The barrel of amontillado, which is luchesi
The barrel of amontillado
Edgar Allan Poe
Short Story • 1846
I endured all of Fortunato's thousand offensive speeches as best I could, but when he dared insults and insults, I swore vengeance for him. You will not accept - you who know so well the nature of my soul - that I made a threat. One day I would be avenged! But the certainty with which I made my decision forbade me to do anything that could jeopardize my project. Injustice is not punished if the avenger meets with retribution for his act of revenge; nor is it punished if the avenger does not succeed in showing himself as such to his victim.
It must be said in advance that I have not given Fortunato any reason, in word or deed, to question my good disposition. I continued to be kind to him, and he did not notice that my smile was now devoted to the thought of his annihilation.
He had a weakness, this Fortunato - although in other respects he was a respected and even feared man. He boasted that he was a wine connoisseur. Few Italians have a true understanding of art. They are usually only enthusiastic about one thing: fraudulent manipulation against British and Austrian millionaires. Fortunato, like his compatriots, was an ignorant boastful when it came to judging pictures and gemstones, but when it came to old wines he was honest and sure of his judgment. In this I was hardly inferior to him myself; I knew Italian wines well and bought a lot whenever the opportunity arose.
It was during the great carnival time when I met my friend on a dusk evening. He greeted me with exaggerated warmth because he had drunk a lot. The man was masked. He wore a close-fitting, half-striped robe, and the conical fool's cap rose on his head. I was so happy to see him that I couldn't stop shaking hands with him.
I said to him: “My dear Fortunato, I am pleased to meet you. How gorgeous you look today - extraordinarily well! But listen: I have received a barrel of wine that is valid for amontillado, and I have my doubts. "
“How?” He said, “Amontillado? A barrel? Impossible! And in the middle of the carnival? "
"I have my doubts," I replied. “And I was foolish enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you. You were nowhere to be found, and I was afraid I would lose the whole deal if I delayed. "
"I have my doubts."
"And I have to silence them."
“Since you're busy, I'll go see Luchesi. If anyone has a critical judgment, it is him. He will tell me - "
"Luchesi can't tell the difference between amontillado and sherry!"
"And yet some fools claim that his understanding of wine is the same as yours."
"Come on let us go."
"In your cellars."
"No, my friend; I don't want to take advantage of your good nature. I see you are busy. Luchesi - "
"I'm not busy, come on!"
“Dear friend, no! It's not just that you had something else to do; you have a serious cold. The cellar vaults are unbearably damp. You have attached a saltpeter crust. "
“Let's go anyway! The common cold is not worth mentioning. Amontillado! You have been betrayed; and Luchesi - he can't tell the difference between sherry and amontillado. "
With these words, Fortunato pulled me away. I put a black silk mask over my face, wrapped myself tightly in my coat, and let him hurry me to my palazzo.
The servants were not at home; the carnival had lured them out. I had told people that I would not come home until the next morning and strictly forbade them to move out of the house. I knew that was enough for everyone to run away together as soon as I turned my back on them.
I took two torches from the rings on the wall, gave Fortunato one and complimented him through several rows of rooms in the archway that led to the vaults. I stepped down a long winding staircase and asked him to carefully follow me. Finally we reached the bottom and stood together in the damp depths of the catacombs of the Montresors.
My friend's gait was unsteady, and the bells on his cap rang with every step.
"The barrel!" He said.
"That's further back," I replied. "Do you see the white fabric that shines from the cellar walls all around?"
He turned to me and looked me in the eye. His eyes were wet with a cold and drunkenness.
"Saltpetre?" He finally asked.
"Saltpeter," I replied. "How long have you had this cough?"
He coughed, coughed, coughed. My poor friend couldn't answer for minutes.
"It's nothing," he said then.
“Come on,” I said very firmly, “let's go back; your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, loved; you are happy as i used to be. You would leave a void. It's not a shame about me. We want to turn back! You're going to get sick and I can't answer for it. By the way, Luchesi can - "
"Enough!" He said. “The cough is irrelevant; he won't kill me. I will not perish from it. "
"True - true," I replied. “Really, I didn't mean to worry you unnecessarily - but you shouldn't disregard caution. A sip of Médoc will protect us from the effects of the fumes. "
At these words I pulled a bottle out of a long row of bottles lying on the ground along the wall and cut off its neck.
"Drink," I said, and offered him the wine. He put it to his lips. He paused and nodded confidentially to me; his bells rang.
"I drink," he said, "to the dead who rest down here."
"And I look forward to your long life!"
He took my arm again and we went on.
"These vaults," he said, "are spacious."
"The Montresors," I replied, "were a large and numerous family."
"I forgot your coat of arms."
“A huge golden foot in a blue field; the foot crushes a rearing serpent, the teeth of which sit in its heel. "
"And the motto?"
"Nemo me impune lacessit."
"Good!" He said.
The wine flickered from his eyes and the bells rang. The Médoc went to my head too. We had passed a number of stacked skeletons and barrels into the farthest part of the catacombs. I stopped again, this time daring to shake Fortunato's arm.
"The saltpeter!" I said. “See how it gets more and more. It hangs on the arches like moss. We're under the river bed. The moisture drips through the skeletons. Come on, let's go back before it's too late. Your cough - "
"Not worth mentioning," he said; "let's go on. But first ... another sip of Médoc. "
I cut off the neck of a bottle of de Grave and handed it to him. He emptied it in one gulp. A wild light flickered in his eyes. He laughed and tossed the bottle towards the ceiling with a strange movement - a gesture I couldn't understand.
I looked at him in amazement. He repeated the strange gesture.
"You don't understand?" He asked.
"Not in the least," I replied.
