An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge HTML version

The Middle Toe of the Right Foot
It is well known that the old Manton house is haunted. In all the rural district near about,
and even in the town of Marshall, a mile away, not one person of unbiased mind
entertains a doubt of it; incredulity is confined to those opinionated persons who will be
called 'cranks' as soon as the useful word shall have penetrated the intellectual demesne
of the Marshall Advance. The evidence that the house is haunted is of two kinds: the
testimony of disinterested witnesses who have had ocular proof, and that of the house
itself. The former may be disregarded and ruled out on any of the various grounds of
objection which may be urged against it by the ingenious; but facts within the observation
of all are material and controlling.
In the first place, the Manton house has been unoccupied by mortals for more than ten
years, and with its outbuildings is slowly falling into decay -- a circumstance which in
itself the judicious will hardly venture to ignore. It stands a little way off the loneliest
reach of the Marshall and Harriston road, in an opening which was once a farm and is
still disfigured with strips of rotting fence and half covered with brambles overrunning a
stony and sterile soil long unacquainted with the plough. The house itself is in tolerably
good condition, though badly weather-stained and in dire need of attention from the
glazier, the smaller male population of the region having attested in the manner of its
kind its disapproval of dwelling without dwellers. It is two stories in height, nearly
square, its front pierced by a single doorway flanked on each side by a window boarded
up to the very top. Corresponding windows above, not protected, serve to admit light and
rain to the rooms of the upper floor. Grass and weeds grow pretty rankly all about, and a
few shade trees, somewhat the worse for wind, and leaning all in one direction, seem to
be making a concerted effort to run away. In short, as the Marshall town humorist
explained in the columns of the Advance, 'the proposition that the Manton house is badly
haunted is the only logical conclusion from the premises.' The fact that in this dwelling
Mr. Manton thought it expedient one night some ten years ago to rise and cut the throats
of his wife and two small children, removing at once to another part of the country, has
no doubt done its share in directing public attention to the fitness of the place for
supernatural phenomena.
To this house, one summer evening, came four men in a wagon. Three of them promptly
alighted, and the one who had been driving hitched the team to the only remaining post of
what had been a fence. The fourth remained seated in the wagon. 'Come,' said one of his
companions, approaching him, while the others moved away in the direction of the
dwelling -- 'this is the place.'
The man addressed did not move. 'By God!' he said harshly, 'this is a trick, and it looks to
me as if you were in it.'