On this page you can read free short stories online with characters who demonstrate courage, bravery, or heroism. I hope you find some great stories to read.
“The Gift of Cochise” by Louis L’Amour
Angie Lowe stands in her cabin doorway with a shotgun. A group of Apaches face the cabin, including Cochise, the leader. Angie has killed several of his men defending her property. They talk about her husband, her children, and her right to live there.
“The Gift of Cochise” is the first story in the Amazon preview of The Collected Short Stories of Louis L’Amour: Volume 1
“The Princess and the Puma” by O. Henry
Josepha, princess of a large ranch, and Ripley, a ranch foreman, have an encounter with a Mexican lion.
This is the second story in the preview of The Selected Stories of O. Henry.
“Victory Lap” by George Saunders
Alison Pope, a teenager, daydreams about turning down potential suitors. She looks down on the boy next door, Kyle, whom she used to hang out with as a kid. There is a knock at Alison’s back door. Meanwhile, Kyle, who lives in a regimented household, comes home and finds the chore that’s been left for him. Eventually, he notices a van pull up outside.
This is the first story in the preview of Tenth of December: Stories.
“A Mystery of Heroism” by Stephen Crane
Soldiers are firing on each other on the battlefield. When Fred says he’s thirsty, his fellow soldiers teasingly tell him to go to the well in no man’s land. Fred asks his captain if he can go.
This story can be read in the preview of The Complete Short Stories of Stephen Crane. (Select in table of contents)
“Into Darkness” by Greg Egan
John is awakened by a buzzer and sees that it’s red—it’s not a drill. He quickly gets ready. He steps outside just as the police car pulls up. They’re headed for The Intake, a large sphere that usually appears over populated regions. It’s believed to be a wormhole that has come unstuck. He’s a Runner, a rescue worker, who enters The Intake to help people caught inside, where some of the usual laws of physics don’t apply.
Some of this story can be read in the preview of The Best of Greg Egan. (74% into Kindle preview)
“Patriotism” by Yukio Mishima
A young Japanese Lieutenant and his wife commit ritual suicide. We’re taken back to witness their last days, including their final intimate evening together.
“The Bridge” by Nicolai Chukovski
Kostya is seventeen, awkward and shy, and his family has little confidence in him. He is going to Siberia to work for his uncle, but his grandmother and aunt don’t think he is rugged enough for the change. He takes his bicycle out for his last ride before leaving.
“Enemy Territory” by William Melvin Kelley
Young Tommy is sent on an errand by his mother; he is to take Mister Bixby’s hat back to him. This means crossing the street onto the turf of Valentine’s gang, a group of neighborhood kids.
“Spunk” by Zora Neale Hurston
A large fearless man openly has a relationship with another man’s wife. The cuckolded husband reaches his breaking point.
“Be-ers and Doers” by Budge Wilson
The mother of the house is a “doer”, and wants her kids to be the same way. Her son, Albert, is a “be-er”, one who doesn’t need constant activity. One day, there is an emergency in the home that reveals Albert’s abilities.
“The Signal” by Vsevolod Garshin
Semyon works as a track-walker, diligently attending to his section of railroad. A neighbor, Vasily, complains about his work and low pay. Vasily’s temper leads to an emergency and Semyon must act decisively.
“The Leader of the People” by John Steinbeck
Jody Tiflin likes hearing his grandfather’s stories about leading a group of people across the country. Jody’s father, Carl, isn’t very interested, having heard the stories many times.
“The Other Death” by Jorge Luis Borges
The narrator gets the news that an ex soldier and man he once met, Pedro Damian, has died in his sixties. The man was known for his cowardice in battle. Later, he is told that Pedro Damian actually died over 40 years ago while courageously leading a charge into enemy territory. He investigates the discrepancy.
“The Death of Socrates” by Plato
Socrates is sentenced to death by hemlock. He accepts his fate with dignity.
“Moonbeam Dawson and the Killer Bear” by Jean Davies Okimoto
Moonbeam is a vegetarian and has never handled a gun. He meets Michelle on vacation and she asks him to take her bear hunting.
“The Taking of the Redoubt” by Prosper Merimee
A young soldier has to capture a Russian held fort. The company is discouraged after suffering heavy casualties and seeing a bad sign in the sky.
“The Boy with Yellow Eyes” by Gloria Gonzalez
Norman, a boy who loves reading, and Willie, an athletic boy, are riding in a train car when they discover a Nazi spy in an adjacent car.
“A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty
An elderly African-American woman, Phoenix Jackson, walks through the Mississippi forest to get into town. She encounters many obstacles along the way that test her resolve.
Read “A Worn Path” (The Atlantic)
“The Pale Mare” by Marian Flandrick Bray
Consuela, who wants to be an astronomer, has to help her family during the charreada, a Mexican-style rodeo. She is caught between her own desires and tradition. She sees a similarity between herself and the horses at the event.
“Beyond the Bayou” by Kate Chopin
An African-American woman, La Folle, was frightened “out of her senses” as a child. As a result, she won’t cross an imaginary line in her area; she has never been beyond the bayou. When an emergency arises, her courage is tested.
“The Dinner Party” by Mona Gardner
A colonel and a young girl disagree on whether women can keep cool in a crisis.
“The Tiger in the Tunnel” by Ruskin Bond
Baldeo is the watchman for a section of train track that leads into a tunnel. He has to signal if the tunnel is clear. There are dangerous animals in the area, but Baldeo carries a small axe which he uses skillfully.
“Gun Job” by Thomas Thompson
When Jeff Anderson got married, he quit his job as town marshal and moved with his wife to a small ranch. One Sunday morning he visits the new marshal, Billy, whom he recommended for the job. Jeff has been getting some pressure from the mayor and council to resume his duties. Billy is aware of the complaints against him. He’s been having problems with Hank Fetterman, a man whom Jeff had run-ins with during his time as marshal.
“A Dog’s Tale” by Mark Twain
A dog tells her story. She was born to a kind and brave mother. She was sold to a new owner when she grew up, which caused great sadness for them both. She moves to a fine home with a family that treats her well. In the winter, there’s an emergency in the house.
Read “A Dog’s Tale”
“The Easter Egg” by Saki
Lady Barbara is in Knobaltheim for Eastertide with her son, Lester. He’s a cowardly man. The Prince of the township will be making a public appearance. Lady Barbara is consulted about how to make the event worthy of the distinguished guest. An acquaintance suggests dressing up her child as an Easter angel and having him present the Prince with a large decorative egg.
Read “The Easter Egg”