Electronic text edishun informaeshun:
Poe's Th pit and th penjulum
Poe, Edgar Allan, 1809-1849
Creaeshun of masheen-reedabl verzhun
Judy Boss, Ueniversity of Omaha
Extent: ca. 40 kilobytesDistribuetor: Huemanitys Text InishiativSity: Ueniversity of Michigan Text ID:PoeeapitpeAvaelability:
avaelabl at http://www.hti.umich.edu/
Tietl: Th unabrijd Edgar Allan Poe Extent: 1178 p. : il. ; 22 cm.Publisher: Runing Pres Buuk PublishersSity: Philadelphia, Paa. Daet:c1983Noet: Th printed text contaend ilustraeshuns which ar not noeted in th electronic text
Creaeshun Daet: 1840
Chaenj:January 17, 1995 Nancy Lin HTI edited to parse agenst HTI DTDChaenj:December 15, 1993 Gayle Cooper Ueniversity of Virginia Liebrairy, Cataloging Servises Dept. TEI heder compleetedChaenj:September, 1993 Kelly Tetterton Ueniversity of Virginia Liebrairy Electronic Text Senter aded nue hederChaenj:November, 1992 Kelly Tetterton Ueniversity of Virginia Liebrairy Electronic Text Senter minimal TEI heder taging aded
Vue Taebl of Contents and Sors Descripshun
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Impia tortorum longas hic turbafurores
[Heer th wiked mob, unappeased,
long cherrisht a haetred of inosent blud.
Now that th faatherland is saevd, and th caev of deth demolisht;
wherr grim deth has bin, lief and helth apeer.]
I was sik -- sik unto deth with that long agony; and when thae at length unbound me, and I was permited to sit, I felt that mi senses wer leeving me. Th sentens -- th dred sentens of deth -- was th last of distinkt accentuation which reecht mi eers. After that, th sound of th inquisitorial voises seemd merjd in wun dreemy indeterminet hum. It convaed to mi soel th iedeea of revolooshun -- perhaps frum its asoesiaeshun in fansy with th ber of a mil-wheel. This oenly for a breef peeriod; for prezently I herd no mor. Yet, for a whiel, I saw; but with how terribl an exajeraeshun! I saw th lips of th blak-roebd jujes. Thae apeerd to me whiet -- whiter than th sheet upon which I traes thees werds -- and thin eeven to grotesqueness; thin with th intensity of thair expreshun
of fermnes -- of immoveable rezolooshun -- of stern contempt of hueman torcher. I saw that th decrees of whut to me was Faet, wer stil ishooing frum thoes lips. I saw them rieth with a dedly loecueshun. I saw them fashun th silabls of mi naem; and I shuderd becauz no sound sucseeded. I saw, too, for a fue moements of deleerius horror, th sofft and neerly imperseptibl waeving of th saebl draeperys which enwrapped th walls of th apartment. And then mi vizhun fel upon th seven tall candls upon th taebl. At ferst thae wor th aspect of charrity, and seemd whiet slender aenjels hoo wuud saev me; but then, all at wuns, thair caem a moest dedly nauzia oever mi spirit, and I felt evry fieber in mi fraem thril as if I had tucht th wier of a galvanic batery, whiel th aenjel forms becaem meeningles specters, with heds of flaem, and I saw that frum them thair wuud be no help. And thair stoel into mi fansy, liek a rich muezical noet, th thaut of whut sweet rest thair must be in th graev. Th thaut caem jently and stelthily, and it seemd long befor it ataend fuul apreeshiaeshun; but just as mi spirit caem at length properly to feel and entertaen it, th figuers of th jujes vanisht, as if majicaly, frum befor me; th tall candls sank into nuthingnes; thair flaems went out uterly; th blaknes of darknes sooperveend; all sensaeshun apeerd swoloed up in that mad rushing desent as of th soel into Hades. Then sielens, and stilnes, and niet wer th uenivers.
