The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 91

but, feeling the rain upon his
shoulders, and fearing the rising of the tempest, uplifted his mace
outright, and, with blows, made quickly room in the plankings of the
door for his gauntleted hand; and now pulling therewith sturdily, he so
cracked, and ripped, and tore all asunder, that the noise of the dry and
hollow-sounding wood alarummed and reverberated throughout the forest."

At the termination of this sentence I started, and for a moment, paused;
for it appeared to me (although I at once concluded that my excited
fancy had deceived me)--it appeared to me that, from some very remote
portion of the mansion, there came, indistinctly, to my ears, what might
have been, in its exact similarity of character, the echo (but a stifled
and dull one certainly) of the very cracking and ripping sound which
Sir Launcelot had so particularly described. It was, beyond doubt,
the coincidence alone which had arrested my attention; for, amid the
rattling of the sashes of the casements, and the ordinary commingled
noises of the still increasing storm, the sound, in itself, had nothing,
surely, which should have interested or disturbed me. I continued the
story:

"But the good champion Ethelred, now entering within the door, was sore
enraged and amazed to perceive no signal of the maliceful hermit; but,
in the stead thereof, a dragon of a scaly and prodigious demeanor, and
of a fiery tongue, which sate in guard before a palace of gold, with a
floor of silver; and upon the wall there hung a shield of shining brass
with this legend enwritten--

Who entereth herein, a conqueror hath bin;
Who slayeth the dragon, the shield he shall win;

And Ethelred uplifted his mace, and struck upon the head of the dragon,
which fell before him, and gave up his pesty breath, with a shriek so
horrid and harsh, and withal so piercing, that Ethelred had fain to
close his ears with his hands against the dreadful noise of it, the like
whereof was never before heard."

Here again I paused abruptly, and now with a feeling of wild
amazement--for there could be no doubt whatever that, in this instance,
I did actually hear (although from what direction it proceeded I
found it impossible to say) a low and apparently distant, but harsh,
protracted, and most unusual screaming or grating sound--the exact
counterpart of what my fancy had already conjured up for the dragon's
unnatural shriek as described by the romancer.

Oppressed, as I certainly was, upon the occurrence of this second and
most extraordinary coincidence, by a

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