quinta-feira, 27 de maio de 2010

The Murders in the Rue Morgue [Original]

The Murders in the Rue Morgue
título em português: Os Assassinatos na Rua Morgue

During the spring and part of the summer of 18—, my friend
C. Auguste Dupin and I shared a house in Paris, in a quiet part of
the Faubourg St-Germain. It was our habit, at this time, to stay
indoors for most of the day, and to take long walks after dark
through the wild lights and shadows of the busy city. We gained a
good deal of quiet enjoyment from this simple pleasure. It was in
darkness (as I have noted in a previous story) that Dupin found
his mind most active, his power of reasoning at its best, and his
ability to notice things around him extremely sharp.
We were walking one night down a long dirty street on the
east side of the city. We were both, it seemed, deep in thought;
neither of us had spoken a word for at least fifteen minutes. Then
suddenly Dupin broke the silence with these words: 'He is a very
little man, that's true, and would be more suited to a lighter or
more humorous play.'

'There is no doubt about that,' I replied, not at first noticing
the strange way in which Dupin had followed my thoughts. But a
moment later I realized and felt most surprised.
'Dupin,' I said, seriously, I do not understand this at all. I can
hardly believe my ears. How did you know that I was thinking
about... ?' Here I paused, to see if he could complete my question.
'... about the actor, Chantilly,' he said. 'You were thinking that
he is too physically small for a serious play.'

I must admit that that was exactly the subject of my thoughts.
Chantilly was a shoemaker, who had suddenly become interested
in acting. He had attempted the part of King Xerxes in the play
of that name and the papers had criticized him severely.
'Tell me,' I cried, 'how you have been able to reach into my
mind like this.'

'It was the fruit seller,' replied my friend, 'who made you feel
sure that Chantilly was not tall enough for Xerxes.'

'The fruit seller! — you surprise me — I know of no fruit seller.'
'The man who nearly pushed you over as we entered the
street — it may have been fifteen minutes ago.'

I now remembered that, in fact, a tradesman who was carrying
a large basket of apples on his head had struck against me by
accident, as we passed into the street where we now were. But I
could not possibly understand how this was connected with

'I will explain,' said Dupin, 'so that you will understand it all
clearly. We had been talking of horses, I believe, just before
turning the corner. This was our last subject of discussion. As we
turned into this street, the fruit seller pushed you onto a pile of
stones, which stood at a place where the road is being repaired.
You stepped on a broken piece, slipped, and twisted your foot
slightly. You turned to look at the pile, appeared to be a little
annoyed, and then continued in silence. I was not paying
particular attention to what you did, but I happened to notice
some of your actions.

'You kept your eyes on the ground, and soon we came to a part
of the road where the new stones had already been laid in a rather
strange pattern. This pattern reminded me of an old Greek idea of
the positions of certain stars in the heavens. And, as we discussed
this subject not very long ago, I thought that you would be
reminded of it too. I felt that you could not avoid looking up at
the stars. You did look up; and I was now quite sure that I had
followed your thoughts. But in that bitter attack on Chantilly,
which appeared in yesterday's newspaper, the writer said that he
was "a falling star which shines for a moment, and is then gone for
ever". Just then, as you were looking up, a star moved quickly
across the sky. It was clear, therefore, that you would connect the
star with Chantilly. I saw a little smile pass over your lips, as you
thought of the poor shoemaker's failure. Until then you had bent
forward as you walked; but now I saw you straighten yourself to
your full height. And I was certain that you were thinking of the
shortness of Chantilly. At that moment I said that, as he was a
very little man, he would do better in a lighter play.'

