In 1965, Cornwall, England, Mrs Elizabeth Bain claimed that she received prewarning from an apparition of a young girl in Victorian clothing that allowed her to avoid what could have been a tragic accident.
It is difficult for anyone setting out to invent a ghost experience to get away from traditional haunting patterns. Behaviour, dress, appearance, and time of the day all fall into a relatively few stereotyped forms so that accounts of headless coachmen, grey ladies, hooded monks, and galloping horses at the stroke of midnight need to be investigated with special care, though of course, they may well be completely sincere. But the report which has the immediate ring of a genuine experience tends to be the one in which the manifestation is unexpected in all respects - like the one that Elizabeth Bain saw in the village of Mitchell in Cornwall, and later on the A30 road between Bodmin and Penzance.
In the late summer of 1965, Mrs Bain, a very experienced driver who in her job as a representative travelled many thousands of miles every year in the south-west, was passing through Mitchell in the early afternoon on a warm, sunny day. In the middle of the main street, as is inevitable in the holiday season, the traffic came to a halt. Trapped as she was, Mrs Bain happened to notice a girl aged about nine skipping out of one of the deliberately 'quaint' old shops. She was dressed in what appeared to be Victorian clothes, with a knee-length dress of heavy navy blue material, a starched white pinafore with pleats, black boots, and dark stockings. Her curled golden hair was fastened at the side with a bow, and she carried some kind of sweet on a stick.
Mild surprise and faint interest turned immediately to horror as the child, apparently oblivious of the fact that the whole stream of traffic had suddenly accelerated away, dashed across the road without pausing or looking up, straight into the path of a heavy lorry immediately in front of Elizabeth's car. Mrs Bain, with reactions conditioned by years of driving, braked instantly, but the lorry made not the slightest hesitation. It roared away, increasing in speed every moment, and when it was well clear, Elizabeth could see that the driver had made no attempt to avoid the child - because she did not exist. She was certainly not on either side of the street, but that was not surprising, because if she had been human there could have been no possible way of avoiding a collision.
Very shaken and upset, Elizabeth Bain was brought back to reality by the imperious hooting of the drivers behind her, and putting her car into gear, she drove on. She had seen accidents before, and in her career had been involved in many near misses, but never before had she felt her reactions and anticipations been so incredibly acute and her instincts so sharp as when she hurried on to Penzance that afternoon. When she reached Hayle, some 31 miles beyond Mitchell, suddenly and without any signal a very large van immediately ahead of her swung left into a narrow opening, masking as it did so a lorry which, seizing what it assumed to be a momentary break in the traffic, shot out into the main road. Normally a collision would have been inevitable, but Elizabeth's instinct was so acute that without the situation really registering on her conscious mind, she accelerated violently, swerved desperately to the right, and by a miracle scraped round the front of the still-moving lorry to safety.
Almost before she had time to comprehend what had happened, she saw again, the apparition of the little girl she had so mysteriously witnessed an hour earlier: the golden head and the upper half of her body appeared directly in front of her, as if the child were a passenger in the back of the car being reflected in the windscreen. The image lasted only two or three seconds but was unmistakably clear: the sweet on a stick was still clutched in her hand, but her face, previously flat and expressionless, was now smiling. The rest of the journey to Penzance was completely uneventful. The unprecedented acuteness of Mrs Bain's senses and reactions disappeared and, as the danger for which she had been supernaturally prepared was now passed, she felt utterly relaxed.
Since then Elizabeth Bain has tried logically and objectively to find out why the experience should have happened: she has searched her history in an effort to remember if she has ever come into contact with any child resembling the one she saw in Mitchell, without any success.
She admits that in all her long driving life this was the nearest she has ever come to an accident, and is confident that had she not been warned, even in this vague and indirect way, she would almost certainly have been severely injured, if not killed.