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The Murders in the Rue Morgue - Chapter 2

The Murders in the Rue Morgue - Chapter 2

                                         Finally, the door was broken down

PART I

 
Not long after this we were looking over the morning news­paper Gazette des Tribunaux when the following piece of news caught our attention:
 
Unusual Murders: Very late last night—at about three o’clock in the morning, to be exact—those living in the Quartier St. Roch were wakened from their sleep by a series of loud cries which came, as it appeared, from the fourth story of a house in the Rue Morgue. Here a certain Madame L’Espanaye and her daughter Mademoiselle Camille L’Espa-
 
naye are known to live. It was at first not possible to get into the house in the usual way, so finally the door was broken down and eight or ten of the people who live in this section, together with two police officers, entered. By this time the cries had stopped; but as the group of persons reached the second floor two or more rough cries, as though from two people in serious argument, were heard and seemed to come from the upper part of the house. When the fourth floor was reached, these sounds had also stopped, and everything remained com­pletely quiet. The party went quickly from room to room. Upon arriving at a large back bedroom (the door of which, being locked with the key inside, was forced open) a sight presented itself which struck fear as well as surprise into all those who looked on.
 
The place was in a completely wild state—the furniture broken and thrown about in all directions. There was only one bed, and from this the bed clothes had been removed and thrown into the center of the room. On a chair lay a razor covered with blood. On the floor near the fireplace there were pieces of white hair which seemed to have been tom from the head of some person. These were also covered with blood. Upon the floor there was also some money—several gold pieces —and two small boxes in which there was found several thou­sand dollars in French money. The drawers of a dressing table which stood in one comer of the room were open. Someone had gone through these drawers although many things still remained in them. A small iron safe was found under the bed clothes (not under the bed). It was open, with the key still in the door. It had nothing in it except a few old letters and other papers of little importance.
 
Of Madame L’Espanaye nothing at all was to be seen—but an unusual amount of black dust being observed in the fire­place, the chimney was examined and (frightening even to tell) the dead body of the daughter was pulled down out of it. The daughter’s body had been forced up into the chimney a considerable distance. It was still warm. There were cuts all over the body and, upon the throat, dark marks which seemed to have been made by fingernails. It appeared that the poor girl had been first choked to death.
 
After carefully examining every part of the house without finding anything more, the party made its way into a small garden at the back of the building. Here lay the dead body of the old woman, with her throat cut. The body as well as the head had been badly cut and presented such a sight that many of those who were present had to turn their eyes away.
 
Up to the present no one has been able to explain these awful murders. So far no key to the mystery exists. The next day’s newspaper gave these extra particulars:
 
The Tragedy in the Rue Morgue: Many persons have been examined in this most unusual and awful matter, but nothing at all has happened to throw light upon it. We give below all of the facts presented by those witnesses who, up to now, have been questioned by the police.
 
Pauline Dubourg, washwoman, swears and says that she has known both the mother and daughter for three years, having washed for them during this period. The old lady and her daughter seemed to get along well together—and showed affection toward each other. They always paid very well. Could not say much abo,ut their manner of living. Believes that Madame L’Espanaye told fortunes for a living. Was supposed to have money in the bank. Witness never met any person in the house when she called for the clothes or took them home. Was sure that they had no servants. There appeared to be no furniture in any part of the building except on the fourth floor.
 
Pierre Moreau, shopkeeper, swears that he has been in the habit of selling food of different kinds to Madame L’Espanaye for nearly four years. Was born in this section of town, and has always lived here. The dead woman and her daughter had lived in the house where their bodies were found for more than six years. Before that, another person, an old man, had lived in the house. This man had made his home in the lower part of the house and let out the upper part to some other people. The house, however, had always been the property of Madame L’Espanaye. One day she became angry at the way those who lived there were taking care of the place, so later she moved into the house herself. Then she refused to’let out any part of it. Madame L’Espanaye was now very old and sometimes acted a little strangely as though not completely in her right mind.
 
Witness had seen the daughter some five or six times during the six years. The two lived a very quiet life, seldom going out anywhere. They were supposed to. have money. Had heard it said that Madame L’Espanaye told fortunes—did not believe it. Had never seen any person enter the door except the old lady and her daughter, a workman once or twice, and a doctor some eight or ten times.
 
Many other persons, neighbors, told more or less the same story. It was not known whether there were any living connec­tions of Madame L’Espanaye and her daughter. The shutters of the front windows were seldom opened. Those in the back were always closed except the one in the large back room, fourth floor. The house was a good house—not very old.
 