Not long after this conversation, we were reading an evening
newspaper, when the following paragraph caught our attention:

At about three o'clock this morning, people living in the
rue* Morgue were woken by terrible cries which came from
the fourth-floor flat of Madame* L'Espanaye and her
daughter, Mademoiselle* Camille L'Espanaye. After breaking
open the street door, which was locked, eight or ten of the
neighbours entered, with two policemen. By this time the
cries had stopped. As the party rushed up the stairs, two or
more rough voices were heard, arguing angrily. The sounds
seemed to come from the upper part of the house. As the
second floor was reached, these sounds also stopped, and
everything remained quiet. The party hurried from room to
room. They had to force the door of a large back room on
the third floor, which was found locked with the key on the
inside. A terrible sight then met their eyes.
The room was in great disorder; the furniture broken and
thrown about in all directions. On one of the chairs lay an
open razor, covered with blood. Two or three handfuls of
thick grey human hair lay near the fireplace. This hair
seemed to have been pulled out by the roots, since small
pieces of flesh were sticking to it. On the floor the party
found four gold coins, an earring, three large silver spoons,
and two bags, containing nearly 4,000 gold coins. The
drawers of a desk were open and seemed to have been
searched, although many things still remained in them.
*rue; Madame; Mademoiselle: the French words for street; Mrs; Miss.

There was no sign of Madame L'Espanaye. But, as the
fireplace was unusually dirty and much disturbed, the
chimney was examined. The body of the daughter, head
downwards, was dragged from it. It had been forced up the
narrow opening for several feet. The body was quite warm.
The skin had broken, probably by the violence with which
it had been pushed up and pulled down. There were deep
cuts on the face, and clear marks of fingernails around the
neck. It looked as if the girl had been killed by the pressure
of human hands around her throat.

After a thorough search of every part of the flat, the party
went downstairs and into a small yard at the back of the
building. There they found the body of the old lady, with
her throat cut. In fact, it was so completely cut that the head
fell off as soon as they tried to lift her.
So far nothing has been found which might help to solve
this terrible mystery.

The next day's papers gave this further information.

Many people have now been questioned about this crime,
but the police have discovered nothing which might help
them to solve it. We give below information from
statements that have been made by witnesses.
Pauline Dubourg said that she had known Madame
L'Espanaye and her daughter for three years, during which
time she had done their washing. The two ladies seemed to
be very close and loving companions. Paid well. Seemed to
have money in the bank. Never met anyone in the house
when she called for the clothes or took them back. Was sure
that they had no servant. The lower floors of the building
appeared not to be used.

Pierre Moreau, tobacconist, said that he had sold small
quantities of tobacco to Madame L'Espanaye for nearly four
years. The two ladies had lived in the house, where the bodies
were found, for more than six years. The house was the
property of Madame L., whose mind was not strong. Witness
had seen the daughter five or six times during the six years.
The two lived a very quiet life, but were said to have money.
Had never seen any person enter the house, except the old
lady and her daughter, a tradesman once or twice, and a
doctor about eight or ten times. The house was a good house
— not very old. The windows were always closed, except
those of the large back room on the third floor.

Isidore Musèt, policeman, said that he was called to the
house at about three o'clock in the morning, and found
twenty or thirty people trying to get in. Forced open the
door with an iron bar. The cries continued until the door
was opened — and then suddenly stopped. They seemed to
be the cries of some person (or persons) in great pain —
were loud and long, not short and quick. Witness led the
way upstairs. On reaching the first floor, heard two voices in
angry argument — one a low, rough voice, the other much
higher — a very strange voice. The first voice was that of a
Frenchman. Was certain that it was not a woman's voice.
Could recognize several French words. The second voice —
the high one — was that of a foreigner. Could not be sure
whether it was the voice of a man or of a woman. Could
not properly hear what was said, but believed that the
language was Spanish. The state of the room and of the
bodies was described by this witness as we described them

Henri Duval, a neighbour, and by trade a metalworker,
said that he was one of the party who first entered the
house. Agreed with the witness, Musèt, in general. Knew

Madame L. and her daughter. Had spoken to both
frequently. Was sure that the high voice was not that of
either of the dead women. Thinks that it was the voice of
an Italian. Was certain that it was not French. It might have
been a woman's voice. Witness had no knowledge of the
Italian language, but believed, by the sound, that the speaker
was an Italian.

