Page images
PDF
EPUB

the point of highest interest, or climax, and the conclusion. Point out each of these divisions in this story. Why is the introduction effective?

3. Point out details that characterize vividly each person in the story. Which person does not speak but is nevertheless clearly described?

4. Study the conclusion. Was it what you expected? What other conclusion was possible?

The endings of 0. Henry's stories have been compared to the old game of "snap-the-whip." Is the comparison a good one here?

5. Study the language. What terms peculiar to the stock exchange are found? Where does the language, or vocabulary, add humor to the story?

Library Reading. Other stories from The Four Million.

THE GOLD BUG

EDGAR ALLAN POE

40

more

What ho! what ho! this fellow is dancing fugitives from Charleston dust and mad!

fever, may be found, indeed, the He hath been bitten by the Tarantula.

bristly palmetto; but the whole is- 30 All in the Wrong.

land, with the exception of this Many years ago I contracted an western point, and a line of hard white intimacy with a Mr. William Legrand beach on the seacoast, is covered with He was of an ancient Huguenot fam- a dense undergrowth of the sweet ily, and had once been wealthy; but myrtle, so much prized by the hortia series of misfortunes had reduced culturists of England. The shrub here him to want. To avoid the mortifi- often attains the height of fifteen or cation consequent upon his disasters, twenty feet, and forms an almost he left New Orleans, the city of his impenetrable coppice, burdening the

forefathers, and took up his residence air with its fragrance. 19 at Sullivan's Island, near Charleston, In the utmost recesses of this South Carolina.

coppice, not far from the eastern or This island is a very singular one.

remote end of the

island, It consists of little else than the sea Legrand had built himself a small sand, and is about three miles long. hut, which he occupied when I first, by Its breadth at no point exceeds a mere accident, made his acquaintance. quarter of a mile. It is separated This soon ripened into friendship-for from the mainland by a scarcely per- there was much in the recluse to ceptible creek, oozing its way through excite interest and esteem. I found

a wilderness of reeds and slime, a him well educated, with unusual 50 20 favorite resort of the marsh-hen.

powers of mind, but infected with The vegetation, as might be sup- misanthropy, and subject to perverse posed, is scant, or at least dwarfish. moods of alternate enthusiasm and No trees of any magnitude are to be melancholy. He had with him many seen. Near the western extremity, books, but rarely employed them. where Fort Moultrie stands, and His chief amusements were gunning where are some miserable frame build- and fishing, or sauntering along the ings, tenanted during summer by the beach and through the myrtles in

8. Huguenot, one of the French Protestants of the quest of shells or entomological speci16th and 17th centuries. Under persecution many Huguenots emigrated to America.

mens-his collection of the latter 60

new 50

60

might have been envied by a Swam- of his fits-how else shall I term them? merdamm. In these excursions he -of enthusiasm. He had found an was usually accompanied by an old unknown bivalve, forming a negro called Jupiter, who had been

genus, and, more than this, he had manumitted before the reverses of hunted down and secured, with Juthe family, but who could be induced, piter's assistance, a scarabæus which neither by threats nor by promises, he believed to be totally new, but in to abandon what he considered his respect to which he wished to have

right of attendance upon the footsteps my opinion on the morrow. 10 of his young “Massa Will.” It is not “And why not tonight?” I asked,

improbable that the relatives of Le- rubbing my hands over the blaze, grand, conceiving him to be somewhat and wishing the whole tribe of scaraunsettled in intellect, had contrived bæi at the devil. to instill this obstinacy into Jupiter,

“Ah, if I had only known you were with a view to the supervision and , here!” said Legrand; "but it's so guardianship of the wanderer.

long since I saw you; and how could The winters in the latitude of I foresee that you would pay me a Sullivan's Island are seldom very visit this very night, of all others?

severe, and in the fall of the year it As I was coming home I met Lieu20 is a rare event indeed when a fire is tenant G-, from the fort, and, very

considered necessary. About the mid- foolishly, I lent him the bug; so it dle of October, 18—there occurred, will be impossible for you to see it however, a day of remarkable chilli- until the morning. Stay here to- 70 ness. Just before sunset I scrambled night, and I will send Jup down for it my way through the evergreens to at sunrise. It is the loveliest thing the hut of my friend, whom I had not in creation!” visited for several weeks—my resi- “What? Sunrise?" dence being at that time in Charleston, "Nonsense! No! The bug. It is

a distance of nine miles from the of a brilliant gold color—about the 30 island, while the facilities of passage size of a large hickory nut-with two

and repassage were very far behind jet-black spots near one extremity of those of the present day. Upon the back, and another, somewhat reaching the hut I rapped, as was my longer, at the other. The antennæ so custom, and, getting no reply, sought . are” for the key where I knew it was "Day aint no tin in him, Massa Will, secreted, unlocked the door, and went I keep a tellin on you,

here interin. A fine fire was blazing upon the rupted Jupiter; "de bug is a goole hearth. It was a novelty, and by no bug, solid, ebery bit of him, inside and

an ungrateful one. I threw all, sep him wing-neber feel half so 40 off an overcoat, took an armchair by hebby a bug in my life.”

