Yea! though I walk through the valley of the

'Psalm of David'.

Ye who read are still among the living; but I who write
shall have long since gone my way into the region of
shadows. For indeed strange things shall happen, and secret
things be known, and many centuries shall pass away, ere
these memorials be seen of men. And, when seen, there will
be some to disbelieve and some to doubt, and yet a few who
will find much to ponder upon in the characters here graven
with a stylus of iron.

The year had been a year of terror, and of feeling more
intense than terror for which there is no name upon the
earth. For many prodigies and signs had taken place, and far
and wide, over sea and land, the black wings of the
Pestilence were spread abroad. To those, nevertheless,
cunning in the stars, it was not unknown that the heavens
wore an aspect of ill; and to me, the Greek Oinos, among
others, it was evident that now had arrived the alternation
of that seven hundred and ninety-fourth year when, at the
entrance of Aries, the planet Jupiter is enjoined with the
red ring of the terrible Saturnus. The peculiar spirit of
the skies, if I mistake not greatly, made itself manifest,
not only in the physical orb of the earth, but in the souls,
imaginations, and meditations of mankind.

Over some flasks of the red Chian wine, within the walls of
a noble hall, in a dim city called Ptolemais, we sat, at
night, a company of seven. And to our chamber there was no
entrance save by a lofty door of brass: and the door was
fashioned by the artisan Corinnos, and, being of rare
workmanship, was fastened from within. Black draperies,
likewise in the gloomy room, shut out from our view the
moon, the lurid stars, and the peopleless streets-but
the boding and the memory of Evil, they would not be so
excluded. There were things around us and about of which I
can render no distinct account-things material and
spiritual- heaviness in the atmosphere-a sense
of suffocation-anxiety-and, above all, that
terrible state of existence which the nervous experience
when the senses are keenly living and awake, and meanwhile
the powers of thought lie dormant. A dead weight hung upon
us. It hung upon our limbs-upon the household
furniture-upon the goblets from which we drank; and
all things were depressed, and borne down thereby-all
things save only the flames of the seven iron lamps which
illumined our revel. Uprearing themselves in tall slender
lines of light, they thus remained burning all pallid and
motionless; and in the mirror which their lustre formed upon
the round table of ebony at which we sat each of us there
assembled beheld the pallor of his own countenance, and the
unquiet glare in the downcast eyes of his companions. Yet we
laughed and were merry in our proper way-which was
hysterical; and sang the songs of Anacreon-which are
madness; and drank deeply-although the purple wine
reminded us of blood. For there was yet another tenant of
our chamber in the person of young Zoilus. Dead and at full
length he lay, enshrouded;-the genius and the demon of
the scene. Alas! he bore no portion in our mirth, save that
his countenance, distorted with the plague, and his eyes in
which Death had but half extinguished the fire of the
pestilence, seemed to take such an interest in our merriment
as the dead may haply take in the merriment of those who are
to die. But although I, Oinos, felt that the eyes of the
departed were upon me, still I forced myself not to perceive
the bitterness of their expression, and gazing down steadily
into the depths of the ebony mirror, sang with a loud and
sonorous voice the songs of the son of Teos. But gradually
my songs they ceased, and their echoes, rolling afar off
among the sable draperies of the chamber, became weak, and
undistinguishable, and so faded away. And lo! from among
those sable draperies, where the sounds of the song
departed, there came forth a dark and undefiled
shadow-a shadow such as the moon, when low in heaven,
might fashion from the figure of a man: but it was the
shadow neither of man nor of God, nor of any familiar thing.
And quivering awhile among the draperies of the room it at
length rested in full view upon the surface of the door of
brass. But the shadow was vague, and formless, and
indefinite, and was the shadow neither of man nor God-
neither God of Greece, nor God of Chaldaea, nor any Egyptian
God. And the shadow rested upon the brazen doorway, and
under the arch of the entablature of the door and moved not,
nor spoke any word, but there became stationary and
remained. And the door whereupon the shadow rested was, if I
remember aright, over against the feet of the young Zoilus
enshrouded. But we, the seven there assembled, having seen
the shadow as it came out from among the draperies, dared
not steadily behold it, but cast down our eyes, and gazed
continually into the depths of the mirror of ebony. And at
length I, Oinos, speaking some low words, demanded of the
shadow its dwelling and its appellation. And the shadow
answered, “I am SHADOW, and my dwelling is near to the
Catacombs of Ptolemais, and hard by those dim plains of
Helusion which border upon the foul Charonian canal.” And
then did we, the seven, start from our seats in horror, and
stand trembling, and shuddering, and aghast: for the tones
in the voice of the shadow were not the tones of any one
being, but of a multitude of beings, and varying in their
cadences from syllable to syllable, fell duskily upon our
ears in the well remembered and familiar accents of many
thousand departed friends.