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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

"The iron gate leading to the area was closed, so that there was nowhere for it to have hidden, and, besides, I was almost bending over it at the time, as I wanted to read the name on its collar. There being no one near at hand, I could not obtain a second opinion, and so came away wondering whether what I had seen was actually a phantasm or a mere hallucination. No. 90, I might add, judging by the brass plate on the door, was inhabited by a doctor with an unpronounceable foreign name," etc. etc.

I think one cannot help attaching a great deal of importance to what this lady says, as her language is strictly moderate throughout, and because she does not seem to have been biassed by any special views on the subject of animal futurity.

Correspondent No. 2 (who, by the way, is a total stranger to the writer whose letter I have just quoted) is candidly devoted to dogs, regarding them as in every way on a par with, if not actually superior to, most human beings. Still, notwithstanding this partiality, and consequent profusion of terms of endearment, which will doubtless prove somewhat nauseating to many, her letter is, in my opinion, valuable, because it not only refers to the phenomenon I have mentioned, but to a certain extent furnishes a reason for its occurrence. The lady writes as follows:--

"I once had a rough-haired dachshund, Robert, whom I loved devotedly. We were living at the time near H---- Street, which always had a peculiar attraction for dear Robert, who, I am now obliged to confess, had rather too much liberty--more, indeed, than eventually proved good for him. The servants complained that Robert ruled the house, and I believe what they said was true, for my sister and I idolized him, giving him the very best of everything and never having the heart to refuse him anything he wanted. You will probably scarcely credit it, but I have sat up all night nursing him when he had a cold and was otherwise indisposed. Can you therefore imagine my feelings when my darling was absent one day from dinner? Such a thing had never happened before, for, fond of morning 'constitutionals' as poor Robert was, he was always the soul of punctuality at meal times.

"Neither my sister nor I would hear of eating anything. Whilst he was missing, not a morsel did we touch, but slipping on our hats, and bidding the servants do the same, we scoured the neighbourhood instead. The afternoon passed without any sign of Robert, and when bedtime came (he always slept in our room) and still no signs of our pet, I thought we should both have gone mad. Of course, we advertised, selecting the most popular and, accordingly, the most likely papers, and we resorted to other mediums, too, but, alas! it was hopeless. Our darling little Robert was irrevocably, irredeemably lost. For days we were utterly inconsolable, doing nothing but mope morning, noon, and night. I cannot tell you how forlorn we felt, nor how long we should have remained in that state but for an incident which, although revealing the terrible manner of his death, gave us every reason to feel sure we were not parted from him for all time, but would meet again in the great hereafter. It happened in this wise: I was walking along W---- Street one evening when, to my intense joy and surprise, I suddenly saw my darling standing on the pavement a few feet ahead of me, regarding me intently from out of his pathetic brown eyes. A sensation of extreme coldness now stole over me, and I noticed with something akin to a shock that, in spite of the hot, dry weather, Robert looked as if he had been in the rain for hours. He wore the bright yellow collar I had bought him shortly before his disappearance, so that had there been any doubt as to his identity that would have removed it instantly. On my calling to him, he turned quickly round and, with a slight gesture of the head as if bidding me to follow, he glided forward. My natural impulse was to run after him, pick him up and smother him with kisses; but try as hard as I could, I could not diminish the distance between us, although he never appeared to alter his pace. I was quite out of breath by the time we reached H---- Street, where, to my surprise, he stopped at No. 90 and, turning round again, gazed at me in the most beseeching manner. I can't describe that look; suffice it to say that no human eyes could have been more expressive, but of what beyond the most profound love and sorrow I cannot, I dare not, attempt to state. I have pondered upon it through the whole of a mid-summer night, but not even the severest of my mental efforts have enabled me to solve it to my satisfaction. Could I but do that, I feel I should have fathomed the greatest of all mysteries--the mystery of life and death.