Today we present the short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe.
Here is Shep ONeal with the story.
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 theearth. 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 – 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 weekbefore 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 man´s sleep. And then, when my head was well in the room, Iundid 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 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 thelantern, 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 wasthe 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 hadbeen ever since growing upon him.
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 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 man’s face or person. For I had directed the light exactly upon the damned spot.
(MUSIC) or mad
And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but a kind of ever- sensitivity? Now, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when inside a piece ofcotton. 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 louder and louder every second. The old mans terror must have been extreme! The beating grew louder, I...