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Thou Art the Man
Edgar Allan Poe



I will now play the Oedipus to the Rattleborough enigma. I will expound to
you -- as I alone can -- the secret of the enginery that effected the
Rattleborough miracle -- the one, the true, the admitted, the undisputed,
the indisputable miracle, which put a definite end to infidelity among the
Rattleburghers and converted to the orthodoxy of the grandames all the
carnal-minded who had ventured to be sceptical before.

This event -- which I should be sorry to discuss in a tone of unsuitable
levity -- occurred in the summer of 18--. Mr. Barnabas Shuttleworthy --
one of the wealthiest and most respectable citizens of the borough -- had
been missing for several days under circumstances which gave rise to
suspicion of foul play. Mr. Shuttleworthy had set out from Rattleborough
very early one Saturday morning, on horseback, with the avowed intention
of proceeding to the city of-, about fifteen miles distant, and of
returning the night of the same day. Two hours after his departure,
however, his horse returned without him, and without the saddle-bags which
had been strapped on his back at starting. The animal was wounded, too,
and covered with mud. These circumstances naturally gave rise to much
alarm among the friends of the missing man; and when it was found, on
Sunday morning, that he had not yet made his appearance, the whole borough
arose en masse to go and look for his body.

The foremost and most energetic in instituting this search was the bosom
friend of Mr. Shuttleworthy -- a Mr. Charles Goodfellow, or, as he was
universally called, "Charley Goodfellow," or "Old Charley Goodfellow."
Now, whether it is a marvellous coincidence, or whether it is that the
name itself has an imperceptible effect upon the character, I have never
yet been able to ascertain; but the fact is unquestionable, that there
never yet was any person named Charles who was not an open, manly, honest,
good-natured, and frank-hearted fellow, with a rich, clear voice, that did
you good to hear it, and an eye that looked you always straight in the
face, as much as to say: "I have a clear conscience myself, am afraid of
no man, and am altogether above doing a mean action." And thus all the
hearty, careless, "walking gentlemen" of the stage are very certain to be
called Charles.

Now, "Old Charley Goodfellow," although he had been in Rattleborough not
longer than six months or thereabouts, and although nobody knew any thing
about him before he came to settle in the neighborhood, had experienced no
difficulty in the world in making the acquaintance of all the respectable
people in the borough. Not a man of them but would have taken his bare
word for a thousand at any moment; and as for the women, there is no
saying what they would not have done to oblige him. And all this came of
his having been christened Charles, and of his possessing, in consequence,
that ingenuous face which is proverbially the very "best letter of
recommendation."

I have already said that Mr. Shuttleworthy was one of the most respectable
and, undoubtedly, he was the most wealthy man in Rattleborough, while "Old
Charley Goodfellow" was upon as intimate terms with him as if he had been
his own brother. The two old gentlemen were next-door neighbours, and,
although Mr. Shuttleworthy seldom, if ever, visited "Old Charley," and
never was known to take a meal in his house, still this did not prevent
the two friends from being exceedingly intimate, as I have just observed;
for "Old Charley" never let a day pass without stepping in three or four
times to see how his neighbour came on, and very often he would stay to
breakfast or tea, and almost always to dinner, and then the amount of wine
that was made way with by the two cronies at a sitting, it would really be
a difficult thing to ascertain. "Old Charleys" favorite beverage was
Chateau-Margaux, and it appeared to do Mr. Shuttleworthy's heart good to
see the old fellow swallow it, as he did, quart after quart; so that, one
day, when the wine was in and the wit as a natural consequence, somewhat
out, he said to his crony, as he slapped him upon the back -- "I tell you
what it is, 'Old Charley,' you are, by all odds, the heartiest old fellow
I ever came across in all my born days; and, since you love to guzzle the
wine at that fashion, I'll be darned if I don't have to make thee a
present of a big box of the Chateau-Margaux. Od rot me," -- (Mr.
Shuttleworthy had a sad habit of swearing, although he seldom went beyond
"Od rot me," or "By gosh," or "By the jolly golly,") -- "Od rot me," says
he, "if I don't send an order to town this very afternoon for a double box
of the best that can be got, and I'll make ye a present of it, I will! --
ye needn't say a word now -- I will, I tell ye, and there's an end of it;
so look out for it -- it will come to hand some of these fine days,
precisely when ye are looking for it the least!" I mention this little bit
of liberality on the part of Mr. Shuttleworthy, just by way of showing you
how very intimate an understanding existed between the two friends.

