The Telltale Heart

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By Edgar Allan Poe
Went by Cascadia
(þrucced 1843)


TREW!—ang—so, so dreadfully ang ic had been and am; but hwy wilt þu say þat ic am mad? Þe sickness had scarpened mine anyets—not forspilt—not dulled hem. Abuf all was my hearing scarp. Ic heard all þings in þe heafen and in þe earþ. Ic heard many þings in hell. Hu, þen, am ic mad? Harken! and behold hu healþily—hu coolly ic can tell þee þe hoal tale.

It is unmihtly to say hu first þe þouht infared my brain; but onse born, it beset me day and niht. Rode þere was none. Hatred þere was none. Ic lufed þe old man. He had nefer harmed me. He had nefer yeafen me hux. For his gold ic had no list. Ic þink it was his ie! yes, it was þis! He had a gripes ie—a wan hewn ie, wiþ a film ofer it. Hwenefer it fell on me, my blood ran cold; and so by steps—full stepwise—ic made up my mind to nim þe old mans life, and þuss rid myself of þe ie forefer.

Nu þiss is þe þing. Þu þinkest me mad. Madmen know noþing. But þu scudst haf seen me. Þu scudst haf seen hu wisely ic went on—wiþ hwat recking—wiþ hwat foresiht—wiþ hwat wile ic went to work! ic was nefer kinder to þe old man þan þruhute þe hoal week before ic slew him. And efery niht, abute midniht, ic flipt þe doors lac and opened it—o so liþely! And þen, hwen ic had made an opening enuhe for my head, ic put in a dark lihtfat, all closed, closed, so þat no liht scone ute, and þen ic stuck in my head. O, þu wudst haf lauhed to see hu cunningly ic stuck it in! ic scroþe it slowly—so, so slowly, so þat ic miht not unstill þe old mans sleep. Ic needed a stund to put my hoal head wiþin þe opening so far þat ic cud see him as he lay on his bed. Ha!—wud a madman haf been so wise as þis? And þen, hwen my head was well in þe room, ic undid þe lihtfat warily—o, so warily—warily (for þe hinges creaked)—ic undid it only so muc þat a lone þin beam fell on þe gripes ie. And þiss ic did for sefen long nihts—efery niht riht at midniht—but ic fund þe ie always closed; and so it was unmihtly to do þe work; for it was not þe old man ho teened me, but his Efil Ie. And efery morning, hwen þe day broke, ic went boldly into his room, and spoke duhtily to him, cying him by name in a hearty pic, and asking hu he had spent þe niht. So þu seest he wud haf been a mihty mindful old man, indeed, to inkel þat efery niht, riht at twelfe, ic looked in on him hwile he slept.

On þe eihþ niht ic was more þan wonly wary in opening þe door. A wacces smallhand scriþes more cwickly þan did mine. Nefer before þat niht had ic felt hu great was mine own miht—my wisdom. Ic cud hardly hold in my feelings of sie. To þink þat þere ic was, opening þe door, littel by littel, and he not efen to faþom my hidden deeds or þouhts. Ic fairly cuckelled at þe þouht; and maybe he heard me; for he scroþe on þe bed scortly, as if startelled. Nu þu maist þink þat ic drew back—but no. His room was as black as pic wiþ þe þick darkness, (for þe scutters were fastened nihe, þruhe fear of reafers,) and so ic knew þat he cud not see þe door opening, and ic kept þrucing it on steadily, steadily.

Ic had my head in, and was abute to open þe lihtfat, hwen my þumb slipt on þe tin fastening, and þe old man sprang up in bed, rooping ute—“Ho’s þere?”

Ic kept full still and said noþing. For a hoal stund ic did not scriþe a þew, and in þe meantime ic did not hear him lie dune. He was still sitting up in þe bed listening;—riht as ic haf done, niht after niht, harkening to þe deaþwacces in þe wall.

Nu ic heard a soft groan, and ic knew it was þe groan of deadly brow. It was not a groan of trey or of gnorn—o, no!—it was þe deep, deadened lude þat arises from þe sowls bottom hwen oferfilled wiþ ey. Ic knew þe lude well. Many a niht, riht at midniht, hwen all þe world slept, it has welled up from mine own bosom, deepening, wiþ its dreadful ascilling, þe brows þat held me. Ic say ic knew it well. Ic knew hwat þe old man felt, and felt sorry for him, alþauh ic cuckelled at heart. Ic knew þat he had been lying awake efer sinse þe first small lude, hwen he had started in þe bed. His fears had been efer sinse growing up him. He had been fanding to þink hem grundless, but cud not. He had been saying to himself—”It is noþing but þe wind in þe flew—it is only a muse running þwares þe floor,” or “It is but a hillhoamer hwic has made a lone cirp.” Yes, he had been fanding to cweem himself wiþ þese reasowings; but he had fund all bleadless. All bleadless; for þat Deaþ, in nearing him had stalked wiþ his black scadow before him, and beclipt þe tifer. And it was þe unseen scadows mornful sway þat made him to feel—alþauh he neiþer saw nor heard—to feel my heads neihwist wiþin þe room.

Hwen ic had bidden a long time, full þildily, wiþute hearing him lie dune, ic made to open a littel—a full, full littel slit in þe lihtfat, So ic opened it—þu canst not faþom hu stealþily, stealþily—hent, at lengþ a lone dim beam, like a spiders þread, scot from ute þe slit and fell full on þe gripes ie.

It was open—wide, wide open—and ic grew wroþ as ic stared at it. Ic saw it wiþ fulframed sundriness—all a dull hewn, wiþ an atel wimpel ofer it þat cilled þe marrow itself in my bones; but ic cud see noþing else of þe old mans anlet or body: for ic had minted þe beam as if by godly ken, riht on þe cursed spot.

