Chesterfield and spiritualism in general, were enjoying a renewed popularity in America. It has been well documented that, historically, spiritualism has prospered during and immediately after major wars as those who lost family and friends to the conflict find themselves drawn to spiritualism in an effort to contact their dearly departed. Such was the case immediately after World War II, when hundreds from across the Midwest flocked to camp Chesterfield, seeking the "manifestations" the mediums there were ready to produce for a price.
As the summer session of 1949 began, a new medium rose as the shining star of Camp Chesterfield. Bearing the quaint title of "Madam Mimi,"* this particular medium soon became renowned among the spiritualist faithful for her full trance mediumship, including the channeling of unearthly voices as well as the production of "apports," or physical objects produced by the spirits.
Soon word of the seemingly extraordinary talents of this medium began to filter out into the surrounding communities and reached the ears of an Indianapolis newspaper editor named James Sevrin*. Sevrin, a veteran reporter and newspaper editor, viewed the tales of the ghostly phenomena produced by Madam Mimi with some skepticism, but thought them interesting enough to send a young reporter, Bob Leazenby* down to the camp to attend one of the public seances put on by the medium. No doubt it was his intention for Leazenby to produce an exposé on the fraudulent practices employed by Madam Mimi and spiritualist mediums in general.
If this was indeed his intention, then the editor must have been gravely disappointed with the results. Within two days, the cub reporter was back in his office with an article relating, in glowing terms, the inexplicable phenomena produced by the medium. He had become a believer.
The meeting, he related, was held in one of the larger halls on the camp, with about 100 or so in attendance. The evening began with about half an hour of singing, after which Madam Mimi, a short robust woman garbed in a flowing white robe, took the stage. Strolling to the podium in the center of the stage, Madam Mimi spoke for about 20 minutes, preaching to those assembled of the truth of spirit communication and the wisdom imparted to her from her "spirit guides".
She then promised to provide proof of her spiritual powers. An assistant came on stage and draped a blindfold securely around the head of Madam Mimi. Next a bowl was produced containing small slips of paper. These slips, which had been distributed throughout the audience before the seance began, contained questions written by audience members. It was stressed by Madam Mimi that the questions had been kept backstage, unread by her or her assistants, until she called for them from the stage.
With great dramatic flair, Madam Mimi reached blindly into the bowl before her, retrieved one of the billets and held it to her forehead. Then, swaying slightly, Madam Mimi read out a question and gave a brief answer. A scream of delight from one of the audience members made it clear that she had correctly adduced both the question asked and the answer sought. Time and again Madam Mimi retrieved slips from the bowl before her, each time apparently reaching the right psychic vibrations with regard to the queries.
Next Madam Mimi removed her blindfold, left the stage and began to roam down one of the isles of the hall. Stopping suddenly at the seat of one elderly man, she grasped his arm vigorously, closed her eyes and muttered "The spirits tell me that you have lost someone near to you... a nephew perhaps?" Dumbly the man shook his head in assent. "Your nephew is here tonight," Madam Mimi intoned. "He says that his passing was difficult... was he killed in a forest?" "Yes!" the elderly gentleman erupted "in France!". "Your nephew wants you to know that he is at peace and his mother is here with him." Madam Mimi concluded. "That's right- my sister died last year!" came the reply from the man.
Now Madam Mimi continued up the isle, stopping at the seat of a young woman. Once again, she grasped the woman's arm and pronounced that a elderly woman named Florence wished to convey her love to her and to say that she should make peace with her sister. At this, the young woman leapt up and hugged the medium, crying "My mother... my mother!" before collapsing back into her chair in joyful tears.
Now came the climax to the evening. Madam Mimi once more climbed to the stage and the lights were dimmed. A large cabinet know as a "spirit cabinet" was wheeled out and opened for audience inspection. Several assistants came forward to tie Madam Mimi's hands securely behind her back. Next, Madam Mimi was placed on a small seat in the cabinet and her head tied with a band of cloth to a wooden post at the back of the cabinet.
