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Title: First Project Gutenberg Collection of Edgar Allan Poe
Author: Poe, Edgar Allan, 1809-1849
Language: English
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The Raven

by Edgar Allan Poe

October, 1997  [Etext #1064]*



THE RAVEN



  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 of some one 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 visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door--
  Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door;
                                     This it is and nothing more."

  Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
  "Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
  But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
  And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
  That I scarce was sure I heard you"--here I opened wide the door--
                                     Darkness there and nothing more.

  Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
  Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
  But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
  And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
  This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"--
                                     Merely this and nothing more.

  Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
  Soon again I heard a tapping something louder than before.
  "Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice;
  Let me see, then, what thereat is and this mystery explore--
  Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;--
                                     'Tis the wind and nothing more.

  Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
  In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.
  Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he,
  But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door--
  Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door--
                                     Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

  Then the ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
  By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
  "Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
  Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore--
  Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
                                     Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

  Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
  Though its answer little meaning--little relevancy bore;
  For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
  Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door--
  Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
                                     With such name as "Nevermore."

  But the Raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only
  That one word, as if its soul in that one word he did outpour
  Nothing farther then he uttered; not a feather then he fluttered--
  Till I scarcely more than muttered: "Other friends have flown before--
  On the morrow _he_ will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before."
                                     Then the bird said "Nevermore."

  Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
  "Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
  Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
  Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore--
  Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
                                     Of 'Never--nevermore.'"

  But the Raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
  Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
  Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
  Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore--
  What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
                                     Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

  This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
  To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
  This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
  On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
  But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er
                                     _She_ shall press, ah, nevermore!

  Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
  Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
  "Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee--by these angels he hath sent thee
  Respite--respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
  Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
                                     Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

  "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil!--
  Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
  Desolate, yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted--
  On this home by Horror haunted--tell me truly, I implore--
  Is there--_is_ there balm in Gilead?--tell me--tell me, I implore!"
                                     Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

  "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil!
  By that Heaven that bends above us--by that God we both adore--
  Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
  It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore--
  Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
                                     Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

  "Be that our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting--
  "Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
  Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul has spoken!
  Leave my loneliness unbroken!--quit the bust above my door!
  Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
                                     Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

  And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
  On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
  And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming
  And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadows on the floor;
  And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
                                     Shall be lifted--nevermore!



The Masque of the Red Death

by Edgar Allan Poe

October, 1997  [Etext #1064]*



The Masque of the Red Death


The "Red Death" had long devastated the country.  No pestilence had
ever been so fatal, or so hideous.  Blood was its Avatar and its
seal--the redness and the horror of blood.  There were sharp pains, and
sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with
dissolution.  The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the
face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid
and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure,
progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an
hour.

But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his
dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand
hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his
court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his
castellated abbeys.  This was an extensive and magnificent structure,
the creation of the prince's own eccentric yet august taste.  A strong
and lofty wall girdled it in. This wall had gates of iron.  The
courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and
welded the bolts.  They resolved to leave means neither of ingress nor
egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within.  The
abbey was amply provisioned.  With such precautions the courtiers might
bid defiance to contagion.  The external world could take care of
itself.  In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think.  The
prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure.  There were
buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there
were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine.  All these and
security were within.  Without was the "Red Death".

It was towards the close of the fifth or sixth month of his seclusion,
and while the pestilence raged most furiously abroad, that the Prince
Prospero entertained his thousand friends at a masked ball of the most
unusual magnificence.