I had swoond; but wil not sae that all of conshusnes was lost. Whut of it thair remaend I wil not atempt to defien, or eeven to descrieb; yet all was not lost. In th deepest slumber -- no! In deleerium -- no! In a swoon -- no! In deth -- no! eeven in th graev all is not lost. Els thair is no imortality for man. Arouzing frum th moest profound of slumbers, we braek th gosamer web of sum dreem. Yet in a second afterwards, (so frael mae that web hav bin) we remember not that we hav dreemd. In th retern to lief frum th swoon thair ar too staejes; ferst, that of th sens of mental or spirichual; secondly, that of th sens of fizical, existens. It seems probabl that if, upon reeching th second staej, we cuud recall th impreshuns of th ferst, we shuud fiend thees impreshuns eloqent in memorys of th gulf beyond. And that gulf is -- whut? How at leest shal we distinggwish its shadoes frum thoes of th toom? But if th impreshuns of whut I hav termd th ferst staej, ar not, at wil, recalld, yet, after long interval, do thae not cum unbiden, whiel we marvel whens thae cum? He hoo has never swoond is not he hoo fiends straenj palises and wieldly familyar faeses in coels that glo; is not he hoo behoelds floeting in mid-air th sad vizhuns that th meny mae not vue; is not he hoo ponders oever th perfuem of sum novel flower -- is not he hoos braen groes bewilderd with
th intens meening of sum muezical caedens which has never befor arested his atenshun.
Amid freeqent and thautful endevors to remember; amid ernest strugls to regather sum toeken of th staet of seeming nuthingnes into which mi soel had lapst, thair hav bin moements when I hav dreemd of sucses; thair hav bin breef, verry breef peeriods when I hav conjerd up remembranses which th loosid reezon of a laeter epok ashurs me cuud hav had referens oenly to that condishun of whut men term unconsciousness. Thees shadoes of memory tel, indistinctly, of tall figuers that lifted and bor me in sielens doun -- doun -- stil doun -- til a hidius dizynes oprest me at th meer iedeea of th interminableness of th desent. Thae tel allso of a vaeg horror at mi hart on acount of that heart's unnacheral stilnes. Then cums a sens of suden motionlessness thruout all things; as if thoes hoo bor me (a gastly traen!) had outrun, in thair desent, th limits of th limitles, and pauzd frum th wearisomeness of thair toil. After this I call to miend flatnes and dampnes; and then all is madnes -- th madnes of a memory which busies itself amung forbiden things.
Verry sudenly thair caem bak to mi soel moeshun and sound -- th toomulchuos moeshun of th hart, and, in mi eers, th sound of its beeting. Then a pauz in which all is blank. Then agen sound, and moeshun, and tuch -- a tinggling sensaeshun pervaeding mi fraem. Then th meer conshusnes of existens, without thaut -- a condishun which lasted long. Then, verry sudenly, thaut, and shudering terror, and ernest endevor to reealiez mi troo staet. Then a strong dezier to laps into insensibility. Then a rushing revieval of soel and a sucsesful efort to moov. And now a fuul memory of th trieal, of th jujes, of th tall candls, of th saebl draeperys, of th sentens, of th siknes, of th swoon. Then entier forgetfulnes of all that foloed; of all that a laeter dae and much ernestnes of endevor hav enaebld me vaegly to recall.
So far, I had not oepend mi ies. I felt that I lae upon mi bak, unbound. I reecht out mi hand, and it fel hevily upon sumthing damp and hard. Thair I suferd it to remaen for meny minits, whiel I stroev to imajin wherr and whut I cuud be. I longd, yet daird not to emploi mi vizhun. I dreded th ferst glans at objects around. It was not that I feerd to luuk upon things horribl, but that I groo agast lest thair shuud be nuthing to see. At length, with a wield desperaeshun at hart, I qikly unclosed mi ies. Mi werst thauts, then, wer confermd. Th blaknes of th eternal niet encompast me. I gaspt for breth. Th intensity of th darknes seemd to oppress and stiefl me. Th atmosfeer was intolerably cloes. I stil lae qieetly, and maed efort to exersiez mi reezon. I
braut to miend th inquisitorial proseedings, and atempted frum that point to dedues mi reeal condishun. Th sentens had past; and it apeerd to me that a verry long interval of tiem had sinss elapst. Yet not for a moement did I supoez mieself akchualy ded. Such a supozishun, notwithstanding whut we reed in ficshun, is alltogether inconsistent with reeal existens; -- but wherr and in whut staet was I? Th condemd to deth, I nue perrisht uezhualy at th autoes-da-fe, and wun of thees had bin held on th verry niet of th dae of mi trieal. Had I bin remanded to mi dunjon, to awaet th next sacrifies, which wuud not taek plaes for meny munths? This I at wuns saw cuud not be. Victims had bin in imeedyet demand. Moroever, mi dunjon, as wel as all th condemd sels at Toledo, had stoen flors, and liet was not alltogether exclooded.
