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[恐怖悬疑]爱伦坡短篇经典------黑猫

楼主:嬴容玥 时间:2007-11-06 10:12:30 点击:3481 回复:9
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  接触的第一篇爱伦坡的短篇小说就是《黑猫》,爱伦坡很擅长组合各种恐怖元素来刻画人物的黑暗心理。这篇《黑猫》便是其代表作。
  
  我要开讲的这个故事极其荒唐,而又极其平凡,我并不企求各位相信,就连我的心里都不相信这些亲身经历的事,若是指望人家相信,岂不是发疯了吗?但是我眼下并没有发疯,而且确实不是在做梦。不过明天我就死到临头了,我要趁今天把这事说出来好让灵魂安生。我迫切打算把这些纯粹的家常琐事一五一十,简洁明了,不加评语的公之于世。由于这些事的缘故,我饱尝惊慌,受尽折磨,终于毁了一生。但是我不想详细解释。这些事对我来说,只有恐怖,可对大多数人来说,这无非是奇谈,没有什么可怕。也许,后世一些有识之士会把这种无稽之谈看作寻常小事。某些有识之士头脑比我更加冷静,更加条理分明,不象我这样遇事慌张。我这样诚惶诚恐,细细叙述的事情,在他们看来一定是一串有其因必有其果的普通事罢了。
  
    我从小就以心地善良温顺出名。我心肠软得出奇,一时竟成为小朋友的笑柄。我特别喜欢动物,父母就百般纵容,给了我各种各样玩赏的小动物。我大半时间都泡早同这些小动物玩上面,每当我喂食和抚弄它们的时候,就感到无比高兴。我长大了,这个癖性也随之而发展,一直到我成人,这点还是我的主要乐趣。有人疼爱忠实伶俐的狗,对于他们来说,根本用不着多费口舌来说明个中乐趣其味无穷了吧。你若经常尝到人类那种寡情薄义的滋味,那么对于兽类那种自我牺牲的无私之爱,准会感到铭心镂骨。
  
    我很早就结了婚,幸喜妻子跟我意气相投,她看到我偏爱饲养家禽,只要有机会物色到中意的玩物总不放过。我们养了小鸟、金鱼、良种狗、小兔子,一只小猴和一只猫。
  
    这只猫个头特大,非常好看,浑身乌黑,而且伶俐绝顶。我妻子生来就好迷信,她一说到这猫的灵性,往往就要扯上古老传说,认为凡是黑猫都是巫婆变化的。我倒不是说我妻子对这点极为认真,我这里提到这事只是顺便想到而已。
  
    这猫名叫普路托,原是我心爱的东西和玩伴。我亲自喂养它,我在屋里走到哪儿,它跟到哪儿。连我上街去,它都要跟,想尽法儿也赶它不掉。
  
    我和猫的交情就这样维持了好几年。在这几年工夫中,说来不好意思,由于我喝酒上了瘾,脾气习性都彻底变坏了。我一天比一天喜怒无常,动不动就使性子,不顾人家受得了受不了。我竟任性恶言秽语的辱骂起妻子来了。最后,还对她拳打脚踢。我饲养的那些小动物当然也感到我脾气的变坏。我不仅不照顾它们,反而虐待它们。那些兔子,那只小猴,甚至那只狗,出于亲热,或是碰巧跑到我跟前来,我总是肆无忌惮的糟蹋它们。只有对待普路托,我还有所怜惜,未忍下手。不料我的病情日益严重——你想世上哪有比酗酒更厉害的病啊——这时普路托老了,脾气也倔了,于是我索性把普路托也当做出气筒了。
  
    有一天晚上,我在城里一个常去的酒吧喝得酩酊大醉而归,我以为这猫躲着我,就一把抓住它,它看见我凶相毕露吓坏了,不由在我手上轻轻咬了一口,留下牙印。我顿时象恶魔附身,怒不可遏。我一时忘乎所以。原来那个善良的灵魂一下子飞出了我的躯壳,酒性大发,变得赛过凶神恶煞,浑身不知哪来的一股狠劲。我从背心口袋里掏出一把小刀,打开刀子,攥住那可怜畜生的喉咙,居心不良地把它眼珠剜了出来!写到这幕该死的暴行,我不禁面红耳赤,不寒而栗。
    睡了一夜,宿醉方醒。到第二天早上起来,神智恢复过来了,对自己犯县这个罪孽才悔惧莫及。但这至多不过是一种淡薄而模糊的感觉而已。我的灵魂还是毫无触动。我狂饮滥喝起来,一旦沉湎醉乡,自己所作所为早已统统忘光。
  
