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spacious gardens were stocked with numerous varieties of plants and flowers that grew without effort in this region, while parterres of a more extraordinary kind were planted
by their side, glowing with the various forms of vege5 table life skillfully imitated in gold and silver! Among
them the Indian corn, the most beautiful of American grains, is particularly commemorated, and the curious workmanship is noticed with which the golden ear was
half disclosed amidst the broad leaves of silver, and the 10 light tassel of the same material that floated gracefully from its top.
The most renowned of the Peruvian temples, the pride of the capital and the wonder of the empire, was at
Cuzco, whiere, under the munificence of successive sover15 eigns, it had become so enriched that it received the
name of “The Place of Gold.” It consisted of a principal building and several chapels and inferior edifices covering a large extent of ground in the heart of the city and
completely encompassed by a wall, which, with the edifices, 20 was all constructed of stone. The work was so finely
executed that a Spaniard, who saw it in its glory, assures us he could call to mind only two edifices in Spain, which, for their workmanship, were at all to be compared with it.
Yet this substantial, and in some respects magnificent, 25 structure was thatched with straw !
The interior of the temple was the most worthy of admiration. It was literally a mine of gold. On the
western wall was emblazoned a representation of the deity, consisting of a human countenance looking forth from amidst innumerable rays of light, which emanated from it in every direction, in the same manner as the sun is often personified with us. The figure was engraved on a 5 massive plate of gold of enormous dimensions, thickly powdered with emeralds and precious stones. It was so situated in front of the great eastern portal that the rays of the morning sun fell directly upon it at its rising, lighting up the whole apartment with an effulgence that 10 seemed more than natural, and which was reflected back from the golden ornaments with which the walls and ceiling were everywhere incrusted. Gold, in the figurative language of the people, was “the tears wept by the sun,” and every part of the interior of the temple glowed 15 with burnished plates and studs of the precious metal. The cornices, which surrounded the walls of the sanctuary, were of the same costly material; and a broad belt or frieze of gold, let into the stonework, encompassed the whole exterior of the edifice.
These “Houses of the Sun,” as they were styled, were the common reservoir into which flowed all the streams of public and private benefactions throughout the empire.
Abridged. Incas: the people of Peru were ruled at the time of the Spanish conquest by an emperor or Inca. The members of this royal dynasty called themselves the “ Children of the Sun.”.- Peruvian wool : alpaca is manufactured from this wool. — parterres : flower gardens.
A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTRÖM-I
EDGAR ALLAN POE
EDGAR ALLAN POE (1809–1849) was an American writer of prose and verse of rare quality. His genius gave his work a wonderful charm, but it is only the promise of what it might have been had his life been wholesome and serene.
NOTE. - See pages 147 and 148 for an accurate description of the Maelström. Poe's marvelous imagination is nowhere better displayed than in this story.
It is now within a few days of three years since what I am going to tell you occurred. It was on the tenth day 10 of July, a day which the people of this part of the world
will never forget — for it was one in which blew the most terrible hurricane that ever came out of the heavens; and yet all the morning, and indeed until late in the afternoon,
there was a gentle and steady breeze from the southwest, 15 while the sun shone brightly, so that the oldest seaman' among us could not have foreseen what was to follow.
We had crossed over to the islands about two o'clock P.M., and had soon nearly loaded the smack with fine fish,
which were more plentiful that day than we had ever 20 known them. It was just seven by my watch when we
weighed and started for home, so as to make the worst of the Ström at slack water, which we knew would be at eight.
We set out with a fresh wind, and for some time went along at a great rate, never dreaming of danger, for indeed we saw not the slightest reason to apprehend it. All at once we were taken aback by a breeze from over Helseggen. This was most unusual — something that had never 5 happened to us before — and I began to feel a little uneasy without exactly knowing why. We put the boat on the wind, but could make no headway at all for the eddies, and I was upon the point of proposing to return to the anchorage, when, looking astern, we saw the whole hori- 10 zon covered with a singular copper-colored cloud that rose with the most amazing velocity.
In the meantime the breeze that had headed us off fell away, and we were dead becalmed, drifting about in every direction. This state of things, however, did not last long 15 enough to give us time to think about it. In less than a minute the storm was upon us — in less than two the sky was entirely overcast — and it became suddenly so dark that we could not see each other in the smack.
Such a hurricane as then blew it is folly to attempt 20 describing. The oldest fisherman in Norway never experienced anything like it. We had let our sails go by the run; but at the first puff both our masts went by the board as if they had been sawed off.
Our boat was the lightest feather of a thing that ever 25 sat upon water. It had a complete flush deck, with only a small batch near the bow, and this hatch it had always
been our custom to batten down when about to cross the Ström by way of precaution against the chopping seas. But for this circumstance we should have foundered at once, for we lay entirely buried for some moments. As 5 soon as I had let the foresail run, I threw myself flat on
deck, with my feet against the narrow gunwale of the bow, and with my hands grasping a ringbolt near the foot of the foremast. It was mere instinct that prompted me to
do this, — which was undoubtedly the very best thing I 10 could have done, — for I was too much flurried to think.
Presently our little boat gave herself a shake, just as a dog does in coming out of the water, and thus rid herself in some measure of the seas. I was now trying to get the
better of the stupor that had come over me, and to collect 15 my senses so as to see what was to be done, when I felt
somebody grasp my arm. It was my brother, and my heart leaped for joy, for I had made sure that he was overboard ; but the next moment all this joy was turned into horror,
for he put his mouth close to my ear and screamed out 20 the word “ Maelström.”
No one ever will know what my feelings were at that moment. I shook from head to foot as if I had had the most violent fit of the ague.
I knew what he meant by that one word well enough — I knew what he wished 25 to make me understand. With the wind that now
drove us on we were bound for the whirl, and nothing could save us.