A feerful iedeea now sudenly droev th blud in torents upon mi hart, and for a breef peeriod, I wuns mor relapst into insensibility. Upon recuvering, I at wuns started to mi feet, trembling convulsivly in evry fieber. I thrust mi arms wieldly abuv and around me in all direcshuns. I felt nuthing; yet dreded to moov a step, lest I shuud be impeeded bi th walls of a toom. Perspiraeshun berst frum evry por, and stuud in coeld big beeds upon mi forhed. Th agony of suspens groo, at length, intolerabl, and I caushusly moovd forward, with mi arms extended, and mi ies straening frum thair sokets, in th hoep of caching sum faent rae of liet. I proseeded for meny paeses; but stil all was blaknes and vaecansy. I breethd mor freely. It seemd evident that mien was not, at leest, th moest hidius of faets.
And now, as I stil continued to step caushusly onward, thair caem thronging upon mi recolecshun a thouzand vaeg roomors of th horrors at Toledo. Of th dungeons thair had bin straenj things narraeted -- faebls I had allwaes deemd them -- but yet straenj, and too gastly to repeet, saev in a whisper. Was I left to perrish of starvaeshun in this subterrene werld of darknes; or whut faet, perhaps eeven mor feerful, awaeted me? That th rezult wuud be deth, and a deth of mor than customairy biternes, I nue too wel th carracter of mi jujes to dout. Th moed and th our wer all that ocuepied or distracted me.
Mi outstrecht hands at length encounterd sum solid obstrucshun. It was a wall, seemingly of stoen maesonry -- verry smooth, slimy, and coeld. I foloed it up; steping with all th cairful distrust with which serten anteek narrativs had inspierd me. This proses, however, aforded me no meens of ascertaining th dimenshuns of mi dunjon; as I miet maek its serkit, and retern to th point whens I set out, without being awair of th fact; so perfectly ueniform seemd th wall. I thairfor saut th nief which had bin in
mi poket, when led into th inquisitorial chaember; but it was gon; mi cloeths had bin exchaenjd for a raper of cors serj. I had thaut of forsing th blaed in sum mienuet crevis of th maesonry, so as to iedentifi mi point of deparcher. Th dificulty, nevertheles, was but trivial; alltho, in th disorder of mi fansy, it seemd at ferst insooperabl. I tore a part of th hem frum th roeb and plaest th fragment at fuul length, and at riet anggls to th wall. In groeping mi wae around th prizon, I cuud not fael to encounter this rag upon compleeting th serkit. So, at leest, I thaut: but I had not counted upon th extent of th dunjon, or upon mi oen weeknes. Th ground was moist and slipery. I stagerd onwards for perhaps a haf our, when I stumbld and fel. Mi exsesiv fateeg induest me to remaen prostraet; and sleep soon oevertuuk me as I lae.
Upon awaking, and streching forth an arm, I found besied me a loef and a picher with wauter. I was too much exausted to reflect upon this sercumstans, but aet and drank with avidity. Shortly afterwards, I rezoomd mi tur around th prizon, and with much toil, caem at last upon th fragment of serj. Up to th peeriod when I fel, I had counted fifty-too paeses, and, upon rezooming mi wauk, I had counted forty-aet paeses -- when I arievd at th rag. Thair wer in all, then, a hundred paeses; and, admiting too paeses to th yard, I prezoomd th dunjon to be fifty yards in serkit. I had met, however, with meny anggls in th wall, and thus I cuud form no ges at th shaep of th vallt; for vallt I cuud not help supoezing it to be.
I had litl object -- sertenly no hoep -- in thees reserches; but a vaeg cueriosity prompted me to continue them. Qiting th wall, I rezolvd to cross th airia of th encloezher. At ferst, I proseeded with extreem caushun, for th flor, alltho seemingly of solid mateerial, was trecherus with sliem. At length, however, I tuuk curej, and did not hezitaet to step fermly -- endevoring to cross in as direct a lien as posibl. I had advanst sum ten or twelv paeses in this maner, when th remnant of th torn hem of mi roeb becaem entangled between mi legs. I stept on it, and fel vieolently on mi faes.
