A Story: The master of the lightningrod of Herman Melville (1819-1891), already from this epoch was doubted, Herman Melville does a statement in this story that synthesizes it at the end of the work.
That extraordinary thunder, I thought, stopped close to my home, in the middle of the mounts Acroceraunianos, while the dispersed beams were resounding on my head, and were smashing between the valleys, each of them followed by irradiations zigzagueantes and blasts of cutting slanted rain, which were sounding as unloads of tops of darts on my low roof. I suppose, I said to myself, that they muffle and repel the thunder, so that it is much more splendid to be here that in the plain. Attention! There is someone to the door.
The one who is this that it chooses time of storm to make a visit? And why the caller does not use, instead of producing this agent's so called dark one of funeral ceremony, striking the door with the fist?
But let's do that between.
Ah, here comes. - good day, gentleman - he was a complete stranger-.
I ask him to sit down.
What would be this species of cane of strange appearance that it was bringing with it? –
beautiful storm, gentleman. - beautiful?
Terrible! - it is drenched.
Feel here close to the home, opposite to the fire. - for nothing of the world!
The stranger was raised now in the exact center of the cabin, where it had stood firm from a beginning. His rarety was inviting to a scrupulous scrutiny. A skinny, lugubrious figure. Dark and faded hair entangled on the forehead. His sunked eyes were surrounded by haloes of color índigo, and were playing with an inoffensive species of lightning: a radiance to which he was lacking the beam. Everything he was soaking water. It was standing up on a puddle in the nake floor of oak: his strange cane was resting vertically to his side.
It was a rod of polished copper, of four feet of length, joined longitudinally a stick of worn out well wood, by means of insertions in two balls of greenish crystal, surrounded by bands of copper. The metal rod was ending in an end as a tripod, with three brilliant golden prongs. He was supporting the set only on the part of wood.
- Gentleman - I said to him, very ceremonious-, have I the honor of receiving a visit of this illustrious god, Jupiter Tonante? This way he was raised in the Greek statue of long ago, clutching the beam. If you are he, or his viceroy, I have to be grateful to him for this noble storm that it has thrown on our mountains. Listen: this it was a glorious uproar. Ah, for a lover of the majestic thing, is good to have the Tronador itself of visit in the own cabin! It does that the thunders sound more beautiful. But I ask him to take seat. It is true that this old armchair of wicker is a poor substitute of his throne in the Olympus, but condescend to sit down.
While I like that was speaking to him, the stranger was looking at myself, I happen astonished, way terrified, but immobile. - we go, gentleman, feel; it needs to dry off before returning to go out. Inviting it with a gesture, I put a chair close to the home where this evening it had ignited a small fire to remove the dampness, not the cold, because we were at the beginning of September. But without noticing of my request, and always of foot in the middle of the room, the stranger looked at me ominously, and said:
- Gentleman, forgive me; but instead of accepting his invitation to sit down there close to the fire, I him warn solemnly, that the better thing that you can do is mine agrees and to stop to my side in the middle of the room.
- Skies! - it added, with a wince-. Other one of these atrocious uproars! I warn it him, gentleman, move away from the fire! -
gentleman Jupiter Tonante - charm I, rubbing calmly my body against the stone-, am very well here
- Then are you so terribly ignorant - you exclaimed - as not to know that the most dangerous part of a house, during a terrifying tempest as this one, is the chimney? -
not, it did not know it - I answered, moving away involuntarily a step of the chimney. The stranger showed so disagreeable air of satisfaction for the success of his warning, which - again time involuntarily -
I returned to approach the fire, and I raised myself in the proudest position that I could assume. But I did not say anything.
- In name of the Sky! - it exclaimed, with strange mixture of alarm and intimidation-. In name of the Sky, move away from the fire! It does not know that the air warms and the soot they are conductive? Not to speak about these enormous firedogs of iron! Leave this place! I beg it! I arrange it! –
gentleman Jupiter Tonante, I am not accustomed to receiving orders in my own house.
- do not call with this pagan name. You are profane in this epoch of terror.
- gentleman, would it be so kind as to say to me with what it deals? If it looks for refuge of the storm, it is welcome, in the measure in which it proves to be polite; but if you come for some business, say it openly. Who are you?
- I am a seller of lightningrod - said the stranger, smoothing his tone-, my speciality is ... the Sky has piety of us! What a racket! A beam reached it at some time ... to his house, do I want to say? Not? The better thing is to be anticipated - and making sound his metallic rod against the floor, it added-: the thunderstorms do not stop before palaces, do not stop before anything in the world; and, nevertheless, yes, say only a word, and I will be able to do a Gibraltar of this cabin, with a few passes of this rod. Listen! What commotions as Himalayan!
