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

2017-09-30

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[00:15.84]
  • My housemate in Paris, August Dupin, was an interesting young man with a busy, forceful mind.
  • [00:26.41]
  • This mind could, it seemed, look right through a man’s body into his deepest soul.
  • [00:36.96]
  • After reading in the newspaper about the terrible murder of a woman and her daughter, Dupin was consumed with the mystery.
  • [00:48.92]
  • He questioned the ability of the Paris police to solve the crime.
  • [00:56.15]
  • I told Dupin that it seemed to me that it was not possible to explain the strange details surrounding the killings.
  • [01:07.39]
  • “No, no. I think you are wrong.
  • [01:11.34]
  • A mystery it is, yes.
  • [01:14.32]
  • But there must be an answer.
  • [01:16.37]
  • There must! Let us go to the house where it happened and see what we can see.
  • [01:22.48]
  • I know the head of the police, and he will permit our visit.
  • [01:26.82]
  • It will be interesting and give us some pleasure.”
  • [01:30.91]
  • I thought it strange that Dupin thought the activity would give us pleasure.
  • [01:39.33]
  • But I said nothing.
  • [01:41.65]
  • It was late in the afternoon when we reached the house on the Rue Morgue.
  • [01:47.85]
  • It was easily found, for there were still many persons — in fact, a crowd, standing there looking at it.
  • [01:58.11]
  • Before going in, we walked all around it, and Dupin carefully looked at the neighboring houses as well.
  • [02:07.85]
  • I could not understand the reason for such great care.
  • [02:13.73]
  • Finally, we entered the house.
  • [02:18.53]
  • We went up the stairs to the room where the daughter’s body was found.
  • [02:24.71]
  • Both bodies were in the room now.
  • [02:28.26]
  • The police had left the room as they had found it in every other way.
  • [02:34.75]
  • I saw nothing beyond what the newspaper had told us.
  • [02:41.06]
  • Dupin looked with great care at everything, at the bodies, the walls, the fireplace, the windows.
  • [02:51.98]
  • Then we went home. Dupin said nothing.
  • [02:56.44]
  • I could see the cold look in his eyes, which told me that his mind was working, working busily, quickly.
  • [03:06.36]
  • Dupin said nothing about our exploration until the next morning when he suddenly asked me a question.
  • [03:16.18]
  • “Did you not notice something especially strange about what we saw at the house on the Rue Morgue?”
  • [03:23.21]
  • “Nothing more than what we both read in the newspaper, which was unusual indeed.
  • [03:29.97]
  • How shall we explain the horrible force, the unusual strength used in these murders?
  • [03:38.24]
  • And whose were the voices that were heard?
  • [03:41.49]
  • No one was found except the dead women; yet there was no way for anyone to escape.
  • [03:49.12]
  • And the wild condition of the room; the body which was found head-down in the chimney; the terrible broken appearance of the body of the old lady, with its head cut off-- these are all so far from what might be expected that the police are standing still; they don’t know where to begin.”
  • [04:15.63]
  • “These things are unusual, indeed, but they are not deep mysteries.
  • [04:22.19]
  • We should not ask, ‘What has happened?’ but ‘What has happened that has never happened before?’
  • [04:29.06]
  • In fact, the very things that the police think cannot possibly be explained are the things which will lead me to the answer.
  • [04:37.87]
  • Indeed, I believe they have already led me to the answer.”
  • [04:42.17]
  • I was so surprised that I could not say a word.
  • [04:47.42]
  • Dupin looked quickly at the door.
  • [04:51.08]
  • “I am now waiting for a person who will know something about these murders, these wild killings.
  • [04:58.21]
  • I do not think he did them himself.
  • [05:01.14]
  • But I think he will know the killer.
  • [05:03.36]
  • I hope I am right about this.
  • [05:06.33]
  • If I am, then I expect to find the whole answer, today.
  • [05:11.10]
  • I expect the man here — in this room — at any moment.
  • [05:15.25]
  • It is true that he may not come, but he probably will.”
  • [05:19.95]
  • “But who is this person? How did you find him?”
  • [05:25.00]
  • “I’ll tell you. While we wait for this man we do not know — for I have never met him — while we wait, I will tell you how my thoughts went.”
  • [05:36.05]
  • Dupin began to talk.
  • [05:39.22]
  • But it did not seem that he was trying to explain to me what he had thought.
  • [05:45.78]
  • It seemed that he was talking to himself.
  • [05:49.78]
  • He looked not at me, but at the wall.