    这时那猫伤势渐渐好转,眼珠剜掉的那只眼窠果真十分可怕,看来它再也不感到痛了。它照常在屋里走动,只是一见我走近,就不出所料地吓得拼命逃走。我毕竟天良未泯,因此最初看见过去如此热爱我的畜生竟这样嫌恶我,不免感到伤心。但是这股伤心之感一下子就变为恼怒了。到后来,那股邪念又上升了,终于害得我一发不可收拾。关于这种邪念,哲学上并没有重视。不过我深信不疑,这种邪念是人心本能的一股冲动,是一种微乎其微的原始功能,或者说是情绪,人类性格就由它来决定。谁没有在无意中多次干下坏事或蠢事呢?而且这样干时无缘无故,心里明知干不得而偏要干。哪怕我们明知这样干犯法,我们不是还会无视自己看到的后果,有股拼命想去以身试法的邪念吗?唉,就是这股邪念终于断送了我的一生。正是出于内心这股深奥难测的渴望,渴望自找烦恼,违背本性,为作恶而作恶,我竟然对那只无辜的畜生继续下起毒手来,最后害它送了命。有一天早晨,我心狠手辣,用跟套索勒住猫脖子,把它吊在树枝上,眼泪汪汪,心里痛悔不已,就此把猫吊死了。我出此下策,就因为我知道这猫爱过我,就因为我觉得这猫没冒犯过我,就因为我知道这样干是在犯罪——犯下该下地狱的大罪,罪大之极,足以害得我那永生的灵魂永世不得超生,如若有此可能,就连慈悲为怀,可敬可畏的上帝都无法赦免我的罪过。
  
楼主嬴容玥 时间:2007-11-06 10:18:05
   就在我干下这个伤天害理的勾当的当天晚上,我在睡梦中忽听得喊叫失火,马上惊醒。床上的帐子已经着了火。整栋屋子都烧着了。我们夫妇和一个佣人好不容易才在这场火灾中逃出性命。这场火灾烧得真彻底。我的一切财物统统化为乌有,从此以后,我索性万念俱灰了。
  
    我倒也不至于那么懦弱,会在自己所犯罪孽和这场火灾之间找因果关系。不过我要把事实的来龙去脉详细说一说,但愿别把任何环节拉下。失火的第二天,我去凭吊这堆废墟。墙壁都倒坍了,只有一道还没塌下来。一看原来是一堵墙壁,厚倒不大吼,正巧在屋子中间,我的床头就靠近这堵墙。墙上的灰泥大大挡住了火势,我把这件事看成是新近粉刷的缘故。墙根前密密麻麻聚集了一堆人,看来有不少人非常仔细和专心的在查看这堵墙,只听得大家连声喊着“奇怪”,以及诸如此类的话,我不由感到好奇,就走近一看,但见白壁上赫然有个浅浮雕,原来是只偌大的猫。这猫刻得惟妙惟肖,一丝不差,猫脖子还有一根绞索。
  
    我一看到这个怪物,简直以为自己活见鬼了,不由惊恐万分。但是转念一想终于放了心。我记得,这猫明明吊在宅边花园里。火警一起,花园里就挤满了人,准是哪一个把猫从树上放下来,从开着的窗口扔进我的卧室。他这样做可能是打算唤醒我。另外几堵墙倒下来,正巧把受我残害而送命的猫压在新刷的泥灰壁上,壁间的石灰加上烈火和尸骸发出的氨气,三者起了某种作用,墙上才会出现我刚看到的浮雕像。
  
    对于刚刚细细道来的这一令人惊心动魄的事实,即使良心上不能自圆其说,于理说来倒也稀松平常,但是在我心灵中,总留下一个深刻的印象。有好几个月我摆脱不了那猫幻象的纠缠。这时节,我心里有滋生一股说是悔恨又不是悔恨的模糊情绪。我甚至后悔害死这猫,因此就在经常出入的下等场所中,到处物色一只外貌多少相似的黑猫开做填补。
    有一天晚上,我醉醺醺的坐在一个下等酒寮里,忽然间我注意到一只盛放金酒或朗姆酒的大酒桶,这是屋里主要一件家什,桶上有个黑糊糊的东西。我刚才一直目不转睛的盯着大酒桶好一会儿,奇怪的是竟然没有及早看出上面那东西。我走近它,用手摸摸。原来是只黑猫,长得偌大,个头跟普路托完全一样,除了一处之外,其他处处都极相象。普路托全身没有一根白毛,而这只猫几乎整个胸前都长满一片白斑,只是模糊不清而已。
  
    我刚摸着它,它就表示立即跳了起来,咕噜咕噜直叫,身子在我手上一味蹭着,表示承蒙我注意而很高兴.这猫正是我梦寐以求的.我当场向店东情商要求买下,谁知店东一点都不晓得这猫的来历,而且也从没见到过,所以也没有开价.
  