- you were interrupted; it was for speaking about his speciality.
- my speciality consists of travelling for the country in search of orders of purchase of lightningrod. This one is my copy of sample - clapping his rod-. Last month I placed in Criggan twenty-three lightningrods in only five buildings.-
Déjeme to remember. Did not it go in Criggan where last week, towards the Saturday midnight, there were fulminated the belfry, the great elm and the dome of the assembly hall? Were they possessing someone of his lightningrods?
-El árbol y la cúpula no, el campanario sí.
- Why does it serve then his lightningrod?
-Usarlo is a question of life or death. But my operative was careless. On having held the lightningrod to the cumbrera of the belfry, it allowed that a metallic part should rub the plate of sheet. Of there the accident. It was not my fault, but of him. Listen!
- do not bother. This thunder sounded the strong enough thing as to be listened without nobody indicates it with the finger. Did it know something of the catastrophe of last year in Montreal? A servant fulminated together with his bed, with a rosary in the hand; the accounts were of metal. Does his tour spread up to the Canada?
- not. And I listened that there only they use lightningrod of iron. They should use mine, which is of copper. The iron fuses easily. And the rod is so thin, that his thickness is insufficient to lead the whole electrical current. The metal melts; the building is destroyed. My lightningrods of copper never work this way. These Canadians are silly. Some of them connect the lightningrod for his top end, traversing the risk of provoking a deadly explosion, instead of taking imperceptibly the unload to land, as this lightningrod it does. Mine is the only real lightningrod. Look at it! Only a dollar for foot.
- his unfounded way of appearing well might provoke distrust.
- Listen! The thunder turns fewer rezongón. It is approaching us, and approaching the land, also. Listen! An uproar unison! All the vibrations became one by the nearness! Another lightning! A moment!
- What does it do? - I said, on having seen that resigning in an instant his rod, it was going refreely towards the window, with his forefingers and way of the right hand supported on the wrist of the left side.
but before the phrase had finished me of escaping, another exclamation escaped from him:
- There it smashed! Only three pulses, to less than one third of mile, in some site in this forest. There I happened close to three oaks fulminated, started of a pull and sparkling. The oak attracts the beam more than any other wood, because it has iron in solution in his sap. His floor seems of oak.
- heart of oak. In view of the singular moment of his visit, I suppose that you choose by the way the stormy time for his trips. When the thunder roars, you judge that it is the most favorable hour to produce favorable impressions for his trade.
- Listen! Atrocious!
- to treat itself about someone that it should take the fear from others, you seem to be excessively fearful. The common people choose the good time for his trips: you prefer the stormy one, and nevertheless...
- I accept that I travel in the middle of the storms; but not without adopting very special precautions, which only a specialist in lightningrod can know. Listen this! Rapid ... look at my copy of sample. Only a dollar the foot.
- a beautiful lightningrod, I dare to assure it. But which are this so special his precautions? Before allow me to close these shutters; the rain penetrates across the frame. I will bolt it.
- Is it mad? Does not it know that this cross-bar of iron is an unsurpassable driver of the electricity? Desist.
- then I will limit myself to closing the shutters, and will call my boy in order that it brings a cross-bar of wood. Please, this small bell makes sound, there.
- Did it lose the head? The drawer of wire of this bell might electrocute it. Never touch the bell neither during a thunderstorm, or this one not no other. - not at least that of the belfries?
Is it going to say to me where and how one can be to except in a time as this one? There is some part of my house that I could touch with life expectancies?
- she is. But not where you are stopped now. Move away from the wall. The current disburdens sometimes for the wall, and as a man he is a better driver that a wall, it will leave this one to rush on him. Zas! This debit to have fallen down closely together. It had a globular beam been.
- Very probably. Say it to me of once; which is, in his opinion, the surest part of this house? - this room, and this site in the one that I am stopped. Come closer! –
the reasons, first. –
hear! After the lightning, the wind squalls ... the frames tremble ... the house, the house! ... approach me! - the reasons, please. - come and approach me!
- thank you again, but I think that I am going to prove my site of always ... close to the fire. And now, Master of the Lightningrod, between the pauses of the thunders, is good and say to me which are his reasons to consider to be this only room of the house the surest, and this precise site in which you are stopped like the surest in her.
