Tell Tale Heart

Tell Tale Heart Tell tale heart True!–nervous–very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses–not destroyed–not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heavens and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? ..Now this is the point.

You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded–with what caution–with what foresight–with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. It is impossible to say how the idea of murdering the old man first entered the mind of the narrator.

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There was no real motive as stated by the narrator: Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me…For his gold I had no desire. I think that it was his eye! The narrator states that one of the old man’s eyes was a pale blue color with a film over it, which resembled the eye of a vulture.

Just the sight of that eye made the narrator’s blood run cold, and as a result, the eye (and with it the old man) must be destroyed. Every night at midnight, the narrator went to the old man’s room. Carefully, he turned the latch to the door, and opened it without making a sound. When a sufficient opening had been made, a covered lantern was thrust inside. I undid the lantern cautiously..(for the hindges creaked)–I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye.

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 vexed me, but his Evil Eye. The old man suspected nothing. During the day, the narrator continued to perform his usual duties, and even dared to ask each morning how the old man had passed the night; however, at midnight, the nightly ritual continued. Upon the eighth night, the narrator proceeded to the old man’s room as usual; however, on this night, something was different. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my powers–of my sagacity…To think that I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled.

Now you may think that I drew back–but no. His room was as black as pitch..so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door…I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening..the old man sprang up in bed, crying out–‘Who’s there?’ The narrator kept quiet, and did not move for an entire hour. The old man did not lie back down; he was sitting up. Even in that darkness, I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise…His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not.

When I had waited a long time, very patiently..I resolved to open a little–a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it–you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily–until, at length, a single dim ray, like the thread of a spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye. The eye was wide open. I saw it with perfect distinctness–all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones…[N]othing else of the old man’s face or person [could be seen]. And now have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the senses? For at that moment, the narrator heard the sound such as a watch would make when it is enveloped in cotton.

I knew that sound well too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart…It increased my fury…But even yet I refrained and kept still. The heartbeat grew ..quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man’s terror must have been extreme. The time had come.

With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. The old man shrieked once. The narrator ..dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. He did not die at once, but in a short time, the hideous heartbeat stopped; then the narrator removed the bed, and examined the body. I placed my hand upon [his] heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation.

He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more. Next came the concealment of the body. The narrator dismembered the corpse by cutting off the head, the arms and the legs. Three planks were removed from the floor of the chamber to deposit the remains of what once had been a harmless, elderly man.

The boards were replaced so carefully that no one would have been able to detect any wrong doing or foul play. There was no mess or blood stains to clean up; the narrator had cut up the body in a tub. It was 4 A.M. by the time this ghastly deed had been completed. A knocking was heard at the door, and when the narrator answered it, he found three men who quickly introduced themselves ..as officers of the police.

They told the narrator that a neighbor had reported hearing a shriek in the night, and that they were there conducting an investigation to make sure that no foul play had occurred. 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. The narrator escorted the officers as they searched the premises.

Nothing was disturbed; everything was in order, even in the old man’s room. The narrator brought in chairs and insisted that the officers ..rest from their fatigues… The narrator brought in another chair, and placed it upon ..the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim. They sat and chatted at ease, while the narrator pleasantly answered their questions. However, the narrator soon wished them to be gone.

..I felt myself getting pale…My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears…The ringing became more distinct; I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling; but …

Tell Tale Heart

Tell Tale Heart TRUE!—- nervous—very,— very dreadfully nervous I had been — and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses- not destroyed – not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in heaven and on earth. I heard many things below the earth. How, then am I mad? Harken! and observe how healthily, how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day –and night. Object—- there was none. Passion——-there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult.

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For his gold I had no desire. I think—–it was——–his eye. Yes! it was this! One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture.—–a pale blue eye——with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold. And so, by degrees——very gradually—I made up my min to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of that eye——-forever. Now this is the point.

You fancy me Mad. Madmen know nothing! But you should have seen me! You should seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded—–with what Caution—with what foresight—with what dissimulation I went to work. I was never kinder to the old man than during that the whole week before I killed him. And every night—–About midnight—-I turned the latch of his door and opened it—Oh so gently. And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly-very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old mans sleep.

It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha!-would a madman have been so wise as this? And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously-oh, so cautiously – for the hinges creaked. I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights-every night just at midnight-but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he had passed the night.

So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept. Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watchs minute-hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers-of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph.

To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps the heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back-but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, and so I know that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily. I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man spring up in the bed, crying out-Whos there? I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed, listening: just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death-watches in the wall.

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or grief-oh,-no!-it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well.

I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself- it is nothing but the wind in the chimney-it is only a mouse crossing the floor, or it is merely a cricket whack has made a single chirp.

Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions; but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him, had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel-although he neither saw nor heard—to feel the presence of my head within the room. When I had waited a long time; very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little – a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it-you cant imagine how stealthily-until, at length, a single dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell upon the vulture eye.

It was open–wide, wide open– and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness-all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old mans face or person: for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the cursed spot. And now have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over acuteness of the senses?-now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old mans heart.

It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage. But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried to see how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eye.

Meantime the demonic tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old mans terror must have been extreme. It grew louder, I say, louder every moment!-do you mark me well? I have told you I am nervous; so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of the old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror.

Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me-the sound would be heard by a neighbor! The old mans hour had come! With a loud yell I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once-once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him.

I then smiled gaily, to mind the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse.

Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there for many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more. Creative Writing.

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