Haunted Short Stories – 21 – ‘The Damned Thing’ by Ambrose G. Bierce

Courtesy of Madhouse Manor the page of Debra Doyle & James D. MacDonald

CHAPTER I

ONE DOES NOT ALWAYS EAT WHAT IS ON THE TABLE

By the light of a tallow candle which had been placed on one end of a rough table a man was reading something written in a book. It was an old account book, greatly worn; and the writing was not, apparently, very legible, for the man sometimes held the page close to the flame of the candle to get a stronger light on it. The shadow of the book would then throw into obscurity a half of the rooms, darkening a number of faces and figures; for besides the reader, eight other men were present. Seven of them sat against the rough log walls, silent, motionless, and the room being small, not very far from the table. By extending an arm any one of them could have touched the eighth man, who lay on the table, face upward, partly covered by a sheet, his arms at his sides. He was dead.

The man with the book was not reading aloud, and no one spoke; all seemed to be waiting for something to occur; the dead man only was without expectation. From the bland darkness outside came in, through the aperture that served for a window, all the ever unfamiliar noises of night in the wilderness — the long nameless note of a distant coyote; the drone of great blundering beetles, and all that mysterious chorus of small sounds that seem always to have been but half heard when they have suddenly ceased, as if conscious of an indiscretion. But nothing of all this was noted in that company; its members were not overmuch addicted to idle interest in matters of no practical importance; that was obvious in every line of their rugged faces — obvious even in the dim light of the single candle. They were evidently men of the vicinity — farmers and woodsmen.

The person reading was a trifle different; one would have said of him that he was of the world, worldly, albeit there was that in his attire which attested a certain fellowship with the organisms of his environment. His coat would hardly have passed muster in San Francisco; his foot-gear was not of urban origin, and the hat that lay by him on the floor (he was the only one uncovered) was such that if one had considered it as an article of mere personal adornment he would have missed its meaning. In countenance the man was rather prepossessing, with just a hint of sternness; though that he may have assumed or cultivated, as appropriate to one in authority. For he was a coroner. It was by virtue of his office that he had possession of the book in which he was reading; it had been found among the dead man’s effects — in his cabin, where the inquest was now taking place.

When the coroner had finished reading he put the book into his breast pocket. At that moment the door was pushed open and a young man entered. He, clearly, was not of mountain birth and breeding: he was clad as those who dwell in cities. His clothing was dusty, however, as from travel. He had, in fact, been riding hard to attend the inquest.

The coroner nodded; no one else greeted him.

“We have waited for you,” said the coroner. “It is necessary to have done with this business to-night.”

The young man smiled. “I am sorry to have kept you,” he said. “I went away, not to evade your summons, but to post to my newspaper an account of what I suppose I am called back to relate.”

The coroner smiled.

“The account that you posted to your newspaper,” he said, “differs, probably, from that which you will give here under oath.”

“That,” replied the other, rather hotly and with a visible flush, “is as you please. I used manifold paper and have a copy of what I sent. It was not written as news, for it is incredible, but as fiction. It may go as part of my testimony under oath.”

“But you say it is incredible.”

“That is nothing to you, sir, if I also swear that it is true.”

The coroner was silent for a time, his eyes upon the floor.

The men about the sides of the cabin talked in whispers, but seldom withdrew their gaze from the face of the corpse. Presently the coroner lifted his eyes and said: “We will resume the inquest.”

The men removed their hats. The witness was sworn.

Story Continues after the break:

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October 21, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , . American Literature, English Literature, Entertainment, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Popular Culture, Supernatural, Suspense. Comments off.

Video: Chris Whalen – more on MBS FraudGate, Pension Fund suits, Securities Law and the markets need to restructure these TBTF banks

The risks are high, and Mr Market is asleep, methinks that Uncle Sam has given the TBTF the all clear, leaving taxpayers holding the bag, again.

Courtesy of Market-Ticker:

“This is cancer – this isn’t a sudden crisis that is going to erupt out of the ground.”

“We’re going to wait until well-into this, and then we’re going to do the right thing – which is restructuring.”

MBS…. are calling their lawyers.  Trustees may or may not have the note.

“There are a lot of investors out there who don’t know what they own… they may own unsecured loans….. trustees that were supposed to do things under state law (and didn’t)… even Fannie and Freddie have issues with this.”

“…. this is not minutia; this is the letter of the law.

“The dealer has to deliver to the trustee the notes (under NY State Law)”

October 21, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Economy, FDIC, Finance, Foreclosures, Housing, Obama Administration, Politics, TARP, Taxes, Wall St. Comments off.

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