Many years ago I contracted an intimacy with a Mr. WilliamLegrand. He was of an ancient Huguenôt familyand had once been wealthy; but aseries of misfortunes had reduced him to want. To avoid the mortificationconsequent upon his disastershe left New Orleansthe city of his forefathersand took up his residence at Sullivan's Islandnear CharlestonSouth Carolina.
This Island is a very singular one. It consists of littleelse than the sea sandand is about three miles long. Its breadth at no pointexceeds a quarter of a mile. It is separated from the main land by a scarcelyperceptible creekoozing its way through a wilderness of reeds and slimeafavorite resort of the marsh-hen. The vegetationas might be supposedis scantor at least dwarfish. No trees of any magnitude are to be seen. Near the westernextremitywhere Fort Moultrie standsand where are some miserable framebuildingstenantedduring summerby the fugitives from Charleston dust andfevermay be foundindeedthe bristly palmetto; but the whole islandwiththe exception of this western point and a line of hard white beach on thesea-coastis covered with a dense undergrowth of the sweet myrtle so muchprized by the horticulturists of England. The shrub here often attains theheight of fifteen or twenty feetand forms an almost impenetrable coppiceburthening the air with its fragrance.
In the inmost recesses of this coppicenot far from theeastern or more remote end of the islandLegrand had built himself a small hutwhich he occupied when I firstby mere accidentmade his acquaintance. Thissoon ripened into friendship — for there was much in the recluse to exciteinterest and esteem. I found him well educatedwith unusual powers of mindbutinfected with misanthropyand subject to perverse moods of alternate enthusiasmand melancholy. He had with him many booksbut rarely employed them. His chiefamusements were gunning and fishingor sauntering along the bank and throughthe myrtlesin quest of shells or entomological specimens; — his collectionof the latter might have been envied by a Swammerdamm. In these excursions hewas usually accompanied by an old negrocalled Jupiterwho had been manumittedbefore the reverses of the familybut who could be inducedneither by threatsnor by promisesto abandon what he considered his right of attendance upon thefootsteps of his young "Massa Will." It is not improbable that therelatives of Legrandconceiving him to be somewhat unsettled in intellecthadcontrived to instil this obstinacy into Jupiterwith a view to the supervisionand guardianship of the wanderer.
The winters in the latitude of Sullivan's Island areseldom very severeandin the fall of the yearit is a rare event indeed whena fire is considered necessary. About the middle of October18—thereoccurredhowevera day of remarkable chilliness. Just before sunset Iscrambled my way through the evergreens to the hut of my friendwhom I had notvisited for several weeks; — my residence beingat that timein Charlestona distance of nine miles from the Islandwhile the facilities of passage andre-passage were very far behind those of the present day. Upon reaching the hutI rappedas was my customandgetting no replysought for the key where Iknew it was secretedunlocked the door and went in. A fine fire was blazingupon the hearth. It was a novelty and by no means an unwelcome one. I threw offan overcoattook an arm-chair by the crackling logsand waited patiently thearrival of my hosts.
Soon after dark they arrived and gave me a most cordialwelcome. Jupitergrinning from ear to earbustled about to prepare somemarsh-hens for supper. Legrand was in one of his fits — how else shall I termthem? — of enthusiasm. He had found an unknown bivalveforming a new genusandmore than thishe had hunted down and securedwith Jupiter's assistancea scarabæus which he believed to be totally newbut in respect to whichhe wished to have my opinion on the morrow.
"And why not to-night?" I askedrubbing myhands over the blaze and wishing the whole tribe of scarabæi at thedevil.
"Ahif I had only known you were here!" saidLegrand"but it's so long since I saw you; and how could I foresee thatyou would pay me a visit this very night of all others? As I was coming home Imet Lieutenant G——from the fortandvery foolishlyI lent him the bug;so it will be impossible for you to see it until the morning. Stay here to-nightand I will send Jup down for it at sunrise. It is the loveliest thing increation!"
"What? — sunrise?"
"Nonsense! no! — the bug. It is of a brilliant
"Dey aint no tin in himMassa WillI keep atellin on you" here interrupted Jupiter; "de bug is a goole bugsolidebery bit of himinside and allsep him wing — neber feel half sohebby a bug in my life."
"Wellsuppose it isJup" replied Legrandsomewhat more earnestlyit seemed to methan the occasion demanded"isthat any reason for your letting the birds burn? The color" — here heturned to me — "is really almost enough to warrant Jupiter's idea. Younever saw a more brilliant metallic lustre than the scales emit — but of thisyou cannot judge till to-morrow. In the mean time I can give you some idea ofthe shape." Saying thishe seated himself at a small tableon which werea pen and inkbut no paper. He looked for some in a drawerbut found none.
"Never mind" said he at length"this willanswer;" and he drew from his waistcoat pocket a scrap of what I took to bevery dirty foolscapand made upon it a rough drawing with the pen. While he didthis I retained my seat by the firefor I was still chilly. When the design wascomplete he handed it to me without rising. As I received it a loud growl washeardsucceeded by a scratching at the door. Jupiter opened itand a largeNewfoundlandbelonging to Legrandrushed inleaped upon my shouldersandloaded me with caresses; for I had shown him much attention during previousvisits. When his gambols were over I looked at the paperandto speak thetruthfound myself not a little puzzled at what my friend had depicted.
"Well!" I saidafter contemplating it for someminutes"this is a strange scarabæusI must confess: newto me: never saw anything like it before — unless it was a skullor a death's-head— which it more nearly resembles than anything else that has come under myobservation."
"A death's-head!" echoed Legrand —"Oh —yes — wellit has something of that appearance upon paperno doubt. The twoupper black spots look like eyeseh? and the longer one at the bottom like amouth — and then the shape of the whole is oval."
"Perhaps so" said I; "butLegrandI fearyou are no artist. I must wait until I see the beetle itselfif I am to formany idea of its personal appearance."
"WellI don't know" said hea little nettled"I draw tolerably — should do it at least — have had goodmastersand flatter myself that I am not quite a blockhead."
"Butmy dear fellowyou are joking then" saidI"this is a very passable skull — indeedI may say that it is avery excellent skullaccording to the vulgar notions about suchspecimens of physiology — and your scarabæus must be the queerest scarabæusin the world if it resembles it. Why we may get up a very thrilling bit ofsuperstition upon this hint. I presume you will call the bug scarabæus caputhominisor something of that kind — there are many similar titles in theNatural Histories. But where are the antennæ you spoke of?"
"The antennæ!" said Legrandwho seemedto be getting unaccountably warm upon the subject; "I am sure you must seethe antennæ. I made them as distinct as they are in the original insectand I presume that is sufficient."
"Wellwell" I said"perhaps you have —still I don't see them;" and I handed him the paper without additionalremarknot wishing to ruffle his temper; but I was much surprised at the turnaffairs had taken; his ill humor puzzled me — andas for the drawing of thebeetlethere were positively no antennæ visibleand the whole didbear a very close resemblance to the ordinary cuts of a death's-head.
He received the paper very peevishlyand was about tocrumple itapparently to throw it in the firewhen a casual glance at thedesign seemed suddenly to rivet his attention. In an instant his face grewviolently red — in another as excessively pale. For some minutes he continuedto scrutinize the drawing minutely where he sat. At length he arosetook acandle from the tableand proceeded to seat himself upon a sea-chest in thefarthest corner of the room. Here again he made an anxious examination of thepaper; turning it in all directions. He said nothinghoweverand his conductgreatly astonished me; yet I thought it prudent not to exacerbate the growingmoodiness of his temper by any comment. Presently he took from his coat-pocket awalletplaced the paper carefully in itand deposited both in a writing-deskwhich he locked. He now grew more composed in his demeanor; but his original airof enthusiasm had quite disappeared. Yet he seemed not so much sulky asabstracted. As the evening wore away he became more and more absorbed in reveriefrom which no sallies of mine could arouse him. It had been my intention to passthe night at the hutas I had frequently done beforebutseeing my host inthis moodI deemed it proper to take leave. He did not press me to remainbutas I departedhe shook my hand with even more than his usual cordiality.
