Frantically, I ran down corridor after corridor in the hopeless maze that made up the basement. I knew that she was still alive, and that I had to find her. No matter how long it took, I refused to give up.
At last I heard an unearthly scream that nearly took my breath away, and coming into a small alcove, I saw her standing there, covered in blood, her eyes dark pools of madness.
"Let's get out of here! There's no time to lose!" I shouted, grabbing her arm and dragging her toward the exit.
"Roderick!" she screamed.
"It's too late! There's no time to go back!" I told her. Reaching the exit at last, I threw my entire weight against the door and managed to get it open far enough to push Madeline out before squeezing through myself. Once outside, I grabbed Madeline's hand and ran with her until we were a safe distance away.
"Roderick's still in there!" Madeline cried. She lunged for the burning mansion, but I held her back.
"It's too late, Madeline! Can't you see? The entire house is engulfed in flames!"
"No! No!" Madeline screamed, burying her face in her hands.
"Madeline, darling, listen to me." I held both her arms as I spoke gently to her, trying to calm her. "Your brother was an evil man. He tried to kill you. He put you in a casket knowing that you were still alive and hoping you'd suffocate!"
She looked at me uncomprehendingly.
"It's true, Madeline. I'm so sorry to have to tell you, but it's true. It really happened."
"It was so dark," Madeline said in a tiny voice. "I was all alone. I couldn't get out. I couldn't...get...out. I pushed up on the lid and saw a tiny slant of light. I pushed with all my might until the opening was big enough to crawl through. I was so scared, Philip. I was...so...scared."
"I know, darling." I held her and tried to comfort her as well as I could. "But it's all over now. It's all over, and you're finally free."
We both watched as the once-mighty House of Usher collapsed in on itself, totally gutted.
"But where shall I go, Philip? What shall I do?"
"I'm taking you back to Boston with me." I took her hand and walked with her to my waiting carriage. "Together we'll make a brand new start. I love you, Madeline."
"I love you too, Philip."
I helped her up into the carriage, and we were on our way.