the crackling logs, and awaited pa- "Well, suppose it is, Jup," replied tiently the arrival of my hosts. Legrand, somewhat more earnestly,

Soon after dark they arrived, and it seemed to me, than the case de- 90 gave me

a most cordial welcome. manded, “is that any reason for your Jupiter, grinning from ear to ear, letting the birds burn? The color" bustled about to prepare some marsh- here he turned to me is really alhens for supper. Legrand was in one most enough to warrant Jupiter's

idea. You never saw a more brilliant 1. Swammerdamm, a Dutch naturalist (1637-1680) who spent much time in the study of insects.

metallic luster than the scales emit

means

ac

but of this you cannot judge till to- little nettled, "I draw tolerably- 50

In the meantime I can give should do it at least-have had good you some idea of the shape.” Saying masters, and flatter myself that I am this, he seated himself at a small not quite a blockhead." table, on which were a pen and ink, "But, my dear fellow, you are but no paper. He looked for some joking then,” said I; “this is a very in a drawer, but found none.

passable skullindeed, I may say “Never mind,” said he ato length, that it is a very excellent skull, “this will answer"; and he drew from cording to the vulgar notions about 10 his waistcoat pocket a scrap of what such specimens of physiology-and

I took to be very dirty foolscap, and your scarabæus must be the queerest 60 made upon it a rough drawing with the scarabæus in the world if it resembles pen. While he did this, I retained my it. Why, we may get up a very seat by the fire, for I was still chilly. thrilling bit of superstition upon this When the design was complete, he hint. I presume you will call the bug handed it to me without rising. As Scarabæus Caput Hominis, or someI received it, a low growl was heard, thing of that kind—there are many succeeded by a scratching at the door. similar titles in the Natural Histories.

Jupiter opened it, and a large New- But where are the antennæ you spoke 20 foundland, belonging to Legrand, of?”

rushed in, leaped upon my shoulders, “The antennæe!” said Legrand, who 70 and loaded me with caresses; for I seemed to be getting unaccountably had shown him much attention during warm upon the subject; “I am sure previous visits. When his gambols you must see the antennæ. I made were over, I looked at the paper, and them as distinct as they are in the to speak the truth, found myself not original insect, and I presume that is a little puzzled at what my friend sufficient.” had depicted.

“Well, well,” I said, “perhaps you "Well!” I said, after contemplating have-still I don't see them"; and I 30 it for some minutes, “this is a strange handed him the paper without addi

scarabæus, I must confess; new to me; tional remark, not wishing to ruffle his 80 never saw anything like it before temper; but I was much surprised at unless it was a skull, or a death's-head, the turn affairs had taken; his ill which it more nearly resembles than humor puzzled me--and as for the anything else that has come under drawing of the beetle, there were my observation."

positively no antennæ visible, and the “A death's-head!" echoed Legrand whole did bear a very close resemblance "oh-yes-well, it has something of to the ordinary cuts of a death's-head. that appearance upon paper, no doubt. He received the

paper very 40 The two upper black spots look like peevishly, and was about to crumple

eyes, eh? and the longer one at the it, apparently to throw it in the fire, 90 bottom like a mouth-and then the when a casual glance at the design shape of the whole is oval."

seemed suddenly to rivet his atten"Perhaps so," said I; "but, Le- tion. In an instant his face grew grand, I fear you are no artist. I violently red—in another as must wait until I see the beetle itself, sively pale.

sively pale. For some minutes he if I am to form any idea of its per- continued to scrutinize the drawing sonal appearance.” "Well, I don't know," said he, a

65. Scarabæus Caput Hominis, man's head beetle.

exces

an

now

did see.

minutely where he sat. At length he "No, dat he ain't! He ain't find 50 arose, took a candle from the table, nowhar-dat's just whar de shoe and proceeded to seat himself upon pinch-my mind is got to be berry a sea-chest in the farthest corner of the hebby bout poor Massa Will." room. Here again he made anxious "Jupiter, I should like to underexamination of the paper, turning it in stand what it is you are talking about. all directions. He said nothing, how- You say your master is sick. Hasn't ever, and his conduct greatly aston- he told you what ails him?”

ished me; yet I thought it prudent not “Why, massa, 'tain't worf while for 10 to exacerbate the growing moodiness to git mad bout de matter. Massa

of his temper by any comment. Will say noffin at all ain't de matter 60 Presently he took from his coat pocket wid him-but den what make him a wallet, placed the paper carefully in go bout looking dis here way, wid he it, and deposited both in a writing- head down and he soldiers up, and as desk, which he locked. He

white as a gose? And den he keeps a grew more composed in his demeanor; syphon all de timebut his original air of enthusiasm had “Keeps a what, Jupiter?” quite disappeared. Yet he seemed "Keeps a syphon wid de figgurs on

not so much sulky as abstracted. As de slate-de queerest figgurs I ebber 20 the evening wore away he became

I'se gittin to be skeered, I more and more absorbed in reverie, tell you. Hab for to keep mighty 70 from which no sallies of mine could tight eye pon him noovers. Todder arouse him. It had been my inten- day he gib me slip fore de sun up tion to pass the night at the hut, as and was gone de whole ob de blessed I had frequently done before, but, day. I had a big stick ready cut for seeing my host in this mood, I deemed to gib him d-d good beating when he it proper to take leave. He did not did come—but I'se sich a fool dat press me to remain, but, as I departed, I hadn't de heart arter all—he look

he shook my hand with even more so berry poorly." 30 than his usual cordiality.

