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Larry Torres

'He must be Herman Melville!' Ole Johnny Mudd exclaimed excitedly, 'and I'll wager that the whale must be Moby Dick himself.'

Ole Johnny Mudd looked at the black cloud suspiciously, but Paul Revere and Betsy Ross only nodded and said: "Godspeed to ye, near friend from the future, and remember that sometimes great obstacles really disguise great opportunities."

"They are so right," Ole Johnny Mudd thought, as he climbed back onto the magic broom. Soon he found himself high over the Atlantic Ocean shore, where he could discern a bearded man reading from a book. Further on over, in the water, a great white whale was watching the man on the seashore. "He must be Herman Melville!" Ole Johnny Mudd exclaimed excitedly, "and I'll wager that the whale must be Moby Dick himself."

Ole Johnny Mudd flew near him and called out: "Ahoy there matey! You must be the author, Herman Melville!"

"Call me Ismael," Herman Melville called back, quoting from the first line in his book. "And Moby Dick over there, has got his eye fixed on me even as the Biblical whale must have looked at Jonah just before he swallowed him. Whenever someone does something out of the ordinary, danger is always lurking close by. But without that risk, life would be meaningless, and it would not have adventure."

"I like the way ye think, Mr. Melville," Ole Johnny Mudd said, back to him. "I've learned to appreciate it more now that I have been taken on this midnight ride."

"It will still get even more interesting, my friend," Herman Melville prophesied. "Always keep your mind open to deeper thoughts and other points of view." He went back to his book.

As Ole Johnny Mudd continued his adventure, flying through American history, the dark cloud came closer to him. Looking down, he saw that he was flying over a cemetery where a strange and gloomy man in black was sitting with a raven perched on his finger. Right away, Ole Johnny Mudd knew that the man could be none other than Edgar Allan Poe himself.

One of Poe's most famous lines from the poem "The Raven," came to him: "Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore--. While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, as if someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door--. " 'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door--. Only this and nothing more." Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December; and each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor. Eagerly I wished the morrow;--vainly I had sought to borrow from my books surcease of sorrow--sorrow for the lost Lenore--for the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-- Nameless here for evermore. And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain thrilled me--filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating, 'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door--some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-- This it is and nothing more."

Suddenly Ole Johnny Mudd found that his eyes were open wide, and he was lying in bed, still hearing the tap-tap-tapping at his chamber door. "Could I really have dreamed all of these famous people from American History?" he pondered. "They seemed so real and the lessons that they taught me, opened my eyes to just how precious life is." He listened more carefully for the voice of The Raven to say "nevermore" but at length he determined that it was only the wind rapping on his window sill. It had not been a raven after all. Ole Johnny Mudd turned over and whispered not "nevermore" but "perhaps one day." Finally he fell asleep.

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