فصل 04

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فصل 04

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CHAPTER 4

The Mystery Unfolds

Dupin continued, “Let us now imagine that we are in the room in the Rue Morgue. What is the first thing we should look for? The way the murderers escaped. Madame L’Espanaye and her daughter were not killed by ghosts. So how did the murderers escape? Let us now examine the possible means of exit. One thing is clear. When the party came up the stairs, the assassins were either in the room where they found Mademoiselle L’Espanaye or the room next to it. So we have only two rooms to look for exits. The police have made a complete search of the apartment. But when we were there, I decided to make my own search.

“Both doors going from the rooms into the corridor were locked with the keys inside. Then there are the chimneys. As we have already seen, these are too small to permit a person to climb up them. In fact they are too small to permit a cat to climb up them. So the only possible exit that remains are the windows. The murderers couldn’t escape through the windows at the front of the house because somebody in the street would see them. Therefore they passed through the windows in the back room.

“There are two windows in this room. One of them is completely visible. I examined this window and found that it was nailed shut. It was impossible to raise it. Then I examined the other window. It too was nailed shut. The police concluded from this that the murderers did not use the windows to escape. Even if they did manage to raise the windows they could not replace the nail again from the outside. So the police did not even try to remove the nail from the second window. But I knew that the windows were the only means of exit.

“I went to the first window and with difficulty I took the nail out. Once the nail was out it was easy to raise the window. But the police were right. It was impossible to replace this nail from the outside. Then I turned to the other window. It looked exactly the same as the first. Once again I pulled the nail. But when I took it out. I saw that what I had in my hand was only a part of the nail. I raised the window and saw that the bottom part of the nail remained in the window sill. The nail was broken and I saw that the fracture was very old. Now I understood everything. This window only appeared to be locked. And when the assassins closed it from the outside, the nail once again appeared secure. The police didn’t see this because they didn’t try the second window. They assumed from its appearance that it too was securely locked.

“The next question is how the murderers got down from the fourth floor to the ground. Before we went up to Madame L’Espanaye’s apartment, I had a walk around the building. Less than two metres from the window I have just spoken about, there is a lightning rod which runs to the ground. From this rod it is impossible to reach the window itself. But then there are the shutters on the windows. These shutters are very interesting. They are in the form of a single door, but the top part is composed of horizontal wooden bars which provide excellent hand-holds. Each shutter is about a metre wide, which means that if it is extended fully back to the wall, the shutter of our window is less than a metre from the lightning rod. It is possible that someone with great strength and agility could jump from the lightning rod to the shutter. Then he could use his feet to push himself from the wall and close the shutter. And if the window was open he could even enter the room.

“But after all I have said, I want you to consider the extraordinary agility necessary to do this. It is possible but - and here is the important point - you would need to have an almost animal-like agility to do it.

“Now we must put together the two peculiar facts we have. The first is this act of animal-like agility that I have just spoken about. The second is the extremely peculiar voice that the witnesses spoke about, the voice that was both shrill and harsh, and also unequal. And of course you remember that none of the witnesses could agree about its country of origin.”

At that point I felt that I almost understood what Dupin was saying but I could not make the final connection.

“You see,” Dupin continued, “that I have moved the focus of my investigation from how the assassins got out to how they got in. Because I believe they used the same route in both cases. But now let us consider the inside of the apartment. Here, the peculiar thing is why the assassins did not take the gold. Almost all the 4,000 francs that Monsieur Mignaud talked about were in bags on the floor. This money cannot be the motive. It is simply a coincidence that the money was delivered to the house on the same day as the murders. Stranger coincidences than this happen every day of our lives. If the gold was the real motive, then the murderer must be a complete idiot. It is impossible to believe that after murdering the two women, he forgot to take the gold.

“So now we have three points: the strange voice, the incredible agility and the absence of any motive for the murders.”

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