Commit 91e05945 authored by Niels Möller's avatar Niels Möller

* testsuite/yarrow-test.c (test_main): Use gold-bug.txt as input

file, instead of rfc1750.txt.

* testsuite/gold-bug.txt: New test input file for yarrow-test.
The copyright on this short story by Edgar Allan Poe has expired.

* testsuite/rfc1750.txt: Deleted file. Debian considers RFC:s
non-free, and it was expired anyway. Replaced by gold-bug.txt.

Rev: src/nettle/testsuite/gold-bug.txt:1.1
Rev: src/nettle/testsuite/rfc1750.txt:1.2(DEAD)
Rev: src/nettle/testsuite/yarrow-test.c:1.15
parent 125d74ad
Edgar Allan Poe
The Gold-Bug
What ho! what ho! this fellow is dancing mad!
He hath been bitten by the Tarantula.
--All in the Wrong.
Many years ago, I contracted an intimacy with a Mr. William
Legrand. He was of an ancient Huguenot family, and had once been
wealthy: but a series of misfortunes had reduced him to want. To
avoid the mortification consequent upon his disasters, he left New
Orleans, the city of his forefathers, and took up his residence at
Sullivan's Island, near Charleston, South Carolina.
This island is a very singular one. It consists of little else
than the sea sand, and is about three miles long. Its breadth at
no point exceeds a quarter of a mile. It is separated from the
mainland by a scarcely perceptible creek, oozing its way through a
wilderness of reeds and slime, a favorite resort of the marsh hen.
The vegetation, as might be supposed, is scant, or at least
dwarfish. No trees of any magnitude are to be seen. Near the
western extremity, where Fort Moultrie stands, and where are some
miserable frame buildings, tenanted, during summer, by the
fugitives from Charleston dust and fever, may be found, indeed, the
bristly palmetto; but the whole island, with the exception of this
western point, and a line of hard, white beach on the seacoast, is
covered with a dense undergrowth of the sweet myrtle so much prized
by the horticulturists of England. The shrub here often attains
the height of fifteen or twenty feet, and forms an almost
impenetrable coppice, burdening the air with its fragrance.
In the inmost recesses of this coppice, not far from the eastern or
more remote end of the island, Legrand had built himself a small
hut, which he occupied when I first, by mere accident, made his
acquaintance. This soon ripened into friendship--for there was
much in the recluse to excite interest and esteem. I found him
well educated, with unusual powers of mind, but infected with
misanthropy, and subject to perverse moods of alternate enthusiasm
and melancholy. He had with him many books, but rarely employed
them. His chief amusements were gunning and fishing, or sauntering
along the beach and through the myrtles, in quest of shells or
entomological specimens--his collection of the latter might have
been envied by a Swammerdamm. In these excursions he was usually
accompanied by an old negro, called Jupiter, who had been
manumitted before the reverses of the family, but who could be
induced, neither by threats nor by promises, to abandon what he
considered his right of attendance upon the footsteps of his young
"Massa Will." It is not improbable that the relatives of Legrand,
conceiving him to be somewhat unsettled in intellect, had contrived
to instill this obstinacy into Jupiter, with a view to the
supervision and guardianship of the wanderer.
The winters in the latitude of Sullivan's Island are seldom very
severe, and in the fall of the year it is a rare event indeed when
a fire is considered necessary. About the middle of October, 18--,
there occurred, however, a day of remarkable chilliness. Just
before sunset I scrambled my way through the evergreens to the hut
of my friend, whom I had not visited for several weeks--my
residence being, at that time, in Charleston, a distance of nine
miles from the island, while the facilities of passage and
repassage were very far behind those of the present day. Upon
reaching the hut I rapped, as was my custom, and getting no reply,
sought for the key where I knew it was secreted, unlocked the door,
and went in. A fine fire was blazing upon the hearth. It was a
novelty, and by no means an ungrateful one. I threw off an
overcoat, took an armchair by the crackling logs, and awaited
patiently the arrival of my hosts.
