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The Black Cat

by Edgar Allan Poe




FOR the most wild, yet most homely fortelling which I am about to write, I neither await nor ask for belief. Mad indeed would I be to await it, in a [case] where my own bodyfeelings forwarp their own word. Yet, mad am I not -- and mighty wisly do I not dream. But to-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburden my soul. My sake now is to put before the world, clearly, shortly, and without underquote, a stream of [mere] household happenings. In their aftermaths, these happenings have frightened -- have forpined -- have torn me down. Yet I will not forseek to flesh them out. To me, they have showed little but Dread -- to many they will seem less dreadful than [baroques]. Hereafter, maybe, some mind may be found which will lessen my ghost to the everyday-spot -- some mind more cool, more flitcrafty, and far less thrillable than my own, which will onget, in the happenings I tinymark with awe, nothing more than an everyday afterfollowing of pretty lundish werthes and outworkings.

From my childhood I was taken heed of for the meekness and mennishness of my mindframe. My softness of heart was even so kenspeckle as to make me the prank of my friends. I was sunderly fond of wights, and was [indulged] by my elders with a great sundriness of pets. With these I spent most of my time, and never was so happy as when feeding and fondling them. This oddness of selfsuchness grew with my growth, and, in my manhood, I sprung from it one of my main wellsprings of quemeness. To those who have held dear a fondness for a trothen and witty dog, I need hardly be at the reck of sweetling the lund or the strenght of the aftergladness thus [derivable]. There is something in the unselfish and self-blooting love of a fiend, which goes right to the heart of him who has had often sele to forseek the worthless friendship and flimsy troth of [mere] Man.

I wed early, and was happy to find in my wife a mindmood not unwell-matched with my own. Underlooking my fondness for household pets, she lost no [opportunity] of beshaping those of the most quemely kind. We had birds, gold-fish, a fine dog, robs, a small ape, and a cat.

This latter was a edmarkably big and fair wight, fully black, and witty to an amazing height. In speaking of his brightness, my wife, who at heart was not a little filled with tokenbelief, made often bespeaking to the olden folkish belief, which thought of all black cats as witches in [disguise]. Not that she was ever earnest upon this tip -- and I speak of the [matter] at all for no better orsake than that it happens, just now, to be called to mind.

Pluto -- this was the cat's name -- was my most liked pet and playmate. I alone fed him, and he beglided me wherever I went about the house. It was even with hardness that I could forehalt him from following me through the streets.

Our friendship lasted, in this way, for many years, bewhile which my overall mindframe and selfsuchness -- through the [instrumentality] of the Fiend Unfetter -- had (I blush to beken it) underwent an utmost shift for the worse. I grew, day by day, more moody, more irkable, more uncaring to the feelings of others. I thrawed myself to note unfettered tongue to my wife. At length, I even agave her monnly hestness. My pets, wisly, were made to feel the shift in my mindmood. I not only forslacked, but ill-noted them. For Pluto, however, I still kept enough fondness to fetter me from manhandling him, as I made no misgiving of manhandling the robs, the ape, or even the dog, when by mishappening, or through fondness, they came in my way. But my sickness grew upon me -- for what sickness is like Booze! -- and at length even Pluto, who was now becoming old, and aftermathly somewhat irksome -- even Pluto began to undergo the outworkings of my ill mood.

One night, coming back home, much drunk, from one of my ghostings about town, I believed that the cat shunned my bybe. I grabbed him; when, in his fright at my hestness, he wreaked a slight wound upon my hand with his teeth. The wrath of a hellfiend bewitched me right away. I knew myself no longer. My fromthly soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body; and a more than fiendish evil will, booze-fostered, thrilled every thread of my frame. I took from my waistcoat-pock a writestick-knife, opened it, grasped the arm wight by the throat, and embthreedly carved one of its eyes from the eyehole! I blush, I burn, I shudder, while I write the ordealable harshness.

When rake came back with the morning -- when I had slept off the smokes of the night's drunken fetter -- I underwent a feeling half of dread, half of rue, for the misdeed of which I had been guilty; but it was, at best, a weak and twowordy feeling, and the soul bliven unrined. I again dived into overmuchness, and soon drowned in wine all inmind of the deed.

