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The Anglish Moot

The Meshtumb of Red Death

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by Edgar Allan Poe

THE "Red Death" had long wrecked the folkland. No folkbane had ever been so deadly, or so gruesome. Blood was its Fleshbilth and its stamp -- the redness and the dread of blood. There was sharp acheness, and hasty dizziness, and then much bleeding at the skinholes, with breakup. The wormred stains upon the body and besunders upon the leer of the slayn, were the bane ban which shut him out from the help and from the sorryfeeling of his fellow-men. And the whole fit, headway and end of the sickness, were the happenings of half a longlog.

But the Atheling Prospero was happy and bold and witty. When his lands were half unfolkened, he called to his bybe a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and ladies of his hove, and with these withdrew to the deep alonehood of one of his strongheld kilburns. This was a farflung and wonderful framework, the making of the atheling's own quirky yet lordly liking. A strong and lofty wall girdled it in. This wall had gates of iron. The hovers, having gotten in, brought ovens and bulky hammers and welded the bolts. They bychose to leave ways neither of ingang or outgang to the hasty whims of wanhope or of hestmadness from within. The kilburn was richly forseen. With such forecares the hovers might bid thwarting to smittle. The outside world could take care of itself. In the meanwhile it was wanwit to norn, or to think. The atheling had forseen all the tools of cwemeness. There were pranksters, there were makeshift singers, there were waltz-tumbers, there were swinsmiths, there was Comeliness, there was wine. All these and soundness were within. Without was the "Red Death."

It was toward the end of the fifth or sixth month of his alonehood, and while the folkbane stormed most wrathfully abroad, that the Atheling Prospero underheld his thousand friends at a meshtumb of the most unoften greatness.

It was a red-hot scape, that meshtumb. But first let me tell of the rooms in which it was held. There were seven -- onewaldly rooms. In many moothouses, however, such rooms make a long and straight scape, while the folding doors slide back nearly to the walls on either hand, so that the sight of the whole lenght is scantly held back. Here the lodestar was mighty missen; as might have been forwaited from the earl's love of the freakish. The flats were so unevenly laid out that the sight let in but little more than one at a time. There was a sharp wend at every twenty or thirty yards, and at each wend a knickknack inhit. To the right and left, in the middle of each wall, a tall and narrow Gothic window looked out upon a shut hallway which went after the windings of the rooms. These windows were of stained glass whose hue shifted resting on the throughswithing hue of the glings of the room into which it opened. That at the eastern outermost end was hung, for byspell, in blue -- and brightly blue were its windows. The twoth room was redblue in its glings and stepclothwork, and here the glass windows were redblue. The third was green throughout, and so were the window frames. The fourth was beseen and lighted with yellowred -- the fifth with white -- the sixth with swarthown. The seventh flat was nearly shrouded in black tever stepclothwork that hung all over the roof and down the walls, falling in heavy folds upon a stepcloth of the same stuff and hue. But in this room only, the hue of the windows forsaid to match with the glings. The glass windows here were wormred -- a deep blood hue. Now in no one of the seven flats was there any chell or glimstick, amid the beteeming of golden glings that lay scattered to and fro or hanging from the roof. There was no light of any kind stemming from chell or glim within the rooms. But in the hallways that followed the rooms, there stood, athwart to each window, a heavy threefeet, bearing a coalpan of fire that shielded its beams through the hued glass and so glaringly belightened the room. And thus were made a flock of flashy and wonderful bilths. But in the western or black room the inhit of the fire-light that streamed upon the dark hangings through the blood-hued glass windows, was ghastly in the utmost, and brought forth so wild a look upon the leer of those who got in, that there were few of the rgede bold enough to set foot within its grounds at all.

It was in this flat, also, that there stood against the western wall, an ettinish stounder of blackwood. Its hanging swinger swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, flat clang; and when the shortlog-hand made the ember of the leer, and the longlog was to be stricken, there came from the brazen lungs of the stounder a din which was swotel and loud and deep and overgoingly swinsome, but of so weird a note and highlight that, at each oversight of a longlog, the swinsmiths of the swaygathering were made to halt, for a while, in their play, to hearken to the din; and thus the waltzers with no choice halted their unfoldings; and there was a short upsetting of the whole merry thede; and, while the tolls of the stounder yet rang, it was underlooked that the giddiest grew wan, and the elderly and earnest passed their hands over their brows as if in bewildered daydream or threed. But when the witherclanks had fully halted, a light laughter at once forwaded the meeting; the swinsmiths looked at each other and smiled as if at their own edgyness and wanwit, and made whispering oaths, each to the other, that the next ringing of the stounder should bring in them no alike feeling; and then, after the oversight of sixty shortlogs, (which is made up of three thousand and six hundred nutlogs of the Time that flies,) there came yet another tolling of the stounder, and then were the same upsetting and quivering and threed as before.

But, even with these things, it was a merry and great frolics. The likings of the earl were odd. He had a good eye for hues and inhits. He overlooked the gling of [mere] trend. His layouts were bold and fiery, and his hent glowed with wild gloss. There are some who would have thought him mad. His followers felt that he was not. It was needed to hear and see and rine him to be wis that he was not.

