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Copyright © 2017 by Elliott O’Donnell.
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations em- bodied in critical articles or reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organiza- tions, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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First Edition: January 2017
TABLE OF CONTENTS
If human beings, with all their vices, have a future life, assuredly animals, who in character so often equal, nay, excel human beings, have a future life also.
Those who in the Scriptures find a key to all things, can find nothing in them to confute this argument. There is no saying of Christ that justifies one in supposing that man is the only being, whose existence extends beyond the grave.
Granted, however, merely for the sake of argument, that we have some ground for the denial of a future existence for animals, consider the injustice such a denial would involve. Take, for example, the case of the horse. Harming no one, and without thought of reward, it toils for man all its life, and when too old to work it is put to death without even the compensation of a well-earned rest. But if compensation be God's law,--as I, for one, believe it to be--and also the raison d'être of a hereafter, then surely the Creator, whose chief claim to our respect and veneration lies in the fact that He is just and merciful, will take good care that the horse--the gentle, patient, never-complaining horse--is well compensated--compensated in a golden hereafter.
Consider again, the case of another of our four-footed friends--the dog; the faithful, affectionate, obedient and forgiving dog, the dog who is so often called upon to stand all sorts of rough treatment, and is shot or poisoned, if, provoked beyond endurance, he at last rounds on his persecutors, and bites. And the cat--the timid, peaceful cat who is mauled, and all but pulled in two by cruel children, and beaten to a jelly when in sheer agony and fright it scratches. Reflect again, on the cow and the sheep, fed only to supply our wants; shouted at and kicked, if, when nearly scared out of their senses, they wander off the track; and pole-axed, or done to death in some equally atrocious manner when the sickening demand for flesh food is at its height.
And yet, you say, these innocent, unoffending--and, I say, martyred--animals are to have no future, no compensation. Monstrous! Absurd! It is an effrontery to common sense, philosophy--anything, everything. It is a damned lie, damned bigotry, damned nonsense. The whole animal world will live again; and it will be man--spoilt, presumptuous, degenerate man--who will not participate in another life, unless he very much improves.
Think well over this,--you who preach the gospel of man's pre-eminence;--you who prate of God and know nothing whatsoever about Him! The horse, dog, cat,--even the wild animals, whose vices, perchance, pale beside your own, may go to Heaven before you. The Supreme Architect is neither a Nero, nor a Stuart, nor a clown. He will recompense all who deserve recompense, be they great or small--biped or quadruped.
It is to testify to a future existence for animals and to create a wider interest in it that I have undertaken to compile this book; and my object, I think, can best be achieved in my own way, the way of the investigator of haunted places. The mere fact that there are manifestations of "dead" people (pardon the paradox) proves some kind of life after death for human beings; and happily the same proof is available with regard a future life for animals; indeed there are as many animal phantasms as human--perhaps more; hence, if the human being lives again, so do his dumb friends.
Be comforted then, you who love your pets, and have been kind to them. You will see them all again, on the soft undying pasture lands of your Elysium and theirs.
Be warned, you--you who have despised animals, and have been cruel to them. Who knows but that, in your future life, you may be as they are now--in subjection?
* * * * *
My task in writing this book has been considerably lightened by the extreme courtesy and kindness of Mr. Shirley, Mr. Eveleigh Nash, and the Proprietors of the Review of Reviews, in allowing me to make use of extracts and quotations from their most valuable works.
In opening this volume on Animals and their associations with the unknown, I will commence with a case of hauntings in the Old Manor House, at Oxenby.
My informant was a Mrs. Hartnoll, whom I can see in my mind's eye, as distinctly as if I were looking at her now. Hers was a personality that no lapse of time, nothing could efface; a personality that made itself felt on boys of all temperaments, most of all, of course, on those who--like myself--were highly strung and sensitive.
She was classical mistress at L.'s, the then well-known dame school in Clifton, where for three years--prior to migrating to a Public School--I was well grounded in all the mysticisms of Kennedy's Latin Primer and Smith's First Greek Principia.
I doubt if she got anything more than a very small salary--governesses in those days were shockingly remunerated--and I know,--poor soul, she had to work monstrously hard. Drumming Latin and Greek into heads as thick as ours was no easy task.
