The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 137

closely over me as to fan me
with its acrid breath. The odor of the sharp steel forced itself into my
nostrils. I prayed--I wearied heaven with my prayer for its more speedy
descent. I grew frantically mad, and struggled to force myself upward
against the sweep of the fearful scimitar. And then I fell suddenly
calm, and lay smiling at the glittering death, as a child at some rare

There was another interval of utter insensibility; it was brief; for,
upon again lapsing into life there had been no perceptible descent in
the pendulum. But it might have been long; for I knew there were demons
who took note of my swoon, and who could have arrested the vibration at
pleasure. Upon my recovery, too, I felt very--oh, inexpressibly sick
and weak, as if through long inanition. Even amid the agonies of that
period, the human nature craved food. With painful effort I outstretched
my left arm as far as my bonds permitted, and took possession of the
small remnant which had been spared me by the rats. As I put a portion
of it within my lips, there rushed to my mind a half formed thought of
joy--of hope. Yet what business had I with hope? It was, as I say, a
half formed thought--man has many such which are never completed. I felt
that it was of joy--of hope; but felt also that it had perished in its
formation. In vain I struggled to perfect--to regain it. Long suffering
had nearly annihilated all my ordinary powers of mind. I was an
imbecile--an idiot.

The vibration of the pendulum was at right angles to my length. I saw
that the crescent was designed to cross the region of the heart.
It would fray the serge of my robe--it would return and repeat its
operations--again--and again. Notwithstanding terrifically wide sweep
(some thirty feet or more) and the hissing vigor of its descent,
sufficient to sunder these very walls of iron, still the fraying of my
robe would be all that, for several minutes, it would accomplish. And
at this thought I paused. I dared not go farther than this reflection. I
dwelt upon it with a pertinacity of attention--as if, in so dwelling,
I could arrest here the descent of the steel. I forced myself to
ponder upon the sound of the crescent as it should pass across the
garment--upon the peculiar thrilling sensation which the friction of
cloth produces on the nerves. I pondered upon all this frivolity until
my teeth were on edge.

Down--steadily down it crept. I took a frenzied pleasure in

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with The Cask of Amontillado

Page 0
" "Amontillado!" "I have my doubts.
Page 1
" "Come, let us go.
Page 2
A draught of this Medoc will defend us from the damps.
Page 3
Indeed, it is _very_ damp.
Page 4
" As I said these words I busied myself among the pile of bones of which I have before spoken.
Page 5
I thrust a torch through the remaining aperture and let it fall within.