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 25

note of my friend, if indeed it were a note
from him, seemed only likely to throw me into further trouble, by
disquieting to no purpose my already enfeebled and agitated mind. In
vain I revolved in my brain a multitude of absurd expedients for
procuring light--such expedients precisely as a man in the perturbed
sleep occasioned by opium would be apt to fall upon for a similar
purpose--each and all of which appear by turns to the dreamer the most
reasonable and the most preposterous of conceptions, just as the
reasoning or imaginative faculties flicker, alternately, one above the
other. At last an idea occurred to me which seemed rational, and which
gave me cause to wonder, very justly, that I had not entertained it
before. I placed the slip of paper on the back of a book, and,
collecting the fragments of the phosphorus matches which I had brought
from the barrel, laid them together upon the paper. I then, with the
palm of my hand, rubbed the whole over quickly yet steadily. A clear
light diffused itself immediately throughout the whole surface; and had
there been any writing upon it, I should not have experienced the least
difficulty, I am sure, in reading it. Not a syllable was there,
however--nothing but a dreary and unsatisfactory blank; the
illumination died away in a few seconds, and my heart died away within
me as it went.

I have before stated more than once that my intellect, for some period
prior to this, had been in a condition nearly bordering on idiocy.
There were, to be sure, momentary intervals of perfect sanity, and, now
and then, even of energy; but these were few. It must be remembered
that I had been, for many days certainly, inhaling the almost
pestilential atmosphere of a close hold in a whaling vessel, and a long
portion of that time but scantily supplied with water. For the last
fourteen or fifteen hours I had none--nor had I slept during that time.
Salt provisions of the most exciting kind had been my chief, and,
indeed, since the loss of the mutton, my only supply of food, with the
exception of the sea-biscuit; and these latter were utterly useless to
me, as they were too dry and hard to be swallowed in the swollen and
parched condition of my throat. I was now in a high state of fever, and
in every respect exceedingly ill. This will account for the fact that
many miserable hours of despondency elapsed after my last adventure
with the phosphorus, before the thought suggested itself that I had
examined

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