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American Short Stories

I dont care what is written about me so long as it isnt true.
! ! ! ! ! Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)
Dorothy Parker was one of the most successful and inuential women ____________ of her era. Dorothy Rothschild was born on August 22, 1893 in West End, N.J. Her mother was Scottish and her father Jewish. She was "a late unexpected arrival in a loveless family". At the age of four her mother died. Her father remarried and Dorothy's home life was strained and distant at best. She was educated in private schools in N.J. and N.Y.C. Dorothy suffered two tragedies as a young woman. Her brother Henry died __________ the Titanic and a year later her father passed __________. Dorothy moved to New York City in 1911 where she lived in a boarding house and worked ____________ a piano player at a dance school. At the age of 21 she began submitting her writing to various magazines and papers. Her poem "Any Porch" was accepted and published by Vanity Fair. A few months later she was hired ______________ Vogue, a sister publication of Vanity Fair. While working at Vogue her submissions to Vanity Fair continued to be published. After two years of working at Vogue she was transferred to Vanity Fair. In 1917 she married Edwin Parker, a stock broker. The marriage only lasted a brief time, but now she was Mrs. Dorothy Parker. At Vanity Fair she became New York's only female drama critic at the time. In the spring of 1919 she was invited to the Algonquin Hotel because of her connections at Vanity Fair and her reputation as a drama critic. This was the beginning of the famous Algonquin Round Table, an renowned intellectual literary circle. Dorothy was the only female founding ________________. It brought together such writers as Robert Benchley, Robert Sherwood, James Thurber, George Kaufman and many others. Dorothy was still writing for Vanity Fair but her reviews were becoming increasingly sarcastic and unfavorable. She was red __________ the magazine in 1921. To ___________ money she began writing subtitles for a movie by D.W. Grifth. Dorothy soon found another job at the magazine Ainslee's where she could be as sarcastic, bitchy, and witty as she pleased. In 1922 she wrote her rst short story - "Such a PrettyLittle Picture" - this was the beginning of her literary _________________. In January of 1924 Dorothy divorced and moved into the Algonquin Hotel. She began writing plays; "Close Harmony" was her rst. The rst issue of The New Yorker was published in early 1925 and Dorothy contributed drama reviews and poetry for the rst few issues. In February of 1926 she ______________ off for Paris, but continued contributing articles to the New Yorker and Life. While in France she befriended Earnest Hemingway; surprisingly, considering his male chauvinist attitudes. Dorothy returned to New York in November. Her rst book of poetry, "Enough Rope", was published and received favorable reviews as well ad being a commercial success. In 1927 she became very involved in the Sacco and Vanzetti trial. She traveled to Boston to join the protests against the execution of two innocent men. During the protest she was arrested but refused to travel in the paddy wagon, insisting on walking to jail. She was a committed socialist from this day _____________ her death. In October Dorothy became the book reviewer for the The New Yorker Magazine, under the ____________ "The Constant Reader". In February of 1929 Dorothy's short _____________ "The Big Blonde" was

American Short Stories

published and she won the prestigious O. Henry ____________ for the best short story of the year. That same year Dorothy began doing screen writing in Hollywood. She moved to Hollywood because she needed the money and was offered a contract by MGM. Dorothy wrote many screenplays over the next decade. In 1933 she once again traveled to Europe where she met her second husband Alan Campbell. He was also of Scottish-Jewish descent, and a rumored bisexual. They became screen writing partners and signed a contract with Paramount Pictures in 1935. In 1936 she helped found the Anti Nazi League. In 1937 Dorothy won an academy award for her joint screenplay of "A Star is Born". Throughout the 1940's Dorothy continued writing ______________ and short stories along with screenplays. She was widely published in many magazines and Viking released an anthology of her short stories and prose. In 1949 she divorced Alan Campbell, but later they remarried. In the 1950's she was called before the House on un-American Activities and pleaded the rst instead of the fth, still refusing to name any names. In 1952-1953 testimony was given _______________ her before the HUAC. From 1957-1963 she worked as a book reviewer for Esquire magazine. In 1959 she was inducted into American Academy of Arts and Letters. She was a distinguished Visiting Professor of English at California State College in L.A. In 1964 she published her nal magazine piece in November's _____________ of Esquire. On June 7, 1967, she was found dead of a heart attack in her room at Hotel Volney in New York City. She ___________________ her entire literary estate to the NAACP.
(adapted from:

EXERCISE 1 Complete the text above with the following words:

title from member away against

signed writers aboard prose earn

bequeathed issue until career set

short by as

American Short Stories A Telephone Call

PLEASE, God, let him telephone me now. Dear God, let him call me now. I won't ask anything else of You, truly I won't. It isn't very much to ask. It would be so little to You, God, such a little, little thing. Only let him telephone now. Please, God. Please, please, please. If I didn't think about it, maybe the telephone might ring. Sometimes it does that. If I could think of something else. If I could think of something else. If I counted ve hundred by ves, it might ring by that time. I'll count slowly. I won't cheat. And if it rings when I get to three hundred, I won't stop; I won't answer it until I get to ve hundred. Five, ten, fteen, twenty, twenty-ve, thirty, thirty-ve, forty, forty-ve, fty.... Oh, please ring. Please. This is the last time I'll look at the clock. I will not look at it again. It's ten minutes past seven. He said he would telephone at ve o'clock. "I'll call you at ve, darling." I think that's where he said "darling." I'm almost sure he said it there. I know he called me "darling" twice, and the other time was when he said good-by. "Good-by, darling." He was busy, and he can't say much in the ofce, but he called me "darling" twice. He couldn't have minded my calling him up. I know you shouldn't keep telephoning them--I know they don't like that. When you do that they know you are thinking about them and wanting them, and that makes them hate you. But I hadn't talked to him in three days-not in three days. And all I did was ask him how he was; it was just the way anybody might have called him up. He couldn't have minded that. He couldn't have thought I was bothering him. "No, of course you're not," he said. And he said he'd telephone me. He didn't have to say that. I didn't ask him to, truly I didn't. I'm sure I didn't. I don't think he would say he'd telephone me, and then just never do it. Please don't let him do that, God. Please don't. "I'll call you at ve, darling." "Good-by, darling.,' He was busy, and he was in a hurry, and there were people around him, but he called me "darling" twice. That's mine, that's mine. I have that, even if I never see him again. Oh, but that's so little. That isn't enough. Nothing's enough, if I never see him again. Please let me see him again, God. Please, I want him so much. I want him so much. I'll be good, God. I will try to be better, I will, If you will let me see him again. If You will let him telephone me. Oh, let him telephone me now. Ah, don't let my prayer seem too little to You, God. You sit up there, so white and old, with all the angels about You and the stars slipping by. And I come to You with a prayer about a telephone call. Ah, don't laugh, God. You see, You don't know how it feels. You're so safe, there on Your throne, with the blue swirling under You. Nothing can touch You; no one can twist Your heart in his hands. This is suffering, God, this is bad, bad suffering. Won't You help me? For Your Son's sake, help me. You said You would do whatever was asked of You in His name. Oh, God, in the name of Thine only beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, let him telephone me now. I must stop this. I mustn't be this way. Look. Suppose a young man says he'll call a girl up, and then something happens, and he doesn't. That isn't so terrible, is it? Why, it's gong on all over the world, right this minute. Oh, what do I care what's going on all over the world? Why can't that telephone ring? Why can't it, why can't it? Couldn't you ring? Ah, please, couldn't you? You damned, ugly, shiny thing. It would hurt you to ring, wouldn't it? Oh, that would hurt you. Damn you, I'll pull your lthy roots out of the wall, I'll smash your smug black face in little bits. Damn you to hell. No, no, no. I must stop. I must think about something else. This is what I'll do. I'll put the clock in the other room. Then I can't look at it. If I do have to look at it, then I'll have to walk into the bedroom, and that will be something to do. Maybe, before I look at it again, he will call me. I'll be so sweet to him, if he calls me. If he says he can't see me tonight, I'll say, "Why, that's all right, dear. Why, of course it's all right." I'll be the way I was when I rst met him. Then maybe he'll like me again. I was always sweet, at rst. Oh, it's so easy to be sweet to people before you love them. I think he must still like me a little. He couldn't have called me "darling" twice today, if he didn't still like me a little. It isn't all gone, if he still likes me a little; even if it's only a little, little bit. You see, God, if You would just let him telephone me, I wouldn't have to ask You anything more. I would be sweet to him, I would be gay,

irritatingly pleased with oneself; self-satised.

American Short Stories

I would be just the way I used to be, and then he would love me again. And then I would never have to ask You for anything more. Don't You see, God? So won't You please let him telephone me? Won't You please, please, please? Are You punishing me, God, because I've been bad? Are You angry with me because I did that? Oh, but, God, there are so many bad people --You could not be hard only to me. And it wasn't very bad; it couldn't have been bad. We didn't hurt anybody, God. Things are only bad when they hurt people. We didn't hurt one single soul; You know that. You know it wasn't bad, don't You, God? So won't You let him telephone me now? If he doesn't telephone me, I'll know God is angry with me. I'll count ve hundred by ves, and if he hasn't called me then, I will know God isn't going to help me, ever again. That will be the sign. Five, ten, fteen, twenty, twenty-ve, thirty, thirty-ve, forty, forty-ve, fty, fty-ve. . . It was bad. I knew it was bad. All right, God, send me to hell. You think You're frightening me with Your hell, don't You? You think. Your hell is worse than mine. I mustn't. I mustn't do this. Suppose he's a little late calling me up --that's nothing to get hysterical about. Maybe he isn't going to call--maybe he's coming straight up here without telephoning. He'll be cross if he sees I have been crying. They don't like you to cry. He doesn't cry. I wish to God I could make him cry. I wish I could make him cry and tread the oor and feel his heart heavy and big and festering in him. I wish I could hurt him like hell. He doesn't wish that about me. I don't think he even knows how he makes me feel. I wish he could know, without my telling him. They don't like you to tell them they've made you cry. They don't like you to tell them you're unhappy because of them. If you do, they think you're possessive and exacting. And then they hate you. They hate you whenever you say anything you really think. You always have to keep playing little games. Oh, I thought we didn't have to; I thought this was so big I could say whatever I meant. I guess you can't, ever. I guess there isn't ever anything big enough for that. Oh, if he would just telephone, I wouldn't tell him I had been sad about him. They hate sad people. I would be so sweet and so gay, he couldn't help but like me. If he would only telephone. If he would only telephone. Maybe that's what he is doing. Maybe he is coming on here without calling me up. Maybe he's on his way now. Something might have happened to him. No, nothing could ever happen to him. I can't picture anything happening to him. I never picture him run over. I never see him lying still and long and dead. I wish he were dead. That's a terrible wish. That's a lovely wish. If he were dead, he would be mine. If he were dead, I would never think of now and the last few weeks. I would remember only the lovely times. It would be all beautiful. I wish he were dead. I wish he were dead, dead, dead. This is silly. It's silly to go wishing people were dead just because they don't call you up the very minute they said they would. Maybe the clock's fast; I don't know whether it's right. Maybe he's hardly late at all. Anything could have made him a little late. Maybe he had to stay at his ofce. Maybe he went home, to call me up from there, and somebody came in. He doesn't like to telephone me in front of people. Maybe he's worried, just a little, little bit, about keeping me waiting. He might even hope that I would call him up. I could do that. I could telephone him. I mustn't. I mustn't, I mustn't. Oh, God, please don't let me telephone him. Please keep me from doing that. I know, God, just as well as You do, that if he were worried about me, he'd telephone no matter where he was or how many people there were around him. Please make me know that, God. I don't ask YOU to make it easy for me--You can't do that, for all that You could make a world. Only let me know it, God. Don't let me go on hoping. Don't let me say comforting things to myself. Please don't let me hope, dear God. Please don't. I won't telephone him. I'll never telephone him again as long as I live. He'll rot in hell, before I'll call him up. You don't have to give me strength, God; I have it myself. If he wanted me, he could get me. He knows where I am. He knows I'm waiting here. He's so sure of me, so sure. I wonder why they hate you, as soon as they are sure of you. I should think it would be so sweet to be sure.

