The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 14

of
the mantel-piece. In this rack, which had three or four compartments,
were five or six visiting cards and a solitary letter. This last
was much soiled and crumpled. It was torn nearly in two, across the
middle--as if a design, in the first instance, to tear it entirely up
as worthless, had been altered, or stayed, in the second. It had a
large black seal, bearing the D-- cipher very conspicuously, and was
addressed, in a diminutive female hand, to D--, the minister, himself.
It was thrust carelessly, and even, as it seemed, contemptuously, into
one of the uppermost divisions of the rack.

"No sooner had I glanced at this letter, than I concluded it to be
that of which I was in search. To be sure, it was, to all appearance,
radically different from the one of which the Prefect had read us so
minute a description. Here the seal was large and black, with the D--
cipher; there it was small and red, with the ducal arms of the S--
family. Here, the address, to the Minister, diminutive and feminine;
there the superscription, to a certain royal personage, was markedly
bold and decided; the size alone formed a point of correspondence. But,
then, the radicalness of these differences, which was excessive; the
dirt; the soiled and torn condition of the paper, so inconsistent with
the true methodical habits of D--, and so suggestive of a design to
delude the beholder into an idea of the worthlessness of the document;
these things, together with the hyper-obtrusive situation of this
document, full in the view of every visiter, and thus exactly in
accordance with the conclusions to which I had previously arrived; these
things, I say, were strongly corroborative of suspicion, in one who came
with the intention to suspect.

"I protracted my visit as long as possible, and, while I maintained a
most animated discussion with the Minister upon a topic which I knew
well had never failed to interest and excite him, I kept my attention
really riveted upon the letter. In this examination, I committed to
memory its external appearance and arrangement in the rack; and also
fell, at length, upon a discovery which set at rest whatever trivial
doubt I might have entertained. In scrutinizing the edges of the paper,
I observed them to be more chafed than seemed necessary. They presented
the broken appearance which is manifested when a stiff paper, having
been once folded and pressed with a folder, is refolded in a reversed
direction, in the same creases or edges which had formed the original
fold. This discovery was sufficient.

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Text Comparison with The Fall of the House of Usher

Page 0
What was it--I paused to think--what was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of Usher? It was a mystery all insoluble; nor could I grapple with the shadowy fancies that crowded upon me as I pondered.
Page 1
Although, as boys, we had been even intimate associates, yet I really knew little of my friend.
Page 2
The discoloration of ages had been great.
Page 3
A glance, however, at his countenance, convinced me of his perfect sincerity.
Page 4
His action was alternately vivacious and sullen.
Page 5
I regarded her with an utter astonishment not unmingled with dread--and yet I found it impossible to account for such feelings.
Page 6
We painted and read together; or I listened, as if in a dream, to the wild improvisations of his speaking guitar.
Page 7
It was, perhaps, the narrow limits to which he thus confined himself upon the guitar, which gave birth, in great measure, to the fantastic character of the performances.
Page 8
Banners yellow, glorious, golden, On its roof did float and flow; (This--all this--was in the olden Time long ago) And every gentle air that dallied, In that sweet day, Along the ramparts plumed and pallid, A winged odour went away.
Page 9
Through two luminous windows saw Spirits moving musically To a lute's well tuned law, Round about a throne, where sitting (Porphyrogene!) In state his glory well befitting, The ruler of the realm was seen.
Page 10
And travellers now within that valley, Through the red-litten windows, see Vast forms that move fantastically To a discordant melody; While, like a rapid ghastly river, Through the pale door, A hideous throng rush out forever, And laugh--but smile no more.
Page 11
His chief delight, however, was found in the perusal of an exceedingly rare and curious book in quarto Gothic--the manual of a forgotten church--the Vigiliae Mortuorum Secundum Chorum Ecclesiae Maguntinae.
Page 12
The door, of massive iron, had been, also, similarly protected.
Page 13
I endeavoured to believe that much, if not all of what I felt, was due to the bewildering influence of the gloomy furniture of the room--of the dark and tattered draperies, which, tortured into motion by the breath of a rising tempest, swayed fitfully to and fro upon the walls, and rustled uneasily about the decorations of the bed.
Page 14
" Thus speaking, and having carefully shaded his lamp, he hurried to one of the casements, and threw it freely open to the storm.
Page 15
Could I have judged, indeed, by the wild overstrained air of vivacity with which he hearkened, or apparently hearkened, to the words of the tale, I might well have congratulated myself upon the success of my design.
Page 16
stead thereof, a dragon of a scaly and prodigious demeanour, and of a fiery tongue, which sate in guard before a palace of gold, with a floor of silver; and upon the wall there hung a shield of shining brass with this legend enwritten-- Who entereth herein, a conquerer hath bin; Who slayeth the dragon, the shield he shall win; and Ethelred uplifted his mace, and struck upon the head of the dragon, which fell before him, and gave up his pesty breath, with a shriek so horrid and harsh, and withal so piercing, that Ethelred had fain to close his ears with his hands against the dreadful noise of it, the like whereof was never before heard.
Page 17
Completely unnerved, I leaped to my feet; but the measured rocking movement of Usher was undisturbed.
Page 18
The storm was still abroad in all its wrath as I found myself crossing the old causeway.