Well, on the Sunday morning in question, when it came to be fairly
understood that Mr. Shuttleworthy had met with foul play, I never saw any
one so profoundly affected as "Old Charley Goodfellow." When he first
heard that the horse had come home without his master, and without his
master's saddle-bags, and all bloody from a pistol-shot, that had gone
clean through and through the poor animal's chest without quite killing
him; when he heard all this, he turned as pale as if the missing man had
been his own dear brother or father, and shivered and shook all over as if
he had had a fit of the ague.

At first he was too much overpowered with grief to be able to do any thing
at all, or to concert upon any plan of action; so that for a long time he
endeavored to dissuade Mr. Shuttleworthy's other friends from making a
stir about the matter, thinking it best to wait awhile -- say for a week
or two, or a month, or two -- to see if something wouldn't turn up, or if
Mr. Shuttleworthy wouldn't come in the natural way, and explain his
reasons for sending his horse on before. I dare say you have often
observed this disposition to temporize, or to procrastinate, in people who
are labouring under any very poignant sorrow. Their powers of mind seem to
be rendered torpid, so that they have a horror of any thing like action,
and like nothing in the world so well as to lie quietly in bed and "nurse
their grief," as the old ladies express it -- that is to say, ruminate
over the trouble.

The people of Rattleborough had, indeed, so high an opinion of the wisdom
and discretion of "Old Charley," that the greater part of them felt
disposed to agree with him, and not make a stir in the business "until
something should turn up," as the honest old gentleman worded it; and I
believe that, after all this would have been the general determination,
but for the very suspicious interference of Mr. Shuttleworthy's nephew, a
young man of very dissipated habits, and otherwise of rather bad
character. This nephew, whose name was Pennifeather, would listen to
nothing like reason in the matter of "lying quiet," but insisted upon
making immediate search for the "corpse of the murdered man. -- This was
the expression he employed; and Mr. Goodfellow acutely remarked at the
time, that it was "a singular expression, to say no more." This remark of
'Old Charley's,' too, had great effect upon the crowd; and one of the
party was heard to ask, very impressively, "how it happened that young Mr.
Pennifeather was so intimately cognizant of all the circumstances
connected with his wealthy uncle's disappearance, as to feel authorized to
assert, distinctly and unequivocally, that his uncle was 'a murdered
man.'" Hereupon some little squibbing and bickering occurred among various
members of the crowd, and especially between "Old Charley" and Mr.
Pennifeather -- although this latter occurrence was, indeed, by no means a
novelty, for no good will had subsisted between the parties for the last
three or four months; and matters had even gone so far that Mr.
Pennifeather had actually knocked down his uncles friend for some alleged
excess of liberty that the latter had taken in the uncle's house, of which
the nephew was an inmate. Upon this occasion "Old Charley" is said to have
behaved with exemplary moderation and Christian charity. He arose from the
blow, adjusted his clothes, and made no attempt at retaliation at all --
merely muttering a few words about "taking summary vengeance at the first
convenient opportunity," -- a natural and very justifiable ebullition of
anger, which meant nothing, however, and, beyond doubt, was no sooner
given vent to than forgotten.

However these matters may be (which have no reference to the point now at
issue), it is quite certain that the people of Rattleborough, principally
through the persuasion of Mr. Pennifeather, came at length to the
determination of dispersion over the adjacent country in search of the
missing Mr. Shuttleworthy. I say they came to this determination in the
first instance. After it had been fully resolved that a search should be
made, it was considered almost a matter of course that the seekers should
disperse -- that is to say, distribute themselves in parties -- for the
more thorough examination of the region round about. I forget, however, by
what ingenious train of reasoning it was that "Old Charley" finally
convinced the assembly that this was the most injudicious plan that could
be pursued. Convince them, however, he did -- all except Mr. Pennifeather,
and, in the end, it was arranged that a search should be instituted,
carefully and very thoroughly, by the burghers en masse, "Old Charley"
himself leading the way.

