If You Say So, It Must be True

| General

If You Say So, It Must be True

Captain Barnaby, a merchant ship captain in Kent, England, was out hunting near the island of Stromboli, famous for its active volcano when he was shocked to see his neighbour, Old Bootie, racing ashore.

Old Bootie was well known as a brewer in Gravesend, Barnaby's hometown. Aghast, Barnaby saw that he was running from a shadow-like figure that ran faster than any being the Captain had seen. Barnaby watched in horror as the ghost chased Old Bootie right into the mouth of the volcano. The sight was so strange that Captain Barnaby ordered his men, thirty of whom were also witnesses, to record the strange scene in the ship's official logs. 

It turned out to be a smart move because as soon as Barnaby returned to Gravesend and discussed how Old Booty was taken into hell, Miss Bootie took offence and sued him for libel. This was followed by one of the strangest court cases in history, made weirder by the fact that Barnaby's account almost perfectly coincided with the believed time and nature of Old Bootie's death.

The lawsuit proceeded in the Queen's Bench against Captain Barnaby, with Mrs Bootie wanting £1,000 in damages over the scandal. Mr Ball, a reputable merchant, confirmed the cause of events to be supernatural in nature. He described "the flames of fire" and frighteningly loud noise, the origin of which could not be verified.

The clothes of Mr Bootie were also presented. Ten of Bootie's men swore on the validity of the items recovered. They swore the buttons of Bootie's jacket were covered with the same fabric as their own. In response to 30 recounts of the story, all of which corroborated, the flabbergasted judge said: "Lord, have mercy on me and let me never see what you saw."

One, two or three can be confused, but thirty? Never... 

Thus, the widow lost the case.

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