فصل 03

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فصل 03

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CHAPTER 3

At the Scene of the Crime

The story of the murders in the Rue Morgue continued in the evening edition of the newspaper. “It says here that the police have arrested and imprisoned Adolphe Le Bon, the clerk from the bank,” I said.

“The Parisian police are clever, but no more than that,” Dupin replied. “There is no method in the way they work, other than the method of the moment. The results they get are surprising but most of the time they are obtained simply thanks to diligence and hard work. But when these qualities are not enough, their strategies fail. Vidocq, for example, was a good policeman. But he always made the same mistake. His investigations were always too intense. He couldn’t see clearly because he held the object too close. Perhaps he saw one or two details clearly but in doing this he couldn’t see the object as a whole. It is possible for an investigation to be too profound. The truth is not always at the bottom of a well. In fact, I believe that the truth is often at the surface of things.

“As for these murders,” Dupin continued, “we will go and see the house with our own eyes. I know the Police Commissioner.It will not be difficult to obtain permission.”

Dupin obtained permission and we went immediately to the Rue Morgue. It was late in the afternoon when we arrived at the house. It was an ordinary Parisian house. Before we went inside we walked around the building. Dupin examined the whole area with great attention. Then we entered the house.

We went upstairs, to the room where they had found the body of Mademoiselle L’Espanaye. To my surprise, the bodies of the two women were still there. Dupin examined everything including the dead bodies. We then went into the other rooms, accompanied by a policeman. We stayed in the house until it began to get dark. Then we began the journey home. On the way home Dupin stopped for a moment to visit the offices of one of the daily newspapers.

My companion did not speak about the murders again until about noon the next day.

“Did you notice anything peculiar at the scene of the murders?” he asked me.

“No, nothing peculiar.” I said. “Only the things I read about in the newspaper.”

“The newspapers know nothing!” he declared. “It seems to me that they consider this case insoluble for the very reason that renders it easy to solve. I mean the bizarre character of the murders. The police cannot understand the fact that there is no obvious motive for the atrocity of the murders. They are also confused by the angry voices because there was no one upstairs apart from the body of Mademoiselle L’Espanaye. And there was no way to leave the building apart from the stairs - the stairs that the investigating party of neighbours were going up. The disorder of the room; the incredible violence of the murders; the mutilation of the old lady’s body. These things are incomprehensible to the police. But the police have made a mistake. They think the case is difficult when in fact it is only very strange. In this case we must not ask ‘What has happened?’ We must ask ‘What has happened that has never happened before?’

I looked at Dupin in silent astonishment.

“I am waiting for a person to come here. I don’t think he is responsible for these terrible murders but he is involved in them in some way. I look for the man here - in this room - every moment. Perhaps he will not arrive but the probability is that he will.”

Dupin continued, looking at the wall as he spoke.

“We know that the witnesses heard two voices arguing and that these voices were not the voices of the victims. And if they are not the voices of the victims they must be - or one of them must be - the voice of the killer. Let us now consider the testimony. Did you notice anything peculiar about it?”

“Well, all the witnesses said the low voice was that of a Frenchman. But they all had different opinions about the other voice.”

“Yes, that was the testimony they gave. But it was not the peculiarity of the testimony. The witnesses, as you say, agree about the identity of the low voice. But regarding the high voice, the strange thing is not the fact that they disagreed. The strange thing is that each of them, an Englishman, a Spaniard, an Italian, a Hollander and a Frenchman thought it was the voice of a foreigner. They were all sure that it was not the voice of one of their countrymen. But each of these witnesses also says that the voice was speaking a language that they do not know.

The Frenchman says it was the voice of a Spaniard, but he does not speak Spanish. The Hollander does not speak French but says that the high voice was that of a Frenchman. The Englishman thinks that it was the voice of a German and does not understand German. The Spaniard is sure that it was the voice of an Englishman but he does not know English. The Italian believes that it was the voice of a Russian but he has never spoken to anyone from Russia.”

Dupin continued. “From these conflicting testimonies we can conclude that the voice was very strange. In addition, one witness says the voice is harsh rather than shrill. And two others say it is quick and unequal. No witness could distinguish any words it said.

“I do not know,” continued Dupin, “if this is easy for you to understand, but I tell you now that the part of the testimony regarding the two voices is enough to enable us to find the solution to this mystery

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