annoyed To walk or stride back and forth across deteriorate physically and mentally in isolated inactivity.

American Short Stories

It would be so easy to telephone him. Then I'd know. Maybe it wouldn't be a foolish thing to do. Maybe he wouldn't mind. Maybe he'd like it. Maybe he has been trying to get me. Sometimes people try and try to get you on the telephone, and they say the number doesn't answer. I'm not just saying that to help myself; that really happens. You know that really happens, God. Oh, God, keep me away from that telephone. Keep me away. Let me still have just a little bit of pride. I think I'm going to need it, God. I think it will be all I'll have. mean and unfair Oh, what does pride matter, when I can't stand it if I don't talk to him? Pride like that is such a silly, shabby little thing. The real pride, the big pride, is in having no pride. I'm not saying that just because I want to call him. I am not. That's true, I know that's true. I will be big. I will be beyond little prides. Please, God, keep me from, telephoning him. Please, God. I don't see what pride has to do with it. This is such a little thing, for me to be bringing in pride, for me to be making such a fuss about. I may have misunderstood him. Maybe he said for me to call him up, at ve. "Call me at ve, darling." He could have said that, perfectly well. It's so possible that I didn't hear him right. "Call me at ve, darling." I'm almost sure that's what he said. God, don't let me talk this way to myself. Make me know, please make me know. I'll think about something else. I'll just sit quietly. If I could sit still. If I could sit still. Maybe I could read. Oh, all the books are about people who love each other, truly and sweetly. What do they want to write about that for? Don't they know it isn't true? Don't they know it's a lie, it's a God damned lie? What do they have to tell about that for, when they know how it hurts? Damn them, damn them, damn them. I won't. I'll be quiet. This is nothing to get excited about. Look, suppose he were someone I didn't know very well. Suppose he were another girl. Then Id just telephone and say, "Well, for goodness' sake, what happened to you?" That's what I'd do, and I'd never even think about it. Why can't I be casual and natural, just because I love him? I can be. Honestly, I can be. I'll call him up, and be so easy and pleasant. You see if I won't, God. Oh, don't let me call him. Don't, don't, don't. abandon or mitigate a harsh intention or cruel treatment. God, aren't You really going to let him call me? Are You sure, God? Couldn't You please relent? Couldn't You? I don't even ask You to let him telephone me this minute, God; only let him do it in a little while. I'll count ve hundred by ves. I'll do it so slowly and so fairly. If he hasn't telephoned then, I'll call him. I will. Oh, please, dear God, dear kind God, my blessed Father in Heaven, let him call before then. Please, God. Please. Five, ten, fteen, twenty, twentyve, thirty, thirty-ve.

Write a short summary of the story. Where is the story set? Who is/are the main characters in the story? Imagine that the phone nally rings and it is the call she has been waiting for. Write a dialogue of the conversation between the two.

American Short Stories

LANGUAGE: Reported Speech
Rewrite each sentence in reported speech, uing the verbs given. Some have been taken from the story. 1. Dear God, let him call me know. I wont ask anything else of you. BEG ________________________________________________________________________________ 2. Ill call you at ve, darling. PROMISE ________________________________________________________________________________ 3. Ill pull your lthy roots out of the wall. Ill smash your smug black face in little bits. THREATEN ________________________________________________________________________________ 4. Im sorry I couldnt come on Saturday, said David. APOLOGISE ________________________________________________________________________________ 5. If he doesnt phone me, Ill know God is angry with me. said Sue. SAY ________________________________________________________________________________ 6. He might be late because he is speaking with his boss. said Linda WORRY ________________________________________________________________________________

DICTATION 1 (CMM website)

FURTHER READING: Parker, Dorothy. A Telephone Call. Points of View: An Anthology of Short Stories. Eds. James Moffett and Kenneth R. McElheny Revised ed. New York: Mentor, 1995. 1-5.

American Short Stories

Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
! ! ! ! ! !

Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, later known as Mark Twain, was born on November 30, 1835, in the tiny village of Florida, Missouri, the sixth child of John and Jane Clemens. When he was 4-years-old, the Clemens ____________ moved to nearby Hannibal, a ______________ town of 1,000 people. John Clemens worked as a storekeeper, lawyer, judge, and land speculator, dreaming of wealth but never achieving it, sometimes nding it hard to feed his family. He was an unsmiling fellow; according to one legend, young Sam never saw him laugh. His mother by contrast, was a fun-loving, tenderhearted _______________ who whiled away many a winter's night for her family by telling stories. She became head of the household in 1847 when John died unexpectedly. The Clemens family "now became almost ______________," writes biographer Everett Emerson, and was forced into years of economic _____________ a fact that would shape the career of Mark Twain. Sam Clemens lived in Hannibal from age 4 to age 17. The town, situated on the Mississippi River, was in many ways a splendid place to grow up. Steamboats arrived there three times a day, tooting their _____________; circuses, minstrel shows, and revivalists paid visits; a decent library was available; and tradesmen such as __________________ and tanners practiced their entertaining crafts for all to see. However, violence was commonplace, young Sam witnessed much death. When he was 9-years-old he saw a local man murder a cattle rancher, and at 10 he watched a slave die after a white _____________ struck him with a piece of iron. Hannibal inspired several of Mark Twain's ctional locales, including "St. Petersburg" in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. These imaginary river towns are complex places: sunlit and exuberant on the one hand, but also vipers' nests of cruelty, poverty, drunkenness, loneliness, and life-crushing ______________. All of that had been a part of Sam Clemens' boyhood experience. Sam kept up his schooling until he was around twelve, when, with his father's death and needing to earn his keep, he found employment as an apprentice printer at the Hannibal Courier, which paid him with a ___________ ration of food. In 1851, at 15, he got a job as a printer and occasional writer and editor at the Hannibal Western Union, a little newspaper owned by his brother Orion. Then, in 1857, 21-year-old Clemens fullled a dream: He began learning the art of piloting a steamboat on the Mississippi. A licensed pilot by 1859, he soon found regular employment plying the shoals and channels of the great river. He loved his career it was exciting, well-paying, and high-status, roughly akin to ying a jetliner today. However, his service was cut short in 1861 by the ________________ of the Civil War, which halted most _____________ trafc on the river.
(adapted from:

Complete the text above with the following words:

boredom! outbreak! blacksmiths !

bustling civilian ! ! clan ! !

destitute! overseer ! whistles !

meager homemaker struggle

American Short Stories The Five Boons of Life

Chapter I In the morning of life came a good fairy with her basket, and said: cautious about possible dangers or problems. keenly expectant or interested. "Here are gifts. Take one, leave the others. And be wary, chose wisely; oh, choose wisely! for only one of them is valuable." The gifts were ve: Fame, Love, Riches, Pleasure, Death. The youth said, eagerly: "There is no need to consider"; and he chose Pleasure. He went out into the world and sought out the pleasures that youth delights in. But each in its turn was short-lived and disappointing, vain and empty; and each, departing, mocked him. In the end he said: "These years I have wasted. If I could but choose again, I would choose wisely. Chapter II The fairy appeared, and said: "Four of the gifts remain. Choose once more; and oh, remember-- time is ying, and only one of them is precious." a long, narrow box in which a dead body is buried. share one's intimate thoughts or feelings with. guilty of or involving betrayal or deception. The man considered long, then chose Love; and did not mark the tears that rose in the fairy's eyes. After many, many years the man sat by a cofn, in an empty home. And he communed with himself, saying: "One by one they have gone away and left me; and now she lies here, the dearest and the last. Desolation after desolation has swept over me; for each hour of happiness the treacherous trader, Love, as sold me I have paid a thousand hours of grief. Out of my heart of hearts I curse him." Chapter III "Choose again." It was the fairy speaking. "The years have taught you wisdom--surely it must be so. Three gifts remain. Only one of them has any worth--remember it, and choose warily." The man reected long, then chose Fame; and the fairy, sighing, went her way. Years went by and she came again, and stood behind the man where he sat solitary in the fading day, thinking. And she knew his thought: "My name lled the world, and its praises were on every tongue, and it seemed well with me for a little while. How little a while it was! Then came envy; then detraction; then calumny; then hate; then persecution. Then derision, which is the beginning of the end. And last of all came pity, which is the funeral of fame. Oh, the bitterness and misery of renown! target for mud in its prime, for contempt and compassion in its decay." Chapter IV "Chose yet again." It was the fairy's voice. "Two gifts remain. And do not despair. In the beginning there was but one that was precious, and it is still here."

a thing that is helpful or benecial; a blessing

waste in a reckless or foolish manner. appearing valuable, but actually cheap or tawdry. a top-oor or attic room, especially a small dismal one. thin and haggard, especially through illness, hunger, or age. pale and appearing ill or exhausted. bite at or nibble persistently.

American Short Stories

"Wealth--which is power! How blind I was!" said the man. "Now, at last, life will be worth the living. I will spend, squander, dazzle. These mockers and despisers will crawl in the dirt before me, and I will feed my hungry heart with their envy. I will have all luxuries, all joys, all enchantments of the spirit, all contentments of the body that man holds dear. I will buy, buy, buy! deference, respect, esteem, worship--every pinchbeck grace of life the market of a trivial world can furnish forth. I have lost much time, and chosen badly heretofore, but let that pass; I was ignorant then, and could but take for best what seemed so." Three short years went by, and a day came when the man sat shivering in a mean garret; and he was gaunt and wan and hollow-eyed, and clothed in rags; and he was gnawing a dry crust and mumbling: "Curse all the world's gifts, for mockeries and gilded lies! And miscalled, every one. They are not gifts, but merely lendings. Pleasure, Love, Fame, Riches: they are but temporary disguises for lasting realities--Pain, Grief, Shame, Poverty. The fairy said true; in all her store there was but one gift which was precious, only one that was not valueless. How poor and cheap and mean I know those others now to be, compared with that inestimable one, that dear and sweet and kindly one, that steeps in dreamless and enduring sleep the pains that persecute the body, and the shames and griefs that eat the mind and heart. Bring it! I am weary, I would rest." Chapter V The fairy came, bringing again four of the gifts, but Death was wanting. She said: "I gave it to a mother's pet, a little child. It was ignorant, but trusted me, asking me to choose for it. You did not ask me to choose." "Oh, miserable me! What is left for me?"

deliberate and unprovoked.

"What not even you have deserved: the wanton insult of Old Age.

Comment on the story. What do you think Twain is trying to tell us with this story? How is the story told? Who are the characters? Would you have made the same choices? How does the man justify the choices he makes?