    我继续撸着这猫,正准备动身回家,这猫却流露出要跟我走的样子.我就让它跟着,一面走一面常常弯下身子去摸摸它.这猫一到我家马上很乖,一下子就博得我妻子的欢心.
  
    至于我嘛,不久就对这猫厌恶起来了。这正出乎我的意料,我也不知道是这是怎么回事,也不知道是什么道理.它对我的眷恋如此明显,我见了反而又讨厌又生气.渐渐的,这些情绪竟变位深恶痛绝了.我尽量避开这猫,正因心里感到羞愧,再加回想起早先犯下的残暴行为,我才不敢动手欺凌它.我有好几个星期一直没有去打它,也没粗暴虐待它.但是久而久之,我就渐渐对这猫说不出的厌恶了,一见到它那副丑相,我就象躲避瘟疫一样,悄悄溜之大吉.
  
    不消说,使我更加痛恨这畜生的原因,就是我把它带回家的第二天早晨,看到它竟同普路托一个样儿,眼珠也被剜掉一个.可是,我妻子见此情形,反而格外喜欢它了.我在上面说过,我妻子是个富有同情心的人.我原先身上也具有这种出色的美德,它曾使我感到无比纯正的乐趣.
  
    尽管我对这猫这般嫌恶,它对我反而越来越亲热.它跟我寸步不离,这鼓拧劲儿读者确实难以理解.只要我一坐下,它就会蹲在我椅子脚边,或是跳到我膝上,在我身上到处撒娇,实在讨厌.我一站起来走路,它就缠在我脚边,差点把我绊倒;再不,就用又长又尖的爪子钩住我衣服,顺势爬上我胸口.我虽然恨不得一拳把它揍死,可是这时候,我还是不敢动手,一则是因为我想起自己早先犯下的罪过,而主要的原因还在于——索性让我说明吧——我对这畜生害怕极了.
  
楼主嬴容玥 时间:2007-11-06 10:19:25
   这层害怕倒不是生怕皮肉受苦,可是要想说个清楚倒也为难.我简直羞于承认——唉,即使如今身在死牢,我也简直羞于承认,这猫引起我的恐惧竟由于可以想象到的纯粹幻觉而更加厉害了.我妻子不止一次要我留神看这片白毛的斑记.想必各位还记得,我上面提过,这只怪猫跟我杀掉的那只猫,唯一明显的不同地方就是这片斑记.想必各位还记得,我说过这斑记大虽大,原来倒是很模糊的,可是逐渐逐渐的,不知不觉中竟明显了,终于现出一个一清二楚的轮廓来了.好久以来我的理智一直不肯承认,竭力把这当成幻觉.这时那斑记竟成了一样东西,我一提起这东西的名称就不由浑身发毛.正因如此,我对这怪物特别厌恶和惧怕,要是我有胆量的话,早把它干掉了.我说呀,原来这东西是个吓人的幻象,是个恐怖东西的幻象——一个绞刑台!哎呀,这是多么可悲,多么可怕的刑具啊!这是恐怖的刑具,正法的刑具!这是叫人受罪的刑具,送人死命的刑具呀!
  
    这时我真落到要多倒霉有多倒霉的地步了.我行若无事的杀害了一只没有理性的畜生.它的同类,一只没有理性的畜生竟对我——一个按照上帝形象创造出来的人,带来那么多不堪忍受的灾祸!哎呀!无论白天,还是黑夜,我再也不得安宁了!在白天里,这畜生片刻都不让我单独太太平平的;到了黑夜,我时时刻刻都从说不出有多可怕的噩梦中惊醒,一看总见这东西在我脸上喷着热气,我心头永远压着这东西的千钧棒,丝毫也摆脱不了这一个具体的梦魇!
  
    我身受这般痛苦的煎熬,心里仅剩的一点善性也丧失了.邪念竟成了我唯一的内心活动,转来转去都是极为卑鄙龌龊的邪恶念头.我脾气向来就喜怒无常,如今发展到痛恨一切事,痛恨一切人了.我盲目放任自己,往往动不动就突然发火,管也管不住.哎呀!经常遭殃,逆来顺受的就数我那毫无怨言的妻子了.
  
    由于家里穷,我们只好住在一栋老房子里.有一天,为了点家务事,她陪着我到这栋老房子的地窖里去.这猫也跟着我走下那陡峭的梯阶,差点儿害得我摔了个倒栽葱,气得我直发疯.我抡起斧头,盛怒中忘了自己对这猫还怀有幼稚的恐惧,对准这猫一斧砍下去,要是当时真按我心意砍下去,不消说,这猫当场就完蛋了.谁知,我妻子伸出手来一把攥住我.我正在火头上,给她这一拦,格外暴跳如雷,趁势挣脱胳膊,对准她脑壳就砍了一斧.可怜她哼也没哼一声就当场送了命.
  
