To Miss E— Notingham, London
25th August 18—
My Dearest E—,
Having attempted, over the course of yesterday’s rest, to improve the state of my Health, which is not, I fear, at its very best (though certainly not nearly so bad as to trouble yourself with, my dearest E—) I have again come to my writing-desk to pen the promised tale of Horror to you. I trust the first instalment was amusing, and to your liking – certainly it was diverting for my own sake. The experience of it will live on in my Remembrance I believe, until my Final Hour. And so, without further ado, Dearest Sister (for I know how you hate to be diverted from the topic you are most interested in) I continue with my tale.
I had just told you, Sister, of my entrance into the House, and how I came to see the most astounding Sight in my eight-and-twenty years of life.
As I entered the house I was unable to keep from exclaiming in wonder. For what had outside been so worn and dark and covered in dirt and dust was inside the most delectable creation I have ever known. I felt as though I had stepped into a painting of the glittering court of some long-dead monarch. The golden room was impossibly large; too large to be able to be contained in the small house I had stepped into. The contrast between the Exterior and Interior was so great that for a moment I was convinced I was dreaming. Every surface was covered in gold, and a brilliant chandelier illuminated the space so that there was not a shadowy corner to be found in the room. I turned, in great Confusion, to the door; but it had already shut behind me. I then perceived that I was dressed differently. My grey travelling garb had somehow been exchanged for a glittering white suit, cut in the old-fashioned way, and long stockings. I am sure I looked not a little like that old likeness of the Prince Regent which my mother keeps by her bedside – but between the two of us, Dearest E—, (and I hope it is not treason to speak so) I fancy I looked a good deal handsomer than he. Well you know I am not vain, my Dearest Sister, but I could not resist admiring my reflection in the great mirror which hung above the great staircase in the centre of the room. I now believe that this vanity was a part of the witchcraft of that evening. Before me there now appeared a veiled woman, likewise dressed in a style not dissimilar to that favoured in the time when this country was ruled by a ruler by the name of George. She was dressed in white like myself, and the bodice of her cloathes (I am thus much familiar with female garments as to be able to distinguish the bodice – you, no doubt, dear E—, would be able to describe much more prettily what she wore) was studded with a thousand blood-red rubies, scattered in what seemed a strange circular pattern about the region of her Heart. Other figures – the women all dressed in that same shade of bloody red, the men wearing a deep drowning blue – now filled the room, and an invisible orchestra began to play a quaint English country-dance, as we have often ourselves executed in the assembly rooms of our own native county, I trust with no small amount of accomplishment. There was a kind of frenzy, however, in the way that these figures (I could not see their faces, for whenever I tried to discern features the faces blurred as they often do when one is in the throes of sleep) danced about the room. As the lady in white led me to the top of the set, and the two of us made our bows to the company, my feet seemed to move of my own accord; and though it was but a sprightly jig, I found myself quickly out of breath. Soon I found I did not know the Motions of the dance, but that the lady was starting to lead me like a meek little lamb through the dance. And as our feet danced quickly and still more quickly through the dance, they seemed to tap out a rhythm and at the height of the dance the lady’s veil flew from her face and I perceived that she was beautiful, and she whispered one word to me, softly over the heat of the music – “Murder!”
Yours Ever, &c., &c.,