It was about a month after this (and during the interval Ihad seen nothing of Legrand) when I received a visitat Charlestonfrom hismanJupiter. I had never seen the good old negro look so dispiritedand Ifeared that some serious disaster had befallen my friend.
"WellJup" said I"what is the matternow? — how is your master?"
"Whyto speak de troofmassahim not so berry wellas mought be."
"Not well! I am truly sorry to hear it. What does hecomplain of?"
"Dar! dat's it! — him neber plain ob notin — buthim berry sick for all dat."
"Very sickJupiter! — why didn't you say soat once? Is he confined to bed?"
"Nodat he aint! — he aint find nowhar — dat'sjust whar de shoe pinch — my mind is got to be berry hebby bout poor MassaWill."
"JupiterI should like to understand what it is youare talking about. You say your master is sick. Hasn't he told you what ails him?"
"Whymassataint worf while for to git mad about dematter — Massa Will say noffin at all aint de matter wid him — but den whatmake him go bout looking dis here waywid he head down and he soldiers upandas white as a gose? And den he keep a syphon all de time" —
"Keeps a whatJupiter?"
"Keeps a syphon wid de figgurs on de slate — dequeerest figures I ebber did see. Ise gittin to be skeeredI tell you. Hab forto keep mighty tight eye pon him noovers. Todder day he gib me slip fore de sunup and was gone de whole ob de blessed day. I had a big stick ready cut for togib him d—n good beatin when he did come — but Ise sich a fool dat I had n'tde heart arter all — he look so berry poorly."
"Eh? — what? — ah yes! — upon the whole I thinkyou had better not be too severe with the poor fellow — do n't flog himJupiter — he can't very well stand it — but can you form no idea of what hasoccasioned this illnessor rather this change of conduct? Has any thingunpleasant happened since I saw you?"
"Nomassadey aint bin noffin onpleasant sinceden — 'twas fore den I'm feared — 'twas the berry day you wasdare."
"How? what do you mean?"
"WhymassaI mean de bug — dare now."
"De bug — I'm berry sartain dat Massa Will bin bitsomewhere bout the head by dat d—n goole-bug."
"And what cause have youJupiterfor such asupposition?"
"Claws enuffmassaand mouff too. I nebber did seesich a d—n bug — he kick and he bite ebery ting what cum near him. MassaWill cotch him fussbut had for to let him go gin mighty quickI tell you —den was de time he must ha got de bite. I did n't like de look ob de bug mouffmyselfno howso I would n't take hold ob him wid my fingerbut cotch him wida piece ob paper dat I found. I rap him up in de paper and stuff piece ob it inhe mouff — dat was de way."
"And you thinkthenthat your master was reallybitten by the beetleand that the bite made him sick?"
"I do n't tink noffin bout it — I nose it. Whatmake him dream bout de goole so muchif taint cause he bit by de goole-bug? Iseheerd bout dem goole-bugs fore dis."
"But how do you know he dreams about gold?"
"How I know? — why cause he talk about it in hesleep — dat's how I nose."
"WellJupperhaps you are right; but to whatfortunate circumstance am I to attribute the honor of a visit from youto-day?"
"What de mattermassa?"
"Did you bring any message from Mr. Legrand?"
"NomassaI bring dis here pissel;" and hereJupiter handed me a note which ran thus:
Why have I not seen you for so long a time? I hope youhave not been so foolish as to take offence at any little brusquerie ofmine; but nothat is improbable.
Since I saw you I have had great cause for anxiety. I havesomething to tell youyet scarcely know how to tell itor whether I shouldtell it at all.
I have not been quite well for some days pastand poorold Jup annoys mealmost beyond enduranceby his well-meant attentions Wouldyou believe it? — he had prepared a huge stickthe other daywith which tochastise me for giving him the slipand spending the daysolusamongthe hills on the main land. I verily believe that my ill looks alone saved me aflogging.
I have made no addition to my cabinet since we met.
If you canin any waymake it convenientcome over withJupiter. Do come. I wish to see youto-nightupon business ofimportance. I assure you that it is of the highest importance.
Everyours WILLIAM LEGRAND.
There was something in the tone of this note which gave megreat uneasiness. Its whole style differed materially from that of Legrand. Whatcould he be dreaming of? What new crotchet possessed his excitable brain? What"business of the highest importance" could he possibly have totransact? Jupiter's account of him boded no good. I dreaded lest the continuedpressure of misfortune hadat lengthfairly unsettled the reason of my friend.Without a moment's hesitationthereforeI prepared to accompany the negro.
Upon reaching the wharfI noticed a scythe and threespadesall apparently newlying in the bottom of the boat in which we were toembark.
"What is the meaning of all thisJup?" Iinquired.
"Him syfemassaand spade."
"Very true; but what are they doing here?"
"Him de syfe and de spade which Massa Will sis pon mybuying for him in de townand de debbil's own lot of money I had to gib for em."
"But whatin the name of all that is mysteriousisyour 'Massa Will' going to do with scythes and spades?"
"Dat's more dan I knowand debbil take me ifI do n't blieve tis more dan he knowtoo. But it's all cum ob de bug."
Finding that no satisfaction was to be obtained of Jupiterwhose whole intellect seemed to be absorbed by "de bug" I now steppedinto the boat and made sail. With a fair and strong breeze we soon ran into thelittle cove to the northward of Fort Moultrieand a walk of some two milesbrought us to the hut. It was about three in the afternoon when we arrived.Legrand had been awaiting us in eager expectation. He grasped my hand with anervous empressement which alarmed me and strengthened the suspicionsalready entertained. His countenance was paleeven to ghastlinessand hisdeep-set eyes glared with unnatural lustre. After some inquiries respecting hishealthI asked himnot knowing what better to sayif he had yet obtained the scarabæusfrom Lieutenant G—.
"Ohyes" he repliedcoloring violently"I got it from him the next morning. Nothing should tempt me to part withthat scarabæus. Do you know that Jupiter is quite right about it?"
"In what way?" I askedwith a sad foreboding atheart.
"In supposing it to be a bug of real gold."He said this with an air of profound seriousnessand I felt inexpressiblyshocked.
"This bug is to make my fortune" he continuedwith a triumphant smile"to re-instate me in my family possessions. Is itany wonderthenthat I prize it? Since Fortune has thought fit to bestow itupon meI have only to use it properly and I shall arrive at the gold of whichit is the index. Jupiterbring me that scarabæus!"
"What! de bugmassa? I'd rudder not go fer totrubble dat bug — you mus git him for your own self." Hereupon Legrandarosewith a grave and stately airand brought me the beetle from a glass casein which it was enclosed. It was a beautiful scarabæusandat thattimeunknown to naturalists — of course a great prize in a scientific pointof view. There were two round black spots near one extremity of the backand alonger one near the other. The scales were exceedingly hard and glossywith allthe appearance of burnished gold. The weight of the insect was very remarkableandtaking all things into considerationI could hardly blame Jupiter for hisopinion respecting it; but what to make of Legrand's concordance with thatopinionI could notfor the life of metell.
"I sent for you" said hein a grandiloquenttonewhen I had completed my examination of the beetle"I sent for youthat I might have your counsel and assistance in furthering the views of Fateand of the bug" —
"My dear Legrand" I criedinterrupting him"you are certainly unwelland had better use some little precautions. Youshall go to bedand I will remain with you a few daysuntil you get over this.You are feverish and" —
"Feel my pulse" said he.