    干完了这件伤天害理的杀人勾当,我就索性细细盘算藏匿尸首的事了.我知道无论白天,还是黑夜,要把尸首搬出去,难免要给左邻右舍撞见,我心里想起了不少计划.一会儿我想把尸首剁成小块烧掉,来个毁尸灭迹.一会儿我到院子中的井里去.还打算把尸首当作货物装箱,按照常规,雇个脚夫把它搬出去.末了,我忽然想出一条自忖的万全良策.我打定主意把尸首砌进地窖的墙里,据传说,中世纪的僧侣就是这样把殉道者砌进墙里的.
  
    这个地窖派这个用处真是再合适也没有了.墙壁结构很松,新近刚用粗灰泥全部刷新过,因为地窖里潮湿,灰泥至今还没有干燥.而且有堵墙因为有个假壁炉而矗出一块,已经填没了,做得跟地窖别的部分一模一样.我可以不费什么手脚的把这地方的墙砖挖开,将尸首塞进去,再照旧把墙完全砌上,这样包管什么人都看不出破绽来.
  
    这个主意果然不错.我用了一根铁撬,一下子就撬掉砖墙,再仔仔细细把尸首贴着里边的夹墙放好,让它撑着不掉下来,然后没费半点事就把墙照原样砌上.我弄来了石灰,黄沙和乱发,做好一切准备,我就配调了一种跟旧灰泥分别不出的新灰泥,小心翼翼的把它涂抹在新砌的砖墙上.等我完了事,看到一切顺当才放了心.这堵墙居然一点都看不出动过土的痕迹来.地上落下的垃圾也仔仔细细的收拾干净了.我得意洋洋的朝四下看看,不由暗自说,"这下子到底没有白忙啊!”
  
    接下来我就要寻找替我招来那么些灾害的祸根;我终于横下一条心来.不料我刚才大发雷霆的时候,那个鬼精灵见势不妙就溜了,眼下当着我这股火性,自然不敢露脸.这只讨厌的畜生终于不在了.我心头压着的这块大石头也终于放下了,这股深深的乐劲儿实在无法形容,也无法想象.到了夜里,这猫还没露脸,这样,自从这猫上我家以来,我至少终于太太平平的酣睡了一夜.哎呀,尽管我心灵上压着杀人害命的重担,我还是睡着了.
  
楼主嬴容玥 时间:2007-11-06 10:20:51
   过了第二天,又过了第三天,这只折磨人的猫还没来.我才重新象个自由人那样呼吸.这只鬼猫吓得从屋里逃走了,一去不回了!眼不见为净,这份乐趣就甭提有多大了!尽管我犯下滔天大罪,但心里竟没有什么不安.官府来调查过几次,我三言两语就把他们搪塞过去了.甚至还来抄过一次家,可当然查不出半点线索来.我就此认为前途安然无忧了.
  
    到了我杀妻的第四天,不料屋里突然闯来了一帮警察,又动手严密的搜查了一番.不过,我自恃藏尸地方隐蔽,他们绝对料不到,所以一点也不感到慌张.那些警察命我陪同他们搜查.他们连一个角落也不放过.搜到第三遍第四遍,他们终于走下地窖.我泰然自若,毫不动容.平生不做亏心事,半夜敲门心不惊,我一颗心如此平静.我在地窖里从这头走到那头.胸前抱着双臂,若无其事的走来走去.警察完全放了心,正准备要走.我心花怒放,乐不可支.为了表示得意,我恨不得开口说话,哪怕说一句也好,这样就更可以叫他们放心的相信我无罪了.
  
    这些人刚走上梯阶,我终于开了口。”诸位先生,承蒙你们脱了我的嫌疑,我感激不尽.谨向你们请安了,还望多多关照.诸位先生,顺便说一句,这屋子结构很牢固。”我一时头脑发昏,随心所欲的信口胡说,简直连自己都不知道说了些什么。”这栋屋子可以说结构好得不得了.这几堵墙——诸位先生,想走了吗?——-这几堵墙砌得很牢固。”说到这里,我一时昏了头,故做姿态,竟然拿起手里一根棒,使劲敲着竖放我爱妻遗骸的那堵砖墙.
  
    哎吆,求主保佑,把我从恶魔虎口中拯救出来吧!我敲墙的回响余音未寂,就听得墓冢里发出一下声音!——一下哭声,开头瓮声瓮气,断断续续,象个小孩在抽泣,随即一下子变成连续不断的高声长啸,声音异常,惨绝人寰——这是一声哀号——一声悲鸣,半似恐怖,半似得意,,只有堕入地狱的受罪冤魂痛苦的惨叫,和魔鬼见了冤魂遭受天罚的欢呼打成一片,才跟这声音差不离.
  