Odenheimer, restaurant keeper, a native of Holland. Not a
French speaker - the following is a translation of his
statement. Was passing the house at the time of the cries.
They lasted for several minutes — probably ten. They were
long and loud — terrible and frightening. Was one of those
who entered the building. Was sure that the high voice was
that of a man — of a Frenchman. Could not recognize the
words spoken. They were loud and quick and spoken, it
seemed, in fear as well as in anger.

Jules Mignaud, bank manager, said that Madame
L'Espanaye had some property. Had opened an account at
his bank eight years before. The old lady frequently paid
small amounts into her account. On the third day before
her death, had taken out a large sum in gold. A clerk had
carried the money home for her.

Adolphe Le Bon, bank clerk, said that at midday three days
before the murders, he went with Madame L'Espanaye to
her house with the money from her account, contained in
two bags. Mademoiselle L. opened the street door and took
one of the bags from his hands. The old lady took the other.
He then left. Witness did not see any person in the street at
the time. It is a quiet street.

William Bird, maker of men's suits, said that he was one of
the party who entered the house. Is an Englishman. Has
lived in Paris for two years. Was one of the first to go up the
stairs. Heard the voices in argument. The rough voice was
that of a Frenchman. The high voice was very loud —
louder than the other. Is sure that it was not the voice of an
Englishman. Seemed to be that of a German. Might have
been a woman's voice. Witness does not understand
German. Also heard the sounds of a struggle.

Four of the above-named witnesses were later questioned
again. They agreed that the door of the room where the
body of Mademoiselle L. was found was locked from the
inside when the party reached it. Everything was perfectly
silent. When the door was forced open, no person was seen.
The windows, both of the back and front room, were closed
and firmly locked from the inside. A door between the two
rooms was shut but not locked. Another door leading from
the front room into the passage was locked, with the key on
the inside. A small room in the front of the house, on the
third floor, at the end of the passage, was unlocked; it was
full of old beds, boxes and so on. These were carefully
searched. The whole house was very carefully examined.
Brushes were pushed up and down the chimneys. A small
door leading to the roof was nailed very firmly shut, and
had clearly not been opened for years.

Alfonzo Garcio, wood worker, said that he lives in the rue
Morgue. Is from Spain. Was one of the party who entered
the house. Did not go upstairs. Does not like excitement.
Heard the voices in argument. The low voice was that of a
Frenchman. The high voice was that of an Englishman — is
sure of this. Does not understand English, but judges by the
rise and fall of the language.

Alberto Montani, shopkeeper, said that he was among the
first to go upstairs. Heard the two voices. Recognized
several words. One of the speakers was a Frenchman. The
other voice spoke quickly and not clearly. Thinks it was the
voice of a Russian. Witness is an Italian. Has never spoken
to anyone from Russia.
Several witnesses were examined twice. They all said that
the chimneys of all the rooms on the third floor were too
narrow for a human being to pass through. There is no back
entrance or staircase by which anybody could have left the
building while the party went up the front stairs. The body
of Mademoiselle L'Espanaye was so firmly stuck in the
chimney that it could not be got down until four or five of
the party pulled together.

Paul Dumas, doctor, said that he was called to examine
the bodies at about five o'clock in the morning. They were
both then lying in the room where Mademoiselle L. was
found. The body of the young lady was badly marked and
cut. Witness believed that these marks and cuts, except those
around the neck, were caused when the body was pushed
by force up the chimney. There were clear marks of fingers
on the throat. The face was pale blue in colour. The eyeballs
stood out from the head. The tongue had been bitten. The
stomach was discoloured. This may have been caused by the
pressure of a knee. In the opinion of Monsieur Dumas,
Mademoiselle L'Espanaye had been killed by pressure on
the throat, which prevented her from breathing. The body
of the mother was very badly damaged. All the bones on the
right side of the chest were broken. A heavy bar of iron, the
leg of a table, or any large, heavy weapon would have
produced these results if it had been used, with great force,
to attack the woman. The head of Madame L'Espanaye,
when it was seen by the witness, was completely separated
from the body. The throat had certainly been cut with a
very sharp instrument — probably with a razor.
Nothing more of importance was discovered, although
several other persons were questioned. Such a mysterious
murder has never happened in Paris before — if this is a
murder. The police have no idea at all where to begin.

