Short Story #174: The Man and the Snake by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  The Man and the Snake

Author:  Ambrose Bierce


Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceHarker Brayton is relaxing on a sofa when he comes upon a snake in the room.  The narrator then proceeds to explain that the snake is that of Dr. During, the owner of the house that Harker is visiting.  During is a zoologist and collector of different animals but most particularly, reptiles.  Typically, he keeps them stored away in another wing of the house, nicknamed, the Snakery.  Brayton initially decides to retreat from the room with the snake but wonders if he should confront the snake.  He continues to stare at the snake and determine its plan of attack but the snake continues to be motionless.  However, he feels a blow to his face and chest.  Shortly thereafter, Dr. During is called to the room to check to discover that Harker is dead, clearly bitten by one of his snakes.  However, when During looks in the room, he finds a stuff toy snake and wonders how it got in there.  


An amusing story, I'll give it that.  That Harker believes he is staring down death in the form of the motionless (and stuff toy) snake, only to be sideswiped by another snake in the room does work on a metaphorical level with regards to how we operate in life.  

Short Story #174 out of 365
Rating: 3  (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 6/16/2014 
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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