    要说说我当时的想法未免荒唐可笑.我昏头昏脑,踉踉跄跄的走到那堵墙边.梯阶上那些警察大惊失色,吓得要命,一时呆若木鸡.过了一会儿,就见十来条粗壮的胳膊忙着拆墙.那堵墙整个倒下来.那具尸体已经腐烂不堪,凝满血块,赫然直立在大家眼前.尸体头部上就坐着那只可怕的畜生,张开血盆大口,独眼里冒着火.它捣了鬼,诱使我杀了妻子,如今又用唤声报了警,把我送到刽子手的手里.原来我把这怪物砌进墓墙里去了!
  
楼主嬴容玥 时间:2007-11-06 10:22:08
  英文版
  
  THE BLACK CAT
  
  
  by Edgar Allan Poe
  (1843)
  
  
   FOR the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet, mad am I not --and very surely do I not dream. But to-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburthen my soul. My immediate purpose is to place before the world, plainly, succinctly, and without comment, a series of mere household events. In their consequences, these events have terrified --have tortured --have destroyed me. Yet I will not attempt to expound them. To me, they have presented little but Horror --to many they will seem less terrible than baroques. Hereafter, perhaps, some intellect may be found which will reduce my phantasm to the common-place --some intellect more calm, more logical, and far less excitable than my own, which will perceive, in the circumstances I detail with awe, nothing more than an ordinary succession of very natural causes and effects.
  
   From my infancy I was noted for the docility and humanity of my disposition. My tenderness of heart was even so conspicuous as to make me the jest of my companions. I was especially fond of animals, and was indulged by my parents with a great variety of pets. With these I spent most of my time, and never was so happy as when feeding and caressing them. This peculiar of character grew with my growth, and in my manhood, I derived from it one of my principal sources of pleasure. To those who have cherished an affection for a faithful and sagacious dog, I need hardly be at the trouble of explaining the nature or the intensity of the gratification thus derivable. There is something in the unselfish and self-sacrificing love of a brute, which goes directly to the heart of him who has had frequent occasion to test the paltry friendship and gossamer fidelity of mere Man.
  
   I married early, and was happy to find in my wife a disposition not uncongenial with my own. Observing my partiality for domestic pets, she lost no opportunity of procuring those of the most agreeable kind. We had birds, gold fish, a fine dog, rabbits, a small monkey, and a cat.
   This latter was a remarkably large and beautiful animal, entirely black, and sagacious to an astonishing degree. In speaking of his intelligence, my wife, who at heart was not a little tinctured with superstition, made frequent allusion to the ancient popular notion, which regarded all black cats as witches in disguise. Not that she was ever serious upon this point --and I mention the matter at all for no better reason than that it happens, just now, to be remembered.
  
   Pluto --this was the cat’s name --was my favorite pet and playmate. I alone fed him, and he attended me wherever I went about the house. It was even with difficulty that I could prevent him from following me through the streets.
   Our friendship lasted, in this manner, for several years, during which my general temperament and character --through the instrumentality of the Fiend Intemperance --had (I blush to confess it) experienced a radical alteration for the worse. I grew, day by day, more moody, more irritable, more regardless of the feelings of others. I suffered myself to use intemperate language to my At length, I even offered her personal violence. My pets, of course, were made to feel the change in my disposition. I not only neglected, but ill-used them. For Pluto, however, I still retained sufficient regard to restrain me from maltreating him, as I made no scruple of maltreating the rabbits, the monkey, or even the dog, when by accident, or through affection, they came in my way. But my disease grew upon me --for what disease is like Alcohol! --and at length even Pluto, who was now becoming old, and consequently somewhat peevish --even Pluto began to experience the effects of my ill temper.
楼主嬴容玥 时间:2007-11-06 10:23:03
  One night, returning home, much intoxicated, from one of my haunts about town, I fancied that the cat avoided my presence. I seized him; when, in his fright at my violence, he inflicted a slight wound upon my hand with his teeth. The fury of a demon instantly possessed me. I knew myself no longer. My original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body; and a more than fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fibre of my frame. I took from my waistcoat-pocket a pen-knife, opened it, grasped the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket! I blush, I burn, I shudder, while I pen the damnable atrocity.
  
   When reason returned with the morning --when I had slept off the fumes of the night’s debauch --I experienced a sentiment half of horror, half of remorse, for the crime of which I had been guilty; but it was, at best, a feeble and equivocal feeling, and the soul remained untouched. I again plunged into excess, and soon drowned in wine all memory of the deed.
  