I felt itandto say the truthfound not the slightestindication of fever.
"But you may be ill and yet have no fever. Allow methis onceto prescribe for you. In the first placego to bed. In the next"—
"You are mistaken" he interposed"I am aswell as I can expect to be under the excitement which I suffer. If you reallywish me wellyou will relieve this excitement."
"And how is this to be done?"
"Very easily. Jupiter and myself are going upon anexpedition into the hills upon the main landandin this expeditionwe shallneed the aid of some person in whom we can confide. You are the only one we cantrust. Whether we succeed or failthe excitement which you now perceive in mewill be equally allayed."
"I am anxious to oblige you in any way" Ireplied; "but do you mean to say that this infernal beetle has anyconnection with your expedition into the hills?"
"ThenLegrandI can become a party to no suchabsurd proceeding."
"I am sorry — very sorry — for we shall have totry it by ourselves."
"Try it by yourselves! The man is surely mad! — butstay! — how long do you propose to be absent?"
"Probably all night. We shall start immediately andbe backat all eventsby sunrise."
"And will you promise meupon your honorthat whenthis freak of yours is overand the bug business (good God!) settled to yoursatisfactionyou will then return home and follow my advice implicitlyas thatof your physician?"
"Yes; I promise; and now let us be offfor we haveno time to lose."
With a heavy heart I accompanied my friend. We startedabout four o'clock — LegrandJupiterthe dogand myself. Jupiter had withhim the scythe and spades — the whole of which he insisted upon carrying —more through fearit seemed to meof trusting either of the implements withinreach of his masterthan from any excess of industry or complaisance. Hisdemeanor was dogged in the extremeand "dat d—n bug" were the solewords which escaped his lips during the journey. For my own partI had chargeof a couple of dark lanternswhile Legrand contented himself with the scarabæuswhich he carried attached to the end of a bit of whip-cord; twirling it to andfrowith the air of a conjuroras he went. When I observed this last plainevidence of my friend's aberration of mindI could scarcely refrain from tears.I thought it besthoweverto humor his fancyat least for the presentoruntil I could adopt some more energetic measures with a chance of success. Inthe mean time I endeavored
We crossed the creek at the head of the island by means ofa skiffandascending the high grounds on the shore of the main landproceededin a northwesternly directionthrough a tract of country excessivelywild and desolatewhere no trace of a human footstep was to be seen. Legrandled the way with decision; pausing only for an instanthere and theretoconsult what appeared to be certain landmarks of his own contrivance upon aformer occasion.
In this manner we journeyed for about two hoursand thesun was just setting when we entered a region infinitely more dreary than anyyet seen. It was a species of table landnear the summit of an almostinaccessible hilldensely wooded from base to pinnacleand interspersed withhuge crags that appeared to lie loosely upon the soilandin many caseswereprevented from precipitating themselves into the valleys below merely by thesupport of the trees against which they reclined. Deep ravinesin variousdirectionsgave an air of still sterner solemnity to the scene.
The natural platform to which we had clambered was thicklyovergrown with bramblesthrough which we soon discovered that it would havebeen impossible to force our way but for the scythe; and Jupiterby directionof his masterproceeded to clear for us a path to the foot of an enormouslytall tulip-treewhich stoodwith some eight or ten oaksupon the levelandfar surpassed them alland all other trees which I had then ever seenin thebeauty of its foliage and formin the wide spread of its branchesand in thegeneral majesty of its appearance. When we reached this treeLegrand turned toJupiterand asked him if he thought he could climb it. The old man seemed alittle staggered by the questionandfor some momentsmade no reply. Atlength he approached the treewalked slowly round its huge trunkand examinedit with minute attention. When he had completed his scrutiny he merely said
"YesmassaJup climb any tree he ebber see in helife."
"Then up with you as soon as possiblefor it willsoon be too dark to see what we are about."
"How far mus go upmassa?" inquired Jupiter.
"Get up the main trunk firstand then I will tellyou which way to go — and here — stop! — take this beetle up with you."
"De bugMassa Will! — de goole bug!" criedthe negrodrawing back in dismay — "what for mus tote de bug way up detree? — d—n if I do!"
"If you are afraidJupa great big negro like youto take hold of a harmless little dead beetlewhy you can carry it up by thisstring — butif you do not take it up with you in some wayI shall be underthe necessity of breaking your head with this shovel."
"What de matternowmassa?" said Jupevidently shamed into compliance; "always want for to raise fuss wid oldnigger. Was only funnin any how. Me feered de bug! what I keer for de bug?"Here he took cautiously hold of the extreme end of the stringandmaintainingthe insect as far from his person as circumstances would permitprepared toascend the tree.
In youththe tulip-treeor Liriodendron Tulipferumthe most magnificent of American forestershas a trunk peculiarly smoothandoften rises to a great height without lateral branches; butin its riper agethe bark becomes gnarled and unevenwhile many short limbs make theirappearance on the stem. Thus the difficulty of ascensionin the present caselay more in semblance than in reality. Embracing the huge cylinderas closelyas possiblewith his arms and kneesseizing with his hands some projectionsand resting his naked toes upon othersJupiterafter one or two narrow escapesfrom fallingat length wriggled himself into the first great forkand seemedto consider the whole business as virtually accomplished. The risk of theachievement wasin factnow overalthough the climber was some sixty orseventy feet from the ground.
"Which way mus go nowMassa Will?" he asked.
"Keep up the largest branch — the one on thisside" said Legrand. The negro obeyed him promptlyand apparently with butlittle trouble; ascending higher and higheruntil no glimpse of his squatfigure could be obtained through the dense foliage which enveloped it. Presentlyhis voice was heard in a sort of halloo.
"How much fudder is got for go?"
"How high up are you?" asked Legrand.
"Ebber so fur" replied the negro; "can seede sky fru de top ob de tree."
"Never mind the skybut attend to what I say. Lookdown the trunk and count the limbs below you on this side. How many limbs haveyou passed?"
"Onetwothreefourfibe — I done pass fibe biglimbmassapon dis side."
"Then go one limb higher."
In a few minutes the voice was heard againannouncingthat the seventh limb was attained.
"NowJup" cried Legrandevidently muchexcited"I want you to work your way out upon that limb as far as you can.If you see anything strangelet me know."
By this time what little doubt I might have entertained ofmy poor friend's insanitywas put finally at rest. I had no alternative but toconclude him stricken with lunacyand I became seriously anxious about gettinghim home. While I was pondering upon what was best to be doneJupiter's voicewas again heard.
"Mos feerd for to ventur pon dis limb berry far —tis dead limb putty much all de way."
"Did you say it was a dead limbJupiter?"cried Legrand in a quavering voice.
"Yesmassahim dead as de door-nail — done up forsartain — done departed dis here life."
"What in the name of heaven shall I do?" askedLegrandseemingly in the greatest distress.
"Do!" said Iglad of an opportunity tointerpose a word"why come home and go to bed. Do — that's a finefellow. It's getting lateandbesidesyou remember your promise."
"Jupiter" cried hewithout heeding me in theleast"do you hear me?"
"YesMassa Willhear you ebber so plain."
"Try the wood wellthenwith your knifeand see ifyou think it very rotten."
"Him rottenmassasure nuff" replied thenegro in a few moments"but not so berry rotten as mought be. Moughtventur out leetle way pon de limb by myselfdat's true."
"By yourself! — what do you mean?"
"Why I mean de bug. 'Tis berry hebby bug.Spose I drop him down fussand den de limb won't break wid just de weight obone nigger."
