The Masque of the Red Death

By Edgar Allan Poe

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The Masque of the Red Death


by

Edgar Allan Poe




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

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Text Comparison with The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven Edition Table Of Contents And Index Of The Five Volumes

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