In th confuezhun atending mi fall, I did not imeedyetly aprehend a sumwhut startling sercumstans, which yet, in a fue seconds afterwards, and whiel I stil lae prostraet, arested mi atenshun. It was this: mi chin rested upon th flor of th prizon, but mi lips, and th uper porshun of mi hed, alltho seemingly at a les elevaeshun than th chin, tucht nuthing. At th saem tiem, mi forhed seemd baethd in a clamy vaepor, and th pecuelyar smel of decaed funggus aroez to mi nostrils. I puut forward mi arm and
shuderd to fiend that I had fallen at th verry brink of a sercuelar pit, hoos extent, of cors, I had no meens of ascertaining at th moement. Groeping about th maesonry just belo th marjin, I sucseeded in dislodging a small fragment, and let it fall into th abis. For neerly a minit I hearkened to its reverberaeshuns as it dasht agenst th sieds of th cazm in its desent: at length, thair was a sulen plunj into wauter, sucseeded bi loud ekoes. At th saem moement, thair caem a sound rezembling th qik oepening, and as rapid cloezing of a dor oeverhed, whiel a faent gleem of liet flasht sudenly thru th gloom, and as sudenly faeded awae.
I now saw cleerly th doom which had bin prepaird for me, and congrachulaeted mieself upon th tiemly acsident bi which I had escaept. A step farther befor mi fall, and th werld had seen me no mor. And th deth just avoided was of that verry carracter which I had regarded as fabuelus and frivolus in th taels respecting th Inqizishun. To th victims of tirany, thair was th chois of deth with its direst fizical agonys, or deth with its moest hidius moral horrors. I had bin rezervd for th later. Bi long sufering mi nervs had bin unstrung, until I trembld at th sound of mi oen vois, and had becum in evry respect a fiting subject for th speeshys of torcher which awaeted me.
Shaeking in evry lim, I groept mi wae bak to th wall -- rezolving thair to perrish rather than risk th terrors of th wels, of which mi imajinaeshun now pikcherd meny in vairius pozishuns about th dunjon. In uther condishuns of miend, I miet hav had curej to end mi mizery at wuns, bi a plunj into wun of thees abysses; but now I was th veriest of cowards. Neether cuud I forget whut I had reed of thees pits -- that th suden extinkshun of lief formd no part of thair moest horribl plan.
Ajitaeshun of spirit kept me awaek for meny long ours; but at length I agen slumberd. Upon arouzing, I found bi mi sied, as befor, a loef and a picher of wauter. A berning therst consoomd me, and I emptyd th vesel at a draft. It must hav bin drugd -- for scairsly had I drunk, befor I becaem irrezistibly drouzy. A deep sleep fel upon me -- a sleep liek that of deth. How long it lasted I, of cors, noe not; but when, wuns agen, I unclosed mi ies, th objects around me wer vizibl. Bi a wield, sulphurous luster, th orijin of which I cuud not at ferst determin, I was enaebld to see th extent and aspect of th prizon.
In its siez I had bin graetly mistaeken. Th hoel serkit of its walls did not exseed twenty-fiev yards. For sum minits this fact ocaezhund me a werld of vaen trubl; vaen indeed -- for whut cuud be of les importans, under th terribl sercumstanses which environed me, than th meer dimenshun of mi dunjon? But mi soel
tuuk a wield interest in trifles, and I bizyd mieself in endevors to acount for th error I had comited in mi mezherment. Th trooth at length flasht upon me. In mi ferst atempt at exploraeshun, I had counted fifty-too paeses, up to th peeriod when I fel: I must then hav bin within a paes or too of th fragment of serj; in fact, I had neerly performd th serkit of th vallt. I then slept -- and, upon awaking, I must hav reternd upon mi steps -- thus supoezing th serkit neerly dubl whut it akchualy was. Mi confuezhun of miend prevented me frum obzerving that I began mi tur with th wall to th left, and ended it with th wall to th riet.