And haf ic not told þee þat hwat þu misnimmest for madness is but þe anyets oferscarpness?—nu, ic say, þere came to mine ears a soft, dull, cwick lude, suc as a wac makes hwen smoþered in wool. Ic knew þat lude well, too. It was þe old mans heart—beating, beating. It greatened my wraþ, as a drums beating hwets þe harman into duht.

But efen yet ic held back and kept still. Ic hardly breaþed. Ic held þe lihtfat full still. Ic wacced hu steadily ic cud hold þe beam on þe ie. Meantime þe hearts hellisc drumming waxt. It grew cwicker and cwicker, luder and luder efery brihtom. Þe old mans brow must haf been great! It grew luder, ic say, luder efery ieblink!—markest þu me well? Ic haf told þee þat ic am ang; so ic am. And nu at þe nihts deadest tide, amid þat old huses dreadful stillness, so ferly a lude as þiss hwetted me to unrixenly brow. Yet, for sum time longer ic held back and stood still. But þe beating grew luder, luder! ic þouht þe heart must berst. And nu a new angness fanged me—þe lude wud be heard by a neihbor! Þe old mans time had cum! Wiþ a lude yell, ic þrew open þe lihtfat and leapt into þe room. He screed onse—onse only. In an ieblink ic drew him to þe floor, and pulled þe heafy bed ofer him. Ic þen smirked winfully, to find þe deed so far done. But, for a good tide, þe heart beat on wiþ a smoþered lude. Þis, huefer, did not teen me; it wud not be heard þruhe þe wall. At lengþ it stopt. Þe old man was dead. Ic drew back þe bed and smeyed þe lic. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. Ic put my hand ofer þe heart and held it þere for a time. Þere was no beating. He was stone dead. His ie wud swenc me no more.

If þu still þinkest me mad, þu wilt þink so no longer hwen ic rec þe wise forewits ic made for þe bodies hiding. Þe niht waned, and ic worked speedily, but wiþute lude. First of all ic toliþed þe lic. Ic sniþed off þe head and þe arms and þe scanks.

Ic þen lifted up þree þills from þe rooms flooring, and stowed all between þe timbers. Ic þen put back þe boards so cleferly, so cunningly, þat no mans ie—not efen his—cud haf fund any þing amiss. Þere was noþing to wasc ute—no wem of any kind—no bloodspot hwatefer. Ic had been too wary for þat. A fat had fanged all—ha! ha!

Hwen ic had made an end of þese swinks, it was fore in þe morning—still dark as midniht. As þe bell told þe tide, þere came a knocking at þe street door. Ic went dune to open it wiþ a liht heart,—for hwat had ic nu to fear? Þere infared þree weres, ho brouht hemselfes in as sceriffs. A scree had been heard by a neihbor in þe niht; fule play had been inkelled; abreasting had been yeafen at hir wicken, and hy (þe sceriffs) had been told to seec þe grunds.

Ic smirked,—for hwat had ic to fear? Ic bade þe good men welcum. Þe scree, ic said, was mine own in a swefen. Þe old man, ic nemmened, was away in þe upland. Ic brouht my cumlings all ofer þe huse. Ic bade hem seec—seec well. Ic led hem, at lengþ, to his room. Ic scowed hem his maþoms, sicker, unstirred. In my beelds list, ic brouht selds into þe room, and bade hem here to rest from hir wearinesses, hwile ic myself, in þe wild brasenness þat sprung from my fulframed sie, set mine own settel on þe spot itself beneaþ hwic rested my tifers lic.

Þe sceriffs were cweemed. My þewfastness had won hem ofer. Ic was sundrily at eaþ. Hy sat, and hwile ic answered bliþely, hy ceatted abute cooþ þings. But, ere long, ic felt myself becumming wan and wisced hem gone. My head aked, and ic faþomed a ringing in mine ears: but still hy sat and still hy ceatted. Þe ringing became more suttel:—it went on and became more suttel: ic talked more freely to rid myself of þe feeling: but it went on and became sutteller and sutteller—hent, at lengþ, ic fund þat þe lude was not wiþin mine ears.

No twee ic nu grew mihty wan;—but ic talked more flowingly, and wiþ a hihþened stefen. Yet þe lude waxt—and hwat cud ic do? It was a soft, dull, cwick lude—muc suc a lude as a wac makes hwen smoþered in wool. Ic fouht for breaþ—and yet þe sceriffs heard it not. Ic talked more cwickly—more aferly; but þe lude steadily waxt. Ic arose and flited abute small þings, in a hihe pic and wiþ heast wafes and tokens; but þe lude steadily waxt. Hwy wud hy not be gone? Ic walked þe floor to and fro wiþ heafy strides, as if hwetted to wraþ by þe weres cweaþings—but þe lude steadily waxt. O God! Hwat cud ic do? Ic foamed—ic rooped—ic swore! ic swung þe seld on hwic ic had been sitting, and grund it on þe boards, but þe lude arose ofer all and steadily waxt. It grew luder—luder—luder! And still þe weres ceatted winsumly, and smirked. Was it mihtly hy heard not? Almihty God!—no, no! Hy heard!—hy inkelled!—hy knew!—hy were making a hux of my brow!—þiss ic þouht, and þiss ic þink. But anyþing was better þan þiss sussel! Anyþing was more þolenly þan þiss hooker! ic cud bear þose licetting smirks no longer! ic felt þat ic must roop or swelt!—and nu—ayen!—hark! luder! luder! luder! luder!—

“Defils!” ic screed, “licet no more! ic andet þe deed!—tear up þe þills!—here, here!—it is his atel hearts beating!”