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       The thousand injuries
            of Fortunato
          I had borne
              as best I could;
        but when he ventured
            upon insult,
                I vowed revenge.
            who so well know
                the nature of my soul,
          will not suppose,
            that I gave utterance
                to a threat.
       At length
            I would be avenged;
          this was a point
               definitively settled
        -- but the very definitiveness
               with which
                   it was resolved
             precluded the idea of risk.
       I must not only punish,
           but punish with impunity.
       A wrong
            is unredressed
          when retribution
               overtakes its redresser.
       It is equally unredressed
           when the avenger fails
               to make himself felt as such
                  to him
                    who has done the wrong.
       It must be understood
           that neither
                by word nor deed
              had I given Fortunato cause
                   to doubt my goodwill.
       I continued,
            as was my wont,
               to smile in his face,
         and he did not perceive
            that my smile now
                was at the thought
                    of his immolation.
       He had a weak point
          -- this Fortunato --
           although in other regards
                he was a man
                   to be respected
                       and even feared.
       He prided himself
           on his connoisseurship
              in wine.
       Few Italians have
           the true virtuoso spirit.
       For the most part
          their enthusiasm
             is adopted
                 to suit the time
                    and opportunity
        -- to practice imposture
               upon the British
                   and Austrian millionaires.
       In painting
            and gemmary,
              like his countrymen,
                  was a quack
        -- but in the matter
               of old wines
                   he was sincere.
       In this respect
          I did not differ
               from him materially:
             I was skillful
                  in the Italian vintages myself
                and bought largely
                     whenever I could.
       It was about dusk,
          one evening during
              the supreme madness
                  of the carnival season,
            that I encountered my friend.
       He accosted me
            with excessive warmth,
          for he
              had been drinking much.
       The man wore motley.
       He had on
            a tight-fitting
                 parti-striped dress,
         and his head
            was surmounted
                by the conical cap and bells.
       I was so pleased
            to see him
          that I thought
               I should never have done
                   wringing his hand.
       I said to him,
          "My dear Fortunato,
              you are luckily met.
       How remarkably well
           you are looking today!
       But I
           have received a pipe
              of what passes
                 for amontillado,
         and I have my doubts."
       "How?" said he.
       A pipe?
       And in the middle
           of the carnival!"
       "I have my doubts,"
             I replied;
          "and I was
               silly enough to pay
                   the full amontillado price
                  without consulting you
                       in the matter.
       You were not to be found,
            and I was fearful
               of losing a bargain."
       "I have my doubts."
       "And I must satisfy them."
       "As you are engaged,
           I am on my way
               to Luchesi.
       If anyone
            has a critical turn,
          it is he.
       He will tell me--"
           cannot tell amontillado
               from sherry."
       "And yet some fools
             will have it
           that his taste
               is a match for your own."
       "Come, let us go."
       "To your vaults."
       "My friend, no;
           I will not impose upon
               your good nature.
       I perceive
           you have an engagement.
       "I have no engagement;
       "My friend, no.
       It is not the engagement,
          but the severe cold
             with which I perceive
                you are afflicted.
       The vaults
           are insufferably damp.
       They are encrusted
            with niter."
       "Let us go,
       The cold
           is merely nothing.
       You have been
            imposed upon.
       And as for Luchesi,
          he cannot distinguish sherry
              from amontillado."
       Thus speaking,
              possessed himself of my arm.
       Putting on
            a mask of black silk
          and drawing
              a roquelaure
                  closely about my person,
        I suffered him
            to hurry me
                to my palazzo.
       There were
            no attendants at home;
          they had absconded
              to make merry
                  in honor of the time.
       I had told them
           that I should not return
               until the morning
         and had given them
             explicit orders
                 not to stir from the house.
       These orders
           were sufficient,
                I well knew,
          to ensure
              their immediate disappearance,
                   one and all,
            as soon as my back
                was turned.
       I took from their sconces
            two flambeaux and,
                giving one to Fortunato,
          bowed him through
               several suites of rooms
             to the archway
                  that led into the vaults.
       I passed down
            a long
               and winding staircase,
         requesting him
            to be cautious
                as he followed.
       We came at length
            to the foot
                of the descent
         and stood together
             on the damp ground
                of the catacombs
                    of the Montresors.
       The gait of my friend
            was unsteady,
          and the bells upon his cap
               jingled as he strode.
       "The pipe," said he.
       "It is farther on,"
            said I;
         "but observe
              the white web-work
                 which gleams
                     from these cavern walls."
       He turned toward me,
           and looked into my eyes
               with two filmy orbs
             that distilled the rheum
                  of intoxication.
       "Niter?" he asked,
           at length.
       "Niter," I replied.
       "How long
            have you had that cough?"
       "Ugh! ugh! ugh!
         --ugh! ugh! ugh!
            --ugh! ugh! ugh!
         --ugh! ugh! ugh!
             --ugh! ugh! ugh!"
       My poor friend
           found it impossible
               to reply
                  for many minutes.
       "It is nothing,"
           he said,
               at last.
       "Come," I said,
             with decision,
          "we will go back;
               your health is precious.
       You are rich,
         you are happy,
            as once I was.
       You are a man
           to be missed.
       For me
           it is no matter.
       We will go back;
            you will be ill,
         and I cannot be responsible.
           there is Luchesi--"
       "Enough," he said;
           "the cough
               is a mere nothing;
                  it will not kill me.
       I shall not die
           of a cough."
       "True -- true,"
             I replied;
             I had no intention
                  of alarming you unnecessarily
                 -- but you should use
                        all proper caution.
       A draft of this Médoc
           will defend us
               from the damps."
