I was sick, sick unto death, with that long agony, and when they at length unbound me, and
I was permitted to sit, I felt that my senses were leaving me. The sentence, the dread
sentence of death, was the last of distinct accentuation which reached my ears. After that,
the sound of the inquisitorial voices seemed merged in one dreamy indeterminate hum. It
conveyed to my soul the idea of REVOLUTION, perhaps from it's association in fancy with
the burr of a millwheel. This only for a brief period, for presently I heard no more. Yet, for a
while, I saw, but with how terrible an exaggeration! I saw the lips of the black-robed judges.

They appeared to me white -- whiter than the sheet upon which I trace these words -- and
thin even to grotesqueness; thin with the intensity of their expression of firmness, of
immovable resolution, of stern contempt of human torture. I saw that the decrees of what to
me was fate were still issuing from those lips. I saw them writhe with a deadly locution. I saw
them fashion the syllables of my name, and I shuddered, because no sound succeeded. I
saw, too, for a few moments of delirious horror, the soft and nearly imperceptible waving of
the sable draperies which enwrapped the walls of the apartment; and then my vision fell
upon the seven tall candles upon the table.

At first they wore the aspect of charity, and seemed white slender angels who would save
me: but then all at once there came a most deadly nausea over my spirit, and I felt every
fibre in my frame thrill, as if I had touched the wire of a galvanic battery, while the angel
forms became meaningless spectres, with heads of flame, and I saw that from them there
would be no help. And then there stole into my fancy, like a rich musical note, the thought
of what sweet rest there must be in the grave. The thought came gently and stealthily, and
it seemed long before it attained full appreciation; but just as my spirit came at length
properly to feel and entertain it, the figures of the judges vanished as if magically, from
before me; the tall candles sank into nothingness; their flames went out utterly; the
blackness of darkness superened; all sensations appeared swallowed up in a mad rushing
descent as of the soul into Hades. Then silence, and stillness, and night were the universe.

I had swooned; but still will not say that all of consciousness was lost. What of it there
remained I will not attempt to define, or even to describe; yet all was not lost. In the deepest
slumber -- no! In delirium -- no! In a swoon -- no! In death -- no! Even in the grave all was
not lost. Else there is no immortality for man. Arousing from the most profound of slumbers,
we break the gossamer web of some dream. Yet in a second afterwards (so frail may that
web have been) we remember not that we have dreamed. In the return to life from the
swoon there are two stages; first, that of the sense of mental or spiritual; secondly, that of
the sense of physical existence.

It seems probable that if, upon reaching the second stage, we could recall the impressions
of the first, we should find these impressions eloquent in memories of the gulf beyond. And
that gulf is, what? How at least shall we distinguish its shadows from those of the tomb? But
if the impressions of what I have termed the first stage are not at will recalled, yet, after long
interval, do they not come unbidden, while we marvel whence they come? He who has
never swooned is not he who finds strange palaces and wildly familiar faces in coals that
glow; is not he who beholds floating in mid-air the sad visions that the many may not view; is
not he who ponders over the perfume of some novel flower; is not he whose brain grows
bewildered with the meaning of some musical cadence which has never before arrested his
Amid frequent and thoughtful endeavours to remember, amid earnest struggles to regather
some token of the state of seeming nothingness into which my soul had lapsed, there have
been moments when I have dreamed of success; there have been brief, very brief periods
when I have conjured up remembrances which the lucid reason of a later epoch assures me
could have had reference only to that condition of seeming unconsciousness.

These shadows of memory tell indistinctly of tall figures that lifted and bore me in silence
down, down, still down, till a hideous dizziness oppressed me at the mere idea of the
interminableness of the descent. They tell also of a vague horror at my heart on account of
that heart's unnatural stillness. Then comes a sense of sudden motionlessness throughout
all things; as if those who bore me (a ghastly train!) had outrun, in their descent, the limits
of the limitless, and paused from the wearisomeness of their toil. After this I call to mind
flatness and dampness; and then all in MADNESS -- the madness of a memory which
busies itself among forbidden things.

