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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

"Then Hartnoll, who seems to have been a regular Sherlock Holmes, got to work in grim earnest. On the floor in Maguire's room he picked up a diminutive silver-topped pencil, which had rolled under the fender and had so escaped observation. He asked several of Maguire's most intimate friends if they remembered seeing the pencil-case in Maguire's possession, but they shook their heads. He enquired in other quarters, too, but with no better result, and finally resolved to ask Brady, who belonged to quite a different set from himself. With that object in view he set off to Brady's room shortly after supper. As there was no response to his raps, he at length opened Brady's door. In front of the hearth in a big easy chair sat a figure.

"'Brady, by all that's holy,' Hartnoll exclaimed. 'By Jupiter, the beggar's asleep. That's what comes of swotting too hard! Brady!'

"Approaching the chair he called again, 'Brady!' and getting no reply, patted the figure gently on the back.

"'Be jabbers, you sleep soundly, old fellow!' he said. 'How about that!' and he shook him heartily by the shoulder. The instant he let go the figure collapsed. In order to get a closer view Hartnoll then struck a light with the tinder box.

"The flickering of the candle flame fell on Brady's face. It was white--ghastly white; there was no animation in it; the jaw dropped.

"With a cry of horror Hartnoll sprang back, and as he did so a great yellow dog dashed across the hearth in front of him, whilst from somewhere close at hand came a laugh--long, low and satirical. A cold terror gripped Hartnoll, and for a moment or so he was on the verge of fainting. However, hearing voices in the quadrangle, he pulled himself together, approached the window on tiptoe, and, peering through the glass, perceived to his utmost joy two of his friends directly beneath him. 'I say, you fellows,' he called in low tones, 'come up here quickly--Brady's rooms. I've seen the phantom dog. There's been another tragedy, and the murderer is close at hand. Come quietly and we may catch him!'

"He then retraced his steps to the centre of the room and listened. Again there came the laugh--subtle, protracted, hellish--and it seemed to him as if it must originate in the room overhead.

"A noise in the direction of the hearth made him look round. Some loose plaster had fallen, and whilst he still gazed, more fell. The truth of the whole thing then dawned on him. The murderer was in the chimney.

"Hartnoll was a creature of impulse. In the excitement of the moment he forgot danger, and the dastardly nature of the crimes gave him more than his usual amount of courage. He rushed at the chimney, and, regardless of soot and darkness, began an impromptu ascent.

"Half-way up something struck him--once, twice, thrice,--sharply, and there was a soft, malevolent chuckle.

"At this juncture the two undergraduates arrived in Brady's room. No one was there--nothing save a hunched-up figure on a chair.

"'Hartnoll!' they whispered. 'Hartnoll!' No reply. They called again--still no reply. Again and again they called, until at length, through sheer fatigue, they desisted, and seized with a sudden panic fled precipitately downstairs and out into the quadrangle.

"Once more the alarm was given, and once again the whole College, wild with excitement, hastened to the scene of the outrage.

"This time there was a double mystery. Brady had been murdered--Hartnoll had disappeared. The police were summoned and the whole building ransacked; but no one thought of the chimney till the search was nearly over, and half the throng--overcome with fatigue--had retired. O'Farroll was the discoverer. Happening to glance at the hearth he saw something drop.

"'For Heaven's sake, you fellows!' he shouted. 'Look! Blood! You may take it from me there's a corpse in the chimney.'

"A dozen candles invaded the hearth, and a herculean policeman undertook the ascent. In breathless silence the crowd below waited, and, after a few seconds of intense suspense, two helpless legs appeared on the hob. Bit by bit, the rest of the body followed, until, at length, the whole figure of Hartnoll, black, bleeding, bloodstained, was disclosed to view.

"At first it was thought that he was dead; but the surgeon who had hurried to the scene pronouncing him still alive, there arose a tremendous cheer. The murderer had at all events been foiled this time.

"'Begorrah!' cried O'Farroll, 'Hartnoll was after the murderer when he was struck, and shure I'll be after him the same way myself.' And before anyone could prevent him O'Farroll was up the chimney. Up, up, up, until he found himself going down, down, down; and then--bedad--he stepped right out on to the floor of Belton's room.