          I knocked off
               the neck of a bottle
             which I drew
                  from a long row
                       of its fellows
                    that lay upon the mold.
       "Drink," I said,
            presenting him the wine.
       He raised it
           to his lips
              with a leer.
       He paused
            and nodded to me familiarly,
          while his bells jingled.
       "I drink,"
             he said,
          "to the buried
                that repose around us."
       "And I to your long life."
       He again took my arm,
          and we proceeded.
       "These vaults,"
             he said,
          "are extensive."
       "The Montresors,"
             I replied,
          "were a great
                and numerous family."
       "I forget your arms."
       "A huge human foot d'or,
             in a field azure;
           the foot crushes
               a serpent rampant
                  whose fangs
                     are embedded in the heel."
       "And the motto?"
       "Nemo me impune lacessit."
       "Good!" he said.
       The wine
           sparkled in his eyes
                and the bells jingled.
       My own fancy
           grew warm with the Médoc.
       We had passed
            through walls
                 of piled bones,
           with casks
               and puncheons intermingling,
        into the inmost recesses
            of the catacombs.
       I paused again,
            and this time
          I made bold
              to seize Fortunato
                  by an arm
                above the elbow.
       "The niter!" I said.
          it increases.
       It hangs like moss
           upon the vaults.
       We are below
           the river's bed.
       The drops of moisture
           trickle among the bones.
          we will go back
             ere it is too late.
       Your cough--"
       "It is nothing,"
             he said;
          "let us go on.
       But first,
          another draft
             of the Médoc."
       I broke
           and reached him
              a flagon of de Grave.
       He emptied it
            at a breath.
       His eyes flashed
           with a fierce light.
       He laughed
           and threw the bottle upward
               with a gesticulation
                   I did not understand.
       I looked at him
            in surprise.
       He repeated the movement
          -- a grotesque one.
       "You do not comprehend?"
            he said.
       "Not I," I replied.
       "Then you are not
           of the brotherhood."
       "You are not
            of the Masons."
       "Yes, yes,"
            I said,
               "yes, yes."
       A Mason?"
       "A Mason,"
          I replied.
       "A sign," he said.
       "It is this,"
             I answered,
           producing a trowel
               from beneath the folds
                   of my roquelaure.
       "You jest,"
             he exclaimed,
           recoiling a few paces.
       "But let us proceed
             to the amontillado."
       "Be it so," I said,
          replacing the tool
              beneath the cloak
            and again
                offering him my arm.
       He leaned upon it heavily.
       We continued our route
           in search
              of the amontillado.
       We passed
            through a range
               of low arches,
             passed on,
        descending again,
             arrived at a deep crypt
           in which
               the foulness of the air
                   caused our flambeaux
                       rather to glow than flame.
       At the most remote end
            of the crypt
          there appeared another
               less spacious.
       Its walls
            had been lined
                with human remains,
              piled to the vault overhead,
         in the fashion
            of the great catacombs
                of Paris.
       Three sides
            of this interior crypt
          were still ornamented
               in this manner.
       From the fourth
           the bones
               had been thrown down
             and lay promiscuously
                  upon the earth,
         forming at one point
             a mound of some size.
       Within the wall
            thus exposed
                by the displacing
                    of the bones,
          we perceived
               a still interior recess,
             in depth about four feet,
           in width three,
         in height six or seven.
       It seemed
           to have been constructed
               for no especial use
                    within itself,
         but formed
            merely the interval
               between two
                    of the colossal supports
                  of the roof
                        of the catacombs
           and was backed
               by one of their
                   circumscribing walls
                       of solid granite.
       It was in vain
           that Fortunato,
                uplifting his dull torch,
                   to pry into the depth
                        of the recess.
       Its termination
          the feeble light
              did not enable us to see.
             I said;
         "herein is the amontillado.
       As for Luchesi--"
       "He is an ignoramus,"
             interrupted my friend,
           as he stepped
                unsteadily forward,
         while I followed
             immediately at his heels.
       In an instant
           he had reached
                the extremity of the niche,
              and finding his progress
                   arrested by the rock,
          stood stupidly bewildered.
       A moment more
           and I had fettered him
               to the granite.
       In its surface
            were two iron staples,
          distant from each other
               about two feet horizontally.
       From one of these
            depended a short chain,
          from the other a padlock.
       Throwing the links
            about his waist,
          it was
              but the work
                  of a few seconds
                to secure it.
       He was
          too much astounded
              to resist.
       Withdrawing the key,
           I stepped back
              from the recess.
       "Pass your hand,"
             I said,
          "over the wall;
               you cannot help
                   feeling the niter.
           it is very damp.
       Once more
          let me implore you
              to return.
       Then I
           must positively leave you.
       But I
           must first render you
              all the little attentions
                  in my power."
       "The amontillado!"
             ejaculated my friend,
           not yet recovered
                from his astonishment.
           I replied;
             "the amontillado."
       As I said these words,
          I busied myself
             among the pile of bones
                of which
                    I have before spoken.
       Throwing them aside,
          I soon uncovered
              a quantity
                   of building stone
                 and mortar.
       With these materials
            and with the aid
                of my trowel,
          I began vigorously
             to wall up the entrance
                 of the niche.
       I had scarcely laid
            the first tier
                of the masonry
          when I discovered
              that the intoxication
                   of Fortunato
                 had in a great measure
                       worn off.
       The earliest indication
            I had of this
          was a low
              moaning cry
                  from the depth of the recess.
       It was not the cry
            of a drunken man.
       There was then a long
            and obstinate silence.
       I laid the second tier,
           and the third,
                and the fourth;
         and then I heard
             the furious vibrations
                  of the chain.
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