A Red-Letter day, this. On this day, as I sat painstakingly repairing my poor tools and preparing my wretched writing materials, the thing I have so long expected and anticipated happened at last.
The voice came through the wall.
I am not referring, of course, to the mere sound of the voice. I mean that I came face to face with the speaker himself.
How did this come about? I will tell you. First there was a scraping and a pounding. Next a soft hiss, as of sand cascading down the face of the wall. Then the harsh grating of stone against stone, followed by a small avalanche of mortar and rock. I saw a storm of dust and heard a muffled cry. And then a tall, thin figure walked into my cell.
He approached me slowly on unsteady feet, his long white beard wagging as he came, his matted hair a dirty shroud to cover his crooked back. The remains of a high lace ruff or collar dangled from his neck like the shards of a crumbling yoke, and rusty black shreds of a ragged robe fluttered in ribbons from his emaciated limbs. For a long time he stood over me, his head wobbling from side to side, his face a mask of profound weariness and distaste. At last he spoke in a hollow, rasping voice.
“Edward?” he said doubtfully.
I shook my head.
“Who then art thou?” he demanded. “And how doth it hap that these cursed walls still hem me in?”
“I am John Izaak,” I replied. “You’ve broken through into my cell, that’s all. I’ve been listening to the sounds of your tunneling for a long, long time, and I’m glad you’ve come. May I be so bold as to ask your name?”
He scowled terribly. Stooping down, he traced a single letter in the dirt on the floor. To my surprise, I had seen it before: