Cuentos Clásicos del Norte, Primera Serie

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 61

un palacio de oro, pavimentado de plata; y pendiente del muro
veíase un escudo de brillante bronce con la siguiente leyenda
grabada:

Quien aquí penetra es conquistador;
Ganará el escudo quien mate al dragón;

y entonces Éthelred, levantando su maza, hirió en la cabeza al
dragón; el cual se desplomó a sus plantas rindiendo su pestilente
aliento con tan hórrido, agudo y penetrante alarido que Éthelred se
vió precisado a cubrirse los oídos con las manos para defenderse
del pavoroso ruido del que nada análogo había escuchado hasta
entonces.

Aquí me detuve de nuevo bruscamente, esta vez con sentimiento de
profundo estupor, porque no podía caberme la menor duda de que en el
mismo instante había oído en realidad, aun cuando me fuera imposible
indicar la dirección, un grito ahogado y aparentemente lejano, pero
áspero, prolongado y extraño; un sonido discordante, exacta reproducción
de lo que mi fantasía había ya evocado como el sobrenatural alarido del
dragón descrito por el romancero.

Oprimido como me sentía por mil encontradas sensaciones en que
predominaban la angustia y un excesivo terror a causa de la segunda y
más extraordinaria coincidencia, tuve aún la presencia de espíritu
necesaria para evitar que se excitara con cualquiera observación la
sensitiva nerviosidad de mi compañero. No estaba seguro de que se
hubiera apercibido de aquellos rumores, a pesar de que indudablemente
mostraba extraña alteración en su conducta en los últimos minutos. Desde
el sitio que ocupaba frente a mí había arrastrado su silla poco a poco
hasta dar cara a la puerta de entrada de la habitación, de modo que
apenas podía yo distinguir parcialmente sus facciones, aunque me parecía
que sus labios temblaban como si estuviese murmurando palabras
ininteligibles. Su cabeza había caído sobre el pecho; pero yo sabía que
no estaba dormido, pues en una ojeada furtiva a su perfil descubrí uno
de sus ojos rígidamente abierto. El movimiento de su cuerpo difería
también de su manera habitual, porque se mecía de un lado a otro con
ondulación suave, uniforme y constante. Notando todo esto con rapidez,
reasumí la narración de Sir Láuncelot que proseguía así:

Y habiendo escapado el campeón en esta forma a la furia tremebunda
del dragón, y recordando el bronceado escudo y la ruptura del

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