The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 3

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 6

I come to this resolution, when, suddenly, a loud and long
scream or yell, as if from the throats of a thousand demons, seemed to
pervade the whole atmosphere around and above the boat. Never while I
live shall I forget the intense agony of terror I experienced at that
moment. My hair stood erect on my head--I felt the blood congealing
in my veins--my heart ceased utterly to beat, and without having once
raised my eyes to learn the source of my alarm, I tumbled headlong and
insensible upon the body of my fallen companion.

I found myself, upon reviving, in the cabin of a large whaling-ship (the
Penguin) bound to Nantucket. Several persons were standing over me, and
Augustus, paler than death, was busily occupied in chafing my hands.
Upon seeing me open my eyes, his exclamations of gratitude and joy
excited alternate laughter and tears from the rough-looking personages
who were present. The mystery of our being in existence was now
soon explained. We had been run down by the whaling-ship, which was
close-hauled, beating up to Nantucket with every sail she could venture
to set, and consequently running almost at right angles to our own
course. Several men were on the look-out forward, but did not perceive
our boat until it was an impossibility to avoid coming in contact--their
shouts of warning upon seeing us were what so terribly alarmed me. The
huge ship, I was told, rode immediately over us with as much ease as
our own little vessel would have passed over a feather, and without the
least perceptible impediment to her progress. Not a scream arose from
the deck of the victim--there was a slight grating sound to be heard
mingling with the roar of wind and water, as the frail bark which was
swallowed up rubbed for a moment along the keel of her destroyer--but
this was all. Thinking our boat (which it will be remembered was
dismasted) some mere shell cut adrift as useless, the captain (Captain
E. T. V. Block, of New London) was for proceeding on his course without
troubling himself further about the matter. Luckily, there were two
of the look-out who swore positively to having seen some person at our
helm, and represented the possibility of yet saving him. A discussion
ensued, when Block grew angry, and, after a while, said that “it was no
business of his to be eternally watching for egg-shells; that the ship
should not put about for any such nonsense; and if there was a man run
down, it was nobody’s fault but his own, he might

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