"The Hero of the Story" is a short story by Lemony Snicket. It is included in Guys Read: Heroes & Villains short story collection edited by Jon Scieszka.
The story begins on a winter afternoon with 13-year-old Lemony Snicket sitting on a bench in a park. A woman asks Snicket to look after her baby for a minute and then quickly leaves. After speaking to the baby for a while, Snicket notices that the woman is not back. After failing to find the woman at a nearby shop and waiting in the park for another hour, Snicket decides to go to the library. He reads a story until the police show up and arrest him.
At the police station, Snicket explains that he did not steal the baby. However the police do not believe him since everyone would have recognized the baby as the emperor of Cramiton and Snicket had been overheard calling the baby "Your Highness". After trying to sleep in the interrogation room, Snicket realizes that when the woman left, he could hear crying from her baby carriage, which meant there was a second baby.
The police inspector then brings back the a baby to Snicket and says the a baby is not the emperor. While the baby looks like the emperor and is wearing his clothing, the baby is a girl. The inspector ask Snicket to look after the baby while they search for her mother. While talking to the baby, Snicket realizes that the woman had kidnapped the emperor and used the female baby to throw off her trail.
Snicket leaves the police station, deciding the baby should not be given back to a kidnapper, even if she is the baby's mother. By the time he reaches the library, it is sunrise. Snicket gives the baby to the librarian to be raised and leaves the city that afternoon. A few days later, the woman is found with the emperor and sent to jail for kidnapping – she never mentions the female baby. At the end, it is revealed that the reader was the baby in the story.
- The events of the story take place after All the Wrong Questions. Snicket has nowhere to live and has been "utterly unsupervised for a number of months."
- Menaced: "a word that here means attacked people and destroyed things".
- Retinue: "a word for advisers and guards and slaves who were carrying the emperor's vast treasure."
- Bell pull: "which is a cord attached to a bell to ring for servants or snacks."
- Emperor: "means king".
- Beside the point: "a phrase that here means she didn't want to talk about it with me."
- At the end of the short story, it is revealed that the reader was the baby, which means that the reader is female. This is ironic since this story is part of Guys Read collection, an organization that encourages young boys to read.