The evening paper said that the police were holding the bank
clerk, Adolphe Le Bon; but there was nothing new to report
about the crime.

Dupin seemed very interested in this affair, and later that
evening he spoke to me about it.

'The Paris police,' he said, 'are reasonably clever, but they do
not work with a variety of methods. They search, and examine,
and question as if there is only one kind of crime — and one kind
of criminal — in the world. They are active and patient for a
while, but when these qualities bring no results, their inquiries
fail. Vidocq, for example, who used to be the Chief of Police, was
a good guesser and a hard-working man. But he had never
trained himself to think clearly. He believed that by having many
thoughts about a problem, he was certain to arrive at the correct
one. He examined a thing too closely. He would then see one or
two points very clearly, but he would lose sight of the matter as a
whole. Vidocq never knew when to examine a problem in a
general way and when to make detailed enquiries.

'Let us look at these murders for ourselves. You will find that
it can be very interesting. Besides, I know this man Le Bon. He
was once very helpful to me, and I would like to help him if I
can. Let us go and see this house in the rue Morgue; I would like
to see it with my own eyes. We both know G—, who is still the
head of the police. We shall have no difficulty in getting the
necessary permission.'

When we had arranged the matter with the Chief of Police, it
was still light enough for us to go immediately to the rue
Morgue. We found the house easily, as there were many people
looking up at it from the opposite side of the street. Before going
in, we walked up the street and round to the back of the house.
Dupin examined the whole neighbourhood, as well as the
building itself, with the closest attention.

At last we came again to the front of the building, where we
showed our letter of permission to the police officer in charge.
We went upstairs — into the room where the body of
Mademoiselle L'Espanaye had been found, and where both
bodies still lay. Everything was as the newspaper had described it.
Dupin carefully examined the room, the furniture and even the
bodies. He paid particular attention to the doors and windows.
We then went into the other rooms, and into the yard, and a
policeman stayed with us through the whole visit. Dupin's
examination lasted until it was quite dark, when we left the
house. On the way home my companion called in for a moment
at the office of one of the daily papers.
Typically, my friend said nothing further about the murder
until midday the next day. He then asked me, suddenly, if I had
noticed anything unusual at the scene of the deaths.
'No, not really,' I said;'nothing more, that is, than we both read
in the newspaper.'

'The paper,' he replied, 'has simply reported what everyone
knows. It seems to me that this mystery should be easy to solve
because it is extremely unusual; it is so very different from any
ordinary crime. The police are confused because they can find no
reason - not for the murder itself- but for the unnecessary force
that was used in the murder. They are confused, too, about the
voices that were heard in argument. No one was found upstairs,
except the murdered woman - and there was no way of escape,
except by the stairs. Then there was the body, pushed up the
chimney; and the old lady's head - almost completely cut off. The
police think that the unusual is necessarily a problem. But it is not. It
is because many of the facts are so strange that the murder can easily
be solved. The question we must ask is not "What has happened?",
but "What has happened that has never happened before?"

'I am now waiting,' Dupin went on,'for a person who knows a
great deal about these deaths, although he may not be responsible
for them himself. I do not think that he is guilty of any crime.
Because I believe this, I have great hopes of solving the whole

I looked at my friend in silent surprise.
'I expect to see the man here,' said Dupin,'in this room, at any
moment. If he comes, we shall have to keep him here. Take this
gun; I have one too, and we both know how to use them, I

