ESOL Gramatika Výslovnost Testy Kurz 60 Texty Idiomy Nápovědy Angličtina

The Fall of the House of Usher

DURING THE WHOLE of a dark and Soundless day near the end of the year, when the clouds were hanging low in the heavens, I had been passing on horseback through country with little life or beauty; and at length I found myself, as evening fell, within view of the House of Usher. I know not how it was-but, with my first sight of the building, a sense of heavy gloom (deeprese, smutek) filled my spirit. I looked upon the scene before me- upon the house itself-upon the ground around it-upon the walls-upon the vacant (neobsazený, neobydlený) eye-like windows-and upon a few decaying (rozkládající se, hnijící) trees-with a complete sadness of soul like no healthy, earthly feeling. There was a coldness, a sickening of the heart, in which I could discover nothing to lighten the weight I felt. What was it-I stopped to think -so fearful in my view of the House of Usher? It was a mystery (záhada) to which I could find no answer.

I pulled up my horse on the edge of a black and quiet lake that lay beside the building, and looked there at the picture, upside down, of the ghastly (sinalý, strašný) trees and the vacant and eye-like windows.

Nevertheless in this house of gloom I was now to spend several weeks. Its owner, Roderick Usher, as a boy had been my friend; but many years had passed since our last meeting. A letter from him had lately reached me, a wild letter that demanded that I reply in person. He wrote of bodily illness-of a sickness of the mind-and of a desire to see me as his best and indeed his only friend. It was the manner in which all this was said-it was the heart in it-which did not allow me to say no.

Although, as boys, we had been much together, yet I really knew little of my friend. I knew, however, that his family, a very old one, had long been famous for an understanding of all the arts and for many quiet acts of kindness to the poor. I had learned too that the family had never been a large one* with many branches. The name had passed always from father to son, and when people spoke of the "House of Usher, " they included both the family and the family home.

When I again uplifted my eyes to the house itself, from its picture in the small lake, there grew in my mind a strange fancy-a fancy so laughable that I tell it only to show the force of the feelings that laid their weight on me. I really believed that, about the whole house and the ground around it, the air itself was different. It was not the air of heaven, but it rose from the decayed trees, and the gray wall, and the quiet lake-a sickly air that I could see, heavy, gray, slow-moving.

Shaking off from my spirit what must have been a dream, I looked more carefully at the building itself. The most noticeable thing about it seemed to be its great age. None of the walls had fallen, yet the stones appeared to be in a condition of advanced decay. Perhaps the careful eye would have discovered the beginning of a break the front of the building, making its way from the top down the wall until it became lost in the dark waters of the lake. I rode over a short bridge to the house. A servant took my horse, and I entered. Another servant, of quiet step, led me without a word through many dark turnings to the room of his master. Much that I met on the way added, I know not how, to the strangeness of which I have already spoken. While the objects around me-the dark wall-coverings, the blackness of the floors, and the things brought home from long forgotten wars -were like objects to which I had been used since I was a baby-while I admitted how all this was only what I had expected-I still wondered to find how strange were the fancies which grew in my mind from these simple things.

On one of the stairs (schodiště) I met the doctor of the family. His face, I thought, was one I could neither like nor trust. He spoke to me as if afraid, and passed on. The servant now threw open a door for me and stood back to let me enter.

The room in which I found myself was very large and high. The windows were long, not wide, and pointed at the top, and so far above the black floor as to be altogether out of reach. Only a little light, red in color, made its way through the glass, and served to lighten the nearer and larger objects. The eye, however, tried and failed to see into the far or high corners of the room. Dark coverings hung upon the walls. The many chairs and tables had been used long. Books lay about, but could give the room no sense of life. I felt sadness over everything. An air of deep, cold gloom, from which no escape was possible, hung over all.

Upon my entrance, Usher arose from where he had been lying at full length, and met me with a lively warmth that at first I could not believe was real. A look, however, at his face told me that he meant every word.