But there were times, when the excessive tension on the nerves proving too much, Mrs. Hartnoll stole a little relaxation; when she allowed herself to chat with us, and even to smile--Heavens! those smiles! And when--I can feel the tingling of my pulses at the bare mention of it--she spoke about herself, stated she had once been young--a declaration so astounding, so utterly beyond our comprehension, that we were rendered quite speechless--and told us anecdotes.
Of many of her narratives I have no recollection, but one or two, which interested me more than the rest, are almost as fresh in my mind as when recounted. The one that appealed to me most, and which I have every reason to believe is absolutely true, is as follows:--I give it as nearly as I can in her own somewhat stilted style:--
"Up to the age of nineteen, I resided with my parents in the Manor House, Oxenby. It was an old building, dating back, I believe, to the reign of Edward VI, and had originally served as the residence of noble families. Built, or, rather, faced with split flints, and edged and buttressed with cut grey stone, it had a majestic though very gloomy appearance, and seen from afar resembled nothing so much as a huge and grotesquely decorated sarcophagus. In the centre of its frowning and menacing front was the device of a cat, constructed out of black shingles, and having white shingles for the eyes; the effect being curiously realistic, especially on moonlight nights, when anything more lifelike and sinister could scarcely have been conceived. The artist, whoever he was, had a more than human knowledge of cats--he portrayed not merely their bodies but their souls.
[Footnote 1: I have subsequently met several people who experienced the same phenomena in the house, which was standing a short time ago.]
"In style the front of the house was somewhat castellated. Two semicircular bows, or half towers, placed at a suitable distance from each other, rose from the base to the summit of the edifice, to the height of four or five stairs; and were pierced, at every floor, with rows of stone-mullioned windows. The flat wall between had larger windows, lighting the great hall, gallery, and upper apartments. These windows were wholly composed of stained glass, engraved with every imaginable fantastic design--imps, satyrs, dragons, witches, queer-shaped trees, hands, eyes, circles, triangles and cats.
"The towers, half included in the building, were completely circular within, and contained the winding stairs of the mansion; and whoever ascended them when a storm was raging seemed rising by a whirlwind to the clouds.
"In the upper rooms even the wildest screams of the hurricane were drowned in the rattling clamour of the assaulted casements. When a gale of wind took the building in front, it rocked it to the foundations, and, at such times, threatened its instant demolition.
"Midway between the towers there stood forth a heavy stone porch with a Gothic gateway, surmounted by a battlemented parapet, made gable fashion, the apex of which was garnished by a pair of dolphins, rampant and antagonistic, whose corkscrew tails seemed contorted--especially at night--by the last agonies of rage convulsed. The porch doors stood open, except in tremendous weather; the inner ones were regularly shut and barred after all who entered. They led into a wide vaulted and lofty hall, the walls of which were decorated with faded tapestry, that rose, and fell, and rustled in the most mysterious fashion every time there was the suspicion--and often barely the suspicion--of a breeze.
"Interspersed with the tapestry--and in great contrast to its antiquity--were quite modern and very ordinary portraits of my family. The general fittings and furniture, both of the hall and house, were sombre and handsome--truss-beams, corbels, girders and panels were of the blackest oak; and the general effect of all this, augmented, if anything, by the windows, which were too high and narrow to admit of much light, was much the same as that produced by the interior of a subterranean chapel or charnel house.
"From the hall proceeded doorways and passages, more than my memory can now particularize. Of these portals, one at each end conducted to the tower stairs, others to reception rooms and domestic offices.
"The whole of the house being too large for us, only one wing--the right and newer of the two--was occupied, the other was unfurnished, and generally shut up. I say generally because there were times when either my mother or father--the servants never ventured there--forgot to lock the doors, and the handles yielding to my daring fingers, I surreptitiously crept in.
"Everywhere--even in daylight, even on the sunniest of mornings--were dark shadows that hung around the ingles and recesses of the rooms, the deep cupboards, the passages, and silent, winding staircases.
