Short Story #327: The Widower Turmore by Ambrose Bierce

Title: The Widower Turmore

Author: Ambrose Bierce


Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce

The narrator, Joram Turmore, explains that how he became a widower has never been clear and that his late-wife may relate the tale, no one is likely to believe her.  Joram explains that he married his wife in part because she was rich and he comes from famous family line that insists that labor is wrong.  However, as a Turmore, he is at a lost on how to kill his wife in a way that is proper and distinct for his lineage.  In contemplating his options, he goes into the basement to his family archives and artifacts to see what he can find to help him in his quest.  Afterward, he decided that he would wall up his wife alive in the basement.  She doesn't resist this and only asks that her limbs are free while being walled up.  The next day, he reported what had happened to the Court of Successions and Inheritances and even showed them.  They provided the death certificate and he was free to inherit.  However, over the ensuing months he continues to hear reports of people seeing his wife.  He finally goes down to the basement to check and when he takes down the wall, he finds she is no longer there.  He did not know what to make of this until later when he was visiting the wine cellar that he stumbled upon an opening and realized that his wife had discovered his archives, knew he was going to do something and created a false door for her to escape from and eventually return to raid his treasures and sell them.  Joram is frustrated by the fact that because she is legally dead he can do nothing to get her or the resources back.  


As with many of these tales, the horrific is present as normal.  It feels often like Bierce took Poe's horror and said, "well, what if this was normal."  In it, we have tales that are both sick and amusing.  I think that's what I like about Bierce the most--many of his works are akin to Wes Craven and the Scream series in that it's aware of its own conventions.  

Short Story #327 out of 365
Rating:  3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 11/01/2014
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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