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کتاب های متوسط

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متن انگلیسی درس

The Mask of the Red Death

For a long time the Red Death was everywhere in the land.

There never was a plague that killed as many, and there never was a death as terrible.

First, you felt burning pains in your stomach. Then everything began to turn round and round inside your head. Then blood began to come out through your skin — yes, you began to bleed all over your body — but most of all through your face.

And of course when people saw this they left you immedi ately. Nobody wanted to help you — your horrible red face told everyone that it was too late. Yes, the Red Death was a very short illness’ — only about half an hour, from its beginning to your end.

But Prince Prospero was a brave and happy and wise prince.

When half of the people in his land were dead, he chose a thousand healthy and happy friends and took them away from the city. He took them over the hills and far away, to his favourite house, in the middle of a forest.

It was a very large and beautiful house, with a high, strong wall all round it. The wall had only one door: a very strong metal one.

When the Prince and all his friends were safely inside, several servants pushed the great door shut. Looking pleased with himself, the Prince locked it and threw the key (it was the only one) over the wall into the lake outside. He smiled as he watched the circles in the deep dark water. Now nobody could come in or out of the house. Inside, there was plenty of food, enough for more than a year. He and his lucky friends did not have to worry about the ‘Red Death’ outside. The outside world could worry about itself!

And so everyone soon forgot the terrible plague. They were safe inside the Prince’s beautiful house, and they had everything they needed to have a good time. There were dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All this (and more) was inside. The Red Death was outside.

Five months later — the plague was still everywhere in the land — Prince Prospero gave a very special party for his thousand friends. It was a masked party of a most unusual kind.

Prince Prospero gave this party in the newest part of his great house, in seven rooms which he almost never used. Normally, only the most important visitors used those rooms, foreign princes, for example. They were very unusual, those seven rooms, and that is why he chose them for the party. Prince Prospero often had very unusual ideas. He was a very unusual — a very strange — person.

First of all, the rooms were not in a straight line. Walking through them, you came to a turn every twenty or thirty yards.

So you could only ever see into one other room at a time. Yes, it was a strange part of the house, and in every room the furniture was different. With each turn you always saw something interesting and new

In every room there were two tall and narrow windows, one on either side. There was coloured glass in these windows, a different colour in each room. This — and everything else, of course — was the Prince’s idea (I forgot to tell you: the Prince made the plans for this part of the house himself).

Of course it was the Prince who decorated the rooms for the party, and he did this in his usual unusual way. Like the glass, each room was a different colour. And everything in each room was that same colour. The first room, at the east end, was blue, and so were the windows: bright blue. In the second room everything was purple, like the glass. In the third everything was green. The fourth was orange, the fifth white, the sixth yellow In the seventh room everything was black — everything but the windows. They were a deep, rich, red colour, the colour of blood.

There were no lamps anywhere in the seven rooms. Light came from the windows on either side. Outside each window there was a fire burning in a large metal dish. These fires filled the rooms with bright, rich and strangely beautiful colours. But in the west room — the black room — the blood-coloured light was horrible. It gave a terrible, wild look to the faces of those who went in. Few people were brave enough to put one foot inside.

A very large clock stood against the far wall of the black room.

The great machine made a low, heavy clang . . . clang . . . clang .. . sound. Once every hour, when the minute-hand came up to twelve, it made a sound that was so loud, so deep, so clear, and so . . . richly, so strangely musical that the musicians stopped playing to listen to it. All the dancers stopped dancing. The whole party stopped. Everybody listened to the sound . . . And as they listened, some people’s faces became white . . . Other people’s heads began to go round and round . . . Others put hands to their heads, surprised by sudden strange, dream-like thoughts . . . And when the sound died away, there was a strange silence. Light laughs began to break the silence. People laughed quietly, quickly. The musicians looked at each other and smiled. They promised that when the next hour came they would not be so stupid. They would not stop and listen like that. They would go on playing, without listening at all.

But then, three thousand six hundred seconds later, the clock made the same sound again. And again, everything stopped.

