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 140

marks left in the soil resembling
those made by the drill of the rock-blaster, that stakes similar to
those we saw standing had been inserted, at not more than a yard apart,
for the length of perhaps three hundred feet, and ranging at about ten
feet back from the edge of the gulf. Strong cords of grape vine were
attached to the stakes still remaining on the hill, and it was evident
that such cords had also been attached to each of the other stakes. I
have already spoken of the singular stratification of these soapstone
hills; and the description just given of the narrow and deep fissure
through which we effected our escape from inhumation will afford a
further conception of its nature. This was such that almost every
natural convulsion would be sure to split the soil into perpendicular
layers or ridges running parallel with one another; and a very moderate
exertion of art would be sufficient for effecting the same purpose. Of
this stratification the savages had availed themselves to accomplish
their treacherous ends. There can be no doubt that, by the continuous
line of stakes, a partial rupture of the soil had been brought about,
probably to the depth of one or two feet, when, by means of a savage
pulling at the end of each of the cords (these cords being attached to
the tops of the stakes, and extending back from the edge of the cliff),
a vast leverage power was obtained, capable of hurling the whole face
of the hill, upon a given signal, into the bosom of the abyss below.
The fate of our poor companions was no longer a matter of uncertainty.
We alone had escaped from the tempest of that overwhelming destruction.
We were the only living white men upon the island.


Our situation, as it now appeared, was scarcely less dreadful than when
we had conceived ourselves entombed for ever. We saw before us no
prospect but that of being put to death by the savages, or of dragging
out a miserable existence in captivity among them. We might, to be
sure, conceal ourselves for a time from their observation among the
fastnesses of the hills, and, as a final resort, in the chasm from
which we had just issued; but we must either perish in the long Polar
winter through cold and famine, or be ultimately discovered in our
efforts to obtain relief.

The whole country around us seemed to be swarming with savages, crowds
of whom, we now perceived, had come over from the islands to the
southward on flat rafts, doubtless

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