Soon after dark they arrived, and gave me a most cordial welcome.
Jupiter, grinning from ear to ear, bustled about to prepare some
marsh hens for supper. Legrand was in one of his fits--how else
shall I term them?--of enthusiasm. He had found an unknown
bivalve, forming a new genus, and, more than this, he had hunted
down and secured, with Jupiter's assistance, a scarabaeus which he
believed to be totally new, but in respect to which he wished to
have my opinion on the morrow.
"And why not to-night?" I asked, rubbing my hands over the blaze,
and wishing the whole tribe of scarabaei at the devil.
"Ah, if I had only known you were here!" said Legrand, "but it's so
long since I saw you; and how could I foresee that you would pay me
a visit this very night of all others? As I was coming home I met
Lieutenant G----, from the fort, and, very foolishly, I lent him
the bug; so it will be impossible for you to see it until the
morning. Stay here to-night, and I will send Jup down for it at
sunrise. It is the loveliest thing in creation!"
"What?--sunrise?"
"Nonsense! no!--the bug. It is of a brilliant gold color--about
the size of a large hickory nut--with two jet black spots near one
extremity of the back, and another, somewhat longer, at the other.
The antennae are--"
"Dey ain't NO tin in him, Massa Will, I keep a tellin' on you,"
here interrupted Jupiter; "de bug is a goole-bug, solid, ebery bit
of him, inside and all, sep him wing--neber feel half so hebby a
bug in my life."
"Well, suppose it is, Jup," replied Legrand, somewhat more
earnestly, it seemed to me, than the case demanded; "is that any
reason for your letting the birds burn? The color"--here he turned
to me--"is really almost enough to warrant Jupiter's idea. You
never saw a more brilliant metallic luster than the scales emit--
but of this you cannot judge till to-morrow. In the meantime I can
give you some idea of the shape." Saying this, he seated himself
at a small table, on which were a pen and ink, but no paper. He
looked for some in a drawer, but found none.
"Never mind," he said at length, "this will answer;" and he drew
from his waistcoat pocket a scrap of what I took to be very dirty
foolscap, and made upon it a rough drawing with the pen. While he
did this, I retained my seat by the fire, for I was still chilly.
When the design was complete, he handed it to me without rising.
As I received it, a loud growl was heard, succeeded by a scratching
at the door. Jupiter opened it, and a large Newfoundland,
belonging to Legrand, rushed in, leaped upon my shoulders, and
loaded me with caresses; for I had shown him much attention during
previous visits. When his gambols were over, I looked at the
paper, and, to speak the truth, found myself not a little puzzled
at what my friend had depicted.
"Well!" I said, after contemplating it for some minutes, "this IS a
strange scarabaeus, I must confess; new to me; never saw anything
like it before--unless it was a skull, or a death's head, which it
more nearly resembles than anything else that has come under MY
observation."
"A death's head!" echoed Legrand. "Oh--yes--well, it has something
of that appearance upon paper, no doubt. The two upper black spots
look like eyes, eh? and the longer one at the bottom like a mouth--
and then the shape of the whole is oval."
"Perhaps so," said I; "but, Legrand, I fear you are no artist. I
must wait until I see the beetle itself, if I am to form any idea
of its personal appearance."
"Well, I don't know," said he, a little nettled, "I draw tolerably--
SHOULD do it at least--have had good masters, and flatter myself
that I am not quite a blockhead."
"But, my dear fellow, you are joking then," said I, "this is a very
passable SKULL--indeed, I may say that it is a very EXCELLENT
skull, according to the vulgar notions about such specimens of
physiology--and your scarabaeus must be the queerest scarabaeus in
the world if it resembles it. Why, we may get up a very thrilling
bit of superstition upon this hint. I presume you will call the
bug Scarabaeus caput hominis, or something of that kind--there are
many similar titles in the Natural Histories. But where are the
antennae you spoke of?"
"The antennae!" said Legrand, who seemed to be getting
unaccountably warm upon the subject; "I am sure you must see the
antennae. I made them as distinct as they are in the original
insect, and I presume that is sufficient."
"Well, well," I said, "perhaps you have--still I don't see them;"
and I handed him the paper without additional remark, not wishing
to ruffle his temper; but I was much surprised at the turn affairs
had taken; his ill humor puzzled me--and, as for the drawing of the
beetle, there were positively NO antennae visible, and the whole
DID bear a very close resemblance to the ordinary cuts of a death's
head.
He received the paper very peevishly, and was about to crumple it,
apparently to throw it in the fire, when a casual glance at the
design seemed suddenly to rivet his attention. In an instant his
face grew violently red--in another excessively pale. For some
minutes he continued to scrutinize the drawing minutely where he
sat. At length he arose, took a candle from the table, and
proceeded to seat himself upon a sea chest in the farthest corner
of the room. Here again he made an anxious examination of the
paper, turning it in all directions. He said nothing, however, and
his conduct greatly astonished me; yet I thought it prudent not to
exacerbate the growing moodiness of his temper by any comment.
Presently he took from his coat pocket a wallet, placed the paper
carefully in it, and deposited both in a writing desk, which he
locked. He now grew more composed in his demeanor; but his
original air of enthusiasm had quite disappeared. Yet he seemed
not so much sulky as abstracted. As the evening wore away he
became more and more absorbed in reverie, from which no sallies of
mine could arouse him. It had been my intention to pass the night
at the hut, as I had frequently done before, but, seeing my host in
this mood, I deemed it proper to take leave. He did not press me
to remain, but, as I departed, he shook my hand with even more than
his usual cordiality.
It was about a month after this (and during the interval I had seen
nothing of Legrand) when I received a visit, at Charleston, from
his man, Jupiter. I had never seen the good old negro look so
dispirited, and I feared that some serious disaster had befallen my
friend.
"Well, Jup," said I, "what is the matter now?--how is your master?"
"Why, to speak the troof, massa, him not so berry well as mought
be."
"Not well! I am truly sorry to hear it. What does he complain
of?"
"Dar! dot's it!--him neber 'plain of notin'--but him berry sick for
all dat."
"VERY sick, Jupiter!--why didn't you say so at once? Is he
confined to bed?"
"No, dat he aint!--he aint 'fin'd nowhar--dat's just whar de shoe
pinch--my mind is got to be berry hebby 'bout poor Massa Will."
"Jupiter, I should like to understand what it is you are talking
about. You say your master is sick. Hasn't he told you what ails
him?"
"Why, massa, 'taint worf while for to git mad about de matter--
Massa Will say noffin at all aint de matter wid him--but den what
make him go about looking dis here way, wid he head down and he
soldiers up, and as white as a goose? And den he keep a syphon all
de time--"
"Keeps a what, Jupiter?"
"Keeps a syphon wid de figgurs on de slate--de queerest figgurs I
ebber did see. Ise gittin' to be skeered, I tell you. Hab for to
keep mighty tight eye 'pon him 'noovers. Todder day he gib me slip
'fore de sun up and was gone de whole ob de blessed day. I had a
big stick ready cut for to gib him deuced good beating when he did
come--but Ise sich a fool dat I hadn't de heart arter all--he
looked so berry poorly."
"Eh?--what?--ah yes!--upon the whole I think you had better not be
too severe with the poor fellow--don't flog him, Jupiter--he can't
very well stand it--but can you form no idea of what has occasioned
this illness, or rather this change of conduct? Has anything
unpleasant happened since I saw you?"
"No, massa, dey aint bin noffin onpleasant SINCE den--'twas 'FORE
den I'm feared--'twas de berry day you was dare."
"How? what do you mean."
"Why, massa, I mean de bug--dare now."
"The what?"
"De bug--I'm berry sartin dat Massa Will bin bit somewhere 'bout de
head by dat goole-bug."
"And what cause have you, Jupiter, for such a supposition?"
