The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 3

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 37

of the cabin companion-way. Dirk Peters treated him
with some degree of kindness, and on one occasion saved him from
the brutality of the cook. His situation was still one of the most
precarious, as the men were continually intoxicated, and there was no
relying upon their continued good-humor or carelessness in regard to
himself. His anxiety on my account he represented, however, as the most
distressing result of his condition; and, indeed, I had never reason to
doubt the sincerity of his friendship. More than once he had resolved
to acquaint the mutineers with the secret of my being on board, but was
restrained from so doing, partly through recollection of the atrocities
he had already beheld, and partly through a hope of being able soon to
bring me relief. For the latter purpose he was constantly on the watch;
but, in spite of the most constant vigilance, three days elapsed after
the boat was cut adrift before any chance occurred. At length, on the
night of the third day, there came on a heavy blow from the eastward,
and all hands were called up to take in sail. During the confusion which
ensued, he made his way below unobserved, and into the stateroom.
What was his grief and horror in discovering that the latter had
been rendered a place of deposit for a variety of sea-stores and
ship-furniture, and that several fathoms of old chain-cable, which had
been stowed away beneath the companion-ladder, had been dragged thence
to make room for a chest, and were now lying immediately upon the trap!
To remove it without discovery was impossible, and he returned on
deck as quickly as he could. As he came up, the mate seized him by the
throat, and demanding what he had been doing in the cabin, was about
flinging him over the larboard bulwark, when his life was again
preserved through the interference of Dirk Peters. Augustus was now put
in handcuffs (of which there were several pairs on board), and his feet
lashed tightly together. He was then taken into the steerage, and thrown
into a lower berth next to the forecastle bulkheads, with the assurance
that he should never put his foot on deck again “until the brig was no
longer a brig.” This was the expression of the cook, who threw him into
the berth--it is hardly possible to say what precise meaning intended by
the phrase. The whole affair, however, proved the ultimate means of my
relief, as will presently appear.


FOR some minutes after the cook had left the forecastle, Augustus
abandoned himself to despair,

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