Short Story #323: The Major's Tale by Ambrose Bierce

Title: The Major's Tale

Author: Ambrose Bierce


Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceThe narrator explains that in the early days of the Civil War, young men still had their sense of humor.  He provides the camp setting for a joke that he and the other soldiers set to spring for a man named Haberton who often bragged about being a ladies' man.  The men came upon a collection of fine women's clothing and enlist a young soldier, Arman who has feminine qualities to dress up as a woman to fool Haberton.  They set up a situation in which Haberton will hopefully have to engage with Arman posing as a woman.  Eventually, they get Haberton and Arman in a room together and continue to be amused by the interaction between the two.  During the interaction, a shell explodes in the room above the men and it is enough to scare Arman enough to strip away at his clothes much to Haberton's surprise.  However, he pretends as if he knew all along.


The story felt like it was working towards something that never fully developed.  It was a yarn tale to be sure with plenty of diversions, but it didn't feel like the trip was entirely worth it.  

Short Story #323 out of 365
Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 9/15/2014
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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