The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 1

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 93

me that some accident--say the
loss of a memorandum indicating its locality--had deprived him of the
means of recovering it, and that this accident had become known to his
followers, who otherwise might never have heard that treasure had been
concealed at all, and who, busying themselves in vain, because unguided
attempts, to regain it, had given first birth, and then universal
currency, to the reports which are now so common. Have you ever heard of
any important treasure being unearthed along the coast?"


"But that Kidd's accumulations were immense, is well known. I took it
for granted, therefore, that the earth still held them; and you will
scarcely be surprised when I tell you that I felt a hope, nearly
amounting to certainty, that the parchment so strangely found, involved
a lost record of the place of deposit."

"But how did you proceed?"

"I held the vellum again to the fire, after increasing the heat; but
nothing appeared. I now thought it possible that the coating of dirt
might have something to do with the failure; so I carefully rinsed the
parchment by pouring warm water over it, and, having done this, I
placed it in a tin pan, with the skull downwards, and put the pan upon
a furnace of lighted charcoal. In a few minutes, the pan having become
thoroughly heated, I removed the slip, and, to my inexpressible joy,
found it spotted, in several places, with what appeared to be figures
arranged in lines. Again I placed it in the pan, and suffered it to
remain another minute. Upon taking it off, the whole was just as you see
it now." Here Legrand, having re-heated the parchment, submitted it to
my inspection. The following characters were rudely traced, in a red
tint, between the death's-head and the goat:


"But," said I, returning him the slip, "I am as much in the dark as
ever. Were all the jewels of Golconda awaiting me upon my solution of
this enigma, I am quite sure that I should be unable to earn them."

"And yet," said Legrand, "the solution is by no means so difficult as
you might be lead to imagine from the first hasty inspection of the
characters. These characters, as any one might readily guess, form a
cipher--that is to say, they convey a meaning; but then, from what is
known of Kidd, I could not suppose him capable of constructing any of
the more abstruse cryptographs. I made up my mind, at once, that this
was of a simple species--such, however,

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We pored together over such.
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To meet thee in that hollow vale.
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(*4) In Iceland, 1783.