This horror story «The Tell-Tale Heart» by Edgar Poe is one of my favourite ones. It is a little bit crazy and very tensive.
The plot of the story is rather simple. Two people, a young one and an old one, lived together. The young man helped the old man to keep the house. But with time the old man started to irritated the young. It was his pale blue eye that made him mad. What happpened in the end you will know when you read the story.
Good luck with learning English through horror stories by Edgar Poe.
Edgar Poe «The Tell-Tale Heart»
(a horror story in English for intermediate)
Nervous —very, very nervous I was and I am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease made me very sensitive. All my senses were so sharp and above all was the sense of hearing. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. So, am I mad? Listen and see yourself how calmly I can tell you the whole story.
It is impossible to say how the idea came to my mind; but it started to haunt me day and night. I loved the old man. He had never done me harm. He had never said me a bad word. I didn’t want to have his gold. So, I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! He had a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so little by little I decided to kill the old man in order not to see the eye ever.
Now this is the point. You think I am mad. But you should see me. You should see how wisely I started to prepare for the work! I had been very kind to the old man during the whole week before. And every night, about midnight, I opened his door— oh, so quietly! And then I put a dark lantern into the opening, all closed, closed, so that no light shone out. And then I put in my head. Oh, you would laugh to see how carefully I put my head in! I moved it slowly —very, very slowly so that I would not disturb the old man’s sleep.
It took me an hour to put my whole head in the opening so that I could see him lying on his bed. And then, when my head was in the room, I opened the door of the lantern carefully — oh, so carefully — I did it just so much that light fell upon the old man’s eye. And this I did for seven long nights —every night just at midnight —but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the deed; for it was not the old man who annoyed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning I went into his room, and spoke to him in a friendly tone, and asked him how he had passed the night. So, you see, he would never suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.
On the eighth night I was more than usually careful in opening the door. I did it so slowly that a clock minute hand moved more quickly than did mine. And I could not hide my feelings of triumph. Just imagine that I was opening the door, little by little, and he didn’t even dream of my secret thoughts. I laughed at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly. You may think that I got out — but no. It was very dark in his room, for the shutters were closed, and so I knew that he could not see me, and I kept opening the door on little by little.
My head had been in the room already and I was going to open the lantern, when my finger slipped and I made a noise. The old man sat up in bed quickly, crying out —«Who’s there?»
I stood quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and at the same time I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening; —just as I have done, night after night, listening to the clock on the wall.
Soon I heard a cry, and I knew it was a cry of mortal terror. It was not a cry of pain or of grief —oh, no! —it was the low sound that comes from the soul when it is full of terror. I knew the sound well. Many nights, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has come from my own soul. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I laughed at heart. I knew that he was awake ever since the first slight noise, when he turned in the bed. His fears were growing upon him. He was trying to stop worrying, but could not. He was saying to himself —«It is nothing but the wind in the chimney.» — or «it is only a mouse crossing the floor.» Yes, he was trying to calm himself but he couldn’t. All in vain, Because Death was coming nearer and nearer and already had his black shadow before him. And it was the shadow that made him feel —although he neither saw nor heard —feel the presence of my head in the room.
Then I waited a long time but didn’t hear him lie down. And I decided to open a door of the lantern — very, very little. So I opened it —you cannot imagine how slowly, very very slowly I did it —until some light like the thread of the spider fell full upon the old man’s evil eye. It was open —wide, wide open —and I looked upon it. I saw it very clearly — a dull blue eye, a terrible eye. And I could not see the old man’s face or person for I saw his damned eye only.
* * *
I have told you already that I am not mad. It is only a keen sense of hearing — now, I say, there came to my ears a low sound, such as a watch makes when covered by some cloth. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It increased my anger like the beating of a drum makes the soldier attack.
But even then I tried to keep still. I didn’t breathe. I held the lantern so that it could light the eye. But the sound of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every moment. The old man’s terror was great! It grew louder, I say, louder every minute! — do you think I was nervous. Yes, I was. And now at that hour of the night in the dead silence of that old house, so strange a noise made me wild. The beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst.
And now a new thought came to my mind — the sound could be heard by a neighbour! The old man’s hour had come! With a loud cry, I threw the lantern and ran into the room. He gave a terrible scream but once — once only. In a moment I put a pillow upon his face and held it for some time. For some minutes the heart beat on with a quiet sound. This, however, did not worry me because I knew it could not be heard through the wall. At last it stopped. The old man was dead. I removed the pillow and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eуe would trouble me no more.
If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe you how careful I was while hiding the body. It was night but I worked quickly, in silence. First of all, I cut off the head and the arms and the legs. I then took up three planks from the floor, and put all there. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye —not even his —could have seen anything wrong. There was nothing to wash out —no stain of any kind —no blood-spot whatever. I had been too careful —ha! ha!
When I had finished, it was four o’clock —still dark as midnight. At about 1 o’clock, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart, —for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves as officers of the police. A scream was heard by a neighbour during the night; information came to the police, and they (the officers) were send to search the house.
I smiled, —for what had I to fear? I welcomed the gentlemen. The scream, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I led them to his room. I showed them his things. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and invited them to rest from their work, while I myself, enjoying my perfect triumph, put my own chair upon the very spot beneath which was the body of the victim.
The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was perfectly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, soon, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing continued and became more distinct: I tried to get rid of the feeling: but I couldn’t — and, soon, I found that the noise was not within my ears.
No doubt I now grew very pale; — I talked more loudly. Yet the sound increased —and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound — like a sound as a watch makes when covered by some cloth. Yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly —more wildly; but the noise grew louder. I stood up, I talked, I gesticulated; but the noise grew louder. Why would they not leave? I went to and fro, as if excited—but the noise grew louder.
Oh God! what could I do? I raved —I swore! I took the chair upon which I was sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise was everywhere. It grew louder —louder —louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! —no, no! They heard! —they suspected! —they knew! —they were laughing at my horror! — this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! I could stand those smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now —again! —hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!
«Villains!» I cried, «I hide no more! I admit the deed! —tear up the planks! here, here! —It is the beating of his hideous heart!»
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