"There was one corridor--long, low, vaulted--where these shadows assembled in particular. I can see them now, as I saw them then, as they have come to me many times in my dreams, grouped about the doorways, flitting to and fro on the bare, dismal boards, and congregated in menacing clusters at the head of the sepulchral staircase leading to the cellars. Generally, and excepting at times when the weather was particularly violent, the silence here was so emphatic that I could never feel it was altogether natural, but rather that it was assumed especially for my benefit--to intimidate me. If I moved, if I coughed, almost if I breathed, the whole passage was filled with hoarse reverberating echoes, that, in my affrighted ears, appeared to terminate in a series of mirthless, malevolent chuckles. Once, when fascinated beyond control, I stole on tiptoe along the passage, momentarily expecting a door to fly open and something grim and horrible to pounce out on me, I was brought to a standstill by a loud, clanging noise, as if a pail or some such utensil were set down very roughly on a stone floor. Then there was the sound of rushing footsteps and of someone hastily ascending the cellar staircase. In fearful anticipation as to what I should see--for there was something in the sounds that told me they were not made by anything human--I stood in the middle of the passage and stared. Up, up, up they came, until I saw the dark, indefinite shape of something very horrid, but which I could not--I dare not--define. It was accompanied by the clanging of a pail. I tried to scream, but my tongue cleaving to the roof of my mouth prevented my uttering a syllable, and when I essayed to move, I found I was temporarily paralysed. The thing came rushing down on me. I grew icy cold all over, and when it was within a few feet of me, my horror was so great, I fainted.
"On recovering consciousness, it was some minutes before I summoned up courage to open my eyes, but when I did so, they alighted on nothing but the empty passage--the thing had disappeared.
"On another occasion, when I was clandestinely paying a visit to the unused wing, and was in the act of mounting one of the staircases leading from the corridor, I have just described, to the first floor, there was the sound of a furious scuffle overhead, and something dashed down the stairs past me. I instinctively looked up, and there, glaring down at me from over the balustrade, was a very white face. It was that of a man, but very badly proportioned--the forehead being low and receding, and the rest of the face too long and narrow. The crown rose to a kind of peak, the ears were pointed and set very low down and far back. The mouth was very cruel and thin-lipped; the teeth were yellow and uneven. There was no hair on the face, but that on the head was red and matted. The eyes were obliquely set, pale blue, and full of an expression so absolutely malignant that every atom of blood in my veins seemed to congeal as I met their gaze. I could not clearly see the body of the thing, as it was hazy and indistinct, but the impression I got of it was that it was clad in some sort of tight-fitting, fantastic garment. As the landing was in semi-darkness, and the face at all events was most startlingly visible, I concluded it brought with it a light of its own, though there was none of that lurid glow attached to it, which I subsequently learned is almost inseparable from spirit phenomena seen under similar conditions.
"For some seconds, I was too overcome with terror to move, but my faculties at length reasserting themselves, I turned round and flew to the other wing of the house with the utmost precipitation.
"One would have thought that after these experiences nothing would have induced me to have run the risk of another such encounter, yet only a few days after the incident of the head, I was again impelled by a fascination I could not withstand to visit the same quarters. In sickly anticipation of what my eyes would alight on, I stole to the foot of the staircase and peeped cautiously up. To my infinite joy there was nothing there but a bright patch of sunshine, that, in the most unusual fashion, had forced its way through from one of the slits of windows near at hand.
"After gazing at it long enough to assure myself it was only sunshine, I quitted the spot, and proceeded on my way down the vaulted corridor. Just as I was passing one of the doors, it opened. I stopped--terrified. What could it be? Bit by bit, inch by inch, I watched the gap slowly widen. At last, just as I felt I must either go mad or die, something appeared--and, to my utter astonishment, it was a big, black cat! Limping painfully, it came towards me with a curious, gliding motion, and I perceived with a thrill of horror that it had been very cruelly maltreated. One of its eyes looked as if it had been gouged out--its ears were lacerated, whilst the paw of one of its hind-legs had either been torn or hacked off. As I drew back from it, it made a feeble and pathetic effort to reach me and rub itself against my legs, as is the way with cats, but in so doing it fell down, and uttering a half purr, half gurgle, vanished--seeming to sink through the hard oak boards.
"That evening my youngest brother met with an accident in the barn at the back of the house, and died. Though I did not then associate his death with the apparition of the cat, the latter shocked me much, for I was extremely fond of animals. I did not dare venture in the wing again for nearly two years.
