A Baby Tramp by Ambrose Bierce, 1891
The magic trick:
Creating a real world that is even scarier than the supernatural
I have to be honest, I don’t much care for this story. The cynicism isn’t clever, the plot never really takes off. Basically, we have a ghost story in which the real-world dangers the baby faces are far scarier than anything the supernatural can conjure. Which I suppose is the whole point. And that’s quite a trick on Bierce’s part.
Unfortunately for Joseph the disease which had cut off his parents did not stop at that; it went on and extirpated nearly the whole Brownon contingent and its allies by marriage; and those who fled did not return. The tradition was broken, the Brownon estates passed into alien hands, and the only Brownons remaining in that place were underground in Oak Hill Cemetery, where, indeed, was a colony of them powerful enough to resist the encroachment of surrounding tribes and hold the best part of the grounds.
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