At that moment the mate gave the order for Augustus Barnard and Dirk Peters to be brought to the forecastle. This order was transmitted to the man at the helm, no other than Dirk Peters, who went down, accompanied by Augustus Barnard, and almost simultaneously Arthur Pym made his appearance.

The effect of the apparition was prodigious. The mate, terrified on beholding the resuscitated sailor, sprang up, beat the air with his hands, and fell down dead. Then Dirk Peters rushed upon the others, seconded by Augustus Barnard, Arthur Pym, and the dog Tiger. In a few moments all were strangled or knocked on the head save Richard Parker, the sailor, whose life was spared.

And now, while the tempest was in full force, only four men were left to work the brig, which was labouring terribly with seven feet of water in her hold. They had to cut down the mainmast, and, when morning came, the mizen. That day was truly awful, the night was more awful still! If Dirk Peters and his companions had not lashed themselves securely to the remains of the rigging, they must have been carried away by a tremendous sea, which drove in the hatches of the Grampus.

Then follows in the romance a minute record of the series of incidents ensuing upon this situation, from the 14th of July to the 7th of August; the fishing for victuals in the submerged hold, the coming of a mysterious brig laden with corpses, which poisoned the atmosphere and passed on like a huge coffin, the sport of a wind of death; the torments of hunger and thirst; the impossibility of reaching the provision store; the drawing of lots by straws—the shortest gave Richard Parker to be sacrificed for the life of the other three—the death of that unhappy man, who was killed by Dirk Peters and devoured; lastly, the finding in the hold of a jar of olives and a small turtle.

Owing to the displacement of her cargo the Grampus rolled and pitched more and more. The frightful heat caused the torture of thirst to reach the extreme limit of human endurance, and on the 1st of August, Augustus Barnard died. On the 3rd, the brig foundered in the night, and Arthur Pym and the half-breed, crouching upon the upturned keel, were reduced to feed upon the barnacles with which the bottom was covered, in the midst of a crowd of waiting, watching sharks. Finally, after the shipwrecked mariners of the Grampus had drifted no less than twenty-five degrees towards the south, they were picked up by the schooner Jane, of Liverpool, Captain William Guy.

Evidently, reason is not outraged by an admission of the reality of these facts, although the situations are strained to the utmost limits of possibility; but that does not surprise us, for the writer is the American magician-poet, Edgar Poe. But from this moment onwards we shall see that no semblance of reality exists in the succession of incidents.

Arthur Pym and Dirk Peters were well treated on board the English schooner Jane. In a fortnight, having recovered from the effects of their sufferings, they remembered them no more. With alternations of fine and bad weather the Jane sighted Prince Edward’s Island on the 13th of October, then the Crozet Islands, and after. wards the Kerguelens, which I had left eleven days ago.

Three weeks were employed in chasing sea-calves; these furnished the Jane with a goodly cargo. It was during this time that the captain of the Jane buried the bottle in which his namesake of the Halbrane claimed to have found a letter containing William Guy’s announcement of his intention to visit the austral seas.

On the 12th of November, the schooner left the Kerguelens, and after a brief stay at Tristan d’Acunha she sailed to reconnoitre the Auroras in 35° 15’ of south latitude, and 37° 38’ of west longitude. But these islands were not to be found, and she did not find them.

On the 12th of December the Jane headed towards the Antarctic pole. On the 26th, the first icebergs came in sight beyond the seventy-third degree.

From the 1st to the 14th of January, 1828, the movements were difficult, the polar circle was passed in the midst of ice-floes, the icebergs’ point was doubled and the ship sailed on the surface of an open sea—the famous open sea where the temperature is 47° Fahrenheit, and the water is 34°.

Please Support the Classic Literature Library

Buy Jules Verne Books from

An Antarctic Mystery Page 20

French Authors

Jules Verne

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Jules Verne
French Authors
All Pages of This Book