"You infernal scoundrel!" cried Legrandapparently much relieved"what do you mean by telling me such nonsense asthat? As sure as you drop that beetle I'll break your neck. Look hereJupiterdo you hear me?"
"Yesmassaneed'nt hollo at poor nigger datstyle."
"Well! now listen! — if you will venture out on thelimb as far as you think safeand not let go of the beetleI'll make you apresent of a silver dollar as soon as you get down."
"I'm gwineMassa Will — deed I is" repliedthe negro very promptly — "mos out to de eend now."
"Out to the end!" here fairly screamedLegrand"do you say you are out to the end of that limb?"
"Soon be to de eendmassa— o-o-o-o-oh!Lor-gol-a-marcy! what is dis here pon de tree?"
"Well!" cried Legrandhighly delighted"whatis it?"
"Why taint noffin but a skull — somebody bin lefhim head up de treeand de crows done gobble ebery bit ob de meat off."
"A skullyou say! — very well! — how is itfastened to the limb? — what holds it on?"
"Sure nuffmassa; mus look. Why dis berry curoussarcumstancepon my word — dare's a great big nail in de skullwhat fastensob it on to de tree."
"Well nowJupiterdo exactly as I tell you — doyou hear?"
"Pay attentionthen! — find the left eye of theskull."
"Hum! hoo! dat's good! why dare aint no eye lef atall."
"Curse your stupidity! do you know your right handfrom your left?"
"YesI nose dat — nose all bout dat — tis my lefhand what I chops de wood wid."
"To be sure! you are left-handed; and your left eyeis on the same side as your left hand. NowI supposeyou can find the left eyeof the skullor the place where the left eye has been. Have you found it?"
Here was a long pause. At length the negro asked
"Is de lef eye of de skull pon de same side as de lefhand of de skulltoo? — cause de skull aint got not a bit ob a hand at all— nebber mind! I got de lef eye now — here de lef eye! what mus do wid it?"
"Let the beetle drop through itas far as the stringwill reach — but he careful and not let go your hold of the string."
"All dat doneMassa Will; mighty easy ting for toput de bug fru de hole — look out for him dare below!"
"Very well! — now just keep as you are for a fewminutes."
During this colloquy no portion of Jupiter's person couldbe seen; but the beetlewhich he had suffered to descendwas now visible atthe end of the stringand glistenedlike a globe of burnished goldin thelast rays of the setting sunsome of which still faintly illumined the eminenceupon which we stood. The scarabæus hung quite clear of any branchesandif allowed to fallwould have fallen at our feet. Legrand immediately tookthe scytheand cleared with it a circular spacethree or four yards indiameterjust beneath the insectandhaving accomplished thisorderedJupiter to let go the string and come down from the tree.
Driving a pegwith great nicetyinto the groundat theprecise spot where the beetle laymy friend now produced from his pocket atape[[-]]measure. Fastening one end of this at that point of the trunk of thetree which was nearest the peghe unrolled it till it reached the pegandthence farther unrolled itin the direction already established by the twopoints of the tree and the pegfor the distance of fifty feet — Jupiterclearing away the brambles with the scythe. At the spot thus attained a secondpeg was drivenand about thisas a centrea rude circleabout four feet indiameterdescribed. Taking now a spade himselfand giving one to Jupiter andone to meLegrand begged us to set about digging as quickly as possible. Tospeak the truthI had no especial relish for such amusement at any timeandat that particular momentI would most willingly have declined it; for thenight was coming onand I felt much fatigued with the exercise already taken;but I saw no mode of escapeand was fearful of disturbing my poor friend'sequanimity by a refusal. Could I have dependedindeedupon Jupiter's aidIwould have had no hesitation in attempting to get the lunatic home by force; butI was too well assured of the old negro's dispositionto hope that he wouldassist meunder any circumstancesin a personal contest with his master. Imade no doubt that the latter had been infected with some of the innumerableSouthern superstitions about money buriedand that his phantasy had receivedconfirmation by the finding of the scarabæusorperhapsby Jupiter'sobstinacy in maintaining it to be "a bug of real gold." A minddisposed to lunacy would readily be led away by such suggestions — especiallyif chiming in with favorite preconceived ideas — and then I called to mind thepoor fellow's speech about the beetle's being "the index of hisfortune." Upon the wholeI was sadly vexed and puzzledbutat lengthIconcluded to make a virtue of necessity — to dig with a good willand thusthe sooner to convince himby ocular demonstrationof the fallacy of theopinions he entertained.
The lanterns having been litwe all fell to work with azeal worthy a more rational cause; andas the glare fell upon our persons andimplementsI could not help thinking how picturesque a group we composedandhow strange and suspicious our labors must have appeared to any interloper whoby chancemight have stumbled upon our whereabouts.
We dug very steadily for two hours. Little was said; andour chief embarrassment lay in the yelpings of the dogwho took exceedinginterest in our proceedings. Heat lengthbecame so obstreperous that we grewfearful of his giving the alarm to some stragglers in the vicinity; — orratherthis was the apprehension of Legrand; — for myselfI should haverejoiced at any interruption which might have enabled me to get the wandererhome. The noise wasat lengthvery effectually silenced by Jupiterwhogetting out of the hole with a dogged air of deliberationtied the brute'smouth up with one of his suspendersand then returnedwith a grave chuckletohis task.
When the time mentioned had expiredwe had reached adepth of five feetand yet no signs of any treasure became manifest. A generalpause ensuedand I began to hope that the farce was at an end. Legrandhoweveralthough evidently much disconcertedwiped his brow thoughtfully andrecommenced. We had excavated the entire circle of four feet diameterand nowwe slightly enlarged the limitand went to the farther depth of two feet. Stillnothing appeared. The gold-seekerwhom I sincerely pitiedat length clamberedfrom the pitwith the bitterest disappointment imprinted upon every featureand proceededslowly and reluctantlyto put on his coatwhich he had thrownoff at the beginning of his labor. In the mean time I made no remark. Jupiterat a signal from his masterbegan to gather up his tools. This doneand thedog having been unmuzzledwe turned in a profound silence towards home.
We had takenperhapsa dozen steps in this directionwhenwith a loud oathLegrand strode up to Jupiter and seized him by thecollar. The astonished negro opened his eyes and mouth to the fullest extentlet fall the spadesand fell upon his knees.
"You scoundrel" said Legrandhissing out thesyllables from between his clenched teeth — "you infernal black villain!— speakI tell you! — answer me this instant without prevarication! —which — which is your left eye?"
"Ohmy GollyMassa Will! aint dis here my lef eyefor sartain?" roared the terrified Jupiterplacing his hand upon his rightorgan of visionand holding it there with a desperate pertinacityas if inimmediate dread of his master's attempt at a gouge.
"I thought so! — I knew it! — hurrah!"vociferated Legrandletting the negro goand executing a series of curvets andcaracolsmuch to the astonishment of his valetwhoarising from his kneeslookedmutelyfrom his master to myself and then from myself to his master.
"Come! we must go back" said the latter"the game's not up yet;" and he again led the way to the tulip-tree.
"Jupiter" said hewhen we reached its foot"come here! was the skull nailed to the limb with the face outwardsorwith the face to the limb?"
"De face was out massaso dat de crows could get atde eyes goodwidout any trubble."
"Wellthenwas it this eye or that through whichyou dropped the beetle?" — here Legrand touched each of Jupiter's eyes.
"Twas dis eyemassa — de lef eye — jis as youtell me" and here it was his right eye that the negro indicated.
"That will do — we must try it again."
Here my friendabout whose madness I now sawor fanciedthat I sawcertain indications of methodremoved the peg nearest the treetoa spot about three inches to the westward of its former position. Takingnowthe tape-measure from the nearest point of the trunkas beforeand continuingthe extension in a straight line to the distance of fifty feeta spot wasindicatedremovedby several yardsfrom the point at which we had beendigging.
