“Who’s there?” he said. “Ah, it must be the wind in the chimney. Or a mouse crossing the floor.”
Either that, or the beating of your own hideous heart, old man.
Poe stood silently in the darkness. Although, notionally, he was fond of the old man and had, for years, tolerated his faults, he was seized with an impulse to put him out of his misery.
Without further ado, he brought the lantern down on top of the old man’s head. He turned over the bed and sat down smiling and chuckling to himself. “That did it!” he said. “I stopped it in its tracks, just like a clock.”
Then he took up the planks in the floorboard and deposited the body between the scantlings, taking extra care not to leave a stain.
There was a knock at the front door.
It was two policemen in windbreakers.
“If you are looking for the old man,” Poe said, “he has gone to the country.”
“A neighbour heard a scream.”
“Please, come in,” he said. “By all means, search the house.”
In fact, Poe was so confident he brought them into the old man’s room and had them sit, with a cup of tea, at the very spot where the body lay.
When he heard the sound, it was a low, dull, quick sound, like the sound a watch makes when enveloped in cotton.
The noise steadily increased.
Poe could bear it no more.
“Villains!” he shrieked. “I admit the deed! Tear up the planks!”
The policemen were amazed, but Poe could no longer bear the sound of the old man’s tell-tale heart.