ESOL Gramatika Výslovnost Testy Kurz 60 Texty Idiomy Nápovědy Angličtina

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The Mask of the Red Death
Edgar Allan Poe

THE "RED DEATH" had long been feeding on the country. No sickness had ever been so deadly, or so terrible to see. Blood was its mark -the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and a sudden feeling that the mind was circling inside the skull, and then bleeding through the skin though it was not cut or broken, and sudden decay. The scarlet spots upon the body and especially upon the face of the sick man closed him off forever from his fellow men. And the whole course of the sickness from beginning to end took no more than half an hour.

But the Lord Prospero was happy and strong and wise. When half the people of his land had died, he called to him a thousand healthy and light-hearted friends and with them went far away to one of his palaces. This was a large and beautiful building of his own planning. A strong and high wall circled it. This wall had gates of iron. The gentlemen, having entered, brought fire to heat the iron in the gates and lock them so that no key could open them. They wished to make certain that no one could go either out or in. There was enough food. They could forget the sick-ness here. They would leave the outside world to take care of itself. They would not be such fools as to think of it or feel sad about it. The lord had supplied everything they needed for pleasure. There was music, there was dancing, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these were within, and within they were also safe. Outside the wall was the "Red Death."

It was toward the end of their fifth or sixth month here that the Lord Prospero gave for his friends a great masquerade.

It was a scene of the greatest richness, that masquerade. But first let me tell of the rooms in which it was held. There were seven. In many palaces the doors can be opened so that rooms like these seven can be seen all at the same time. In this palace it was different. Little more than one could be seen at a time. There was a turn at every twenty or thirty yards.

To the right and left, in the middle of each wall, was a tall and pointed window. These windows were of colored glass, of the same color as that used in each room. The east room had cloth hangings in blue-and blue were its windows. The second room was that blue-red known as purple, and here the windows were purple. The third was green, and so were the windows. The fourth had hangings and windows of yellow-the fifth of white-the sixth of that red-blue called violet. The seventh room had hangings of rich soft cloth in black, and the floor was covered with the same material. But in this room the color in the windows was different. The glass here was scarlet -a deep blood color.

All these rooms were lighted from the outside by fire, which burned in iron containers at each window. The resulting light was strange indeed and often beautiful. But in the west or black room the firelight that fell on the black hangings through the blood-colored glass was ghastly, and produced so wild a look upon the faces of those who entered, that there were few of the company who dared to set foot within those dark walls.

In this room stood a great clock of black wood. With a sad and heavy sound it marked the seconds as they passed; and when it was time to strike the hour, there came a clear and loud and deep note, as beautiful as music but so strange that the dancers stood still to listen. Even the happiest turned white, and the aged seemed to lose themselves in thought. And then all would laugh again, and tell each other that next time they would not stop to listen. And then, after sixty minutes (three thousand and six hundred seconds of the Time that flies), the clock would strike, and the dancers would stop as before.

But nevertheless it was a happy and beautiful masquerade. The tastes of the lord were not like those of other men. He had a good eye for colors and their use. His plans were daring and full of fire. Some would have said that his mind had escaped from his control. But his followers believed in him. It was necessary to hear and see and touch him to believe in him.

It was his taste which had guided the masqueraders in their dress. You may be sure they were fanciful and strange. There was much of the beautiful, something of the terrible, not a little of the sickening. Here and there through the rooms walked, in fact, a thousand dreams. And these- the dreams-moved in and about, taking color from the rooms. It did not seem that their steps followed the music, but that the music arose from their steps.

And then the black clock strikes, and all but its voice is quiet. The dreams stand as if turned to ice. And then again the music rises, and the dreams live and laugh, and move more brightly than ever, taking color from the windows through which the firelight comes.
But in the room which lies most to the west,, the maskers no longer go, for a redder light comes through the windows, and the blackness of the wall-hangings makes them afraid, and he who enters hears more deeply the striking of the great black clock.

But the other rooms were crowded, and in them beat hotly the heart of Me. And the dance went on until at length the clock began to strike twelve. And then the music stopped, the dancers stood still, while the slow striking continued. Before the clock was quiet again, many in the crowd had found time to see that there was a masquerader among them who had not been seen before. As they whispered to each other about him, there spread through the whole company a feeling of surprise, then of terror and of sickening horror. In such a company as I have pictured, it may well be supposed that only a very strange masquerader could have caused such a feeling. Even to those who laugh at both life and death, some .matters are not to be laughed about. The whole company, indeed, seemed now deeply to feel that the dress of the stranger should never have been allowed. He was tall and very thin, and covered from head to foot like a dead man prepared for the grave. The mask which covered his face was so much like the face of a dead man that the nearest eye could not see the difference. And yet all this might have been considered suitable enough. But the masquerader had gone so far as to take the appearance of the Red Death. His clothes were spotted in blood-and his face too was spotted with the scarlet horror.

When the eyes of Lord Prospero fell upon this ghastly form (which moved slowly among the dancers) he was seen to be filled first with terror and then with anger.

"Who dares?" he cried. "Take him and pull off his mask so that we may know whom we must hang at sunrise!"

Lord Prospero stood in the east or blue room when he spoke these words. They sounded through the seven rooms loudly and clearly. At first, as he spoke, there was a rushing movement in the group toward the stranger, but no one would put out a hand to touch him.

He passed within a yard of the lord; and while everyone' moved back from the centers of the rooms, he made his way, without being stopped, with a slow and measured step, through the blue room to the purple-through the purple to the green-through the green to the yellow-through this again to the white-and then to the violet. It was then that the Lord Prospero angrily and hurriedly rushed through the six rooms. Held by a deadly terror, no one followed him. His dagger in hand, held high over his head, he was within three or four feet of the masquerader, when the stranger turned and faced him.

There was a sharp cry-and the dagger dropped shining upon the black floor, upon which a minute later fell in death the Lord Prospero.

Then the dancers threw themselves into the black room. Laying strong hands on the masquerader, whose tall form stood beside the black clock, they cried out in horror at finding that the grave-clothes and the deathlike mask were filled by no bodily form.

And now they knew the Red Death had come in the night. And one by one the dancers dropped, and each died as he fell. And the life of the black clock went out with that of the last of the dancers. And the fires died. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death were lords forever over all.