I took the weapon, hardly knowing what I was doing, and
Dupin continued his explanation.
'It was the voices, of course — the voices heard in argument —
that gave me my first idea. All the witnesses agreed about the
rough voice: it was the voice of a Frenchman. But the high voice
— the high, quick one — must have been a very strange voice. An
Italian, an Englishman, a Dutchman, a Spaniard and a Frenchman
tried to describe it; and each one said that it sounded like the
voice of a foreigner. The Italian thought it was the voice of a
Russian, although he had never spoken to a Russian. The
Englishman believed it to be the voice of a German, and "does
not understand German". The Dutchman was sure that it was a
Frenchman who spoke, but this witness needed a translator to
take his statement. The Spaniard "is sure" that it was the voice of
an Englishman, but "judges by the rise and fall of the language",
as he "does not understand English". Our Frenchman believed
that the language spoken was Spanish. Another thought that the
speaker was Italian. How strange that people from five countries
in Europe could recognize nothing familiar in that voice! It was
unusual, too, that only sounds seem to have been made by that
strange speaker; no words were recognized.

'Even before we went to the house,' said Dupin,'I had a strong
suspicion about that voice; it showed me quite clearly what I
ought to look for. The next question was how the killer escaped
from the building. Madame and Mademoiselle L'Espanaye were
not murdered by spirits. They were murdered by beings of flesh
and blood, who had somehow escaped. How? Fortunately, there
is only one way of thinking about this; and it must lead us to the
right answer. Let us consider, one by one, the possible means of
escape. We must look only in the large back room, where the
body of the daughter was found, or in the room joined to it. If
the murderer had tried to escape from the third room, or from
the passage, they would have been seen by the party on the stairs.
The police have broken up the floors, the ceilings, and part of the
walls, and have found no secret doorways. I do not trust their
eyes; so I searched with my own. There was, then, no secret way
out. Both doors leading to the passage were locked, with the keys
on the inside. Let us consider the chimneys. These are of
ordinary width for eight or ten feet above the fireplaces. But they
become very narrow at the roof, and would not allow the body
of a large cat to pass through. Only the windows remain. No one
could have escaped through the windows of the front room
without being seen by the crowd in the street. The killer must
have left, then, through the windows of the back room. The
police believe that this is impossible, because the windows were
found closed on the inside. We know, though, that those windows
are the only possible way of escape.

'There are two windows in the room. The lower part of one of
them is hidden by the bed, which is pushed closely up against it.
The other one is clear of all furniture, and this window was found
tightly locked on the inside. Even the combined strength of
several policemen failed to open it. A large hole had been made in
its frame, and a thick nail was found fixed in this hole, nearly to
the head. The other window showed the same sort of nail in the
same sort of hole; and a determined attempt to open this window
also failed. The police were now satisfied that the killer had not
escaped through the windows. They therefore considered it
unnecessary to take out the nails and open the windows.

'My own examination of these things was more careful -
because the impossible had, in this case, to be possible. I said to
myself, "The murderer did escape from one of these windows.
But he could not have locked them again, as they were found
locked from the inside. But they were locked. They must, then, be
able to lock themselves; there is no other explanation." I went to
the window that was clear of all furniture, and took out the nail.
I tried to raise the window, but, as I had expected, it would not
move. There must be, then, a hidden spring. After a careful
search, I found it, and pressed it. There was now no need for me
actually to open the window.

'I put the nail back into the hole, and looked at it carefully. A
person going out through this window might have closed it after
him, and the spring would have held it shut; but the nail could
not have been put back. It was certain, therefore, that the killer
had escaped through the other window. I climbed on the bed and
examined the second window. The spring, as I had expected, was
exactly the same as the first one. Then I looked at the nail. It was
as thick as the other, and seemed to be fixed in the same way —
driven in nearly up to the head.

'You will say that I was confused; but if you think so, you have
not understood my reasoning. I could not be confused. There was
no weakness anywhere in my argument. I had followed the secret
to its end — and that end was the nail. It looked exactly the same as
the first nail, as I say; but this fact was not at all important. The
main thing was that the mystery ended here. "There must be
something wrong," I said, "with the nail." I touched it; the head
came off in my fingers. The rest of the nail was in the hole, where
it had at some time been broken off. I put the head back in its
place, and it looked exactly like a perfect nail; the broken part
could not be seen. Pressing the spring, I gently raised the window
slightly. The head of the nail went up with it. I closed the
window, and the appearance of the whole nail was again perfect.

