The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 208

at least no definite
comprehension. Yet its memory was replete with horror--horror more
horrible from being vague, and terror more terrible from ambiguity. It
was a fearful page in the record my existence, written all over with
dim, and hideous, and unintelligible recollections. I strived to
decypher them, but in vain; while ever and anon, like the spirit of a
departed sound, the shrill and piercing shriek of a female voice seemed
to be ringing in my ears. I had done a deed--what was it? I asked myself
the question aloud, and the whispering echoes of the chamber answered
me,--"_what was it?_"

On the table beside me burned a lamp, and near it lay a little box. It
was of no remarkable character, and I had seen it frequently before, for
it was the property of the family physician; but how came it _there_,
upon my table, and why did I shudder in regarding it? These things were
in no manner to be accounted for, and my eyes at length dropped to the
open pages of a book, and to a sentence underscored therein. The words
were the singular but simple ones of the poet Ebn Zaiat:--"_Dicebant
mihi sodales si sepulchrum amicae visitarem, curas meas aliquantulum
fore levatas_." Why then, as I perused them, did the hairs of my head
erect themselves on end, and the blood of my body become congealed
within my veins?

There came a light tap at the library door--and, pale as the tenant of a
tomb, a menial entered upon tiptoe. His looks were wild with terror,
and he spoke to me in a voice tremulous, husky, and very low. What said
he?--some broken sentences I heard. He told of a wild cry disturbing the
silence of the night--of the gathering together of the household--of
a search in the direction of the sound; and then his tones grew
thrillingly distinct as he whispered me of a violated grave--of
a disfigured body enshrouded, yet still breathing--still
palpitating--_still alive_!

He pointed to garments;--they were muddy and clotted with gore. I spoke
not, and he took me gently by the hand: it was indented with the impress
of human nails. He directed my attention to some object against the
wall. I looked at it for some minutes: it was a spade. With a shriek I
bounded to the table, and grasped the box that lay upon it. But I could
not force it open; and in my tremor, it slipped from my hands, and fell
heavily, and burst into pieces; and from it, with a rattling sound,
there rolled out some instruments of dental surgery,

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Page 0
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Page 1
Not the least.
Page 2
" Then the bird said "Nevermore.
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" "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil!-- Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore, Desolate,.
Page 4
" "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil! By that Heaven that bends above us--by that God we both adore-- Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn, It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-- Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.
Page 5
With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion.
Page 6
That at the eastern extremity was hung, for example in blue--and vividly blue were its windows.
Page 7
His plans were bold and fiery, and his conceptions glowed with barbaric lustre.
Page 8
And now again the music swells, and the dreams live, and writhe to and fro more merrily than ever, taking hue from the many tinted windows through which stream the rays from the tripods.
Page 9
They rang throughout the seven rooms loudly and clearly, for the prince was a bold and robust man, and the music had become hushed at the waving of his hand.
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He bore aloft a drawn dagger, and had approached, in rapid impetuosity, to within three or four feet of the retreating figure, when the latter, having attained the extremity of the velvet apartment, turned suddenly and confronted his pursuer.
Page 11
He had a weak point--this Fortunato--although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared.
Page 12
These orders were sufficient, I well knew, to insure their immediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as my back was turned.
Page 13
"Then you are not of the brotherhood.
Page 14
"Pass your hand," I said, "over the wall; you cannot help feeling the nitre.
Page 15
It was now midnight, and my task was drawing to a close.
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I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up.