An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge HTML version

A Baby Tramp
If you had seen little Jo standing at the street corner in the rain, you would hardly have
admired him. It was apparently an ordinary autumn rainstorm, but the water which fell
upon Jo (who was hardly old enough to be either just or unjust, and so perhaps did not
come under the law of impartial distribution) appeared to have some property peculiar to
itself: one would have said it was dark and adhesive -- sticky. But that could hardly be so,
even in Blackburg, where things certainly did occur that were a good deal out of the
For example, ten or twelve years before, a shower of small frogs had fallen, as is credibly
attested by a contemporaneous chronicle, the record concluding with a somewhat obscure
statement to the effect that the chronicler considered it good growing-weather for
Some years later Blackburg had a fall of crimson snow; it is cold in Blackburg when
winter is on, and the snows are frequent and deep. There can be no doubt of it -- the snow
in this instance was of the colour of blood and melted into water of the same hue, if water
it was, not blood. The phenomenon had attracted wide attention, and science had as many
explanations as there were scientists who knew nothing about it. But the men of
Blackburg -- men who for many years had lived right there where the red snow fell, and
might be supposed to know a good deal about the matter -- shook their heads and said
something would come of it.
And something did, for the next summer was made memorable by the prevalence of a
mysterious disease -- epidemic, endemic, or the Lord knows what, though the physicians
didn't -- which carried away a full half of the population. Most of the other half carried
themselves away and were slow to return, but finally came back, and were now
increasing and multiplying as before, but Blackburg had not since been altogether the
Of quite another kind, though equally 'out of the common,' was the incident of Hetty
Parlow's ghost. Hetty Parlow's maiden name had been Brownon, and in Blackburg that
meant more than one would think.
The Brownons had from time immemorial -- from the very earliest of the old colonial
days -- been the leading family of the town. It was the richest and it was the best, and
Blackburg would have shed the last drop of its plebeian blood in defence of the Brownon
fair fame. As few of the family's members had ever been known to live permanently
away from Blackburg, although most of them were educated elsewhere and nearly all had
travelled, there was quite a number of them. The men held most of the public offices, and
the women were foremost in all good works. Of these latter, Hetty was most beloved by
reason of the sweetness of her disposition, the purity of her character and her singular
personal beauty. She married in Boston a young scapegrace named Parlow, and like a
good Brownon brought him to Blackburg forthwith and made a man and a town