He gained the door to the landing, pulled it open, and rushed forth. I followed him into the landing
involuntarily, calling him to stop; but, without heeding me, he bounded down the stairs, clinging to the
balusters, and taking several steps at a time. I heard, where I stood, the street-door open--heard it again clap to. I was left alone in the haunted house.
It was but for a moment that I remained undecided whether or not to follow my servant; pride and curiosity
alike forbade so dastardly a flight. I re-entered my room, closing the door after me, and proceeded cautiously
into the interior chamber. I encountered nothing to justify my servant's terror. I again carefully examined the
walls, to see if there were any concealed door. I could find no trace of one--not even a seam in the dull-brown
paper with which the room was hung. How, then, had the THING, whatever it was, which had so scared him,
obtained ingress except through my own chamber?
I returned to my room, shut and locked the door that opened upon the interior one, and stood on the hearth,
expectant and prepared. I now perceived that the dog had slunk into an angle of the wall, and was pressing
himself close against it, as if literally striving to force his way into it. I approached the animal and spoke to it;
the poor brute was evidently beside itself with terror. It showed all its teeth, the slaver dropping from its jaws,
and would certainly have bitten me if I had touched it. It did not seem to recognize me. Whoever has seen at
the Zoological Gardens a rabbit fascinated by a serpent, cowering in a corner, may form some idea of the
anguish which the dog exhibited. Finding all efforts to soothe the animal in vain, and fearing that his bite
might be as venomous in that state as in the madness of hydrophobia, I left him alone, placed my weapons on
the table beside the fire, seated myself, and recommenced my Macaulay.
Perhaps, in order not to appear seeking credit for a courage, or rather a coolness, which the reader may
conceive I exaggerate, I may be pardoned if I pause to indulge in one or two egotistical remarks.
As I hold presence of mind, or what is called courage, to be precisely proportioned to familiarity with the
circumstances that lead to it, so I should say that I had been long sufficiently familiar with all experiments that
appertain to the Marvelous. I had witnessed many very extraordinary phenomena in various parts of the
world--phenomena that would be either totally disbelieved if I stated them, or ascribed to supernatural
agencies. Now, my theory is that the Supernatural is the Impossible, and that what is called supernatural is
only a something in the laws of nature of which we have been hitherto ignorant. Therefore, if a ghost rise
before me, I have not the right to say, 'So, then, the supernatural is possible,' but rather, 'So, then, the
apparition of a ghost is, contrary to received opinion, within the laws of nature--i.e., not supernatural.'
Now, in all that I had hitherto witnessed, and indeed in all the wonders which the amateurs of mystery in our
age record as facts, a material living agency is always required. On the continent you will find still magicians
who assert that they can raise spirits. Assume for the moment that they assert truly, still the living material
form of the magician is present; and he is the material agency by which, from some constitutional
peculiarities, certain strange phenomena are represented to your natural senses.
Accept, again, as truthful, the tales of spirit Manifestation in America--musical or other sounds--writings on
paper, produced by no discernible hand--articles of furniture moved without apparent human agency--or the
actual sight and touch of hands, to which no bodies seem to belong--still there must be found the MEDIUM or
living being, with constitutional peculiarities capable of obtaining these signs. In fine, in all such marvels,
supposing even that there is no imposture, there must be a human being like ourselves by whom, or through
whom, the effects presented to human beings are produced. It is so with the now familiar phenomena of
mesmerism or electro-biology; the mind of the person operated on is affected through a material living agent.