Around the new position a circlesomewhat larger than inthe former instancewas now describedand we again set to work with the spades.I was dreadfully wearybutscarcely understanding what had occasioned thechange in my thoughtsI felt no longer any great aversion from the laborimposed. I had become most unaccountably interested — nayeven excited.Perhaps there was somethingamid all
At sight of these the joy of Jupiter could scarcely berestrainedbut the countenance of his master wore an air of extremedisappointment. He urged ushoweverto continue our exertionsand the wordswere hardly uttered when I stumbled and fell forwardhaving caught the toe ofmy boot in a large ring of iron that lay half buried in the loose earth.
We now worked in good earnestand never [column 7top: (the text is broken here by the presence of the illustration across 6th and7th columns.] did I pass ten minutes of more intense excitement. During thisinterval we had fairly unearthed an oblong chest of woodwhichfrom itsperfect preservation and wonderful hardnesshad plainly been subjected to somemineralizing process — perhaps that of the Bi-chloride of Mercury. This boxwas three feet and a half longthree feet broadand two and a half feet deep.It was firmly secured by bands of wrought ironrivetedand forming a kind ofopen trellis-work over the whole. On each side of the chestnear the topwerethree rings of iron — six in all — by means of which a firm hold could beobtained by six persons. Our utmost united endeavors served only to disturb thecoffer very slightly in its bed. We at once saw the impossibility of removing sogreat a weight. Luckilythe sole fastenings of the lid consisted of two slidingbolts. These we drew back — trembling and panting with anxiety. In an instanta treasure of incalculable value lay gleaming before us. As the rays of thelanterns fell within the pitthere flashed upwards a glow and a glarefrom aconfused heap of gold and of jewels that absolutely dazzled our eyes.
I shall not pretend to describe the feelings with which Igazed. Amazement wasof coursepredominant. Legrand appeared exhausted withexcitementand spoke very few words. Jupiter's countenance worefor someminutesas deadly a pallor as it is possiblein nature of thingsfor anynegro's visage to assume. He seemed stupified — thunderstricken. Presently hefell upon his knees in the pitandburying his naked arms up to the elbows ingold[[here appears the first illustration]]
[The text resumes beneath the illustrationcontinuing from column 7 andresuming at the bottom of column 6:] let them there remainas if enjoyingthe luxury of a bath. At lengthwith a deep sighhe exclaimedas if in asoliloquy
"And dis all cum ob de goole-bug! de putty goole bug!de poor little goole-bugwhat I boosed in dat sabage kind ob style! Aint youshamed ob yourselfnigger? — answer me dat!"
It became necessaryat lastthat I should arouse bothmaster and valet to the expediency of removing the treasure. It was growing lateand it behooved us to make exertionthat we might get every thing housed beforedaylight. It was difficult to say what should be doneand much time was spentin deliberation — so confused were the ideas of all. Wefinallylightenedthe box by removing two-thirds of its contentswhen we were enabledwith sometroubleto raise it from the hole. The articles taken out were deposited amongthe bramblesand the dog left to guard themwith strict orders from Jupiterneitherupon any pretenceto stir from the spotnor to open his mouth untilour return. We then hurriedly made for home with the chest; reaching the hut insafetybut after excessive toilat one o'clock in the morning. Worn out as wewereit was not in human nature to do more immediately. We rested until twoand had supper; starting for the hills immediately afterwardsarmed with threestout sackswhichby good luckwere upon the premises. A little before fourwe arrived at the pitdivided the remainder of the bootyas equally as mightbeamong usandleaving the holes unfilledagain set out for the hutatwhichfor the second timewe deposited our golden burthensjust as the firstfaint streaks of the dawn gleamed from over the tree-tops in the East.
We were now thoroughly broken down; but the intenseexcitement of the time denied us repose. After an unquiet slumber of some threeor four hours' durationwe aroseas if by preconcertto make examination ofour treasure.
The chest had been full to the brimand we spent thewhole dayand the greater part of the next nightin a scrutiny of its contents.There had been nothing like order or arrangement. Every thing had been heaped inpromiscuously. Having assorted all with carewe found ourselves possessed ofeven vaster wealth than we had at first supposed. In coin there was rather morethan four hundred and fifty thousand dollars — estimating the value of thepiecesas accurately as we couldby the tables of the period. There was not aparticle of silver. All was gold of antique date and of great variety — FrenchSpanishand German moneywith a few English guineasand some counters ofwhich we had never seen specimens before. There were several very large andheavy coinsso worn that we could make nothing of their inscriptions. There wasno American money. The value of the jewels we found more difficulty inestimating. There were diamonds — some of them exceedingly large and fine —a hundred and ten in alland not one of them small; eighteen rubies ofremarkable brilliancy; — three hundred and ten emeraldsall very beautiful;— and twenty-one sapphireswith an opal. These stones had all been brokenfrom their settings and thrown loose in the chest. The settings themselveswhich we picked out from among the other goldappeared to have been beaten upwith hammersas if to prevent identification. Besides all thisthere was avast quantity of solid gold ornaments; — nearly two hundred massive finger andear rings; — rich chains — thirty of theseif I remember; — eighty-threevery large and heavy crucifixes; — fine gold censers of great value; — aprodigious golden punch-bowlornamented with richly chased vine-leaves andBacchanalian figures; with two sword handles exquisitely embossedand manyother smaller articles which I cannot recollect. The weight of these valuablesexceeded three hundred and fifty pounds avoirdupois; and in this estimate I havenot included one hundred and ninety-seven superb gold watches; three of thenumber being worth each five hundred dollarsif one. Many of them were veryoldand as time-keepers valueless; the works having sufferedmore or lessfrom corrosion — but all were richly jewelled and in cases of great worth. Weestimated the entire contents of the chestthat nightat a million and a halfof dollarsandupon the subsequent disposal of the trinkets and jewels (a fewbeing retained for our own use) it was found that we had greatly undervalued thetreasure.
Whenat lengthwe had concluded our examinationand theintense excitement of the time hadin some measuresubsidedLegrandwho sawthat I was dying with impatiencefor a solution of this most extraordinaryriddleentered into a full detail of all the circumstances connected with it.
"You remember" said he"the night when Ihanded you the rough sketch I had made of the scarabæus. You recollectalsothat I became quite vexed at you for insisting that my drawing resembled adeath's-head. When you first made
"The scrap of paperyou mean" said I.
"No; it had much of the appearance of paperand atfirstI supposed it to be suchbutwhen I came to draw upon itI discovereditat onceto be a piece of very thin parchment. It was quite dirtyyouremember. Wellas I was in the very act of crumpling it upmy glance fell uponthe sketch at which you had been lookingand you may imagine my astonishmentwhen I perceivedin factthe figure of a death's-head just whereit seemed tomeI had made the drawing of the beetle. For a moment I was too much amazed tothink with accuracy. I knew that my design was very different in detail fromthis — although there was a certain similarity in general outline. Presently Itook a candleand seating myself at the other end of the roomproceeded toscrutinize the parchment more closely. Upon turning it overI saw my own sketchupon the reversejust as I had made it. My first ideanowwas mere surpriseat the really remarkable similarity of outline — at the singular coincidenceinvolved in the factthatunknown to methere should have been a skull uponthe other side of the parchmentimmediately beneath my figure of the scarabæusand that this skullnot only in outlinebut in sizeshould so closelyresemble my drawing. I say the singularity of this coincidence absolutelystupified me for a time. This is the usual effect of such coincidences. The mindstruggles to establish a connection — a sequence of cause and effect — andbeing unable to do sosuffers a species of temporary paralysis. Butwhen Irecovered from this stuporthere dawned upon me gradually a conviction whichstartled me even far more than the coincidence. I began distinctlypositivelyto remember that there had been no drawing upon the parchment when I mademy sketch of the scarabæus. I became perfectly certain of this; for Irecollected turning up first one side and then the otherin search of thecleanest spot. Had the skull been then thereof course I could not have failedto notice it. Here was indeed a mystery which I felt it impossible to explain;buteven at that early momentthere seemed to glimmerfaintlywithin themost remote and secret chambers of my intellecta glow-worm-like conception ofthat truth which last night's adventure brought to so magnificent ademonstration. I arose at oncedismissing all farther reflection until I shouldbe alone.
