True! -- nervous – dreadfully nervous, I had been and am; but why will yousay that I am mad? Hearken! And observe how calmly I can tell you the wholestory.
It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but onceconceived, it haunted me day and night. Object, there was none. I loved the oldman. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! One of his eyesresembled that of a vulture – a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fellupon me, my blood ran cold; and so, I made up my mind to take the life of the oldman, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.
You should have seen how wisely I proceeded. I was never kinder to theold man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, aboutmidnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it – oh, so gently! I put in adark lantern, so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. I moved itslowly – very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man’s sleep. And then,when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously so that asingle thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. This I did for seven long nights.
Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door.A watch’s minute hand moves no more slowly than did mine. When I had waiteda long time, very patiently, I resolved to open a very little crevice in the lantern,until, at length, a single dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot out and fellupon the vulture eye.
A new anxiety seized me – the sound would be heard by a neighbor! Theold man’s hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leapedinto the room. He shrieked once – once only. In an instant I dragged him to thefloor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. But, for many minutes, the heart beaton with a muffled sound. At length it ceased. I removed the bed and examinedthe corpse. The old man was dead! His eye would trouble me no more.
I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the soundincreased. It was a low, dull, quick sound – such as a watch makes whenenveloped in cotton. I paced the floor, but the noise steadily increased. Oh, God!What could I do? I foamed – I raved – I swore! But the noise arose over all. It grew louder – louder – louder! Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God!No, no! They heard! They suspected! They knew! They were making a mockery of my horror! I felt that I must scream or die! And now, again! Hark! Louder! Louder! Louder!“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! Tear up theplanks! Here, here! It is the beating of his hideous heart!”