Last week, I drew the Queen of Diamonds which gives me Ambrose Bierce’s “An Affair of Outposts” in his short story collection Civil War Stories. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis. You can find the general guidelines and my list for this year from this post.
This story runs about six pages and is divided into four parts. It tells the story of a young southern man, Armisted, jilted by love and volunteering to join the Union army. He goes to the Governor of Tennessee to volunteer and after initially rejecting Armisted, eventually relents and allows him to join. In this first section, we learn that Armisted’s wife was unfaithful and that he doesn’t know the man she was with.
Flash forward to several months later and the Governor is riding out to witness a battle and meet Armisted. The Governor only starts to talk to Armisted before the battle starts in full. In retreat, the Governor sprains his ankle and eventually passes out during an attack on him that Armisted stops and essentially saves the Governor’s life.
Finally, we end up in the hospital with the Governor being treated and learn not only the identity of the man Armisted’s wife was with but also the results of the fierce battle.
What I love about Bierce is how both stories I have read so far started out with an air of mystery and how Bierce doesn’t make it obvious how it’s going to resolve itself. The reader is drawn into the story so fully that it makes you sorry it’s over so quickly. These are the kind of stories that you read once and somehow they stick with you for years to come.