It was a voluptuous scene, that masquerade.  But first let me tell of
the rooms in which it was held.  These were seven--an imperial suite.
In many palaces, however, such suites form a long and straight vista,
while the folding doors slide back nearly to the walls on either hand,
so that the view of the whole extent is scarcely impeded.  Here the
case was very different, as might have been expected from the duke's
love of the _bizarre_.  The apartments were so irregularly disposed that
the vision embraced but little more than one at a time.  There was a
sharp turn at every twenty or thirty yards, and at each turn a novel
effect.  To the right and left, in the middle of each wall, a tall and
narrow Gothic window looked out upon a closed corridor which pursued
the windings of the suite.  These windows were of stained glass whose
colour varied in accordance with the prevailing hue of the decorations
of the chamber into which it opened.  That at the eastern extremity was
hung, for example in blue--and vividly blue were its windows.  The
second chamber was purple in its ornaments and tapestries, and here the
panes were purple.  The third was green throughout, and so were the
casements.  The fourth was furnished and lighted with orange--the fifth
with white--the sixth with violet.  The seventh apartment was closely
shrouded in black velvet tapestries that hung all over the ceiling and
down the walls, falling in heavy folds upon a carpet of the same
material and hue.  But in this chamber only, the colour of the windows
failed to correspond with the decorations.  The panes here were
scarlet--a deep blood colour.  Now in no one of the seven apartments
was there any lamp or candelabrum, amid the profusion of golden
ornaments that lay scattered to and fro or depended from the roof.
There was no light of any kind emanating from lamp or candle within the
suite of chambers.  But in the corridors that followed the suite, there
stood, opposite to each window, a heavy tripod, bearing a brazier of
fire, that projected its rays through the tinted glass and so glaringly
illumined the room.  And thus were produced a multitude of gaudy and
fantastic appearances.  But in the western or black chamber the effect
of the fire-light that streamed upon the dark hangings through the
blood-tinted panes, was ghastly in the extreme, and produced so wild a
look upon the countenances of those who entered, that there were few of
the company bold enough to set foot within its precincts at all.

It was in this apartment, also, that there stood against the western
wall, a gigantic clock of ebony.  Its pendulum swung to and fro with a
dull, heavy, monotonous clang; and when the minute-hand made the
circuit of the face, and the hour was to be stricken, there came from
the brazen lungs of the clock a sound which was clear and loud and deep
and exceedingly musical, but of so peculiar a note and emphasis that,
at each lapse of an hour, the musicians of the orchestra were
constrained to pause, momentarily, in their performance, to harken to
the sound; and thus the waltzers perforce ceased their evolutions; and
there was a brief disconcert of the whole gay company; and, while the
chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddiest grew
pale, and the more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows
as if in confused revery or meditation.  But when the echoes had fully
ceased, a light laughter at once pervaded the assembly; the musicians
looked at each other and smiled as if at their own nervousness and
folly, and made whispering vows, each to the other, that the next
chiming of the clock should produce in them no similar emotion; and
then, after the lapse of sixty minutes, (which embrace three thousand
and six hundred seconds of the Time that flies,) there came yet another
chiming of the clock, and then were the same disconcert and
tremulousness and meditation as before.

But, in spite of these things, it was a gay and magnificent revel.  The
tastes of the duke were peculiar.  He had a fine eye for colours and
effects.  He disregarded the _decora_ of mere fashion.  His plans were
bold and fiery, and his conceptions glowed with barbaric lustre.  There
are some who would have thought him mad.  His followers felt that he
was not.  It was necessary to hear and see and touch him to be _sure_
that he was not.

He had directed, in great part, the movable embellishments of the seven
chambers, upon occasion of this great _fête_; and it was his own guiding
taste which had given character to the masqueraders.  Be sure they were
grotesque.  There were much glare and glitter and piquancy and
phantasm--much of what has been since seen in  "Hernani".  There were
arabesque figures with unsuited limbs and appointments.  There were
delirious fancies such as the madman fashions.  There were much of the
beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the _bizarre_, something of the
terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust.
To and fro in the seven chambers there stalked, in fact, a multitude of
dreams.  And these--the dreams--writhed in and about taking hue from
the rooms, and causing the wild music of the orchestra to seem as the
echo of their steps.  And, anon, there strikes the ebony clock which
stands in the hall of the velvet.  And then, for a moment, all is
still, and all is silent save the voice of the clock.  The dreams are
stiff-frozen as they stand.  But the echoes of the chime die away--they
have endured but an instant--and a light, half-subdued laughter floats
after them as they depart.  And now again the music swells, and the
dreams live, and writhe to and fro more merrily than ever, taking hue
from the many tinted windows through which stream the rays from the
tripods.  But to the chamber which lies most westwardly of the seven,
there are now none of the maskers who venture; for the night is waning
away; and there flows a ruddier light through the blood-coloured panes;
and the blackness of the sable drapery appals; and to him whose foot
falls upon the sable carpet, there comes from the near clock of ebony a
muffled peal more solemnly emphatic than any which reaches _their_ ears
who indulged in the more remote gaieties of the other apartments.

