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Edgar allan PoE

The Black caT and OTher STOrieS

2 • THE BLACK CAT AND OTHER STORIES

The Black Cat

You are not going to believe this story. But it is a true story, as true as I sit here writing it - as true as i will die in the morning. Yes, this story ends with my end, with my death tomorrow.

i have always been a kind and loving person - everyone will tell you this. They will also tell you that I have always loved animals more than anything. When I was a little boy, my family always had many different animals round the house. As I grew up, I spent most of my time with them, giving them their food and cleaning them.

I married when I was very young, and I was happy to find that my wife loved all of our

animal friends as much as I did. She bought us the most beautiful animals. We had all sorts of birds, gold fish, a fine dog and a cat.

The cat was a very large and beautiful animal. He was black, black all over, and very intelligent. He was so intelligent that my wife often laughed about what some people believe; some people believe that all black cats are evil, enemies in a cat’s body.

Pluto - this was the cat’s name - was my favourite. It was always I who gave him his food, and he followed me everywhere. I often had to stop him from following me through the streets! For years, he and i lived happily together, the best of friends.

But during those years I was slowly changing. It was that evil enemy of Man called Drink who was changing me. I was not the kind, loving person people knew before. I grew more and more selfish. I was often suddenly angry about unimportant things. I began to use bad language, most of all with my wife. I even hit her sometimes. And by that time, of course, I was often doing horrible things to our animals. I hit all of them - but never Pluto. But, my illness was getting worse - oh yes, drink is an illness! Soon I began to hurt my dear Pluto too.

I remember that night very well. I came home late, full of drink again. I could not

understand why Pluto was not pleased to see me. The cat was staying away from me. My Pluto did not want to come near me! I caught him and picked him up, holding him

strongly. he was afraid of me and bit my hand.

Suddenly, i was not myself any more. Someone else was in my body: someone evil, and mad with drink! I took my knife from my pocket, held the poor animal by his neck and cut out one of his eyes.

The next morning, my mind was full of pain and horror when i woke up. i was deeply sorry. I could not understand how I could do such an evil thing. But drink soon helped me to forget.

Slowly the cat got better. Soon he felt no more pain. There was now only an ugly dry hole where the eye once was. He began to go round the house as usual again. He never came near me now, of course, and he ran away when I went too close.

I knew he didn’t love me any more. At first I was sad. Then, slowly, I started to feel angry, and i did another terrible thing

I had to do it - I could not stop myself. I did it with a terrible sadness in my heart - because

I knew it was evil. And that was why I did it - yes! I did it because I knew it was evil. What did I do? I caught the cat and hung him by his neck from a tree until he was dead.

That night I woke up suddenly - my bed was on fire. I heard people outside shouting, ‘Fire! Fire!’ Our house was burning! I, my wife and our servant were lucky to escape. We stood and watched as the house burned down to the ground.

There was nothing left of the building the next morning. All the walls fell down during the night, except one - a wall in the middle of the house. I realized why this wall did not burn:

because there was new plaster on it. The plaster was still quite wet.

I was surprised to see a crowd of people next to the wall. They were talking, and seemed

to be quite excited. I went closer and looked over their shoulders. I saw a black shape in the new white plaster. It was the shape of large cat, hanging by its neck.

I looked at the shape with complete horror. Several minutes passed before I could think clearly again. I knew I had to try to think clearly. I had to know why it was there.

I remembered hanging the cat in the garden of the house next door. During the fire the

garden was full of people. Probably, someone cut the dead cat from the tree and threw

it through the window - to try and wake me. The falling walls pressed the animal’s body

into the fresh plaster. The cat burned completely, leaving the black shape in the new plaster. Yes, i was sure that was what happened.

But I could not forget that black shape for months. I even saw it in my dreams. I began to feel sad about losing the animal. So i began to look for another one. i looked mostly in the poor parts of our town where I went drinking. I searched for another black cat, of the same size and type as Pluto.

One night, as I sat in a dark and dirty drinking-house, I noticed a black object on top of

a cupboard, near some bottles of wine. I was surprised when I saw it. ‘I looked at those bottles a few minutes ago,’ I thought, ‘and I am sure that object was not there before

I got up, and went to see what it was. I put my hand up, touched it, and found that it was

a black cat - a very large one, as large as Pluto. He looked like Pluto too - in every way

but one: Pluto did not have a white hair anywhere on his body; this cat had a large white shape on his front.

He got up when I touched him, and pressed the side of his head against my hand several times. He liked me. This was the animal I was looking for! He continued to be very friendly and later, when I left, he followed me into the street. He came all the way home with me - we now had another house - and came inside. He immediately jumped up on to the most comfortable chair and went to sleep. He stayed with us, of course. He loved both of us and very soon he became my wife’s favourite animal.

2 • THE BLACK CAT AND OTHER STORIES

But, as the weeks passed, i began to dislike the animal more and more. i do not know why, but i hated the way he loved me. Soon, i began to hate him - but i was never unkind to him. Yes, I was very careful about that. I kept away from him because I remembered what I did to my poor Pluto. I also hated the animal because he only had one eye. I noticed this the morning after he came home with me. Of course, this only made my dear wife love him more!

But the more I hated the cat, the more he seemed to love me. He followed me everywhere, getting under my feet all the time. When I sat down, he always sat under my chair. Often he tried to jump up on my knees. I wanted to murder him when he did this, but I did not. I stopped myself because I remembered Pluto, but also because I was afraid of the animal.

but then how else

can I possibly describe it? Slowly, this strange fear grew into horror. Yes, horror. If I tell you why, you will not believe me. You will think i am mad.

Several times, my wife took the cat and showed me the white shape on his chest. She said the shape was slowly changing. For a long time I did not believe her, but slowly, after many weeks, I began to see that she was right. The shape was changing. Its sides

were becoming straighter and straighter. It was beginning to look more and more like an

object

There, on his front, was the shape of an object I am almost too afraid to name

There, on the cat’s front was the shape of that terrible machine of pain and death - the gallows!

It was that terrible machine of pain and death - yes, the gallows!