In the midtime the cat slowly upswung. The eyehole of the lost eye showed, it is true, frightful looks, but he no longer seemed to thraw any ache. He went about the house as everyday, but, as might be awaited, fled in utmost dread at my atstep. I had so much of my old heart left, as to be at first mourned by this wordy mislike on the [part] of a being which had once so loved me. But this feeling soon gave stead to irking. And then came, as if to my last and unshiftable overthrow, the soul of WICKEDNESS. Of this soul outlook takes no reckoning. Yet I am not more wis that my soul lives, than I am that wickedness is one of the raw whims of the mennish heart -- one of the unsplitable firstmost lorehalldeals, or feelings, which give warding to the selfsuchness of Man. Who has not, a hundred times, found himself doing a loathsome or a silly deed, for no other orsake than for he knows he should not? Have we not an ever leaning, in the teeth of our best deeming, to breach that which is Law, [merely] for we understand it to be such? This soul of wickedness, I say, came to my last overthrow. It was this unfathomable longing of the soul to abellow itself -- to agive hestness to its own lund -- to do wrong for the wrong's sake only -- that thrafed me to keep on and at last to fulfill the harm I had wreaked upon the unwrongdoing wight. One morning, in cold blood, I slipped a hangknot 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 rue at my heart; -- hung it for I knew that it had loved me, and since I felt it had given me no orsake of wrong doing; -- hung it for I knew that in so doing I was doing a sin -- a deadly sin that would so put in freech my undying soul as to put it -- if such a thing were maybesome -- even beyond the reach of the endless ruth of the Most Forgiving and Most Dreadful God.

On the night of the day on which this mean deed was done, I was awaken from sleep by the shout of fire. The hangclothes of my bed were on fire. The whole house was blazing. It was with great hardness that my wife, a housekeeper, and myself, made our getaway from the hellfire. The wreck was fullmade. My whole worldly wealth was swallowed up, and I guited myself thenceforward to wanhope.

I am above the weakness of seeking to set up a [sequence] of werthe and outworking, between the banefall and the outmadness. But I am tinymarking a stream of truths -- and wish not to leave even a maybesome link flawed. On the day after the fire, I besought the wreck. The walls, with one outstander, had fallen in. This outstander was found in a booth wall, not mighty thick, which stood about the middle of the house, and against which had rested the head of my bed. The limecoating had here, in great mete, withstood the deed of the fire -- a truth which I [attributed] to its having been newly spread. About this wall a thick crowd were gathered, and many folks seemed to be underseeking an ahone share of it with pretty narrow and keen heed. The words "weird!" "one of a kind!" and other alike saynesses, thrilled my knowkeenness. I atstepped and saw, as if graven in [bas relief] upon the white topside, the outstroke of an ettinish cat. The outworking was given with an arightness truly amazing. There was a rope about the wight's neck. When I first beheld this ghostly outstroke -- for I could scantly think of it as less -- my wonder and my dread were utmost. But at length backthinking came to my help. The cat, I edcalled, had been hung in a yard next to the house. Upon the upsetting of fire, this yard had been swithsoon filled by the crowd -- by some one of whom the wight must have been carved from the tree and thrown, through an open window, into my room. This had likely been done with the brighthope of awaking me from sleep. The falling of other walls had smashed the [victim] of my meaness into the andwork of the newly-spread limecoat; the lime of which, with the fire, and the hartshorn from the dead body, had then brought about the likeness as I saw it.

Although I thus readily sweetled to my rake, if not altogether to my inwit, for the startling truth just tinymarked, it did not the less forsay to make a deep outworking upon my dream. For months I could not rid myself of the ghost of the cat; and, bewhile this timespan, there came back into my soul a half-feeling that seemed, but was not, rue. I went so far as to rue the loss of the wight, and to look about me, among the loathsome ghostings which I now wonely often besought, for another pet of the same kind, and of somewhat alike looks, with which to fill up its stead.

One night as I sat, half bewildered, in a den of more than badname, my heed was suddenly drawn to some black gainstand, reposing upon the head of one of the overbig boozekegs of Gin, or of Rum, which made up the main roomware of the flat. I had been looking steadily at the top of this boozekeg for some shortlogs, and what now werthed me sudden hap was the truth that I had not sooner ongotten the gainstand thereupon. I atstepped it, and rined it with my hand. It was a black cat -- a pretty big one -- fully as big as Pluto, and nearly looking like him in every [respect] but one. Pluto had not a white hair upon any lot of his body; but this cat had a big, although unclear splotch of white, overlaying nearly the whole landship of the breast.

Upon my rining him, he woke up right away, purred loudly, rubbed against my hand, and seemed gladdened with my heed. This, then, was the true being of which I was in seeking. I at once agave to buy it of the landlord; but this lede made no ownership to it -- knew nothing of it -- had never seen it before.

I kept on my fondling, and, when I got ready to go home, the wight showed a mindframe to beglide me. I let it to do so; sometimes stooping and patting it as I forfared. When it reached the house it tamed itself at once, and became a great most liked with my wife right away.

