The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 3

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 218

a somewhat equivocal expression.

Over against her, and upon the left of the dropsical lady, was seated a
little puffy, wheezing, and gouty old man, whose cheeks reposed upon the
shoulders of their owner, like two huge bladders of Oporto wine. With
his arms folded, and with one bandaged leg deposited upon the table,
he seemed to think himself entitled to some consideration. He evidently
prided himself much upon every inch of his personal appearance, but took
more especial delight in calling attention to his gaudy-colored surtout.
This, to say the truth, must have cost him no little money, and was made
to fit him exceedingly well--being fashioned from one of the curiously
embroidered silken covers appertaining to those glorious escutcheons
which, in England and elsewhere, are customarily hung up, in some
conspicuous place, upon the dwellings of departed aristocracy.

Next to him, and at the right hand of the president, was a gentleman
in long white hose and cotton drawers. His frame shook, in a ridiculous
manner, with a fit of what Tarpaulin called “the horrors.” His jaws,
which had been newly shaved, were tightly tied up by a bandage of
muslin; and his arms being fastened in a similar way at the wrists,
I prevented him from helping himself too freely to the liquors upon the
table; a precaution rendered necessary, in the opinion of Legs, by
the peculiarly sottish and wine-bibbing cast of his visage. A pair of
prodigious ears, nevertheless, which it was no doubt found impossible
to confine, towered away into the atmosphere of the apartment, and were
occasionally pricked up in a spasm, at the sound of the drawing of a

Fronting him, sixthly and lastly, was situated a singularly
stiff-looking personage, who, being afflicted with paralysis, must,
to speak seriously, have felt very ill at ease in his unaccommodating
habiliments. He was habited, somewhat uniquely, in a new and handsome
mahogany coffin. Its top or head-piece pressed upon the skull of the
wearer, and extended over it in the fashion of a hood, giving to the
entire face an air of indescribable interest. Arm-holes had been cut in
the sides, for the sake not more of elegance than of convenience; but
the dress, nevertheless, prevented its proprietor from sitting as erect
as his associates; and as he lay reclining against his tressel, at an
angle of forty-five degrees, a pair of huge goggle eyes rolled up their
awful whites towards the ceiling in absolute amazement at their own

Before each of the party lay a portion of a skull, which was used as
a drinking cup. Overhead was suspended a

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Text Comparison with The Masque of the Red Death

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Here the case was very different, as might have been expected from the duke's love of the _bizarre_.
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embraced but little more than one at a time.
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There were delirious fancies such as the madman fashions.
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In an assembly of phantasms such as I have painted, it may well be supposed that no ordinary appearance could have excited such sensation.
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And yet all this might have been endured, if not approved, by the mad revellers around.
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There was a sharp cry--and the dagger dropped gleaming upon the sable carpet, upon which, instantly afterwards, fell prostrate in death the Prince Prospero.