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The Red Death had long devastated the country No pestilence had ever been so fatal or so hideous There were sharp pains and sudden dizziness and then profuse bleeding at the pores with dissolution The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the faceshut out its victim from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow menThe whole seizure progress and termination of the disease were the incidents of half an hour When Prince Prosperos dominions were half depopulated he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and lighthearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeysA strong and lofty wall girdled it This wall had gates of iron The Prince had the bolts of the gates welded which left neither means of ingress or egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within The abby was amply provisionedThe prince had provided all the appliances of pleasurebuffoonsimprovisatoriballet dancersmusiciansBeautywine All these and security were within Without was the Red Death It was toward the close of the fifth or sixth month of his seclusionthat the Prince Prospero entertained his thousand friends at a masked ball of the most unusual magnificenceIt was his own guiding taste which had given character to the masqueraders Be sure they were grotesqueThere were arabesque figures with unsuited limbs and appointmentsmadman fashionsmuch of the beautiful much of the wanton much of the bizarre something of the terrible and not a little of that which might have excited disgust The masque was held in an imperial suite consisting of seven rooms The apartments were so irregularly disposed that the vision embraced but little more than one at a time There was a sharp turn at every twenty or thirty yards and at each turn a novel effect To the right and left in the middle of each wall a tall and
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