Animal Ghosts or Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter by Elliott O'Donnell
VI INHABITANTS OF THE JUNGLE
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_Elephants, Lions, Tigers, etc._
Elephants undoubtedly possess the faculty of scenting spirits in a very marked degree. It is most difficult to get an elephant to pass a spot where any phantasm is known to appear. The big beast at once comes to a halt, trembles, trumpets, and turning round, can only be urged forward by the gentlest coaxing.
Jungles are full of the ghosts of slain men and animals, and afford more variety in hauntings than any other localities. The spirits of such cruel creatures as lions, tigers, leopards, are very much earth-bound, and may be seen or heard night after night haunting the sites of their former depredations.
The following case of a tiger ghost was narrated to me years ago by a gentleman whom I will style Mr. De Silva, P.W.D. I published his account in a popular weekly journal, as follows:--
_The White Tiger_
"Tap! tap! tap. Someone was coming behind me. I halted, and in the brilliant moonlight saw a figure hobbling along--first one thin leg, then the other, always with the same measured stride--accompanied with the same tapping of the stick. I had no wish for his company, though the road was lonely, and I feared the presence of tigers, so I hurried on, and the faster I went, the nearer he seemed to come. Tap! tap! tap! The man was blind and a leper, and so repulsively ugly that the niggers on the settlement regarded him with superstitious awe. I had a horror of tigers, but of lepers even greater. And I loved my wife with no ordinary love. So I hurried on, and he followed quickly after me.
"The night was brilliant, even more so, I thought, than was ordinary, and the very brilliancy made me fear, for my shadow, the shadow of the trees, shadows for which I had no name, flickered across the road, were lost to sight to return again, and the jungle was getting nearer. The open country on either side ceased, one by one tall blades of jungle grass shook their heads in the gentle breeze, and the silence of the darkness beyond began to make itself felt. A night bird whizzed past me, croaking out a dismal incantation from its black throat; something at which I did not care to look clattered from under a stone I loosened with my foot, and sped into the shade, and I hastened on.
"Tap! tap! tap! Faster and faster, and faster came the blind man. I could smell the oil on his body, hear his breathing.
"'Whoever you are, sahib, stop!'
"There was fear in his voice as he whined out these words, a fear which increased my own; but I pretended not to hear, and pressed on faster.
"The darkness grew; high over my head at either side of the road waved the grass, rustling to and fro, and singing to sleep the insects nestling on its green stalks with its old-time song of the jungle.
"The grass ahead of me slowly parted; my heart beat quicker, the tapping behind me ceased--it was only some small animal. What was it? A small hyaena? No. A jackal, a lame jackal, and it looked at me from out of eyes that for some reason or other made me shiver. I did not know what there was about the jackal that was different from what I had seen in any other jackal, but there was a something. And as I looked at it in awe, it vanished--melted into thin air.
"The moment after a second jackal appeared just where the other one had been standing, but there was nothing remarkable about this one, and on my bending down, pretending to look for a stone to throw at it, it slunk back silently and stealthily whence it had come, and I hurried on faster than ever, knowing a tiger was near at hand.
"Tap! tap! tap! I blessed the presence of the blind man.
"'For God's sake, sahib, stop! For the love of Allah, sahib, stop!' (You know how they talk, O'Donnell.) 'The jackals, did you see them? I knew them by their smell, the smell of the living and of the dead. Walk with me, sahib, for Allah's sake.'
"Presently, O'Donnell, I heard a heavier rustling in the grass than the wind makes; a rustling that kept pace with me and went along by my side, never halting, but faster and faster, and faster.
"A short distance ahead of me was a patch of bright light, where the cross-roads met. A few yards more and the jungle grass would end.