Short Story #339: The Captain of the "Camel" by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  The Captain of the "Camel"

Author: Ambrose Bierce


Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce

The narrator explains the dimensions of the ship, Camel and that is was provisioned for three months.  The narrator also informs the reader that the captain is one Captain Abersouth, formerly of the Mudlark (yesterday's story).  The narrator relates how the ship eventually became becalmed and ended up in this situation for almost a year.  When asked about how long things will go on as they are, the captain replies by making reference to the plot of the book, and saying nothing of the ship's situation.  Soon the question of what or who to eat becomes the focus.  Before resorting to cannibalism, the crew and passengers resort to eating the captain's fiction (which is littered throughout the ship).  Though the books barely meet their dietary needs, everyone becomes quite eloquent in their dialogue as a result and begin to act in ways in accordance with the plots they encounter.  The captain comes aboard deck after months of this to see what is occurring.  The captain looks at the thermometer to see it is extremely hot and asks what's been going on.  The narrator explains that they are far south in July.  However, the captain corrects him and says that the further south you go, the colder it becomes, especially in the July.  When the narrator begrudgingly acknowledges the captain's words, the weather instantly changes to freezing weather.  He asks the captain how he likes his weather and the captain remarks that it is lovely and then dies.  


Another bizarre story with a strange ending featuring Captain Abersouth.  I can't tell if we are dealing with the same narrator but it seems to be the case.  I'm not sure what Bierce is reaching for here unless this is just recycling characters.

Short Story #339 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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