"Claws enuff, massa, and mouff, too. I nebber did see sich a
deuced bug--he kick and he bite eberyting what cum near him. Massa
Will cotch him fuss, but had for to let him go 'gin mighty quick, I
tell you--den was de time he must ha' got de bite. I didn't like
de look ob de bug mouff, myself, nohow, so I wouldn't take hold oh
him wid my finger, but I cotch him wid a piece oh paper dat I
found. I rap him up in de paper and stuff a piece of it in he
mouff--dat was de way."
"And you think, then, that your master was really bitten by the
beetle, and that the bite made him sick?"
"I don't think noffin about it--I nose it. What make him dream
'bout de goole so much, if 'taint cause he bit by the goole-bug?
Ise heered '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 he sleep--dat's how I
nose."
"Well, Jup, perhaps you are right; but to what fortunate
circumstance am I to attribute the honor of a visit from you to-
day?"
"What de matter, massa?"
"Did you bring any message from Mr. Legrand?"
"No, massa, I bring dis here pissel;" and here Jupiter handed me a
note which ran thus:
"MY DEAR ----
"Why have I not seen you for so long a time? I hope you have not
been so foolish as to take offense at any little brusquerie of
mine; but no, that is improbable.
"Since I saw you I have had great cause for anxiety. I have
something to tell you, yet scarcely know how to tell it, or whether
I should tell it at all.
"I have not been quite well for some days past, and poor old Jup
annoys me, almost beyond endurance, by his well-meant attentions.
Would you believe it?--he had prepared a huge stick, the other day,
with which to chastise me for giving him the slip, and spending the
day, solus, among the hills on the mainland. I verily believe that
my ill looks alone saved me a flogging.
"I have made no addition to my cabinet since we met. "If you can,
in any way, make it convenient, come over with Jupiter. DO come.
I wish to see you TO-NIGHT, upon business of importance. I assure
you that it is of the HIGHEST importance.
"Ever yours,
"WILLIAM LEGRAND."
There was something in the tone of this note which gave me great
uneasiness. Its whole style differed materially from that of
Legrand. What could he be dreaming of? What new crotchet
possessed his excitable brain? What "business of the highest
importance" could HE possibly have to transact? Jupiter's account
of him boded no good. I dreaded lest the continued pressure of
misfortune had, at length, fairly unsettled the reason of my
friend. Without a moment's hesitation, therefore, I prepared to
accompany the negro.
Upon reaching the wharf, I noticed a scythe and three spades, all
apparently new, lying in the bottom of the boat in which we were to
embark.
"What is the meaning of all this, Jup?" I inquired.
"Him syfe, massa, and spade."
"Very true; but what are they doing here?"
"Him de syfe and de spade what Massa Will sis 'pon my buying for
him in de town, and de debbil's own lot of money I had to gib for
em."
"But what, in the name of all that is mysterious, is your 'Massa
Will' going to do with scythes and spades?"
"Dat's more dan I know, and debbil take me if I don't b'lieve 'tis
more dan he know too. But it's all cum ob de bug."
Finding that no satisfaction was to be obtained of Jupiter, whose
whole intellect seemed to be absorbed by "de bug," I now stepped
into the boat, and made sail. With a fair and strong breeze we
soon ran into the little cove to the northward of Fort Moultrie,
and a walk of some two miles brought 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 a nervous
empressement which alarmed me and strengthened the suspicions
already entertained. His countenance was pale even to ghastliness,
and his deep-set eyes glared with unnatural luster. After some
inquiries respecting his health, I asked him, not knowing what
better to say, if he had yet obtained the scarabaeus from
Lieutenant G----.
"Oh, yes," he replied, coloring violently, "I got it from him the
next morning. Nothing should tempt me to part with that
scarabaeus. Do you know that Jupiter is quite right about it?"
"In what way?" I asked, with a sad foreboding at heart.
"In supposing it to be a bug of REAL GOLD." He said this with an
air of profound seriousness, and I felt inexpressibly shocked.
"This bug is to make my fortune," he continued, with a triumphant
smile; "to reinstate me in my family possessions. Is it any
wonder, then, that I prize it? Since Fortune has thought fit to
bestow it upon me, I have only to use it properly, and I shall
arrive at the gold of which it is the index. Jupiter, bring me
that scarabaeus!"
"What! de bug, massa? I'd rudder not go fer trubble dat bug; you
mus' git him for your own self." Hereupon Legrand arose, with a
grave and stately air, and brought me the beetle from a glass case
in which it was enclosed. It was a beautiful scarabaeus, and, at
that time, unknown to naturalists--of course a great prize in a
scientific point of view. There were two round black spots near
one extremity of the back, and a long one near the other. The
scales were exceedingly hard and glossy, with all the appearance of
burnished gold. The weight of the insect was very remarkable, and,
taking all things into consideration, I could hardly blame Jupiter
for his opinion respecting it; but what to make of Legrand's
concordance with that opinion, I could not, for the life of me,
tell.
"I sent for you," said he, in a grandiloquent tone, when I had
completed my examination of the beetle, "I sent for you that I
might have your counsel and assistance in furthering the views of
Fate and of the bug--"
"My dear Legrand," I cried, interrupting him, "you are certainly
unwell, and had better use some little precautions. You shall go
to bed, and I will remain with you a few days, until you get over
this. You are feverish and--"
"Feel my pulse," said he.
I felt it, and, to say the truth, found not the slightest
indication of fever.
"But you may be ill and yet have no fever. Allow me this once to
prescribe for you. In the first place go to bed. In the next--"
"You are mistaken," he interposed, "I am as well as I can expect to
be under the excitement which I suffer. If you really wish me
well, you will relieve this excitement."
"And how is this to be done?"
"Very easily. Jupiter and myself are going upon an expedition into
the hills, upon the mainland, and, in this expedition, we shall
need the aid of some person in whom we can confide. You are the
only one we can trust. Whether we succeed or fail, the excitement
which you now perceive in me will be equally allayed."
"I am anxious to oblige you in any way," I replied; "but do you
mean to say that this infernal beetle has any connection with your
expedition into the hills?"
"It has."
"Then, Legrand, I can become a party to no such absurd proceeding."
"I am sorry--very sorry--for we shall have to try it by ourselves."
"Try it by yourselves! The man is surely mad!--but stay!--how long
do you propose to be absent?"
"Probably all night. We shall start immediately, and be back, at
all events, by sunrise."
"And will you promise me, upon your honor, that when this freak of
yours is over, and the bug business (good God!) settled to your
satisfaction, you will then return home and follow my advice
implicitly, as that of your physician?"
"Yes; I promise; and now let us be off, for we have no time to
lose."
With a heavy heart I accompanied my friend. We started about four
o'clock--Legrand, Jupiter, the dog, and myself. Jupiter had with
him the scythe and spades--the whole of which he insisted upon
carrying--more through fear, it seemed to me, of trusting either of
the implements within reach of his master, than from any excess of
industry or complaisance. His demeanor was dogged in the extreme,
and "dat deuced bug" were the sole words which escaped his lips
during the journey. For my own part, I had charge of a couple of
dark lanterns, while Legrand contented himself with the scarabaeus,
which he carried attached to the end of a bit of whipcord; twirling
it to and fro, with the air of a conjurer, as he went. When I
observed this last, plain evidence of my friend's aberration of
mind, I could scarcely refrain from tears. I thought it best,
however, to humor his fancy, at least for the present, or until I
could adopt some more energetic measures with a chance of success.
In the meantime I endeavored, but all in vain, to sound him in
regard to the object of the expedition. Having succeeded in
inducing me to accompany him, he seemed unwilling to hold
conversation upon any topic of minor importance, and to all my
questions vouchsafed no other reply than "we shall see!"
We crossed the creek at the head of the island by means of a skiff,
and, ascending the high grounds on the shore of the mainland,
proceeded in a northwesterly direction, through a tract of country
excessively wild and desolate, where no trace of a human footstep
was to be seen. Legrand led the way with decision; pausing only
for an instant, here and there, to consult what appeared to be
certain landmarks of his own contrivance upon a former occasion.
In this manner we journeyed for about two hours, and the sun was
just setting when we entered a region infinitely more dreary than
any yet seen. It was a species of table-land, near the summit of
an almost inaccessible hill, densely wooded from base to pinnacle,
and interspersed with huge crags that appeared to lie loosely upon
the soil, and in many cases were prevented from precipitating
themselves into the valleys below, merely by the support of the
trees against which they reclined. Deep ravines, in various
directions, gave an air of still sterner solemnity to the scene.
The natural platform to which we had clambered was thickly
overgrown with brambles, through which we soon discovered that it
would have been impossible to force our way but for the scythe; and
Jupiter, by direction of his master, proceeded to clear for us a
path to the foot of an enormously tall tulip tree, which stood,
with some eight or ten oaks, upon the level, and far surpassed them
all, and all other trees which I had then ever seen, in the beauty
of its foliage and form, in the wide spread of its branches, and in
the general majesty of its appearance. When we reached this tree,
Legrand turned to Jupiter, and asked him if he thought he could
climb it. The old man seemed a little staggered by the question,
and for some moments made no reply. At length he approached the
huge trunk, walked slowly around it, and examined it with minute
attention. When he had completed his scrutiny, he merely said:
"Yes, massa, Jup climb any tree he ebber see in he life."
"Then up with you as soon as possible, for it will soon be too dark
to see what we are about."
"How far mus' go up, massa?" inquired Jupiter.
"Get up the main trunk first, and then I will tell you which way to
go--and here--stop! take this beetle with you."
"De bug, Massa Will!--de goole-bug!" cried the negro, drawing back
in dismay--"what for mus' tote de bug way up de tree?--d--n if I
do!"
"If you are afraid, Jup, a great big negro like you, to take hold
of a harmless little dead beetle, why you can carry it up by this
string--but, if you do not take it up with you in some way, I shall
be under the necessity of breaking your head with this shovel."
"What de matter now, massa?" said Jup, evidently shamed into
compliance; "always want for to raise fuss wid old nigger. Was
only funnin anyhow. ME feered de bug! what I keer for de bug?"
Here he took cautiously hold of the extreme end of the string, and,
maintaining the insect as far from his person as circumstances
would permit, prepared to ascend the tree.
In youth, the tulip tree, or Liriodendron tulipiferum, the most
magnificent of American foresters, has a trunk peculiarly smooth,
and often rises to a great height without lateral branches; but, in
its riper age, the bark becomes gnarled and uneven, while many
short limbs make their appearance on the stem. Thus the difficulty
of ascension, in the present case, lay more in semblance than in
reality. Embracing the huge cylinder, as closely as possible, with
his arms and knees, seizing with his hands some projections, and
resting his naked toes upon others, Jupiter, after one or two
narrow escapes from falling, at length wriggled himself into the
first great fork, and seemed to consider the whole business as
virtually accomplished. The RISK of the achievement was, in fact,
now over, although the climber was some sixty or seventy feet from
the ground.
"Which way mus' go now, Massa Will?" he asked.
"Keep up the largest branch--the one on this side," said Legrand.
The negro obeyed him promptly, and apparently with but little
trouble; ascending higher and higher, until no glimpse of his squat
figure could be obtained through the dense foliage which enveloped
it. Presently his voice was heard in a sort of halloo.
"How much fudder is got to go?"
"How high up are you?" asked Legrand.
"Ebber so fur," replied the negro; "can see de sky fru de top oh de
tree."
"Never mind the sky, but attend to what I say. Look down the trunk
and count the limbs below you on this side. How many limbs have
you passed?"
"One, two, tree, four, fibe--I done pass fibe big limb, massa, 'pon
dis side."
"Then go one limb higher."
In a few minutes the voice was heard again, announcing that the
seventh limb was attained.
"Now, Jup," cried Legrand, evidently much excited, "I want you to
work your way out upon that limb as far as you can. If you see
anything strange let me know."
