Short Story #196: The Man Out of the Nose by Ambrose Bierce

Title: The Man Out of the Nose

Author: Ambrose Bierce


Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceThe story introduces a nameless man who leaves his home (which looks like a face with the door as a nose--hence the title), walks a bit, checks the time, and proceeds to walk a bit more.  When he reaches a certain spot, he stares continuously at a window in the building until the building is out of sight.  He returns home where a woman is waiting for him.  All of this happens repeatedly day after day.  The story then goes on to tell the story of the Hardshaws, a wealthy couple who at times entertained another family, the Barwells.  Mr. Bradshaw grows quite fond of Mrs. Barwell and the two have an affair.  While sneaking off the grounds of the Barwell's one day, Hardshaw was apprehended by the police and believed to be a thief, especially when a picture of Mrs. Barwell is found upon him.  Trying to hide his shame, he avoids telling who he is.  Eventually, his wife does discover and visits him in the jail.  Still wishing to avoid scandal, he goes to trial with his court-appointed lawyer and must serve three years.  Upon leaving prison, his wife is still faithful and the two move away for some time.  They return to the area with much less wealth than when they left.  One day while out for a walk, Hardshaw sees Mrs. Barwell in a window and is stopped in his tracks having not seen her for so long.  She too is startled by seeing him and in her excitement falls out of the window to her death.  Hardshaw spends some time in an insane asylum and when returned to his ever-faithful wife, sets to the pattern explained at the beginning.  


I found this to be a more interesting and complex tale than many of the previous ones.  I take some issue with the unfaithful female having to die but not Hardshaw, but there is something to be said of the living hell in which he exists.  

Short Story #196 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 7/16/2014
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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