Edgar Allan


The Cask of Amontillado

Das Fass Amontillado

Synchronisation und Ergänzungen © Doppeltext 2022




The thou­sand in­jur­ies of For­tu­nato I had borne as I best could, but when he ven­tured upon in­sult, I vowed re­venge.
You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not sup­pose, however, that I gave ut­ter­ance to a threat.
At length I would be avenged; this was a point def­in­itely 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 good will.
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 prac­tise im­pos­ture upon the Brit­ish and Aus­tri­an mil­lion­aires.
In paint­ing and gem­mary, For­tu­nato, 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 to-day! But I have re­ceived a pipe of what passes for Amon­til­lado, and I have my doubts.”
“How?” said he. “Amon­til­lado? A pipe? Im­possible! 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 any one has a crit­ic­al turn, it is he. He will tell me —”
“Luchesi 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. Luchesi —”
“I have no en­gage­ment; — come.”
“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 nitre.”
“Let us go, nev­er­the­less. The cold is merely noth­ing.
Amon­til­lado! You have been im­posed upon. And as for Luchesi, he can­not dis­tin­guish Sherry from Amon­til­lado.”
Thus speak­ing, For­tu­nato pos­sessed him­self of my arm.
Put­ting on a mask of black silk, and draw­ing a roquelaire 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 hon­our 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 in­sure 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 to­wards me, and looked into my eyes with two filmy orbs that dis­tilled the rheum of in­tox­ic­a­tion.
“Nitre?” he asked, at length.
“Nitre,” 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, re­spec­ted, ad­mired, be­loved; 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. Be­sides, 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; “and, in­deed, I had no in­ten­tion of alarm­ing you un­ne­ces­sar­ily — but you should use all prop­er cau­tion.
A draught of this Medoc will de­fend us from the damps.”
Here I knocked off the neck of a bottle which I drew from a long row of its fel­lows that lay upon the mould.
“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 im­bed­ded 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 Medoc.
We had passed through walls of piled bones, with casks and puncheons in­ter­ming­ling, into the in­most re­cesses of cata­combs.
I paused again, and this time I made bold to seize For­tu­nato by an arm above the el­bow.
“The nitre!” I said; “see, it in­creases. It hangs like moss upon the vaults. We are be­low the river’s bed.
The drops of mois­ture trickle among the bones. Come, we will go back ere it is too late. Your cough —”
“It is noth­ing,” he said; “let us go on. But first, an­oth­er draught of the Medoc.”
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 up­wards 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.”
“You? Im­possible! A ma­son?”
“A ma­son,” I replied.
“A sign,” he said, “a sign.”
“It is this,” I answered, pro­du­cing a trow­el from be­neath the folds of my roquelaire.
“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, des­cen­ded, passed on, and 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 side 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, en­deav­oured to pry into the depth of the re­cess.
Its ter­min­a­tion the feeble light did not en­able us to see.
“Pro­ceed,” 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 nitre. In­deed, it is very damp.
Once more let me im­plore you to re­turn. No? 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.
“True,” 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.
The noise las­ted for sev­er­al minutes, dur­ing which, that I might hearken to it with the more sat­is­fac­tion, I ceased my la­bours and sat down upon the bones.
When at last the clank­ing sub­sided, I re­sumed the trow­el,
and fin­ished without in­ter­rup­tion the fifth, the sixth, and the sev­enth tier.
The wall was now nearly upon a level with my breast.
I again paused, and hold­ing the flam­beaux over the ma­son-work, threw a few feeble rays upon the fig­ure with­in.
A suc­ces­sion of loud and shrill screams, burst­ing sud­denly from the throat of the chained form, seemed to thrust me vi­ol­ently back. For a brief mo­ment I hes­it­ated — I trembled.
Un­sheath­ing my rapi­er, I began to grope with it about the re­cess; but the thought of an in­stant re­as­sured me.
I placed my hand upon the sol­id fab­ric of the cata­combs, and felt sat­is­fied.
I re­approached the wall; I replied to the yells of him who clam­oured.
I re-echoed — I aided — I sur­passed them in volume and in strength. I did this, and the clam­our­er grew still.
It was now mid­night, and my task was draw­ing to a close. I had com­pleted the eighth, the ninth, and the tenth tier.
I had fin­ished a por­tion of the last and the el­ev­enth; there re­mained but a single stone to be fit­ted and plastered in.
I struggled with its weight; I placed it par­tially in its destined po­s­i­tion.
But now there came from out the niche a low laugh that erec­ted the hairs upon my head.
It was suc­ceeded by a sad voice, which I had dif­fi­culty in re­cog­niz­ing as that of the noble For­tu­nato. The voice said —
“Ha! ha! ha! — he! he! he! — a very good joke in­deed — an ex­cel­lent jest. We shall have many a rich laugh about it at the palazzo — he! he! he! — over our wine — he! he! he!”
“The Amon­til­lado!” I said.
“He! he! he! — he! he! he! — yes, the Amon­til­lado.
But is it not get­ting late? Will not they be await­ing us at the palazzo, the Lady For­tu­nato and the rest? Let us be gone.”
“Yes,” I said, “let us be gone.”
For the love of God, Montre­sor!
“Yes,” I said, “for the love of God!”
But to these words I hearkened in vain for a reply. I grew im­pa­tient. I called aloud —
No an­swer.
I called again —
“For­tu­nato —”
No an­swer still.
I thrust a torch through the re­main­ing aper­ture and let it fall with­in. There came forth in reply only a jingling of the bells.
My heart grew sick on ac­count of the damp­ness of the cata­combs. I hastened to make an end of my la­bour.
I forced the last stone into its po­s­i­tion; I plastered it up. Against the new ma­sonry I re-erec­ted the old ram­part of bones.
For the half of a cen­tury no mor­tal has dis­turbed them. In pace re­qui­es­cat!

Edgar Allan Poe
The Cask of Amontillado / Das Faß Amontillado
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