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Animal Ghosts or Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter by Elliott O'Donnell


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Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter

"_Saturday, November 12th._--Sublet house to James Barstow, retired oil merchant, to-day. He comes in on the 30th. Hope he'll like it!

"_Tuesday, November 15th._--Cook left to-day. 'I've no fault to find with you, mum,' she condescendingly explained to Delia. 'It's not you, nor the children, nor the food. It's the noises at night--screeches outside my door, which sound like a cat, but which I know can't be a cat, as there is no cat in the house. This morning, mum, shortly after the clock struck two, things came to a climax. Hearing something in the corner and wondering if it was a mouse--I ain't a bit afraid of mice, mum--I sat up in bed and was getting ready to strike a light--the matchbox was in my hand--when something heavy sprang right on the top of me and gave a loud growl in my ear. That finished me, mum--I fainted. When I came to myself, I was too frightened to stir, but lay with my head under the blankets till it was time to get up. I then searched everywhere, but there was no sign of any dog, and as the door was locked there was no possibility of any dog having got in during the night. Mum, I wouldn't go through what I suffered again for fifty pounds; I've got palpitations even now; and I would rather go without my month's wages than sleep in that room another night.' Delia paid her up to date, and she went directly after tea.

"_Friday, November 18th._--As I was coming out of the bathroom at 11 p.m. something fell into the bath with a loud splash. I turned to see what it was--there was nothing there. I ran up the stairs to bed, three steps at a time!

"_Sunday, November 20th._--Went to church in the morning and heard the usual Oxford drawl. On the way back I was pondering over the sermon and wishing I could contort the Law as successfully as parsons contort the Scriptures, when Dot--she is six to-day--came running up to me with a very scared expression in her eyes. 'Father,' she cried, plucking me by the sleeve, 'do hurry up. Mother is very ill.' Full of dreadful anticipations, I tore home, and on arriving found Delia lying on the sofa in a violent fit of hysterics. It was fully an hour before she recovered sufficiently to tell me what had happened. Her account runs thus:--

"'After you went to church,' she began, 'I made the custard pudding, jelly and blancmange for dinner, heard the children their collects, and had just sat down with the intention of writing a letter to mother, when I heard a very pathetic mew coming, so I thought, from under the sofa. Thinking it was some stray cat that had got in through one of the windows, I tried to entice it out, by calling "Puss, puss," and making the usual silly noise people do on such occasions. No cat coming out and the mewing still continuing, I knelt down and peered under the sofa. There was no cat there. Had it been night I should have been very much afraid, but I could scarcely reconcile myself to the idea of ghosts with the room filled with sunshine. Resuming my seat I went on with my writing, but not for long. The mewing grew nearer. I distinctly heard something crawl out from under the sofa; there was then a pause, during which you could have heard the proverbial pin fall, and then something sprang upon me and dug its claws in my knees. I looked down, and to my horror and distress, perceived, standing on its hind-legs, pawing my clothes, a large, tabby cat, without a head--the neck terminating in a mangled stump. The sight so appalled me that I don't know what happened, but nurse and the children came in and found me lying on the floor in hysterics. Can't we leave the house at once?'

"_Wednesday, November 30th._--Left No. ---- Lower Seedley Road at 2 p.m. Had an awful scurry to get things packed in time, and dread opening certain of the packing-cases lest we shall find all the crockery smashed. Just as we were starting Delia cried out that she had left her reticule behind, and I was despatched in search of it. I searched everywhere--till I was worn out, for I know what Delia is--and was leaving the premises in full anticipation of being sent back again, when there was a loud commotion in the hall, just as if a dog had suddenly pounced on a cat, and the next moment a large tabby, with the head hewn away as Delia had described, rushed up to me and tried to spring on to my shoulders. At this juncture one of the servants cautiously opened the hall door from without, and informed me I was wanted. The cat instantly vanished, and, on my reaching the carriage in a state of breathless haste and trepidation, Delia told me she had found her reticule--she had been sitting on it all the time!"