I no longer knew the meaning of happiness, or rest. During the day, the animal never left me. at night he woke me up nearly every hour. i remember waking from terrible dreams and feeling him sitting next to my face, his heavy body pressing down on my heart!

I was now a very different man. There was not the smallest piece of good left in me. I now had only evil thoughts - the darkest and the most evil thoughts. i hated everyone and everything, my dear wife too.

One day she came down into the cellar with me to cut some wood (we were now too poor to have a servant). Of course, the cat followed me down the stairs and nearly made me fall. This made me so angry, that I took the axe and tried to cut the animal in two. But as i brought the axe down, my wife stopped my arm with her hand. This made me even more angry, and I pulled her hand away from my wrist, lifted the tool again, brought it down hard and buried it in the top of her head.

I had to hide the body. I knew I could not take it out of the house. The neighbours noticed

After a few more weeks, I saw what the shape was. It was impossible not to see!

How can I explain this fear? It was not really a fear of something evil

It

everything. I thought of cutting it into pieces and burning it. I thought of burying it in the floor of the cellar. I thought of throwing it into the river at the end of the garden. I thought of putting it into a wooden box and taking it out of the house that way. In the end, I decided to hide the body in one of the walls of the cellar.

It was quite an old building, near the river, so the walls of the cellar were quite wet and the plaster was soft. There was new plaster on one of the walls, and I knew that underneath it the wall was not very strong. I also knew that this wall was very thick. I could hide the body in the middle of it.

It was not difficult. I took off some plaster, took out a few stones and made a hole in the earth that filled the middle of the wall. I put my wife there, put back the stones, made

some new plaster and put it on the wall. Then I cleaned the floor, and looked carefully round. Everything looked just as it did before. Nobody would ever know.

Next, I went upstairs to kill the cat. The animal was bringing me bad luck. I had to kill it.

I searched everywhere, but I could not find him. I was sure it was because of my wife’s murder; he was too clever to come near me now.

I waited all evening, but I did not see the evil animal. He did not come back during the

night either. And so, for the first time in a long time, I slept well. When I woke up the next morning, I was surprised to see that the cat still was not there. Two, three days passed, and there was still no cat. I cannot tell you how happy I began to feel. I felt so much better without the cat. Yes, it was he who brought me all my unhappiness. And now, without him, I began to feel like a free man again. It was wonderful - no more cat! Never again!

Several people came and asked about my wife, but I answered their questions easily. Then, on the fourth day, the police came. I was not worried when they searched the house. They asked me to come with them as they searched. They looked everywhere, several times. Then they went down into the cellar. I went down with them, of course. I was not a bit afraid. I walked calmly up and down, watching them search.

They found nothing, of course, and soon they were ready to go. I was so happy that I could not stop talking as they went up the stairs. I did not really know what I was saying. ‘Good day to you all, dear sirs.’ I said. ‘Yes, this is a well-built old house, isn’t it? Yes, a very well-built old house. These walls - are you going, gentlemen? - these walls are strong, aren’t they?’ I knocked hard on the part of the wall where my wife was.

A voice came from inside the wall, in answer to my knock. It was a cry, like a child’s. Quickly, it grew into a long scream of pain and horror. I saw the policemen standing on the stairs with their mouths open. Suddenly, they all ran down in a great hurry and began breaking down the wall. It fell quickly, and there was my wife, standing inside. There she was, with dried blood all over her head, looking at them. And there was the cat, standing on her head, his red mouth wide open in a scream, and his one gold eye shining like fire. The clever animal! My wife was dead because of him, and now his evil voice was sending me to the gallows.

was dead because of him, and now his evil voice was sending me to the gallows.

4 • THE BLACK CAT AND OTHER STORIES

The Fall of the House of User

The Fall of the House of User it was late autumn. The weather was wet and

it was late autumn. The weather was wet and the wind had blown all the leaves from the trees. I was riding my horse across the wet, empty land. I was traveling alone. I was going toward a dark and strange house-the house of Usher.

Why had I come to this lonely place? I knew Roderick Usher-the owner of the house. We were old friends, but we had not met for many years. A few weeks ago, I had received a letter from Roderick.

I am ill-very ill. Please come and visit me. I am going mad! I want your help. We have been friends since we were boys. Please come! Roderick Usher

i had been riding all day and it was now late. The pale sun was low in the sky when i arrived at the house of Usher.

A large lake of black water surrounded the house. I stopped by the lake and looked at the house. Roderick Usher’s house was a large black building. Its many windows were like

empty eyes. Suddenly, I felt cold

In front of me, a narrow road went across a bridge toward the house. I walked my horse along the narrow road until I reached the walls of the house.

I knocked on the front door and a servant opened it. He took my horse to a stable. Then he led me inside the house.

and a little afraid.

We climbed many stairs to his master’s room. Lamps burned along the walls, but they gave little light. The long corridors and stairways were full of dark shadows.

The servant opened a big, wooden door and i looked inside a large room.

At first, I did not recognise the man who was lying on a sofa. Then I saw that it was Roderick Usher. My friend had changed! He looked pale and ill. We were the same age, but he looked much older than me. His hair was silver-gray, and as soft as the web of a spider. I thought that Roderick was asleep because his eyes were closed. But as I entered the room, he sat up. Then he opened his eyes. They shone strangely in the weak light from the lamps.

i walked toward him.

“Welcome, my oldest and dearest friend!” he said.

But he did not shake my hand or come near me.

“Please excuse me,” he said. “I don’t wish to be rude. But I’m ill. I can’t touch another man’s hand. Please sit down. Rest a moment. A servant will take you to your room very soon. Then we shall have dinner and talk.”

“I’m glad that you have come,” he went on. “I have no one to talk to. My sister lives with me, but she is sick.”

at that moment, a woman walked into the room. She was very pale and her eyes shone strangely. She wore a black dress with a high collar. The collar covered her long neck. She did not look toward me and she did not speak.

Roderick Usher spoke to her.

