Short Story #338: A Shipwreckollection by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  A Shipwreckollection

Author: Ambrose Bierce


Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce

The narrator boards a ship named the Mudlark, which is led by Captain Abersouth, a strange captain who largely did what he wanted, regardless of the shipments he was charged with.  As the ship fights a storm, it begins to take on much water.  As things got increasingly worse, people looked to the captain for instruction, but he was deep into a three-volume novel and doesn't want to be disturbed.  When the narrator asks for instruction about lightening the load, the captain says to throw over the heaviest passengers.  The narrator proceeds to toss people overboard though they never hit water but end up eaten by a group of sharks awaiting dinner.  As he continues to throw people over, the captain comes on deck and tosses the narrator into the water.  Believing he will drown, the narrator's life flashes before his eyes.  However, the narrator sinks to the bottom of the water to feel ground underneath and declares in the last sentence that he has been saved.


The story is a rather odd one.  It has a dreamlike quality to it and it's never quite sure who is madder, the narrator or the captain.  As for the ending, I'm still not sure what to make of it.

Short Story #338 out of 365
Rating: 2 (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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