Very suddenly there came back to my soul motion and sound -- the tumultuous motion of
the heart, and in my ears the sound of its beating. Then a pause in which all is blank. Then
again sound, and motion, and touch, a tingling sensation pervading my frame. Then the
mere consciousness of existence, without thought, a condition which lasted long. Then,
very suddenly, THOUGHT, and shuddering terror, and earnest endeavour to comprehend
my true state. Then a strong desire to lapse into insensibility. Then a rushing revival of soul
and a successful effort to move. And now a full memory of the trial, of the judges, of the
sable draperies, of the sentence, of the sickness, of the swoon. Then entire forgetfulness
of all that followed; of all that a later day and much earnestness of endeavour have enabled
me vaguely to recall.

So far I had not opened my eyes. I felt that I lay upon my back unbound. I reached out my
hand, and it fell heavily upon something damp and hard. There I suffered it to remain for
many minutes, while I strove to imagine where and what I could be. I longed, yet dared not,
to employ my vision. I dreaded the first glance at objects around me. It was not that I feared
to look upon things horrible, but that I grew aghast lest there should be NOTHING to see. At
length, with a wild desperation at heart, I quickly unclosed my eyes. My worst thoughts,
then, were confirmed. The blackness of eternal night encompassed me. I struggled for
breath. The intensity of the darkness seemed to oppress and stifle me.

The atmosphere was intolerably close. I still lay quietly, and made effort to exercise my
reason. I brought to mind the inquisitorial proceedings, and attempted from that point to
deduce my real condition. The sentence had passed, and it appeared to me that a very
long interval of time had since elapsed. Yet not for a moment did I suppose myself actually
dead. Such a supposition, notwithstanding what we read in fiction, is altogether inconsistent
with real existence; but where and in what state was I? The condemned to death, I knew,
perished usually at the auto-da-fes, and one of these had been held on the very night of
the day of my trial. Had I been remanded to my dungeon, to await the next sacrifice, which
would not take place for many months? This I at once saw could not be. Victims had been in
immediate demand. Moreover my dungeon, as well as all the condemned cells at Toledo,
had stone floors, and light was not altogether excluded.

A fearful idea now suddenly drove the blood in torrents upon my heart, and for a brief
period I once more relapsed into insensibility. Upon recovering, I at once started to my feet,
trembling convulsively in every fibre. I thrust my arms wildly above and around me in all
directions. I felt nothing; yet dreaded to move a step, lest I should be impeded by the walls
of a TOMB. Perspiration burst from every pore, and stood in cold big beads upon my
forehead. The agony of suspense grew at length intolerable, and I cautiously moved
forward, with my arms extended, and my eyes straining from their sockets, in the hope of
catching some faint ray of light. I proceeded for many paces, but still all was blackness and
vacancy. I breathed more freely. It seemed evident that mine was not, at least, the most
hideous of fates.

And now, as I still continued to step cautiously onward, there came thronging upon my
recollection a thousand vague rumours of the horrors of Toledo. Of the dungeons there
had been strange things narrated fables I had always deemed them, but yet strange, and
too ghastly to repeat, save in a whisper. Was I left to perish of starvation in this
subterranean world of darkness; or what fate perhaps even more fearful awaited me? That
the result would be death, and a death of more than customary bitterness, I knew too well
the character of my judges to doubt. The mode and the hour were all that occupied or
distracted me.

My outstretched hands at length encountered some solid obstruction. It was a wall,
seemingly of stone masonry, very smooth, slimy, and cold. I followed it up; stepping with all
the careful distrust with which certain antique narratives had inspired me. This process,
however, afforded me no means of ascertaining the dimensions of my dungeon; as I might
make its circuit, and return to the point whence I set out, without being aware of the fact, so
perfectly uniform seemed the wall. I therefore sought the knife which had been in my pocket
when led into the inquisitorial chamber, but it was gone; my clothes had been exchanged
for a wrapper of coarse serge. I had thought of forcing the blade in some minute crevice of
the masonry, so as to identify my point of departure. The difficulty, nevertheless, was but
trivial, although, in the disorder of my fancy, it seemed at first insuperable. I tore a part of
the hem from the robe, and placed the fragment at full length, and at right angles to the
wall. In groping my way around the prison, I could not fail to encounter this rag upon
completing the circuit. So, at least, I thought, but I had not counted upon the extent of the
dungeon, or upon my own weakness. The ground was moist and slippery. I staggered
onward for some time, when I stumbled and fell. My excessive fatigue induced me to remain
prostrate, and sleep soon overtook me as I lay.