"You don't belong to the brotherhood!"
"You are not a bricklayer."
"Yes, yes," I said. "Yes."
"You? Impossible! A bricklayer? "
"A bricklayer," I replied.
"A sign!" He said.
"Here it is," I replied, pulling a trowel from the folds of my throw.
"You're kidding," he exclaimed, backing away from me. "But come on to the amontillado!"
"All right then," I said, taking the ladle back down the coat and offering him my arm. He leaned heavily on it. We continued on our way. We went through several low archways, went down, up and down again, and now entered a deep crypt where the air was so musty that our torches no longer flamed but only smoldered.
At the farthest end of the crypt, another, smaller one emerged. Human bones had been piled up to the ceiling on its walls, like those in the great catacombs of Paris. Three sides of this innermost crypt were still so adorned.
The fourth had its bones cleared away; they were lying around on the floor and were piled up in one place. In the middle of the exposed wall we noticed a final cavity. It was about four feet deep, three feet wide, and six to seven feet high. It did not seem to have been made for any special purpose, but merely formed the space between three of the mighty buttresses that supported the vaulted ceiling of the catacombs; its back wall was formed by one of the massive granite walls.
In vain did Fortunato raise his dim torch to peer into the depths of the cave. The weak light did not allow the rear wall to be seen.
"Go on," I said. “The amontillado is in here. Incidentally, Luchesi could - "
"He's a fool," my friend interrupted as he walked uncertainly; I followed on his heels. A moment later he had reached the end of the cave; He stood in astonishment in front of the wall that held him up. And a moment later I had handcuffed him to the granite. There were two latches in the wall, level and two feet apart; a short chain hung on one of them, a padlock on the other. I threw the chain around Fortunato's body and fastened it in the lock. The whole thing was the work of a few seconds. He was too stunned to offer any resistance. I removed the key and stepped back from the alcove.
"Run your hand over the wall," I said. “You will feel the saltpetre. Indeed, it is seriously damp in there. Once again: be sworn to repent! No? Then I really have to leave you. But first I have to pay you all the little attentions that are in my power. "
"The amontillado!" Shouted my friend, who had not yet recovered from his astonishment.
"True," I replied; "The amontillado."
At these words I tampered with the pile of bones I was talking about earlier. I tossed the bones aside and soon exposed a number of bricks and a pile of mortar. With these materials and with the help of the trowel, I quickly began to wall up the entrance to the niche.
I had barely finished the first row of masonry when I discovered that Fortunato's drunkenness had subsided a lot. The first sign of this was a low, plaintive cry that came from the depths of the cavity. It wasn't a drunk scream. Then there was a long obstinate silence. I built a second row - and a third and fourth; and then I heard the furious pounding and swaying of the tightened chain. The noise lasted several minutes, during which I stopped my work in order to be able to listen better and sat on the heap of bones. When the hasty clank finally stopped, I took the ladle again and completed the fifth, sixth and seventh rows without a break. The wall was now almost level with my chest. I paused again, raised the torch over the masonry, throwing a few faint rays at the figure inside.
Suddenly the bound man uttered wild screams - many loud, piercing screams that made me stagger back. For a moment I hesitated - I trembled. I drew my sword and stabbed it into the darkness of the niche. But after a little thought, I calmed down again. I put my hand on the massive walls of the catacombs and was satisfied. I went back to my wall. I answered the howl of the caller. I mimicked it - amplified it - drowned it out. I did that for a while and the screamer fell silent.
It was now midnight and my work was nearing its end. I had completed the eighth, ninth, and tenth rows. I had finished part of the eleventh and last row; there was only one stone left to insert and wall in place. I struggled with its weight. I lifted it to its place, but could not immediately give it a correct position. Now a soft laugh came from the niche that made my hair stand on end. Then a sad voice spoke that I could hardly recognize as the voice of noble Fortunato. The voice said:
"Ha ha ha - he he - really good fun, we will still laugh about it a lot in the Palazzo - he he he - about our wine - he he he!"
"The amontillado!" I said.
“He he he - - he he - yes, the amontillado. But isn't it late already? Won't they wait for us in the palazzo? The Lady Fortunato and the others? Let's go."
"Yes," I said, "let's go."
"By the love of God, Montresor!"
"Yes," I said, "by the love of God!"
But I waited in vain for an answer to these words. I got impatient, I shouted out loud:
I called again:
Still no answer.
I took his torch, pushed it through the opening, and dropped it to the floor inside. The only answer was the ringing of the bells. My heart became heavy - as a result of the mildew air in the catacombs. I hurried to finish my job. I forced the last stone into its correct position. I walled him up. I piled up the old bone wall against the new masonry. No mortal has touched him in half a century. In pace requiescat!
• • •
• Illustration by Harry Clarke
Edgar Allan Poe
Four mystical stories
Four mystical stories from the inventor of the modern short story, master of the fantastic, the cryptic and father of the detective story:
- The fall of the House of Usher
- The mask of the red death
- The barrel of amontillado
- William Wilson
• Illustrated by Harry Clarke.
Edgar Allen Poe (1809 - 1849) decisively shaped the genres of crime and horror literature. His poetry became the foundation of symbolism and thus of modern poetry.
Harry Clarke (1889-1931) studied stained glass in Dublin and designed more than 130 artistically painted windows. In addition to the works of Poe, he illustrated, among other things. Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales and Goethe's “Faust”.
Paperback: € 5.90 | 88 pages | ISBN: 978-3-7392-1260-9
eBook: € 2.99 | ISBN: 978-3-7392-6549-0
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Edgar Allan Poe: The barrel of amontillado
Edgar Allan Poe: The Secret of Marie Rogêt
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