“Madeline,” he said. “Madeline

Madeline did not reply. She crossed the room slowly. Then she turned and went through a doorway. Madeline left the room as silently as she had entered it.

Roderick Usher put his hands over his face.

“My sister has a strange illness. She is neither awake nor asleep. I fear that she’ll not live long.”

he rang a bell and a servant took me to my room. i lay on the bed and rested for an hour before dinner. I thought about Roderick and his sister. They were both behaving strangely. I did not feel comfortable in the house. But I could not leave immediately.

I felt more comfortable at dinner. Roderick asked me about my life. He looked happier. I forgot about his sister and the strange old house.

Roderick Usher looked after me well for several days. We ate and drank and talked. We read books in the library. I painted pictures. Roderick played the guitar.

I did not see Madeline again. And I did not ask about her. Roderick had been alone for too

long. He talked about happier days. We talked about the time when we were boys. But sometimes Roderick suddenly stopped talking. He stared in front of him. Then he turned his head to the left, then to the right. Was he listening to something? There was a look of sadness and fear on his face. I, too, felt afraid at these times.

this

is my old friend

6 • THE BLACK CAT AND OTHER STORIES

did not like this House of Usher. But I had come a long way to visit Roderick. I could not leave my friend. he wanted me to stay with him.

I

As the days passed, Roderick became more quiet and sad. One evening, he suddenly came into my room.

“Madeline is dead,” he said.

I was shocked. I did not know what to say. I did not know what to do.

“I need your help,” said Roderick Usher. “Madeline had been very ill. She was going to die. I knew this. But she mustn’t be buried near a church. She’ll lie in this house.

I’ll keep her body in a room under the house. Will you help me?”

My friend’s words frightened me. But I did not ask any questions. I do not know why.

We carried Madeline’s body down many steps to a room under the house. No one had been in the room for many years. There were soft, gray spiders’ webs hanging from the ceiling. The air was cold and damp. There were several lamps burning on the walls. But they gave little light.

A wooden coffin was in the center of the room. I helped Roderick to put his sister’s body in the coffin. She wore a white dress. Her face was as white as her dress.

Roderick looked at his sister for a long time. “Madeline will rest here,” he said sadly.

His face was pale and I saw the bones of his skull beneath the skin. He had not eaten for several days. Madeline was not breathing and her heart was not beating. But Madeline’s body was not cold. Then I knew, and I was afraid! She was dead, but she was not dead!

Roderick fastened the lid on the coffin. Then he led me out of the room.

“No one will ever come here again,” he said. “Madeline is resting now. No one will wake her.”

come here again,” he said. “Madeline is resting now. No one will wake her.” THE BLACK

But, from that moment, Roderick Usher never rested. He did not sleep. How long can

a man live without sleep? he walked from room to room. he stared in front of him.

He turned his head to the left, then to the right. Was he listening to something? Was Roderick Usher mad?

I, too, could not sleep. I lay on my bed and thought about the strange House of Usher. Suddenly, my bedroom door opened and Roderick came into the room. He was holding

a lamp. his eyes were bright and wild.

“Did you hear it?” he said. “Did you see it?”

“Hear what?” I asked. “See what?”

“You will understand soon,” he said.

He pulled back the curtains and opened the window. It was dark outside and there was

a storm. The wind was blowing and rain was falling. Then a flash of lightning lit the sky.

A few seconds later, there was a crash of thunder. The wind blew into the room. It

screamed as it blew around the room. The door crashed shut and the flame in the lamp went out. Suddenly there was a loud noise and the floor of the room moved.

“I can hear the softest sounds,” Roderick said. “I can hear everything. I can hear her!”

“Who can you hear?” I asked loudly. I covered my face because the wind was blowing into my eyes.

“Madeline!” Roderick replied. “I can hear her! She’s coming here! She has opened her coffin. She’s coming up the stairs. She’s coming for me!”

The strong wind blew around the room again. it blew the door of the room open. Outside, lightning flashed again and again.

Suddenly I saw Madeline Usher. She was standing in the doorway. She was wearing the white dress. But it was no longer white. Her dress was covered in blood.

Madeline had broken out of her coffin! She had torn her hands and her face. There was blood on her fingers, her face and her dress.

Madeline’s eyes were open but she saw nothing. She stared in front of her. She held her hands out toward her brother.

Slowly, Roderick went toward her. And she closed her blood-red arms around his body. Roderick gave a terrible scream and fell to the floor. Madeline fell with him. Their bodies lay on the floor and they did not move. They were both dead.

I ran from the terrible House of Usher. I ran across the narrow bridge. When I reached the other side of the lake, i turned around.

I looked back at the house. The wind was still blowing around the house. It made the

sound of a wild animal. And I could see the wind! It was black and terrible! Lightning flashed in the sky and thunder crashed.

Then a bright flash of lightning hit the house and the walls broke. Slowly, the house started to fall. With a great roar, the house fell into the lake. Then the water of the lake covered the House of Usher, and there was silence.

8 • THE BLACK CAT AND OTHER STORIES

Prince Prospero in The Masque of the Red Death

Prince Prospero in The Masque of the Red Death A terrible disease came to this country.

A terrible disease came to this country. The illness was called the Red Death. No one was safe. Soon many people were sick. There was no help - no cure. The Red Death killed half of the people in this land.

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.

Prince Prospero had plenty of food inside the castle. And there was plenty of wine to drink. He did not think about the rest of the people in his land. Prince Prospero told his courtiers to enjoy themselves.

“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!”

The prince prepared a masque for his courtiers. There was going to be music for dancing. There was going to be wonderful food to eat. There was going to be good wine to drink. Dancers and singers were going to entertain the guests. Everyone was going to wear masks. Their faces were going to be hidden by the masks.

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.

These rooms were together in a line. The prince and his courtiers went from one room to the next room. They sang and danced. They laughed. They ate and drank.

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 third room was green - the color of leaves. It had green glass in its window.

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.

But the window in this room was red - the color of blood. The light that came through the window was the color of blood.

the color of blood. The light that came through the window was the color of blood.

10 • THE BLACK CAT AND OTHER STORIES

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.

