The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 3

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 156

our
possession would admit. The body of the boat was of no better material
than bark--the bark of a tree unknown. The ribs were of a tough osier,
well adapted to the purpose for which it was used. We had fifty feet
room from stem to stern, from four to six in breadth, and in depth
throughout four feet and a half-the boats thus differing vastly in shape
from those of any other inhabitants of the Southern Ocean with whom
civilized nations are acquainted. We never did believe them the
workmanship of the ignorant islanders who owned them; and some days
after this period discovered, by questioning our captive, that they were
in fact made by the natives of a group to the southwest of the country
where we found them, having fallen accidentally into the hands of our
barbarians. What we could do for the security of our boat was very
little indeed. Several wide rents were discovered near both ends, and
these we contrived to patch up with pieces of woollen jacket. With the
help of the superfluous paddles, of which there were a great many, we
erected a kind of framework about the bow, so as to break the force of
any seas which might threaten to fill us in that quarter. We also set
up two paddle-blades for masts, placing them opposite each other, one
by each gunwale, thus saving the necessity of a yard. To these masts we
attached a sail made of our shirts-doing this with some difficulty, as
here we could get no assistance from our prisoner whatever, although he
had been willing enough to labor in all the other operations. The sight
of the linen seemed to affect him in a very singular manner. He could
not be prevailed upon to touch it or go near it, shuddering when we
attempted to force him, and shrieking out, _“Tekeli-li!”_

Having completed our arrangements in regard to the security of the
canoe, we now set sail to the south-southeast for the present, with the
view of weathering the most southerly of the group in sight. This being
done, we turned the bow full to the southward. The weather could by no
means be considered disagreeable. We had a prevailing and very gentle
wind from the northward, a smooth sea, and continual daylight. No ice
whatever was to be seen; _nor did I ever see one particle of this after
leaving the parallel of Bennet’s Islet. _Indeed, the temperature of the
water was here far too warm for its existence in any quantity. Having
killed the largest of our tortoises,

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