Upon awaking, and stretching forth an arm, I found beside me a loaf and a pitcher with
water. I was too much exhausted to reflect upon this circumstance, but ate and drank with
avidity. Shortly afterwards I resumed my tour around the prison, and with much toil came at
last upon the fragment of the serge. Up to the period when I fell I had counted fifty-two
paces, and upon resuming my walk I had counted forty-eight more, when I arrived at the
rag. There were in all, then, a hundred paces; and, admitting two paces to the yard, I
presumed the dungeon to be fifty yards in circuit. I had met, however, with many angles in
the wall, and thus I could form no guess at the shape of the vault, for vault I could not help
supposing it to be.

I had little object, certainly no hope in these researches, but a vague curiosity prompted me
to continue them. Quitting the wall, I resolved to cross the area of the enclosure. At first I
proceeded with extreme caution, for the floor although seemingly of solid material was
treacherous with slime. At length, however, I took courage and did not hesitate to step
firmly, endeavouring to cross in as direct a line as possible. I had advanced some ten or
twelve paces in this manner, when the remnant of the torn hem of my robe became
entangled between my legs. I stepped on it, and fell violently on my face.

In the confusion attending my fall, I did not immediately apprehend a somewhat startling
circumstance, which yet, in a few seconds afterward, and while I still lay prostrate, arrested
my attention. It was this: my chin rested upon the floor of the prison, but my lips, and the
upper portion of my head, although seemingly at a less elevation than the chin, touched
nothing. At the same time, my forehead seemed bathed in a clammy vapour, and the
peculiar smell of decayed fungus arose to my nostrils. I put forward my arm, and shuddered
to find that I had fallen at the very brink of a circular pit, whose extent of course I had no
means of ascertaining at the moment. Groping about the masonry just below the margin, I
succeeded in dislodging a small fragment, and let it fall into the abyss. For many seconds I
hearkened to its reverberations as it dashed against the sides of the chasm in its descent;
at length there was a sullen plunge into water, succeeded by loud echoes. At the same
moment there came a sound resembling the quick opening, and as rapid closing of a door
overhead, while a faint gleam of light flashed suddenly through the gloom, and as suddenly
faded away.

I saw clearly the doom which had been prepared for me, and congratulated myself upon the
timely accident by which I had escaped. Another step before my fall, and the world had
seen me no more and the death just avoided was of that very character which I had
regarded as fabulous and frivolous in the tales respecting the Inquisition. To the victims of
its tyranny, there was the choice of death with its direst physical agonies, or death with its
most hideous moral horrors. I had been reserved for the latter. By long suffering my nerves
had been unstrung, until I trembled at the sound of my own voice, and had become in every
respect a fitting subject for the species of torture which awaited me.

Shaking in every limb, I groped my way back to the wall, resolving there to perish rather
than risk the terrors of the wells, of which my imagination now pictured many in various
positions about the dungeon. In other conditions of mind I might have had courage to end
my misery at once by a plunge into one of these abysses; but now I was the veriest of
cowards. Neither could I forget what I had read of these pits that the SUDDEN extinction of
life formed no part of their most horrible plan.

Agitation of spirit kept me awake for many long hours; but at length I again slumbered.
Upon arousing, I found by my side, as before, a loaf and a pitcher of water. A burning thirst
consumed me, and I emptied the vessel at a draught. It must have been drugged, for
scarcely had I drunk before I became irresistibly drowsy. A deep sleep fell upon me, a sleep
like that of death. How long it lasted of course I know not; but when once again I unclosed
my eyes the objects around me were visible. By a wild sulphurous lustre, the origin of which
I could not at first determine, I was enabled to see the extent and aspect of the prison.
In its size I had been greatly mistaken.