As for the matter of that, there could have been no better pioneer than
"Old Charley," whom everybody knew to have the eye of a lynx; but,
although he led them into all manner of out-of-the-way holes and corners,
by routes that nobody had ever suspected of existing in the neighbourhood,
and although the search was incessantly kept up day and night for nearly a
week, still no trace of Mr. Shuttleworthy could be discovered. When I say
no trace, however, I must not be understood to speak literally, for trace,
to some extent, there certainly was. The poor gentleman had been tracked,
by his horses shoes (which were peculiar), to a spot about three miles to
the east of the borough, on the main road leading to the city. Here the
track made off into a by-path through a piece of woodland -- the path
coming out again into the main road, and cutting off about half a mile of
the regular distance. Following the shoe-marks down this lane, the party
came at length to a pool of stagnant water, half hidden by the brambles,
to the right of the lane, and opposite this pool all vestige of the track
was lost sight of. It appeared, however, that a struggle of some nature
had here taken place, and it seemed as if some large and heavy body, much
larger and heavier than a man, had been drawn from the by-path to the
pool. This latter was carefully dragged twice, but nothing was found; and
the party was upon the point of going away, in despair of coming to any
result, when Providence suggested to Mr. Goodfellow the expediency of
draining the water off altogether. This project was received with cheers,
and many high compliments to "Old Charley" upon his sagacity and
consideration. As many of the burghers had brought spades with them,
supposing that they might possibly be called upon to disinter a corpse,
the drain was easily and speedily effected; and no sooner was the bottom
visible, than right in the middle of the mud that remained was discovered
a black silk velvet waistcoat, which nearly every one present immediately
recognized as the property of Mr. Pennifeather. This waistcoat was much
torn and stained with blood, and there were several persons among the
party who had a distinct remembrance of its having been worn by its owner
on the very morning of Mr. Shuttleworthy's departure for the city; while
there were others, again, ready to testify upon oath, if required, that
Mr. P. did not wear the garment in question at any period during the
remainder of that memorable day, nor could any one be found to say that he
had seen it upon Mr. P.'s person at any period at all subsequent to Mr.
Shuttleworthy's disappearance.

Matters now wore a very serious aspect for Mr. Pennifeather, and it was
observed, as an indubitable confirmation of the suspicions which were
excited against him, that he grew exceedingly pale, and when asked what he
had to say for himself, was utterly incapable of saying a word. Hereupon,
the few friends his riotous mode of living had left him, deserted him at
once to a man, and were even more clamorous than his ancient and avowed
enemies for his instantaneous arrest. But, on the other hand, the
magnanimity of Mr. Goodfellow shone forth with only the more brilliant
lustre through contrast. He made a warm and intensely eloquent defence of
Mr. Pennifeather, in which he alluded more than once to his own sincere
forgiveness of that wild young gentleman -- "the heir of the worthy Mr.
Shuttleworthy," -- for the insult which he (the young gentleman) had, no
doubt in the heat of passion, thought proper to put upon him (Mr.
Goodfellow). "He forgave him for it," he said, "from the very bottom of
his heart; and for himself (Mr. Goodfellow), so far from pushing the
suspicious circumstances to extremity, which he was sorry to say, really
had arisen against Mr. Pennifeather, he (Mr. Goodfellow) would make every
exertion in his power, would employ all the little eloquence in his
possession to -- to -- to -- soften down, as much as he could
conscientiously do so, the worst features of this really exceedingly
perplexing piece of business."

Mr. Goodfellow went on for some half hour longer in this strain, very much
to the credit both of his head and of his heart; but your warm-hearted
people are seldom apposite in their observations -- they run into all
sorts of blunders, contre-temps and mal apropos-isms, in the
hot-headedness of their zeal to serve a friend -- thus, often with the
kindest intentions in the world, doing infinitely more to prejudice his
cause than to advance it.

So, in the present instance, it turned out with all the eloquence of "Old
Charley"; for, although he laboured earnestly in behalf of the suspected,
yet it so happened, somehow or other, that every syllable he uttered of
which the direct but unwitting tendency was not to exalt the speaker in
the good opinion of his audience, had the effect to deepen the suspicion
already attached to the individual whose cause he pleaded, and to arouse
against him the fury of the mob.