I had bin deseevd, too, in respect to th shaep of th encloezher. In feeling mi wae, I had found meny anggls, and thus deduest an iedeea of graet irreguelarrity; so poetent is th efect of toetal darknes upon our arouzing frum letharjy or sleep! Th anggls wer simply thoes of a fue sliet depreshuns, or niches, at od intervals. Th jeneral shaep of th prizon was sqair. Whut I had taeken for maesonry seemd now to be ieern, or sum uther metal, in huej plates, hoos sutures or joints ocaezhund th depreshuns. Th entier serfis of this metalic encloezher was roodly daubd in all th hidius and repulsiv devieses to which th charnel sooperstishun of th munks has given riez. Th figuers of feends in aspects of menis, with skeleton forms, and uther mor reealy feerful imejes, oeverspred and disfiguerd th walls. I obzervd that th outliens of thees monstrosities wer sufishently distinkt, but that th culors seemd faeded and blerd, as if frum th efects of a damp atmosfeer. I now noetist th flor, too, which was of stoen. In th senter yawned th sercuelar pit frum hoos jaws I had escaept; but it was th oenly wun in th dunjon.
All this I saw indistinctly and bi much efort -- for mi personal condishun had bin graetly chaenjd during slumber. I now lae upon mi bak, and at fuul length, on a speeshys of lo fraemwerk of wuud. To this I was secuerly bound bi a long strap rezembling a surcingle. It past in meny convolutions about mi lims and body, leeving at liberty oenly mi hed, and mi left arm to such extent, that I cuud, bi dint of much exershun, supli mieself with food frum an erthen dish which lae bi mi sied on th flor. I saw, to mi horror, that th picher was absent: to mi horror -- for I was consoomd with intolerabl therst. This therst it apeerd to be th dezien of mi persecutors to stimuelaet -- for th food in th dish was meet punjently seezond.
Luuking upwards I servaed th seeling of mi prizon. It was sum therty or forty feet oeverhed, and constructed much as th sied walls. In wun of its panels a verry singguelar figuer riveted mi hoel atenshun. It was th paented figuer of Tiem as he is comonly reprezented, saev that, in loo of a sieth, he held whut, at a cazhual glans,
I supoezd to be th pikcherd imej of a huej penjulum, such as we see on anteek cloks. Thair was sumthing, however, in th apeerans of this masheen which cauzd me to regard it mor atentivly. Whiel I gaezd directly upward at it, (for its pozishun was imeedyetly oever mi oen,) I fansyd that I saw it in moeshun. In an instant afterwards th fansy was confermd. Its sweep was breef, and of cors slo. I wocht it for sum minits, sumwhut in feer, but mor in wunder. Weeryd at length with obzerving its dul moovment, I ternd mi ies upon th uther objects in th sel.
A sliet noiz atracted mi noetis, and, luuking to th flor, I saw several enormus rats traversing it. Thae had ishood frum th wel, which lae just within vue to mi riet. Eeven then, whiel I gaezd, thae caem up in troops, herydly, with ravenus ies, allured bi th sent of th meet. Frum this it reqierd much efort and atenshun to scair them awae.
It miet hav bin haf an our, perhaps eeven an our, (for I cuud taek but imperfect noet of tiem,) befor I agen cast mi ies upward. Whut I then saw confounded and amaezd me. Th sweep of th penjulum had increest in extent bi neerly a yard. As a nacheral conseqens, its velosity was allso much graeter. But whut maenly disterbd me was th iedeea that it had perceptibly desended. I now obzervd -- with whut horror it is needles to sae -- that its nether extremity was formd of a cresent of glitering steel, about a fuut in length frum horn to horn; th horns upward, and th under ej evidently as keen as that of a raezor. Liek a raezor allso, it seemd massy and hevy, taepering frum th ej into a solid and braud strukcher abuv. It was apended to a waety rod of bras, and th hoel hist as it swung thru th air.
I cuud no longger dout th doom prepaird for me bi munkish injenooity in torcher. Mi cognizans of th pit had becum noen to th inquisitorial aejents -- th pit, hoos horrors had bin destind for so boeld a recuesant as mieself -- th pit, tipical of hel, and regarded bi roomor as th Ultima Thule of all thair punishments. Th plunj into this pit I had avoided bi th meerest of acsidents. I nue that serpriez, or entrapment into torment, formd an important porshun of all th groeteskery of thees dunjon deths. Having faeld to fall, it was no part of th deemon plan to herl me into th abis; and thus (thair being no allternativ) a diferent and a mielder destrucshun awaeted me. Mielder! I haf smield in mi agony as I thaut of such aplicaeshun of such a term.
