Short Story #164: The Stranger by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  The Stranger

Author:  Ambrose Bierce


Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceA stranger approaches a group of people around a campfire, telling them that they are not the first to explore the region.  The man goes on to explain a tale of four men who crossed the Santa Catalina mountains to explore the area.  He explains that the explorers were being hunted by a group of Indians.  The Indians eventually trapped them in a cave with no means of escape.  The Indians wait them out and after several days, one of the group commits suicide.  The others believe that suicide is their only option and so say a prayer and kill themselves.  As he explains this someone around the campfire calls the speaker a coward because he is still alive to tell the tale while he let his friends died  However, another part of the group tells the leader that there are three horsemen from the direction that the strange has come.  The stranger leaves and it's explained this this man and his friends were those four men who died in that cave.  


It wasn't particularly hard to figure out that the stranger was a ghost or spirit.  This lacked the luster of some of Bierce's other stories.  He does well with creating the atmosphere and some mystery around the stranger but the reader doesn't much struggle with it.

Short Story #164 out of 365
Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  6/12/2014
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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