Then the door to the cabinet was shut and the doors latched. One of the assistants then explained to those assembled that the spirit cabinet would allow Madam Mimi to "focus her spiritual energies" and that, since she was securely tied, any manifestations that might occur would clearly be the work of the spirits. He then retired from the stage, leaving the hall in silence.
In a few moments, however, the stillness was broken by the unearthly sound of a trumpet coming from within the cabinet. A strange tune echoed forth from the confines of the wooden box on stage and floated through the hall. This was followed a few moments later by the sound of a tom-tom being beaten repeatedly.
Immediately one of the assistants reappeared to open the cabinet revealing Madam Mimi, her hands still tied behind her back, her eyes shut in what appeared to be a deep trance. Once again the door to the cabinet was closed, but this time a small aperture at the top of the door was opened, just above the level of the seated medium's head. With this, the assistant once more retired off stage and in a moment the most stunning phenomena of all became apparent. Slowly at first and then faster, a white vaporous substance appeared through the small opening. Increasing in volume, it billowed forth from the cabinet and stretched out toward the crowd. Someone in the front row audibly gasped "My God, it's ectoplasm!"
Now from the midst of the white fog cascading from the top of the cabinet there appeared a spectral face. It was that of an Indian maiden, who peered out at the audience for a long moment before melting away, only to be replaced in a instant by the face of a young soldier. This face also disappeared behind the billowing mist and another face, that of a weathered old man with a long white beard emerged.
For several paralyzing moments, this procession of faces continued and then, slowly, the white cloud emanating from the cabinet began to dissipate, some of it seeming to visibly withdraw backward into the box. An assistant came forward and opened the spirit cabinet and Madam Mimi, clearly exhausted form her ordeal, was untied and helped out.
The audience erupted into wild applause and the young reporter returned to Indianapolis convinced that he had been present at a display of truly supernatural powers. By the time he stood before his editor's desk the next morning, his story in hand, he was a confirmed believer in spiritualism in general and most particularly in the powers of Madam Mimi.
After relating the events of that evening to his editor, the young reporter waited in expectant silence as Mr. Sevrin read the story he had written of it. When the wizened old editor finally looked up, his eyes seemed to twinkle with an odd mirth. "This is certainly an interesting story" the editor began, "and worth some investigation. However, before we print this story, I think we need to go back to see Madam Mimi. I even have a friend who might be interested in coming too." Unsure of just how to take this bit of news, Leazenby simply nodded his assent and added he was eager to go back at any time.
After the young man left his office that day, Editor Sevrin thought for a moment and then, with a smile, picked up his phone and placed a phone call to an old friend living in Hammond, Indiana. After hearing the story, the friend readily agreed to come down the next week with a friend to pay a visit to Madam Mimi.
Accordingly, the next week Sevrin accompanied Bob Leazenby to a restaurant just a few miles from camp Chesterfield. After a few moments, two gentlemen entered and made their way to the table. Mr. Sevrin rose and shook hands with the older of the two and then seated them. After coffee was served, introductions were made. The older gentleman, who sported a graying goatee beneath a hawk nose and dark eyes, introduced himself as Wayne Wirtz*. His companion, a small studious looking young man, he introduced as Sam Nesbitt*. The men, Mr. Sevrin explained, were "old friends who had an interest in Spiritualism."
As the four sat and talked, Leazenby eagerly gave an account of what he had seen on his first trip to Camp Chesterfield. As he did so, he was somewhat puzzled to see his two new companions taking careful notes and sharing knowing glances at one another across the table.
An hour later, the four found themselves seated in the large hall on the ground of Camp Chesterfield waiting for Madam Mimi to appear.
The seance that night was much the same as had occurred on the previous night, but was no less impressive to the young reporter. After the seance had ended and the lights brought up, Mr. Wirtz and Mr. Nesbitt spoke privately together for a moment and then suggested that the four meet again at the restaurant in about an hour. They then excused themselves, saying that they had some 'business to attend to."