Whut boots it to tel of th long, long ours of horror mor than mortal, during which I counted th rushing vibrations of th steel! Inch bi inch -- lien bi lien -- with a desent oenly apreeshabl at intervals that seemd aejes -- doun and stil doun it caem! Daes past
-- it miet hav bin that meny daes past -- err it swept so cloesly oever me as to fan me with its acrid breth. Th oedor of th sharp steel forst itself into mi nostrils. I praed -- I weeryd heven with prair for its mor speedy desent. I groo franticaly mad, and strugld to fors mieself upwards agenst th sweep of th feerful simitar. And then I fel sudenly caam, and lae smieling at th glitering deth, as a chield at sum rair baubl.
Thair was an interval of uter insensibility; it was breef; for, upon agen lapsing into lief, thair had bin no perseptibl desent in th penjulum. But it miet hav bin long -- for I nue thair wer deemons hoo tuuk noet of mi swoon, and hoo cuud hav arested th viebraeshun at plezher. Upon mi recuvery, too, I felt verry -- o, inexpresibly -- sik and weak, as if thru long inanition. Eeven amid all th agonys of that peeriod, th hueman naecher craevd food. With paenful efort I outstrecht mi left arm as far as mi bonds permited, and tuuk pozeshun of th small remnant which had bin spaird me bi th rats. As I puut a porshun of it within mi lips, thair rusht to mi miend a haf-formd thaut of joi -- of hoep. Yet whut biznes had I with hoep? It was, as I sae, a haf-formd thaut -- man has meny such, which ar never compleeted. I felt that it was of joi -- of hoep; but I felt allso that it had perrisht in its formaeshun. In vaen I strugld to reealiez -- to regaen it. Long sufering had neerly annihilated all mi ordinairy powers of miend. I was an imbisil -- an idiot.
Th viebraeshun of th penjulum was at riet anggls to mi length. I saw that th cresent was deziend to cross th reejon of th hart. It wuud frae th serj of mi roeb -- it wuud retern and repeet its operaeshun -- agen -- and agen. Notwithstanding its terificaly wied sweep, (sum therty feet or mor,) and th hising vigor of its desent, sufishent to sunder thees verry walls of ieern, stil th fraeing of th serj of mi roeb wuud be all that, for several minits, it wuud acomplish. And at this thaut I pauzd. I daird not go farther than this reflecshun. I dwelt upon it with a pertinasity of atenshun -- as if, in so dweling, I cuud arest heer th desent of th steel. I forst mieself to ponder upon th sound of th cresent as it shuud pas across th garment -- upon th pecuelyar thriling sensaeshun which th fricshun of clauth produeses in th nervs. I ponderd upon all this frivolity until mi teeth wer on ej.
Doun -- stedily doun it crept. I tuuk a frenzyd plezher in contrasting its dounward with its lateral velosity. To th riet -- to th left -- far and wied -- with th shreek and th plunj of a damd spirit! to mi hart, with th stelthy paes of th tieger. I allternetly laft and hould, as th wun or th uther iedeea groo predominant.
Doun -- sertenly, relentlesly doun! It viebraeted within three inches
of mi buuzom! I strugld vieolently -- fueriusly -- to free mi left arm. This was free oenly frum th elbo to th hand. I cuud reech th later, frum th plater besied me, to mi mouth, with graet efort, but no farther. Cuud I hav broeken th fasenings abuv th elbo, I wuud hav seezd and atempted to arest th penjulum. I miet as wel hav atempted to arest an avalanch!
Doun -- stil unseesingly -- stil inevitably doun! I gaspt and strugld at eech viebraeshun. I shrunk convulsivly at its evry sweep. Mi ies foloed its outward or upward wherls with th eegernes of th moest unmeaning despair; thae cloezd themselvs spasmodically at th desent, alltho deth wuud hav bin a releef, o, how unspeekabl! I stil qiverd in evry nerv to think how sliet a sinking or sliping of th masheenery wuud presipitaet that keen, glisening ax upon mi buuzom. It was hoep that prompted th nerv to qiver -- th fraem to shrink. It was hoep -- th hoep that trieumfs on th rak -- that whispers to th deth-condemd eeven in th dungeons of th Inqizishun.
