Short Story #180: An Arrest by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  An Arrest

Author:  Ambrose Bierce


Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceAfter Orrin Brower is arrested for killing his brother, he is placed in jail awaiting trial.  At one point, he overpowers his guard and flees again into the night.  He believes he escapes when he enters a clearing in the woods to find a man with a gun waiting for him.  Without a word, the "embodiment of Law," directs him back to the jail.  Orrin has trouble getting a clear view of this man but eventually, determines it to be  Burton Duff.  Only once he is back in the prison, do we find out that next to the jail is a table with a dead body on it, the body of Burton Duff, the guard that Orrin had overpowered to escape.   


Nothing particularly grand about this story except for the phrase "embodiment of Law".  It's a fun phrase within the story since it refers to so many things.  Duff is the embodiment of man laws:  death, justice, legal law.  That Bierce was able to pull these together into this supernatural body is rather impressive for such a short work.

Short Story #180 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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