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The Gold Bug - Chapter 2

The Gold Bug - Chapter 2

 

PARTI

 
It was about a month after this (and during this period I had seen nothing of Legrand) when I received a visit, at Charleston, from Jupiter. I had never seen Jupiter look so low in spirits, and I feared that something serious had happened to my friend.
 
“Well, Jup,” said I, “what is the matter now? How is your master?”
 
“Why, to speak the truth, Sir, he is not as well as he should be.”
 
“Not well! I am truly sorry to hear it. What seems to be the trouble with him?”
 
“There! That’s just it. He says there’s nothing the matter with him. But he’s very sick for all that.”
 
“Very sick? Jupiter, why didn’t you say so at once? Is he in bed?”
 
“No, he isn’t in bed—that’s the trouble. I’m very much wor­ried about poor Master Will.”
 
“Jupiter, I should like to understand what it is you are talk­ing about. You say your master is sick. But hasn’t he told you what’s the matter with him?”
 
“Well, Sir, there’s no use getting mad about it. Master Will says there’s nothing the matter with him, but then what makes him go about looking that way, with his head down and his shoulders up, and with his face so white and pale? And then he keeps on figuring all the time.”
 
“Keeps on what?”
 
“He keeps working at those figures all the time—the strangest figures I ever saw. I’m getting to be really frightened, I tell you. I have to keep a very close watch on him every minute. The other day he gave me the slip before the sun was up and he wds gone all day long. I had a big stick ready with which to give him a good beating when he did get back—but I’m such a fool that I didn’t have the heart to do it after all—he looked so very poorly.”
 
“Eh? What? Ah yes! Upon the whole, I think you had better not be too hard on the poor fellow. Don’t beat him, Jupiter, he can’t very well stand it. But can you form no idea of what has made him sick or caused this sudden change in him? Has any­thing unpleasant happened since I last saw him?”
 
“No, Master, there hasn’t been anything unpleasant since then. It was before then, I’m afraid—it was the very day you were there.”
 
“How! What do you mean?”
 
“Why, Sir, I mean the bug—that’s just it.”
 
“The what?”
 
“The bug! I’m very certain that Master Will has been bitten somewhere about the head by that gold bug.”
 
“And what cause have you, Jupiter, to suppose this?”
 
“Cause enough, Master,—cause enough. I never saw such a bug in all my life. He kicks and he bites everything that comes n îar him. Master Will caught him first, but had to let him go ve y quickly, I tell you. That was the time the bug must have bittîn him. I didn’t like the look of that bug’s mouth, myself, so I wouldn’t take hold of him with my finger, but I caught him with a piece of paper which I found. I wrapped him up in the paper and pushed a piece of it into his mouth—that was the way I did it.”
 
“And you think, then, that your master was really bitten by the bug, and the bite made him sick?”
 
“I don’t think anything about it. I know it. What makes him dream about gold so much if it isn’t because he was bitten by that gold bug? I’ve heard about them gold bugs before this.”
 
 “But how do you know he dreams about gold?”
 
“How do I know? Why, because he talks about it in his sleep—that’s how I know.”
 
“Well, Jup, perhaps you are right. But what fortunate train of circumstances has brought you to pay me a visit today?” 
 
“What’s that you say, Master? What’s the matter now?” 
 
“Did you bring me any message from Mr. Legrand?” I con­tinued.
 
“Oh, yes! I almost forgot,” said Jupiter. Here he handed me a note which ran as follows:
 
“My dear
 
“Why have I not seen you for so long a time? I hope you have not been so foolish as to have become angry at the way I acted on your last visit here; but no, that is not probable.
 
“Since I saw you, I have had great cause for worry. I have something to tell you, yet I hardly know how to tell it, or whether I should tell it at all.
 
“I have not been quite well for some days past, and poor old Jupiter, though he means well, bothers me almost to death. Would you believe it? He had prepared a large stick the other day, with which to beat me for giving him the slip, and spending the day alone among the hills on the main­land. I really believe the fact that I looked so tired and so weak when I got back kept him from really beating me.
 
“I have made no addition to my collection since you left.
 
“If you can possibly make it in any way, come over with Jupiter. Do come. I wish to see you tonight about some business of importance. I promise you that it is of the highest importance.
 
                            Ever yours,
                                    William Legrand”
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. When did the author receive a visit from Jupiter?
2. Why was Jupiter worried about Legrand?
3. What did Jupiter say that Legrand was doing?
4. Why had Jupiter been ready to beat him one day?
5. What did Jupiter think had made Legrand sick?
6. What had happened when the bug was caught?
7. What did Jupiter say that Legrand was dreaming about?
8. What did Jupiter almost forget to give the author?
9. What did Legrand’s note say?
 
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
 
kick
have nothing the matter with
message
keep a watch on
note
made him sick
hill
gave me the slip
main
keep someone from doing something
get mad
keep on
 
PART II
 
There was something about this note that made me feel very uneasy. Its whole style was different from that used by Legrand. What could he be dreaming about? What new idea had taken hold of his mind and his imagination? What 
 
“busi­ness of the highest importance” could he be talking about? What Jupiter had told me did not make this business sound very promising. I began to fear that the bad fortune which had followed Legrand in recent years had at last caused him to lose his reason. Without even thinking the matter over, therefore,
 
I prepared to go along with Jupiter.
 
