The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 64

imperceptible; the breathing was gentle
(scarcely noticeable, unless through the application of a mirror to the
lips); the eyes were closed naturally; and the limbs were as rigid and
as cold as marble. Still, the general appearance was certainly not that
of death.

As I approached M. Valdemar I made a kind of half effort to influence
his right arm into pursuit of my own, as I passed the latter gently
to and fro above his person. In such experiments with this patient had
never perfectly succeeded before, and assuredly I had little thought of
succeeding now; but to my astonishment, his arm very readily, although
feebly, followed every direction I assigned it with mine. I determined
to hazard a few words of conversation.

"M. Valdemar," I said, "are you asleep?" He made no answer, but I
perceived a tremor about the lips, and was thus induced to repeat the
question, again and again. At its third repetition, his whole frame was
agitated by a very slight shivering; the eyelids unclosed themselves so
far as to display a white line of the ball; the lips moved sluggishly,
and from between them, in a barely audible whisper, issued the words:

"Yes;--asleep now. Do not wake me!--let me die so!"

I here felt the limbs and found them as rigid as ever. The right arm,
as before, obeyed the direction of my hand. I questioned the sleep-waker

"Do you still feel pain in the breast, M. Valdemar?"

The answer now was immediate, but even less audible than before: "No
pain--I am dying."

I did not think it advisable to disturb him farther just then, and
nothing more was said or done until the arrival of Dr. F--, who came a
little before sunrise, and expressed unbounded astonishment at finding
the patient still alive. After feeling the pulse and applying a mirror
to the lips, he requested me to speak to the sleep-waker again. I did
so, saying:

"M. Valdemar, do you still sleep?"

As before, some minutes elapsed ere a reply was made; and during the
interval the dying man seemed to be collecting his energies to speak.
At my fourth repetition of the question, he said very faintly, almost

"Yes; still asleep--dying."

It was now the opinion, or rather the wish, of the physicians, that
M. Valdemar should be suffered to remain undisturbed in his present
apparently tranquil condition, until death should supervene--and this,
it was generally agreed, must now take place within a few minutes. I
concluded, however, to speak to him once more, and merely repeated my
previous question.

While I spoke, there came a marked change over the countenance

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