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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

"'Begorra!' Maguire exclaimed, 'it can't be poor Bob's ghost already! What sort of noises were they?'

"'Noises like laughter!' Brady said. 'Loud peals of horrid laughter.'

"'Someone trying to frighten you,' one of the undergrads observed, 'and faith, he succeeded. You are twice as white as any sheet.'

"'It's ill-timed mirth, anyhow,' someone else put in, 'with Anderson's dead body upstairs. I'm for making an example of the blackguard.'

"'And I,'--'And I,' the others echoed.

"A general movement followed, and headed by Brady the procession moved to the north wing of the College. At that time, be it remembered, a large proportion of K. undergrads were in residence--now it is otherwise. On reaching Brady's rooms the crowd halted outside and listened. For some time there was silence; and then a laugh--low, monotonous, unmirthful, metallic--coming as it were from some adjacent chamber, and so unnatural, so abhorring, that it held everyone spell-bound. It died away in the reverberations of the stone corridor, its echoes seeming to awake a chorus of other laughs hardly less dreadful. Again there was silence, no one daring to express his thoughts. Then, as if by common consent, all turned precipitately into Brady's room and slammed the door.

"'That is what I heard,' Brady said. 'What does it mean?'

"'Is it the meaning of it you're wanting to know?' Maguire observed. 'Sure 'tis the devil, for no one but him could make such a noise. I've never heard the like of it before. Who has the rooms on either side of you?'

"'These?' Brady replied, pointing to the right. 'No one. They were vacated at Easter, and are being repainted and decorated. These on the left--Dobson, who is, I happen to know, at the present moment in Co. Mayo. He won't be back till next week.'

"'Then we can search them,' a student called Hartnoll intervened.

"'To be sure we can,' Brady replied, 'but I doubt if you'll find anyone.'

"A search was made, and Brady proved to be correct. Not a vestige of anyone was discovered.

"Much mystified, Maguire's party was preparing to depart, when Hartnoll, who had taken the keenest interest in the proceedings, suddenly said, 'Who has the rooms over yours, Brady? Sound, as you know, plays curious tricks, and it is just as likely as not that laugh came from above.'

"'Oh, I don't think so,' Brady answered. 'The man overhead is Belton, a very decent sort. He is going in for his finals shortly, and is sweating fearfully hard at present. We might certainly ask him if he heard the noise.'

"The students agreeing, Brady led the way upstairs, and in response to their summons Belton hastily opened the door. He was a typical book-worm--thin, pale and rather emaciated, but with a pleasant expression in his eyes and mouth, that all felt was assuring.

"'Hulloa!' he exclaimed, 'it isn't often I'm favoured with a surprise party of this sort. Come in'; and he pressed them so hard that they felt constrained to accept his hospitality, and before long were all seated round the fire, quaffing whisky and puffing cigars as if they meant to make a night of it. At two o'clock someone suggested that it was high time they thought of bed, and Belton rose with them.

"'Before we turn in, let's have another search,' he said. 'It's strange you should all hear that noise except me--unless, of course, it came from below.'

"'But there's nothing under me,' Brady remarked, 'except the Dining Hall.'

"'Then let's search that,' Belton went on. 'We ought to make a thorough job of it now we've once begun. Besides, I don't relish being in this lonely place with that laugh "knocking" around, any more than you do.'

"He went with them, and they completely overhauled the ground floor--hall, dining-room, studies, passages, vestibules, everywhere that was not barred to them; but they were no wiser at the end of their search than at the beginning; there was not the slightest clue as to the author of the laugh.

* * * * *

"On the morrow there was a fresh shock. One of the College servants, on entering Mr. Maguire's rooms to call him, found that gentleman half dressed and lying on the floor.

"Terrified beyond measure, the servant bent over him and discovered he was dead, obviously stabbed with the same weapon that had put an end to Bob Anderson.

"The factotum at once gave the alarm. Everyone in the College came trooping to the room, and for the second time within three days a general hue and cry was raised. All, again, to no purpose--the murderer had left no traces as to his identity. However, one thing at least was established, and that was the innocence of Dean Kelly and Denis O'Farroll. They were both liberated.