"When you had goneand when Jupiter was fast asleepI betook myself to a more methodical investigation of the affair. In the firstplace I considered the manner in which the parchment had come into mypossession. The spot where we discovered the scarabæus was on the coastof the main landabout a mile eastward of the islandand but a short distanceabove high water mark. Upon my seizing itit gave me a sharp bitewhich causedme to let it drop. Jupiterwith his accustomed cautionbefore seizing theinsectwhich had flown towards himlooked about him for a leafor somethingof that natureby which to take hold of it. It was at this moment that hiseyesand mine alsofell upon the scrap of parchmentwhich I then supposed tobe paper. It was lying half buried in the sanda corner sticking up. Near thespot where we found itI observed the remnants of the hull of what appeared tohave been a ship's long boat. The wreck seemed to have been there for a verygreat while; for the resemblance to boat timbers could scarcely be traced.
"WellJupiter picked up the parchmentwrapped thebeetle in itand gave it to me. Soon afterwards we turned to go homeand onthe way met Lieutenant G—. I showed him the insectand he begged me to lethim take it to the fort. Upon my consentinghe thrust it forthwith into hiswaistcoat pocketwithout the parchment in which it had been wrappedand whichI had continued to hold in my hand during his inspection. Perhaps he dreaded mychanging my mindand thought it best to make sure of the prize at once — youknow how enthusiastic he is on all subjects connected with Natural History. Atthe same timewithout being conscious of itI must have deposited theparchment in my own pocket.
"You remember that when I went to the tablefor thepurpose of making a sketch of the beetleI found no paper where it was usuallykept. I looked in the drawer and found none there. I searched my pocketshopingto find an old letterwhen my hand fell upon the parchment. I thus detail theprecise mode in which it came into my possession; for the
"No doubt you will think me fanciful — but I hadalready established a kind of connection. I had put together two links ofa great chain. There was a boat lying upon a sea-coastand not far from theboat was a parchment — not a paper — with a skull depicted upon it.You willof courseask 'where is the connection?' I reply that the skullordeath's[[-]]headis the well-known emblem of the pirate. The flag of thedeath's-head is hoisted in all engagements.
"I have said that the scrap was parchmentand notpaper. Parchment is durable — almost imperishable. Matters of little momentare rarely consigned to parchment; sincefor the mere ordinary purposes ofdrawing or writingit is not nearly so well adapted as paper. This reflectionsuggested some meaning — some relevancy — in the death's-head. I did notfail to observealsothe form of the parchment. Although one of itscorners had beenby some accidentdestroyedit could be seen that theoriginal form was oblong. It was just such a slipindeedas might have beenchosen for a memorandum — for a record of something to be long remembered andcarefully preserved."
"But" I interposed"you say that theskull was not upon the parchment when you made the drawing of the beetle.How then do you trace any connection between the boat and the skull — sincethis latteraccording to your own admissionmust have been designed (God onlyknows how or by whom) at some period subsequent to your sketching the scarabæus?"
"Ahhereupon turns the whole mystery; although thesecretat this pointI had comparatively little difficulty in solving. Mysteps were sure and could afford but a single result. I reasonedfor examplethus: When I drew the scarabæus there was no skull apparent upon theparchment. When I had completed the drawing I gave it to youand observed younarrowly until you returned it. Youthereforedid not design the skulland no one else was present to do it. Then it was not done by human agency. Andnevertheless it was done.
"At this stage of my reflections I endeavored torememberand did rememberwith entire distinctnessevery incidentwhich occurred about the period in question. The weather was chilly (oh rare andhappy accident!) and a fire was blazing upon the hearth. I was heated withexercise and sat near the table. Youhoweverhad drawn a chair close to thechimney. Just as I placed the parchment in your handand as you were in the actof inspecting itWolfthe Newfoundlandenteredand leaped upon yourshoulders. With your left hand you caressed him and kept him offwhile yourrightholding the parchmentwas permitted to fall listlessly between yourkneesand in close proximity to the fire. At one moment I thought the blaze hadcaught itand was about to caution youbutbefore I could speakyou hadwithdrawn it and were engaged in its examination. When I considered all theseparticularsI doubted not for a moment that heat had been the agent inbringing to lightupon the parchmentthe skull which I saw designed upon it.You are well aware that chemical preparations existand have existed time outof mindby means of which it is possible to writeupon either paper or vellumso that the characters shall become visible only when subjected to the action offire.
"I now scrutinized the death's-head with care. Itsouter edges — the edges of the drawing nearest the edge of the vellum — werefar more distinct than the others. It was clear that the action of thecaloric had been imperfect or unequal. I immediately kindled a fireandsubjected every portion of the parchment to a glowing heat. At firstthe onlyeffect was the strengthening of the faint lines in the skull; butuponpersevering in the experimentthere became visibleat the corner of the slipdiagonally opposite to the spot in which the death's-head was delineatedthefigure of what I at first supposed to be a goat. A closer scrutinyhoweversatisfied me that it was intended for a kid."
"Ha! ha!" said I"to be sure I have noright to laugh at you — a million and a half of money is too serious a matterfor mirth — but you are not about to establish a third link in your chain —you will not find any especial connexion between your pirates and a goat —piratesyou knowhave nothing to do with goats; they appertain to the farminginterest."
"But I have just said that the figure was notthat of a goat."
"Wella kid then — pretty much the samething."
"Pretty muchbut not altogether" said Legrand."You may have heard of one Captain Kidd. I at once looked upon thefigure of the animal as a kind of punning or hieroglyphical signature. I saysignature; because its position upon the vellum suggested this idea. Thedeath's-head at the corner diagonally oppositehadin the same mannerthe airof a stampor seal. But I was sorely put out by the absence of all else — ofthe body to my imagined instrument — of the text for my context."
"I presume you expected to find a letter between thestamp and the signature."
"Something of that kind. The fact isI feltirresistibly impressed with a presentiment of some vast good fortune impending.I can scarcely say why. Perhapsafter allit was rather a desire than anactual belief; — but do you know that Jupiter's silly wordsabout the bugbeing of solid goldhad a remarkable effect upon my fancy? And then the seriesof accidents and coincidences — these were so very extraordinary. Doyou observe how mere an accident it was that these events should have occurredupon the sole day of all the year in which it has beenor may besufficiently cool for fireand that without the fireor without theintervention of the dog at the precise moment in which he appearedI shouldnever have become aware of the death's-headand so never the possessor of thetreasure?"
"But proceed — I am all impatience."
"Well; you have heardof coursethe many storiescurrent — the thousand vague rumors afloat about money buriedsomewhere uponthe Atlantic coastby Kidd and his associates. These rumors must have had somefoundation in fact. And that the rumors have existed so long and socontinuouslycould have resultedit appeared to meonly from the circumstanceof the buried treasure still remaining entombed. Had Kidd concealed hisplunder for a timeand afterwards reclaimed itthe rumors would scarcely havereached us in their present unvarying form. You will observe that the storiestold are all about money-seekersnot about money-finders. Had the piraterecovered his moneythere the affair would have dropped. It seemed to me thatsome accident — say the loss of a memorandum indicating its locality — haddeprived him of the means of recovering itand that this accident had becomeknown to his followerswho otherwise might never have heard that treasure hadbeen concealed at alland whobusying themselves in vainbecause unguidedattemptsto regain ithad given first birthand then universal currencytothe reports which are now so common. Have you ever heard of any importanttreasure having been unearthed by the diggers for money along the coast?"