I saw that sum ten or twelv vibrations wuud bring th steel in akchual contact with mi roeb -- and with this obzervaeshun thair sudenly caem oever mi spirit all th keen, colected caamnes of despair. For th ferst tiem during meny ours -- or perhaps daes -- I thaut. It now at wuns ocurd to me, that th bandej, or surcingle, which enveloped me, was ueneek. I was tied bi no sepret cords. Th ferst stroek of th raezor-liek cresent athwort eny porshun of th band, wuud so detach it that it miet be unwound frum mi person bi meens of mi left hand. But how feerful, in that caes, th proximity of th steel! Th rezult of th slietest strugl, how dedly! Was it liekly, moroever, that th minions of th torturer had not forseen and provieded for this posibility? Was it probabl that th bandej crosst mi buuzom in th trak of th penjulum? Dreding to fiend mi faent, and, as it seemd, mi last hoep frustraeted, I so far elevaeted mi hed as to obtaen a distinkt vue of mi brest. Th surcingle enveloped mi lims and body cloes in all direcshuns -- saev in th path of th destroiing cresent.
Scairsly had I dropt mi hed bak in its orijinal pozishun, when thair flasht upon mi miend whut I cannot beter descrieb than as th unformd haf of that iedeea of deliverans to which I hav preeviusly alooded, and of which a moiety oenly floeted indeterminetly thru mi braen when I raezd food to mi berning lips. Th hoel thaut was now prezent -- feebl, scairsly saen, scairsly definit -- but stil entier. I proseeded at wuns, with th nervus enerjy of despair, to atempt its execueshun.
For meny ours th imeedyet visinity of th lo fraemwerk upon which I lae, had bin literaly sworming with rats. Thae wer
wield, boeld, ravenus -- thair red ies glairing upon me as if thae waeted but for moeshunles on mi part to maek me thair prae. "To whut food," I thaut, "hav thae bin acustomd in th wel?"
Thae had devourd, in spiet of all mi eforts to prevent them, all but a small remnant of th contents of th dish. I had fallen into an habichual see-saw, or waev of th hand about th plater; and, at length, th unconshus ueniformity of th moovment deprievd it of efect. In thair vorasity, th vermin freeqently fasend thair sharp fangs in mi finggers. With th particls of th oily and spiesy vieand which now remaend, I theroely rubd th bandej wherrever I cuud reech it; then, raezing mi hand frum th flor, I lae brethlesly stil.
At ferst, th ravenus animals wer startld and terrified at th chaenj -- at th sesaeshun of moovment. Thae shrank alarmedly bak; meny saut th wel. But this was oenly for a moement. I had not counted in vaen upon thair vorasity. Obzerving that I remaend without moeshun, wun or too of th boeldest leept upon th fraemwerk, and smelt at th surcingle. This seemd th signal for a jeneral rush. Forth frum th wel thae heryd in fresh troops. Thae clung to th wuud -- thae oever-ran it, and lept in hundreds upon mi person. Th mezherd moovment of th penjulum disterbd them not at all. Avoiding its stroeks, thae bizyd themselvs with th anointed bandej. Thae prest -- thae swormd upon me in ever acuemuelaeting heeps. Thae riethd upon mi throet; thair coeld lips saut mi oen; I was haf stiefld bi thair thronging presher; a disgust, for which th werld has no naem, sweld mi buuzom, and child, with a dedly clamynes, mi hart. Yet wun minit, and I felt that th strugl wuud be oever. Plaenly I perseevd th loosening of th bandej. I nue that in mor than wun plaes it must be allredy severd. With a mor than hueman rezolooshun I lae stil.
Nor had I erd in mi calcuelaeshuns -- nor had I endurd in vaen. I at length felt that I was free. Th surcingle hung in ribands frum mi body. But th stroek of th penjulum allredy prest upon mi buuzom. It had divieded th serj of th roeb. It had cut thru th linen beneeth. Twies agen it swung, and a sharp sens of paen shot thru evry nerv. But th moement of escaep had arievd. At a waev of mi hand mi deliverers heryd tumultuously awae. With a stedy moovment -- caushus, siedlong, shrinking, and slo -- I slid frum th embraes of th bandej and beyond th sweep of th simitar. For th moement, at leest, I was free.
