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The Gold Bug - Chapter 5

The Gold Bug - Chapter 5

 
PARTI
 
The chest had been full to the top, and we passed the whole day and the greater part of the next night in looking over every­thing that was in it. There was no appearance of plan or order in what had been put into the box. Everything had apparently been thrown into it without care or in a great hurry. Having separated the various articles according to their kind, we found ourselves with even a greater fortune than we had at first sup­posed. In gold alone, there was more than four hundred and fifty thousand dollars—judging the value, as nearly as we could, by the tables of the period. All were gold pieces of a distant period of time and of various kinds—French, Spanish, and German money, with a few English pieces of a style we had never seen before. There were also several very large and heavy pieces, so worn that we could make nothing of the writing upon them. There was no American money.
 
In addition to all of this, there was a large amount of jewels and valuable stones of every kind and form. Of diamonds alone, we counted a hundred and ten. Some of these were unusually large and clear—there was not a small stone among them. There were also stones of other colors, rich reds and blues, many of these having a value just as great as that of the diamonds.
 
Finally, there were other things, too various to mention—but all of great value. These included: several hundred finger rings
 
and earrings; rich chains—thirty of these, if I remember cor­rectly; two sword handles of gold, beautifully worked and set with rich jewels; also a hundred and ninety seven gold watches, three of this number having a value of more than five hundred dollars each. Many of these watches were very old and no longer kept time—but all were richly jeweled and in cases of great value. We considered, that night, that the value of every­thing which the chest held must be around a million and a half dollars; and upon selling the jewels and other articles later (a few being kept for our own use) it was found that our fortune was worth even more than we had at first supposed.
 
When, at last, we had finished examining everything and our excitement had, in some measure, disappeared, Legrand, who saw that I was most curious to know how he had arrived at the answer to this strange mystery, finally entered into a full de­scription of all the circumstances connected with it.
 
“You remember,” said he, “the night when I handed you the rough drawing I had made of the gold bug. You also re­member that I became a little angry with you for insisting that the drawing looked to you like a death’s-head. 
When you first mentioned this, I thought you were fooling. But later I called to mind the strange spots on the back of the bug and had to agree that perhaps you were right. Still, the way you seemed to make fun of my drawing annoyed me a little—because I am really quite a good artist. Therefore, when you handed me the piece of parchment I was about to tear it up and throw it angrily into the fire.”
 
“The piece of paper, you mean,” said I.
 
“No, it had much of the appearance of paper, and at first I supposed it to be such; but when I came to draw upon it I found it to be a piece of very thin parchment. Tt was quite dirty, you remember. Well, just as I was on the point of throwing it into the fire I happened to take note of the drawing at which you had been looking.
 
“You can easily imagine my surprise when I saw, in fact, the figure of a death’s-head just where it seemed to me I had made the drawing of the bug. For a moment I was too much surprised to think clearly. I knew that my drawing was very different in every particular from this—although it was some-
 
what similar in general form. Soon I took a lamp from the table, and sitting down at the other end of the room, began to exam­ine the parchment more closely. Upon turning it over, I saw my own drawing on the other side, just as I had made it.
 
“My first impression was one of simple surprise at the strange fact that, unknown to me, there should have been a skull on the other side of the parchment and that this skull should be similar to the drawing I had made, not only in form but also in size. I say that for a while my surprise was so great that I could not think or speak. This is the usual result of such a circum­stance.
 
“The mind struggles to establish a connection—and, being unable to do so, seems to stop working completely for the mo­ment. But when I got over this feeling, there came to me a certain thought which now surprised me even more than the circumstance itself. I began to remember very clearly that there had been no death’s-head upon the parchment when I started to make my drawing. I became perfectly certain of this; for I remembered- turning over one side and then the other, looking for the cleanest spot. If the skull had been there, of course I would have taken note of it.
 
“Here was clearly a mystery which I felt it impossible to explain. Yet even at this early moment there began to form within my mind the first impression of an idea which, in the end, brought about the happenings of last night. I got up at once, and placing the parchment in the table drawer, put aside all further thoughts of it until I should be alone.
 
“When you had gone and when Jupiter was fast asleep, I began to look into the matter more seriously. I also tried to establish some method in my manner of thinking upon the subject. In the first place, I considered the way in which the parchment had fallen into my hands. The spot where we found the gold bug was on the shore of the mainland, about a mile to the east of the island and but a short distance above the high water mark, to which the sea reaches as it rolls in.
 
“Upon my taking hold of the bug, it gave me a sharp bite, which caused me to let it drop. Jupiter, as is his custom, showed more care in the matter. Before picking up the bug, which had flown toward him, he first looked around him for a leaf or
 
something of that kind, by which to take hold of it. It was at this moment that his eyes, and mine also, fell upon the piece of parchment, which I then supposed to be paper. It was lying half buried in the sand, a corner sticking up. Near the spot where we found it, I also noticed part of what at one time must have been a ship’s boat. What seemed to be the bow of the boat stuck up out of the sand. The boat must have lain there for many years, for the wood had been eaten away by the sea, and it was difficult to recognize it as having formed, at one time, part of a boat.”
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A.1. How had things been put into the box?
2. How much did they judge the value of the gold to be?
3. Where did the gold pieces come from?
4. What else was in the chest in addition to the gold?
5. What did they think the value of everything in the box would be?
6. Did they get more or less than they expected when they sold the things in the chest?
7. About what was the author curious?
8. On what had Legrand made his drawing of the bug?
9. What did Legrand see when he looked carefully at the drawing? Where was his own drawing?
10. What did Legrand begin to remember very clearly?
11. Where had Legrand found the gold bug?
12. Why did Jupiter pick up the piece of parchment?
13. What else was there at the place where they picked up the parchment?
 
