pen and thinks, begins to write again, speaks as he writes each word.
ACTOR 1 will begin to talk with POE saying the same words together.
Then POE will stop speaking and ACTOR 1 will continue. POE will join
other actors to emphasize parts of the story through vocal sounds and
True! nervous very, very dreadfully nervous I had been
and am ...
ACTOR 1: But why will you say that I am mad?
The disease had sharpened my senses not destroyed not
dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all
things in heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How
then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily how calmly
I can tell you the whole story.
It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain. But once
conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none.
Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me.
He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire.
1 think it was his eye!
Yes, it was this!
One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture a pale blue eye,
with a film over it.
Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; so by degrees-very
gradually I made up my mind...
I made up my mind...
1 made up my mind...
... to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.
Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you
should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded...
With what caution...
With what foresight...
With what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old
man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night,
about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it...
Oh, so gently!
Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust my head in!
I moved it slowly...
Very, very slowly...
It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far
that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! Would a madman be so
wise? I did this for seven long nights. Upon the eighth night I was
more than usually cautious in opening the door. Perhaps he heard me
though, for he moved on the bed...
ACTOR 3: Suddenly!
As if startled. Now you may think that I drew back...
I had my head in and was about to open the lantern, when presently I
heard a slight groan...
& 3: OOOHHHH, ooohhhh.
And I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. I say I knew it well. I
knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at
heart. I knew he had been lying awake, his fears had been growing
upon him. He was thinking that he had heard nothing. He was saying to himself...
"It is nothing but the wind in the chimney it is only a
mouse crossing the floor."
"It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp."
Yes, he was trying to comfort himself with these suppositions; but he
had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching
him, had stalked his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim.
So I opened the door...
You cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily...
Until, at length, a single dim ray, like a thread of a spider, shot
out from the crevice and full upon the vulture eye! I could see
nothing else of the old man's face, for I had directed the ray as if
by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.
And now have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness
of the senses? Now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick
sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that
sound well too. It was the beating...
beat drum quietly at this point and build to end)
ACTOR 2: Beating!
It was the beating of the old man's heart. It increased my fury, as
the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.
But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held
the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray
upon the eye. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew...
The old man's terror must have been extreme! It grew louder and
louder every minute! Do you mark me well? I have told you I am
nervous; so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the
dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this
excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet for some minutes longer I
refrained and stood still.
But the beating grew louder and louder!
I thought the heart might burst. And now a new anxiety seized me
the sound would be heard by a neighbor! The old man's hour had
come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the
room. He shrieked once once only. In an instant I dragged him
to the floor and pulled the heavy bed covers over him. I then smiled
gaily, to find the deed so far done.
But, for many minutes the heart beat on with a muffled sound.
This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall.
At length, it ceased.
The old man was dead. I removed the bed covers 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 eye would trouble me no more.
If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I
describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body.
The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I
dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.
I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber,
deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so
cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye...
Not even his?
Could have detected anything wrong. There was nothing to wash out
no stain of any kind no blood spot whatever. I had been
too wary for that. A tub had caught all ha! ha! When I had
made an end of these labors, it was four o'clock. As the bell sounded
the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I opened it
for what had I to fear? There entered three men, who introduced
Officers of the police.
A shriek has been heard in the night.
There is suspicion of foul play.
We have been deputed to search the premises.
I smiled, for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome.
The Tell Tale
This is a sample from the actual script. To review the entire
play, order the PERUSAL SCRIPT (online instant download).