"Eh?-what? Ah, yes! Upon the It was about a month after this whole I think you had better not be so (and during the interval I had seen too severe with the poor fellow. Don't nothing of Legrand) when I received flog him, Jupiter—he can't very well a visit, at Charleston, from his man, stand it. But can you form no idea Jupiter. I had never seen the good of what has occasioned this illness, old negro look so dispirited, and I or rather this change of conduct? feared that some serious disaster had Has anything unpleasant happened befallen my friend.

since I saw you?" “Well, Jup,” said I, “what is the “No, massa, dey ain't bin noffin on40 matter now? How is your master?” pleasant since den. 'Twas fore den

"Why, to speak de troof, massa, I'm feared—'twas de berry day you go him not so berry well as mought be.”

was dare.” "Not well! I am truly sorry to “How? What do you mean?” hear it. What does he complain of?” “Why, massa, I mean de bug—dare

"Dar, dat's it! Him neber plain of notin-but him berry sick for all dat." “The what?"

Very sick, Jupiter! Why didn't "De bug-I'm berry sartain dat you say so at once? Is he confined Massa Will bin bit somewhere bout to bed?"

de head by dat goole bug."

now.”

cum

Ever yours,

way.”

“And what cause have you, Jupiter, beyond endurance, by his well-meant 50 for such a supposition?"

attentions. Would you believe it—he had “Claws enuff, massa, and mouff too.

prepared a huge stick, the other day, with

which to chastise me for giving him the I nebber did see sich a d-d bug. slip, and spending the day, solus, among He kick and he bite eberyting what the hills on the mainland. I verily believe near him.

Massa Will cotch that my ill looks alone saved me a flogging. him fuss, but had for to let him go gin since we met. If you can, in any way,

I have made no addition to my cabinet mighty quick, I tell you. Den was de

make it convenient, come over with Jupitime he must ha got de bite. I didn't ter. Do come. I wish to see you tonight, 60 10 like de look ob de bug mouff, myself, upon business of importance. I assure you nohow, so I wouldn't take hold ob

that it is of the highest importance. him wid my finger, but I cotch him wid a piece ob paper dat I found.

William Legrand I rap him up in de paper and stuff There was something in the tone piece ob it in de mouff-dat was de of this note which gave me great

uneasiness. Its whole style differed “And you think, then, that your materially from that of Legrand. master was really bitten by the beetle, What could he be dreaming of? What

and that the bite made him sick?" new crotchet possessed his excitable 70 20 “I don't tink noffin about it-I brain? What “business of the highest

nose it. What make him dream bout importance" could he possibly have to de goole so much, if ’tain't cause he transact? Jupiter's account of him bit by de goole bug? I'se heerd bout boded no good. I dreaded lest the dem goole bugs fore dis."

continued pressure of misfortune had, “But how do you know he dreams at length, fairly unsettled the reason about gold?"

of my friend. Without a moment's “How I know? Why, cause he talk hesitation, therefore, I prepared to about it in he sleep-dat's how I nose. accompany

the

negro. "Well, Jup, perhaps you are right; Upon reaching the wharf, I no- 80 30 but to what fortunate circumstances ticed a scythe and three spades, all

am I to attribute the honor of a visit apparently new, lying in the bottom from you today?”

of the boat in which we

were to “What de matter, massa?”

embark. “Did you bring any message from “What is the meaning of all this, Mr. Legrand?”

Jup?" I inquired. "No, massa, I bring dis here pissel"; “Him syfe, massa, and spade.” and here Jupiter handed me a note "Very true; but what are they which ran thus:

doing here?”

“Him de syfe and de spade what 90 My dear - Why have I not seen 40 you for so long a time? I hope you have

Massa Will sis pon my buying for him not been so foolish as to take offense at in de town, and de debbil's own lot any little brųsquerie of mine; but no, that of money I had to gib for em.” is improbable.

“But what, in the name of all that Since I saw you I have had great cause for anxiety. I have something to tell you,

is mysterious, is your ‘Massa Will yet scarcely know how to tell it, or whether going to do with scythes and spades?” I should tell it at all.

“Dat's more dan I know, and debbil I have not been quite well for some days take me if I don't believe 'tis more past, and poor old Jup annoys me, almost

dan he know, too. But it's all cum ob 42. brusquerie, rudeness.

de bug."

100

« PreviousContinue »