One of the most unaccountable errors committed by the orator was his
allusion to the suspected as "the heir of the worthy old gentleman Mr.
Shuttleworthy." The people had really never thought of this before. They
had only remembered certain threats of disinheritance uttered a year or
two previously by the uncle (who had no living relative except the
nephew), and they had, therefore, always looked upon this disinheritance
as a matter that was settled -- so single-minded a race of beings were the
Rattleburghers; but the remark of "Old Charley" brought them at once to a
consideration of this point, and thus gave them to see the possibility of
the threats having been nothing more than a threat. And straightway
hereupon, arose the natural question of cui bono? -- a question that
tended even more than the waistcoat to fasten the terrible crime upon the
young man. And here, lest I may be misunderstood, permit me to digress for
one moment merely to observe that the exceedingly brief and simple Latin
phrase which I have employed, is invariably mistranslated and
misconceived. "Cui bono?" in all the crack novels and elsewhere, -- in
those of Mrs. Gore, for example, (the author of "Cecil,") a lady who
quotes all tongues from the Chaldaean to Chickasaw, and is helped to her
learning, "as needed," upon a systematic plan, by Mr. Beckford, -- in all
the crack novels, I say, from those of Bulwer and Dickens to those of
Bulwer and Dickens to those of Turnapenny and Ainsworth, the two little
Latin words cui bono are rendered "to what purpose?" or, (as if quo bono,)
"to what good." Their true meaning, nevertheless, is "for whose
advantage." Cui, to whom; bono, is it for a benefit. It is a purely legal
phrase, and applicable precisely in cases such as we have now under
consideration, where the probability of the doer of a deed hinges upon the
probability of the benefit accruing to this individual or to that from the
deed's accomplishment. Now in the present instance, the question cui bono?
very pointedly implicated Mr. Pennifeather. His uncle had threatened him,
after making a will in his favour, with disinheritance. But the threat had
not been actually kept; the original will, it appeared, had not been
altered. Had it been altered, the only supposable motive for murder on the
part of the suspected would have been the ordinary one of revenge; and
even this would have been counteracted by the hope of reinstation into the
good graces of the uncle. But the will being unaltered, while the threat
to alter remained suspended over the nephew's head, there appears at once
the very strongest possible inducement for the atrocity, and so concluded,
very sagaciously, the worthy citizens of the borough of Rattle.

Mr. Pennifeather was, accordingly, arrested upon the spot, and the crowd,
after some further search, proceeded homeward, having him in custody. On
the route, however, another circumstance occurred tending to confirm the
suspicion entertained. Mr. Goodfellow, whose zeal led him to be always a
little in advance of the party, was seen suddenly to run forward a few
paces, stoop, and then apparently to pick up some small object from the
grass. Having quickly examined it he was observed, too, to make a sort of
half attempt at concealing it in his coat pocket; but this action was
noticed, as I say, and consequently prevented, when the object picked up
was found to be a Spanish knife which a dozen persons at once recognized
as belonging to Mr. Pennifeather. Moreover, his initials were engraved
upon the handle. The blade of this knife was open and bloody.

No doubt now remained of the guilt of the nephew, and immediately upon
reaching Rattleborough he was taken before a magistrate for examination.

Here matters again took a most unfavourable turn. The prisoner, being
questioned as to his whereabouts on the morning of Mr. Shuttleworthy's
disappearance, had absolutely the audacity to acknowledge that on that
very morning he had been out with his rifle deer-stalking, in the
immediate neighbourhood of the pool where the blood-stained waistcoat had
been discovered through the sagacity of Mr. Goodfellow.

