Nouvelles histoires extraordinaires

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 88

jugement. Avais-je été
réintégré dans mon cachot pour y attendre le prochain sacrifice qui ne
devait avoir lieu que dans quelques mois? Je vis tout d'abord que cela
ne pouvait pas être. Le contingent des victimes avait été mis
immédiatement en réquisition; de plus, mon premier cachot, comme toutes
les cellules des condamnés à Tolède, était pavé de pierres, et la
lumière n'en était pas tout à fait exclue.

Tout à coup une idée terrible chassa le sang par torrents vers mon
coeur, et pendant quelques instants, je retombai de nouveau dans mon
insensibilité. En revenant à moi, je me dressai d'un seul coup sur mes
pieds, tremblant convulsivement dans chaque fibre. J'étendis follement
mes bras au-dessus et autour de moi, dans tous les sens. Je ne sentais
rien; cependant, je tremblais de faire un pas, j'avais peur de me
heurter contre les murs de ma tombe. La sueur jaillissait de tous mes
pores et s'arrêtait en grosses gouttes froides sur mon front. L'agonie
de l'incertitude devint à la longue intolérable, et je m'avançai avec
précaution, étendant les bras et dardant mes yeux hors de leurs orbites,
dans l'espérance de surprendre quelque faible rayon de lumière. Je fis
plusieurs pas, mais tout était noir et vide. Je respirai plus librement.
Enfin il me parut évident que la plus affreuse des destinées n'était pas
celle qu'on m'avait réservée.

Et alors, comme je continuais à m'avancer avec précaution, mille vagues
rumeurs qui couraient sur ces horreurs de Tolède vinrent se presser
pêle-mêle dans ma mémoire. Il se racontait sur ces cachots d'étranges
choses,--je les avais toujours considérées comme des fables,--mais
cependant si étranges et si effrayantes, qu'on ne les pouvait répéter
qu'à voix basse. Devais-je mourir de faim dans ce monde souterrain de
ténèbres,--ou quelle destinée, plus terrible encore peut-être,
m'attendait? Que le résultat fût la mort, et une mort d'une amertume
choisie, je connaissais trop bien le caractère de mes juges pour en
douter; le mode et l'heure étaient tout ce qui m'occupait et me
tourmentait.

Mes mains étendues rencontrèrent à la longue un obstacle solide. C'était
un mur, qui semblait construit en pierres,--très-lisse, humide et froid.
Je le suivis de près, marchant avec la soigneuse méfiance que m'avaient
inspirée certaines anciennes histoires. Cette opération néanmoins ne me
donnait aucun moyen de vérifier la dimension de mon cachot; car je
pouvais en faire le tour et revenir au point d'où j'étais parti sans
m'en apercevoir, tant le mur semblait parfaitement uniforme. C'est
pourquoi je cherchai le couteau que j'avais dans ma poche quand on
m'avait conduit au tribunal; mais il avait disparu, mes vêtements ayant
été changés contre une robe de serge

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