Isidore Muset, police officer, swears that he was called to the house about three o’clock in the morning and found some twenty or thirty persons standing at the street door, trying to enter. Forced the door open finally. Had little difficulty in get­ting it open, the lock being easily broken. The cries were con­tinued until the door was forced open, then suddenly stopped. They seemed to be the cries of some person in great pain—were loud and drawn out, not short and quick. Witness led the way upstairs. Upon reaching the second floor, heard two voices in loud and angry argument—the one a heavy voice, the other much sharper, a very strange voice. Could recognize the words ‘sacre’ and ‘diable.’ The sharp voice was that of a foreign per­son. Could not be sure whether it was the voice of a man or woman. Could not make out what was said but believed the language to be Spanish. The state of the room and of the bodies was described by this witness as we described them yesterday.
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. How did Dupin and the author hear about the murders in the Rue Morgue?
2. When had cries been heard in the house in the Rue Morgue? From what floor had they come?
3. Who lived there?
4. Who entered the house? How did they enter the house?
5. What did they hear when they reached the second floor?
6.What did they see when they entered the back bedroom?
7.What was found in the chimney?
8.What did they find in the garden?
9.Who was Pauline Dubourg? What did she say about the women?
10.Who was Pierre Moreau? What did he say about the women?
11.Who was Isidore Muset? What did he say about the mur­ders?
 
B.Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
police           break down
lock                look on
key                 get along well together
finger             tell, fortunes
neighbor       take care of
recognize      lead the way
seldom           make out
 
PART II
 
Henri Duval, neighbor, swears that he was one of the party who first entered the house. What he says follows in all par­ticulars what was said by the police officer Muset. As soon as they forced their way into the house, they closed the door again, to keep out the crowd which quickly appeared, despite the fact that the hour was very late. The sharp voice, this wit­ness thinks, was that of an Italian. Was certain it was not French. Could not be sure that it was a man’s voice. It might have been a woman’s. Does not know the Italian language, but was sure from the manner of speaking that the speaker was Italian. Knew Madame L’Espanaye and her daughter. Had often talked with both of them. Was sure that the sharp voice was not that of either of the dead persons.
. . . Odenheimer, businessman. This witness offered these facts. Comes from Amsterdam and is visiting in Paris. Not speaking French, he was examined through another person knowing the Dutch language. Was passing the house at the time
 
of the cries. They lasted for several minutes—probably ten- very awful and frightening. Was one of those who entered the building. Agrees with all the facts as told by other witnesses, except that he was sure the sharp voice was that of a man—of a Frenchman. Could not recognize the words spoken. They were loud and quick—spoken in fear as well as in anger. The voice was unpleasant—not so much sharp as unpleasant. Could not call it a sharp voice. The heavy voice said several times ‘sacrâ diable,’ and once ‘Mon Dieu.’
 
Jules Mignaud, banker, of the company of Mignaud et Fils, Rue Deloraine, is the older Mignaud, the father. Madame L’Espanaye had some property. Had put some money, for the first time, in his bank in the spring of the year 18— (eight years before). Often put small amounts of money in the bank after this time. Had never taken any money out of the bank until the third day before her death when she drew out several thousand dollars. The amount was paid to her in gold, and one of the workers in the bank was sent home with her to protect both her and the money.
 
Adolphe Le Bon, worker in the bank of Mignaud et Fils, swears and says that on the day in question, at about one o’clock in the afternoon, he went with Madame L’Espanaye to her home with the money drawn out of the bank. The money was put up in two small boxes. Upon the door being opened, the daughter, Mademoiselle L’Espanaye, appeared and took from his hands one of the boxes while the old lady took from him the other. He then bowed and left. Did not see any other person in the street at the time. It is a side street—and few people pass there.
 
William Bird, teacher, swears that he was one of the party that entered the house. Is an Englishman. Has lived in Paris two years. Was one of the first to go up the stairs. Heard the two voices in argument. The heavy voice was that of a French­man. Could make out several words, but cannot now remember all. Heard clearly ‘sacre’ and ‘Mon Dieu.’ There was a sound at the moment as of several persons struggling—and of the pos­sible movement of pieces of furniture across a floor. The sharp voice was very loud—louder than the heavy voice. Is sure that it was not the voice of an Englishman. Appeared to be that of
 
a German. Might have been a woman’s voice. Does not under­stand German.
 
