The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 151

customary duration, they
might be prevailed upon to regard me as irrecoverable. I even went so
far as to fear that, as I occasioned much trouble, they might be glad to
consider any very protracted attack as sufficient excuse for getting rid
of me altogether. It was in vain they endeavored to reassure me by the
most solemn promises. I exacted the most sacred oaths, that under no
circumstances they would bury me until decomposition had so materially
advanced as to render farther preservation impossible. And, even
then, my mortal terrors would listen to no reason--would accept no
consolation. I entered into a series of elaborate precautions. Among
other things, I had the family vault so remodelled as to admit of being
readily opened from within. The slightest pressure upon a long lever
that extended far into the tomb would cause the iron portal to fly back.
There were arrangements also for the free admission of air and light,
and convenient receptacles for food and water, within immediate reach of
the coffin intended for my reception. This coffin was warmly and softly
padded, and was provided with a lid, fashioned upon the principle of the
vault-door, with the addition of springs so contrived that the feeblest
movement of the body would be sufficient to set it at liberty. Besides
all this, there was suspended from the roof of the tomb, a large bell,
the rope of which, it was designed, should extend through a hole in the
coffin, and so be fastened to one of the hands of the corpse. But, alas?
what avails the vigilance against the Destiny of man? Not even these
well-contrived securities sufficed to save from the uttermost agonies of
living inhumation, a wretch to these agonies foredoomed!

There arrived an epoch--as often before there had arrived--in which I
found myself emerging from total unconsciousness into the first
feeble and indefinite sense of existence. Slowly--with a tortoise
gradation--approached the faint gray dawn of the psychal day. A torpid
uneasiness. An apathetic endurance of dull pain. No care--no hope--no
effort. Then, after a long interval, a ringing in the ears; then,
after a lapse still longer, a prickling or tingling sensation in the
extremities; then a seemingly eternal period of pleasurable quiescence,
during which the awakening feelings are struggling into thought; then a
brief re-sinking into non-entity; then a sudden recovery. At length the
slight quivering of an eyelid, and immediately thereupon, an electric
shock of a terror, deadly and indefinite, which sends the blood in
torrents from the temples to the heart. And now the first positive
effort to think. And now the first

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Text Comparison with The Masque of the Red Death

Page 0
Here the case was very different, as might have been expected from the duke's love of the _bizarre_.
Page 1
The second chamber was purple in its ornaments and tapestries, and here the panes were purple.
Page 2
To and fro in the seven chambers there stalked, in fact, a multitude of dreams.
Page 3
And then the music ceased, as I have told; and the evolutions of the waltzers were quieted; and there was an uneasy cessation of all things as before.
Page 4
When the eyes of the Prince Prospero fell upon this spectral image (which, with a slow and solemn movement, as if more fully to sustain its role, stalked to and fro among the waltzers) he was seen to be convulsed, in the first moment with a strong shudder either of terror or distaste; but, in the next, his brow reddened with rage.
Page 5
And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death.