THE "Red Death" had long devastated the country. No crisis had ever been so fatal, or so hideous.
There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution.
But the Prime Minister (B) was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights of labor and whores of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys. This was an extensive and magnificent structure, the creation of the Prime Minister's own eccentric yet august taste. A strong and lofty wall made of policemen girdled it in. This wall had tanks made of iron. The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and welded themselves to the chairs and benches. They resolved to leave means neither of ingress or egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within. Montecitorio, because that was the name of the fortress was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think.
The Prime Minister had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were whores, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the "Red Death."