We sat down; and for some moments, while he spoke not, I looked at him with a feeling of sad surprise. Surely, man had never before changed, in so short a period, as had Roderick Usher! Could this be the friend of my early years? Yet his face had been at all times out of the usual. A gray-white skin; an eye large and full of light; lips thin, not bright in color, but of a beautiful shape; a well cut nose; hair of great softness; the head broad at the top; altogether a face not easily to be forgotten. And now the increase in this strangeness of his face had caused so great a change that I doubted to whom I spoke. The now ghastly white of his skin, and the now wonderful light of the eye, above all things surprised me and even made me afraid. The hair had been allowed to grow, and in its softness it did not fall about his face but seemed to rest on the air. I could not, even with effort, see in my friend the appearance of a simple human being.

In his manner, I saw at once, changes came and went; and I soon found this to result from his attempt to quiet a very great nervousness. For something like this I had indeed been prepared, partly by his letter and partly by remembering him as a boy. His actions were first lively and then too quiet. His voice, from being slow and trembling, would quickly change to a strong, heavy, carefully spaced, too perfectly controlled manner.

It was in this way that he spoke of the object of my visit, of his desire to see me, and of the deep delight and strength he expected me to give him. He told me, at some length, what he believed to be the nature of his illness. It was, he said, a family sickness, and one from which he could not hope to grow better-but only a nervous illness, he added at once, which would without doubt soon pass off. It showed itself in a number of strange feelings. Some of these, as he told me of them, interested me but were beyond my understanding; although, perhaps, the way in which he told of them added to their strangeness. He suffered much from a sickly increase in the feeling of all the senses; he could eat only the most tasteless food; all flowers were too strong for his nose; his eyes were hurt by even the least light; and there were few sounds which did not fill him with horror (děs, hrůza) .

A certain kind of sick fear was completely his master. "I shall die, " he said. "I must die, of this fool's sickness. In this way, this way and no other way, I shall be lost. I fear what will happen in the future, not for what happens, but for the results of what happens. I tremble at the thought of any happening, however small, which may act on this nervousness of soul. I have, indeed, no fear of pain, but only the fear of its result-in terror. I feel that the period will sooner or later arrive when I must lose my life and my mind together, in some last battle with that ghastly enemy, FEAR. "

I learned also, but slowly, and through broken words with doubtful meaning, another strange fact about the condition of his mind. He was in the power of certain sick fears about the house in which he lived and from which for many years he had never stepped. He felt that the house, with its gray walls and the quiet lake around it, had somehow through the long years gained a deep hold over his spirit.

He said, however, that much of the gloom which lay so heavily on him was probably caused by something more plainly to be seen-to the long-continued illness-indeed to the coming death-of a dearly loved sister-his only company for long years-except himself the last member of his family on earth. "When she dies, " he said, with a sadness that I can never forget, "she will leave me (the hopeless and the weak) the last of the old, old race of the Ushers. "

While he spoke, the lady Madeline (for so she was called) passed slowly through a distant part of the room, and without having seen that I was there went on. I looked at her with a complete and wondering surprise and with some fear-and yet I found I could not explain to myself such feelings.

A heavy helplessness lay on me, as my eyes followed her. When a door, at length, closed upon her, my look turned to the face of the brother- but he had put his face in his hands, and I could only see that the thin fingers through which ran his tears were whiter than ever before.

The illness of the lady Madeline had long been beyond the skill (dovednost, zručnost, schopnost) of her doctors. She seemed to care about nothing. Slowly her body had grown thin and weak, and often for a short period she would fall into a sleep like the sleep of the dead. So far she had not taken to her bed; but, on the evening of the day I arrived at the house, the power of the destroyer (as her brother told me that night) was at last too strong for her. I learned that my one sight of her would probably be the last I should have-that lady, at least while living, would be seen by me no more.

For several days following, her name was not spoken by either Usher or myself: and during this period I was busied in efforts to raise the spirits of my friend. We painted and read together; or I listened, as if in a dream, to the wild music he played. And so, as a warmer and still warmer friendship admitted me into his heart, the more clearly did I see the uselessness of all attempt at bringing happiness to a mind from which only darkness came, spreading upon all objects in the world its neverending gloom.

I shall ever remember the hours I spent with the master of the House of Usher. Yet I should fail in any attempt to give an idea of the true character of the studies in which he led me. There was a strange light over everything. I hold painfully in mind some of the wild music he played. The paintings that grew, touch by touch, out of his fancy, made me tremble, though I know not why. To tell of them is outside the power of written words. If ever man painted an idea, that man was Roderick Usher. For me at least-while I was in that house-there arose out of his pictures a sense of fear and wonder.

