A Tale of the Ragged Mountains
Translated by Anna Higgins
During the autumn of 1827, while I resided near Charlottesville (Virginia), I became acquainted by chance with Mr. Augustus Bedloe. This young gentleman was notable in every sense and awakened in me a profound interest and deep curiosity. I found it impossible for me to understand his physical and moral dispositions. I could not obtain satisfactory information about his family. I never discovered where he came from. Even his age- although I described him as a young gentleman- unsettled me a bit. Surely he seemed young, and he was pleased to speak about his youth; there were many moments when I could have easily attributed to him one hundred years of age. But nothing was more peculiar than his physical appearance. He was uniquely tall and thin and very hunched over. He had his excessively long and stark limbs, his wide and tall forehead, his bloodless complexion, his large and flexible mouth, and his teeth more uneven, although healthy, than I have ever seen in a human head. The expression of his smile, however, in no way was unpleasant, as one would imagine; but it was absolutely unchanging. He had a profound melancholy, a uniform, constant sadness. His eyes were an abnormal size, large and round, like those of a cat. Also, his pupils suffered a contraction or dilation with the increase or decrease of light like one can observe in the feline specimen. In moments of excitement his eyes shone to an almost inconceivable degree; they appeared to emit luminous rays, not of a reflected light, but an intrinsic one, like a candle, like the sun; but generally he had an appearance so muted, so veiled and opaque, that his eyes evoked those of a long-buried cadaver.