"But that Kidd's accumulations were immenseis wellknown. I took it for grantedthereforethat the earth still held them; and youwill scarcely be surprised when I tell you that I felt a hopenearly amountingto certaintythat the parchment so strangely foundinvolved a lost record ofthe place of deposit."
"But how did you proceed?"
"I held the vellum again to the fireafterincreasing the heat; but nothing appeared. I now thought it possible that thecoating of dirt might have something to do with the failure; so I carefullyrinsed the parchment by pouring warm water over itandhaving done thisIplaced it in a tin panwith the skull downwardsand put the pan upon a furnaceof lighted charcoal. In a few minutesthe pan having become thoroughly heatedI removed the slipandto my inexpressible joyfound it spottedin severalplaceswith what appeared to be figures arranged in lines. Again I placed it inthe panand suffered it to remain another minute. Upon taking it offthe wholewas just as you see it now."
Here Legrand submitted the parchment to my inspection. Thefollowing characters were rudely traced between the death's-head and the goat:
"But" said Ireturning him the slip"Iam as much in the dark as ever. Were all the jewels of Golconda awaiting me uponmy solution of this enigmaI am quite sure that I should be unable to earnthem."
"And yet" said Legrand"the solution isby no means so difficult as you might be led to imagine from the first hastyinspection of the characters. These charactersas any one might readily guessform a cipher — that is to saythey convey a meaning; but thenfrom what isknown of KiddI could not suppose him capable of constructing any of the moreabstruse cryptographs. I made up my mindat oncethat this was of a simplespecies — suchhoweveras would appearto the crude intellect of thesailorabsolutely insoluble without the key."
"And you really solved it?"
"Readily; I have solved others of an abstruseness tenthousand times greater. Circumstancesand a certain bias of mindhave led meto take interest in such riddlesand it may well be doubted whether humaningenuity can construct an enigma of the kind which human ingenuity may notbyproper applicationresolve. In facthaving once established connected andlegible charactersI scarcely gave a thought to the mere difficulty ofdeveloping their import.
"In the present case — indeed in all cases ofsecret writing — the first question regards the language of the cipher;for the principles of solutionso farespeciallyas the more simple
"You observe there are no divisions between thewords. Had there been divisionsthe task would have been comparatively easy. Insuch case I should have commenced with a collation and analysis of the shorterwordsandhad a word of a single letter occurredas is most likely(aor Ifor example) I should have considered this solution as assured.Butthere being no divisionmy first step was to ascertain the predominantlettersas well as the least frequent. Counting allI constructed a tablethus:
Of the character 8 there are 33.
; " 26.
4 " 19.
‡ ) " 16.
* " 13.
5 " 12.
6 " 11.
†1 " 8.
0 " 6.
9 2 " 5.
: 3 " 4.
? " 3.
¶ " 2.
—. " 1.
"Nowin Englishthe letter which most frequentlyoccurs is e. Afterwardsthe succession runs thus: a o i d h n r s t uy c f g l m w b k p q x z. E predominates so remarkably that anindividual sentence of any length is rarely seenin which it is not theprevailing character.
"Herethenwe havein the very beginningthegroundwork for something more than a mere guess. The general use which may bemade of the table is obvious — butin this particular cipherwe shall onlyvery partially require its aid. As our predominant character is 8we willcommence by assuming it as the e of the natural alphabet. To verify thesuppositionlet us observe if the 8 be seen often in couples — for eis doubled with great frequency in English — in such wordsfor exampleas'meet' 'fleet' 'speed' 'seen' 'been' 'agree' &c. In the presentinstance we see it doubled no less than five timesalthough the cryptograph isbrief.
"Let us assume 8thenas e. Nowof all wordsin the language'the' is most usual; let us seethereforewhether there arenot repetitions of any three charactersin the same order of collocationthelast of them being 8. If we discover repetitions of such lettersso arrangedthey will most probably represent the word 'the.' Upon inspectionwe find noless than seven such arrangementsthe characters being ;48. We maythereforeassume that ; represents t4 represents hand 8 represents e— the last being now well confirmed. Thus a great step has been taken.
"Buthaving established a single wordwe areenabled to establish a vastly important point; that is to sayseveralcommencements and terminations of other words. Let us referfor exampleto thelast instancebut onein which the combination ;48 occurs — not far from theend of the cipher. We know that the ; immediately ensuing is the commencement ofa wordandof the six characters succeeding this 'the' we are cognizant of noless than five. Let us set these characters downthusby the letters we knowthem to representleaving a space for the one unknown —
"Here we are enabledat onceto discard the 'th'as forming no portion of the word commencing with the first t; sincebyexperiment of the entire alphabet for a letter adapted to the vacancyweperceive that no word can be formed of which this th can be a part. Weare thus narrowed into
andgoing through the alphabetif necessaryas beforewe arrive at theword 'tree' as the sole possible reading. We thus gain another letterrrepresented by (with the words 'the tree' in juxtaposition.
"Looking beyond these wordsfor a short distanceweagain see the combination ;48and employ it by way of termination towhat immediately precedes. We have thus this arrangement:
orsubstituting the natural letterswhere knownit reads thus:
"Nowifin place of the unknown charactersweleave blank spacesor substitute dotswe read thus:
"Lookingnownarrowlythrough the cipher forcombinations of known characterswe findnot very far from the beginningthisarrangement
"Four letters beyond the word 'degree' we perceivethe combination
"Translating the known charactersand representingthe unknown by dotsas beforewe read thus:
"Referringnowto the beginning of the cryptographwe find the combination
"Translatingas beforewe obtain
"It is now time that we arrange our keyas far asdiscoveredin a tabular formto avoid confusion. It will stand thus:
5 represents a
† " d
8 " e
3 " g
4 " h
6 " i
* " n
‡ " o
( " r
; " t
"We havethereforeno less than ten of the mostimportant letters representedand it will be unnecessary to proceed with thedetails of the solution. I have said enough to convince you that ciphers of thisnature are readily solubleand to give you some insight into the rationaleof their development. But be assured that the specimen before us appertains tothe very simplest species of cryptograph. It now only remains to give you thefull translation of the characters upon the parchmentas unriddled. Here it is:
'A good glass in the bishop's hostel in the devil'sseat forty-one degrees and thirteen minutes northeast and by north main branchseventh limb east side shoot from the left eye of the death's-head a bee linefrom the tree through the shot fifty feet out.' "
"But" said I"the enigma seems still inas bad a condition as ever. How is it possible to extort a meaning from all thisjargon about 'devil's seats' 'death's heads' and 'bishop's hotels?' "
"I confess" replied Legrand"that thematter [[the matter]] still wears a serious aspectwhen regarded with acasual glance. My first endeavor was to divide the sentence into the naturaldivision intended by the cryptographist."
"You meanto punctuate it?"
"Something of that kind."
"But how was it possible to effect this?"