   In the meantime the cat slowly recovered. The socket of the lost eye presented, it is true, a frightful appearance, but he no longer appeared to suffer any pain. He went about the house as usual, but, as might be expected, fled in extreme terror at my approach. I had so much of my old heart left, as to be at first grieved by this evident dislike on the part of a creature which had once so loved me. But this feeling soon gave place to irritation. And then came, as if to my final and irrevocable overthrow, the spirit of PERVERSENESS. Of this spirit philosophy takes no account. Yet I am not more sure that my soul lives, than I am that perverseness is one of the primitive impulses of the human heart --one of the indivisible primary faculties, or sentiments, which give direction to the character of Man. Who has not, a hundred times, found himself committing a vile or a silly action, for no other reason than because he knows he should not? Have we not a perpetual inclination, in the teeth of our best judgment, to violate that which is Law, merely because we understand it to be such? This spirit of perverseness, I say, came to my final overthrow. It was this unfathomable longing of the soul to vex itself --to offer violence to its own nature --to do wrong for the wrong’s sake only --that urged me to continue and finally to consummate the injury I had inflicted upon the unoffending brute. One morning, in cool blood, I slipped a noose about its neck and hung it to the limb of a tree; --hung it with the tears streaming from my eyes, and with the bitterest remorse at my heart; --hung it because I knew that it had loved me, and because I felt it had given me no reason of offence; --hung it because I knew that in so doing I was committing a sin --a deadly sin that would so jeopardize my immortal soul as to place it --if such a thing were possible --even beyond the reach of the infinite mercy of the Most Merciful and Most Terrible God.
  
   On the night of the day on which this cruel deed was done, I was aroused from sleep by the cry of fire. The curtains of my bed were in flames. The whole house was blazing. It was with great difficulty that my wife, a servant, and myself, made our escape from the conflagration. The destruction was complete. My entire worldly wealth was swallowed up, and I resigned myself thenceforward to despair.
  
楼主嬴容玥 时间:2007-11-06 10:26:47
  I am above the weakness of seeking to establish a sequence of cause and effect, between the disaster and the atrocity. But I am detailing a chain of facts --and wish not to leave even a possible link imperfect. On the day succeeding the fire, I visited the ruins. The walls, with one exception, had fallen in. This exception was found in a compartment wall, not very thick, which stood about the middle of the house, and against which had rested the head of my bed. The plastering had here, in great measure, resisted the action of the fire --a fact which I attributed to its having been recently spread. About this wall a dense crowd were collected, and many persons seemed to be examining a particular portion of it with every minute and eager attention. The words "strange!" "singular!" and other similar expressions, excited my curiosity. I approached and saw, as if graven in bas relief upon the white surface, the figure of a gigantic cat. The impression was given with an accuracy truly marvellous. There was a rope about the animal’s neck.
  
   When I first beheld this apparition --for I could scarcely regard it as less --my wonder and my terror were extreme. But at length reflection came to my aid. The cat, I remembered, had been hung in a garden adjacent to the house. Upon the alarm of fire, this garden had been immediately filled by the crowd --by some one of whom the animal must have been cut from the tree and thrown, through an open window, into my chamber. This had probably been done with the view of arousing me from sleep. The falling of other walls had compressed the victim of my cruelty into the substance of the freshly-spread plaster; the lime of which, had then with the flames, and the ammonia from the carcass, accomplished the portraiture as I saw it.
  
   Although I thus readily accounted to my reason, if not altogether to my conscience, for the startling fact ’just detailed, it did not the less fall to make a deep impression upon my fancy. For months I could not rid myself of the phantasm of the cat; and, during this period, there came back into my spirit a half-sentiment that seemed, but was not, remorse. I went so far as to regret the loss of the animal, and to look about me, among the vile haunts which I now habitually frequented, for another pet of the same species, and of somewhat similar appearance, with which to supply its place.
  
   One night as I sat, half stupefied, in a den of more than infamy, my attention was suddenly drawn to some black object, reposing upon the head of one of the immense hogsheads of Gin, or of Rum, which constituted the chief furniture of the apartment. I had been looking steadily at the top of this hogshead for some minutes, and what now caused me surprise was the fact that I had not sooner perceived the object thereupon. I approached it, and touched it with my hand. It was a black cat --a very large one --fully as large as Pluto, and closely resembling him in every respect but one. Pluto had not a white hair upon any portion of his body; but this cat had a large, although indefinite splotch of white, covering nearly the whole region of the breast.
  
楼主嬴容玥 时间:2007-11-06 10:27:41
  Upon my touching him, he immediately arose, purred loudly, rubbed against my hand, and appeared delighted with my notice. This, then, was the very creature of which I was in search. I at once offered to purchase it of the landlord; but this person made no claim to it --knew nothing of it --had never seen it before.
  
