The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 1

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 70

of a mile. It is
separated from the main land 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, burthening 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 instil this obstinacy
into Jupiter, with a view to the supervision and guardianship of the

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

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