'The mystery, so far, was now solved. The killer had escaped
through the window behind the bed. He had shut the window
after him, or allowed it to shut itself, and it had locked itself. The
police thought that it was the nail which held the window shut.
'The next question was how the murderer had reached the
ground. Now I am sure that he entered and left the room in the
same way; so let us first find out how he entered. When we
walked around the building, I noticed a pipe which carries
rainwater from the roof. It is about five and a half feet from the
window. No one could have reached the window from the top of
this pipe. But the shutter is as wide as the window — about three
and a half feet - and made in the form of a single door. If this
shutter were swung wide open, right back to the wall, it would
reach to within two feet of the pipe. An active and courageous
robber might have stretched across from the pipe and taken a
firm hold of the shutter. He could then let go his hold of the
pipe, and he would be hanging on the inside face of the shutter.
Then, pushing with his feet against the wall, he might have
swung the shutter closed. If the window was open, he could then
have swung himself into the room.

'Of course a very unusual skill and courage would be needed
to enter the room in this way. I have shown that it is possible, but
I know that it is hardly a human possibility, Now consider
carefully the very unusual activity and the very strange voice.
These two features really solve the mystery for' us.'
When Dupin said this, I began to understand what his idea
might be; but before I could say anything, he went on with his

'It is a waste of time to look for a reason for this crime. The
police are confused by the gold which was delivered to the house
three days before the murders. This money was not touched by
the killer; but the bank clerk who delivered it has been put in
prison! It is an accident — a simple chance - that these two events

happened at about the same time. Do not let the gold confuse us.
Because it was not taken, we need not give it further thought.
'Now, bearing in mind the main points — the strange voice, the
unusual activity and the complete absence of any reason for
murder — let us consider the actual killing. Here is a woman
killed by the pressure of two hands around her neck; she was then
pushed up a chimney, head downwards. You must agree that this
is a very strange way of hiding a body. Has anyone ever before
tried to hide a body in this way? Think, too, how great must have
been the strength of the killer! The body had been pushed up the
chimney so firmly that the combined efforts of several people
were needed to drag it down).

'Turn now to the hair — to the handfuls of thick hair which
had been pulled out by the roots, and which lay in the fireplace.
Great force must be used to pull out even thirty or forty hairs
together; but these handfuls contained, perhaps, half a million
hairs. Immense power would be necessary to pull them all out at
the same time. The body of the old lady shows again what
terrible strength the killer used. Her throat was not simply cut,
but the head was, with one blow, almost completely cut off and
the weapon was an ordinary razor.

'Of course the doctor was wrong when he said that a heavy
instrument had been used on Madame L'Espanaye. Her bones
were certainly broken as a result of her fall from the window on
to the stone floor of the yard. The police did not think of this,
because to them it is impossible that the windows were ever
opened at all.

'I have in my hand the last, and perhaps the best, proof of my
argument. I took these loose hairs from the tightly closed fingers
of Madame L'Espanaye. Tell me what you think about them.'
'Dupin!' I said. 'This hair is most unusual — this is not human

'I did not say it was,' he replied. 'And the finger marks on the
throat of Mademoiselle L'Espanaye were also not human. Look
here: I have copied them in this drawing, exactly as they appear
on her throat. No human fingers could reach this distance from
the thumb.'

I looked at the drawing, and was forced to agree with Dupin.
'Read now,' he said,'this page from Cuvier's book on the wild
animals of the East Indian Islands.'

It was a full description of a creature known as the orangutang.
The great size, the strength and the behaviour of this animal,
including its tendency to copy others, are well known. I
understood immediately how the crime took place.

'This description of the fingers,' I said, after I had read the
page, 'agrees exactly with your drawing. And the hair which you
found seems to be the same as that of Cuvier's animal. An
orangutang must have killed the women. But how do you
explain the two voices that were heard?'

