The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket Comprising the details of a mutiny and atrocious butchery on board the American brig Grampus, on her way to the South Seas, in the month of June, 1827.

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 133

inches in length; and I have seen a few that were not less
than two feet long. They are nearly round, a little flattish on one
side, which lies next the bottom of the sea; and they are from one to
eight inches thick. They crawl up into shallow water at particular
seasons of the year, probably for the purpose of gendering, as we often
find them in pairs. It is when the sun has the most power on the water,
rendering it tepid, that they approach the shore; and they often go up
into places so shallow, that, on the tide's receding, they are left
dry, exposed to the heat of the sun. But they do not bring forth their
young in shallow water, as we never see any of their progeny, and the
full-grown ones are always observed coming in from deep water. They
feed principally on that class of zoophytes which produce the coral.

"The _biche de mer_ is generally taken in three or four feet water;
after which they are brought on shore, and split at one end with a
knife, the incision being one inch or more, according to the size of
the mollusca. Through this opening the entrails are forced out by
pressure, and they are much like those of any other small tenant of the
deep. The article is then washed, and afterward boiled to a certain
degree, which must not be too much or too little. They are then buried
in the ground for four hours, then boiled again for a short time, after
which they are dried, either by the fire or the sun. Those cured by the
sun are worth the most; but where one picul (133-1/3 lbs.) can be cured
that way, I can cure thirty piculs by the fire. When once properly
cured, they can be kept in a dry place for two or three years without
any risk; but they should be examined once in every few months, say
four times a year, to see if any dampness is likely to affect them.

"The Chinese, as before stated, consider _biche de mer_ a very great
luxury, believing that it wonderfully strengthens and nourishes the
system, and renews the exhausted system of the immoderate voluptuary.
The first quality commands a high price in Canton, being worth ninety
dollars a picul; the second quality seventy-five dollars; the third
fifty dollars; the fourth thirty dollars; the fifth twenty dollars; the
sixth twelve dollars; the seventh eight dollars; and the eighth four
dollars; small cargoes, however, will often bring more in Manilla,
Singapore, and Batavia."

An

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