The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Part 1

by Edgar Allan Poe

Adapted to chat story format by captivated chat

My roommate and I were strolling one night down a long dirty street in the vicinity of the Palais Royal. Being both occupied in thought, neither of us had spoken a syllable for fifteen minutes at least. All at once, Monsieur Dupin interrupted my thoughts.

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Dupin
He is a very little fellow, that’s true, and would do better for the Théâtre des Variétés.”
Me
There can be no doubt of that. – But how? How did you chime in on my meditations?
Dupin
Largely by watching your face and your movements.
Me
This is beyond comprehension! I must say you amaze me, and I can scarcely credit my senses. How was it possible to know I was thinking of —— ?” Here I paused, to ascertain beyond a doubt whether he really knew of whom I thought.
Dupin
— of Chantilly, why do you pause? You were remarking to yourself that his diminutive figure unfitted him for tragedy.
Me
That is precisely what formed the subject of my reflections.
Dupin
Chantilly, that quondam cobbler of the Rue St. Denis, who, became stage-mad and thus attempted the rôle of Xerxes, in Crébillon’s tragedy, and was notoriously Pasquinaded for his pains.
Me
Tell me, for Heaven’s sake, the method—if method there is—by which you have been enabled to fathom my soul in this matter. I remain slightly befuddled.
Dupin
It was the fruiterer who brought you to the conclusion that the mender of soles was not of sufficient height for Xerxes.
Me
The fruiterer!—you astonish me—I do not know any fruiterer.
Dupin
The man who ran up against you as we entered the street—fifteen minutes ago.

Injured

Me
Oh yes, I remember that fellow, carrying on his head a basket of apples! He nearly threw me down, by accident, as we passed from the Rue C —— into the thoroughfare; but what has this to do with Chantilly!
Dupin
I will explain, and that you may comprehend all clearly, we will first retrace the course of your meditations, from the moment in which I spoke to you until that of the rencontre with the fruiterer in question. The larger links of the chain run thus—Chantilly, Orion, Dr. Nichols, Epicurus, Stereotomy, the street stones, the fruiterer.
Me
You astonish me! We have all amused ourselves by retracing the train of thought we took to reach a particular conclusion. But somehow you traced my thoughts! You spoke the truth. But how? I mean——how!
Dupin
We had been talking of horses, if I remember aright, just before leaving the Rue C ——. We discussed this subject last. As we crossed into this street, the fruiterer, with a large basket on his head, brushing quickly past us, thrust you upon a pile of paving stones collected at a spot where the causeway is undergoing repair.
Me
The bounder injured me!
Dupin
You stepped on one of the loose fragments. You slipped slightly strained your ankle, appeared vexed or sulky, muttered a few words, turned to look at the pile, and then proceeded in silence. I was greatly attentive; but observation has become with me, of late, a species of necessity.
Dupin
You kept your eyes upon the ground—glancing, with a petulant expression, at the holes and ruts in the pavement, so that I saw you were still thinking of the stones, until we reached the little alley called Lamartine. They have paved it, by way of experiment, with the overlapping and riveted blocks.

Paving the way

Me
Quite right!
Dupin
Here your countenance brightened, and, perceiving your lips move, I could not doubt that you murmured the word ‘stereotomy,’ a term very affectedly applied to this species of pavement. I knew that you could not say to yourself ‘stereotomy’ without being brought to think of atomies, and thus of the theories of Epicurus.
Dupin
And since, when we discussed this subject not very long ago, I mentioned to you how singularly, yet with how little notice, the vague guesses of that noble Greek had met with confirmation in the late nebular cosmogony, I felt that you could not avoid casting your eyes upward to the great nebula in Orion, and I certainly expected that you would do so. You did; and I was now sure that I had correctly followed your steps.
Me
Too cloudy still!
Dupin
But in that bitter tirade upon Chantilly that appeared in yesterday’s ‘Musée,’ the satirist, making some disgraceful allusions to the cobbler’s role, quoted a Latin line we ourselves discussed: Perdidit antiquum litera sonum.
Me
I could not remember it in full.
Dupin
I had told you that this was in reference to Orion, formerly written Urion; and, from certain pungencies connected with this explanation, I was aware that you could not have totally forgotten it. It was clear, therefore, that you would not fail to combine the two ideas of Orion and Chantilly. That you did combine them I saw by the character of the smile which passed over your lips. You thought of the poor cobbler’s immolation.
Dupin
So far, you had been stooping in your gait; but now I saw you draw yourself up to your full height. I was then sure that you reflected upon the diminutive Chantilly.  I interrupted your meditations to remark that as, in fact, he was a very little fellow—that Chantilly—he would do better at the Théâtre des Variétés.” ***************

A house in the Rue Morgue

(Ten minutes later)

Me
Pass me the front pages of your “Gazette des Tribunaux,” Dupin, please!
Dupin
Here you are, I have finished. But I was about to return to the lead paragraphs of the top story. Would you, then, kindly read that entire story to me?
Me
Surely.
Me
“EXTRAORDINARY MURDERS.—This morning at about three o’clock a succession of terrific shrieks from the fourth story of a house in the Rue Morgue, awoke the inhabitants of the Quartier St. Roch. The house is occupied by one Madame L’Espanaye, and her daughter Mademoiselle Camille L’Espanaye.
Me
“Eight or ten neighbors burst through the gateway and entered, accompanied by two gendarmes, following some delay from a fruitless attempt to enter in the usual manner.
Me
“By this time the cries had ceased; but, as the party rushed up the first flight of stairs, two or more rough voices in angry contention were distinguished and seemed to proceed from the upper part of the house. These sounds had ceased by the time the crowd reached the second landing, and everything remained perfectly quiet.
Me
“The party spread themselves and hurried from room to room. Arriving at a large back chamber in the fourth story, (the door of which, being found locked, with the key inside, was forced open,) a spectacle presented itself which struck every one present with horror and astonishment.
Me
“The party found the apartment in the wildest disorder—with furniture broken and thrown about in all directions. There was only one bedstead; but someone had removed its bed, and thrown it onto the floor. On a chair lay a razor, besmeared with blood. The perpetrators had deposited three long, thick tresses of grey human hair on the hearth, dabbled in blood, and seemingly pulled out by the roots.

Money left behind

Me
“They had left four Napoleons on the floor, an ear-ring of topaz, three large silver spoons, three smaller of métal d’Alger, and two bags, containing nearly four thousand francs in gold.
Me
“The drawers of a bureau in one corner were open, and had been, apparently, rifled, although many articles still remained in them. The police discovered a small iron safe under the bed (not under the bedstead). It was open, with the key still in the door. It had no contents beyond a few old letters, and other papers of little consequence.
Me
“Police could not find any traces of Madame L’Espanaye here. But they found (horrible to relate!) the daughter’s corpse in the chimney, head downward. Clearly, the fiends had forced her remains up the narrow aperture for a considerable distance. The body was quite warm. The violence with which the criminals had thrust it up the chimney left many excoriations upon the corpse. The criminals had also scratched her face and left dark bruises, and the deep indentations of finger nails on her throat, as if the deceased had been throttled to death.
Me
“After a thorough investigation of every portion of the house, without farther discovery, the party made its way into a small paved yard in the rear of the building, where lay the corpse of the old lady, with her throat so entirely cut that, upon an attempt to raise her, the head fell off. The body, as well as the head, was fearfully mutilated—the former so much so as scarcely to retain any semblance of humanity.
Me
“To this horrible mystery there is not as yet, we believe, the slightest clew.”
Look for Part 2!

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