The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 3

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 97

knew to be
in my vicinity. In order to deter these, if possible, from approaching
me, I splashed the water vigorously with both hands and feet as I swam
towards the hulk, creating a body of foam. I have no doubt that to this
expedient, simple as it was, I was indebted for my preservation; for
the sea all round the brig, just before her rolling over, was so crowded
with these monsters, that I must have been, and really was, in actual
contact with some of them during my progress. By great good fortune,
however, I reached the side of the vessel in safety, although so utterly
weakened by the violent exertion I had used that I should never have
been able to get upon it but for the timely assistance of Peters, who,
now, to my great joy, made his appearance (having scrambled up to the
keel from the opposite side of the hull), and threw me the end of a
rope--one of those which had been attached to the spikes.

Having barely escaped this danger, our attention was now directed to the
dreadful imminency of another--that of absolute starvation. Our whole
stock of provision had been swept overboard in spite of all our care in
securing it; and seeing no longer the remotest possibility of obtaining
more, we gave way both of us to despair, weeping aloud like children,
and neither of us attempting to offer consolation to the other. Such
weakness can scarcely be conceived, and to those who have never been
similarly situated will, no doubt, appear unnatural; but it must be
remembered that our intellects were so entirely disordered by the long
course of privation and terror to which we had been subjected, that we
could not justly be considered, at that period, in the light of rational
beings. In subsequent perils, nearly as great, if not greater, I bore
up with fortitude against all the evils of my situation, and Peters, it
will be seen, evinced a stoical philosophy nearly as incredible as his
present childlike supineness and imbecility--the mental condition made
the difference.

The overturning of the brig, even with the consequent loss of the
wine and turtle, would not, in fact, have rendered our situation more
deplorable than before, except for the disappearance of the bedclothes
by which we had been hitherto enabled to catch rainwater, and of the jug
in which we had kept it when caught; for we found the whole bottom, from
within two or three feet of the bends as far as the keel, together with
the keel itself, thickly covered with large

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The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe The "Red Death" had long devastated the country.
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