The whole circuit of its walls did not exceed twenty-five yards. For some minutes this fact
occasioned me a world of vain trouble; vain indeed, for what could be of less importance,
under the terrible circumstances which environed me than the mere dimensions of my
dungeon? But my soul took a wild interest in trifles, and I busied myself in endeavours to
account for the error I had committed in my measurement. The truth at length flashed upon
me. In my first attempt at exploration I had counted fifty-two paces up to the period when I
fell; I must then have been within a pace or two of the fragment of serge; in fact I had nearly
performed the circuit of the vault. I then slept, and upon awaking, I must have returned
upon my steps, thus supposing the circuit nearly double what it actually was. My confusion
of mind prevented me from observing that I began my tour with the wall to the left, and
ended it with the wall to the right.

I had been deceived too in respect to the shape of the enclosure. In feeling my way I had
found many angles, and thus deduced an idea of great irregularity, so potent is the effect
of total darkness upon one arousing from lethargy or sleep! The angles were simply those
of a few slight depressions or niches at odd intervals. The general shape of the prison was
square. What I had taken for masonry seemed now to be iron, or some other metal in huge
plates, whose sutures or joints occasioned the depression. The entire surface of this
metallic enclosure was rudely daubed in all the hideous and repulsive devices to which the
charnel superstition of the monks has given rise. The figures of fiends in aspects of
menace, with skeleton forms and other more really fearful images, overspread and
disfigured the walls. I observed that the outlines of these monstrosities were sufficiently
distinct, but that the colours seemed faded and blurred, as if from the effects of a damp
atmosphere. I now noticed the floor, too, which was of stone. In the centre yawned the
circular pit from whose jaws I had escaped; but it was the only one in the dungeon.

All this I saw indistinctly and by much effort, for my personal condition had been greatly
changed during slumber. I now lay upon my back, and at full length, on a species of low
framework of wood. To this I was securely bound by a long strap resembling a surcingle. It
passed in many convolutions about my limbs and body, leaving at liberty only my head, and
my left arm to such extent that I could by dint of much exertion supply myself with food from
an earthen dish which lay by my side on the floor. I saw to my horror that the pitcher had
been removed. I say to my horror, for I was consumed with intolerable thirst. This thirst it
appeared to be the design of my persecutors to stimulate, for the food in the dish was meat
pungently seasoned.

Looking upward, I surveyed the ceiling of my prison. It was some thirty or forty feet
overhead, and constructed much as the side walls. In one of its panels a very singular
figure riveted my whole attention. It was the painted figure of Time as he is commonly
represented, save that in lieu of a scythe he held what at a casual glance I supposed to be
the pictured image of a huge pendulum, such as we see on antique clocks. There was
something, however, in the appearance of this machine which caused me to regard it more
attentively. While I gazed directly upward at it (for its position was immediately over my
own), I fancied that I saw it in motion. In an instant afterward the fancy was confirmed. Its
sweep was brief, and of course slow. I watched it for some minutes, somewhat in fear but
more in wonder. Wearied at length with observing its dull movement, I turned my eyes upon
the other objects in the cell.

A slight noise attracted my notice, and looking to the floor, I saw several enormous rats
traversing it. They had issued from the well which lay just within view to my right. Even then
while I gazed, they came up in troops hurriedly, with ravenous eyes, allured by the scent of
the meat. From this it required much effort and attention to scare them away.

It might have been half-an-hour, perhaps even an hour (for I could take but imperfect note
of time) before I again cast my eyes upward. What I then saw confounded and amazed me.
The sweep of the pendulum had increased in extent by nearly a yard. As a natural
consequence, its velocity was also much greater. But what mainly disturbed me was the
idea that it had perceptibly DESCENDED. I now observed, with what horror it is needless to
say, that its nether extremity was formed of a crescent of glittering steel, about a foot in
length from horn to horn; the horns upward, and the under edge evidently as keen as that
of a razor. Like a razor also it seemed massy and heavy, tapering from the edge into a solid
and broad structure above. It was appended to a weighty rod of brass, and the whole
HISSED as it swung through the air.

