The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 67

resolved to make the experiment
of awakening or attempting to awaken him; and it is the (perhaps)
unfortunate result of this latter experiment which has given rise to
so much discussion in private circles--to so much of what I cannot help
thinking unwarranted popular feeling.

For the purpose of relieving M. Valdemar from the mesmeric trance, I
made use of the customary passes. These, for a time, were unsuccessful.
The first indication of revival was afforded by a partial descent of the
iris. It was observed, as especially remarkable, that this lowering
of the pupil was accompanied by the profuse out-flowing of a yellowish
ichor (from beneath the lids) of a pungent and highly offensive odor.

It was now suggested that I should attempt to influence the patient's
arm, as heretofore. I made the attempt and failed. Dr. F--then intimated
a desire to have me put a question. I did so, as follows:

"M. Valdemar, can you explain to us what are your feelings or wishes

There was an instant return of the hectic circles on the cheeks; the
tongue quivered, or rather rolled violently in the mouth (although the
jaws and lips remained rigid as before;) and at length the same hideous
voice which I have already described, broke forth:

"For God's sake!--quick!--quick!--put me to sleep--or, quick!--waken
me!--quick!--I say to you that I am dead!"

I was thoroughly unnerved, and for an instant remained undecided what to
do. At first I made an endeavor to re-compose the patient; but, failing
in this through total abeyance of the will, I retraced my steps and as
earnestly struggled to awaken him. In this attempt I soon saw that I
should be successful--or at least I soon fancied that my success would
be complete--and I am sure that all in the room were prepared to see the
patient awaken.

For what really occurred, however, it is quite impossible that any human
being could have been prepared.

As I rapidly made the mesmeric passes, amid ejaculations of "dead!
dead!" absolutely bursting from the tongue and not from the lips of the
sufferer, his whole frame at once--within the space of a single minute,
or even less, shrunk--crumbled--absolutely rotted away beneath my hands.
Upon the bed, before that whole company, there lay a nearly liquid mass
of loathsome--of detestable putridity.


FOR the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I
neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it,
in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet, mad am I
not--and very surely do I not dream. But

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