The Cask of Amontillado

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 2

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

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