B.Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your
own:
 
count number worth notice look over in addition to keep time
 
on the point of get over take note of put aside fast asleep take hold of stick up
 
PART II
 
“Well, Jupiter picked up the parchment, wrapped the bug in it, and gave it to me. Soon after this we turned to go home, and
on the way met Lieutenant G I showed him the bug,
and he asked me to let him take it to the fort. When I agreed, he put it at once into his pocket, without the parchment in which it had been wrapped and which I continued to hold in my hand while he looked at the bug. Perhaps he was afraid I might change my mind about letting him have the bug and thought it best to make sure of the prize at once. You know that he is an expert in things of this kind, being rather well known in the field of natural history. At the same time, without think­ing about it, I must have put the parchment back in my own pocket.
 
“You remember that when I went to the table for the purpose of making a drawing of the bug, I found no paper where it is usually kept. I looked in the drawer and found none there. I looked in my pockets, hoping to find an old letter, when my hand fell upon the parchment. I have described for you the exact way in which I got this parchment because the circum­stances, though the result of chance, all happened quite natur­ally. This fact impressed me with great force.
 
“No doubt you will think me foolish—but I had already es­tablished a kind of connection. I had put together two parts of a great chain. There was a boat lying along the shore of the sea, and not far from this boat was a parchment—nof a paper—with a skull drawn upon it. You will, of course, ask, ‘Where is the connection?’ I answer that the skull or death’s-head is a well- known sign of the pirate. The flag on all pirate ships always bore this sign.
 
“I have said that the material was parchment—not paper. Parchment is strong, and lasts for many years, although for ordinary purposes of drawing or writing it is not nearly as good as paper. This reflection suggested some meaning, some con­nection, with the death’s-head. I also took careful note of the form of the parchment. Although one of its corners had been, by accident, torn, it could be seen that the original form was that used in most documents. It was just such a piece of parch-
 
ment, therefore, as might have been chosen for a record of something to be long remembered and carefully kept.”
“But,” I interrupted, “you say that the skull was not upon the parchment when you made the drawing. How, then, do you find any connection between the boat and the skull since the skull, according to what you have said, must have been put on the parchment (God only knows how or by whom) sometime after you made your drawing of the bug?”
 
“Ah, upon this point turns the whole mystery, although the secret, by now, was not difficult for me to arrive at. My steps were sure, and could lead only to the one result. I reasoned, for example, as follows: When I drew the bug, theie was no skull apparent upon the parchment. When I completed the drawing, I gave it to you and watched you closely until you returned it to me. You, therefore, did not draw the skull and no one else was present to do it. Then it was not done by human hands. And yet it was done-.
 
“At this point in my reflections I tried to remember clearly everything which happened at the period in question. The weather that day was cold (oh, what a happy accident) and a fire was burning in the fireplace. I had been walking and felt warm, so I sat near the table rather than alongside the fire. You, however, had drawn a chair close to the chimney. Just a, I placed the parchment in your hand and you were in the act of examining it, Wolf, my Newfoundland dog, entered and jumped upon your shoulders. With your left hand you stroked his head and kept him off, while your right hand, holding the parchment, was permitted to fall between your knees and close to the fire. At one moment I thought the flames had caught the parchment, and I was about to warn you, but before I could speak, you drew back your hand and went on examining the drawing. When I considered all these particulars I doubted not for a moment that it had been the heat of the fire that had brought to light, upon the parchment, the skull which I saw drawn upon it.
 
“You surely know that certain special inks exist and have existed for some time by which it is possible to write upon paper or parchment so that the characters become clear only when subjected to the action of strong heat. There are various
 
chemicals, of different colors, which can be used for this pur­pose. These colors disappear at longer or shorter periods of time after the material on which they are used gets cold. Then they become clear again when brought close to heat.
 
“I now examined the death’s-head with great care. Certain parts of it—those near the outer edge of the parchment—were more clear than others. It seemed apparent that the action of the heat had not been the same everywhere. I immediately started a fire and subjected every part of the parchment to strong heat. At first, the only result which I noticed was that some of the lines of the death’s-head became somewhat clearer; but as I continued to hold the parchment near the fire there slowly appeared in one comer, exactly opposite to the spot in which the death’s-head was drawn, the figure of what I first supposed to be a goat. A closer look, however, satisfied me that it was rather small for a goat and was really meant to be a kid.”
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. How was it that Legrand returned home with the parch­ment but without the bug?
2. How did he happen to make his drawing on the parchment?
3. What connection did Legrand make from the heat and the parchment?
4. How is parchment different from paper?
5. For what did Legrand think the parchment had been used?
6. What kind of day had it been when Legrand showed the drawing to the author?
7. Where was the author sitting?
8. Why did the parchment come close to the fire?
9. What did Legrand then believe had brought out the drawing on the parchment?
10. What do certain special inks make it possible to do?
11. What happened when Legrand held the parchment to the
fire?
 
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your
own:        
              
expert                            wrap up
heat                               change my mind 
outer                              take note of 
edge                               by accident