Jan 4, 2013


The French teacher said that she was born in Dijon 32 years before she took up her post at Neuwelcke. She was fair skinned, with chestnut hair and blue eyes, and was fairly tall and slim. The pupils described her as having a sweet and lovable nature. The superintendents at her school were entirely satisfied with her work and were impressed by her gaiety, intelligence, and education.

Everything promised well for Emilie Sagee’s career at Neuwelcke - but within a few weeks of her arrival she became the focus of rumour and gossip at the school. It seemed that Emilie could be - literally - in two places at once. If she was reported to be in a particular part of the school, someone would contradict, saying, ‘Oh no, she can’t be there; I just passed her on the stairs' or in some distant corridor. Individual pupils repeated this sort of confusion time and time again, but the teachers dismissed the girls’ stories as silly mistakes.

But naturally the most excitement was caused by the rumours that followed the first appearance of the ‘double’ to a number of witnesses. Emilie Sagee was giving a lesson to Julie von Guldenstubbe and 12 other girls. The subject of the lesson varied slightly with each storyteller: for example, one suggested Emilie was energetically demonstrating a mathematical theorem on the blackboard; Julie said the lesson was French grammar. What was agreed on was that Emilie Sagee was standing with her back to the class. Suddenly, a second ‘Emilie’ materialized at Emilie Sagee’s side. The two were exactly alike and went through the same movements, synchronizing perfectly. The only difference was that the real Emilie had chalk in her hand but the fetch had none; it merely mimed the teachers actions as she wrote on the board. This story caused a great sensation at Neuwelcke, particularly as all 13 pupils in the class agreed precisely in their description of what they had seen.

In the following weeks the fetch was seen on a number of occasions. For instance it appeared at dinner, standing behind Emilie Sagee and imitating her movements as she ate. But, as in the classroom, the double’s hands were empty. On these occasions the schoolgirls were not alone in seeing Emilie’s fetch; the servants also reportedly saw the fetch behind the chair.

One of Julie’s school friends was badly frightened by the fetch. Fraulein Antonie von Wrangel was in a group invited to a local rural festivity and she was getting ready in her room. Emilie was helping her to fasten her dress. There was a mirror behind them and Antonie turned to catch a sight of two identical mademoiselles, each doing up her dress. Startled, she fainted clean away.

However, the fetch did not always mirror Emilie Sagee’s actions. Sometimes, Baroness Julie reported, it would behave quite independently. For example, the real Emilie Sagee would rise from her chair - but the double would remain seated. Antonie von Wrangel and a group of friends looked after Emilie when she was feverish with a cold. The girls took turns to read to her as she lay recovering in bed. Antonie was alone with her when she noticed the colour drain away from Emilie Sagee’s face. She was so pale she seemed about to faint, and Antonie asked if she was feeling worse.

Emilie replied with a weak and trembling voice that she was not, but her frightened look alarmed Antonie. A few moments later Antonie looked up to see the fetch walking about the room in excellent health. This time Antonie did not tell Emilie what she had seen, and when she came downstairs she immediately told the others what she had seen. On that time there was only one witness, but on the next occasion the incident was witnessed by the whole school.

This time all 42 pupils were gathered in the school hall to do their sewing and embroidery. Four french windows opened onto a corridor leading to the large garden in front of the house. The weather was fine and the girls had a clear view of the garden, where Emilie Sagee could be seen picking flowers.
The girls sat round a long table and the teacher sat at one end, supervising their work. After a little while she got up to leave them alone for some reason. Her chair did not remain empty for long however, as suddenly Emilie Sagee appeared in it. The girls turned their eyes to the garden and sure enough, there was Emilie. Although still gathering flowers, her movements were slow and languid as though - as the girls later remarked - she had suddenly been overcome with fatigue and tiredness. All the while her fetch sat silent and motionless. Although afraid, the girls were getting used to the strange phenomena and two of the boldest among them decided to take a closer look at the fetch. They approached the chair, determined to touch the apparition. Stretching out their hands they encountered a slight resistance in the air surrounding it, such as a film of muslin or crepe-de-chine might offer. One brave girl tried to pass between the chair and the table - and stepped right through the figure in the chair. Emilie’s double did not react, however, remaining seated until, a short time later, it slowly disappeared. As before the girls turned to the garden to watch Emilie Sagee again gathering flowers with her usual animation.
All 42 girls agreed on what they had witnessed and some questioned their teacher soon after. They asked how she had felt in the garden and if she had experienced anything special. Emilie answered that she had noticed the other teacher leaving the girls unattended. Emilie had had a clear view of the empty chair and recalled wishing the teacher had not left her pupils alone to waste their time and probably get up to mischief. She had wished, she added, that she could have been sitting there to keep an eye on the girls so they would get on with their work.

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