American Short Stories A CURIOUS DREAM

CONTAINING A MORAL pleasantly warm. sharp, exlosive cry of a dog small concave pieces of wood joined in pairs by a cord and clicked together by the ngers as a rhythmic accompaniment to Spanish dancing. dressed a length of cloth in which a dead person is wrapped for burial. proud walk a collection of things or quantity of material tied or wrapped up together. Night before last I had a singular dream. I seemed to be sitting on a doorstep (in no particular city perhaps) ruminating, and the time of night appeared to be about twelve or one o'clock. The weather was balmy and delicious. There was no human sound in the air, not even a footstep. There was no sound of any kind to emphasize the dead stillness, except the occasional hollow barking of a dog in the distance and the fainter answer of a further dog. Presently up the street I heard a bony clack-clacking, and guessed it was the castanets of a serenading party. In a minute more a tall skeleton, hooded, and half clad in a tattered and moldy shroud, swung by me with a stately stride and disappeared in the gray gloom of the starlight. It had a broken and worm-eaten cofn on its shoulder and a bundle of something in its hand. I knew what the clack-clacking was then; it was this party's joints working together, and his elbows knocking against his sides as he walked. I may say I was surprised. Before I could collect my thoughts and enter upon any speculations as to what this apparition might portend, I heard another one coming for I recognized his clack-clack. He had two-thirds of a cofn on his shoulder, and some foot and head boards under his arm. I mightily wanted, to peer under his hood and speak to him, but when he turned and smiled upon me with his cavernous sockets and his projecting grin as he went by, I thought I would not detain him. He was hardly gone when I heard the clacking again, and another one issued from the shadowy half-light. This one was bending under a heavy gravestone, and dragging a shabby cofn after him by a string. When he got to me he gave me a steady look for a moment or two, and then rounded to and backed up to me, saying: "Ease this down for a fellow, will you?" I eased the gravestone down till it rested on the ground, and in doing so noticed that it bore the name of "John Baxter Copmanhurst,"with "May, 1839," as the date of his death. Deceased sat wearily down by me, and wiped his os frontis with his major maxillary--chiey from former habit I judged, for I could not see that he brought away any perspiration. "It is too bad, too bad," said he, drawing the remnant of the shroud about him and leaning his jaw pensively on his hand. Then he put his left foot up on his knee and fell to scratching his anklebone absently with a rusty nail which he got out of his cofn. "What is too bad, friend?" "Oh, everything, everything. I almost wish I never had died." "You surprise me. Why do you say this? Has anything gone wrong? What is the matter?" an inscribed headstone marking a grave. hit, dented, damaged by use and age. "Matter! Look at this shroud-rags. Look at this gravestone, all battered up. Look at that disgraceful old cofn. All a man's property going to ruin and destruction before his eyes, and ask him if anything is

a hollow in which something ts or revolves. old, worn out box for burying the dead

forehead upper jawbone


American Short Stories

wrong? Fire and brimstone!" "Calm yourself, calm yourself," I said. "It is too bad-it is certainly too bad, but then I had not supposed that you would much mind such matters situated as you are." "Well, my dear sir, I do mind them. My pride is hurt, and my comfort is impaired--destroyed, I might say. I will state my case--I will put it to you in such a way that you can comprehend it, if you will let me," said the poor skeleton, tilting the hood of his shroud back, as if he were clearing for action, and thus unconsciously giving himself a jaunty and festive air very much at variance with the grave character of his position in life--so to speak--and in prominent contrast with his distressful mood. "Proceed," said I. "I reside in the shameful old graveyard a block or two above you here, in this street--there, now, I just expected that cartilage would let go!-third rib from the bottom, friend, hitch the end of it to my spine with a string, if you have got such a thing about you, though a bit of silver wire is a deal pleasanter, and more durable and becoming, if one keeps it polished--to think of shredding out and going to pieces in this way, just on account of the indifference and neglect of one's posterity!" --and the poor ghost grated his teeth in a way that gave me a wrench and a shiver --for the effect is mightily increased by the absence of mufing esh and cuticle. "I reside in that old graveyard, and have for these thirty years; and I tell you things are changed since I rst laid this old tired frame there, and turned over, and stretched out for a long sleep, with a delicious sense upon me of being done with bother, and grief, and anxiety, and doubt, and fear, forever and ever, and listening with comfortable and increasing satisfaction to the sexton's work, from the startling clatter of his rst spadeful on my cofn till it dulled away to the faint patting that shaped the roof of my new home-delicious! My! I wish you could try it to-night!" and out of my reverie deceased fetched me a rattling slap with a bony hand. "Yes, sir, thirty years ago I laid me down there, and was happy. For it was out in the country then--out in the breezy, owery, grand old woods, and the lazy winds gossiped with the leaves, and the squirrels capered over us and around us, and the creeping things visited us, and the birds lled the tranquil solitude with music. Ah, it was worth ten years of a man's life to be dead then! Everything was pleasant. I was in a good neighborhood, for all the dead people that lived near me belonged to the best families in the city. Our posterity appeared to think the world of us. They kept our graves in the very best condition; the fences were always in faultless repair, head-boards were kept painted or whitewashed, and were replaced with new ones as soon as they began to look rusty or decayed; monuments were kept upright, railings intact and bright, the rose-bushes and shrubbery trimmed, trained, and free from blemish, the walks clean and smooth and graveled. But that day is gone by. Our descendants have forgotten us. My grandson lives in a stately house built with money made by these old hands of mine, and I sleep in a

all future generations.

a person who looks after a church and churchyard, typically acting as bell-ringer and gravedigger. a spade = a tool used for digging.

skip or dance about in a lively or playful way.

greenery, bushes.


fail to give proper care or attention to. in a state of disrepair or ruin as a result of age or neglect. speak about something in a scornfully derisive way. fall suddenly, clumsily, or head rst. with a sudden, unsteady movement.

