I had scarcely laid the first tier of my 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 noise lasted for several minutes,
during which, that I might hearken to it with the more satisfaction,
I ceased my labors and sat down upon the bones. When at last the
clanking subsided, I resumed the trowel, and finished without
interruption the fifth, the sixth, and the seventh tier. The wall
was now nearly upon a level with my breast. I again paused, and
holding the flambeaux over the mason-work, threw a few feeble rays
upon the figure 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 satisfied. I reapproached the wall. I replied
to the yells of him who clamored. I re-echoed - I aided - I
surpassed them in volume and in strength. I did this, and the
clamorer grew still.