Animal Ghosts or Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter by Elliott O'Donnell
III HORSES AND THE UNKNOWN
"For some minutes my heart pulsated painfully, and then as the sound of its throbbing grew fainter and fainter, I heard a curious noise outside my room--someone was ascending the stairs. I endeavoured to rise, but could not--fear, an awful, ungovernable fear, held me spellbound. The steps paused outside the door, the handle of which was gently turned. Then there was a suggestive silence, then whispering, then another turning of the handle, and then--my state of coma abruptly ended, and I stepped noiselessly out of bed and crept to the window. I was heard. 'Stop him,' the woman cried out, 'he's trying to escape. Use the gun.' She hurled herself against the door as she spoke, whilst the man tore downstairs.
"It was now a matter of seconds, the slightest accident, a hesitation, and I was lost. Swinging open the window, I scrambled on the ledge, and without the slightest idea of the distance--dropped! There was a brief rushing through air and I alighted--safe and sound--on the snow. Blessed snow! Had it not been for the snow I should in all probability have hurt myself! I alighted not an instant too soon, for hardly had I touched the ground before my gigantic host came tearing round the angle of the wall with a lantern in one hand and gun in the other. I immediately dashed away, and, thanks to the intense darkness of the morning--for it must have been two o'clock--had no difficulty in evading my pursuer, who fired twice in rapid succession.
"On and on I went, sometimes falling up to my armpits in the snowdrift, and sometimes stunning myself against a low-hanging branch of a tree. With the first rays of sunlight, however, my troubles came to an end. The snow had ceased falling, and I quickly alighted on a track, which brought me to a village, whence I obtained a conveyance into Liffre.
"I reported the affair to the local police, and a party of gendarmes at once set off to arrest the miscreants. But, alas, they had fled. The house was pulled down, and, on the soil being excavated, a dozen or more skeletons of men and women--all showing unmistakable signs of foul play--together with the remains of a horse, were found in various parts of the premises. The place was a veritable Golgotha. I suppose the phantom horse and rider had appeared to me with the sole purpose of making their fate known. If so, they at all events partly achieved their end, though the mystery surrounding their identity was never solved. All the remains, both human and animal, were removed elsewhere, and accorded a decent burial. The site of their original interment, however, is, I believe, still haunted, and maybe will remain so till the miscreants are brought to book."
After a little consideration I am inclined to think there are quite as many authentic cases of hauntings by the phantasms of horses as by the phantasms of cats and dogs. Innumerable horses die unnatural deaths. Apart from those killed in war, many,--more particularly, it is true, in the olden times,--have been murdered in the highways along with their masters; whilst all but the comparative few, when no longer of use to their owners, are butchered in the slaughter-house, and subsequently despatched to the Zoological Gardens, to be eaten by lions and tigers. So much for Christianity, and for man's gratitude. How much better would the promoters of the White Slave Traffic Act be employed, if,--instead of trying to pass a bill which obviously cannot cure the evil it aims at, but can only, by diverting the course of that evil, drive from pillar to post thousands of defenceless, albeit erring women,--they were to labour to secure a peaceful ending for our four-footed toilers, who work for us all their lives, never strike, never think of a pension for old age, and never even dream of a vote. Alas! If only our poor horses could vote, what a different attitude would our pharisaical politicians at once adopt towards them!
_Phantasms of Living Horses_
From what I have experienced and have been told, I am of the opinion that horses possess the same faculty of separating their immaterial from their material bodies, as cats and dogs. I knew a Virginian lady who had a piebald horse that frequently appeared simultaneously in two places. She lived in an old country house near Winchfield, and one morning when she went into the breakfast-room, she was surprised to see the piebald horse standing on the gravel path, outside the window, looking in at her. When she called it by name, it immediately melted into fine air. Going round to the stables she found the horse in its stall, and on enquiry was informed that it had been there all the time.