"When next I did so, it was early one June morning--between five and six, and none of the family, saving my father, who was out in the fields looking after his men, were as yet up. I explored the dreaded corridor and staircase, and was crossing the floor of one of the rooms I had hitherto regarded as immune from ghostly influences, when there was an icy rush of wind, the door behind me slammed to violently, and a heavy object struck me with great force in the hollow of my back. With a cry of surprise and agony I turned sharply round, and there, lying on the floor, stretched out in the last convulsions of death, was the big black cat, maimed and bleeding as it had been on the previous occasion. How I got out of the room I don't recollect. I was too horror-stricken to know exactly what I was doing, but I distinctly remember that, as I tugged the door open, there was a low, gleeful chuckle, and something slipped by me and disappeared in the direction of the corridor. At noon that day my mother had a seizure of apoplexy, and died at midnight.
"Again there was a lapse of years--this time nearly four--when, sent on an errand for my father, I turned the key of one of the doors leading into the empty wing, and once again found myself within the haunted precincts. All was just as it had been on the occasion of my last visit--gloom, stillness and cobwebs reigned everywhere, whilst permeating the atmosphere was a feeling of intense sadness and depression.
"I did what was required of me as quickly as possible, and was crossing one of the rooms to make my exit, when a dark shadow fell athwart the threshold of the door, and I saw the cat.
* * * * *
"That evening my father dropped dead as he was hastening home through the fields. He had long suffered from heart disease.
"After his death we--that is to say, my brother, sisters and self--were obliged to leave the house and go out into the world to earn our living. We never went there again, and never heard if any of the subsequent tenants experienced similar manifestations."
This is as nearly as I can recollect Mrs. Hartnoll's story. But as it is a good many years since I heard it, there is just a possibility of some of the details--the smaller ones at all events--having escaped my memory.
When I was grown up, I stayed for a few weeks near Oxenby, and met, at a garden party, a Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler, the then occupants of the Manor House.
I asked if they believed in ghosts, and told them I had always heard their house was haunted.
"Well," they said, "we never believed in ghosts till we came to Oxenby, but we have seen and heard such strange things since we have been in the Manor House that we are now prepared to believe anything."
They then went on to tell me that they--and many of their visitors and servants--had seen the phantasms of a very hideous and malignant old man, clad in tight-fitting hosiery of mediæval days, and a maimed and bleeding big, black cat, that seemed sometimes to drop from the ceiling, and sometimes to be thrown at them. In one of the passages all sorts of queer sounds, such as whinings, meanings, screeches, clangings of pails and rattlings of chains, were heard, whilst something, no one could ever see distinctly, but which they all felt to be indescribably nasty, rushed up the cellar steps and flew past, as if engaged in a desperate chase. Indeed, the disturbances were of so constant and harrowing a nature, that the wing had to be vacated and was eventually locked up.
The Wheelers excavated in different parts of the haunted wing and found, in the cellar, at a depth of some eight or nine feet, the skeletons of three men and two women; whilst in the wainscoting of the passage they discovered the bones of a boy, all of which remains they had properly interred in the churchyard. According to local tradition, handed down through many centuries by word of mouth, the house originally belonged to a knight, who, with his wife, was killed out hunting. He had only one child, a boy of about ten, who became a ward in chancery. The man appointed by the Crown as guardian to this child proved an inhuman monster, and after ill-treating the lad in every conceivable manner, eventually murdered him and tried to substitute a bastard boy of his own in his place. For a time the fraud succeeded, but on its being eventually found out, the murderer and his offspring were both brought to trial and hanged.
During his occupation of the house, many people were seen to enter the premises, but never leave them, and the place got the most sinister reputation. Among other deeds credited to the murderer and his offspring was the mutilation and boiling of a cat--the particular pet of the young heir, who was compelled to witness the whole revolting process. Years later, a subsequent owner of the property had a monument erected in the churchyard to the memory of this poor, abused child, and on the front of the house constructed the device of the cat.
Though it is impossible to determine what amount of truth there may be in this tradition, it certainly seems to accord with the hauntings, and to supply some sort of explanation to them. The ghostly head on the banisters might well be that of the low and brutal guardian, whose spirit would be the exact counterpart of his mind. The figure seen, and noises heard in the passage, point to the re-enaction of some tragedy, possibly the murder of the heir, or the slaughter of his cat, in either of which a bucket might easily have played a grimly significant part. And if human murderers and their victims have phantasms, why should not animals have phantasms too? Why should not the phenomenon of the cat seen by Mrs. Hartnoll and the Wheelers have been the actual phantasm of an earthbound cat?