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neglected grave with invading vermin that gnaw my shroud to build them nests withal! I and friends that lie with me founded and secured the prosperity of this ne city, and the stately bantling of our loves leaves us to rot in a dilapidated cemetery which neighbors curse and strangers scoff at. See the difference between the old time and this --for instance: Our graves are all caved in now; our head-boards have rotted away and tumbled down; our railings reel this way and that, with one foot in the air, after a fashion of unseemly levity; our monuments lean wearily, and our gravestones bow their heads discouraged; there be no adornments any more--no roses, nor shrubs, nor graveled walks, nor anything that is a comfort to the eye; and even the paintless old board fence that did make a show of holding us sacred from companionship with beasts and the delement of heedless feet, has tottered till it overhangs the street, and only advertises the presence of our dismal resting-place and invites yet more derision to it. And now we cannot hide our poverty and tatters in the friendly woods, for the city has stretched its withering arms abroad and taken us in, and all that remains of the cheer of our old home is the cluster of lugubrious forest trees that stand, bored and weary of a city life, with their feet in our cofns, looking into the hazy distance and wishing they were there. I tell you it is disgraceful! "You begin to comprehend--you begin to see how it is. While our descendants are living sumptuously on our money, right around us in the city, we have to ght hard to keep skull and bones together. Bless you, there isn't a grave in our cemetery that doesn't leak not one. Every time it rains in the night we have to climb out and roost in the trees and sometimes we are wakened suddenly by the chilly water trickling down the back of our necks. Then I tell you there is a general heaving up of old graves and kicking over of old monuments, and scampering of old skeletons for the trees! Bless me, if you had gone along there some such nights after twelve you might have seen as many as fteen of us roosting on one limb, with our joints rattling drearily and the wind wheezing through our ribs! Many a time we have perched there for three or four dreary hours, and then come down, stiff and chilled through and drowsy, and borrowed each other's skulls to bail out our graves with--if you will glance up in my mouth now as I tilt my head back, you can see that my head-piece is half full of old dry sediment how top-heavy and stupid it makes me sometimes! Yes, sir, many a time if you had happened to come along just before the dawn you'd have caught us bailing out the graves and hanging our shrouds on the fence to dry. Why, I had an elegant shroud stolen from there one morning--think a party by the name of Smith took it, that resides in a plebeian graveyard over yonder--I think so because the rst time I ever saw him he hadn't anything on but a check shirt, and the last time I saw him, which was at a social gathering in the new cemetery, he was the best-dressed corpse in the company--and it is a signicant fact that he left when he saw me; and presently an old woman from here missed her cofn--she generally took it with her when she went anywhere, because she was liable to take cold and bring on the spasmodic rheumatism that originally killed her if she exposed herself to the night air much. She was named Hotchkiss--Anna Matilda Hotchkiss--you might know her? "God forbid!" I involuntarily exclaimed, for somehow I was not looking for that form of question, and it caught me a little off my guard.

needing or ready for sleep.

removing water from the graves.

causing great horror or fear.

A most ghastly expression began to develop among the decayed features and


American Short Stories

shriveled integuments of my guest's face, and I was beginning to grow uneasy and distressed, when he continued: "Yes, friend," said the poor skeleton, "the facts are just as I have given them to you. Two of these old graveyards--the one that I resided in and one further along have been deliberately neglected by our descendants of to-day until there is no occupying them any longer. Aside from the osteological discomfort of it--and that is no light matter this rainy weather--the present state of things is ruinous to property. We have got to move or be content to see our effects wasted away and utterly destroyed. Now, you will hardly believe it, but it is true, nevertheless, that there isn't a single cofn in good repair among all my acquaintance--now that is an absolute fact. Why here come a half dozen members of the Jarvis family, carrying the family monument along. Hello, old friends. Now do you see that individual going along with a piece of a head-board under his arm, one leg-bone below his knee gone, and not a thing in the world on? That is Barstow Dalhousie, and next to Columbus Jones he was the most sumptuously outtted person that ever entered our cemetery. We are all leaving. We cannot tolerate the treatment we are receiving at the hands of our descendants. They open new cemeteries, but they leave us to our ignominy. They mend the streets, but they never mend anything that is about us or belongs to us. Look at that cofn of mine--yet I tell you in its day it was a piece of furniture that would have attracted attention in any drawing-room in this city. You may have it if you want it--I can't afford to repair it. Put a new bottom in her, and part of a new top, and a bit of fresh lining along the left side, and you'll nd her very comfortable. No thanks no, don't mention it you have been civil to me, and I would give you all the property I have got before I would seem ungrateful. Now this winding-sheet is a kind of a sweet thing in its way, if you would like to-- No? Well, just as you say, but I wished to be fair and liberal there's nothing mean about me. Good-by, friend, I must be going. I may have a good way to go to-night --don't know. I only know one thing for certain, and that is that I am on the emigrant trail now, and I'll never sleep in that crazy old cemetery again. I will travel till I nd respectable quarters, if I have to hoof it to New Jersey. All the boys are going. It was decided in public conclave, last night, to emigrate, and by the time the sun rises there won't be a bone left in our old habitations. Such cemeteries may suit my surviving friends, but they do not suit the remains that have the honor to make these remarks. My opinion is the general opinion. If you doubt it, go and see how the departing ghosts upset things before they started. They were almost riotous in their demonstrations of distaste. Hello, here are some of the Bledsoes, and if you will give me a lift with this tombstone I guess I will join company and jog along with them--mighty respectable old family, the Bledsoes, and used to always come out in six-horse hearses and all that sort of thing fty years ago when I walked these streets in daylight. Good-by, friend." And with his gravestone on his shoulder he joined the grisly procession, dragging his damaged cofn after him, for notwithstanding he pressed it upon me so earnestly, I utterly refused his hospitality. I suppose that for as much as two hours these sad outcasts went clacking by, laden with their dismal effects, and all that time I sat pitying them.

a layer of different material covering or attached to the inside of something.

rooms or lodgings. go on foot.

showing public disorder.

a vehicle for conveying the cofn at a funeral. causing horror or revulsion

people rejected by their society or social group.


