Short Story #176: One of Twins by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  One of Twins

Author:  Ambrose Bierce


Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceOne of a set of twins explains to someone how he has never really experienced much in terms of strange phenomena as a twin except for this one series of events in which he will relate.  First, he explains that they were so identical that it is likely they were switched back and forth many times in their infancy.  Upon growing up, they moved to San Jose where they ended up living in different parts of the city.  One day, he encounters a man who begins talking with him and assumes him to be his twin.  The man invites him over for a meal and he agrees thanking the man by using the man's last name, even though he had never met the man.  When he meets up with his twin, his twin randomly asked the man for the address the next day--having somehow known about the meeting.  The man, Mr. Margovan, has a daughter to whom the twin becomes engaged to.  Meanwhile, the narrator explains he found an inexplicable desire to follow a woman whom he never met.  He followed her until she met up with another man and entered a disreputable place.  Later on, he met his brother for dinner with his fiance.  Here, he discovers that his twin's soon-to-be wife is in fact the woman he saw earlier.  He confronts her when others are not near.  He demands that she call off the wedding.  Others come back into the room and the conversation ends there.  The next night while sleeping, he is startled by some dark feeling that he cannot fully identify.  A short time later, he hears a scream that he knows to be his brother.  He races to the Margovan house wherein he finds that the fiance had killed herself with poison hours earlier and that his brother had shot himself.  Years later, while wandering the street, he encountered the lover who exclaims at the narrator, attempts to punch him, and then dies on the spot.  


A standard story of doubles, deceit, and death.  Not a spectacular piece but one that still fits the bill.  The only thing that remains in question is whether it was really suicide that the twin committed or was it lover.  It stands to reason that it was the lover after seeing the fiance dead, would have shot the brother.  

Short Story #176 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  6/21/2014
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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