Upon reaching the shore of the mainland, I saw an axe and three shovels, all apparently new, lying in the bottom of the boat which we were to use.
 
“What is the meaning of all this, Jup?” I asked.
 
“That’s an axe, Master, and those are shovels.”
 
“Very true, but what are they doing here?”
 
“That’s the axe and those are the shovels that Master Will insisted upon my buying in the town for him, and a great deal of money I had to pay for them too.”
 
“But what, in the name of heaven, is your master going to do with an axe and three shovels?”
 
“That’s more than I know—and the devil can take me if I don’t believe it’s more than Master Will knows either. But it has all come from the bug.”
 
Finding that it was impossible to learn the real truth from Jupiter, whose whole mind was taken up with the idea of 
“the bug,” I now stepped into the boat, and we made sail. With a fair and strong wind we soon arrived at the shore of the island, east of Fort Moultrie, and a walk of some two miles brought us to Legrand’s little house. It was about three in the afternoon when we got there. Legrand had been waiting for us, appar­ently with the greatest of interest. He took hold of my hand and shook it in so nervous a manner that I was really a little frightened. I began to suspect that I was correct in supposing that his mind was perhaps not just right. His face was pale as death, and his deep-set eyes seemed even darker than usual. After some questions as to how he had been feeling, I asked him, not knowing what better to say, if he had gotten the bug
back from Lieutenant G. . . . .
 
“Oh, yes,” he said, his face growing suddenly red. “I got it from him the next morning. Nothing would ever make me part with the bug again. Do you know that Jupiter is quite right about it?”
 
“In what way?” I asked, with rather a sad feeling at heart. 
 
“In supposing it to be a bug of real gold.” He said this in a most serious manner, with the result that I felt even less happy about the whole situation.
 
“This bug is to make my fortune,” he continued, “to give me back everything which was lost by me and my family. Is it any wonder, then, that I think so highly of it? Fortune has been kind enough to lead me to the bug. I simply have to use it cor­rectly and I shall arrive at the gold of which it is, for me, a clear sign. Jupiter, bring me the bug.”
 
“What? The bug, Master? I’d rather not trouble that bug, Sir. You better get him yourself.” Here Legrand rose, with a serious air, and brought me the bug from a glass case where he kept it. It was, in truth, a beautiful bug, and very unusual. I saw at once that nothing similar to it had ever been found before, or was known to man. There were two round black spots near one end of the back and a long one near the other. The color was that of a rich dark gold. The bug was particu­larly heavy for its size, and, all things considered, I could well understand Jupiter’s opinion of it, but the fact that Legrand, too, now had the same opinion confused me greatly.
 
“I sent for you,” said Legrand, when I had finished exam­ining the bug, “so that I might have your advice and help in carrying out the purposes of fortune and of the bug. .. .”
 
“My dear Legrand,” I cried out suddenly, stopping him. “You are certainly not well and had better be very careful. You shall go to bed, and I shall remain here with you a few days until you get over this. You have a fever and . ..”
 
“You may examine me,” he said, “and you will find that I am perfectly all right.”
 
I feh his cheek and forehead, and it was true that there was no sign at all of any fever.
 
“But you may still be sick and yet have no fever,” I said. “Let me, this once, decide what is best for you. In the first place, go to bed. In the second ...”
 
“You are mistaken,” he broke in. “I am as well as I can expect to be under the excitement which I feel. If you really wish me well, you can help me to escape from this excitement.” 
 
“And how is this to be done?”
 
“Very easily. Jupiter and I are going on a trip up into the hills, upon the mainland, and upon this trip we shall need the help of a person whom we can trust. We feel that you are the best person we know to go with us. Whether we succeed or
 
not, at least this excitement which I now feel will have been satisfied.”
 
“I am ready to help you in every way I can,” I said. “But do you mean to say that this foolish bug has any connection with your trip into the hills?”
 
“It has.”
 
“Then, Legrand, I don’t think I want to become a party to such a foolish plan.”
 
“I am sorry, very sorry, for we shall have to try it by our­selves.”
 
“Try it by yourselves? You are surely crazy; but wait—how long do you plan to be gone?”
 
“Probably all night. We shall start immediately and be back, no doubt, the first thing in the morning.”
 
“And will you promise me that when this mad bug business of yours is all over and you are satisfied as to the result, you will then return home and follow my advice exactly, as that of your doctor?”
 
“Yes, I promise, and now let us be off, for we have no time to lose.”
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. Why did Legrand’s note make the author uneasy?
2. What did he see in the bottom of the boat?
3. What did Jupiter say about the axe and the shovels?
4. How did they get to Legrand’s house?
5. Why was the author a little frightened when he saw Legrand?
6. What did Legrand say about the bug?
7. What did he expect the bug to do for him?
8. Describe the bug.
9. What did the author want Legrand to do?
10. How did Legrand say that the author could help him?
11. How long did Legrand expect his trip to the hills would take?
12. What did Legrand promise the author?
 
B.What is the difference between advise and advice? Use each word in sentences of your own.
 
C.Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
                                         
quite                                      different from 
immediately                        talk about
axe                                         insist upon 
shovel                                    a great deal of