VOICE: It was a crime of contempt. One young man's logic, misguided through the onslaught of insanity. His name remains unspoken, but his crime is unforgettable.
This is his story.
VOICE: Nervous. Very, very dreadfully nervous. I have been and am. Why would you say that I'm mad?
Disease sharpened my senses, not destroyed them.
GLENN: Above all, the sense of hearing was acute. I heard all things in heaven and in hell. Oh, I heard many things in hell.
Well, then, am I mad? Hearken and observe how healthily, how calmly I can tell you the whole story.
It's impossible to say how the first 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. Had never given me insults. For his gold, I had no desire. I think it was his eye. Yes. It was this. He had an eye of a vulture, a pale blue eye with film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold. And so by degrees, very gradually, I 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.
And then, when I made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a lantern, dark, closed no light shown out. And then I thrust in my head.
You would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrusted in. I moved it in slowly. Very, very slowly. So I may not disturb the old man's sleep. Oh, 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 have done something as wise as this? And then, when my head was well within the room, I undid the lantern cautiously. Oh, so cautiously. Cautiously. For the hinges creaked. I did it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye.
And this, I did for seven long nights. Every night, just at midnight.
But I found the eye always closed. So it was impossible to do the work. It was not the old man who vexed me, but his evil eye.
And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name and a hearty tone and inquiring how he passed the night. So you see, he would have been a very profound man indeed to suspect every night just at 12, I looked in on him, while he slept.
Upon the eighth night, I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch's minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers, of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph, to think that I was there opening the door, little by little, and he not even dream of my secret deeds or thoughts.
I fairly chuckled at the idea. And perhaps he heard me, for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled.
Now, you may think that I drew back. But no. His room was as black as pitch, with thick darkness, for the shudders were closed and fastened through the fear of robbers.
And so I knew he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on. Steadily. Steadily.
I had my head in. I was about to open the lantern when my thumb slipped upon the tin fascinating. The old man sprung up on the bed, crying, who is there? I kept quiet, still I said nothing.
For a whole hour, I did not move a muscle. And in the meantime, I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in bed listening, just as I had done night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.
Presently, I heard a slight groan. And I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief. Oh, no. It was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul, when overcharged with awe.
I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it had welled up from my own bosom, deepening with a dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. Oh, I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him. Although, I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been laying awake, ever since the first slight noise, when he turned in the bed.
His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless. But could not. He had been saying to himself, it's nothing but the wind and the chimney. It's only a mouse crossing the floor, or it's merely a cricket who's made a single chirp.
Oh, yes. He had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions. But he found them all in vain. All in vain. Because death in approaching him, had stalked with his black shadow before him and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel although he never saw nor heard, to feel the presence of my hand within the room.
When I had waited a very long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little -- a very -- very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it.
Oh, you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily, until at length, a single dim ray like the thread of a spider shot from the crevice and fell upon the vulture eye.
It was open. It was wide, wide open. And I grew furious, as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness, a still blue, with a hideous veil over that chilled the very marrow in my bones. But I could see nothing else of the old man's face or person, for I had directed the ray, as if by instinct, precisely upon the damn spot. And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is, but an overacuteness of the sense?
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. I knew that sound well too.
It was the beating of the old man's heart. It increased my fury as the beating of a drum stimulates a soldier into courage. But even yet, I refrained. I kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried. How steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eye.
In the meantime, the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker and louder and louder every instant! The old man's terror must have been extreme. It grew louder, I say louder every moment. Do you mark me well?
I told you that I was nervous. And so I am. And now, at the dead hour of 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, he refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder and louder. I thought his heart must burst. And then a new anxiety seized me. The sound. 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. Only once.
In an instant, I dragged him to the floor and pulled the heavy bed over him. Then I smiled gayly, to find the deed so far done.
But for many minutes, his heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, didn't vex me. It would not be heard through the wall.
At length, it ceased. The old man was dead.
I removed the bed. And examined the corpse. Yes.
He was stone. Stone dead.
I placed my hands upon the heart. I felt it for many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead.
His eye would trouble me no more.
If you still think me mad, you will think so no longer, when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment for the body. The night waned. And I worked hastily. But in silence. First of all, I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the heads and the arms and the legs. Then I took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber and deposited all between the scantlings. Then I 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 it all.
When I had made an end of these labors, it was 4 o'clock. Still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door.
I went down to open it with a light heart, for what now do I have to fear. There entered three men who introduced themselves with perfect suavity as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbor during the night. Suspicion of foul play had been aroused. Information had been lodged at the police office. And they, the police officers, had been deputed to search the premises. I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, 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 bade them search. Search well.
I led them at length to his chamber. I showed him his treasure, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room and desired them, here to rest from your fatigues. While I myself, and the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.
The officers were satisfied. My manner convinced them. I was simply at ease. They sat, while I answered cheerly. They chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone.
My head ached. And I fancied a ringing in my ears. But they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct.
I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling. But it continued and gained definitiveness. Until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears. No. No doubt I grew very pale. But it got more frequently and with a heightened voice, the sound increased. What could I do? It was a low, dull quick sound. Much, such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath, thinking the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly, more vehemently, but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, a high key, with violent gesticulations! But the noise steadily increased.
Oh, why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited, a fury by the observations of the men. But the noise steadily increased. Oh, God, what could I do? I foamed! I raved! I swore!
I swung the chair in which I had been sitting and grated it across the boards. But the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder and louder and 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 making a mockery of my horror. This, I thought, and this I think, but anything was better than this agony. Anything was more tolerable than this derision. I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer. I felt that I must scream or die. And now again, hark, hark, louder and louder and louder.
Villains, I shrieked! Dissemble no more. I admit the deed. Tear up the planks. Here, here is the beating of his hideous heart.
GLENN: Oh. This is the way that literature in the 1800s was meant to be read. You read anything prior to 1920, really, and it was meant to be read out loud. Before the times of radio and television, you were lucky if you had somebody in the house that could not only read, but could read it the way the author intended it to be read, out loud. And you were the family's movie theater. And you were the family's television and radio.
STU: @GlennBeck and @worldofStu. We're going to tweet the link. We can get that iTunes. I think it's going to be up at GlennBeck.com as well today. There's four pieces of Edgar Allan Poe that are great for when kids are coming up to trick-or-treat. It's a perfect time to play them. And there's another story we debuted today, which was a real story from the '70s of a murder, which is --
GLENN: It changed Halloween.
STU: It really changed Halloween.
GLENN: It changed Halloween. If you didn't -- if you ever had to take your candy to the hospital to be x-rayed or you ever heard, no, throw that away, because there's some madman that was poisoning kids. It only happened once in the United States. Once. And this one time changed everyone's Halloween. But there's some really important information that I never had known. And that's available also today at GlennBeck.com.