American Short Stories

This whole matter interested me deeply, and likewise compelled my sympathy for these homeless ones. And it all seeming real, and I not knowing it was a dream, I mentioned to one shrouded wanderer an idea that had entered my head to publish an account of this curious and very sorrowful exodus, but said also that I could not describe it truthfully, and just as it occurred, without seeming to trie with a grave subject and exhibit an irreverence for the dead that would shock and distress their surviving friends. But this ghost of a former citizen leaned towards me and whispered in my ear, and said: "Do not let that disturb you. The community that can stand such graveyards as those we are emigrating from can stand anything a body can say about the neglected and forsaken dead that lie in them." At that very moment a cock crowed, and the weird procession vanished and left not a shred or a bone behind. I awoke, and found myself lying with my head out of the bed and "sagging" downward considerably--a position favorable to dreaming dreams with morals in them, maybe, but not poetry.

feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune. characterized by a feeling of deep distress caused by loss or disappointment. treat without seriousness or respect.

abandon. cried out loudly. sink or hang downwards, gradually under weight or pressure or through lack of strength. directed at.

NOTE.--The reader is assured that if the cemeteries in his town are kept in good order, this Dream is not leveled at his town at all, but is leveled particularly and venomously at the next town.

Describe what has happened to the cemetery since the man/ghost died and was buried there. Why are the dead leaving the cemetery? What is the moral of the story? What point is Twain trying to make?


American Short Stories

Put the verbs in brackets in the correct tense.

Our reporter Jackie Smith, goes to Pierce Hall to experience a spooky weekend. There_______________ (BE) signs of paranormal activity at Pierce Hall at various times over the last 200 years. If tales of headless huntsmen and wailing nuns __________________ (NOT SPOOK OUT) you out, get this for a ghostly tale: a young Victorian man in a silver gown ______________ (EMERGE) from the garden, ________________ (WALK) through the front door, whether or not it happens to be open, and ________________ (WALK) upstairs with a lantern, before vanishing in the library. If local folklore is to be believed, he _____________ (DO) this without fail at midnight on 6 September every year, this being the date of the untimely death of one Stanley Carpenter, the gardener of the hall, who __________ (MEET) his doom in the library, burned by his own lantern. Pierce Hall _____________ (STAND) 3 miles north of the town of Rgby, England, and ___________ (BE) reputedly the most haunted house in England, a claim which few who _________________ (VISITED) it would dispute. Even the approach to the Hall is not a journey to be undertaken by the faint-hearted; at one point an executioner ______________ (EMERGE) from the trees, brandishing an axe, although it must be said that this practice _______________ (CEASE) after September, when the Hall _______________ (CLOSE) to visitors. My own visit _____________ (REVEAL) nothing more mysterious than such gimmicks, laid on for an evergullible ow of tourists, cameras in hand, eager to snap their buttons at the rst sign of anything even remotely unexplainable. But it ___________ (BE) all great fun, and the ghostly maze on the nal day ________ (BE) terric, even if I ____________ (NEVER, GET) to see Stanley Carpenter.


FURTHER READING: The Mark Twain Papers & Project, The Bancroft Library - University of California, Berkley,


American Short Stories

Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality. ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)
EDGAR ALLEN POE was born in Boston, January 19, 1809, and after a tempestuous life of forty years, he died in the city of Baltimore, October 7, 1849. His father, the son of a distinguished ofcer in the Revolutionary army, was educated for the law, but having married the beautiful English actress, Elizabeth Arnold, he abandoned law, and in company with his wife, led a wandering life on the stage. The two died _______________ a short time of each other, leaving three children entirely destitute. Edgar, the second son, a bright, beautiful boy, was adopted _____________ John Allen, a wealthy citizen of Richmond. Allen, having no children of his own, became very much attached to Edgar, and used his wealth freely in educating the boy. At the age of seven he was sent to school at Stoke Newington, near London, _______________ he remained for six years. ________________ the next three years he studied under private tutors, at the residence of the Allen's in Richmond. In 1826 he entered the University of Virginia, where he remained less than a year. After a year or two of fruitless life at home, a cadetship was obtained for him at West Point. He was soon tried by court-martial and expelled from school because he drank to excess and neglected his studies. Thus ended his school days. In 1829 he published "Al Aaraaf, and Minor Poems." "This work," says his biographer, Mr. Stoddard, "was not a remarkable production for a young gentleman of twenty." Poe himself was ashamed________ the volume. After his stormy school life, he returned to Richmond, where he was kindly received by Mr. Allen. Poe's conduct was such that Mr. Allen was obliged to turn him ____________ of doors, and, dying soon after, he made no mention of Poe in his will. Now wholly thrown upon his own resources, he _____________ up literature as a profession, but in this he failed to gain a living. He enlisted as a private soldier, but was soon recognized as the West Point cadet and a discharge procured. In 1833 Poe won two prizes of $100 ______________ for a tale in prose, and for a poem. John P. Kennedy, one of the committee who made the award, now gave him means of support, and secured employment for him __________editor of the "Southern Literary Messenger" at Richmond. After a short but successful editorial work on "The Messenger," his old habits returned, he quarreled with his publishers and was dismissed. While in Richmond he married his cousin, Virginia Clem, and in January, 1837, moved to New York. Here he earned a meager living by writing for periodicals. His literary work may be summed ____________ as follows: In 1838 appeared a ction entitled "The Narrative of Arthur Gorden Pym;" 1839, editor of Burton's "Gentleman's Magazine," Philadelphia; next, editor of "Graham's Magazine;" 1840, "Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque," in two volumes; 1845, "The Raven," published by the "American Review;" then sub-editor of the "Mirror" under employment of N. P. Willis and Geo. P. Norris; next associate editor of the "Broadway Journal." His wife died in 1848. His poverty was now ______________ that the press made appeals to the public for his support. He went to Richmond in 1849, where he was engaged _____________ a lady of considerable fortune. In October he started for New York to arrange for the wedding, but at Baltimore he met some of his former boon companions, and spent the night in drinking. In the morning he was found in a state of delirium, and died in a few hours. (adapted from:

Complete the text above with the following words: to! within! by ! took out! each! where ! up! ! as such of

during !


