The Murders in the Rue Morgue Chapter-6
The iron chest had been pushed
into the center of the room
At this moment we heard a step upon the stairs.
“Be ready,” said Dupin, “with your pistols, but neither use them nor show them until I give you the sign.”
The front door of the house had been left open, and the visitor entered, without ringing, and started up the stairs. Now, however, he seemed to stop and wait. Soon we heard him going down again as though he had suddenly changed his mind about coming to see us. Dupin was moving quickly to the door when we heard him coming up again. He did not turn back a second
time, but came in a decided manner, and knocked at the dooi of our room.
“Come in,” said Dupin in a cheerful, friendly voice.
A man entered. He was clearly a sailor—tall, strong, and well built. He had a certain daredevil expression about the eyes, but all in all, he was a good-looking fellow. His face was burned by the sun and was more than half hidden by a heavy beard. He carried with him a large stick, but was not armed in any other way. He bowed to us politely and said “good evening” in French. His manner of speaking showed his French to be that spoken in Paris.
“Sit down, my friend,” said Dupin. “I suppose you have called about the orang-utan. Upon my word, you are a very fortunate fellow to be the owner of such an animal. No doubt he is very valuable. How old do you suppose him to be?”
The fellow seemed suddenly to breathe a little easier as though some great worry had been removed from him.
“I have no way of telling,” he answered, “but he can’t be more than four or five years old. Have you got him here?”
“Oh, no, we have no means of keeping him here,” said Dupin. “He is at a place in the Rue Dubourg, near here, where horses are kept. You can get him in the morning. Of course, you are prepared to prove that the animal belongs to you.”
“To be sure I am, Sir.”
“I shall be sorry to part with him,” said Dupin.
“I don’t mean that you should go to all this trouble for nothing, sir,” said the man. “I couldn’t expect it. I am very ready to pay you something for finding the animal, that is to say, anything within reason.”
“Well,” answered my friend. “That is all very fair, to be sure. Let me think. What should I ask? Oh, I will tell you. This is what I really want. You shall tell me everything you know about those murders in the Rue Morgue.” Dupin said the last words in a very low voice, and very quietly. Just as quietly, too, he walked toward the door, locked it, and put the key in his pocket.
The sailor’s face grew red, as though he were about to choke. He jumped to his feet and picked up his stick, but the next moment he fell back into his seat, shaking greatly, and with
the expression of death itself on his face. He spoke not a word. I felt sorry for him from the bottom of my heart.
“My friend,” said Dupin in a kind voice. “You are exciting yourself without reason. We do not mean to hurt you in any way. I swear this to you as a gentleman and a Frenchman. I know perfectly well that you are innocent of the murders in the Rue Morgue. It will not do, however, to say that you have no connection with them. From what I have said you must know that I have had means of knowing a great deal about this matter
—means of which you could never have even dreamed. Now the thing stands as follows: you have done nothing, certainly, which makes you a direct party to the murders. You stole nothing, even though you could have stolen the gold without any difficulty at all. You have therefore nothing to hide. You have no reason to be afraid. On the other hand, you should really tell all that you know about the case. An innocent man is now in prison. He is thought to have killed the two women, although you yourself can easily point out the murderer.”
The sailor seemed to feel somewhat better. At least the color had come back to his face—but he now had none of the daredevil manner he had shown when he first came into the room.
“So help me, God!” he said after a few moments. “I will tell you all I know about this matter, but I do not expect you to believe one half of what I say. I would be a fool if I did. Still I am innocent. And I will tell everything even if I die for it.”
What he stated was, in short, this: he had recently made a trip to the East Indies. A party, of which he was a member, landed at Borneo and took a short trip into the country. While there, he and a companion caught an orang-utan. The companion dying later, the animal became his alone. After great trouble, caused by the wild character of the animal during the trip, he finally succeeded in getting it to his home in Paris. Here, so as not to attract the attention of any of his neighbors, he kept it carefully locked up. The animal had hurt his foot while on board the ship, and the sailor was waiting for this foot to get better. Then he planned to sell the animal and get, no doubt, a large amount of money.
Returning home from a sailors’ party on the night or, rather, the morning of the murders, he found the animal in his bed-
room, into which it had broken loose from a smaller room alongside, where he had always kept it locked up. Razor in hand, it was sitting before a mirror and going through all the movements of shaving itself just as it had no doubt seen its master do many times before. Frightened at the sight of so dangerous a thing as a razor in the hands of this wild animal, the man was so confused that for some minutes he did not know what to do. He had been accustomed, however, to quiet the animal, even in its most angry periods, by beating it with a heavy stick. He now went to get this stick, but the orang-utan, as soon as it saw the stick, jumped at once through the door of the bedroom, and ran down the stairs. Then, finding a window open on the first floor, it jumped out through this into the street.
