Short Story #205: The Famous Gilson Bequest by Ambrose Bierce

Title: The Famous Gilson Bequest

Author: Ambrose Bierce


Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceGilson is known for being quite the rogue where he lives.  He was kicked out of New Jerusalem and set up shop in Mammon Hill just as  gold rush ensued.  However, despite his antics, he was making a go of trying to be a better person but was caught or at least accused of horse stealing and the community conspired to execute him.  While awaiting his death, he wrote a will in which he delegated Mr. Brentshaw to serve as the executor and to keep whatever remained after distributing the will.  The will called for people for people who could prove they had been wronged by Gilson to submit a request within five years of his execution to be appropriately compensated from a vast fortune that Gilson had but no one knew about.  The news of this gets out and soon many people are making claim to it and Brentshaw must work ceaselessly to address all the claims in order for him to get compensated as the will indicates.  Five years later, he finds himself wrapping up the money with nothing as he had hoped to be returned.  He happens to visit the cemetery where Gilson's ashes were buried and noticed the flooding had caused graves to be unearthed and even open.  It is during this time that he sees a dark figure fixing and putting the graves right and Brentshaw believes it to be Gilson himself.  The next day, Brentshaw's dead body is found in the cemetery.  


The story was ok.  As one of the last of the horror ones in this anthology, it didn't really have much of a dark nature to it.  There's one story left that I am hoping will be a good one but many of the horror stories feel lacking in comparison to predecessors (e.g. Poe) and those who came afterward (e.g. Lovecraft).  

Short Story #205 out of 365
Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 7/25/2014
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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