When the bell rang, the musicians stopped playing music. The dancers stopped dancing. The courtiers stopped eating and drinking. The faces of the men and women became pale. They held their hands in front of their eyes. When they heard the clock, they became afraid. When the clock was silent, they took their hands from their faces and they laughed. Then the musicians started playing again. The dancers danced. Everyone ate and drank. They forgot about the clock until the next hour.

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 masque had started in the afternoon. The courtiers did not worry about the clock at first. The bell rang once. It rang twice. It rang three times. The courtiers stopped for only a few moments as the bell rang. Then the masque continued.

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.

But one room was empty. no one wanted to enter the seventh room. This room had red light coming through its window. And it had the great clock.

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.

Suddenly they saw a stranger. No one had seen this stranger’s mask before. Who was this person? No one could enter or leave the castle. How had the stranger entered?

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.

Prince Prospero was not pleased. He did not want to remember the Red Death. Who had come wearing a mask that reminded them of the Red Death?

“Take him!” shouted the prince. “Kill him!”

Several men moved toward the stranger. The stranger looked at the men. They stopped walking. Was there a mask on the stranger’s face? Or was the sign of disease on the stranger’s face? The men were afraid.

“Take him!” shouted the prince again. “Kill him!”

But no one touched the stranger. Everyone moved away from him. The prince was angry.

The stranger walked from the blue room into the purple room. everyone moved away from the stranger with the mask of the red death. everyone was afraid.

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.

There was only one more room. The stranger stood in the black room. He stood in front of the great clock. The hands of the clock had stopped at midnight. The bell was never going to ring again. The red light from the window fell on the stranger and the clock. The red light was the color of blood.

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!

Prince Prospero cried out in pain. The knife fell from his hand. The prince fell onto the ground in front of the clock. He was dead.

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.

ruled in the castle. The castle had a new master. Red Death was the ruler now.

12 • THE BLACK CAT AND OTHER STORIES

Berenice

Berenice Egaeus is my name. My family - I will not name it - is one

Egaeus is my name. My family - I will not name it - is one of the oldest in the land. We have lived here, inside the walls of this great house, for many hundreds of years. i sometimes walk through its silent rooms. Each one is richly decorated, by the hands of only the finest workmen. But my favourite has always been the library. It is here, among books, that I have always spent most of my time.

My mother died in the library; I was born here. Yes, the world heard my first cries here; and these walls, the books that stand along them are among the first things I can remember in my life.

i was born here in this room, but my life did not begin here. i know i lived another life before the one I am living now. I can remember another time, like a dream without shape or body: a world of eyes, sweet sad sounds and silent shadows. i woke up from that long night, my eyes opened, and i saw the light of day again - here in this room full of thoughts and dreams.

As a child, I spent my days reading in this library, and my young days dreaming here. The years passed, I grew up without noticing it, and soon I found that I was no longer young. I was already in the middle of my life, and I was still living here in the house of my fathers.

I almost never left the house, and I left the library less and less. And so, slowly, the real world - life in the world outside these walls - began to seem like a dream to me. The wild ideas, the dreams inside my head were my real world. They were my whole life.

Berenice and I were cousins. She and I grew up together here in this house. But we grew so differently. I was the weak one, so often sick, always lost in my dark and heavy thoughts. She was the strong, healthy one, always so full of life, always shining like a bright new sun. She ran over the hills under the great blue sky while i studied in the library. I lived inside the walls of my mind, fighting with the most difficult and painful ideas. She walked quickly and happily through life, never thinking of the shadows around her. I watched our young years flying away on the silent wings of time. Berenice never thought of tomorrow. She lived only for the day.

Berenice - I call out her name - Berenice! And a thousand sweet voices answer me from

the past. I can see her clearly now, as she was in her early days of beauty and light. I see

her

Her bright young days ended when an illness - a terrible illness - came down on her like a sudden storm. I watched the dark cloud pass over her. I saw it change her body and mind completely. The cloud came and went, leaving someone I did not know. Who was this sad person I saw now? Where was my Berenice, the Berenice I once knew?

This first illness caused several other illnesses to follow. One of these was a very unusual type of epilepsy. This epilepsy always came suddenly, without warning. Suddenly, her mind stopped working. She fell to the ground, red in the face, shaking all over, making strange sounds, her eyes not seeing any more. The epilepsy often ended with her going into a kind of very deep sleep. Sometimes, this sleep was so deep that it was difficult to tell if she was dead or not. Often she woke up from the sleep as suddenly as the epilepsy began. She would just get up again as if nothing was wrong.

It was during this time that my illness began to get worse. I felt it growing stronger day by day. I knew I could do nothing to stop it. And soon, like Berenice, my illness changed my life completely.

It was not my body that was sick; it was my mind. It was an illness of the mind. I can only describe it as a type of monomania. I often lost myself for hours, deep in thought about something - something so unimportant that it seemed funny afterwards. But I am afraid it may be impossible to describe how fully I could lose myself in the useless study of even the simplest or most ordinary object.

I could sit for hours looking at one letter of a word on a page. I could stay, for most of a

summer’s day, watching a shadow on the floor. I could sit without taking my eyes off a wood fire in winter, until it burnt away to nothing. I could sit for a whole night dreaming about the sweet smell of a flower. I often repeated a single word again and again for hours until the sound of it had no more meaning for me. When I did these things, I always lost all idea of myself, all idea of time, of movement, even of being alive.

There must be no mistake. You must understand that this monomania was not a kind of dreaming. Dreaming is completely different. The dreamer -I am talking about the dreamer who is awake, not asleep - needs and uses the mind to build his dream. also, the dreamer nearly always forgets the thought or idea or object that began his dream. But with me, the object that began the journey into deepest thought always stayed in my mind. The object was always there at the centre of my thinking. It was the centre of everything. It was both the subject and the object of my thoughts. My thoughts always, always came back to that object in a never-ending circle. The object was no longer real, but still I could not pull myself away from it!

I never loved Berenice, even during the brightest days of her beauty. This is because I

have never had feelings of the heart. My loves have always been in the world of the mind.

