There was another interval of utter insensibility; it was brief; for,
upon again lapsing into life there had been no perceptible descent in
the pendulum. But it might have been long; for I knew there were
demons who took note of my swoon, and who could have arrested the
vibration at pleasure. Upon my recovery, too, I felt very -- oh,
inexpressibly sick and weak, as if through long inanition. Even amid
the agonies of that period, the human nature craved food. With
painful effort I outstretched my left arm as far as my bonds
permitted, and took possession of the small remnant which had been
spared me by the rats. As I put a portion of it within my lips, there
rushed to my mind a half formed thought of joy -- of hope. Yet what
business had I with hope? It was, as I say, a half formed thought --
man has many such which are never completed. I felt that it was of
joy -- of hope; but felt also that it had perished in its formation.
In vain I struggled to perfect -- to regain it. Long suffering had
nearly annihilated all my ordinary powers of mind. I was an imbecile
-- an idiot.
The vibration of the pendulum was at right angles to my length. I saw
that the crescent was designed to cross the region of the heart. It
would fray the serge of my robe -- it would return and repeat its
operations -- again -- and again. Notwithstanding terrifically wide
sweep (some thirty feet or more) and the its hissing vigor of its
descent, sufficient to sunder these very walls of iron, still the
fraying of my robe would be all that, for several minutes, it would
accomplish. And at this thought I paused. I dared not go farther than
this reflection. I dwelt upon it with a pertinacity of attention --
as if, in so dwelling, I could arrest here the descent of the steel.
I forced myself to ponder upon the sound of the crescent as it should
pass across the garment -- upon the peculiar thrilling sensation
which the friction of cloth produces on the nerves. I pondered upon
all this frivolity until my teeth were on edge.