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Ambrose Bierces The Boarded Window Commentary by Karen Bernardo In addition to ironic stories of war Ambrose Bierce also excelled in ironic stories of horror In The Boarded Window he draws from the same well as his mentor Edgar Allan Poe The Boarded Window tells the tale of an elderly taciturn man who lived in a desolate cabin in Ohio back in the days when Ohio formed a part of Americas western frontier Old man Murlock -- stoic humorless and prematurely aged -- made his living through trapping and selling animal skins and although his income was low his wants were few His house indeed reflected that it was so spare that it featured only one door and one window And at that the window was useless for it had been boarded up for as long as most neighbors could remember The unnamed narrator never actually met Murlock or even saw him for the old man died before the narrator was born The details of the story are actually gleaned from the narrators grandfather who was one of few living people to know the secret of the boarded window It seems that Murlock in his young manhood had a lovely young wife However relatively early in their marriage she sickened and finally ceased to move or breathe Having no physician or coroner at hand the young husband had no idea what to do he reasoned that he would have to build her a coffin in the morning but in the meantime he laid her out gently on the full length of their table and prepared her for burial as best he could One of the few things he seemed to remember was that it was customary to tie the hands of the corpse together but otherwise his mortuary skills were limited Bierce says that he did certain things incorrectly and others which he did correctly were done over and over When he was
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