An Occurrence at Owl Creek - Ambrose Bierce - Страница 1 из 14

Ambrose Bierce
A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down
into the swift water twenty feet below. The man's hands were behind
his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his
neck. It was attached to a stout cross-timber above his head and the
slack fell to the level of his knees. Some loose boards laid upon the
ties supporting the rails of the railway supplied a footing for him
and his executioners--two private soldiers of the Federal army,
directed by a sergeant who in civil life may have been a deputy
sheriff. At a short remove upon the same temporary platform was an
officer in the uniform of his rank, armed. He was a captain. A
sentinel at each end of the bridge stood with his rifle in the
position known as "support," that is to say, vertical in front of the
left shoulder, the hammer resting on the forearm thrown straight
across the chest--a formal and unnatural position, enforcing an erect
carriage of the body. It did not appear to be the duty of these two
men to know what was occurring at the center of the bridge; they
merely blockaded the two ends of the foot planking that traversed it.
Beyond one of the sentinels nobody was in sight; the railroad ran
straight away into a forest for a hundred yards, then, curving, was
lost to view. Doubtless there was an outpost farther along. The
other bank of the stream was open ground--a gentle slope topped with

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