In the grey light of early morning, among the dancing shadows of the forest, in the silence of my library at night, Berenice moved quickly and lightly before my eyes. I never saw my Berenice as a living Berenice. For me, Berenice was a Berenice in a dream. She was not a person of this world - no, I never thought of her as someone real. Berenice was the idea of Berenice. She was something to think about, not someone to love.

And so why did I feel differently after her illness? Why, when she was so terribly and sadly changed, did I shake and go white when she came near me?

and then suddenly all is darkness, mystery and fear.

14 • THE BLACK CAT AND OTHER STORIES

Because I saw the terrible waste of that sweet and loving person. Because now there was nothing left of the Berenice I once knew!

it is true i never loved her. But i knew she always loved me - deeply. and so, one day - because I felt so sorry for her - I had a stupid and evil idea. I asked her to marry me.

Our wedding day was growing closer, and one warm afternoon I was sitting in the library. The clouds were low and dark, the air was heavy, everything was quiet. Suddenly, lifting my eyes from my book, I saw Berenice standing in front of me.

She was like a stranger to me, only a weak shadow of the woman I remembered. I could not even remember how she was before. God, she was so thin! I could see her arms and legs through the grey clothes that hung round her wasted body.

She said nothing. And I could not speak. I do not know why, but suddenly I felt a terrible fear pressing down like a great stone on my heart. I sat there in my chair, too afraid to move.

Her long hair fell around her face. She was as white as snow. She looked strangely calm and happy. But there was no life at all in her eyes. They did not even seem to see me. i watched as her thin, bloodless lips slowly opened. They made a strange smile that I could not understand. and it was then that i saw the teeth.

Oh, why did she have to smile at me! Why did i have to see those teeth?

***

I heard a door closing and I looked up. Berenice was not there any more. The room was

empty. But her teeth did not leave the room of my mind! I now saw them more clearly than when she was standing in front of me. Every smallest part of each tooth was burnt into my mind. The teeth! There they were in front of my eyes - here, there, everywhere i looked. and they were so white, with her bloodless lips always moving round them!

I tried to fight this sudden, terrible monomania, but it was useless. All I could think about, all I could see in my mind’s eye was the teeth. They were now the centre of my life. I held them up in my mind’s eye, looked at them in every light, turned them every way. I studied their shapes, their differences; and the more I thought about them, the more I began to want them. Yes, I wanted them! I had to have the teeth! Only the teeth could bring me happiness, could stop me from going mad.

Evening came; then darkness turned into another day; soon a second night was falling, and I sat there alone, never moving. I was still lost in thought, in that one same thought:

the teeth. i saw them everywhere i looked - in the evening shadows, in the darkness in front of my eyes.

Then a terrible cry of horror woke me from my dreams. I heard voices, and more cries of sadness and pain. i got up and opened the door of the library. a servant girl was standing outside, crying.

‘Your cousin, sir’ she began. ‘It was her epilepsy, sir. She died this morning.’

This morning? i looked out of the window. night was falling

‘We are ready to bury her now,’ said the girl.

found myself waking up alone in the library again. I thought that I could remember unpleasant and excited dreams, but I did not know what they were. It was midnight.

I

‘They buried Berenice soon after dark,’ I told myself again and again. But I could only half- remember the hours since then - hours full of a terrible unknown horror.

I knew something happened during the night, but I could not remember what it was:

those hours of the night were like a page of strange writing that I could not understand.

Next, I heard the high cutting scream of a woman. I remember thinking: ‘What did I do?

I asked myself this question out loud. And the walls of the library answered me in a soft voice like mine: What did you do?

There was a lamp on the table near me, with a small box next to it. i knew this box well - it belonged to our family’s doctor. But why was it there, now, on the table? And why was I shaking like a leaf as i looked at it? Why was my hair standing on my head?

There was a knock on the door. A servant came in. He was wild with fear and spoke to me quickly, in a low, shaking voice. I could not understand all of what he was saying.

‘Some of us heard a wild cry during the night, sir’ he said. ‘We went to find out what it was, and we found Berenice’s body lying in the open, sir!’ he cried. ‘Someone took her out of the hole where we buried her! Her body was cut and bleeding! But worse than

that, she

He pointed at my clothes. There was blood all over them. I said nothing.

He took my hand. I saw cuts and dried blood on it. I cried out, jumped to the table and tried to open the box. I tried and tried but I could not! It fell to the floor and broke. Dentist’s tools fell out of it, and with them - so small and so white! - thirty-two teeth fell here, there, everywhere

she was not dead, sir! She was still alive!

teeth fell here, there, everywhere she was not dead, sir! She was still alive! 16 •

16 • THE BLACK CAT AND OTHER STORIES

“The Purloined Letter”

“The Purloined Letter” The word “purloined” means “stolen.” One evening in Paris, during the autumn of

The word “purloined” means “stolen.”

One evening in Paris, during the autumn of 1845, i went to visit a friend, auguste dupin. We were smoking our pipes and talking when the door of his apartment opened. Mr. Germont, the head of the Paris police force, came into the room.

“I came to ask your advice,” Germont said to my friend Dupin. “I am trying to solve a very important case. It is also a very simple case, so I really need your help. But I thought you would like to hear about it, because it is so strange.

“My men and I have worked on this case for three months,” Germont said. “It is a very simple case of robbery. But we still cannot solve it.”

Dupin took the pipe out of his mouth. “Perhaps the mystery is too simple,” he said.

Germont began to laugh. “Too simple?” he said. “Who ever heard of such a thing?”

I looked at Germont. “Why don’t you tell us the problem?” I said.

Germont stopped laughing and sat down.

“All right,” he said. “But you must never tell anyone I told you this.”

“The wife of a very important person needs help. I cannot tell you her name, because her husband is a powerful man in the French government. Let us just call her Madame X. Three months ago, someone stole a letter from Madame X. She is offering a large amount of money to anyone who can return the letter to her.

“We know that her husband’s political enemy, Mr. D’Arcy, stole the letter.

We also know

it is somewhere in his apartment. D’Arcy plans to use the letter to embarrass Madame X’s husband and destroy his political power.

“As you know, I have keys which can open any lock in Paris. For the last three months, my men and I have spent every evening looking for the letter in his apartment. But we cannot find it.”

Dupin stopped smoking. “Tell me how you looked for it,” he said. Germont moved forward in his chair.

“We took our time,” he said. “First, we examined the furniture in every room. We opened all the drawers. We looked under the rugs. We searched behind all the paintings on the walls.

We looked under the rugs. We searched behind all the paintings on the walls. 18 •

18 • THE BLACK CAT AND OTHER STORIES

“We opened every book. We removed the boards of the floor. We even took the tops off the tables to see if he had hidden the letter in the table legs. But we cannot find it. What do you advise me to do?”

Dupin puffed on his pipe. “What does the letter look like?” he asked.

“It is in a white envelope with a red stamp,” Germont said. “The address is written in large black letters.”

Dupin puffed on his pipe again. “I advise you to go back and search the apartment again,” he said.

About one month later, Germont came back to see us.

“I followed your advice,” he said. “But I still have not found the letter.”

Dupin smiled. “I knew you would not find it,” he said. Germont became very red in the face. “Then why did you make me search the apartment again?” he shouted.

“My dear Germont,” Dupin said. “Let me tell you a little story. Do you remember the famous doctor, Louis Abernathy?”

“No!” Germont shouted. “Get to the point, Dupin!”

“Of course! Of course,” Dupin said. “Once, a rich old man met Abernathy at a party. The old man was not feeling very well. He decided he would get a medical opinion from the doctor without paying for it. So he described his problems to Abernathy. ‘Now doctor,’ the old man said, ‘suppose you had a patient like that. What would you tell him to take?’”

“’Oh, that is quite simple,’ said Abernathy. ‘I would tell him to take my advice.’”

Germont looked embarrassed. “Look here, Dupin. I am perfectly willing to pay for advice.”

Dupin smiled at Germont. “How much money did you say the reward was?” he asked. Germont sighed. “I do not want to tell you the exact amount. But I would give fifty thousand francs to the person who helps me find that letter.”

“In that case,” Dupin said, “take out your checkbook and write me a check for fifty thousand francs. When you have signed the check, I will give you the letter.”

Germont looked at Dupin with his mouth open. His eyes seemed to jump out of his head. Then he took out his checkbook and pen, and wrote a check for fifty thousand francs. He gave it to dupin.

My friend examined the check carefully and put it in his pocket. Then he unlocked a drawer of his desk, took out the letter, and gave it to Germont.

The policeman’s hands shook as he opened the letter. He read it quickly. Then he put it in his pocket and ran out of the room without saying a word.

“Dupin!” I said, as I turned to my friend. “How did you solve the mystery?”

“It was simple, my friend,” he said. “Germont and his policemen could not find the letter, because they did not try to understand the mind of the man who stole it. Instead, they looked for the letter where they would have hidden it.

“Mr. D’Arcy is not a policeman. He is, however, very intelligent. He knew the police would search his apartment. He also knew how police think. So, he did not hide the letter where he knew they would look for it.

“Do you remember how Germont laughed when I said the mystery was difficult for him to solve because it was so simple?”

Dupin filled his pipe with tobacco and lit it. “Well, the more I thought about it, the more I realized the police could not find the letter because D’Arcy had not hidden it at all.

“So I went to visit D’Arcy in his apartment. I took a pair of dark green eyeglasses with me. i explained to him that i was having trouble with my eyes and needed to wear the dark glasses at all times. He believed me. The glasses permitted me to look around the apartment while i seemed only to be talking to him.

“I paid special attention to a large desk where there were a lot of papers and books. However, I saw nothing suspicious there. After a few minutes, however, I noticed a small shelf over the fireplace. A few postcards and a letter were lying on the shelf. The letter looked very old and dirty.

“As soon as I saw this letter, I decided it must be the one I was looking for. It must be, even though it was completely different from the one Germont had described.

“This letter had a large green stamp on it. The address was written in small letters in blue ink. I memorized every detail of the letter while I talked to D’Arcy. Then when he was not looking, I dropped one of my gloves on the floor under my chair.

“The next morning, i stopped at his apartment to look for my glove. While we were talking, we heard people shouting in the street. D’Arcy went to the window and looked out. Quickly, I stepped to the shelf and put the letter in my pocket. Then I replaced it with a letter that looked exactly like it, which I had taken with me. I had made it the night before.

“The trouble in the street was caused by a man who had almost been run over by a horse and carriage. He was not hurt. And soon the crowd of people went away. When it was over, D’Arcy came away from the window. I said good-bye and left.

“The man who almost had an accident was one of my servants. I had paid him to create the incident.”

“But, Dupin,” I said, “why

did you go to the trouble of replacing the letter?

Dupin stopped talking to light his pipe. I did not understand.

Why not just take it and leave?”

Dupin smiled. “D’Arcy is a dangerous man,” he said. “And he has many loyal servants. If I had taken the letter, I might never have left his apartment alive.”

“The Purloined Letter” was written by Edgar Allan Poe and adapted into Special English by Dona De Sanctis. The storyteller was Shep O’Neal. The producer was Lawan Davis.

Poe is generally known for his horror stories. This is the third of three stories he wrote about Auguste Dupin and how he solves crimes. The story first appeared in 1844 in a yearly magazine. It was reprinted in many publications, newspapers and books. This is one of Poe’s stories that influenced the development of the modern detective story.

20 • THE BLACK CAT AND OTHER STORIES

“The Cask of A�ontillado.”

“The Cask of A�ontillado.” Our story today is called “The Cask of Amontillado.” It was written

Our story today is called “The Cask of Amontillado.” It was written by Edgar Allan Poe. here is larry West with the story.

(MUSIC)

Storyteller: Fortunato and i both were members of very old and important italian families. We used to play together when we were children.