For my own [part], I soon found a mislike to it arising within me. This was just the fornent of what I had foreseen; but -- I know not how or why it was -- its wordy fondness for myself rather fed up and irked. By slow steps, these feelings of foulness and irking rose into the bitterness of hatred. I shunned the being; some feeling of shame, and the [remembrance] of my former deed of meanness, forehalted me from bodily harming it. I did not, for some weeks, strike, or otherwise hestly ill note it; but little by little – pretty little by little -- I came to look upon it with unutterable loathing, and to flee stilly from its hateful bybe, as from the breath of a folkbane.

What eked, no ink, to my hatred of the wight, was the onfind, on the morning after I brought it home, that, like Pluto, it also had been stripped of one of its eyes. This happening, however, only indeared it to my wife, who, as I have already said, had, in a high height, that mennishness of feeling which had once been my [distinguishing] mark, and the wellspring of many of my onefoldest and cleanest quemenesses.

With my mislike to this cat, however, its fondness for myself seemed to rise. It followed my footsteps with a doggedness which it would be hard to make the reader understand. Whenever I sat, it would lie beneath my seat, or spring upon my knees, overlaying me with its loathsome fondling. 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 clothes, clamber, in this way, to my breast. At such times, although I longed to wreck it with a blow, I was yet withheld from so doing, bitly by an inmind of my former misdeed, but mainly -- let me beken it at once -- by utter dread of the wight.

This dread was not rightly a dread of earthy evil -- and yet I should be at a loss how otherwise to mark it off. I am almost ashamed to own -- yes, even in this outlaw's lockroom, I am almost ashamed to own -- that the affright and dread with which the wight besouled me, had been heightened by one of the [merest] [chimæras] it would be maybesome to forseed. My wife had called my heed, more than once, to the being of the mark of white hair, of which I have spoken, and which made up the only sightable unalikeness between the odd wight and the one I had wrecked. The reader will edcall that this mark, although big, had been at first pretty unclear; but, by slow steps -- steps nearly unheedable, and which for a long time my Rake struggled to forwarp as dreamy -- it had, at length, taken a thorough sharpness of outstroke. It was now the likeness of a gainstand that I shudder to name -- and for this, above all, I loathed, and dreaded, and would have rid myself of the fiend had I dared -- it was now, I say, the bilth of a hidesome -- of a ghastly thing -- of the GALLOWS! -- oh, mournful and dreadful gearwork of Dread and of Misdeed -- of Dretch and of Death!

And now was I indeed wretched beyond the wretchedness of [mere] Mennishness. And a wild wight -- whose fellow I had [contemptuously] wrecked -- a wild wight to work out for me -- for me a man, shaped in the bilth of the High God -- so much of unthrawable wo! Indeed! Neither by day nor by night knew I the blessing of Rest any more! Bewhile the former the being left me no blinktime alone; and, in the latter, I started, longlogy, from dreams of unutterable fear, to find the hot breath of the thing upon my leer, and its great weight -- an infleshed Night-Mare that I had no might to shake off -- lain forever upon my heart !

Beneath the thringmight of dretches such as these, the weak leftover of the good within me gave in. Evil thoughts became my only near friends -- the darkest and most evil of thoughts. The moodiness of my everyday mood rised to hatred of all things and of all mankind; while, from the sudden, often, and unwieldable outbursts of a wrath to which I now blindly forsook myself, my unwhining wife, indeed! Was the most often and the most thildy of thrawers.

One day she beglided me, upon some household errand, into the underground of the old building which our armth gared us to dwell in. The cat followed me down the steep stairs, and, nearly throwing me headlong, inbittered me to madness. Uplifting an axe, and forgetting, in my wrath, the childish dread which had hitherto lingered my hand, I got a bead on a blow at the wight which, wisly, would have [proved] eyeblinkly deadly had it came down as I wished. But this blow was halted by the hand of my wife. Goaded, by the tweencoming, into an anger more than hellfiendish, 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 killing brought about, I set myself forthwith, and with full embthreeding, to the undertaking of hiding the body. I knew that I could not take it out of the house, either by day or by night, without the gamble of being underlooked by the neighbors. Many goalworks got in my mind. At one timespan I thought of carving the dead body into tiny breakbits, and wrecking them by fire. At another, I made up my mind to dig a grave for it in the floor of the underground. Again, I embthreeded about casting it in the well in the yard -- about packing it in a crate, as if wares, with the everyday layouts, and so getting a loader to take it from the house. Finally I hit upon what I bethought as a far better way than either of these. I settled to wall it up in the underground -- as the monks of the middle times are [recorded] to have walled up their [victims].