No amount of reasoning--religious or otherwise--has as yet annihilated the possibility of all forms of earthly life possessing spirits.
LETTER FROM MY WIFE
I heard the foregoing account from my husband when first I met him years ago, and I know it to be true. I have seen the rooms, etc. in the Old Manor House, Oxenby, where the incidents Mrs. Hartnoll mentions took place.
ADA B. O'DONNELL.
July 2, 1913.
To further substantiate my views with regard to a future existence for animals, I reproduce (by permission of the Editor) the following letters and articles that have appeared from time to time in the Occult Review:--
That other Cat
One evening about four years ago I was in my drawing-room with two friends; we were all standing up on the point of going to bed, and only waiting till the old cook had succeeded in inducing the grey Persian cat to come in for the night. This was sometimes difficult, and then cook came up as on this occasion and called him from the balcony, and the French window was wide open, when a cat rushed in at the window and through the door.
"What was that?" we said, looking at one another. It was not Kitty, the grey Persian, but darker, and was it really a cat, or what? My friend "Rügen" has written the account of what she saw before seeing what I have said. "Iona" confirms our description. What I saw seemed dark and shadowy and yet unmistakably a cat. It seemed to me like the predecessor of Kitty, which was a black Persian; he had the same habit of coming in at night by this window, and he constantly rushed through the room, and downstairs, being in a hurry for his supper. A moment or two afterwards the grey cat walked slowly in, and though we searched the house, we could find no other.
Fräulein Mullet's Story
Three or four years ago, Iona and I were sitting in the drawing-room on a Sunday evening, when cook came in to ask for Kitty (a silver-grey Persian cat) to settle him in the kitchen for the night. Kitty was still in the garden, and cook went to the balcony calling him.
Suddenly I saw a black cat flying in and disappearing behind or under a seat. First, I did not take much notice of this. But when a minute after Kitty slowly and solemnly stepped in, followed by cook, it struck me that the dark something could not have been Kitty, and Thanet and Iona made the remark simultaneously. Now we began to look for the dark one all over the place without any result. Cook had not seen any cat passing her on the balcony, but Kitty the grey one. Thanet had had a black Persian cat, which died before Kitty came.
I can entirely corroborate the accounts written by "Thanet" and "Rügen."
I remember that I saw something like a dark shadow move very quickly and disappear in front of a cottage piano. I exclaimed simultaneously with my friends "What was that?" and shared their surprise when no black cat was found, and the grey Persian walked in unconcernedly through the open window.
What Kitty saw
Cook said, "I wish you would come downstairs and see how strangely Kitty behaves as soon as I open the cupboard. There is nothing in it but the wood; I turned it all out to see what might be the reason--not even a mousehole can I find." Some days previously cook had told me that nothing could induce Kitty to sleep in his basket, and one day he would not eat any food in the kitchen, and his meals had to be given him outside. So I went down to please cook. Kitty was picked up, and while cook petted and stroked him, she knelt down and opened the cupboard. Kitty, stretching his neck and looking with big, frightened eyes into the cupboard's corner, suddenly turned round; struggling out of cook's hold and rushing over her shoulder, he flew out of the kitchen. Getting up, Cook said: "That's always what he does, just as if he was seeing something horrible!"
Next day I encouraged cook to talk of Ruff, the former black cat, which had been a great favourite of hers, and which she had been nursing when he was dying. "Oh, poor thing, when he was ill, he would creep into dark corners, so I put him in his basket into the cupboard, making it very comfortable for him, and there he died"--pointing to the very corner which caused such horror to Kitty.
Captain Humphries's Story--A Materialized Cat
My son had the following experience at the age of four years in our Worcestershire home.
He was an only child and spent much of his time in the company of a cat who shared his tastes and pursuits even to the extent of fishing in the River Weir with him, the cat being far more proficient at the sport than the boy. When the cat died we none of us dared to break the news to the child, and were much surprised when he asked us to say why his cat only came to play with him at nights nowadays. When we questioned him about it, he stoutly maintained that his cat was there in bodily form every night after he went to bed, looking much the same but a little thinner.