Fortunato was bigger, richer and more handsome than I was. And he enjoyed making me look like a fool. He hurt my feelings a thousand times during the years of my childhood. I never showed my anger, however. So, he thought we were good friends. But i promised myself that one day i would punish Fortunato for his insults to me.

Many years passed. Fortunato married a rich and beautiful woman who gave him sons. deep in my heart i hated him, but i never said or did anything that showed him how i really felt. When I smiled at him, he thought it was because we were friends.

he did not know it was the thought of his death that made me smile.

Everyone in our town respected Fortunato. Some men were afraid of him because he was so rich and powerful. He had a weak spot, however. He thought he was an excellent judge of wine. I also was an expert on wine. I spent a lot of money buying rare and costly wines. I stored the wines in the dark rooms under my familys palace.

Our palace was one of the oldest buildings in the town. The Montresor family had lived in it for hundreds of years. We had buried our dead in the rooms under the palace. These tombs were quiet, dark places that no one but myself ever visited.

Late one evening during carnival season, I happened to meet Fortunato on the street. He was going home alone from a party. Fortunato was beautiful in his silk suit made of many colors: yellow, green, purple and red. On his head he wore an orange cap, covered with little silver bells. I could see he had been drinking too much wine. He threw his arms around me. he said he was glad to see me.

I said I was glad to see him, too because I had a little problem.

“What is it?” he asked, putting his large hand on my shoulder.

“My dear Fortunato,” I said, “Im afraid I have been very stupid. The man who sells me wine said he had a rare barrel of Amontillado wine. I believed him and I bought it from him. But now, I am not so sure that the wine is really Amontillado.”

“What!” he said, “A cask of Amontillado at this time of year. An entire barrel? Impossible!”

“Yes, I was very stupid. I paid the wine man the full price he wanted without asking you to taste the wine first. But I couldnt find you and I was afraid he would sell the cask of Amontillado to someone else. So I bought it.”

“A cask of Amontillado!” Fortunato repeated. “Where is it?”

I pretended I didnt hear his question. Instead I told him I was going to visit our friend Lucresi. “He will be able to tell me if the wine is really Amontillado,” I said.

Fortunato laughed in my face. “Lucresi cannot tell Amontillado from vinegar.”

I smiled to myself and said “But some people say that he is as good a judge of wine as you are.”

Fortunato grabbed my arm. “Take me to it,” he said. “Ill taste the Amontillado for you.”

“But my friend,” I protested, “it is late. The wine is in my wine cellar, underneath the palace. Those rooms are very damp and cold and the walls drip with water.”

“I dont care,” he said. “I am the only person who can tell you if your wine man has cheated you. Lucresi cannot!”

Fortunato turned, and still holding me by the arm, pulled me down the street to my home. The building was empty. My servants were enjoying carnival. I knew they would be gone all night.

I took two large candles, lit them and gave one to Fortunato. I started down the dark,

twisting stairway with Fortunato close behind me. At the bottom of the stairs, the damp air wrapped itself around our bodies.

“Where are we?” Fortunato asked. “I thought you said the cask of Amontillado was in your wine cellar.”

“It is,” I said. “The wine cellar is just beyond these tombs where the dead of my family are kept. Surely, you are not afraid of walking through the tombs.

22 • THE BLACK CAT AND OTHER STORIES

He turned and looked into my eyes. “Tombs?” he said. He began to cough. The

He turned and looked into my eyes. “Tombs?” he said. He began to cough. The silver bells on his cap jingled.

“My poor friend,” I said, “how long have you had that cough?”

“Its nothing,” he said, but he couldnt stop coughing.

“Come,” I said firmly, “we will go back upstairs. Your health is important.You are rich, respected, admired, and loved. You have a wife and children. Many people would miss you if you died. We will go back before you get seriously ill. I can go to Lucresi for help with the wine.”

“No!” he cried. “This cough is nothing. It will not kill me. I wont die from a cough.”

“That is true,” I said, “but you must be careful.” He took my arm and we began to walk through the cold, dark rooms. We went deeper and deeper into the cellar.

Finally, we arrived in a small room. Bones were pushed high against one wall. a doorway in another wall opened to an even smaller room, about one meter wide and two meters high. Its walls were solid rock.

“Here we are,” I said. “I hid the cask of Amontillado in there.” I pointed to the smaller room. Fortunato lifted his candle and stepped into the tiny room. I immediately followed him. He stood stupidly staring at two iron handcuffs chained to a wall of the tiny room. I grabbed his arms and locked them into the metal handcuffs. It took only a moment. He was too surprised to fight me.

i stepped outside the small room.

“Where is the Amontillado?” he cried.

“Ah yes,” I said, “the cask of Amontillado.” I leaned over and began pushing aside the pile of bones against the wall. Under the bones was a basket of stone blocks, some cement and a small shovel. I had hidden the materials there earlier. I began to fill the doorway of the tiny room with stones and cement.

By the time I laid the first row of stones Fortunato was no longer drunk. I heard him moaning inside the tiny room for ten minutes. Then there was a long silence.

I finished the second and third rows of stone blocks. As I began the fourth row, I heard

Fortunato begin to shake the chains that held him to the wall. He was trying to pull them out of the granite wall.

I smiled to myself and stopped working so that I could better enjoy listening to the noise. After a few minutes, he stopped. I finished the fifth, the sixth and the seventh rows of stones. The wall i was building in the doorway was now almost up to my shoulders.

Suddenly, loud screams burst from the throat of the chained man. For a moment I worried. What if someone heard him? Then I placed my hand on the solid rock of the walls and felt safe. I looked into the tiny room, where he was still screaming. And I began to scream, too. My screams grew louder than his and he stopped.

It was now almost midnight. I finished the eighth, the ninth and the tenth rows. All that was left was a stone for the last hole in the wall. I was about to push it in when I heard a low laugh from behind the stones.

The laugh made the hair on my head stand up. Then Fortunato spoke, in a sad voice that no longer sounded like him.

He said, “Well, you have played a good joke on me. We will laugh about it soon over a glass of that Amontillado. But isnt it getting late. My wife and my friends will be waiting for us. Let us go.”

