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On the morning of April 1, 1935, at 3:55 o’clock, Patrick Murray, a subway conductor on the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit lines, arrived home from his night’s work. As soon as he entered the hallway of the two-story frame dwelling on Marine Avenue, Brooklyn, he noticed something unusual—the light in the hallway had not been extinguished.
It is customary in most homes to leave a light burning at night when someone is still out. But Murray’s landlady, sixty-eight-year-old Nora Kelly, who lived on the ground floor with her dog Brownie, had to count every penny. She had no source of income other than the thirty dollars a month she received as rent from the Murrays, so she always turned out that hall light when she retired for the night. Murray, long a night worker accustomed to finding his way around in the dark, was surprised.
“The old woman would have ‘a fit if she saw the light burning in the morning,” he remarked to himself as he switched it off. Then he climbed the stairs to his own apartment, which he occupied with his wife, Helen, and their four-year-old daughter, Eleanor.
Murray was undressing for bed when he became conscious of a second unusual circumstance. Mrs. Kelly’s dog, a cross-bred collie, was howling mournfully in the back yard. This puzzled the conductor much more than the light. He knew it was the landlady’s habit, every night, at ten o’clock, to unleash Brownie from his kennel in the yard and take him into the cellar. Murray decided that Mrs. Kelly had gone visiting and failed to come home. That would explain both the light and the fact that the dog had not been taken in for the night. Surely if she were home she would long since have heard Brownie’s barking.
“I never knew her to neglect him like this before,” he muttered. “It’s a strange thing indeed for a woman like Mrs. Kelly.”
Several more howls proved too much for him. He pulled on his trousers and a sweater, procured a pocket flashlight, and then tip-toed downstairs. The dog’s cries thinned out to a whimper as he approached. Murray noticed that the seven-foot length of rope which leashed Brownie to the kennel had become frayed from his incessant leaping efforts to get loose. He was quivering and panting with impatience as Murray untied him. This, too, struck the man as unusual, for the dog showed neither relief nor gratitude but only a desperate urgency, as though he were needed somewhere and must get there.
He pulled Murray around to the front door, his claws digging frantically into the gravel walk.
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