The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 88

and the whole interior of a long archway
through which we reached it, were carefully sheathed with copper. The
door, of massive iron, had been, also, similarly protected. Its immense
weight caused an unusually sharp grating sound, as it moved upon its
hinges.

Having deposited our mournful burden upon tressels within this region of
horror, we partially turned aside the yet unscrewed lid of the coffin,
and looked upon the face of the tenant. A striking similitude between
the brother and sister now first arrested my attention; and Usher,
divining, perhaps, my thoughts, murmured out some few words from which
I learned that the deceased and himself had been twins, and that
sympathies of a scarcely intelligible nature had always existed between
them. Our glances, however, rested not long upon the dead--for we could
not regard her unawed. The disease which had thus entombed the lady in
the maturity of youth, had left, as usual in all maladies of a strictly
cataleptical character, the mockery of a faint blush upon the bosom and
the face, and that suspiciously lingering smile upon the lip which is
so terrible in death. We replaced and screwed down the lid, and, having
secured the door of iron, made our way, with toil, into the scarcely
less gloomy apartments of the upper portion of the house.

And now, some days of bitter grief having elapsed, an observable change
came over the features of the mental disorder of my friend. His
ordinary manner had vanished. His ordinary occupations were neglected or
forgotten. He roamed from chamber to chamber with hurried, unequal, and
objectless step. The pallor of his countenance had assumed, if possible,
a more ghastly hue--but the luminousness of his eye had utterly gone
out. The once occasional huskiness of his tone was heard no more; and a
tremulous quaver, as if of extreme terror, habitually characterized
his utterance. There were times, indeed, when I thought his unceasingly
agitated mind was laboring with some oppressive secret, to divulge which
he struggled for the necessary courage. At times, again, I was obliged
to resolve all into the mere inexplicable vagaries of madness, for I
beheld him gazing upon vacancy for long hours, in an attitude of the
profoundest attention, as if listening to some imaginary sound. It was
no wonder that his condition terrified--that it infected me. I felt
creeping upon me, by slow yet certain degrees, the wild influences of
his own fantastic yet impressive superstitions.

It was, especially, upon retiring to bed late in the night of the
seventh or eighth day after the placing of the lady Madeline within the
donjon, that

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