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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

"In an instant there was silence, and the white-faced throng closed in on one another as if for protection. In front of them, beside the fallen picture, lay the body of the most gay and popular student in the College--Bob Anderson--Bob Anderson with a stream of blood running from a deep incision in his back made with some sharp instrument, that had been driven home with tremendous force. He had, without doubt, been murdered. But by whom? Then one of the undergraduates, a bright, boyish, fair-haired giant, named O'Farroll, immensely popular both on account of his prowess in sport and an untold number of the most audacious escapades, spoke out:

"'I saw Anderson, about an hour ago, crossing the quadrangle. I asked him where he was going, and he replied, "To old Kelly. I intend paying him out for 'gating' me last week." I enquired how, and he replied: "I've a glorious plan. You know that portrait stuck over his mantel-shelf? Well! In poking about the room the other day, when the old man was out, I had a great find. Directly behind the picture is the door of a secret room, so neatly covered by the designs on the wall that it is not discernible. It was only by the merest fluke I discovered it. I was taking down the picture with the idea of "touching up" the face, when my knuckles bumped against the panels of the wall, touched a spring, and the door flew open, revealing an apartment about six by eight feet large. I at once explored it, and found it could be entered by the chimney. An idea then struck me--I would play a trick upon the Dean by hiding in this secret chamber one evening while he was feeding, cutting out the eyes of the portrait, and peering through the cavities at him. And this,' O'Farroll continued, pointing at the fallen picture, 'is what he evidently did after I left him. You can see the eyes of the portrait have been removed.'

"'That is so, shure,' one of the other undergraduates, Mick Maguire--six feet two in his socks, every inch--exclaimed. 'And, what is more, I knew all about it. Anderson told me yesterday what he was going to do, and I wanted to join him, but he said I would never get up the chimney, I would stick there. And, bedad, I think he was right.'

"At this remark, despite the grimness of the moment, several of those present laughed.

"'Come, come, gentlemen!' one of the officials cried, 'this is no time for levity. Mr. Anderson has been murdered, and the question is--by whom?'

"'Then, if that's the only thing that is troubling you,' O'Farroll put in, 'I fancy the solution is right here at hand,' and he looked significantly at the Dean.

"An ominous silence followed, during which all eyes were fixed on John Kelly, some anxiously, some merely enquiringly, but not a few angrily, for Kelly, as I have said before, had made himself particularly obnoxious just then by his behaviour to the rowdier students; and, as has ever been the case at K., these formed no small portion of the community.

"The Dean hardly seemed to realize the situation. The dignity of office blinded him to danger.

"'What do you mean?' he spluttered. 'I know nothing of what happened to Mr. Anderson! Really, really, O'Farroll, your presumption is preposterous.'

"'There was no one else in here but you and he, Mr. Kelly,' O'Farroll retorted coolly. 'It's only natural we should think you know something of what happened!'

"On the arrival of the police who had been sent for somewhat reluctantly--for the prestige of the College at that date was very dear to all--the premises were thoroughly searched, and, no other culprit being found, first of all Dean Kelly was apprehended, and then, to make a good job of it, his accuser, Denis O'Farroll.

"All the College was agog with excitement. No one could believe the Dean was a murderer; and it was just as inconceivable to think O'Farroll had committed the deed. And yet if neither of them had killed Anderson, who in God's name had killed him?

"The night succeeding the affair, whilst the Dean and O'Farroll were still in jail awaiting the inquest, a party of undergraduates were discussing the situation in Maguire's rooms, when the door burst open, and into their midst, almost breathless with excitement, came a measly, bespectacled youth named Brady--Patrick Brady.

"'I'm awfully sorry to disturb you fellows,' he stammered, 'but there have been odd noises just outside my room all the evening, and I've just seen a queer kind of dog, that vanished, God knows how. I--I--well, you will call me an ass, of course, but I'm afraid to stay there alone, and that's the long and short of it.'