I could no longer doubt the doom prepared for me by monkish ingenuity in torture. My
cognisance of the pit had become known to the inquisitorial agents, THE PIT, whose
horrors had been destined for so bold a recusant as myself, THE PIT, typical of hell, and
regarded by rumour as the Ultima Thule of all their punishments. The plunge into this pit I
had avoided by the merest of accidents, and I knew that surprise or entrapment into
torment formed an important portion of all the grotesquerie of these dungeon deaths.
Having failed to fall, it was no part of the demon plan to hurl me into the abyss, and thus
(there being no alternative) a different and a milder destruction awaited me. Milder! I half
smiled in my agony as I thought of such application of such a term.

What boots it to tell of the long, long hours of horror more than mortal, during which I
counted the rushing oscillations of the steel! Inch by inch, line by line, with a descent only
appreciable at intervals that seemed ages, down and still down it came! Days passed, it
might have been that many days passed, ere it swept so closely over me as to fan me with
its acrid breath. The odour of the sharp steel forced itself into my nostrils. I prayed, I
wearied heaven with my prayer for its more speedy descent. I grew frantically mad, and
struggled to force myself upward against the sweep of the fearful scimitar. And then I fell
suddenly calm and lay smiling at the glittering death as a child at some rare bauble.

There was another interval of utter insensibility; it was brief, for upon again lapsing into life
there had been no perceptible descent in the pendulum. But it might have been long, for I
knew there were demons who took note of my swoon, and who could have arrested the
vibration at pleasure. Upon my recovery, too, I felt very, oh! inexpressibly sick and weak, as
if through long inanition. Even amid the agonies of that period the human nature craved
food. With painful effort I outstretched my left arm as far as my bonds permitted, and took
possession of the small remnant which had been spared me by the rats. As I put a portion
of it within my lips there rushed to my mind a half-formed thought of joy, of hope. Yet what
business had I with hope? It was, as I say, a half-formed thought, man has many such,
which are never completed. I felt that it was of joy, of hope; but I felt also that it had
perished in its formation. In vain I struggled to perfect, to regain it. Long suffering had
nearly annihilated all my ordinary powers of mind. I was an imbecile, an idiot.

The vibration of the pendulum was at right angles to my length. I saw that the crescent was
designed to cross the region of the heart. It would fray the serge of my robe; it would return
and repeat its operations, again and again. Notwithstanding its terrifically wide sweep (some
thirty feet or more) and the hissing vigour of its descent, sufficient to sunder these very
walls of iron, still the fraying of my robe would be all that, for several minutes, it would
accomplish; and at this thought I paused. I dared not go farther than this reflection. I dwelt
upon it with a pertinacity of attention as if, in so dwelling, I could arrest HERE the descent of
the steel. I forced myself to ponder upon the sound of the crescent as it should pass across
the garment, upon the peculiar thrilling sensation which the friction of cloth produces on the
nerves. I pondered upon all this frivolity until my teeth were on edge.

Down, steadily down it crept. I took a frenzied pleasure in contrasting its downward with its
lateral velocity. To the right, to the left, far and wide, with the shriek of a damned spirit! to
my heart with the stealthy pace of the tiger! I alternately laughed and howled, as the one or
the other idea grew predominant.

Down, certainly, relentlessly down! It vibrated within three inches of my bosom! I struggled
violently, furiously to free my left arm. This was free only from the elbow to the hand. I could
reach the latter, from the platter beside me to my mouth with great effort, but no farther.
Could I have broken the fastenings above the elbow, I would have seized and attempted to
arrest the pendulum. I might as well have attempted to arrest an avalanche!

Down still unceasingly, still inevitably down! I gasped and struggled at each vibration. I
shrunk convulsively at its very sweep. My eyes followed its outward or upward whirls with
the eagerness of the most unmeaning despair; they closed themselves spasmodically at
the descent, although death would have been a relief, O, how unspeakable! Still I quivered
in every nerve to think how slight a sinking of the machinery would precipitate that keen
glistening axe upon my bosom. It was hope that prompted the nerve to quiver, the frame to
shrink. It was HOPE, the hope that triumphs on the rack, that whispers to the
death-condemned even in the dungeons of the Inquisition.