One of these pictures may be given, although weakly, in words. It showed the inside of a vault, with low walls, white, and plain. It seemed to be very deep under the earth. There was no door, no window, and no light or fire burned; yet a river of light rolled through it, filling it with a ghastly brightness.

I have spoken of that sickly condition of the senses, which made most music painful for the sufferer to hear. The notes he could listen to with pleasure were very few. It was this fact, perhaps, that made the music he played so different from most. But the wild skill of his playing could not be so accounted for. That must have come from the strange power of his mind that could now and then be seen.

The words of one of his songs, called "The Haunted (návštěvní, výletní) Palace, " I have easily remembered. In it I fancied that I saw, and for the first time, that Usher knew well how his mind was weakening. This song told of a palace in a green valley, where all was light and color and beauty, and the air was sweet. In the palace were two bright windows through which people in that happy valley could hear music and could see smiling spirits moving around the king. The palace door was of the richest materials, in red and white; through it came other spirits whose only duty was to sing in their beautiful voices of how wise their king was.

But a dark change came-so this song continued-and now those who enter the valley see through the windows, in a red light, shapes that move to broken music; while through the colorless door a ghastly river of spirits, laughing but no longer smiling, rushes out forever.

Our talk of this song led to another strange idea in Usher's mind. He believed that plants could feel and think, and not only plants but rock and water as well. He believed that the gray stones of his house, and the very small plants growing over the stones, the lake, and the decaying trees, had a power over him that had made him what he was.

Our books-the books which, for years, had fed the sick man's mind-were, as might be supposed, of this same wild character. Over some of these books Usher would sit dreaming for hours. His chief delight was found in reading one very old book, written for some forgotten church, telling of the Watch over the Dead.

I could not help thinking of this book and of its probable power over him when one evening, having told me that the lady Madeline was no more, he said he was going to keep her body for a time in one of the many vaults within the walls of the building. The worldly reason he gave for this was one with which I felt I had to agree. He had decided on this course of action (so he told me) because of the nature of her illness, because of the strange interest and questions of her doctors, and because of the great distance to the graveyard where members of his family were placed in the earth. Remembering the face of the doctor I had met on the stairs, I thought perhaps my friend was right.

We two carried her body to its rest. The vault in which we placed it was small and dark, and in ages past must have known strange-and bloody scenes. It lay deep below, that part of the building where I myself slept. The thick door was of iron, and because of its great weight made a loud, hard sound when it was opened and closed.

Having placed the lady Madeline in this room of horror, we looked again upon her face. Now for the first time I saw the likeness between brother and sister, and Usher told me then that they had been born on the same day and that the understanding between them had been strong.

We did not look at her long, for fear and wonder filled our hearts. There was a little color in her face, and there seemed to be a smile on her lips. We closed the iron door and returned to the upper part of the house, which was not much less gloomy than the vault.

And now a change came in the sickness of my friend's mind. He went from room to room with a hurried step. His face was, if possible, more ghastly than before, and the light in his eye had gone. The trembling in his voice seemed to show the greatest fear. At times he would look at nothingness for long hours, as if listening to some sound I could not hear. I felt his condition, slowly but certainly, gaining power over me; I felt his wild fancies taking hold in my own mind.

It was especially upon going to bed late in the night of the seventh or eighth day after placing the lady Madeline within the vault that I experienced the full power of such feelings. Sleep came not-while the hours passed. I fought to reason off the nervousness. I tried to believe that much, if not all of what I felt, was due to the gloomy room, to the dark wall-coverings, which in a rising wind moved on the walls. But my efforts were useless. A trembling I could not stop filled my body, and fear without reason caught my heart. I sat up, looking into the darkness of my room, listening-I know not why-to certain low sounds which came, when the storm was quiet, from I knew not where. Overpowered by a feeling of horror, I threw on my clothes, and began walking up and down the room.

I had taken but a few turns in this manner, when I heard a light step on the stairs nearby. It was Usher. In a moment I heard him at my door, arid he entered, carrying a light. His face was, as usual, very white, but there was a wild laugh in his eyes. Even so, I was glad to have his company.

"And you have not seen it?" he said. He hurried to one of the windows and threw it open to the storm.