Again the people’s faces became white; again those strange, dream-like thoughts went through people’s minds; and again there was that same empty silence, those same quiet laughs, and those same smiles and promises.

But, if we forget this, it was a wonderful party. Yes, we can say that the Prince had a truly fine eye for colour! And all his friends enjoyed his strange decorations. Some people thought he was mad, of course (only friends who knew him well knew he was not).

But he did more than choose the decorations. He also chose the way everyone was dressed. Oh yes, you can be sure that they were dressed strangely! And many of them were much more than just strange. Yes, there was a bit of everything at that party: the beautiful, the ugly, and a lot of the horrible. They looked like a madman’s dreams, those strange masked people, dancing to the wild music. They went up and down, changing colour as they danced from room to room . . . until the minute-hand on the clock came up to the hour . . . And then, when they heard the first sound of the clock, everything stopped as before.

The dreams stood still until the great deep voice of the clock died away. Then there was that same strange silence. Then there were those little light and quiet laughs. Then the music began again. The dreams began to move once more, dancing more happily than ever. They danced and danced, on and on, through all the rooms except one. No one went into the west room any more. The blood-coloured light was growing brighter and more horrible with every minute.

But in other rooms the party was going stronger than ever.

The wild dancing went on and on until the minute-hand reached that hour again. Then, of course, when the first sound of the clock was heard, the music stopped, the dancers became still, all was still.

It was midnight. One, two, three, four, five . . . Twelve times, the clock made that same, strange, deep and so sweetly musical sound. Midnight . . . seven, eight . . . It seemed like there was no end to the sounds this time.

Each sound seemed to go on for ever. And as those twelve sounds went on and on and on .. . people became whiter . . . Their heads began to go round and round and round . . . They thought stranger and more dream like thoughts than ever before . . . And some of them saw a tall masked man walking slowly and silently among them.

The news travelled quickly through the rooms. Soon, every body at the party was talking about the tall masked man. As the stranger walked silently among them, people looked at him with anger, and horror. Anger at choosing those clothes! Horror at choosing that mask! If it was to make them laugh, then it was not funny! Even the Prince would never dream of wearing those clothes.

The stranger was wearing black clothes. His mask was the face of a dead man. Yes, it was a death mask, but it was the colour of that mask that made everyone shake with horror. The mask was red. It was the mask of the Red Death.

Prince Prospero saw the stranger as he walked among the dancers, and suddenly he became mad with anger. He waved his hand and the music stopped immediately.

Who?’ he shouted, ‘Who has done this horrible thing! Catch that man! Take off that mask! We will cut off his head in the morning!’

The masked stranger began walking slowly towards the Prince as he said this. Everybody — even the brave Prince Prospero — was suddenly afraid. Nobody was brave enough to put out a hand to stop the visitor. He passed very close to the Prince, and every body, everywhere, stepped back against the walls as he walked slowly out of the blue room and into the purple, through the green into the orange, into the white, into the yellow .. . Suddenly, Prince Prospero was angry with himself for being so stupidly afraid. He ran after the stranger. He ran through the six rooms — but nobody followed him.

Pulling out his knife, he ran into the black room. The masked man, who was walking towards the opposite corner, stopped.

The Prince stopped, a yard from him. The masked man turned suddenly, and a terrible, cutting cry was heard. The Prince’s shining knife fell without a sound on the black floor. The Prince fell without a sound next to it. Dead.

Suddenly — and nobody knew why — suddenly, the dancers were no longer afraid. A crowd of them ran into the black room.

They ran to the stranger who was standing in the shadow of the great clock. When they caught him, the mask and the empty clothes fell to the floor. Everyone cried out in horror. There was nobody inside the clothes! There was nobody there. The man’s body was nothing but air.

Everyone understood that the Red Death was now among them. He came like a thief in the night.

And as the seconds passed — clang . . . clang . . . clang . . .— one by one, people began to die the terrible death. Soon, everywhere, the floors of the seven rooms were wet with blood.

When the last person died, the last lamp went out. And when that last lamp went out, the life of the clock stopped with it.

And everything was silence and darkness.

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