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'The Murders in the Rue Morgue,' by Edgar Allen Poe, Part Two

2017-09-23

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[00:18.42]
  • It was in Paris in the summer of 1840 that I met August Dupin.
  • [00:25.79]
  • Dupin was a strangely interesting young man with a busy, forceful mind.
  • [00:33.74]
  • He seemed to look right through a person and uncover their deepest thoughts.
  • [00:41.32]
  • Sometimes Dupin seemed to be not one,
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  • but two people — one who coldly put things together, and another who just as coldly took them apart.
  • [00:55.83]
  • One morning, in the heat of the summer, Dupin showed me once again his special mental power.
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  • We read in the newspaper about a terrible killing.
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  • An old woman and her daughter, living alone in an old house in the Rue Morgue, had been killed in the middle of the night.
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  • The story in the paper went:
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  • Paris, July 7, 1840 -- Early this morning, cries of terror were heard in the western part of the city.
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  • They reportedly came from a house on the Rue Morgue, in which the only occupants were a Mrs. L’Espanaye, and her daughter Camille.
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  • Several neighbors and a policeman ran to the house.
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  • By the time they reached it, the cries had stopped.
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  • They forced the door open.
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  • As they entered, they heard two voices, apparently from above.
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  • The group searched but found nothing until the fourth floor.
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  • There, they came to a door, locked from the inside.
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  • Quickly they forced it open.
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  • Before them was a bloody horror scene!
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  • The room was in total disorder — broken chairs and tables and the mattress pulled from the bed.
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  • Blood was everywhere; on the walls, the floor, the bed.
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  • A sharp knife lay on the floor in a pool of blood.
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  • In front of the fireplace was a clump of long gray hair, also bloodied; it seemed to have been pulled straight out of a head.
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  • On the floor were four pieces of gold, an earring, several silver objects, and two bags containing a large amount of money in gold.
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  • Clothes had been thrown around the room.
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  • A lock box was found left open with just a few old letters and papers inside.
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  • There was no one there. But, when the group inspected the fireplace, they discovered another horror.
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  • A still-warm body had been forced up the chimney.
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  • It was the old woman’s daughter.
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  • There was blood on the face, and dark, deep finger marks on the neck, suggesting a strangling.
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  • After searching the house thoroughly, the group went outside.
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  • They found the body of the old woman behind the building.
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  • Her neck had been cut so severely that when they tried to lift the body, the head fell off.
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  • The next day the newspaper offered to its readers these new facts:
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  • Paris, July 8, 1840-- The police have questioned many people about the vicious murders in the old house on the Rue Morgue.
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  • But none of the answers revealed the identity of the killers.
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  • Pauline Dubourg, a washwoman, said she has known both of the victims for more than three years, and washed their clothes.
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  • She said the two seemed to love each other dearly.
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  • They always paid her well.
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  • She did not know where their money came from, she said.
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  • She never met anyone in the house.
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  • Only the two women lived on the fourth floor.
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  • Pierre Moreau, a shopkeeper, said Mrs. L’Espanaye had bought food at his shop for almost four years.
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  • She owned the house and had lived in it for more than six years.
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  • He never saw anyone enter the door except the old lady and her daughter, and a doctor eight or ten times, perhaps.
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  • Many other persons, neighbors, said the same thing.
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  • Almost no one ever went into the house.
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  • Mrs. L’Espanaye and her daughter were not often seen.
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  • Banker Jules Mignaud said that Mrs. L’Espanaye had put money in his bank, beginning eight years before.
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  • Three days before the killings, she withdrew a large amount in gold.
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  • A man from the bank carried it to her house for her.
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  • Isidore Muset, a policeman, said that he was with the group that first entered the house.
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  • While he was going up the stairs, he heard two voices, one low and soft, and one hard, high, and very strange — the voice of someone who was surely not French, the voice of a foreigner, maybe Spanish.
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  • It was not a woman’s voice, he said, although he could not understand what it said.
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  • But the other voice, said softly, in French, “My God!”
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  • Alfonso Garcia, who is Spanish and lives on the Rue Morgue, says he entered the house but did not go up the stairs.
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  • A nervous man, he was afraid he might be sick.
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  • He heard the voices.
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  • He believes the high voice was not that of a Frenchman.
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  • Perhaps it was English; but he said he doesn’t understand English, so he is not sure.
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  • William Bird, an Englishman who has lived in Paris for two years, also entered the house.
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  • He said the low voice was that of a Frenchman, he was sure, because he heard it say, in French, “My God!”
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  • The high voice was very loud, he said.
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  • He is sure it was not the voice of an Englishman, nor the voice of a Frenchman.
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  • It seemed to be that of an Italian, a language he does not understand.
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  • He said it might have been a woman’s voice.
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  • Mr. Alberto Montani, an Italian, was passing the house at the time of the cries.
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  • He said the screams lasted for about two minutes.
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  • Montani, who speaks Spanish but not French, says that he also heard two voices.
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  • He thought both voices were French.
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  • But he could not understand any of the words spoken.
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  • All who went in the house agreed that the door to the room on the fourth floor was locked from the inside.
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  • It was quiet.
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  • They saw no one.
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  • The windows were closed and locked from the inside.
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  • There is only one stairway to the fourth floor.
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  • They said that the chimney opening is too small for escape that way.
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  • It took four or five people to pull the daughter’s body out of the chimney.
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  • It was four or five minutes from the time they heard the voices to the moment they entered the room.
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  • Paul Dumas, a doctor, says that he was called to inspect the bodies soon after they were found.
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  • They were in a horrible condition, badly marked and broken.
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  • He said only a man could have caused such injury.
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  • The daughter had been strangled, he said.
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  • When we had finished reading the newspaper’s report of the murders, we were quiet for a while.
  • [09:05.24]
  • Dupin had that cold, empty look that I know means his mind is working busily.
  • [09:13.80]
  • He asked me what I thought of the crime.
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  • I said I considered it a mystery with no answer.
  • [09:23.69]
  • But Dupin responded,
  • [09:26.80]
  • “No, no. No. I think you are wrong. A mystery, yes. But there must be an answer. Let us go to the house and see what we can see. There must be an answer. There must!”
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