I saw that some ten or twelve vibrations would bring the steel in actual contact with my robe,
and with this observation there suddenly came over my spirit all the keen, collected
calmness of despair. For the first time during many hours, or perhaps days, I THOUGHT. It
now occurred to me that the bandage or surcingle which enveloped me was UNIQUE. I was
tied by no separate cord. The first stroke of the razor like crescent athwart any portion of
the band would so detach it that it might be unwound from my person by means of my left
hand. But how fearful, in that case, the proximity of the steel! The result of the slightest
struggle, how deadly! Was it likely, moreover, that the minions of the torturer had not
foreseen and provided for this possibility! Was it probable that the bandage crossed my
bosom in the track of the pendulum? Dreading to find my faint, and, as it seemed, my last
hope frustrated, I so far elevated my head as to obtain a distinct view of my breast. The
surcingle enveloped my limbs and body close in all directions save SAVE IN THE PATH OF

Scarcely had I dropped my head back into its original position when there flashed upon my
mind what I cannot better describe than as the unformed half of that idea of deliverance to
which I have previously alluded, and of which a moiety only floated indeterminately through
my brain when I raised food to my burning lips. The whole thought was now present, feeble,
scarcely sane, scarcely definite, but still entire. I proceeded at once, with the nervous
energy of despair, to attempt its execution.

For many hours the immediate vicinity of the low framework upon which I lay had been
literally swarming with rats. They were wild, bold, ravenous, their red eyes glaring upon me
as if they waited but for motionlessness on my part to make me their prey. "To what food," I
thought, "have they been accustomed in the well?"

They had devoured, in spite of all my efforts to prevent them, all but a small remnant of the
contents of the dish. I had fallen into an habitual see-saw or wave of the hand about the
platter; and at length the unconscious uniformity of the movement deprived it of effect. In
their voracity the vermin frequently fastened their sharp fangs in my fingers. With the
particles of the oily and spicy viand which now remained, I thoroughly rubbed the bandage
wherever I could reach it; then, raising my hand from the floor, I lay breathlessly still.
At first the ravenous animals were startled and terrified at the change, at the cessation of

They shrank alarmedly back; many sought the well. But this was only for a moment. I had
not counted in vain upon their voracity. Observing that I remained without motion, one or
two of the boldest leaped upon the frame-work and smelt at the surcingle. This seemed the
signal for a general rush. Forth from the well they hurried in fresh troops. They clung to the
wood, they overran it, and leaped in hundreds upon my person. The measured movement
of the pendulum disturbed them not at all. Avoiding its strokes, they busied themselves with
the annointed bandage. They pressed, they swarmed upon me in ever accumulating
heaps. They writhed upon my throat; their cold lips sought my own; I was half stifled by their
thronging pressure; disgust, for which the world has no name, swelled my bosom, and
chilled with heavy clamminess my heart. Yet one minute and I felt that the struggle would be
over. Plainly I perceived the loosening of the bandage. I knew that in more than one place it
must be already severed. With a more than human resolution I lay STILL.

Nor had I erred in my calculations, nor had I endured in vain. I at length felt that I was
FREE. The surcingle hung in ribands from my body. But the stroke of the pendulum already
pressed upon my bosom. It had divided the serge of the robe. It had cut through the linen
beneath. Twice again it swung, and a sharp sense of pain shot through every nerve. But
the moment of escape had arrived. At a wave of my hand my deliverers hurried tumultously
away. With a steady movement, cautious, sidelong, shrinking, and slow, I slid from the
embrace of the bandage and beyond the reach of the scimitar. For the moment, at least I
Free! and in the grasp of the Inquisition! I had scarcely stepped from my wooden bed of
horror upon the stone floor of the prison, when the motion of the hellish machine ceased
and I beheld it drawn up by some invisible force through the ceiling. This was a lesson
which I took desperately to heart. My every motion was undoubtedly watched.

