The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

When the plateau of flesh meets the fire of mathematics 7.5 meg

"At this moment the flames rolled again into the room and then again
retired. The whale and alligators were by this time suffering dreadful
torments. The water in which they swam was literally boiling. The
alligators dashed fiercely about endeavoring to escape, and opening and
shutting their great jaws in ferocious torture; but the poor whale, almost
boiled, with great ulcers bursting from his blubbery sides, could only
feebly swim about, though blowing excessively, and every now and then
sending up great fountains of spray. At length, crack went the glass sides
of the great cases, and whale and alligators rolled out on the floor with
the rushing and steaming water. The whale died easily, having been pretty
well used up before. A few great gasps and a convulsive flap or two of his
mighty flukes were his expiring spasm. One of the alligators was killed
almost immediately by falling across a great fragment of shattered glass,
which cut open his stomach and let out the greater part of his entrails to
the light of day. The remaining alligator became involved in a controversy
with an anaconda, and joined the melee in the centre of the flaming
"We believe that all the living curiosities were saved; but the giant
girl, Anna Swan, was only rescued with the utmost difficulty. There was
not a door through which her bulky frame could obtain a passage. It was
likewise feared that the stairs would break down, even if she should reach
them. Her best friend, the living skeleton, stood by her as long as he
dared, but then deserted her, while as the heat grew in intensity, the
perspiration rolled from her face in little brooks and rivulets, which
pattered musically upon the floor. At length, as a last resort, the
employees of this place procured a lofty derrick which fortunately
happened to be standing near, and erected it alongside the Museum. A
portion of the wall was then broken off on each side of the window, the
strong tackle was got in readiness, the tall woman was made fast to one
end and swung over the heads of the people in the street, with eighteen
men grasping the other extremity of the line, and lowered down from the
third story, amid enthusiastic applause."

Urner, in the Tribune, quoted in Barnum, Forty Years' Recollections,
Author's edition, 1872-3

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