'At present I do not know who the rough voice — which was
said to be the voice of a Frenchman — belongs to. But I have
strong hopes of a solution. A Frenchman saw the murders; his
voice was heard upstairs. If you remember, the two voices were
said to be "arguing angrily". It is, I believe, very probable that the
Frenchman was angry because the animal had attacked the
women. The animal may have escaped from him. He may have
followed it to the house, but, for some reason, could not, or did
not, catch it. It may still be free — in fact, I feel sure that it is,
although I cannot explain this feeling. If the Frenchman is not
really guilty of these murders, he will come to this house in
answer to my advertisement. You remember that I called at the
office of a certain newspaper on our way home last night; I left
an advertisement there. This particular newspaper prints news
about the movement of ships, and it is always read by seamen.
Dupin handed me a paper, and I read this:

CAUGHT In a Paris park, early in the morning of the —
(the morning of the murder), a very large orangutang from
Borneo. The owner (who is a sailor, belonging to a Maltese
ship), may have the animal again if he can describe it
correctly. A few small costs must be paid. Call at —, third

'How do you know,' I said, 'that the man is from a Maltese ship?'
'I do not know,' replied Dupin. I am not sure of it. Look at this
small piece of cloth which I found at the bottom of the pipe
behind Madame L'Espanaye's house. It is a little dirty, and I think
it has been used for tying hair up in one of those long tails which
sailors are so fond of. Also, this knot is one which few people
besides sailors can tie; and it is most common in Malta. Now, if I
am wrong about this piece of cloth, no great harm has been
done. The man will think that I have made a mistake in some
detail about the animal, and it will not trouble him. But if I am
right, a great advantage will be gained. The man will probably say
to himself. "I am not guilty of this murder. I am poor. My
orangutang is a valuable animal — to me it is worth a fortune.
Why should I lose it through a foolish fear of danger? It was
found in a park, and there are no parks near the scene of the
crime. How can anyone know that an animal killed those
women? The police have failed to solve the case. Even if they
suspect an animal, there is nothing to prove that I saw the
murder; there is nothing to prove me guilty. Above all, I am
known. The person who advertised describes me as the owner of
the animal. I am not sure how much he knows. If I do not claim
this valuable animal, people may begin to suspect something. I do
not want to call attention either to myself or to the animal. I will
visit the man, get the orangutang, and keep it shut up until this
matter has been forgotten.'"

At this moment we heard a step on the stairs.
'Be ready,' said Dupin, 'with your gun, but do not use it or
show it until I give a signal.'

There was a knock at the door of our room.
'Come in,' said Dupin, in a cheerful voice.

A man entered. He was a sailor, clearly — a tall, strong person,
with a happy, honest expression. His face, greatly sunburnt, was
more than half hidden by a beard. He had with him a heavy stick,
but seemed to carry no other weapon. He wished us 'good
evening' in a voice which showed that he was from Paris.
'Sit down, my friend,' said Dupin. I suppose you have called
about the orangutang. He is a very fine animal, and no doubt a
valuable one. How old do you say he is?'

The sailor smiled, and then replied calmly: 'I have no way of
knowing — but he can't be more than four or five years old. Have
you got him here?'

'Oh no; we have no place to keep him here. He is near here at
a stable. You can get him in the morning. Of course, you can
describe him for us — to prove that you are the owner?'
'Oh yes, sir. And I'm very happy to pay you a reward for
finding the animal — that is to say, anything reasonable.'
'Well,' replied my friend, 'that is very good of you. Let me
think! - what should I have? Oh! I will tell you. You must give
me all the information you can about these murders in the rue

Dupin said the last words very quietly. Just as quietly, too, he
walked towards the door, locked it, and put the key in his pocket.
He then took the gun from his coat, and laid it slowly on the

The sailor's face grew red; he got up quickly, and took hold of
his stick. The next moment he fell back into his seat, trembling
violently. He said nothing. I felt very sorry for him.

