Those readers who are familiar with the anecdotes of Charles Fort, will probably recognize the following account from his book 'Lo!', published in 1931. General R. G. Burton, a British officer, adventurer and author visiting late 19th century Russia, was told a story of a place "haunted by a mysterious animal":
An unknown beast was terrorizing a small district in the Orel Government, south of Moscow. The first attack was upon the evening of July 6th. Three days later, another woman was grabbed by an undescribed animal, which she beat off, until help arrived. That day, a boy, aged 10, was killed and devoured.
July 11th—a woman killed, near Trosna. "At four o'clock, on the 14th, the beast severely wounded another woman and at five o'clock, made another attack upon a peasant girl, but was beaten off by a companion, who pulled the animal off by the tail. These details are taken from the official accounts of the events."
There was a panic, and the military authorities were appealed to. 3 officers and 40 men were sent from Moscow. They organized beats
that were composed of from 500 to 1,000 peasants, but all hunts were unsuccessful. On the 24th of July, four women were attacked, and one of them was killed.
Something was outwitting 3 officers and 40 men, and armies of 1,000 peasants. War was declared. Prince Sherincki, with 10 officers and 130 men, arrived from St. Petersburg. We notice that in uncanny occurrences, when there is wide publicity, or intense excitement, phenomena stop—or are stopped. War was declared upon something, but it disappeared. "According to general descriptions, the animal was long, with a blunt muzzle, and round, standing-up ears, with a long, smooth, hanging tail."
We know what to expect.
In the Field, Dec. 23, 1893, it is said that, after a study of sketches of the spoor of the animal, the naturalist Alferachi gave his opinion that the animal was a large dog. He so concluded because of the marks of protruding nails in the sketches.
But also it is said that plaster casts of the footprints showed no such marks. It is said that the nail marks had been added to the sketches, because of assertions by hunters that nail marks had been seen. Writing 30 years later (Chambers’ Journal, ser. 7, vol. 14, p. 308) General Burton tells of the animal as something that had never been identified.
This is fringing upon an enormous subject that leads away from the slaughtering of sheep to attacks, some of them mischievous, some
ordinarily deadly, and some of the Jack the Ripper kind, upon human beings. Though I have hundreds of notes upon mysterious attacks
upon human beings, I cannot develop an occult criminology now.
NOTE: Was this an upright beast...possibly canid? Or simply a large cunning Eurasion Wolf, thought to be something more than what it really was? If you are interested in cryptids and other anomalous phenomena, please access the accounts written by Charles Fort. After all these years, I still go back and read his assessments. Lon
The Complete Books of Charles Fort: The Book of the Damned / Lo! / Wild Talents / New Lands
Charles Fort: The Man Who Invented the Supernatural
Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers
Condensed Chaos: An Introduction to Chaos Magic