The Tell-Tale Heart, Part 4

By Edgar Allan Poe

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Me
You mean that you cut off the head and the arms and the legs of the corpse?
Suspect
I did so in order to elude detection.
Me
Why do you admit the deed now, in that case?
Suspect
As you know, my neck is already in the noose. 
Me
Then please complete your statement. Be aware that you may be proved mad by your own words, although you appear reasonably sane in my view.
Suspect
Thank you. In my own view, too, but your words are encouraging. So, I cut him up. Well, I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. 
Suspect
I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye—not even his—could have detected anything wrong. There was nothing to wash out—no stain of any kind—no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all—ha! ha!
Me
I know!
Suspect
I almost feel as if you can read my thoughts.
Me
You know perfectly well that I am able to do so. But pray continue.
Suspect
For the record? Surely! When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o’clock—still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart,—for what had I now to fear? 
Me
How singularly clever you seemed.

At ease

Suspect
There entered three men, who introduced themselves with perfect suavity as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.
Me
It is of course already noted in their records.
Suspect
I smiled,—for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house and bade them search—search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. 
Me
Don’t you think that may have been a bit too much?
Suspect
No, no! I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.
Me
Did you think they believed you?
Suspect
I felt the officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. 
Me
The police were so readily being thwarted, but it was all a laugh to you, I suppose.
Suspect
Certainly not. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted.
Suspect
The ringing became more distinct:—It continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness—until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

Excited to fury

Me
No doubt, for you now grew very pale!
Suspect
I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased—and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound—much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton.
Me
Most disconcerting! I, too, noticed it.
Suspect
No doubt! I gasped for breath—and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly—more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. 
Me
I know! Why would they not be gone?
Suspect
I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men—but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed—I raved—I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder, louder!

Making a mockery

Me
What was their reaction to all this?
Suspect
Still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. 
Me
Was it possible they heard not? 
Suspect
Almighty God!—no, no! They heard!—they suspected!—and knew!—they were making a mockery of my horror!–this I thought, and this I think. 
Suspect
But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! 
Me
You felt that you must scream or die. 
Suspect
And now—again!—hark! Louder! Louder! Yet louder! Louder! “Villains!” I shrieked! 
Suspect
I screamed, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed!—tear up the planks! Here, here!—It is the beating of his hideous heart!”