Animal Ghosts or Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter by Elliott O'Donnell
III HORSES AND THE UNKNOWN
Mr. Stead goes on to add: "Four evenings after all this occurred my friend related it to me as we were riding along the same road. He continued to pass there many times every year for ten years, but never a day saw anything of that sort."
My next case, a reproduction of a letter in the _Occult Review_ of September, 1906, reads thus:--
"_A Phantom Horse and Rider--Mrs. Gaskin Anderston's Story_
"The following story is, I think, very remarkable, and I give it exactly as it was told to me, and written down at the time.
"A number of members of a gentleman's club were talking and discussing, amongst other subjects, the possibility of there being a future state for animals. One of the members said:
"'I firmly believe there is. In my early youth I had a practice as a medical man in one of the Midland Counties. One of my patients was a very wealthy man, who owned large tracts of land and had a stud composed entirely of bay horses with black points--this was a hobby of his, and he would never have any others. One day a messenger came summoning me to Mr. L----, as he had just met with a very bad accident, and was on the point of death. I mounted my horse and started off without delay. As I was riding through the front gates to the house, I heard a shot, and to my amazement the very man I was going to visit rode past at a furious pace, riding a wretched-looking chestnut with one white forefoot and a white star on its forehead. Arrived at the house the butler said:
"'"He has gone, sir; they had to shoot the horse--you would hear the shot--and at the same moment my master died."
"'He had had this horse sent on approval; whilst riding it, it backed over a precipice, injuring Mr. L---- fatally, and on being taken to the stables it was found necessary to shoot it.'--Alpha."
The next case I append (I published it in a weekly journal some years ago) was related to me by a Captain Beauclerk.
_The White Horse of Eastover_
When I came down to breakfast one morning I found amongst several letters awaiting me one from Colonel Onslow, the Commanding Officer of my regiment when I first joined. He had always been rather partial to me, and the friendship between us continued after his retirement. I heard from him regularly at more or less prolonged intervals, and either at Christmas or Easter invariably received an invitation to spend a few days with him. On this occasion he was most anxious that I should accept.
"Do come to us for Easter," he wrote. "I am sure this place will interest you--it is haunted."
The cunning fellow! He knew I was very keen on Psychical Research work, and would go almost anywhere on the bare chance of seeing a ghost.
At that time I was quite open-minded, I had arrived at no definite conclusion as to the existence or non-existence of ghosts. But to tell the truth, I doubted very much if the Colonel's word, in these circumstances, could be relied upon. I had grave suspicions that this "haunting" was but an invention for the purpose of getting me to Eastover. However, as it was just possible that I might be mistaken--that there really was a ghost, and as I had not seen Colonel Onslow for a long time, and indulged in feelings of the warmest regard both for him and his wife, I resolved to go.
Accordingly I set out early in the afternoon of the Good Friday. The weather, which had been muggy in London, grew colder and colder the further we advanced along the line, and by the time we reached Eastover there was every prospect of a storm.
As I expected, a closed carriage had been sent to meet me; for the Colonel, carrying conservatism--with more conservatism than sense, perhaps--to a fine point, cherished a deep-rooted aversion to innovations of any sort, and consequently abhorred motors. His house, Eastover Hall, is three miles from the station, and lies at the foot of a steep spine of the Chilterns.
The grounds of Eastover Hall were extensive; but, in the ordinary sense, far from beautiful. To me, however, they were more than beautiful; there was a grandeur in them--a grandeur that appealed to me far more than mere beauty--the grandeur of desolation, the grandeur of the Unknown. As we passed through the massive iron gates of the lodge, I looked upon countless acres of withered, undulating grass; upon a few rank sedges; upon a score or so of decayed trees; upon a house--huge, bare, grey and massive; upon bleak walls; upon vacant, eye-like windows; upon crude, scenic inhospitality, the very magnitude of which overpowered me. I have said it was cold; but there hung over the estate of Eastover an iciness that brought with it a quickening, a sickening of the heart, and a dreariness that, whilst being depressing in the extreme, was, withal, sublime. Sublime and mysterious; mysterious and insoluble. A thousand fancies swarmed through my mind; yet I could grapple with none; and I was loth to acknowledge that, although there are combinations of very simple material objects which might have had the power of affecting me thus, yet any attempt to analyse that power was beyond--far beyond--my mental capability.