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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

"Once, when the galloping sound was very distinct, I rushed to the door of my house. There I found my Hindoo bearer, standing with a tattie in his hand. I asked him what he was there for. He said that there came a sound of riding down the hill, and 'passed him like a typhoon,' and went round the corner of the house, and he was determined to waylay it, whatever it was."

In commenting on the case, Mr. Stead remarks, "That such a story as this, gravely told by a British General in the present day, helps us to understand how our ancestors came to believe in the wonderful story of Herne the Hunter." I do not know about Herne the Hunter, but it is at all events good testimony that horses as well as men have spirits, for one of the ghosts the General saw was, undoubtedly, that of the pony murdered by B. Why it was still ridden by the phantom of its former master is another question.

The next case I narrate is also taken from Mr. Stead's same work. It was sent him by one of the leading townsmen of Cowes, in the Isle of Wight, and runs thus:--

"On a fine evening in April, 1859, the writer was riding with a friend on a country road. Twilight was closing down on us, when, after a silence of some minutes, my friend suddenly exclaimed:

"'No man knows me better than you do, J. Do you think I am a nervous, easily frightened sort of man?'

"'Far from it,' said I, 'among all the men I know in the wild country I have lived and worked in, I know none more fearless or of more unhesitating nerve.'

"'Well,' said he, 'I think I am that, too, and though I have travelled these roads all sorts of hours, summer and winter, for twenty years, I never met anything to startle me, or that I could not account for, until last Monday evening. About this time it was. Riding old Fan' (a chestnut mare) 'here on this cross-' (a four-way cross) 'road, on my near side was a man on a grey horse, coming from this left-hand road. I had to pull my off-rein to give myself room to pass ahead of him; he was coming at a right angle to me. As I passed the head of the horse I called out "Good night." Hearing no reply, I turned in my saddle to the off-side, to see whether he appeared to be asleep as he rode, but to my surprise I saw neither man nor horse. So sure was I that I had seen such, that I wheeled old Fan round, and rode back to the middle of the cross, and on neither of the four roads could I see a man or horse, though there was light enough to see two hundred or three hundred yards, as we can now. Well, I then rode over that gate' (a gate at one corner opening into a grass field), 'thinking he might have gone that way; looking down by each hedge, I could see nothing of my man and horse; and then--and not until then--I felt myself thrill and start with a shuddering sense that I had seen something uncanny, and, Jove! I put the mare down this hill we are on now at her very best pace. But the strangest part of my story is to come,' said he, continuing.

"'After I had done my business at the farmhouse here, at foot of this hill, I told the old farmer and his wife what I had seen, as I have now told you. The old man said:

"'"For many years I have known thee, M----, on this road, and have you never seen the like before on that cross?"

"'"Seen what before?" I said.

"'"Why, a man in light-coloured clothes on a grey horse," said he.

"'"No, never," said I, "but I swear I have this evening."

"'The farmer asked, "Had I never heard of what happened to the Miller of L---- Mills about forty years ago?"

"'"No, never a word," I told him.

"'"Well," he said, "about forty years ago this miller, returning from market, was waylaid and murdered on that cross-road, pockets rifled of money and watch. The horse ran home, about a mile away. Two serving-men set out with lanterns and found their master dead. He was dressed, as millers often do in this part of the country, in light-coloured clothes, and the horse was a grey horse. The murderers were never found. These are facts," continued the farmer. "I took this farm soon after it all happened, and, though I have known all this, and have passed over that cross several thousands of times, I never knew anything unusual there myself, but there have been a number of people who tell the same story you have told mother and me, M----, and describe the appearance as you have done to us to-night."'"