This latter now came forward, and, with tears in his eyes, asked
permission to be examined. He said that a stern sense of the duty he owed
his Maker, not less than his fellow-men, would permit him no longer to
remain silent. Hitherto, the sincerest affection for the young man
(notwithstanding the latter's ill-treatment of himself, Mr. Goodfellow)
had induced him to make every hypothesis which imagination could suggest,
by way of endeavoring to account for what appeared suspicious in the
circumstances that told so seriously against Mr. Pennifeather, but these
circumstances were now altogether too convincing -- too damning, he would
hesitate no longer -- he would tell all he knew, although his heart (Mr.
Goodfellow's) should absolutely burst asunder in the effort. He then went
on to state that, on the afternoon of the day previous to Mr.
Shuttleworthy's departure for the city, that worthy old gentleman had
mentioned to his nephew, in his hearing (Mr. Goodfellow's), that his
object in going to town on the morrow was to make a deposit of an
unusually large sum of money in the "Farmers and Mechanics' Bank," and
that, then and there, the said Mr. Shuttleworthy had distinctly avowed to
the said nephew his irrevocable determination of rescinding the will
originally made, and of cutting him off with a shilling. He (the witness)
now solemnly called upon the accused to state whether what he (the
witness) had just stated was or was not the truth in every substantial
particular. Much to the astonishment of every one present, Mr.
Pennifeather frankly admitted that it was.

The magistrate now considered it his duty to send a couple of constables
to search the chamber of the accused in the house of his uncle. From this
search they almost immediately returned with the well-known steel-bound,
russet leather pocket-book which the old gentleman had been in the habit
of carrying for years. Its valuable contents, however, had been
abstracted, and the magistrate in vain endeavored to extort from the
prisoner the use which had been made of them, or the place of their
concealment. Indeed, he obstinately denied all knowledge of the matter.
The constables, also, discovered, between the bed and sacking of the
unhappy man, a shirt and neck-handkerchief both marked with the initials
of his name, and both hideously besmeared with the blood of the victim.

At this juncture, it was announced that the horse of the murdered man had
just expired in the stable from the effects of the wound he had received,
and it was proposed by Mr. Goodfellow that a post mortem examination of
the beast should be immediately made, with the view, if possible, of
discovering the ball. This was accordingly done; and, as if to demonstrate
beyond a question the guilt of the accused, Mr. Goodfellow, after
considerable searching in the cavity of the chest was enabled to detect
and to pull forth a bullet of very extraordinary size, which, upon trial,
was found to be exactly adapted to the bore of Mr. Pennifeather's rifle,
while it was far too large for that of any other person in the borough or
its vicinity. To render the matter even surer yet, however, this bullet
was discovered to have a flaw or seam at right angles to the usual suture,
and upon examination, this seam corresponded precisely with an accidental
ridge or elevation in a pair of moulds acknowledged by the accused himself
to be his own property. Upon finding of this bullet, the examining
magistrate refused to listen to any farther testimony, and immediately
committed the prisoner for trial-declining resolutely to take any bail in
the case, although against this severity Mr. Goodfellow very warmly
remonstrated, and offered to become surety in whatever amount might be
required. This generosity on the part of "Old Charley" was only in
accordance with the whole tenour of his amiable and chivalrous conduct
during the entire period of his sojourn in the borough of Rattle. In the
present instance the worthy man was so entirely carried away by the
excessive warmth of his sympathy, that he seemed to have quite forgotten,
when he offered to go bail for his young friend, that he himself (Mr.
Goodfellow) did not possess a single dollar's worth of property upon the
face of the earth.

The result of the committal may be readily foreseen. Mr. Pennifeather,
amid the loud execrations of all Rattleborough, was brought to trial at
the next criminal sessions, when the chain of circumstantial evidence
(strengthened as it was by some additional damning facts, which Mr.
Goodfellow's sensitive conscientiousness forbade him to withhold from the
court) was considered so unbroken and so thoroughly conclusive, that the
jury, without leaving their seats, returned an immediate verdict of
"Guilty of murder in the first degree." Soon afterward the unhappy wretch
received sentence of death, and was remanded to the county jail to await
the inexorable vengeance of the law.

In the meantime, the noble behavior of "Old Charley Goodfellow, had doubly
endeared him to the honest citizens of the borough. He became ten times a
greater favorite than ever, and, as a natural result of the hospitality
with which he was treated, he relaxed, as it were, perforce, the extremely
parsimonious habits which his poverty had hitherto impelled him to
observe, and very frequently had little reunions at his own house, when
wit and jollity reigned supreme-dampened a little, of course, by the
occasional remembrance of the untoward and melancholy fate which impended
over the nephew of the late lamented bosom friend of the generous host.