“Yes,” I replied, “let us go.”

I waited for him to say something else. I heard only my own breathing. “Fortunato!” I called. No answer. I called again. “Fortunato!” Still no answer.

I hurried to put the last stone into the wall and put the cement around it. Then I pushed the pile of bones in front of the new wall i had built.

That was fifty years ago. For half a century now, no one has touched those bones. “May he rest in peace!”

Announcer: You have just heard the story “The Cask of Amontillado. “ It was written by Edgar Allan Poe and adapted for Special English by Dona de Sanctis. Your storyteller was Larry West. For VOA Special English, this is Shep ONeal.

Your storyteller was Larry West. For VOA Special English, this is Shep ONeal. 24 • THE

24 • THE BLACK CAT AND OTHER STORIES

The Tell-Tale Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart True! nervous -- very, very nervous i had been and am! But why

True! nervous -- very, very nervous i had been and am! But why will you say that i am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses -- not destroyed them.

above all was the sense of hearing. i heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. i heard many things in the underworld. how, then, am i mad? Observe how healthily -- how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. he had never given me insult. For his gold i had no desire. i think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! he had the eye of a bird, a vulture -- a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell on me, my blood ran cold; and so -- very slowly -- I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and free myself of the eye forever.

Now this is the point. You think that I am mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely and carefully I went to work!

i was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before i killed him. and every night, late at night, I turned the lock of his door and opened it – oh, so gently! And then, when i had made an opening big enough for my head, i put in a dark lantern, all closed that no light shone out, and then I stuck in my head. I moved it slowly, very slowly, so that i might not interfere with the old mans sleep. and then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern just so much that a single thin ray of light fell upon the vulture eye.

And this I did for seven long nights -- but I found the eye always

And this I did for seven long nights -- but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who was a problem for me, but his evil eye.

On the eighth night, I was more than usually careful in opening the door. I had my head in and was about to open the lantern, when my finger slid on a piece of metal and made a noise. The old man sat up in bed, crying out “Whos there?”

I kept still and said nothing. I did not move a muscle for a whole hour. During that time,

I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening -- just as I have done, night after night.

Then i heard a noise, and i knew it was the sound of human terror. it was the low sound that arises from the bottom of the soul. I knew the sound well. Many a night, late at night, when all the world slept, it has welled up from deep within my own chest. I say I knew it well.

i knew what the old man felt, and felt sorry for him, although i laughed to myself. i knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him.

26 • THE BLACK CAT AND OTHER STORIES

When I had waited a long time, without hearing him lie down, I decided to open a little --

a very, very little -- crack in the lantern. So I opened it. You cannot imagine how carefully, carefully. Finally, a single ray of light shot from out and fell full upon the vulture eye.

It was open -- wide, wide open -- and I grew angry as I looked at it. I saw it clearly -- all a

dull blue, with a horrible veil over it that chilled my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old mans face or person. For I had directed the light exactly upon the damned spot.

And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but a kind of over-sensitivity? Now, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when inside

a piece of cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old mans heart. It increased my anger.

But even yet I kept still. I hardly breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I attempted to keep the ray of light upon the eye. But the beating of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every second. The old mans terror must have been extreme! The beating grew louder, I say, louder every moment!

And now at the dead hour of the night, in the horrible silence of that old house, so

strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer

I stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst.

And now a new fear seized me -- the sound would be heard by a neighbor! The old mans hour had come! With a loud shout, I threw open the lantern and burst into the room.

He cried once -- once only. Without delay, I forced him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled, to find the action so far done.

But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a quiet sound. This, however, did not concern me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length, it stopped. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the body. I placed my hand over his heart and held it there many minutes. There was no movement. he was stone dead. his eye would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise steps I took

for hiding the body. I worked quickly, but in silence. First of all, I took apart the body. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.

I then took up three pieces of wood from the flooring, and placed his body parts under

the room. I then replaced the wooden boards so well that no human eye -- not even his -- could have seen anything wrong.

There was nothing to wash out -- no mark of any kind -- no blood whatever. i had been too smart for that. A tub had caught all -- ha! ha!

When I had made an end of these labors, it was four oclock in the morning. As a clock sounded the hour, there came a noise at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart -- for what had i now to fear? There entered three men, who said they were officers of the police. A cry had been heard by a neighbor during the night; suspicion of a crime had been aroused; information had been given at the police office, and the officers had been sent to search the building.

I smiled -- for what had I to fear? The cry, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I said, was not in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I told them to search -- search well. I led them, at length, to his room. I brought chairs there, and told them to rest. I placed my own seat upon the very place under which lay the body of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. I was completely at ease. They sat, and while I answered happily, they talked of common things. But, after a while, I felt myself getting weak and wished them gone. My head hurt, and I had a ringing in my ears; but still they sat and talked.

The ringing became more severe. I talked more freely to do away with the feeling. But it continued until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

I talked more and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased -- and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound like a watch makes when inside a piece of cotton. I had trouble breathing -- and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly -- more loudly; but the noise increased. I stood up and argued about silly things, in a high voice and with violent hand movements. But the noise kept increasing.

Why would they not be gone? I walked across the floor with heavy steps, as if excited to anger by the observations of the men -- but the noise increased. What could I do? I swung my chair and moved it upon the floor, but the noise continually increased. It grew louder -- louder -- louder! And still the men talked pleasantly, and smiled.

Was it possible they heard not? No, no! They heard! They suspected! They knew! They were making a joke of my horror! This I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this pain! I could bear those smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! And now -- again! louder! louder! louder!

“Villains!” I cried, “Pretend no more! I admit the deed! Tear up the floor boards! Here, here! It is the beating of his hideous heart!”

You have heard the story “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe. Your storyteller was Shep ONeal. This story was adapted by Shelley Gollust. It was produced by Lawan Davis.

* * *

by Shelley Gollust. It was produced by Lawan Davis. * * * The author Edgar Alan

The author Edgar Alan Poe

28 • THE BLACK CAT AND OTHER STORIES