When the four met an hour later, the young Bob Leazenby was eager to hear if Madam Mimi had made believers of his three companions. Mr. Wirtz was the first to respond. "Oh, she made me a believer all right" he said with a chuckle, "I believe that she is a total fraud- and not a very good one either." "How can you be so sure?" gasped the reporter. "Because," the older man responded, "We can do everything that she can- and better, too!"
At this point Mr. Sevrin interrupted. "Bob" he said, a wry smile crossing his face, "perhaps I should tell you a little more about my friends here." The pair, he revealed, were professional magicians, both members in good standing of the "Hammond Mystics", one of the oldest and most respected magician's clubs in Indiana. Further, both were experts on the magic effects utilized by mediums to create their illusions.
James Sevrin explained to the young Mr. Leazenby that he had known Wayne Wirtz for many years since he had been a headline illusionist with the vaudeville circuit in Indianapolis. Mr. Nesbitt, he said, was at protégé of Mr. Wirtz and was known as a great historian of magic and magical effects. He had invited them, he said, to witness Madam Mimi's performance and give them "another perspective" on the proceedings.
Patiently, Wirtz and Nesbitt then began to expound on the methods they believed the medium had used to sham the audience that night. Blindfolds, they explained, could readily be gimmicked to give the medium a clear view of questions written on paper slips. All the medium need do was to make her answers suitably vague and an impressive display of "psychic reading" was effected.
With regard to the impromptu psychic readings given members of the audience, Nesbitt explained, that this too was an easy feat. He noted that it was common practice for mediums to put "plants" or cohorts in the audience prior to a seance to talk to audience members. With a few seemingly innocent questions, these allies were able to pick up information that, once relayed to the medium before she went on stage, would provide her seemingly supernatural knowledge.
Finally, the two conjurers said that the "Spirit Cabinet" was simply an old magicians trick revisited. It was easy to appear to tie the hands of a person, in this case Madam Mimi, while in reality allowing them easy escape from their bonds. Once inside the cabinet, the medium could then produce endless apparitions with the aid of musical instruments and other paraphernalia hidden there. The so called "ectoplasm" was nothing more than smoke and surgical gauze, unrolled so as to look, from a distance, like a flowing white vapor. A mask, hidden in the chamber and then produced behind such a fog would reveal a ghostly face of startling appearance.
With some difficulty, the pair were able to convince the young reporter that he had indeed been duped. Crestfallen and disillusion, Leazenby remarked that now there was nothing to do but go back and write another story, this time revealing Madam Mimi as an utter fraud. However, at this one of the magicians replied "Not so fast young man- the fun is just beginning."
The pair then related how, after the seance, they had gone back stage to meet with Madam Mimi's manager, posing as two "true believers in spiritualism". After extolling the wonders of Madam Mimi extravagantly, the pair inquired if it was possible to arrange for a private seance with the medium. After a satisfactory financial agreement was reached, a time was set for early the next evening, prior to the regularly scheduled public seance.
"Why do you want to go see her again?" inquired Mr. Sevrin. "You already know what she is doing- why get a second look?" "Just be there tomorrow night at six" came the reply from Wayne Wirtz, a mischievous grin crossing his face. "This is going to be fun."
The next evening, at the prescribed time, the four met outside the entrance to the hall and were ushered into a dark room backstage containing a large round table with heavy curtains cloaking each side of the room. In the center of the table sat a smoldering bronze brazier, sending rich scents into the room. A tall man in a dark suit informed them that they were very fortunate to receive a private seance from the renowned medium and that she would be present shortly.
In due course, Madam Mimi entered the room, resplendent in her flowing white gown and greeted each man in turn. She then instructed the four men to sit with her at the table and to join hands in silence. As the four men took their seats, the medium explained that she was about to go into a trance and that when the spirits manifested themselves, they were to remain absolutely still and absolutely silent. With these words, the medium lowered her head and shut her eyes in an attitude of rapt concentration.
After some moments, Madam Mimi began to roll her head back and forth, murmuring, "I feel the presence of spirits... are you here?" Suddenly a loud knock was heard emanating from the center of the table. Next, the sound of a spectral bell rang sweet and clear through the ambient air. In low tones, Madam Mimi adjured the spirits to make themselves known.