But these other apartments were densely crowded, and in them beat
feverishly the heart of life.  And the revel went whirlingly on, until
at length there commenced the sounding of midnight upon the clock.  And
then the music ceased, as I have told; and the evolutions of the
waltzers were quieted; and there was an uneasy cessation of all things
as before.  But now there were twelve strokes to be sounded by the bell
of the clock; and thus it happened, perhaps, that more of thought
crept, with more of time, into the meditations of the thoughtful among
those who revelled. And thus too, it happened, perhaps, that before the
last echoes of the last chime had utterly sunk into silence, there were
many individuals in the crowd who had found leisure to become aware of
the presence of a masked figure which had arrested the attention of no
single individual before.  And the rumour of this new presence having
spread itself whisperingly around, there arose at length from the whole
company a buzz, or murmur, expressive of disapprobation and
surprise--then, finally, of terror, of horror, and of disgust.

In an assembly of phantasms such as I have painted, it may well be
supposed that no ordinary appearance could have excited such sensation.
In truth the masquerade licence of the night was nearly unlimited; but
the figure in question had out-Heroded Herod, and gone beyond the
bounds of even the prince's indefinite decorum. There are chords in the
hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion.
Even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death are equally jests,
there are matters of which no jest can be made.  The whole company,
indeed, seemed now deeply to feel that in the costume and bearing of
the stranger neither wit nor propriety existed.  The figure was tall
and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in the habiliments of the
grave.  The mask which concealed the visage was made so nearly to
resemble the countenance of a stiffened corpse that the closest
scrutiny must have had difficulty in detecting the cheat.  And yet all
this might have been endured, if not approved, by the mad revellers
around.  But the mummer had gone so far as to assume the type of the
Red Death. His vesture was dabbled in  _blood_--and his broad brow, with
all the features of the face, was besprinkled with the scarlet horror.

When the eyes of the Prince Prospero fell upon this spectral image
(which, with a slow and solemn movement, as if more fully to sustain
its  role, stalked to and fro among the waltzers) he was seen to be
convulsed, in the first moment with a strong shudder either of terror
or distaste; but, in the next, his brow reddened with rage.

"Who dares,"--he demanded hoarsely of the courtiers who stood near
him--"who dares insult us with this blasphemous mockery? Seize him and
unmask him--that we may know whom we have to hang, at sunrise, from the
battlements!"

It was in the eastern or blue chamber in which stood the Prince
Prospero as he uttered these words.  They rang throughout the seven
rooms loudly and clearly, for the prince was a bold and robust man, and
the music had become hushed at the waving of his hand.

It was in the blue room where stood the prince, with a group of  pale
courtiers by his side.  At first, as he spoke, there was a slight
rushing movement of this group in the direction of the intruder, who at
the moment was also near at hand, and now, with deliberate and stately
step, made closer approach to the speaker.  But from a certain nameless
awe with which the mad assumptions of the mummer had inspired the whole
party, there were found none who put forth hand to seize him; so that,
unimpeded, he passed within a yard of the prince's person; and, while
the vast assembly, as if with one impulse, shrank from the centres of
the rooms to the walls, he made his way uninterruptedly, but with the
same solemn and measured step which had distinguished him from the
first, through the blue chamber to the purple--through the purple to
the green--through the green to the orange--through this again to the
white--and even thence to the violet, ere a decided movement had been
made to arrest him.  It was then, however, that the Prince Prospero,
maddening with rage and the shame of his own momentary cowardice,
rushed hurriedly through the six chambers, while none followed him on
account of a deadly terror that had seized upon all.  He bore aloft a
drawn dagger, and had approached, in rapid impetuosity, to within three
or four feet of the retreating figure, when the latter, having attained
the extremity of the velvet apartment, turned suddenly and confronted
his pursuer.  There was a sharp cry--and the dagger dropped gleaming
upon the sable carpet, upon which, instantly afterwards, fell prostrate
in death the Prince Prospero.  Then, summoning the wild courage of
despair, a throng of the revellers at once threw themselves into the
black apartment, and, seizing the mummer, whose tall figure stood erect
and motionless within the shadow of the ebony clock, gasped in
unutterable horror at finding the grave cerements and corpse-like mask,
which they handled with so violent a rudeness, untenanted by any
tangible form.