For a sake such as this the underground was well [adapted]. Its walls were loosely built, and had lately been limecoated throughout with a rough limecoat, which the dampness of the welkin had forehalted from hardening. Moreover, in one of the walls was a lump, werthed by a fake [chimney], or firestead, that had been filled up, and made to look like the rest of the underground. I made no ink that I could readily uproot the bricks at this spot, put in the dead body, and wall the whole up as before, so that no eye could take heed of any thing shady.

And in this reckoning I was not misled. By [means] of a crowiron I softly uprooted the bricks, and, having carefully put the body against the inner wall, I propped it in that howstand, while, with little reck, I edlaid the whole framework as it first stood. Having beshapen brickstick, sand, and hair, with every maybesome forecare, I made a limecoat which could not be told from the old, and with this I pretty carefully went over the new brick-work. When I had fullcome, I felt slaked that all was right. The wall did not show the slightest look of having been dreefed. The trash on the floor was picked up with the tiniest care. I looked around winnerly, and said to myself -- "Here at least, then, my work has not been for nothing."

My next step was to look for the wight which had been the werthe of so much wretchedness; for I had, at length, fastly made up my mind to put it to death. Had I been able to meet with it, at the blinktime, there could have been no ink of its lot; but it seemed that the crafty wight had been upset at the hestness of my former anger, and forebore to show itself in my nowa mood. It is unmaybesome to bewrite, or to forestell, the deep, the blissful feeling of soothing which the dearth of the hated being seled in my bosom. It did not make its show-up bewhile the night -- and thus for one night at least, since its inleading into the house, I soundly and coolly slept; aye, slept even with the burden of killing upon my soul!

The twoth and the third day went by, and still my dretcher came not. Once again I breathed as a freeman. The fiend, in affright, had fled the grounds forever! I should behold it no more! My happiness was utmost! The guilt of my dark deed dreefed me but little. Some few frains had been made, but these had been readily answered. Even a seeking had been set up -- but wisly nothing was to be found. I looked upon my tocome bliss as belaid.

Upon the fourth day of the murder, a group of the law-warden came, pretty unawaitedly, into the house, and forfared again to make thorough underseeking of the grounds. Belaid, however, in the [inscrutability] of my spot of hiding, I felt no fazing whatever. The beadles bade me beglide them in their seeking. They left no nook or winkle unasought. At length, for the third or fourth time, they went down into the underground. I quivered not in a brawn. My heart beat coolly as that of one who slumbers in guiltlessness. I walked the underground from end to end. I folded my arms upon my bosom, and roamed softly to and fro. The law-warden were thoroughly slaked and got ready to leave. The glee at my heart was too strong to be fettered. I burned to say if but one word, by way of win, and to make twofoldly sure their afastness of my guiltlessness.

"Kindlymen," I said at last, as the group went up the steps, "I glee to have allayed your inklings. I wish you all health, and a little more [courtesy]. By the bye, kindlymen, this -- this is a mighty well built house." (In the rithingy wish to say something softly, I barely knew what I uttered at all.) -- "I may say a flawlessly well built house. These walls -- are you going, kindlymen? -- these walls are faststuffly put together;" and here, through the [mere] madness of bluster, I rapped heavily, with a stemstick which I held in my hand, upon that right lot of the brick-work behind which stood the dead body of the wife of my bosom.

But may God shield and nere me from the fangs of the Main-Fiend ! No sooner had the witherclank of my blows sunk into stillness, than I was answered by a steven from within the grave! -- by a moan, at first deadened and broken, like the sobbing of a child, and then quickly swelling into one long, loud, and unbroken scream, utterly freakish and unmennish -- a howl -- a wailing shriek, half of dread and half of win, such as might have arisen only out of hell, linked-togetherly from the throats of the ordealed in their dretch and of the hellfiends that [exult] in the ordeal.

Of my own thoughts it is wanwit to speak. Swooning, I staggered to the fornent wall. For one blinktime the group upon the stairs blove bewayless, through utmostness of dread and of awe. In the next, tens of stout arms were digging at the wall. It fell bodily. The dead body, already greatly rotten and clotted with gore, stood upright before the eyes of the witnesses. Upon its head, with red outstretched mouth and trapped eye of fire, sat the hidesome wight whose craft had spaned me into murder, and whose wording steven had handed me over to the hangman. I had walled the fiend up within the grave!

WinterWind 22:59, October 22, 2011 (UTC)

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