American Short Stories The Cask of Amontillado

manage to tollerate a word, statement, or sound uttered inict harm in return for (an injury or wrong) not set right action 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 denitely settled - but the very denitiveness 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-tting 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 shaking his hand. I said to him - 'My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking today. 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.' 'Amontillado!' 'I have my doubts.' 'Amontillado!' 'And I must satisfy them.' 'Amontillado!' '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.' 'Where?' a large room or chamber used for storage, especially an underground one 'To your vaults.' 'My friend, no; I will not impose upon your good nature. I perceive you have an engagement. Luchresi -'

an unqualied person who dishonestly claims to have knowledge of a particular subject.

a thing bought or offered for sale for a lower price than normal


American Short Stories

'I have no engagement; - come.' 'My friend, no. It is not the engagement, but the severe cold with which I perceive you are aficted. 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, I begged him to hurry me to my palazzo. There were no attendants at home; they had left to make merry in hour of the time. I had told them that I should not return until the morning, and had given them explicitly orders not to stir from the house. These orders were sufcient, I well knew, to insure their immediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as my back was turned. candle holder attached to a wall I took from their sconces two ambeaux, 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 Montresors. 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 walls.' eyes a watery uid that collects in or drips from the nose or eyes He turned towards me, and looked onto my eyes with two lmy 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 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.'

moisture in the air, on a surface, or in a solid, typically with detrimental or unpleasant effects

manner of walking

expel air from the lungs with a sudden sharp sound

a single act of drinking


American Short Stories

'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 tooth with which a snake injects poison 'A huge human foot d'or, in a eld azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel.' 'And the motto?' No one can harm me unpunished '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 rst, another draught of the Medoc.' violent, agressive I broke and handed him a agon of De Grave. He emptied it at a breath. His eyes ashed with a erce 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.' 'How?' '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' a small tool with a at, pointed blade, used to apply and spread mortar or plaster 'It is this,' I answered, producing from beneath the folds of my cloak 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,

a large cask for liquids

a small green plant which grows in damp places


American Short Stories

unpleasant descended, passed on, and descending again, arrived at a deep crypt, in which the foulness of the air caused our ambeaux rather to glow than ame. 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. look It was in vain that Fortunato, uplifting his full torch, endeavoured to pry into the depth of the recess. Its termination the feeble light did not enable us to see. 'Proceed,' I said; 'herin 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 nding his progress arrested by the rock, stood stupidly bewildered. A moment more and I had tied 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 rst 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 rst 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 nose 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 nished without interruption the fth, the sixth, and the seventh tier. The wall was now nearly upon a level with my breast. I again paused, and holding the ambeaux over the mason-work, threw a few feeble rays upon the gure 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 satised. I re-approached 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 nished a portion of the last and the eleventh; there remained but a single stone to be tted and plastered in. I struggled with its weight; I paced it partially in its destined position. But now there came

a mixture of lime with cement, sand, and water, used in building to bond bricks or stones

a loud, sharp sound as of pieces of metal being struck together

a thin, sharp sword


American Short Stories

from out the niche a low laugh that erected the hairs upon my head. It was succeeded by a sad voice, which I had difculty in recognising as that of the noble Fortunato. The voice said 'Ha! ha! ha! - he! he! he! - a very good joke, indeed - and 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!' listened But to these words I hearkened in vain for a reply. I grew inpatient. I called aloud 'Fortunato!' 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 return only 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. Of the half of a century no mortal had disturbed them. In pace requiescat!


WRITING Answer the following questions: Where and when is the story set? Why does Montresor make sure Fortunato has drunk a lot of wine? What is Luchresi's role in the story? Why do you think Montresor succeeded in leading Fortunato to the niche without raising his suspicions? Why did Montresor go to such lengths to get his revenge? After all, he could merely have run Fortunato through with his sword. Describe the Montresor's family arms. What signicance do they have in the story? Discuss how the Poe uses setting to enhance the atmosphere of horror in the story.


American Short Stories

In the pairs of sentences belwow, change the word in bold in the rst sentence so that it ts the context of the secon sentence. 1. The fourteen-year-old girl was determined to avenge her fathers death and see that his murderer pay dearly for the crime. She seemed an unlikely for such a terrible crime. 2. There's a denite distinction between the moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages and overindulgence to the point of intoxication. Driving while . is illegal. 3. The weather in winter is often cold and damp. Its the that bothers me most. It gets into your bones and it seems you can never get warm enough. 4. After traveling on the ship for so long, his legs were very unsteady and he had a hard time standing. He walked .. off the ship and it looked as if he might fall. 5. Her enthusiasm is extraordinary. She never tires of helping others. She is so . about what she does that she is a pleasure to work with. 6. Its a good thing they moved house after their daughter was born. There is much more space in their new apartment. Their new apartment is much more than their old one. 7. They were all astonished by her performance in the play last night. He is an ... selsh person. The lack of concern he shows for others never ceases to surprise us.


FURTHER READING: The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore