The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 3

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 90

of a serpent. They can exist without
food for an almost incredible length of time, instances having been
known where they have been thrown into the hold of a vessel and lain
two years without nourishment of any kind--being as fat, and, in every
respect, in as good order at the expiration of the time as when they
were first put in. In one particular these extraordinary animals bear
a resemblance to the dromedary, or camel of the desert. In a bag at the
root of the neck they carry with them a constant supply of water. In
some instances, upon killing them after a full year’s deprivation of all
nourishment, as much as three gallons of perfectly sweet and fresh water
have been found in their bags. Their food is chiefly wild parsley and
celery, with purslain, sea-kelp, and prickly pears, upon which latter
vegetable they thrive wonderfully, a great quantity of it being usually
found on the hillsides near the shore wherever the animal itself is
discovered. They are excellent and highly nutritious food, and have,
no doubt, been the means of preserving the lives of thousands of seamen
employed in the whale-fishery and other pursuits in the Pacific.

The one which we had the good fortune to bring up from the storeroom was
not of a large size, weighing probably sixty-five or seventy pounds.
It was a female, and in excellent condition, being exceedingly fat, and
having more than a quart of limpid and sweet water in its bag. This
was indeed a treasure; and, falling on our knees with one accord, we
returned fervent thanks to God for so seasonable a relief.

We had great difficulty in getting the animal up through the opening, as
its struggles were fierce and its strength prodigious. It was upon the
point of making its escape from Peter’s grasp, and slipping back into
the water, when Augustus, throwing a rope with a slipknot around its
throat, held it up in this manner until I jumped into the hole by the
side of Peters, and assisted him in lifting it out.

The water we drew carefully from the bag into the jug; which, it will be
remembered, had been brought up before from the cabin. Having done this,
we broke off the neck of a bottle so as to form, with the cork, a kind
of glass, holding not quite half a gill. We then each drank one of these
measures full, and resolved to limit ourselves to this quantity per day
as long as it should hold out.

During the last two or three days,

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Text Comparison with The Raven

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Eagerly I wished the morrow;--vainly I had sought to borrow From my books surcease of sorrow--sorrow for the lost Lenore-- For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-- Nameless here for evermore.
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Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he, But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door-- Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-- Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
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" "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil! By that Heaven that bends above us--by that God we both adore-- Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn, It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-- Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.
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