Prince Prospero—the ruler of this country—wanted to escape from the terrible disease. He called all his courtiers to his castle on the top of a hill. When all of the most powerful people in the land were inside the castle, the gates and doors were closed. They were fastened and no one could get in or out.
“Forget about the Red Death,” he said. “The disease is outside the castle walls. I don’t want to think about the Red Death. I don’t want to hear about the Red Death. I don’t want to see the Red Death. I want everyone to be happy!”
There were seven special rooms in the castle. Each room Was a different color. And each room had a great window in one of its walls. The glass in each of these windows was a different color. At night, a fire burned outside each window. The light of the flames shone through the windows and the rooms were lit with colored light.
The first room was blue—the color of the sky. The chairs and the carpet were blue. The furniture was blue. The glass in the window was blue.
The second room was purple—the color of dark wine. The chairs and couches were covered with purple cloth. The window glass was purple.
The fourth room was orange—the color of the sun at sunset. The fifth room was as white as snow. The sixth room was violet—the color at the edge of a rainbow.
The seventh and last room was black—as black as night. Black curtains hung on the walls. The carpets on the floor were black.
There was also a clock in the seventh room. It was a large old clock. Its pendulum swung backward and forward slowly. A bell in the clock rang every hour. The metal bell made a low noise. Everyone in the castle heard the bell. Every hour, they stopped and listened to the clock.
Prince Prospero was pleased. This was his finest masque. He thought of nothing but the masque. The courtiers enjoyed themselves. Their only thoughts were about the food, drink, music and dancing.
The guests walked from room to room. When night came, fires were lit behind the great windows. Light shone through the glass. The light was the color of each of the windows—blue, purple, green, orange, white and violet.
The bell of the clock rang ten times. Everyone stopped. Then they ate, danced and drank again. Eleven o’clock came. The courtiers stopped for a longer time. But soon they were enjoying themselves once more. Finally, the bell rang twelve times. The courtiers stopped and waited. They all listened as the bell rang twelve times. Midnight.
The stranger wore a long white gown. He wore the clothes of a dead man in a tomb. His mask was terrible and frightening. He had the face of a dead man. There was blood on the mask. And there was blood on the stranger’s clothes.
“Take him!” shouted the prince. “Kill him!”
“Take him!” shouted the prince again. “Kill him!”
But no one touched the stranger. Everyone moved away from him. The prince was angry.
Prince Prospero followed the stranger from the blue room to the purple room. He followed him from the green room to the orange room. He followed the stranger from the white room to the violet room.
Prince Prospero pulled a knife from his belt. He went into the black room. He was going to kill the stranger.
The red light fell on the stranger, and he turned toward Prince Prospero. The stranger was not wearing a mask!
Then every one of the courtiers fell onto the floor. Their bodies shook. Blood came from their ears, their eyes and their noses. The floor became red with blood. They cried in fear as they died.
Prince Prospero no longer ruled in the castle. The castle had a new master. Red Death was the ruler now.