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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

"Did the matter end there?" I asked.

"In one sense of the word, yes--in another, no. Within a few weeks of Dance's disappearance rumours got afloat that his ghost had been seen on the road, just where, you may say, you saw it. As a matter of fact, I've seen it myself--and so have crowds of other people."

"Has anyone ever spoken to it?"

"Yes--and it has vanished at once. I went there one night with the purpose of laying it, but, on its appearing suddenly, I confess I was so startled, that I not only forgot what I had rehearsed to say, but ran home, without uttering as much as a word."

"And what are your deductions of the case?"

"The same as everyone else's," Mr. Marsden whispered, "only, like everyone else, I dare not say."

"Had Mr. Dance any dogs?"

"Yes--two poodles, of which, much to Mr. Baldwin's annoyance (everyone noticed this), he used to make the most ridiculous fuss."

"Humph!" I observed. "That settles it! Ghosts! And to think I never believed in them before! Well, I am going to try."

"Try what?" Mr. Marsden said, a note of alarm in his voice.

"Try laying it. I have an idea I may succeed."

"I wish you luck, then. May I come with you?"

"Thanks, no!" I rejoined. "I would rather go there alone."

I said this in a well-lighted room, with the hum of a crowded thoroughfare in my ears. Twenty minutes later, when I had left all that behind, and was fast approaching the darkest part of an exceptionally dark road, I wished I had not. At the very spot, where I had previously seen the figures, I saw them now. They suddenly appeared by my side, and though I was going at a great rate--for the horse took fright--they kept easy pace with me. Twice I essayed to speak to them, but could not ejaculate a syllable through sheer horror, and it was only by nerving myself to the utmost, and forcing my eyes away from them, that I was able to stick to my seat and hold on to the reins. On and on we dashed, until trees, road, sky, universe were obliterated in one blinding whirlwind that got up my nostrils, choked my ears, and deadened me to everything, save the all-terrorizing, instinctive knowledge, that the figures by my side, were still there, stalking along as quietly and leisurely as if the horse had been going at a snail's pace.

At last, to my intense relief--for never had the ride seemed longer--I reached the Crow's Nest, and as I hurriedly dismounted from the trap, the figures shot past me and vanished. Once inside the house, and in the bosom of my family, where all was light and laughter, courage returned, and I upbraided myself bitterly for this cowardice.

I confessed to my wife, and she insisted on accompanying me the following afternoon, at twilight, to the spot where the ghost appeared to originate. To our intense dismay, we had not been there more than three or four minutes, before Dora, our youngest girl, a pretty, sweet-tempered child of eight, came running up to us with a telegram, which one of the servants had asked her to give us. My wife, snatching it from her, and reading it, was about to scold her severely, when she suddenly paused, and clutching hold of the child with one hand, pointed hysterically at something on one side of her with the other. I looked, and Dora looked, and we both saw, standing erect and staring at us, the spare figure of a man, with a ghastly white face and dull, lifeless eyes, clad in a panama hat, albert coat, and small, patent-leather boots; beside him were two glossy--abnormally glossy--poodles.

I tried to speak, but, as before, was too frightened to articulate a sound, and my wife was in the same plight. With Dora, however, it was otherwise, and she electrified us by going up to the figure, and exclaiming:

"Who are you? You must feel very ill to look so white. Tell me your name."

The figure made no reply, but gliding slowly forward, moved up to a large, isolated oak, and pointing with the index finger of its left hand at the trunk of the tree, seemingly sank into the earth and vanished from view.

For some seconds everyone was silent, and then my wife exclaimed:

"Jack, I shouldn't wonder if Dora hasn't been the means of solving the mystery. Examine the tree closely."

I did so. The tree was hollow, and inside it were three skeletons!

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