فصل 02

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فصل 02

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CHAPTER 2

The Testimonies

The next day’s paper had the following additional details:

The Tragedy of the Rue Morgue.

Police have questioned many individuals about this horrible incident. The truth behind the murders, however, still remains a mystery.

Below we have printed the testimonies of the neighbours and witnesses:

Pauline Dubourg, Madame L’Espanaye’s laundress, says that she has known both the victims for three years. The old lady and her daughter seemed to have a good relationship. They were very affectionate to each other. They paid her very well. She didn’t know what Madame L’Espanaye’s job was. She never met anyone in the house when she came for the washing. They didn’t have a servant. There was no furniture in the building apart from that in the fourth floor apartment where they lived.

Pierre Moreau, tobacconist, says that he has sold tobacco to Madame L’Espanaye for almost four years. He was born in the area and has always lived there. The victims moved to the house six years ago. The two of them lived a very quiet life. He believed they had money. The only people who entered the house were the old lady and her daughter, a porter once or twice and a doctor eight or ten times.

Other neighbours said similar things. There were never any visitors to the house. Nobody knew if Madame L’Espanaye had any relatives. The shutters of the front windows were usually closed and those on the windows at the back of the house were always closed with one exception: the large room at the back on the fourth floor. It was a good house and wasn’t very old.

Isidore Muset, policeman, says that someone called him and told him to go to the house. There he found about twenty or thirty people at the gates. They were trying to get in. He opened the gates easily with a piece of metal. The screams continued until the gates were open. Then they stopped. They seemed to be screams of a person (or people) in great agony. They were loud and long. The party went upstairs. From the first floor they could hear two voices. They seemed to be arguing. One was quite low, the other much higher - a very strange voice. The first voice was that of a Frenchman. Not a woman. The other voice was that of a foreigner but he could not tell if it was a man or a woman. He thought the language was Spanish but Mr Muset does not speak Spanish.

Henri Duval a neighbour, says that he was one of the party who first entered the house. In general he agrees with the testimony of Muset. But he thinks that the high voice was that of an Italian although he does not speak Italian. He is certain it was not French. He could not be sure that it was a man’s voice. Possibly a woman. He knew Madame L’Espanaye and her daughter. He was sure that the high voice did not belong to either of them.

Monsieur Odenheimer, restaurant owner, comes from Amsterdam and does not speak French. He was passing the house when he heard the screams. They lasted for about ten minutes. He was one of those who entered the building. But he was sure that the high voice was that of a man - a Frenchman. He didn’t know what it was saying. The words were loud and quick, spoken in fear and some anger. The voice was harsh. The low voice said several times “Heaven help us!” and once “My God”.

Adolphe Le Bon, clerk to Mignaud and Son, says that at 12 noon he accompanied Madame L’Espanaye to her house with the 4,000 francs in two bags. He did not see anyone in the street at that time.

William Bird, tailor, is an Englishman. He has lived in Paris for two years. He was one of the first to go up the stairs. He heard the voices and also a sound, like the sound of people fighting. The shrill voice was very loud. He believes it was German although he does not speak the language. Perhaps the voice of a woman.

Four of the above-named witnesses also said that the door of the room where they found the body of Mademoiselle L’Espanaye was locked from the inside. Everything was perfectly silent. When they opened the door there was nobody there. The windows of both the back and front room were closed and locked from inside. A door between the two rooms was closed but not locked. The door from the front room into the corridor was locked with the key on the inside. A small room in the front of the house at the end of the corridor was open. This room was full of old beds and boxes. The police searched the whole house.

Some of the witnesses say that only three minutes passed between the time they heard the angry voices and the moment they forced the door of the room. Others think the interval was as long as five minutes.

Alfonso Garcia, undertaker, says that he lives in the Rue Morgue. He was one of the party who entered the house but he did not go upstairs. He was too afraid. He heard the voices arguing but he could not hear what they said. The low voice was that of a Frenchman. The high voice was an Englishman. He is sure of this although he does not understand English.

Alberto Montanit baker, says he was one of the first to go upstairs. He heard the voices clearly. The low voice was that of a Frenchman. He thinks that the shrill voice was speaking Russian. He has never spoken to anyone from Russia.

Several witnesses said that the chimneys of all the rooms on the fourth floor were too small for a human being to enter them. The apartment had no back door for a killer to make his escape while the party were coming up the stairs. The body of Mademoiselle L’Espanaye was so firmly pushed up the chimney that it took four or five of the party to remove it.

Paul Dumas, doctor, says that he saw the bodies in the early morning. They were both lying in the room where the daughter was found. The young lady’s body was covered in cuts and bruises. The throat was greatly marked. The face was discoloured and the tongue was partially bitten through. According to M. Dumas, the girl’s death was the result of strangulation. The body of the mother was horribly mutilated. All the bones of the right arm were broken. The whole body was badly bruised and discoloured. It was not possible to say what the cause of these injuries was. Possibly a heavy wooden club or an iron bar or a chair. Any large, heavy object could produce these results in the hands of a powerful man. But it would be impossible for a woman. The head of the old lady was separate from the body. Her throat was cut, probably with a razor.

This is the strangest murder case that Paris has ever seen. As usual, the police know nothing. But there is not one single clue to help them.

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