Free! -- and in th grasp of th Inqizishun! I had scairsly stept frum mi wuuden bed of horror upon th stoen flor of th prizon, when th moeshun of th helish masheen seest, and I beheld it
drawn up, bi sum invisibl fors, thru th seeling. This was a leson which I tuuk desperetly to hart. Mi evry moeshun was undoutedly wocht. Free! -- I had but escaept deth in wun form of agony, to be deliverd unto wers than deth in sum uther. With that thaut I roeld mi ies nervusly around on th barryers of ieern that hemd me in. Sumthing unuezhual -- sum chaenj which, at ferst, I cuud not apreeshiaet distinktly -- it was obvius, had taeken plaes in th apartment. For meny minits of a dreemy and trembling abstracshun, I bizyd mieself in vaen, unconected conjekcher. During this peeriod, I becaem awair, for th ferst tiem, of th orijin of th sulphureous liet which iloominaeted th sel. It proseeded frum a fisher, about haf an inch in width, extending entierly around th prizon at th baes of th walls, which thus apeerd, and wer compleetly separaeted frum th flor. I endevored, but of cors in vaen, to luuk thru th apercher.
As I roez frum th atempt, th mistery of th allteraeshun in th chaember broek at wuns upon mi understanding. I hav obzervd that, alltho th outliens of th figuers upon th walls wer sufishently distinkt, yet th culors seemd blerd and indefinit. Thees culors had now asoomd, and wer moementairily asooming, a startling and moest intens brilyansy, that gaev to th spectral and feendish portraitures an aspect that miet hav thrild ever fermer nervs than mi oen. Deemon ies, of a wield and gastly vivasity, glaird upon me in a thouzand direcshuns, wherr nun had bin vizibl befor, and gleemd with th lurid luster of a fier that I cuud not fors mi dizeezd imajinaeshun to regard as unreel.
Unreel! -- Eeven whiel I gaezd thair caem to mi nostrils th breth of th vaepor of heeted ieern! A sufocaeting oedor pervaeded th prizon! A deeper glo setld eech moement in th ies that glaird at mi agonys! A richer tint of crimzon difuezd itself oever th pikcherd horrors of blud. I panted! I gaspt for breth! Thair cuud be no dout of th dezien of mi tormenters -- o! moest unrelenting! o! moest demoeniac of men! I shrank frum th gloeing metal to th senter of th sel. Amid th thaut of th fiery destrucshun that impended, th iedeea of th coolnes of th wel caem oever mi soel liek baam. I rusht to its dedly brink. I throo mi straening vizhun belo. Th glair frum th enkindled roof iloomind its inmoest reseses. Yet, for a wield moement, did mi spirit refuez to comprehend th meening of whut I saw. At length it forst -- it wrestled its wae into mi soel -- it bernd itself in upon mi shudering reezon. O! for a vois to speek -- o! horror! -- o! eny horror but this! With a shreek, I rusht frum th marjin, and berryd mi faes in mi hands -- weeping biterly.
Th heet rapidly increest, and wuns agen I luukt up, shudering as with a fit of th ague. Thair had bin a second chaenj in th
sel -- and now th chaenj was obviusly in th form. As befor, it was in vaen that I at ferst endevored to apreeshiaet or understand whut was taeking plaes. But not long was I left in dout. Th Inquisitorial vengeance had bin heryd bi mi too-foeld escaep, and thair was to be no mor dalying with th King of Terrors. Th room had bin sqair. I saw that too of its ieern anggls wer now acuet -- too, conseqently, obtoos. Th feerful diferens qikly increest with a lo rumbling or moaning sound. In an instant th apartment had shifted its form into that of a lozenj. But th allteraeshun stopt not heer -- I neether hoept nor dezierd it to stop. I cuud hav claspt th red walls to mi buuzom as a garment of eternal pees. "Deth," I sed, "eny deth but that of th pit!" Fool! miet I hav not noen that into th pit it was th object of th berning ieern to erj me? Cuud I rezist its glo? or if eeven that, cuud I withstand its presher? And now, flater and flater groo th lozenj, with a rapidity that left me no tiem for contemplaeshun. Its senter, and of cors, its graetest width, caem just oever th yauning gulf. I shrank bak -- but th cloezing walls prest me resistlessly onwards. At length for mi seerd and riething body thair was no longger an inch of fuut-hoeld on th ferm flor of th prizon. I strugld no mor, but th agony of mi soel found vent in wun loud, long, and fienal screem of despair. I felt that I toterd upon th brink -- I averted mi ies --
Thair was a loud blast as of meny trumpets! Thair was a discordant hum of hueman voises! Thair was a harsh graeting as of a thouzand thunders! Th fiery walls rusht bak! An outstrecht arm caut mi oen as I fel, fainting, into th abis. It was that of Jeneral Lasalle. Th Inqizishun was in th hands of its enemys. Th French army had enterd Toledo. [Serca August, 1842]
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