'My friend,' said Dupin, in a kind voice, 'do not be afraid. We
shall not harm you. I give you my word, as a gentleman, and as a
Frenchman, that we do not intend to harm you. I know quite
well that you are not responsible for the deaths of the two
women, but it would be foolish of you to say that you know
nothing about them. The position at present is this: you have
done nothing which you could have avoided — nothing to bring
suspicion on yourself. You did not even rob them, when you
could have done so easily enough. You have nothing to hide. At
the same time, you are a man of honour and so you must tell us
all that you know. There is a man in prison at this moment,
charged with the crime of murder; he should be set free.'
The sailor looked less anxious as Dupin said these words,
although his cheerful expression had completely gone.
'With God's help,' he said after a pause, 'I will tell you all I
know about this affair; but I do not expect you to believe even a
half of what I say — I would be a fool if I did.'

What he told us was this. He had caught the orangutang in
Borneo while he was on a journey to the East Indian Islands.
With great difficulty he had brought it back to France, with the
intention of selling it. He had locked it safely, as he thought, in a
room at his house in Paris.

Very early on the morning of the murder, he had returned
from a party to find that the animal had broken out of its room.
It was sitting in front of a mirror, playing with a razor. When he
saw such a dangerous weapon in the hands of such a wild animal,
the man picked up a whip, which he often used to control the
creature. The animal immediately rushed out of the room, down
the stairs, and through an open window into the street. It was still
holding the razor.

The Frenchman followed. The streets were very quiet, as it
was nearly three o'clock in the morning. The man had nearly
caught up with the animal, when it turned into a narrow street
behind the rue Morgue. There its attention was attracted by a
light shining from the open window of Madame L'Espanaye's
flat. The orangutang ran to the house, saw the pipe, and climbed
up with unbelievable speed. When it reached the top of the pipe,
it seized the shutter, swung across to the open window and
landed inside on the bed. The animal kicked the shutter open
again as it entered the room. The whole movement — from the
ground to the bed — did not take a minute.

The sailor had strong hopes now of catching the animal, as it
could hardly escape from the building, except by the pipe. At the
same time, he was troubled by what it might do in the house.
After a moment he decided to follow it. Being a sailor, he had no
difficulty in climbing the pipe. But when he arrived as high as
the window, which was far over to his left, he could go no
further. All he could do was to lean out, and watch what was
happening inside the room. What he saw gave him such a shock
that he nearly fell from the pipe. Madame L'Espanaye and her
daughter had been sorting out some clothes from a drawer when
the animal jumped on them.

The orangutang seized Madame L'Espanaye by her hair and
put the razor to her face. She fought hard, and angered the
creature. With one determined stroke of the razor, it nearly cut
off her head. The sight of blood made the animal wild, and it fell
next on the girl. Making fearful noises, it pressed its terrible
fingers round her throat, and kept its hold until she died. Then
the orangutang turned and saw the face of its master outside the
window. Immediately its anger changed to fear - fear of the
whip. It rushed around, breaking the furniture as it moved. It
searched crazily for a hiding place for the bodies. First it seized
the body of the girl, and pushed it up the chimney, where it was
found. Then it picked up that of the old lady, and threw it
straight through the open window.

The sailor, shocked beyond belief, had tried to calm the
animal. His words, and the angry sounds of the animal, were
heard by the people who entered the house. But he failed
completely. Shaking with fear, he slid down the pipe and hurried
home. He hoped that he would see no more of his orangutang.
I have hardly anything to add. The animal must have escaped
from Madame L'Espanaye's flat in the way that Dupin described.
It must have closed the window after it had passed through. It
was later caught by the seaman himself, and sold for a large
amount of money to the Paris zoo. The clerk, Le Bon, was set
free at once, as soon as Dupin had explained the facts to the
Chief of Police. That official found it difficult to hide his anger
and shame at the result of the case. As we left his office, we heard
him say that he hoped the police would, in future, be allowed to
do their job without others involving themselves in police

Dupin did not think that a reply was necessary.

Nenhum comentário: