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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


"The Soutars disliked much to be questioned on the subject of the Dog of Mause. Thomas Soutar, who was tenant in Easter Mause, formerly named Knowhead of Mause, and died last year upwards of eighty years of age, said that the Soutars came originally from Annandale, and that their name was Johnston; that there were three brothers who fled from that part of the country on account of their having killed a man; that they came by Soutar's Hill, and having asked the name of the hill, were told 'Soutar,' upon which they said, 'Soutar be it then,' and took that name. One of the brothers went south and the others came north." {155a}

The appearance of human ghosts in the form of beasts is common enough; in Shropshire they usually "come" as bulls. (See Miss Burne's Shropshire Folklore.) They do not usually speak, like the Dog o' Mause. M. d'Assier, a French Darwinian, explains that ghosts revert "atavistically" to lower forms of animal life! {155b}

We now, in accordance with a promise already made, give an example of the ghosts of beasts! Here an explanation by the theory that the consciousness of the beast survives death and affects with a hallucination the minds of living men and animals, will hardly pass current. But if such cases were as common and told on evidence as respectable as that which vouches for appearances of the dead, believers in these would either have to shift their ground, or to grant that

Admitted to that equal sky, Our faithful dog may bear us company.

We omit such things as the dripping death wraith of a drowned cat who appeared to a lady, or the illused monkey who died in a Chinese house, after which he haunted it by rapping, secreting objects, and, in short, in the usual way. {155c} We adduce


A naval officer visited a friend in the country. Several men were sitting round the smoking-room fire when he arrived, and a fox-terrier was with them. Presently the heavy, shambling footsteps of an old dog, and the metallic shaking sound of his collar, were heard coming up stairs.

"Here's old Peter!" said his visitor.

"_Peter's dead_!" whispered his owner.

The sounds passed through the closed door, heard by all; they pattered into the room; the fox-terrier bristled up, growled, and pursued a viewless object across the carpet; from the hearth-rug sounded a shake, a jingle of a collar and the settling weight of a body collapsing into repose. {156}

This pleasing anecdote rests on what is called _nautical evidence_, which, for reasons inexplicable to me, was (in these matters) distrusted by Sir Walter Scott.

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