One fine day, this magnanimous old gentleman was agreeably surprised at
the receipt of the following letter:-

Charles Goodfellow, Esq., Rattleborough
From H.F.B. & Co.
Chat. Mar. A -- No. 1.-- 6 doz. bottles (1/2 Gross)

{The above inscription lies vertically to the left of the following letter
in the print version --Ed.}

_"Charles Goodfellow, Esquire._

_"Dear Sir -- In conformity with an order transmitted to our firm about
two months since, by our esteemed correspondent, Mr. Barnabus
Shuttleworthy, we have the honor of forwarding this morning, to your
address, a double box of Chateau-Margaux of the antelope brand, violet
seal. Box numbered and marked as per margin._

"We remain, sir,
"Your most ob'nt ser'ts,
"HOGGS, FROGS, BOGS, & CO.

"City of --, June 21, 18--.

_"P.S. -- The box will reach you by wagon, on the day after your receipt
of this letter. Our respects to Mr. Shuttleworthy._

"H., F., B., & CO."

The fact is, that Mr. Goodfellow had, since the death of Mr.
Shuttleworthy, given over all expectation of ever receiving the promised
Chateau-Margaux; and he, therefore, looked upon it now as a sort of
especial dispensation of Providence in his behalf. He was highly
delighted, of course, and in the exuberance of his joy invited a large
party of friends to a petit souper on the morrow, for the purpose of
broaching the good old Mr. Shuttleworthy's present. Not that he said any
thing about "the good old Mr. Shuttleworthy" when he issued the
invitations. The fact is, he thought much and concluded to say nothing at
all. He did not mention to any one -- if I remember aright -- that he had
received a present of Chateau-Margaux. He merely asked his friends to come
and help him drink some, of a remarkable fine quality and rich flavour,
that he had ordered up from the city a couple of months ago, and of which
he would be in the receipt upon the morrow. I have often puzzled myself to
imagine why it was that "Old Charley" came to the conclusion to say
nothing about having received the wine from his old friend, but I could
never precisely understand his reason for the silence, although he had
some excellent and very magnanimous reason, no doubt.

The morrow at length arrived, and with it a very large and highly
respectable company at Mr. Goodfellow's house. Indeed, half the borough
was there, -- I myself among the number, -- but, much to the vexation of
the host, the Chateau-Margaux did not arrive until a late hour, and when
the sumptuous supper supplied by "Old Charley" had been done very ample
justice by the guests. It came at length, however, -- a monstrously big
box of it there was, too -- and as the whole party were in excessively
good humor, it was decided, nem. con., that it should be lifted upon the
table and its contents disembowelled forthwith.

No sooner said than done. I lent a helping hand; and, in a trice we had
the box upon the table, in the midst of all the bottles and glasses, not a
few of which were demolished in the scuffle. "Old Charley," who was pretty
much intoxicated, and excessively red in the face, now took a seat, with
an air of mock dignity, at the head of the board, and thumped furiously
upon it with a decanter, calling upon the company to keep order "during
the ceremony of disinterring the treasure."

After some vociferation, quiet was at length fully restored, and, as very
often happens in similar cases, a profound and remarkable silence ensued.
Being then requested to force open the lid, I complied, of course, "with
an infinite deal of pleasure." I inserted a chisel, and giving it a few
slight taps with a hammer, the top of the box flew suddenly off, and at
the same instant, there sprang up into a sitting position, directly facing
the host, the bruised, bloody, and nearly putrid corpse of the murdered
Mr. Shuttleworthy himself. It gazed for a few seconds, fixedly and
sorrowfully, with its decaying and lack-lustre eyes, full into the
countenance of Mr. Goodfellow; uttered slowly, but clearly and
impressively, the words -- "Thou art the man!" and then, falling over the
side of the chest as if thoroughly satisfied, stretched out its limbs
quiveringly upon the table.