And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death.  He had come
like a thief in the night.  And one by one dropped the revellers in the
blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing
posture of his fall.  And the life of the ebony clock went out with
that of the last of the gay.  And the flames of the tripods expired.
And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over
all.



The Cask of Amontillado

by Edgar Allan Poe

October, 1997  [Etext #1065]*



The Cask of Amontillado


The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but
when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.  You, who so well know
the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance
to a threat.  _At length_ I would be avenged; this was a point
definitely settled--but the very definitiveness with which it was
resolved, precluded the idea of risk.  I must not only punish, but
punish with impunity.  A wrong is unredressed when retribution
overtakes its redresser.  It is equally unredressed when the avenger
fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.

It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given
Fortunato cause to doubt my good will.  I continued, as was my wont, to
smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile _now_ was at
the thought of his immolation.

He had a weak point--this Fortunato--although in other regards he was a
man to be respected and even feared.  He prided himself on his
connoisseurship in wine.  Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit.
For the most part their enthusiasm is adopted to suit the time and
opportunity--to practise imposture upon the British and Austrian
_millionaires_.  In painting and gemmary, Fortunato, like his countrymen,
was a quack--but in the matter of old wines he was sincere.  In this
respect I did not differ from him materially: I was skillful in the
Italian vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could.

It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the
carnival season, that I encountered my friend.  He accosted me with
excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much.  The man wore motley.
He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head was
surmounted by the conical cap and bells.  I was so pleased to see him,
that I thought I should never have done wringing his hand.

I said to him--"My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met.  How remarkably
well you are looking to-day!  But I have received a pipe of what passes
for Amontillado, and I have my doubts."

"How?" said he.  "Amontillado?  A pipe?  Impossible!  And in the middle
of the carnival!"

"I have my doubts," I replied; "and I was silly enough to pay the full
Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter. You were not to
be found, and I was fearful of losing a bargain."

"Amontillado!"

"I have my doubts."

"Amontillado!"

"And I must satisfy them."

"Amontillado!"

"As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchesi.  If any one has a
critical turn, it is he.  He will tell me--"

"Luchesi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry."

"And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your
own."

"Come, let us go."

"Whither?"

"To your vaults."

"My friend, no; I will not impose upon your good nature.  I perceive
you have an engagement.  Luchesi--"

"I have no engagement;--come."

"My friend, no.  It is not the engagement, but the severe cold with
which I perceive you are afflicted.  The vaults are insufferably damp.
They are encrusted with nitre."

"Let us go, nevertheless.  The cold is merely nothing. Amontillado! You
have been imposed upon.  And as for Luchesi, he cannot distinguish
Sherry from Amontillado."

Thus speaking, Fortunato possessed himself of my arm. Putting on a mask
of black silk, and drawing a _roquelaire_ closely about my person, I
suffered him to hurry me to my palazzo.

There were no attendants at home; they had absconded to make merry in
honour of the time.  I had told them that I should not return until the
morning, and had given them explicit orders not to stir from the house.
These orders were sufficient, I well knew, to insure their immediate
disappearance, one and all, as soon as my back was turned.

I took from their sconces two flambeaux, and giving one to Fortunato,
bowed him through several suites of rooms to the archway that led into
the vaults.  I passed down a long and winding staircase, requesting him
to be cautious as he followed. We came at length to the foot of the
descent, and stood together on the damp ground of the catacombs of the
Montresors.

