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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

One of the most extraordinary cases of hauntings by the phantasms of dogs is related in an old Christmas number of the _Review of Reviews_, edited by the late Mr. W.T. Stead, and entitled "Real Ghost Stories."

"The most remarkable," writes Mr. Stead, "of all the stories which I have heard concerning ghosts which touch is one that reaches me from Darlington. I owe this, as I owe so many of the other narratives in this collection, to the Rev. Harry Kendall, of Darlington, whose painstaking perseverance in the collection of all matters of this kind cannot be too highly praised. Mr. Kendall is a Congregational minister of old standing. He was my pastor when I was editing the _Northern Echo_, and he is the author of a remarkable book, entitled _All the World's Akin_. The following narrative is quite unique in its way, and fortunately he was able to get it at first hand from the only living person present. Here we have a ghost which not only strikes the first blow, hitting a man fair in the eye, but afterwards sets a ghostly dog upon his victim and then disappears. The narrative was signed by Mr. James Durham as lately as December 5th, 1890." Mr. Stead then proceeds to quote the account which he had from Mr. Kendall, and which I append _ad verbum_ from the _Review of Reviews_. It is as follows: "I was night watchman at the old Darlington and Stockton Station at the town of Darlington, a few yards from the first station that ever existed. I was there fifteen years. I used to go on duty about 8 p.m. and come off at 6 a.m. I had been there a little while--perhaps two or three years--and about forty years ago. One night during winter at about 12 o'clock or 12.30 I was feeling rather cold with standing here and there; I said to myself, 'I will away down and get something to eat.' There was a porter's cellar where a fire was kept on and a coal-house was connected with it. So I went down the steps, took off my overcoat, and had just sat down on the bench opposite the fire and turned up the gas when a strange man came out of the coal-house, followed by a big black retriever. As soon as he entered my eye was upon him, and his eye upon me, and we were intently watching each other as he moved on to the front of the fire. There he stood looking at me, and a curious smile came over his countenance. He had a stand-up collar and a cut-away coat with gilt buttons and a Scotch cap. All at once he struck at me, and I had the impression that he hit me. I up with my fist and struck back at him. My fist seemed to go through him and struck against the stone above the fireplace, and knocked the skin off my knuckles. The man seemed to be struck back into the fire, and uttered a strange, unearthly squeak. Immediately the dog gripped me by the calf of my leg, and seemed to cause me pain. The man recovered his position, called off the dog with a sort of click of the tongue, then went back into the coal-house, followed by the dog. I lighted my dark lantern and looked into the coal-house, but there was neither dog nor man, and no outlet for them except the one by which they had entered.

"I was satisfied that what I had seen was ghostly, and it accounted for the fact that when the man had first come into the place where he sat I had not challenged him with any enquiry. Next day, and for several weeks, my account caused quite a commotion, and a host of people spoke to me about it; among the rest old Edward Pease, father of railways, and his three sons, John, Joseph, and Henry. Old Edward sent for me to his house and asked me all particulars. He and others put this question to me: "Are you sure you were not asleep and had the nightmare?" My answer was quite sure, for I had not been a minute in the cellar, and was just going to get something to eat. I was certainly not under the influence of strong drink, for I was then, as I have been for forty-nine years, a teetotaler. My mind at the time was perfectly free from trouble. What increased the excitement was the fact that a man a number of years before, who was employed in the office of the station, had committed suicide, and his body had been carried into this very cellar. I knew nothing of this circumstance, nor of the body of the man, but Mr. Pease and others who had known him, told me my description exactly corresponded to his appearance and the way he dressed, and also that he had a black retriever just like the one which gripped me. I should add that no mark or effect remained on the spot where I seemed to be seized.