THE Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

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 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 skilful 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


"I have my doubts."


"And I must satisfy them."


"As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchresi. If any one has a critical turn it is he. He
will tell me --"

"Luchresi 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. Luchresi--"

"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 Luchresi, he cannot distinguish Sherry from Amontillado."

Thus speaking, Fortunato possessed himself of my arm; and 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 upon the damp ground of the catacombs of the

The gait of my friend was unsteady, and the bells upon his cap jingled as he strode.

"The pipe," he said.

"It is farther on," said I; "but observe the white web-work which gleams from these cavern

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 Luchresi --"

"Enough," he said; "the cough's 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

"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 long walls of piled skeletons, with casks and puncheons
intermingling, into the inmost recesses of the 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

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 from beneath the folds of my roquelaire a trowel.

"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 crypt or 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 Luchresi --"

"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 will 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 --


No answer still. I thrust a torch through the remaining aperture and let it fall within. There
came forth in return only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick; it was the dampness of
the catacombs that made it so. 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
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