Then a momentary interruption of the storm took place. The man of the Lightningrod seemed to be relieved, and answered:
- His is a bungalow, with an attic and a warehouse; this room is between them. Of here his relative safety. Because the beam jumps sometimes from the clouds to the land, and sometimes from the land to the clouds. Does he understand? And I chose the way of the room because if the beam was striking the entire house, I would do it across the chimney or the walls, so, obviously, all that beyond we are situated of them, better. Come, approach now.
- immediately. Strangly, a little of what you have just said it has inspired his confidence, instead of alarming. –
what have I said? –
he said that sometimes the beams jump from the land to the clouds. –
yes, the inverse beam, there is called he; when the land overloaded of electricity, unload his surpluses to the heights. –
the inverse beam; it is to say, from the land to the sky. Better and better.
But come here, to dry off close to the fire. –
I am better here, and much better wetted. - how?
it is the surer thing that it can do ... listen, again! ... to soak in the pretty thing during a thunderstorm. The wet clothes are better drivers that the body; so that if a beam was reaching it, it might happen for the clothes wetted without touching the body. The storm is intensified again. Has it a carpet? The carpets are insulating. Bring one, in which both we could stop. The sky gets dark ... it seems by night to midday ... listen! The carpet, the carpet!
I gave to him one, while the cloaked mountains seemed to rush and to rush at the cabin. - and now, since it us will serve nothing of to remain mute –
I said to him, returning to occupy my place-, tell me which are the precautions to adopt when one travels in stormy time. –
wait until this storm has happened. - not, forward with the precautions.
It is in the surest place, in agreement with his own explanation. Continue.
- brief, then. I avoid the pines, the high houses, the isolated granaries, the high meadows, the currents of water, the flocks of cattle, the human groups. If I travel afoot, as today, I do not go to light step. If I travel in my car, I touch neither his sides nor his back part. If I travel astride, I dismount and drive to the horse. But, for especially,
I avoid the high men. - do I dream? Does man avoid the man? And in moments of danger, for limit?
during the thunderstorms I avoid the high men. Is he you so rudely ignorant as not to know that the height of a wayfarer of six feet is sufficient to attract the unload of an electrical cloud? How many of these impressive farmers of Kentucky were knocked down on the incomplete rut! If a man of this was bringing near to a creek, times it would have in that the cloud it chooses to him as driver, rejecting the water. Listen! It was sure that it gave in the black pinnacle. Yes, a man is a good driver. The beam burns the man of top to top, but scarcely it peels to the tree. Gentleman, has had me so much time answering his questions, which I have not spoken still business. Is it going to arrange one of my lightningrods? Does it see this copy of sample? It is of the best copper. The copper is the best driver. His house is low; mas since it is on the mountains, his few height does not liberate her. You, the highlanders, are the most exposed. The seller of lightningrod should do more business in the mountainous regions. Look at this sample, gentlem. a lightningrod will be sufficient for a small house as this one. Examine these recommendations. Only a lightningrod, gentleman; cost, only twenty dollars. Listen! There there go these masses of granite, thrown as pebbles. For the noise, they must have destroyed something. Put to a height of five feet on the house, it will protect a circle of twenty feet of radio. Only twenty dollars, gentleman ... a dollar the foot. Listen! Frightful! It will arrange it! Is it going to buy it? Do I annotate his name? Imagine what is to turn into a heap of carbonized entrails, as a tied horse that catches fire with his stable! Everything in the time that lasts a beam!
- claimed extraordinary envoy and the plenipotentiary secretary of Jupiter Tonante - I laughed-, mere man who comes to interpose here his body and his artifice between the land and the sky, he thinks that because it is capable of starting one I am reflected of green light of Leyden's bottle, can elude the celestial beams? If this rod oxidizes or breaks what is of you? The one who has given the power, to you, Tetzel, to sell of door in door his indulgences in order to avoid the divine dispositions? The hairs of our heads are counted, and few they are the days of our lives. While the thunder resounds or in the light of the Sun, I put with confidence in hands of my Creator. Out, false merchant! Look, the storm withdraws; the house is intact, and in the rainbow on the blue sky I read that the Deity will not do the war to the land of the man.
- Rabble unbeliever! - the stranger stuttered, while one was getting dark his face in the same measure in which the arch was shining iris-. I will reveal his pagan ideas!
His threatening face blackened furthermore; the circles of color índigo were enlarged about his eyes, as rings storms about the Moon of midnight. I throw on me; three tops of his appliance pointing at my heart.
The like that thing; I divided it in two; I it threw at the floor; I trampled on it; and dragging the dark king of the beam out of my house, I threw after him his
But in spite of my treatment, and in spite of my dissuasive conversations with my neighbors, the seller of Lightningrod still lives this land; he continues travelling in times of storm, and does fat business with the fears of the man..