The force of the entering wind nearly lifted us from our feet. It was, indeed, a stormy yet beautiful night, and wildly strange. The heavy clouds (which hung so low as to press upon the house) flew from all directions against each other, always returning and never passing away in the distance. With their great thickness they cut off all light from the moon and stars. But we could see them because they were lighted from below by the very air, which we could see rising from the dark lake and from the stones of the house itself.

"You must not-you shall not look out at this!" said I to Usher, as I led him from the window to a seat. "This appearance which surprises you so has been seen in other places too. Perhaps the lake is the cause. Let us close this window; the air is cold. Here is one of the stories you like best I will read and you shall listen; and so we will pass away this fearful night together. "

The old book that I had taken up was one written by a fool for fools to read, and it was not, in truth, one that Usher liked. It was, however, the only one in easy reach. Could I have judged by the way he listened or appeared to listen as I read, hoping to quiet him, I might well have thought I was successful.

I had come to the part of the story where a man, a strong man and full of wine, begins to pull down a door, and the sound of the dry wood as it breaks can be heard through all the forest around him.

Here I stopped, for it seemed to me that from some very distant part of the house there came to my ears sounds like those of which I had been reading. It must have been this likeness that had made me notice, for the sounds in themselves, with the storm still increasing, were nothing to stop or interest me.

I continued the story, and read how the man, now entering within the broken door, discovers a strange and terrible (strašlivý, děsivý) animal of the kind so often found in these old stories. He strikes it and it falls, with such a cry that he has to close his ears with his hands.

Here again I stopped, and now with a feeling of wild surprise-for there could be no doubt that this time I did hear (although from where it came I could not say) a low and distant but hard and long and strange sound, the very sound my fancy had called up as the cry of the animal in the story.

I tried to keep control of myself so that my friend would see nothing of what I felt. I was not certain that he had heard the sounds, although a change had, taken place in him. He had little by little moved his chair so as to sit with his face to the door of the room, and I could not see him well. I did see that his lips were trembling as if he were speaking to himself. His head had dropped forward, but I knew he was not asleep, for his eye was open and he was moving his body from side to side.

I began reading again, and quickly came to a part of the story where a heavy piece of iron falls on a silver floor with a great ringing sound.

No sooner had these words passed my lips than -as if something of iron had indeed fallen heavily upon a silver floor-I heard clearly but from far away a loud ringing sound. My control lost completely, I jumped to my feet. Usher still sat, moving a little from side to side. His eyes were turned to, the floor. I rushed to his chair. As I placed my hand on his shoulder, there came a strong trembling through his whole body; a sickly smile touched his lips; and he spoke in a low, hurried voice as if he did not know I was there.

"Not hear it?-yes, I hear it, and have heard it. Long-long-long-many minutes, many hours, many days, have I heard it-yet I dared not-I dared not-I dared not speak! We have put her living in the vault! Said I not that my senses were too strong? I heard her first movements many, many days ago-yet I dared not-I dared not speak! And now that story-but the sounds were hers! Oh, where shall I fly? Is she not hurrying to ask why I put her there too soon? Have I not heard her footstep on the stair? Cannot I hear that heavy beating of her heart?" Here he jumped up and cried as if in the effort he were giving up his soul-"I TELL YOU THAT SHE NOW STANDS AT THE DOOR!"

As if his words had had the power to do it, the great door to which he pointed now slowly opened. It was the work of the rushing wind-but then outside that door there DID stand the tall figure, in its grave-clothes, of the lady Madeline of Usher. There was blood upon this white dress, and the signs of her terrible efforts to escape were upon every part of her thin form. For a moment she remained trembling at the door, and then, with a low cry, fell heavily in upon her brother; and now in her pain as she died at last, she carried him to the floor, dead too, killed by the terrors that he had feared.

From that room, and from that house, I rushed. The storm was around me in all its strength as I crossed the bridge. Suddenly there moved along the ground at my feet a wild light, and I turned to see from where it could have come; for only the great house and its darkness lay behind me. The light was that of the full, setting, and blood-red moon, which now shone through that break in the front wall of which I have spoken before. Once only the beginning of a break, not easily seen, it quickly widened as I watched. There came a strong rush of wind-the whole face of the moon appeared-I saw the great walls falling apart-there was a long and stormy shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters-and the deep and black lake at my feet closed darkly and quietly over all that remained of the "HOUSE OF USHER."