"I reflected that it had been a point with thewriter to run his words together without divisionso as to increase thedifficulty of solution. Nowa not over-acute manin pursuing such an objectwould be nearly certain to overdo the matter. Whenin the course of hiscompositionhe arrived at a break in his subject which would naturally requirea pauseor a pointhe would be exceedingly apt to run his charactersat thisplacemore than usually close together. If you will observe the MS.in thepresent instanceyou will easily detect five such cases of unusual crowding.Acting upon this hintI made the division thus:
'A good glass in the Bishop's hostel in the Devil'sseat — forty-one degrees and thirteen minutes — northeast and by north —main branch seventh limb east side — shoot from the left eye of thedeath's-head — a bee-line from the tree through the shot fifty feet out.'"
"Even this division" said I"leaves mestill in the dark."
"It left me also in the dark" replied Legrand"for a few days; during which I made diligent inquiryin the neighborhoodof Sullivan's Islandfor any building which went by the name of the 'Bishop'sHotel;' forof courseI dropped the obsolete word 'hostel.' Gaining noinformation on the subjectI was on the point of extending my sphere of searchand proceeding in a more systematic mannerwhenone morningit entered intomy headquite suddenlythat this 'Bishop's Hostel' might have some referenceto an old familyof the name of Bessopwhichtime out of mindhad heldpossession of an ancient manor-houseabout four miles to the northward of theIsland. I accordingly went over to the plantationand re-instituted myinquiries among the older negroes of the place. At length one of the most agedof the women said that she had heard of such a place as Bessop's Castleand thought that she could guide me to itbut that it was not a castlenor atavernbut a high rock.
"I offered to pay her well for her trouble
"While I was busied in reflectionmy eyes fell upona narrow ledge in the eastern face of the rockperhaps a yard below the summitupon which I stood. This ledge projected about eighteen inchesand was not morethan a foot widewhile a niche in the cliff just above itgave it a ruderesemblance to one of the hollow-backed chairs used by our ancestors. I made nodoubt that here was the 'devil's-seat' alluded to in the MS.and now I seemedto grasp the full secret of the riddle.
"The 'good glass' I knewcould have reference tonothing but a telescope; for the word 'glass' is rarely employed in any othersense by seamen. Now hereI at once sawwas a telescope to be usedand adefinite point of viewadmitting no variationfrom which to use it. Nordid I hesitate to believe that the phrases'forty-one degrees and thirteenminutes' and 'northeast and by north' were intended as directions for thelevelling of the glass. Greatly excited by these discoveriesI hurried homeprocured a telescopeand returned to the rock.
"I let myself down to the ledgeand found that itwas impossible to retain a seat upon it except in one particular position. Thisfact confirmed my preconceived idea. I proceeded to use the glass. Of coursethe 'forty-one degrees and thirteen minutes' could allude to nothing butelevation above the visible horizonsince the horizontal direction was clearlyindicated by the words'northeast and by north.' This latter direction I atonce established by means of a pocket-compass; thenpointing the glass asnearly at an angle of forty-one degrees of elevation as I could do it by guessI moved it cautiously up or downuntil my attention was arrested by a circularrift or openingin the foliage of a large tree that overtopped its fellows inthe distance. In the centre of this rift I perceived a white spotbut couldnotat firstdistinguish what it was. Adjusting the focus of the telescopeIagain lookedand now made it out to be a human skull.
"Upon this discovery I was so sanguine as to considerthe enigma solved; for the phrase 'main branchseventh limbeast side' couldrefer only to the position of the skull upon the treewhile 'shoot from theleft eye of the death's-head' admittedalsoof but one interpretationinregard to a search for buried treasure. I perceived that the design was to dropa bullet from the left eye of the skulland that a bee-lineorin otherwordsa straight linedrawn from the nearest point of the trunk through 'theshot' (or the spot where the bullet fell) and thence extended to a distance offifty feetwould indicate a definite point — and beneath this point I thoughtit at least possible that a deposit of value lay concealed."
"All this" I said"is exceedingly clearand[column 4top: (the text is broken here by the presence of theillustration across 4th and 5th columns.] although ingeniousstill simpleand explicit. When you left the Bishop's Hotelwhat then?"
"Whyhaving carefully taken the bearings of thetreeI turned homewards. The instant that I left 'the devil's seat' howeverthe circular rift vanished; nor could I get a glimpse of it afterwardsturn asI would. What seems to me the chief ingenuity in this whole businessis thefact (for repeated experiment has convinced me it is a fact) that thecircular opening in question is visible from no other attainable point of viewthan that afforded by the narrow ledge upon the face of the rock.
"In this expedition to the 'Bishop's Hotel' I hadbeen attended by Jupiterwho hadno doubtobservedfor some weeks pasttheabstraction of my demeanorand took especial care not to leave me alone. Buton the next daygetting up very earlyI contrived to give him the slipandwent into the hills in search of the tree. After much toil I found it. When Icame home at night my valet proposed to give me a flogging. With the rest of theadventure I believe you are as well acquainted as myself."
"I suppose" said I"you missed the spotin the first attempt at diggingthrough Jupiter's stupidity in letting the bugfall through the rightinstead of through the left eye of the skull."
"Precisely. This mistake made a difference of abouttwo inches and a half in the 'shot' — that is to say in the position of thepeg nearest the tree; and had the treasure been beneath the 'shot' theerror would have been of little moment; but 'the shot' together with thenearest point of the treewere merely two points for the establishment of aline of direction; of course the errorhowever trivial in the beginningincreased as we proceeded with the lineandby the time we had gone fiftyfeetthrew us quite off the scent. But for my deep-seated impressions thattreasure was here somewhere actually buriedwe might have had all our labor invain."
"But your grandiloquenceand your conduct inswinging the beetle — how excessively odd! I was sure you were mad. And whydid you insist upon dropping the buginstead of a bulletfrom the skull?"
"Whyto be frankI felt somewhat annoyed by yourevident suspicions touching my sanityand so resolved to punish you quietlyinmy own wayby a little bit of sober mystification. For this reason I swung thebeetleand for this reason I dropped it from the tree. An observation of yoursabout its great weight suggested the latter idea."
"YesI perceive — and now there is only one pointwhich puzzles me. What are we to make of the skeletons found in the hole?"
"This is a question I am no more able to answer thanyourself. There seemshoweveronly one plausible way of accounting for them— and yet it is dreadful to believe in such atrocity as my suggestion wouldimply. It is clear that Kidd — if Kidd indeed secreted this treasurewhich Idoubt not — it is clear that he must have had assistance in the labor. Butthis labor concludedhe may have thought it expedient to remove allparticipants in his secret. Perhaps a couple of blows with a mattock weresufficientwhile his coadjutors were busy in the pit; perhaps it required adozen — who shall tell?"
[The unique copy of the original of this item was found in the collection ofthe Maryland Historical Society as early as 1917. Sometime in the mid 1970sitvanished without a trace. This recreation of the text is based on a photocopy ofthe July 121843 printing (a photocopy which is part of the T. O. Mabbottcollection of the University of Iowa). UnfortunatelyMabbott's photocopy wascut to fit into file foldersbut it was a fairly easy task to tape thesesegments together and reform the full page. This process was aided by twophotographs of the the front page of the Dollar Newspaper for June 121843 andJune 281843both of which clearly show that the paper consisted of 7 columnsper page. The continuing page and beginning column for text beyond page 1 is notnoted in Mabbott's notes. As there appears to be no "continued on"note in the original paperit is presumed here that the text simply rolled overto page 2and began in column 1although it could have started in columns 23or 4.]
[The illustration used in this printing was designed by F. O. C. Darley. (Asecond illustration appeared at the end of the story and was used in subsequentprintings.) In the originalthe text is set in newspaper columns and bothillustrations are as wide as 2 columns. In all printingsthe first illustrationfollows the words "burying his naked arms up to the elbows in gold"and before "let them there remain . . ." Both illustrations bear thename artist"F. O. C. Darley" on the bottom left and the engraver"R. S. GilbertSC" on the bottom right.]