Page images
PDF
EPUB

it was. Adjusting the focus of the telescope, I again looked, and now made it out to be a human skull.

“Upon this discovery I was so sanguine as to consider the enigma solved; for the phrase 'main branch, seventh limb, east side,' could refer only to the position of the skull upon the tree, while ‘shoot from the left eye of the death's-head,' admitted also of but one interpretation, in regard to a search for buried treasure. I perceived that the design was to drop a bullet from the left

eye

of the skull, and that a bee-line, or, in other words, a straight line, drawn from the nearest point of the trunk through the shoť (or the spot where the bullet fell), and hence extended to a distance of fifty feet, would indicate a definite point-and beneath this point I thought it at least possible that a deposit of value lay concealed.”

“All this,” I said, “is exceedingly clear, and, although ingenious, still simple and explicit. When you left the Bishop's Hotel, what then?”

“Why, having carefully taken the bearings of the tree, I turned homewards. The instant that I left the devil's seat,' however, the circular rift vanished; nor could I get a glimpse of it afterwards, turn as I would. What seems to me the chief ingenuity in this whole business is the fact (for repeated experiment has convinced me it is a fact) that the circular opening in question is visible from no other attainable point of view than that afforded by the narrow ledge upon the face of the rock.

“In this expedition to the ‘Bishop's Hotel I had been attended by Jupiter, who had no doubt observed for some weeks past the abstraction of my demeanor, and took especial care not to leave me alone. But, on the next day getting up very early, I contrived to give him the slip, and went into the hills in search of the tree. After much toil I found it. When I came home at night my valet proposed to give me a flogging. With the rest of the adventure I believe you are as well acquainted as myself.”

“I suppose,” said I, "you missed the spot, in the first attempt at digging, through Jupiter's stupidity in letting the bug fall through the right instead of through the left eye of the skull.”

“Precisely. This mistake made a difference of about two inches and a half in the 'shot'—that is to say, in the position of the peg nearest the tree; and had the treasure been beneath the 'shot,' the error would have been of little moment; but the 'shot,' together with the nearest point of the tree, were merely two points for the establishment of a line of direction; of course the error, however trivial in the beginning, increased as we proceeded with the line, and by the time we had gone fifty feet, threw us quite off the scent. But for my deep-seated impressions that treasure was here somewhere actually buried, we might have had all our labor in vain.”

“But your grandiloquence, and your conduct in swinging the beetle-how excessively odd! I was sure you were mad. And why did you insist upon letting fall the bug, instead of a bullet, from the skull?"

“Why, to be frank, I felt somewhat annoyed by your evident suspicions touching my sanity, and so resolved to punish you quietly, in my own way, by a little bit of sober mystification. For this reason I swung the beetle, and for this reason I let it fall from the tree. An observation of yours about its great weight suggested the latter idea.”

“Yes, I perceive; and now there is only one point which puzzles me. What are we to make of the skeletons found in the hole?”

“That is a question I am no more able to answer than yourself. There seems, however, only one plausible way of accounting for them—and yet it is dreadful to believe in such atrocity as my suggestion would imply. It is clear that Kidd—if Kidd indeed secreted this treasure, which I doubt not-it is clear that he must have had assistance in the labor. But this labor concluded, he may have thought it expedient to remove all participants in his secret. Perhaps a couple of blows with a mattock were sufficient, while his coadjutors were busy in the pit; perhaps it required a dozen—who shall tell ?”

The Gold-Bug is one of Poe's best stories, and has for its readers a double interest. In the first place, it is an exciting story of a search for buried treasure; and in the second place, it gives vividly a splendid example of clear reasoning

The author has separated the two interests completely, and narrates first the story of the finding of the treasure and follows this by an explanation of the processes by which Legrand convinced himself that treasure might be hidden there.

The following outline will put the main incidents of The Gold-Bug before you in such a way that you can quickly see the plot and understand how it was developed : I. The Introduction.

1. William Legrand.

a. His poverty.
b. His island home.
c. His servant, Jupiter.

c.

2. My visit.

a. The scarab.

Legrand's sketch.

Resemblance to skull.

b. The disagreement. 3. Jupiter's call.

a. His master's condition.

b. The invitation. II. The Search for the Treasure.

1. Fears of insanity.
2. The journey.

a. The utensils.
b. By boat.

On foot.

d. The tree.
3. Jupiter's climb.

a. Counting limbs.
b. Finding the skull.

c. Dropping the gold-bug.
4. The search.

a. Locating the spot.
b. Digging
c. Jupiter's mistake.
d. The second location.

e. Success.
5. The return.

6. Examining the treasure.
III. How the Parchment was Translated.

1. Discovery of the second drawing.
2. The use of heat.
3. Finding the picture of the kid.
4. The characters deciphered.
5. Translating the inscription.

a. Letters:
b. Separation of words and sen-

tences.
c. The search for the Bishop's Hostel.
d. Finding the Devil's Seat.

e. The location of the tree. IV. The meaning of the Skeletons.

THE VISION OF MIRZA

By Joseph ADDISON Note.-Robert Burns has said that the earliest composition that he recollected taking any pleasure in was The Vision of Mirza. If it pleased Robert Burns, it will be pleasing to us. It formed 159 of The Spectator, a periodical, each number of which consisted of a single literary essay. The Vision was dated September 1, 1711, and appeared about five months after the paper started. The Spectator was at first a daily, and was printed with regularity for a little more than a year and a half, when it was discontinued, to reappear for a short life about two

years later.

W

HEN I was at Grand Cairo, I picked up several Oriental manuscripts, which I have still by me. Among others, I met with one entitled “The Visions of Mirza,” which I have read with great pleasure. I intend to give it to the

public when I have no other entertainment for them, and shall begin with the first vision, which I have translated word for word, as follows:

On the fifth day of the moon—which, according to the custom of my forefathers, I always keep holy -after having washed myself and offered up my morning devotions, I ascended the high hills of

1. We need not suppose that Addison actually found such manuscripts, or that what he gives us is a translation from one of them. The Orientals believe in visions, and their literature is full of references to them. The name Jirca and the suggestion of an Oriental vision give Addison a chance to let his own imagination run more freely, and pave the way for his figurative narrative.

« PreviousContinue »