The gait of my friend was unsteady, and the bells upon his cap jingled
as he strode.

"The pipe," said he.

"It is farther on," said I; "but observe the white web-work which
gleams from these cavern walls."

He turned towards me, and looked into my eyes with two filmy orbs that
distilled the rheum of intoxication.

"Nitre?" he asked, at length.

"Nitre," I replied.  "How long have you had that cough?"

"Ugh! ugh! ugh!--ugh! ugh! ugh!--ugh! ugh! ugh!--ugh! ugh! ugh!--ugh!
ugh! ugh!"

My poor friend found it impossible to reply for many minutes.

"It is nothing," he said, at last.

"Come," I said, with decision, "we will go back; your health is
precious.  You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as
once I was.  You are a man to be missed.  For me it is no matter.  We
will go back; you will be ill, and I cannot be responsible.  Besides,
there is Luchesi--"

"Enough," he said; "the cough is a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I
shall not die of a cough."

"True--true," I replied; "and, indeed, I had no intention of alarming
you unnecessarily--but you should use all proper caution. A draught of
this Medoc will defend us from the damps."

Here I knocked off the neck of a bottle which I drew from a long row of
its fellows that lay upon the mould.

"Drink," I said, presenting him the wine.

He raised it to his lips with a leer.  He paused and nodded to me
familiarly, while his bells jingled.

"I drink," he said, "to the buried that repose around us."

"And I to your long life."

He again took my arm, and we proceeded.

"These vaults," he said, "are extensive."

"The Montresors," I replied, "were a great and numerous family."

"I forget your arms."

"A huge human foot d'or, in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent
rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel."

"And the motto?"

"_Nemo me impune lacessit_."

"Good!" he said.

The wine sparkled in his eyes and the bells jingled.  My own fancy grew
warm with the Medoc.  We had passed through walls of piled bones, with
casks and puncheons intermingling, into the inmost recesses of
catacombs.  I paused again, and this time I made bold to seize
Fortunato by an arm above the elbow.

"The nitre!" I said; "see, it increases.  It hangs like moss upon the
vaults.  We are below the river's bed.  The drops of moisture trickle
among the bones.  Come, we will go back ere it is too late.  Your
cough--"

"It is nothing," he said; "let us go on.  But first, another draught of
the Medoc."

I broke and reached him a flagon of De Grave.  He emptied it at a
breath.  His eyes flashed with a fierce light.  He laughed and threw
the bottle upwards with a gesticulation I did not understand.

I looked at him in surprise.  He repeated the movement--a grotesque one.

"You do not comprehend?" he said.

"Not I," I replied.

"Then you are not of the brotherhood."

"How?"

"You are not of the masons."

"Yes, yes," I said; "yes, yes."

"You?  Impossible!  A mason?"

"A mason," I replied.

"A sign," he said, "a sign."

"It is this," I answered, producing a trowel from beneath the folds of
my _roquelaire_.

"You jest," he exclaimed, recoiling a few paces.  "But let us proceed
to the Amontillado."

"Be it so," I said, replacing the tool beneath the cloak and again
offering him my arm.  He leaned upon it heavily.  We continued our
route in search of the Amontillado.  We passed through a range of low
arches, descended, passed on, and descending again, arrived at a deep
crypt, in which the foulness of the air caused our flambeaux rather to
glow than flame.

At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared another less
spacious.  Its walls had been lined with human remains, piled to the
vault overhead, in the fashion of the great catacombs of Paris.  Three
sides of this interior crypt were still ornamented in this manner. From
the fourth side the bones had been thrown down, and lay promiscuously
upon the earth, forming at one point a mound of some size.  Within the
wall thus exposed by the displacing of the bones, we perceived a still
interior recess, in depth about four feet in width three, in height six
or seven.  It seemed to have been constructed for no especial use
within itself, but formed merely the interval between two of the
colossal supports of the roof of the catacombs, and was backed by one
of their circumscribing walls of solid granite.

It was in vain that Fortunato, uplifting his dull torch, endeavoured to
pry into the depth of the recess.  Its termination the feeble light did
not enable us to see.

