Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Gold Bug Reexamination of the drawing the Death's Head

Jupiter states that his master was bitten by the gold beetle which occasioned his "eccentric illness" and he visited the narrator for a purpose ,the import of which will shortly become known.

He dreamed of gold (Le Grand) after being bitten the very night of the narrator's visit.

"Well, well," I said, "perhaps you have — still I don't see them;" and I handed
him the paper without additional remark, not wishing to ruffle his temper; but I
was much surprised at the turn affairs had taken; his ill humor puzzled me —
and, as for the drawing of the beetle, there were positively no antennæ visible,
and the whole did bear a very close resemblance to the ordinary cuts of a
He received the paper very peevishly, and was
about to crumple it, apparently to throw it in the fire, when a casual glance at
the design seemed suddenly to rivet his attention. In an instant his face grew
violently red — in another as excessively pale. For some minutes he continued to
scrutinize the drawing minutely where he sat. At length he arose, took a candle
from the table, and proceeded to seat himself upon a sea-chest in the farthest
corner of the room. Here again he made an anxious examination of the paper;
turning it in all directions. He said nothing, however, and his conduct greatly
astonished me; yet I thought it prudent not to exacerbate the growing moodiness
of his temper by any comment. Presently he took from his coat-pocket a wallet,
placed the paper carefully in it, and deposited both in a writing-desk, which he
locked. He now grew more composed in his demeanor; but his original air of
enthusiasm had quite disappeared. Yet he seemed not so much sulky as abstracted.
As the evening wore away he became more and more absorbed in reverie, from which
no sallies of mine could arouse him.
It had been my intention to pass the night
at the hut, as I had frequently done before, but, seeing my host in this mood, I
deemed it proper to take leave. He did not press me to remain, but, as I
departed, he shook my hand with even more than his usual cordiality.
It was about a month after this (and during the interval I
had seen nothing of Legrand) when I received a visit, at Charleston, from his
man, Jupiter
. I had never seen the good old negro look so dispirited, and I
feared that some serious disaster had befallen my friend.
"Well, Jup," said I, "what is the matter now? — how is your master?"
"Why, to speak de troof, massa, him not so berry well as
mought be." "Not well! I am truly sorry to hear it. What does
he complain of?" "Dar! dat's it! — him neber plain ob notin —
but him berry sick for all dat." "Very sick, Jupiter! — why
didn't you say so at once? Is he confined to bed?" "No, dat
he aint! — he aint find nowhar — dat's just whar de shoe pinch — my mind is got
to be berry hebby bout poor Massa Will." "Jupiter, I should
like to understand what it is you are talking about. You say your master is
sick. Hasn't he told you what ails him?" "Why, massa, taint
worf while for to git mad about de matter — Massa Will say noffin at all aint de
matter wid him — but den what make him go bout looking dis here way, wid he head
down and he soldiers up, and as white as a gose? And den he keep a syphon all de
time" — "Keeps a what, Jupiter?" "Keeps a
syphon wid de figgurs on de slate — de queerest figures I ebber did see. Ise
gittin to be skeered, I tell you. Hab for to keep mighty tight eye pon him
noovers. Todder day he gib me slip fore de sun up and was gone de whole ob de
blessed day. I had a big stick ready cut for to gib him d—n good beatin when he
did come — but Ise sich a fool dat I had n't de heart arter all — he look so
berry poorly." "Eh? — what? — ah yes! — upon the whole I
think you had better not be too severe with the poor fellow — do n't flog him,
Jupiter — he can't very well stand it — but can you form no idea of what has
occasioned this illness, or rather this change of conduct? Has any thing
unpleasant happened since I saw you?" "No, massa, dey aint
bin noffin onpleasant since den — 'twas fore den I'm feared — 'twas the berry
day you was dare." "How? what do you mean?"
"Why, massa, I mean de bug — dare now."
"The what?" "De bug — I'm berry sartain dat Massa Will bin
bit somewhere bout the head by dat d—n goole-bug." "And what
cause have you, Jupiter, for such a supposition?" "Claws
enuff, massa, and mouff too. I nebber did see sich a d—n bug — he kick and he
bite ebery ting what cum near him. Massa Will cotch him fuss, but had for to let
him go gin mighty quick, I tell you — den was de time he must ha got de bite. I
did n't like de look ob de bug mouff, myself, no how, so I would n't take hold
ob him wid my finger, but cotch him wid a piece ob paper dat I found. I rap him
up in de [column 3:] paper and stuff piece ob it in he mouff — dat was de way."
"And you think, then, that your master was really bitten by
the beetle, and that the bite made him sick?" "I do n't tink
noffin bout it — I nose it. What make him dream bout de goole so much, if taint
cause he bit by de goole-bug? Ise heerd bout dem goole-bugs fore dis."
"But how do you know he dreams about gold?"
"How I know? — why cause he talk about it in he sleep — dat's
how I nose." "Well, Jup, perhaps you are right; but to what
fortunate circumstance am I to attribute the honor of a visit from you, to-day?"

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