   I continued my caresses, and, when I prepared to go home, the animal evinced a disposition to accompany me. I permitted it to do so; occasionally stooping and patting it as I proceeded. When it reached the house it domesticated itself at once, and became immediately a great favorite with my wife.
  
   For my own part, I soon found a dislike to it arising within me. This was just the reverse of what I had anticipated; but I know not how or why it was --its evident fondness for myself rather disgusted and annoyed. By slow degrees, these feelings of disgust and annoyance rose into the bitterness of hatred. I avoided the creature; a certain sense of shame, and the remembrance of my former deed of cruelty, preventing me from physically abusing it. I did not, for some weeks, strike, or otherwise violently ill use it; but gradually --very gradually --I came to look upon it with unutterable loathing, and to flee silently from its odious presence, as from the breath of a pestilence.
   What added, no doubt, to my hatred of the beast, was the discovery, on the morning after I brought it home, that, like Pluto, it also had been deprived of one of its eyes. This circumstance, however, only endeared it to my wife, who, as I have already said, possessed, in a high degree, that humanity of feeling which had once been my distinguishing trait, and the source of many of my simplest and purest pleasures.
  
   With my aversion to this cat, however, its partiality for myself seemed to increase. It followed my footsteps with a pertinacity which it would be difficult to make the reader comprehend. Whenever I sat, it would crouch beneath my chair, or spring upon my knees, covering me with its loathsome caresses. If I arose to walk it would get between my feet and thus nearly throw me down, or, fastening its long and sharp claws in my dress, clamber, in this manner, to my breast. At such times, although I longed to destroy it with a blow, I was yet withheld from so doing, partly it at by a memory of my former crime, but chiefly --let me confess it at once --by absolute dread of the beast.
  
   This dread was not exactly a dread of physical evil-and yet I should be at a loss how otherwise to define it. I am almost ashamed to own --yes, even in this felon’s cell, I am almost ashamed to own --that the terror and horror with which the animal inspired me, had been heightened by one of the merest chimaeras it would be possible to conceive. My wife had called my attention, more than once, to the character of the mark of white hair, of which I have spoken, and which constituted the sole visible difference between the strange beast and the one I had y si destroyed. The reader will remember that this mark, although large, had been originally very indefinite; but, by slow degrees --degrees nearly imperceptible, and which for a long time my Reason struggled to reject as fanciful --it had, at length, assumed a rigorous distinctness of outline. It was now the representation of an object that I shudder to name --and for this, above all, I loathed, and dreaded, and would have rid myself of the monster had I dared --it was now, I say, the image of a hideous --of a ghastly thing --of the GALLOWS! --oh, mournful and terrible engine of Horror and of Crime --of Agony and of Death!
  
楼主嬴容玥 时间:2007-11-06 10:28:42
  And now was I indeed wretched beyond the wretchedness of mere Humanity. And a brute beast --whose fellow I had contemptuously destroyed --a brute beast to work out for me --for me a man, fashioned in the image of the High God --so much of insufferable wo! Alas! neither by day nor by night knew I the blessing of Rest any more! During the former the creature left me no moment alone; and, in the latter, I started, hourly, from dreams of unutterable fear, to find the hot breath of the thing upon my face, and its vast weight --an incarnate Night-Mare that I had no power to shake off --incumbent eternally upon my heart!
  
   Beneath the pressure of torments such as these, the feeble remnant of the good within me succumbed. Evil thoughts became my sole intimates --the darkest and most evil of thoughts. The moodiness of my usual temper increased to hatred of all things and of all mankind; while, from the sudden, frequent, and ungovernable outbursts of a fury to which I now blindly abandoned myself, my uncomplaining wife, alas! was the most usual and the most patient of sufferers.
  
   One day she accompanied me, upon some household errand, into the cellar of the old building which our poverty compelled us to inhabit. The cat followed me down the steep stairs, and, nearly throwing me headlong, exasperated me to madness. Uplifting an axe, and forgetting, in my wrath, the childish dread which had hitherto stayed my hand, I aimed a blow at the animal which, of course, would have proved instantly fatal had it descended as I wished. But this blow was arrested by the hand of my wife. Goaded, by the interference, into a rage more than demoniacal, I withdrew my arm from her grasp and buried the axe in her brain. She fell dead upon the spot, without a groan.
  