By this time what little doubt I might have entertained of my poor
friend's insanity was put finally at rest. I had no alternative
but to conclude him stricken with lunacy, and I became seriously
anxious about getting him home. While I was pondering upon what
was best to be done, Jupiter's voice was again heard.
"Mos feered for to ventur pon dis limb berry far--'tis dead limb
putty much all de way."
"Did you say it was a DEAD limb, Jupiter?" cried Legrand in a
quavering voice.
"Yes, massa, him dead as de door-nail--done up for sartin--done
departed dis here life."
"What in the name of heaven shall I do?" asked Legrand, seemingly
in the greatest distress.
"Do!" said I, glad of an opportunity to interpose a word, "why come
home and go to bed. Come now!--that's a fine fellow. It's getting
late, and, besides, you remember your promise."
"Jupiter," cried he, without heeding me in the least, "do you hear
me?"
"Yes, Massa Will, hear you ebber so plain."
"Try the wood well, then, with your knife, and see if you think it
VERY rotten."
"Him rotten, massa, sure nuff," replied the negro in a few moments,
"but not so berry rotten as mought be. Mought venture out leetle
way pon de limb by myself, dat's true."
"By yourself!--what do you mean?"
"Why, I mean de bug. 'Tis BERRY hebby bug. Spose I drop him down
fuss, an den de limb won't break wid just de weight of one nigger."
"You infernal scoundrel!" cried Legrand, apparently much relieved,
"what do you mean by telling me such nonsense as that? As sure as
you drop that beetle I'll break your neck. Look here, Jupiter, do
you hear me?"
"Yes, massa, needn't hollo at poor nigger dat style."
"Well! now listen!--if you will venture out on the limb as far as
you think safe, and not let go the beetle, I'll make you a present
of a silver dollar as soon as you get down."
"I'm gwine, Massa Will--deed I is," replied the negro very
promptly--"mos out to the eend now."
"OUT TO THE END!" here fairly screamed Legrand; "do you say you are
out to the end of that limb?"
"Soon be to de eend, massa--o-o-o-o-oh! Lor-gol-a-marcy! what IS
dis here pon de tree?"
"Well!" cried Legrand, highly delighted, "what is it?"
"Why 'taint noffin but a skull--somebody bin lef him head up de
tree, and de crows done gobble ebery bit ob de meat off."
"A skull, you say!--very well,--how is it fastened to the limb?--
what holds it on?"
"Sure nuff, massa; mus look. Why dis berry curious sarcumstance,
pon my word--dare's a great big nail in de skull, what fastens ob
it on to de tree."
"Well now, Jupiter, do exactly as I tell you--do you hear?"
"Yes, massa."
"Pay attention, then--find the left eye of the skull."
"Hum! hoo! dat's good! why dey ain't no eye lef at all."
"Curse your stupidity! do you know your right hand from your left?"
"Yes, I knows dat--knows all about dat--'tis my lef hand what I
chops de wood wid."
"To be sure! you are left-handed; and your left eye is on the same
side as your left hand. Now, I suppose, you can find the left eye
of the skull, or 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 lef hand of de
skull too?--cause de skull aint got not a bit oh 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 it, as far as the string will reach--
but be careful and not let go your hold of the string."
"All dat done, Massa Will; mighty easy ting for to put de bug fru
de hole--look out for him dare below!"
During this colloquy no portion of Jupiter's person could be seen;
but the beetle, which he had suffered to descend, was now visible
at the end of the string, and glistened, like a globe of burnished
gold, in the last rays of the setting sun, some of which still
faintly illumined the eminence upon which we stood. The scarabaeus
hung quite clear of any branches, and, if allowed to fall, would
have fallen at our feet. Legrand immediately took the scythe, and
cleared with it a circular space, three or four yards in diameter,
just beneath the insect, and, having accomplished this, ordered
Jupiter to let go the string and come down from the tree.
Driving a peg, with great nicety, into the ground, at the precise
spot where the beetle fell, my friend now produced from his pocket