Free! I had but escaped death in one form of agony to be delivered unto worse than death
in some other. With that thought I rolled my eyes nervously around on the barriers of iron
that hemmed me in. Something unusual, some change which at first I could not appreciate
distinctly, it was obvious had taken place in the apartment. For many minutes of a dreamy
and trembling abstraction I busied myself in vain, unconnected conjecture. During this
period I became aware, for the first time, of the origin of the sulphurous light which illumined
the cell. It proceeded from a fissure about half-an-inch in width extending entirely around
the prison at the base of the walls which thus appeared, and were completely separated
from the floor. I endeavoured, but of course in vain, to look through the aperture.

As I arose from the attempt, the mystery of the alteration in the chamber broke at once
upon my understanding. I have observed that although the outlines of the figures upon the
walls were sufficiently distinct, yet the colours seemed blurred and indefinite. These colours
had now assumed, and were momentarily assuming, a startling and most intense brilliancy,
that give to the spectral and fiendish portraitures an aspect that might have thrilled even
firmer nerves than my own. Demon eyes, of a wild and ghastly vivacity, glared upon me in a
thousand directions where none had been visible before, and gleamed with the lurid lustre
of a fire that I could not force my imagination to regard as unreal.

UNREAL! -- Even while I breathed there came to my nostrils the breath of the vapour of
heated iron! A suffocating odour pervaded the prison! A deeper glow settled each moment
in the eyes that glared at my agonies! A richer tint of crimson diffused itself over the
pictured horrors of blood. I panted ' I gasped for breath! There could be no doubt of the
design of my tormentors, oh most unrelenting! oh, most demoniac of men! I shrank from the
glowing metal to the centre of the cell. Amid the thought of the fiery destruction that
impended, the idea of the coolness of the well came over my soul like balm. I rushed to its
deadly brink. I threw my straining vision below. The glare from the enkindled roof illumined
its inmost recesses. Yet, for a wild moment, did my spirit refuse to comprehend the meaning
of what I saw. At length it forced, it wrestled its way into my soul -- it burned itself in upon my
shuddering reason. O for a voice to speak! oh, horror! oh, any horror but this! With a
shriek I rushed from the margin and buried my face in my hands weeping bitterly.

The heat rapidly increased, and once again I looked up, shuddering as if with a fit of the
ague. There had been a second change in the cell and now the change was obviously in
the FORM. As before, it was in vain that I at first endeavoured to appreciate or understand
what was taking place. But not long was I left in doubt. The inquisitorial vengeance had
been hurried by my two-fold escape, and there was to be no more dallying with the King of
Terrors. The room had been square. I saw that two of its iron angles were now acute, two
consequently, obtuse. The fearful difference quickly increased with a low rumbling or
moaning sound. In an instant the apartment had shifted it's form into that of a lozenge. But
the alteration stopped not here, I neither hoped nor desired it to stop. I could have clasped
the red walls to my bosom as a garment of eternal peace.

"Death," I said "any death but that of the pit!" Fool! might I not have known that INTO THE
PIT it was the object of the burning iron to urge me? Could I resist its glow? or if even that,
could I withstand its pressure? And now, flatter and flatter grew the lozenge, with a rapidity
that left me no time for contemplation. Its centre, and of course, its greatest width, came just
over the yawning gulf. I shrank back but the closing walls pressed me resistlessly onward.
At length for my seared and writhing body there was no longer an inch of foothold on the
firm floor of the prison. I struggled no more, but the agony of my soul found vent in one
loud, long, and final scream of despair. I felt that I tottered upon the brink -- I averted my

There was a discordant hum of human voices! There was a loud blast as of many trumpets!
There was a harsh grating as of a thousand thunders! The fiery walls rushed back! An
outstretched arm caught my own as I fell fainting into the abyss. It was that of General
Lasalle. The French army had entered Toledo. The Inquisition was in the hands of its
Robert Burns

James Child
Traditional Ballad

Kate Finley

Thomas Hardy
Withered Arm

Robert Stephen Hawker
The Botathen Ghost

Washington Irving
The Legend of Sleepy Hallow