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
A. 1. What did Dupin and the author hear?
2. What did Dupin tell the author to do with the pistols?
3. How did the sounds show that the visitor changed his mind?
4. Describe the man who entered.
5. What did Dupin ask and what did the sailor answer?
6. Where did Dupin say that the orang-utan was being kept?
7. What did Dupin ask as his price for finding the animal?
8. What was the sailor’s reaction when Dupin spokfe of the murders in the Rue Morgue?
9. Why did Dupin say that the sailor should tell what he knew about the murders?
10. Where had the sailor caught the orang-utan? How had it become his alone?
11. What was he planning to do with the animal?
12. What did he find the orang-utan doing one night?
13. How had the animal escaped?
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your
evening turn back
fair back all in all
sorry part with
shave about to
master feel sorry for
changed his mind lock up
The Frenchman followed, naturally greatly worried now. The ape, razor still in hand, would stop now and then and make signs to the man to follow, but as soon as the man would come up close to him, the ape would run off again. This chase continued in this manner for some time. The streets were very quiet, and it was almost three o’clock in the morning. In passing down a small cross-street in the back of the Rue Morgue, the ape’s attention was attracted by a light shining from the open window of Madame L’Espanaye’s bedroom, in the fourth story of her home. Rushing to the building, it saw the lightning rod, climbed up very easily, took hold of the shutter, which was thrown back fully against the wall, and by this means swung itself directly upon the head of the bed. The whole thing had not taken the ape more than a minute, from the time he started to climb the lightning rod until he was inside the room. The shutter was pushed open again by the orang-utan as it entered the room.
The sailor, meanwhile, was both pleased and confused. He now had strong hopes of catching the ape, as it could not easily escape from where it was except by means of the lightning rod. As it came down this rod, the sailor thought he would be able to catch hold of it. On the other hand, there was much cause for worry as to what might happen within the house. This thought finally caused the sailor to try to follow the animal. It is not easy to climb up a lightning rod, even for a sailor, but when he had arrived as high as the window, which lay far to his left, his course was stopped. The most that he could do was to reach over so as to be able to get a look into the room. What he saw there almost caused him to let go of his hold on the lightning rod and fall. Now it was that those awful cries rose in the night which woke up from their sleep the neighbors in that section of the Rue Morgue.
Madame L’Espanaye and her daughter, dressed in their night clothes, had apparently been busy putting in order some papers in the iron chest already mentioned. This chest had been pushed out into the center of the room. It was open, and the things which had been in it now lay on the floor. The two women must
have been sitting there with their backs toward the window, and from the time which passed between the entrance of the animal and the cries, it is probable that the ape was not at once seen. They no doubt heard the noise of the shutter but thought it was caused by the wind.
As the sailor looked on, the giant ape had taken Madame L’Espanaye by the hair (which hung loose over her shoulders, since she was getting ready to go to bed). He was moving the razor in front of her face as though preparing to shave her. The daughter had fallen to the floor in a faint and lay there without moving. The ape was clearly under the impression that he was playing with the old woman. But her cries and struggles (during which her hair was tom from her head) caused him to change suddenly and become savage and angry. With one blow of his great arm he cut her head almost from her body. The sight of the blood then seemed to excite him even more. He threw himself upon the body of the girl and took her by the throat. With his great fingers closing upon her more tightly each minute, he held her in this way until she died. Now at this moment he happened to see the face of his master, white with fear, looking at him through the open window. The animal, who no doubt still bore in mind the heavy stick with which he was so often beaten, now became greatly frightened because he seemed to understand that he had done something wrong. Trying to hide from his master all proof of his actions, he ran and jumped about the room in a state of great nervous excitement. He threw down and broke furniture as he moved; he pulled the bedclothes from the bed. In conclusion, the ape picked up the dead body of the daughter and pushed it up into the chimney, where it was later found. Then it threw the body of the old lady out of the window into the garden below.
As the ape came close to the window with the mother’s body, the sailor drew back in great fear. Slipping down the lightning rod as fast as he could, he ran quickly to his home. Frightened, naturally, by the sudden turn of things, his one idea was to escape from the place. He no longer thought of trying to catch the orang-utan. The words heard by the party on the stairs were the Frenchman’s cries as he tried to stop the savage animal from attacking the two worrten. The sharp and “unpleasant”
voice was that of the ape, expressing itself in sounds which naturally no one could understand.
There is little more to tell. The orang-utan must have escaped from the bedroom by means of the lightning rod just before the door of the room was broken in. It must also have closed the window as it passed through. It was later caught by the owner himself, who sold it at a very good price to the Jardin des Plantes. The bank worker, Le Bon, was let out of prison upon Dupin’s explanation to the police of all the circumstances of the murders. The police chief, however, although a friend of Dupin’s, could not completely hide his feelings. A little angrily, he mentioned something once or twice about the fact that it would be better if everybody minded his own business.
“Let him talk,” said Dupin, who had not thought it necessary to answer. “Let him talk. It will make him feel better. I am satisfied with having helped to clear up the mystery. However, the fact that he could not find the answer to the murders is by no means the wonder he supposes it to be; for in truth, our friend, the chief, is somewhat too clever to be deep. His powers of reasoning are not very great. His methods, as I have said before, have no direction; they grow simply out of his past experiences, and anything completely new leaves him very much confused. But he is a good fellow after all. I like him and would certainly never do anything to hurt him in any way.”
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
A. 1. Why hadn’t the sailor been able to catch the ape?
2. What had attracted the animal’s attention?
3. How had the animal entered the house on the Rue Morgue?
4. Why did the sailor think he would now be able to catch the animal?
5. Why did the sailor himself climb the lightning rod?
6. What were Madame L’Espanaye and her daughter doing?
7. What did the orang-utan do to Madame L’Espanaye?
8. What did he do to her daughter?
9. What did the ape do when he saw his master at the window?
10. What did the sailor do?
11. What were the sounds heard by the witnesses?
12. What later happened to the orang-utan? What happened to Le Bon?
13. What did Dupin say about the chief of police?
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
now and then let go his hold
run off be under the impression
catch hold of bear in mind
get a look at mind his own business