The Damned Thing by Ambrose Bierce

The Damned Thing by Ambrose Bierce

It was a deep night. Eight people gathered in a small house. They were sitting around a simple wooden table. One man was reading a book under the light of an old desk lamp. There was also the ninth person – the owner of the house. He was laying under a white rag dead. It was quiet in the house. Only the birds were shouting outside the window. The men gathered in the house had an important job. They had to understand how the owner of the house died. It was up to them to reveal the truth. They were farmers with tanned faces and strong muscles from the work in the field. The man with the book was different from them. With a hat and a mustache, he looked like an important educated person. The coroner was reading a diary that belonged to the dead man.

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The Damned Thing by Ambrose Bierce

It was night. Eight men were sitting together in an empty room of a small house. The only pieces of furniture were a simple wooden table and eight chairs. The only light came from a lamp on the table. One of the men was reading a book. He held the book close to the lamp, so that he could see the words on the pages.

There was a ninth man in the room. He owned the house. He was lying on the table, beneath a white sheet. The ninth man was dead.

It was quiet in the house. Outside, there were the sounds of birds and insects in the trees around the house. Visitors from the city always noticed these strange cries and calls. But the men in the room took no notice of these sounds. They heard them every day. Seven of the men were farmers and woodsmen. They worked in the fields and forests every day of the year. The skin on their faces had been burned by the sun and the wind. They were wearing hats with broad brims.

The Damned Thing by Ambrose Bierce

The man with the book did not look like the others. He was not wearing a broad-brimmed hat. His face was smooth, intelligent and handsome. He looked like an educated, important man. He was a coroner.

All of the men were here this evening to do an important job. An inquest was taking place in the room. The men had come to look at the dead body on the table. They had to answer this question: How did this man die?

The coroner was reading a diary. It belonged to the dead man. The coroner and the seven men were waiting for a witness to attend the dead man’s inquest.

Suddenly, they heard the sound of a horse galloping on the road. Someone was riding quickly toward the house. The horse stopped outside, the door opened and a young man came in.

“I’m late. I’m sorry,” he said.

“We’ve been waiting for you,” said the coroner. “We must finish this job tonight. Hugh Morgan must be buried tomorrow morning. Where have you been?”

“I went to the telegraph office and sent a telegram,” said the young man. “I’ve written a report about Hugh Morgan’s death. The report will be in the San Francisco newspapers tomorrow. I’m a reporter. I write stories for the newspapers.”…

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