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 35

connected in some
manner with the Indian trading-posts on Lewis river. Peters himself was
one of the most purely ferocious-looking men I ever beheld. He was
short in stature--not more than four feet eight inches high--but his
limbs were of the most Herculean mould. His hands, especially, were so
enormously thick and broad as hardly to retain a human shape. His arms,
as well as legs, were _bowed_ in the most singular manner, and appeared
to possess no flexibility whatever. His head was equally deformed,
being of immense size, with an indentation on the crown (like that on
the head of most negroes), and entirely bald. To conceal this latter
deficiency, which did not proceed from old age, he usually wore a wig
formed of any hair-like material which presented itself--occasionally
the skin of a Spanish dog or American grizzly bear. At the time spoken
of he had on a portion of one of these bearskins; and it added no
little to the natural ferocity of his countenance, which betook of the
Upsaroka character. The mouth extended nearly from ear to ear; the lips
were thin, and seemed, like some other portions of his frame, to be
devoid of natural pliancy, so that the ruling expression never varied
under the influence of any emotion whatever. This ruling expression may
be conceived when it is considered that the teeth were exceedingly long
and protruding, and never even partially covered, in any instance, by
the lips. To pass this man with a casual glance, one might imagine him
to be convulsed with laughter--but a second look would induce a
shuddering acknowledgment, that if such an expression were indicative
of merriment, the merriment must be that of a demon. Of this singular
being many anecdotes were prevalent among the seafaring men of
Nantucket. These anecdotes went to prove his prodigious strength when
under excitement, and some of them had given rise to a doubt of his
sanity. But on board the Grampus, it seems, he was regarded at the time
of the mutiny with feelings more of derision than of anything else. I
have been thus particular in speaking of Dirk Peters, because,
ferocious as he appeared, he proved the main instrument in preserving
the life of Augustus, and because I shall have frequent occasion to
mention him hereafter in the course of my narrative--a narrative, let
me here say, which, in its latter portions, will be found to include
incidents of a nature so entirely out of the range of human experience,
and for this reason so far beyond the limits of human credulity, that I
proceed in utter

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