   This hideous murder accomplished, I set myself forthwith, and with entire deliberation, to the task of concealing the body. I knew that I could not remove it from the house, either by day or by night, without the risk of being observed by the neighbors. Many projects entered my mind. At one period I thought of cutting the corpse into minute fragments, and destroying them by fire. At another, I resolved to dig a grave for it in the floor of the cellar. Again, I deliberated about casting it in the well in the yard --about packing it in a box, as if merchandize, with the usual arrangements, and so getting a porter to take it from the house. Finally I hit upon what I considered a far better expedient than either of these. I determined to wall it up in the cellar --as the monks of the middle ages are recorded to have walled up their victims.
  
   For a purpose such as this the cellar was well adapted. Its walls were loosely constructed, and had lately been plastered throughout with a rough plaster, which the dampness of the atmosphere had prevented from hardening. Moreover, in one of the walls was a projection, caused by a false chimney, or fireplace, that had been filled up, and made to resemble the rest of the cellar. I made no doubt that I could readily displace the at this point, insert the corpse, and wall the whole up as before, so that no eye could detect anything suspicious.
  
楼主嬴容玥 时间:2007-11-06 10:29:58
  And in this calculation I was not deceived. By means of a crow-bar I easily dislodged the bricks, and, having carefully deposited the body against the inner wall, I propped it in that position, while, with little trouble, I re-laid the whole structure as it originally stood. Having procured mortar, sand, and hair, with every possible precaution, I prepared a plaster could not every poss be distinguished from the old, and with this I very carefully went over the new brick-work. When I had finished, I felt satisfied that all was right. The wall did not present the slightest appearance of having been disturbed. The rubbish on the floor was picked up with the minutest care. I looked around triumphantly, and said to myself --"Here at least, then, my labor has not been in vain."
  
   My next step was to look for the beast which had been the cause of so much wretchedness; for I had, at length, firmly resolved to put it to death. Had I been able to meet with it, at the moment, there could have been no doubt of its fate; but it appeared that the crafty animal had been alarmed at the violence of my previous anger, and forebore to present itself in my present mood. It is impossible to describe, or to imagine, the deep, the blissful sense of relief which the absence of the detested creature occasioned in my bosom. It did not make its appearance during the night --and thus for one night at least, since its introduction into the house, I soundly and tranquilly slept; aye, slept even with the burden of murder upon my soul!
  
   The second and the third day passed, and still my tormentor came not. Once again I breathed as a free-man. The monster, in terror, had fled the premises forever! I should behold it no more! My happiness was supreme! The guilt of my dark deed disturbed me but little. Some few inquiries had been made, but these had been readily answered. Even a search had been instituted --but of course nothing was to be discovered. I looked upon my future felicity as secured.
  
   Upon the fourth day of the assassination, a party of the police came, very unexpectedly, into the house, and proceeded again to make rigorous investigation of the premises. Secure, however, in the inscrutability of my place of concealment, I felt no embarrassment whatever. The officers bade me accompany them in their search. They left no nook or corner unexplored. At length, for the third or fourth time, they descended into the cellar. I quivered not in a muscle. My heart beat calmly as that of one who slumbers in innocence. I walked the cellar from end to end. I folded my arms upon my bosom, and roamed easily to and fro. The police were thoroughly satisfied and prepared to depart. The glee at my heart was too strong to be restrained. I burned to say if but one word, by way of triumph, and to render doubly sure their assurance of my guiltlessness.
  
   "Gentlemen," I said at last, as the party ascended the steps, "I delight to have allayed your suspicions. I wish you all health, and a little more courtesy. By the bye, gentlemen, this --this is a very well constructed house." (In the rabid desire to say something easily, I scarcely knew what I uttered at all.) --"I may say an excellently well constructed house. These walls --are you going, gentlemen? --these walls are solidly put together"; and here, through the mere phrenzy of bravado, I rapped heavily, with a cane which I held in my hand, upon that very portion of the brick-work behind which stood the corpse of the wife of my bosom.
  
   But may God shield and deliver me from the fangs of the Arch-Fiend! No sooner had the reverberation of my blows sunk into silence than I was answered by a voice from within the tomb! --by a cry, at first muffled and broken, like the sobbing of a child, and then quickly swelling into one long, loud, and continuous scream, utterly anomalous and inhuman --a howl --a wailing shriek, half of horror and half of triumph, such as might have arisen only out of hell, conjointly from the throats of the damned in their agony and of the demons that exult in the damnation.
  
   Of my own thoughts it is folly to speak. Swooning, I staggered to the opposite wall. For one instant the party upon the stairs remained motionless, through extremity of terror and of awe. In the next, a dozen stout arms were tolling at the wall. It fell bodily. The corpse, already greatly decayed and clotted with gore, stood erect before the eyes of the spectators. Upon its head, with red extended mouth and solitary eye of fire, sat the hideous beast whose craft had seduced me into murder, and whose informing voice had consigned me to the hangman. I had walled the monster up within the tomb!

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