He had led, in great deal, the shiftable glings of the seven rooms, upon sele of this great simble; and it was his own leading liking which had given selfsuchness to the meshtumbs. Be wis they were overquirky. There were much glare and glitter and upedgeness and ghost -- much of what has been since seen in "Hernani." There were Arabian-like frames with unfit limbs and glings. There were mind-wandering likings such as the madman shapes. There was much of the comely, much of the wanton, much of the queer, something of the dreadful, and not a little of that which might have stirred misliking. To and fro in the seven room there stalked, indeed, a throng of dreams. And these -- the dreams -- writhed in and about, taking hue from the rooms, and werthing the wild swincraft of the swaygathering to seem as the witherclank of their steps. And, at once, there strikes the blackwood stounder which stands in the hall of the tever. And then, for a breakwhile, all is still, and all is dinless but the steven of the stounder. The dreams are stiff-frozen as they stand. But the witherclanks of the toll die away -- they have held out but a blinktime -- and a light, half-quelled laughter floats after them as they wite. And now again the swincraft swells, and the dreams live, and writhe to and fro more merrily than ever, taking hue from the many-hued windows through which stream the beams from the threefeet. But to the room which lies most westwardly of the seven, there are now none of the meshtumbers who ross; for the night is waning away; and there flows a ruddier light through the blood-hued glass windows; and the blackness of the marten hangcloth scares; and to him whose foot falls upon the marth stepcloth, there comes from the near stounder of blackwood a deadened toll more heavily highlighted than any which reaches their ears who offlet in the more outlying glees of the other flats.

But these other flats were tightly crowded, and in them beat rithingly the heart of life. And the frolic went whirlingly on, until at length there began the dinning of midnight upon the stounder. And then the swincraft halted, as I have told; and the unfoldings of the waltzers were bestilled; and there was a restless halting of all things as before. But now there were twelve strokes to be dinned by the bell of the stounder; and thus it happened, maybe, that more of thought crept, with more of time, into the threeds of the thoughtful among those who frolicked. And thus, too, it happened, maybe, that before the last witherclanks of the last toll had utterly sunk into stillness, there were many folks in the crowd who had found time off to become aware of the bybe of a meshed lede which had gotten the heed of not one lede before. And the hearsay of this new bybe having umspread itself whisperingly, there arose at length from the whole gang a buzz, or clumming, outthrimping of fordeeming and wonder -- then, at last, of fear, of dread, and of foulness.

In a meeting of ghosts such as I have mealed, it may well be guessed that no wonesome looks could have stirred such feeling. In truth the meshtumb leave of the night was nearly unstinted; but the lede I talk about had out-Heroded Herod, and gone beyond the stints of even the atheling's unswotel gling. There are thrums in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be rined without feeling. Even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death are evenly haps, there are hedgings of which no prank can be made. The whole gang, indeed, seemed now deeply to feel that in the outfit and bearing of the outsider neither wit nor fittingness forelay. The lede was tall and lean, and shrouded from head to foot in the clothing of the grave. The mesh which hid the mug was made so nearly to look like the leer of a stiffened dead body that the nearest underseek must have had hardship in heeding the bilk. And yet all this might have been dreed, if not onfanged, by the mad frolickers about. But the mesh had gone so far as to take the kind of the Red Death. His wear was dabbled in blood -- and his broad brow, with all the marks of the leer, was besprinkled with the wormred dread.

When the eyes of Atheling Prospero fell upon this ghostly bilth (which with a slow and heavy shrithing, as if more fully to underhold its playwork, stalked to and fro among the waltzers) he was seen to be fit, in the first breakwhile with a strong shudder either of dread or misliking; but, in the next, his brow reddened with wrath.

"Who dares?" he behight hoarsely of the hovers who stood near him -- "who dares slur us with this godsmeary geck? Grab him and unmesh him -- that we may know whom we have to hang at sunrise, from the walls!"

It was in the eastern or blue room in which stood the Atheling Prospero as he uttered these words. They rang throughout the seven rooms loudly and sharply -- for the atheling was a bold and strong man, and the swincraft had become hushed at the waving of his hand.

It was in the blue room where stood the atheling, with a group of wan hovers by his side. At first, as he spoke, there was a slight rushing shrithing of this group in the wending of the infaller, who at the breakwhile was also near at hand, and now, with willful and drightly step, made nearer atstep to the speaker. But from some nameless awe with which the mad foretruths of the mesh had beghasted the whole fay, there were found none who put forth hand to grab him; so that, unhindered, he nighed within a yard of the atheling's body; and, while the great gathering, as if with one whim, shrank from the middle of the rooms to the walls, he made his way unbebrokenly, but with the same heavy and willful step which had told him aside from the first, through the blue room to the redblue -- through the redblue to the green -- through the green to the yellowred -- through this again to the white -- and even thence to the swarthown, ere a bychosen shrithing had been made to nab him. It was then, however, that the Atheling Prospero, maddening with wrath and the shame of his own breakwhilesome dastardness, rushed hurriedly through the six rooms, while none followed him owing to a deadly dread that had held upon all. He bore aloft a drawn sax, and had drawn near, in quick rash whims, to within three or four feet of the withdrawing lede, when the latter, having reached the outermost side of the tever flat, wended hastily and took on his woather. There was a sharp yell -- and the sax dropped gleaming upon the marten stepcloth, upon which, right afterwards, fell aground in death the Atheling Prospero. Then, drawing on the wild mettle of hopelessness, a throng of the frolickers at once threw themselves into the black flat, and, grabing the mesh, whose tall body stood upright and still within the shadow of the blackwood stounder, gasped in unutteringly dread at finding the grave winding-clothes and dead body-like mesh which they handled with so hest a roughness, undwelled by any true shape.

And now was acknowledged the bybe of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the frolickers in the blood-bedewed halls of their frolics, and died each in the wanhopeful body howstand of his fall. And the life of the blackwood stounder went out with that of the last of the merry. And the blazes of the threefeet ran out. And Darkness and Rot and the Red Death held unstintingly hold over all.

WinterWind 13:37, May 8, 2012 (UTC)

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