  • [05:53.62]
  • “It has been fully proved that the voices heard by the neighbors were not the voices of the women who were killed.
  • [06:01.34]
  • Someone else was in the room. It is therefore certain that the old woman did not first kill her daughter and then kill herself.
  • [06:10.11]
  • She would not have been strong enough to put her daughter’s body where it was found.
  • [06:15.21]
  • And the manner of the old lady’s death shows that she could not have caused it herself.
  • [06:20.41]
  • A person can kill himself with a knife, yes.
  • [06:24.89]
  • But he surely cannot cut his own head almost off, then drop the knife on the floor and jump out the window.
  • [06:32.44]
  • It was murder, then, done by some third person — or persons.
  • [06:38.03]
  • And the voices heard were the voices of these persons.
  • [06:41.86]
  • Let us now think carefully about the things people said about those voices.
  • [06:48.12]
  • Did you notice anything especially strange in what was told about them?”
  • [06:53.42]
  • “Well, yes. Everybody agreed that the low voice was the voice of a Frenchman, but they could not agree about the high voice.”
  • [07:07.63]
  • “Ah! That was what they said, yes, but that was not what was so strange about what they said.
  • [07:14.62]
  • You say you have noticed nothing that makes their stories very different from what might have been expected.
  • [07:21.41]
  • Yet there was something.
  • [07:24.19]
  • All these persons, as you say, agreed about the low voice, but not about the high hard voice.
  • [07:32.12]
  • The strange thing here is that when an Italian, an Englishman, a Spaniard, and a Frenchman tried to tell what the voice was like, each one said it sounded like the voice of a foreigner.
  • [07:45.19]
  • How strangely unusual that voice really must have been!
  • [07:49.10]
  • Here are four men from four big countries, and not one of them could understand what the voice said; each one gave it a different name.
  • [08:01.05]
  • “Now, I know that there are other countries in the world.
  • [08:04.95]
  • You will say that perhaps it was the voice of someone from one of those other lands — Russia, perhaps.
  • [08:12.89]
  • But remember, not one of these people heard anything that sounded like a separate word.
  • [08:18.84]
  • Here, Dupin turned and looked into my eyes.
  • [08:23.97]
  • “This is what we have learned from the newspaper.
  • [08:27.82]
  • I don’t know what I have led you to think.
  • [08:30.81]
  • But I believe that in this much of the story there are enough facts to lead us in the one and only direction to the right answer.
  • [08:39.82]
  • What this answer is, I will not say…not yet.
  • [08:44.05]
  • But I want you to keep in mind that this much was enough to tell me what I must look for when we were in that house on the Rue Morgue.
  • [08:53.72]
  • And I found it!
  • [08:55.20]
  • “What did I first look for? The path of escape, of course.
  • [09:00.20]
  • I mean, we agree the killers were not ghosts; they could not move through walls. So, how did they escape?
  • [09:08.57]
  • “At first I saw no way out.
  • [09:11.07]
  • It had been necessary for the neighbors to break down the door in order to enter the room.
  • [09:16.71]
  • There was no other door.
  • [09:18.76]
  • The opening above the fireplace is too narrow for even a child to go through.
  • [09:24.51]
  • That leaves only the windows. We must make that exit somehow possible.
  • [09:31.13]
  • “Remember, there are two windows in the room.
  • [09:35.45]
  • Both of them, you will remember, are made of two parts; to open the window one must lift up the bottom half.
  • [09:43.92]
  • One of these windows is easily seen; the lower part of the other is out of sight behind the big bed.
  • [09:51.59]
  • I looked carefully at the first of these windows.
  • [09:55.44]
  • It was firmly closed, fastened, like the door, on the inside.
  • [10:00.52]
  • To keep the window closed, to fasten it, someone had put a strong iron nail into the wood at the side of the window in such a way that the window could not be raised.
  • [10:13.25]
  • At least it seemed that the nail held the window closed.
  • [10:17.64]
  • The nail was easy to see.
  • [10:20.46]
  • There it was.
  • [10:21.77]
  • And the people who discovered the killings used their greatest strength and could not raise the window.
  • [10:29.28]
  • I, too, tried to raise the window and could not.
  • [10:33.74]
  • “I went to the second window and looked behind the bed at the lower half of the window.
  • [10:39.99]
  • There was a nail here, too, which held the window closed.
  • [10:45.02]
  • Without moving the bed, I tried to open this window also, and again I could not do so.
  • [10:53.62]
  • But I did not stop looking for an answer there.”
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