"Proceed," I said; "herein is the Amontillado.  As for Luchesi--"

"He is an ignoramus," interrupted my friend, as he stepped unsteadily
forward, while I followed immediately at his heels.  In an instant he
had reached the extremity of the niche, and finding his progress
arrested by the rock, stood stupidly bewildered.  A moment more and I
had fettered him to the granite.  In its surface were two iron staples,
distant from each other about two feet, horizontally.  From one of
these depended a short chain, from the other a padlock.  Throwing the
links about his waist, it was but the work of a few seconds to secure
it.  He was too much astounded to resist.  Withdrawing the key I
stepped back from the recess.

"Pass your hand," I said, "over the wall; you cannot help feeling the
nitre.  Indeed, it is _very_ damp.  Once more let me _implore_ you to
return.  No?  Then I must positively leave you. But I must first render
you all the little attentions in my power."

"The Amontillado!" ejaculated my friend, not yet recovered from his
astonishment.

"True," I replied; "the Amontillado."

As I said these words I busied myself among the pile of bones of which
I have before spoken.  Throwing them aside, I soon uncovered a quantity
of building stone and mortar.  With these materials and with the aid of
my trowel, I began vigorously to wall up the entrance of the niche.

I had scarcely laid the first tier of the masonry when I discovered
that the intoxication of Fortunato had in a great measure worn off. The
earliest indication I had of this was a low moaning cry from the depth
of the recess.  It was _not_ the cry of a drunken man. There was then a
long and obstinate silence.  I laid the second tier, and the third, and
the fourth; and then I heard the furious vibrations of the chain.  The
noise lasted for several minutes, during which, that I might hearken to
it with the more satisfaction, I ceased my labours and sat down upon
the bones. When at last the clanking subsided, I resumed the trowel,
and finished without interruption the fifth, the sixth, and the seventh
tier.  The wall was now nearly upon a level with my breast.  I again
paused, and holding the flambeaux over the mason-work, threw a few
feeble rays upon the figure within.

A succession of loud and shrill screams, bursting suddenly from the
throat of the chained form, seemed to thrust me violently back.  For a
brief moment I hesitated--I trembled.  Unsheathing my rapier, I began
to grope with it about the recess; but the thought of an instant
reassured me.  I placed my hand upon the solid fabric of the catacombs,
and felt satisfied.  I reapproached the wall; I replied to the yells of
him who clamoured.  I re-echoed--I aided--I surpassed them in volume
and in strength.  I did this, and the clamourer grew still.

It was now midnight, and my task was drawing to a close.  I had
completed the eighth, the ninth, and the tenth tier.  I had finished a
portion of the last and the eleventh; there remained but a single stone
to be fitted and plastered in.  I struggled with its weight; I placed
it partially in its destined position.  But now there came from out the
niche a low laugh that erected the hairs upon my head.  It was
succeeded by a sad voice, which I had difficulty in recognizing as that
of the noble Fortunato.  The voice said--

"Ha! ha! ha!--he! he! he!--a very good joke indeed--an excellent jest.
We shall have many a rich laugh about it at the palazzo--he! he!
he!--over our wine--he! he! he!"

"The Amontillado!" I said.

"He! he! he!--he! he! he!--yes, the Amontillado.  But is it not getting
late?  Will not they be awaiting us at the palazzo, the Lady Fortunato
and the rest?  Let us be gone."

"Yes," I said, "let us be gone."

"_For the love of God, Montresor!_"

"Yes," I said, "for the love of God!"

But to these words I hearkened in vain for a reply.  I grew impatient.
I called aloud--

"Fortunato!"

No answer.  I called again--

"Fortunato--"

No answer still.  I thrust a torch through the remaining aperture and
let it fall within.  There came forth in reply only a jingling of the
bells.  My heart grew sick on account of the dampness of the catacombs.
I hastened to make an end of my labour.  I forced the last stone into
its position; I plastered it up.  Against the new masonry I re-erected
the old rampart of bones.  For the half of a century no mortal has
disturbed them.  _In pace requiescat!_





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