PublicBookshelf Book Club
Weekly tips on great novels to read.
I, who write this, am a dead man. Dead legally--dead by absolute proofs--dead and buried! Ask for me in my native city and they will tell you I was one of the victims of the cholera that ravaged Naples in 1884, and that my mortal remains lie moldering in the funeral vault of my ancestors. Yet--I live! I feel the warm blood coursing through my veins--the blood of thirty summers--the prime of early manhood invigorates me, and makes these eyes of mine keen and bright--these muscles strong as iron--this hand powerful of grip--this well-knit form erect and proud of bearing. Yes!--I am alive, though declared to be dead; alive in the fullness of manly force--and even sorrow has left few distinguishing marks upon me, save one. My hair, once ebony-black, is white as a wreath of Alpine snow, though its clustering curls are thick as ever.
"A constitutional inheritance?" asks one physician, observing my frosted locks.
"A sudden shock?" suggests another.
"Exposure to intense heat?" hints a third.
I answer none of them. I did so once. I told my story to a man I met by chance--one renowned for medical skill and kindliness. He heard me to the end in evident incredulity and alarm, and hinted at the possibility of madness. Since then I have never spoken.
But now I write. I am far from all persecution--I can set down the truth fearlessly. I can dip the pen in my own blood if I choose, and none shall gainsay me! For the green silence of a vast South American forest encompasses me--the grand and stately silence of a virginal nature, almost unbroken by the ruthless step of man's civilization--a haven of perfect calm, delicately disturbed by the fluttering wings and soft voices of birds, and the gentle or stormy murmur of the freeborn winds of heaven. Within this charmed circle of rest I dwell--here I lift up my overburdened heart like a brimming chalice, and empty it on the ground, to the last drop of gall contained therein. The world shall know my history.