The scene that ensued is altogether beyond description. The rush for the
doors and windows was terrific, and many of the most robust men in the
room fainted outright through sheer horror. But after the first wild,
shrieking burst of affright, all eyes were directed to Mr. Goodfellow. If
I live a thousand years, I can never forget the more than mortal agony
which was depicted in that ghastly face of his, so lately rubicund with
triumph and wine. For several minutes he sat rigidly as a statue of
marble; his eyes seeming, in the intense vacancy of their gaze, to be
turned inward and absorbed in the contemplation of his own miserable,
murderous soul. At length their expression appeared to flash suddenly out
into the external world, when, with a quick leap, he sprang from his
chair, and falling heavily with his head and shoulders upon the table, and
in contact with the corpse, poured out rapidly and vehemently a detailed
confession of the hideous crime for which Mr. Pennifeather was then
imprisoned and doomed to die.

What he recounted was in substance this: -- He followed his victim to the
vicinity of the pool; there shot his horse with a pistol; despatched its
rider with the butt end; possessed himself of the pocket-book, and,
supposing the horse dead, dragged it with great labour to the brambles by
the pond. Upon his own beast he slung the corpse of Mr. Shuttleworthy, and
thus bore it to a secure place of concealment a long distance off through
the woods.

The waistcoat, the knife, the pocket-book, and bullet, had been placed by
himself where found, with the view of avenging himself upon Mr.
Pennifeather. He had also contrived the discovery of the stained
handkerchief and shirt.

Towards the end of the blood-churning recital the words of the guilty
wretch faltered and grew hollow. When the record was finally exhausted, he
arose, staggered backward from the table, and fell-dead.

------------

The means by which this happily-timed confession was extorted, although
efficient, were simple indeed. Mr. Goodfellow's excess of frankness had
disgusted me, and excited my suspicions from the first. I was present when
Mr. Pennifeather had struck him, and the fiendish expression which then
arose upon his countenance, although momentary, assured me that his threat
of vengeance would, if possible, be rigidly fulfilled. I was thus prepared
to view the manoeuvering of "Old Charley" in a very different light from
that in which it was regarded by the good citizens of Rattleborough. I saw
at once that all the criminating discoveries arose, either directly or
indirectly, from himself. But the fact which clearly opened my eyes to the
true state of the case, was the affair of the bullet, found by Mr. G. in
the carcass of the horse. I had not forgotten, although the Rattleburghers
had, that there was a hole where the ball had entered the horse, and
another where it went out. If it were found in the animal then, after
having made its exit, I saw clearly that it must have been deposited by
the person who found it. The bloody shirt and handkerchief confirmed the
idea suggested by the bullet; for the blood on examination proved to be
capital claret, and no more. When I came to think of these things, and
also of the late increase of liberality and expenditure on the part of Mr.
Goodfellow, I entertained a suspicion which was none the less strong
because I kept it altogether to myself.

In the meantime, I instituted a rigorous private search for the corpse of
Mr. Shuttleworthy, and, for good reasons, searched in quarters as
divergent as possible from those to which Mr. Goodfellow conducted his
party. The result was that, after some days, I came across an old dry
well, the mouth of which was nearly hidden by brambles; and here, at the
bottom, I discovered what I sought.

Now it so happened that I had overheard the colloquy between the two
cronies, when Mr. Goodfellow had contrived to cajole his host into the
promise of a box of Chateaux-Margaux. Upon this hint I acted. I procured a
stiff piece of whalebone, thrust it down the throat of the corpse, and
deposited the latter in an old wine box-taking care so to double the body
up as to double the whalebone with it. In this manner I had to press
forcibly upon the lid to keep it down while I secured it with nails; and I
anticipated, of course, that as soon as these latter were removed, the top
would fly off and the body up.

Having thus arranged the box, I marked, numbered, and addressed it as
already told; and then writing a letter in the name of the wine merchants
with whom Mr. Shuttleworthy dealt, I gave instructions to my servant to
wheel the box to Mr. Goodfellow's door, in a barrow, at a given signal
from myself. For the words which I intended the corpse to speak, I
confidently depended upon my ventriloquial abilities; for their effect, I
counted upon the conscience of the murderous wretch.

I believe there is nothing more to be explained. Mr. Pennifeather was
released upon the spot, inherited the fortune of his uncle, profited by
the lessons of experience, turned over a new leaf, and led happily ever
afterward a new life.



THE END




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