Four of the above-named witnesses, being called back a second time, swore that the door of the bedroom in which was found the body of Mademoiselle L’Espanaye was locked on the inside when the party reached it. Everything was completely silent—no noises of any kind. Upon forcing the door, they saw no one. The windows, both of the back and front rooms, were down and well fastened from within. A door between the two rooms was closed but not locked. The door leading from the front room into the hall was also locked, with the key on the inside. A small room in the front of the house, on the fourth story, at the head of the hall, was not closed, the door being left open a little. This room was crowded with old beds, boxes, and the like. These were all carefully removed and examined. The chimneys of all rooms were also examined carefully. The house was a four story one. A special door leading to the roof was nailed down very tightly—did not appear to have been opened in years. The time which passed between the hearing of the voices in argument and the breaking open of the room door was stated with certain differences by the several witnesses. Some made it as short as three minutes—some as long as five. The door was opened with difficulty.
 
Alfonzo Garcia, lawyer, swears and states that he lives in the Rue Morgue. Is a Spaniard. Was one of the party which entered the house. Did not go upstairs. Is nervous and was afraid of the possible results of becoming too excited. Heard the voices in argument, The heavy voice was that of a Frenchman. Could not tell what was said. The high, sharp voice was that of an Englishman—is sure of this. Does not understand the English language—but judges by the manner of speaking.
 
Alberto Montani, shopkeeper, swears that hfe was among the first to go up the stairs. Heard the voices in question. The heavy voice was that of a Frenchman. Recognized several words. The speaker appeared to be arguing with someone. Could not make out the words of the high, sharp voice. Spoke quickly and nervously. Thinks it was the voice of a Russian. Agrees with the facts as presented by the other witnesses. Is an Italian. Has never talked with anyone from Russia.
 
Several witnesses, when called back, said the chimneys on the fourth floor were all too small to permit the entrance of any person. The chimneys had been examined from top to bottom and the opening found much too small for anyone to pass through them. There is no back hall or entrance by which anyone could have gone down while the party went upstairs. The body of Mademoiselle L’Espanaye was so tightly pushed up into the chimney that it could not be gotten down until four or five of the party helped with all their strength.
 
Paul Dumas, doctor, swears that he was called to examine the bodies at about the break of day. The body of the young lady was badly marked and scratched. The fact that it had been pushed up the chimney might explain these marks and scratches. There were many scratches on the face and neck just below the jaw bone. The neck also showed the marks of someone’s fingers. There was a heavy dark mark upon the chest as though caused by a blow from someone’s knee. The doctor believes that Mademoiselle L’Espanaye was choked to death by some person or persons unknown. The body of the mother was also in very bad condition. The bones of the right leg and arm had been broken in several places as well as the bones of the chest on the same side. It was not possible to say how these bones had been broken. A heavy stick or piece of iron pipe— a chair—any large or heavy thing of this kind could have caused such results, if used by a man of very great strength. No woman could have given blows of enough force to break all of these bones. The throat of the woman, as explained by the doctor, had been cut by some very sharp knife—probably with a razor.
 
Alexandre Etienne, doctor, was called, together with M. Dumas, to look at the bodies. He agreed in all particulars with the opinions and facts, as stated by M. Dumas.
 
Nothing more of importance was found out—though several other persons were questioned. This is one of the deepest mysteries and strangest murders—if in fact it really is a case of murder—that has ever been known in Paris. The police are completely in the dark—a very unusual situation ih cases of this kind. There is not, up to the present, any clear means of explaining how the two unfortunate women met their death.
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. Who was Henri Duval? What did he say about the murders?
2. Who was Odenheimer? Where did he come from? In what language was he examined?
3. What did Odenheimer say about the murders?
4. Who was Jules Mignaud? What did he say about Madame L’Espanaye?
5. Who was Adolphe Le Bon? What did he say about the two women?
6. Who was William Bird? What did he say about the murders?
7. What did four of the witnesses swear to?
8. What did the witnesses say about the time which passed before the door was broken open?
9. Who was Alfonzo Garcia? What did he have to say?
10. Who was Alberto Montani? What did he have to say?
11. What did the witnesses say about the chimneys?
12. Who was Paul Dumas? What did he say about the murders?
13.Who was Alexandre Etienne? What did he say?
 
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
 
bank                 opinion
company          as soon as
fasten              make out
argue               in question
permit              find out
bottom              in fact