Abruptly, the table began to tip slightly on one end as though lifted by a powerful hand and then settled back to the floor. Again the sound of a bell filled the dark room. "The spirits are here!" Madam Mimi announced. Again, a loud knock sounded from the center of the table. "The spirits are strong this night," intoned Madam Mimi, her eyes still shut as though in a trance. "With whom do you wish to speak this night?"
She never received her answer. Abruptly, the table, which had tipped just moments before, lifted completely off the floor, levitating sideways in a long arc before landing back on the floor with a dull thud. Next an entire series of knocks erupted from the table until all present recognized the familiar cadence of "shave and a hair cut- two bits." Suddenly, the sound of a bell filled the room once again, this time ringing frantically. "Sounds like it's dinner time!" whispered the dark shape of Mr. Wirtz.
Suddenly, Madam Mimi's eyes snapped open and her head jerked forward. At that moment, the fire in the brazier erupted in a geyser of flames that shot three feet upward, sending sparks flying across the table.
It took a moment for the startled medium to regain her sight in the dark room. At first she could not believe what she saw before her. Through the darkness of the seance room, she could clearly see the figures of the four men seated before her, yet behind them she beheld a number of cadaverous faces peering down at her. Between them, in luminous letters across the dark air were the words "Madam Mimi- FAKE!"
Suddenly the tones of an organ chord thundered through the room, followed in rapid succession by more loud knocking coming, it seemed, from the center of the table and the frantic clanging of the unseen bell. The table tipped once more and then was lifted at least a foot from the floor despite the fact that those present still sat serenely in their seats, their hands joined on the elevated table.
Perhaps a braver mystic might have stayed and attempted to recapture the situation. Madam Mimi, however, chose the better part of valor and opted for a quick escape. Standing up abruptly, Madam Mimi, in a voice choked with fear uttered "I don't' know what the hell is going on here, but this ain't part of the act!" With this, she ran from the room. In a moment, the door was shut and the two magician present erupted in convulsive laughter.
Finding the light switch, Mr. Sevrin illuminated the room once more, revealing the paper mache masks and slate board painted with luminous letters that the magicians had used during the seance. "Well, boys, " Sevrin said with a smile, "I have to hand it to you. I knew you were up to something, but I had no idea just what!"
"I'm just sorry the Madam left so soon" replied the younger magician, "We were just getting warmed up. The really good stuff was still coming!"
Madam Mimi did not appear for her public seance that night. Indeed, according to the story as it has been told for many years, the esteemed medium packed her bags that evening and was never seen in Indiana again. The magicians packed their effects and returned to Hammond, another notch in their professional belts. Newspaper men Sevrin and Leazenby returned to Indianapolis to write their story, which ran on the front page the next week.
However, even today spiritualists continue to ply their trade across the United States, offering hope for proof of an afterlife and providing, more often than not, the deceit of smoke and mirrors. Camp Chesterfield continues to thrive and vehemently disavows the presence of Madam Mimi on the campus, as well as the visit of magicians Wirtz and Nesbitt. While Camp Chesterfield does not deny the existence of fraudulent mediums, they still consider most mediums as genuine and staunchly defend the truth of the doctrines the promote.
While some may choose to believe in the claims of Spiritualism, if you ask a member of the magical arts community in Hammond about the validity of the phenomena they produce, chances are he will smile, ask you to sit for a while to hear a story. Then, perhaps with a grin, he will tell you the greatest ghost story that never was.
©Copyright 1999 by Mark Marimen. All Rights Reserved.
About the Author: Mark Marimen was born and raised in Indiana, where he currently lives with his wife and daughter. He has been an avid collector of ghostlore since childhood. He collects antique walking sticks and is renowned for making what he calls "the best baked beans in the western hemisphere". He claims that he has never seen a ghost, adding "At the moment I do, it will be exactly one second before I vacate the premises at a rate approximating the speed of light".
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