The Tragedy of Lady Madeline | Part 5 of The Fall of the House of Usher

This is Part 5 The Tragedy of Lady Madeline. If you’ve accidentally landed on this page without reading Part 1, click this link! Remember you can download this in ePUB form for free from Gumroad.

Serialization Index

The Fall of the House of Usher | Part 1
Roderick Usher | Part 2
Madeline’s Mystery | Part 3
Usher Secrets | Part 4
The Tragedy of Lady Madeline | Part 5
A Descent into Madness | Part 6
Usher Legacy | Part 7

Part 5 of The Fall of the House of Usher

The Tragedy of Lady Madeline - The Fall of the House of Usher
The Fall of the House of Usher

The Tragedy of Lady Madeline

Days of mourning had passed, and I could see Roderick’s mental state deteriorating rapidly. He was no longer the man I once knew. His usual activities were abandoned, and he wandered aimlessly from room to room, his steps uneven and hurried. Roderick’s face, already pale, had taken on an even more ghastly hue, and his once luminous eyes were now dull. It shocked me how lifeless he looked. His voice, once occasionally husky, now trembled.

Sometimes, I thought he was struggling to reveal a terrible secret, but then I’d catch him staring into nothing, as if he could hear something I couldn’t. His behavior was becoming infectious, and I felt the wild influences of his superstitions creeping upon me.

One night, a week or so after we put Madeline in the vault, I found myself unable to sleep. The room’s gloomy decor, the dark and tattered drapes swaying in the rising storm, did little to calm my nerves. I rose from my bed to shut the window. In the resulting silence, I trembled. I sat on the edge of the bed, listening to low and indefinite sounds that came at long intervals mixing with the sounds of the storm.

Overwhelmed by an intense feeling of horror, I threw on my clothes and paced rapidly around the room. After a few turns, a light step on an adjoining staircase caught my attention. It was Usher. He entered, holding a lamp, his face as pale as ever, but with a wild, almost hysterical look in his eyes.

“You haven’t seen it?” he asked abruptly, after staring around in silence. “You haven’t seen it? But you will.” He hurried to the window and threw it open to the storm.

The wind nearly knocked us off our feet. It was a wild, beautiful, and terrifying night. A whirlwind seemed to have gathered near us, causing violent changes in wind direction. The clouds were dense, hanging low and pressing upon the house’s turrets, yet we could see the lifelike speed at which they flew against each other. The scene was illuminated by an unnatural light from a faintly luminous and visible gaseous exhalation that enshrouded the house.

“Don’t look at it!” I shuddered, leading Usher away from the window. “These are only electrical phenomena, or maybe they’re caused by the mist from the lake. Let’s close this window and read one of your favorite books to pass the night.”

I picked up an old book, “The Mad Trist” by Sir Launcelot Canning, and read aloud. The story was about Ethelred, the hero, trying to enter a hermit’s dwelling. As I read the part where Ethelred forces his way in, I thought I heard a similar cracking and ripping sound from somewhere in the house. I ignored it, attributing it to the storm.

But when I read about Ethelred slaying the dragon, I heard a low, distant, but harsh and protracted screaming sound. I was filled with extreme terror, but I tried not to show it, unsure if Usher had noticed. He had changed during the last few minutes. His chair turned towards the door, his lips trembling as if murmuring inaudibly. His head was dropped, but his eyes were wide open, staring into the distance.

I continued reading, trying to keep my voice steady. But when I read about the shield falling with a mighty ringing sound, I heard a distinct, hollow, metallic, and clangorous, yet muffled, reverberation. I leaped to my feet, but Usher remained unmoved. I rushed to him, and as I placed my hand on his shoulder, he shuddered, a sickly smile quivering on his lips. He spoke in a low, hurried, and gibbering murmur, as if unconscious of my presence. I leaned in to listen, and the hideous import of his words sent a chill down my spine.


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