The Merchant of Venice
Words, you might not know:
crossly, blushed, fault, dashing, wound, state, moat, range, grimly, stables, saddles, strait, fake, dagger, stab, sternly, eagerly, bow.
CHAPTER ONEThe MoneylendersI have a story to tell. It is a story of love and hatred. A story of giving and taking. A story of laughter and tears. This story was told a long time ago. But it still has as much meaning today as it did then. It happened in a city called Venice in Italy. This beautiful city rests like a crown jewel on the Adriatic Sea.There lived a moneylender named Shylock in Venice. He earned a lot by lending money to merchants. Many people hated Shylock. Some people hated him because he forced merchants to repay him in terrible ways. Others hated him simply because he was Jewish.Of all the merchants who lived in Venice, one hated Shylock more than the others. His name was Antonio. Shylock hated Antonio as well. This was because Antonio was a very generous moneylender.He lent money to people in trouble and often didn't charge them interest. Shylock lost a lot of business because of Antonio's generosity.More importantly, Shylock hated Antonio because he was a Christian. And Antonio hated Shylock because he was a Jew. In those days, Jews and Christians didn't like each other. They couldn't agree about anything. They couldn't understand each other's religion or culture.Antonio and Shylock often ran into each other at the Rialto. The Rialto was the business center of Venice. When the two met, they would have arguments. Antonio would often yell at Shylock for the heartless way of doing business. Shylock often thought about ways to get even with Antonio.Almost everyone in Venice really liked Antonio.They felt that he was kind and honest. The merchants especially admired him. They knew that he would help them when they were in hard times.Antonio's best friend was a young man named Bassanio. Bassanio's family was very rich. His parents had given him money, but Bassanio had spent it all. He had wasted his mopey on wine and good food. He had traveled and he had had fun. And, of course, he ended up without any money. This was very common for young men during that time.In the past, Antonio had helped him in many ways. In fact, he already owed Antonio lots of money. Antonio never said "no" to Bassanio. It seemed Antonio was happy to share his money with his friends.One day, Bassanio came to Antonio for another loan."Antonio! I have great news! I've fallen in love with someone! Her name is Portia. She's the most beautiful woman in the world! And not only that, she's rich, too. Her father passed away recently, and she's going to inherit lots of money!" "That's wonderful news, Bassanio," said Antonio. "It sounds like she is a wonderful woman, but does she love you as much as you love her?""Of course, she does. When she looks at me, her eyes are full of love and ~ ' respect. Listen. I want to buy some gifts for her. The only problem is that I don't have any money right now. I know I owe you a lot of money, but can I borrow a little more? I promise I'll pay you back.""Bassanio! You know that my money is your money. I'd gladly lend it to you anytime. The only problem is that I don't have any money right now. I've spent all of my money on merchandise. I can't help you. I'm sorry.""What should I do?" asked Bassanio. "She'll never marry me unless I give her some gifts." "Don't worry," said Antonio. "I know what you can do. You can borrow money from a moneylender named Shylock. He always has money on hand. He'll certainly lend you money if I sign a loan agreement. And the ships will come in any day now. I'll make lots of money when my merchandise arrives. I'll pay him back then." "Thanks, Antonio. You really are a great friend!" While Bassanio and Antonio were out to find Shylock, Portia was facing her own problems. Portia's father had arranged conditions of her marriage before he died.He didn't trust Portia's judgment. He felt that she would choose an unsuitable person to marry. So, before he died, he had put three chests in a room. One chest was made of gold, one of silver and one of lead. In one of these chests was a small picture of Portia.If a suitor chose the right box, he would find the picture. That meant that he could propose to Portia. Portia's father believed that the best husband would know which box to choose.If he found the wrong box, he would have to leave the house right away. He wouldn't be allowed to marry Portia. In addition, he wouldn't be able to marry anyone or have a girlfriend for the rest of his life. Every suitor had to sign a contract agreeing to these conditions. It was a big risk for them. But Portia's father felt that his daughter was worth the risk.Portia lived in a small town called "Belmont." She had many men visit her house. They all wanted to marry her because she was rich and beautiful. She was tired of having these strange men come to her house. She was also unhappy that her father didn't trust her judgment. Portia often talked to her servant, Nerissa, about her problems. Nerissa was more of a friend than a servant."Why couldn't my father just trust me?" she asked Nerissa one day."Your father was right," said Nerissa. "There are so many bad men out there. They just want to marry you for your money.""But the men who come here are so boring. They have bad manners, and they are vain. Some of them drink too much wine. Some of them even smoke! Ah! I'm so sick of these guys!"Portia was a very independent person. She was capable of making decisions for herself. She also believed that she was smarter than most men. Portia was sad. She thought that she would have to marry a boring, stupid man with bad habits."Not one of these guys is decent. What should 1 do?""Do you remember the man from Venice?" asked Nerissa.Portia's eyes sparkled. "Yes. I remember him. Bassanio. How could I forget? He was so much better than all of the other men who came here. He was handsome and gentle. He was charming, kind, and intelligent. But it's hopeless! He'll never sign my father's contract. I'm a woman who can't even choose her own husband. I'm so unlucky!"Another servant then entered the room."Madam, a message has arrived from the Prince of Morocco. He will be arriving tomorrow.""Great! Another unsuitable suitor! I wonder what problems this one will have." CHAPTER TWOThe Loan Meanwhile, in Venice, Antonio and Bassanio found Shylock. He was at the Rialto, as usual."Shylock, I have a request for you," said Antonio. "I'd like you to loan three thousand ducats to my best friend, Bassanio. I will sign the contract. I'll happily pay you back in a few days. I'll have plenty of money when my ships arrive." "I have an idea," said Bassanio. "Why don't we go out to dinner? We can talk more about this loan.'"I never eat with Christians," grumbled Shylock. "I may lend them money or do business with them. But I don't eat with them. Not ever!""Very well," said Bassanio. "Why don't you just lend me the money, then? You know that Antonio will pay you back." As Shylock listened to Antonio and Bassanio, he became angrier and angrier. How foolish these two men were! They knew how much he hated them. And yet they were asking him for a loan! He was determined to make Antonio pay dearly."Shylock!" yelled Antonio. "Are you going to lend us the money or not? Answer me!"Shylock answered him slowly. "Do you remember all of those times that you insulted me in a loud voice that everyone could hear? You once spat on me and called me a dog. And now you want to borrow money from me, a dog!" "Look! I'm not asking you a favor. You can charge me any interest you want. I don't mind. My ships will arrive any day now.""Alright, Antonio. I'm willing to lend you the money. I won't even charge you any interest. Just pay me back the loan on time." Antonio couldn't believe his ears. "What did you say?""I said you didn't know me. You always call me a cheapskate, but I am not. 1 will help you. I won't even charge you a single ducat. However, there's something I'm worried about. What if you don't pay me back?" "Don't worry, Shylock. I'll pay you back.""Well, I need some kind of a guarantee, don't I? Three thousand ducats is a lot of money. If you don't pay me back on time, 1 want a pound of flesh. I'll take a pound of flesh from any part of your body." Antonio didn't like what Shylock proposed."No. I'd rather pay some interest if I'm late on the payment.""I'm afraid that's no good," said Shylock as he laughed. "Do you think I'd take money from a fellow moneylender? Besides, this contract is only a joke! Do you think that any lawyer or judge would believe me? Would they really believe that I want a pound of your flesh? You don't have to worry about anything! It's my way of saying the bad feelings of the past between us are finished." Antonio pulled Bassanio aside and spoke to him secretly."I don't want to do business with this man. He's evil. And I know that he'd take the pound of flesh from me if he could. Let's see if somebody else will lend us the money."But Bassanio had other ideas. "Who else in Venice can lend me this much money? Besides, this man is crazy. Don't worry about the guarantee. Nobody would make you pay a pound of flesh! Everyone will think he's nuts!"So, Antonio agreed to the conditions of the loan. The three men went to a lawyer and signed an agreement. A strange smile came over Shylock's face. In fact, Shyloek wanted to take a pound of flesh from Antonio. He'd hated Antonio for so long. And he lost a lot of money because of this generous moneylender.Bassanio took the money that Antonio had borrowed although he had a bad feeling about the loan contract. He bought many gifts and clothes that he needed to propose to Portia. He then loaded the gifts into a carriage. He and his servant, Gratiano, went to Portia's house with the carriage.When Bassanio arrived, Portia was delighted. She had hoped that he would return for her. She was in love with him.“Portia, I'm so happy to see you again," said Bassanio. "But I have something awful to tell you. I'm broke. I have no money.""Bassanio! Don't worry about that! I have all of the money we need. Money means nothing to me. The only thing you have to worry about is choosing the right box. Then, we can live happily ever after."Portia told Bassanio about her father's contract."Alright. I'll go choose the box now."Portia started to worry. What if he chose the wrong box?"Don't choose today. I have a bad feeling. I want you to wait.""Wait! But the sooner I choose, the sooner I can marry you. I can't wait any longer.""Then let me hire a musician. Maybe the music will help you think more clearly."A little while later, a musician came. He began to play soothing music. Bassanio slowly walked over to the golden chest. He looked at it carefully."This can't be it," he said to himself. "It's too obvious. Everyone would choose the golden one first. I think Portia's father wanted to separate the wise men from the fools."Then, he walked over to the silver chest. "If men didn't choose the golden chest, then they would choose this one. That's obvious, as well."Bassanio's eyes settled on the lead chest."This is the least obvious choice. I don't think anyone else would choose this one."He opened the box. He gasped. He couldn't believe his eyes! In the box was a small picture of Portia. Bassanio could now marry her! He was so happy that he couldn't even speak.Portia put her arms around him and said, "Oh, Bassanio! I'm the luckiest woman in the world. Yesterday, I was just a girl with a lot of money. Today, I'll be a wife. Please, take this ring and show me you will accept my proposal. Put it on and promise me that you'll never take it off.""I am lucky, too," said Bassanio. "Yesterday, I was poor and lonely. Today, I will be married to the most beautiful woman in the world. I promise thatI'll wear this ring forever. Until I die! I swear!"It was a very happy moment. Gratiano felt that it was a good time to ask Bassanio something."Since you're getting married, I'd like to get married, too.""Well, that's wonderful," said Bassanio. "But who are you going to marry?""I want to marry Nerissa."Bassanio and Portia were very surprised."I didn't know you wanted to get married, Nerissa," cried Portia. "This is a great day!"That evening the couples got married. Bassanio and Gratiano wore golden rings that they promised never to take off. They were the happiest men in the world. CHAPTER THREEThe DebtA few days later, a messenger arrived at Portia and Bassanio's house. Bassanio received the letter and opened it. It read:Dear Bassanio.Mij ships have all sunk. I am in big trouble. Shy lock w ants to take a pound of flash from mo. Everyone has tried to talk him out of it. fven the Duke of Venice has tried. But no one has had any success.I am going to die. Please come to my trial and execution. I want to see you once more. Come quickly. I don' l have much time.Your friend.Antonio As Bassanio read the note, his face turned white. He had to sit down. His hands trembled.Portia ran to him. "What is it? What's wrong? Please! Answer me!""Oh! My poor friend Antonio! He's going to die! Portia, listen to me carefully. I am not only a poor man. I am a debtor as well."Bassanio told her all about the money and the pound of flesh.A chill ran through Portia's body. She couldn't believe that a man wanted to cut a pound of flesh from someone."Bassanio, go to your friend right away," she said. "You are my husband now. My money is your money. You must pay back Antonio's debt. I'll give you two times the original loan. Go quickly before Antonio is killed."Bassanio put a lot of money in a bag and left for Venice. He found Antonio in prison. When he saw his friend, Antonio ran to him and hugged him. Antonio looked small and weak."My dear friend," said Bassanio. "I'll go to Shylock today and pay back the money. I'm sure he'll take it and then you can go free. After all, he is very greedy. He won't say 'no* to money.""Dear Bassanio," said Antonio. "You are loo kind. But I think it's too late. Shylock wants a pound of flesh from me. According to the loan agreement, that's what I owe him. You won't be able to talk him out of it.""He's never refused money before.""This time it's different. He hates me so much that he wants to kill me. And to make matters worse, Jessica ran away from home.""Jessica? Do you mean Shylock's daughter?""That's right. She married the young man who was living in your parents* house. The Christian boy. She is going to give up her religion and become a Christian. And when she ran away from home, she stole a gem from Shylock, too." "Oh! That's terrible," said Bassanio."He probably thinks that I made her marry the Christian. But I have nothing to do with it. I swear! He's really mad! He cut Jessica out of his will. And, for the past few days, Shy lock's been talking about me. He's told everyone that he's going to kill me." "Don't worry about that," said Bassanio. "I'll talk to Shylock. I'll make him change his mind. I'll do whatever I need to."Bassanio went out of the prison and found Shylock."Please, I beg you. Please spare Antonio's life. Please, please release him from prison. Here's six thousand ducats. That's twice the amount we borrowed in the first place." Bassanio begged on his hands and knees."No. I want a pound of flesh. He owes me that." "I'll give you nine thousand ducats. Just let him live!" "No.""Name your price. I'll pay you anything." "I want a pound of flesh."Bassanio realized that Shylock would not change his mind. There was only one thing that he could do. He had to go to court. At that time, everyone of Venice was talking about the problem. Everyone felt sorry for Antonio. He had only wanted to help a friend. And everyone hated Shylock. He was such an evil man. More than being evil, however, he was angry. He was angry with Antonio. Antonio had always spoken roughly to him at the Rialto. He had cursed Shylock for being a Jew. He had yelled at him for being a mean and greedy businessman. Shylock was also very angry about his daughter. His whole world was a dark and nasty place. And he had nothing but hatred in his heart for these two Christians, Antonio and Bassanio.A date was set for the trial. It was a very important trial. Even the Duke of Venice was involved. He would be the judge.Meanwhile, in Belmont, Portia heard about the trial. She decided that she had to help poor Antonio. She could not rely on fate to change the course of events.Portia wrote a letter to her cousin, Bellario. He was a well-known lawyer. She asked for his opinion about Antonio's case. She also asked him to lend her the clothes that he wore in court.A few days later, a letter and a box arrived in Belmont. The letter had instructions for defending Antonio. In the box were two sets of clothes that Bellario wore in court.Portia dressed in one set. She made Nerissa wear the other set. Then they left for Venice.Portia and Nerissa went to the Grand Courthouse of Venice. There, they waited for the trial to begin. On the day of trial, it seemed like every Venetian came to the court. Everyone wanted to know what would happen to Antonio. CHATPER FOURThe TrialWhen the trial began, Portia gave the Duke of Venice a letter. The letter was from Bellario. It said that he could not be Antonio's lawyer because he was sick. Bellario wrote that Balthasar would be Antonio's lawyer instead. Balthasar was actually Portia in disguise. The Duke didn't mind that Balthasar would represent Antonio. He did wonder, however, if Balthasar was experienced enough. "He" looked very young.Portia looked around the huge courtroom. Shylock seemed to be enjoying his day in court. Antonio looked at her with begging eyes. Portia then looked over at her husband. Bassanio didn't realize that Balthasar was actually his wife, either.As the trial began, the room grew quiet. Portia spoke to Shylock first."Sir. According to the agreement, you can take a pound of flesh from Antonio. There's no question about that. But I want to remind you of another choice. Of a more noble choice. You could choose to be merciful. You may ask, 'What is mercy?' Well, I'll tell you. Mercy is like the gentle rain. It falls from heaven. It blesses everyone. It blesses the person who gives mercy and the person who takes it. Mercy makes you feel like a king. You have all of the power in the world. You have the power to give Antonio his life. It is only through mercy that you can do this."All of the citizens in the courtroom agreed with Portia. Everyone except for Shylock. "I don't care about mercy! I only want justice!" he yelled."Well, why don't you just allow Antonio to pay you back?""It's too late for that now. I don't want money. I want my pound of flesh. Read the contract. It says that I can take the pound of flesh. And it says that I can take it from the place nearest to his heart.""Antonio, you must get ready to die, then," said Portia. Everyone in the crowd gasped. They couldn't believe what they were hearing. "Shylock," said Portia in a pleading voice, "please, take this money and let me tear up the loan contract."Shylock said, "I will never change my mind. Not for any reason. ''He began sharpening his long knife. He couldn't wait to cut into Antonio.Portia turned to Antonio. "Do you have anything to say before you die?""No," said Antonio. "I am ready to die."Then he turned to Bassanio. "Goodbye, my friend. Don't blame yourself for my death."Bassanio was crying. "Oh, Antonio. I would do anything to save your life. But there's nothing I can do. I'm so sorry. You are the best friend in the world.""Enough of this," yelled Shylock. "Let's get on with it. I want my pound of flesh."Portia asked the Duke, "Is the scale ready?" The Duke nodded. "Is the doctor here?""What doctor?" asked Shylock."There should be a doctor here. Antonio shouldn't bleed to death."But, of course, Shylock wanted him to bleed to death."The contract says nothing about a doctor.""But surely we need a doctor here. It's the only decent thing to do!""The contract says nothing about a doctor," Shylock repeated."Alright," said Portia. "A pound of flesh is yours. The law allows it. The court awards it."Shylock was very happy that he could finally kill his enemy. He was very pleased with the young lawyer."You are such a good lawyer," he said. "You under- stand justice."Shylock picked up his sharp knife. It was bright and shiny. The moneylender had an evil look in his eyes."Corne here," he said to Antonio."Just a minute," said Portia. "There is another thing I need to tell you. This contract doesn't give you a drop of blood. If Antonio loses a drop of blood, you will break the law. The City of Venice will take all of your money and land. Do you understand?"Shylock didn't know what to say. Everything had changed. He couldn't possibly get his revenge now. His face turned red with anger.Everyone was very impressed with this young lawyer. "Balthasar" used the terms of the contract to save Antonio. There was no mention of blood in the contract. Shylock could not take any blood. Therefore, he couldn't take any flesh, either.The people in the courtroom clapped their hands. "Hooray for Balthasar!"Shylock slammed his fist against the table. "Well, where's my money, then? If I can't have my pound of flesh, I want my money.""Here it is." Bassanio happily threw him a bag with three thousand ducats inside. Shylock began to walk away."Not so fast." said Portia. "You tried to murder someone. By law, you must give all of your money to the City of Venice. You could also be killed. You are at the mercy of the Duke of Venice. Get down on your hands and knees. Beg him for forgiveness. "No," said the Duke. "I don't think anyone should have to beg for their life. It isn't right. I must make an important decision, and I must think about it carefully. I want Shylock thrown in jail tonight. Tomorrow I will tell you what his punishment will be."Everyone left the courthouse that afternoon. They walked through the streets talking about the trial. No one could remember a more unusual day.The next morning was gray and rainy. Shylock felt that it was the last day of his life. The atmosphere of the courtroom was very gloomy. The crowd hated Shylock, but nobody wanted him to be killed.When the Duke walked in, everyone became very quiet."Most people understand mercy," said the Duke, at last. "It seems that you. Shylock, don't understand it. I am a human being. I understand mercy. And I understand the value of a human life. In the spirit of mercy, I forgive you. I will spare your life. I must punish you, though. If I don't, maybe other people will act like you. You must give half of your money to Antonio, and the other half to the City of Venice."Antonio was always a generous man. Even after all that had happened, he didn't change. He knew that Shylock's daughter, Jessica, was poor."I have a request about the money," said Antonio."What is your request?" asked the Duke.The court became quiet again. The crowd leaned forward to hear."I want to give Shylock's money to his daughter. And I want him to put Jessica back in his will.""I think this is a fair request. Shylock, I order you to give half of your money to Jessica. And you must write her back into your will. If you don't do this, I'll throw you in jail for the rest of your life."Shylock felt sick. He had failed to get revenge on Antonio. He had lost his money. He hated everyone."Fine. I'll do what you want. Just let me go now. I am not feeling well."Shylock was set free. He walked through the streets pulling out his hair. He couldn't believe his luck! "Sir," said the Duke to Portia. "I have never seen such a clever lawyer in my life. I must admit that I was worried at first because you looked so young. If you're not too busy, please have dinner with me tonight. I'd love to talk about the law with you."Portia wanted to get home before her husband. "I would love to, but I have another case that I must work on. I'm sorry. I'm just too busy to have dinner with you tonight." "Oh, well. Another time, then." The Duke turned to Antonio. "You should pay this lawyer well. You owe him an awful lot." "Please," said Bassanio to Portia. "Take thesethree thousand ducats. That's how much we borrowed from Shylock in the first place." "I don't want the money." "I'll give you three thousand more, then." "I don't want any money at all," said Portia. "Instead, 1 want your wedding ring." "My wedding ring? I'm sorry. This is the one thing in the world that 1 can't give you. I promised my wife that I would never take it off. 1 will find you the most expensive ring in Venice. I will buy it for you now. But I can't give you this ring. No way!""I want your wedding ring, but I'm not going to beg. I see that you're too cheap to give it to me."Portia left the courtroom. She seemed angry. Actually, she was happy. "Please, Bassanio. Give him the ring," said Antonio. "I know your wife will be mad. But think about what this lawyer has done for us today. I owe him my life. Don't you think that's worth your wed-ding ring?"Bassanio felt ashamed. Antonio was right. He took off his ring and gave it to Gratiano. "Go and find Balthasar. Give him this ring." When Gratiano found Portia, he gave her the ring. Nerissa, who was with her, said, "You! Gratiano! You give me your ring, too."Gratiano knew that he couldn't say "no." He gave her his ring.When Portia and Nerissa were alone, they had a good laugh. They decided to play a trick on their husbands.Bassanio and Gratiano returned to Belmont that evening. They found their wives waiting for them. They kissed their wives. For a moment, everyone was very happy to be together again. Then, the women started yelling at them. "Where's your wedding ring?" cried Portia. "You gave our wedding rings to other women," screamed Nerissa."Please believe us," said Bassanio. "We gave our rings to two young lawyers. The lawyers saved the life of my best friend. They said that they wanted our wedding rings as payment. They wouldn't accept anything else. Please understand, darling. They saved Antonio's life! " Bassanio felt sad and guilty. "I suppose that there is only one thing we can do," said Portia. Bassanio was afraid. Gratiano's knees were shaking."We must give you your rings back."Portia opened her hand. Nerissa opened hers as well. Bassanio and Gratiano couldn't believe their eyes! They were holding their wedding rings!Portia and Nerissa started to giggle. Then they laughed harder and harder. The men stood there with confused looks on their faces.Finally, Portia began to tell their story. Bassanio was amazed. His wife was even more wonderful than he had thought. She was the cleverest woman in Italy. She saved his best friend's life. He was overcome with happiness. As if this surprise weren't enough, a messenger soon arrived with another. The man brought news that Antonio's ships had not sunk. They had safely arrived in Venice. The goods were ready for sale. They couldn't have been happier.That night, they all celebrated under the beautiful Italian moon. They laughed thinking about the rings and the trick Portia and Nerissa had played on Bassanio and Gratiano. Bassanio looked lovingly at his wife."What's the scariest thing in the world?" he asked her."Owing a pound of flesh to a moneylender?" asked Portia."Absolutely not! It's losing my wife's wedding ring." Bassanio never took off his ring again.
Words, you might not know:
wipe, agitate, coincidence, precisely.
CHAPTER ONEA Strange Meeting'Hello!'When I called the signalman, I was above him on the hill. But he did not look up. He looked along the railway line towards the tunnel.'Hello, down there!' I called again.Then he looked up and saw me.'Where's the path?' I asked. 'How can I come down and speak to you?'He did not answer me. Just then a train came out of the tunnel. The signalman had a flag in his hand and he showed it when the train passed. Again I asked him where the path was. He pointed his flag at the hill, and I saw a path that went down.'Alright! Thanks!' I shouted.I went down the wet path. The signalman was waiting for me at the bottom of the hill. He was standing between the railway lines with a strange, nervous expression on his face.The place was quiet and lonely. High walls blocked out a lot of the sky, so there was not much sun there, and it was dark. I looked along the line and saw a red light in front of the entrance to the black tunnel. Then I went up to the signalman, but he moved away from me. He looked at me strangely. 'It's very lonely here' I said. 'You don't get many visitors. Am I disturbing you?'He did not answer, but looked at the red light near the tunnel.'Why are you watching that light?' I asked. 'Is that part of your job?'He answered quietly, 'Don't you know it is?'Suddenly the horrible idea came to me that he was a ghost, not a man. So I moved away. But then I saw fear in his eyes.'Are you afraid of me?' I asked.'I was thinking perhaps I've seen you before.''Where?'He pointed to the red light. 'There.''Why? I've never been there before.''No, perhaps you haven't.'Then he began to relax. He took me into his signal box.'Have you got much work to do here?' I asked.'No, not very much. But I have to be very attentive and careful,' he replied.'What are your responsibilities?''I change the signal, pull these switches, and check that the red light is working,' he explained.'Do you ever feel lonely?' I asked.'No, I'm used to it.''Can't you ever go out into the sunlight?''Yes, sometimes when the weather is good. But I must always listen for the electric bell and watch the red light.'I looked around his signal box. There was a fire, a desk, a telegraph machine for receiving and sending messages and a little electric bell.'When I was a young man, I studied science,' he told me.The bell suddenly rang. He received messages and sent replies. Then he showed his flag when a train passed. He did everything very precisely. During our conversation he opened the door twice and looked at the red light. He came back to the fire with an anxious expression. I wanted to know why, so I asked, 'Are you a happy man?''I was happy once,' he replied. 'But now I'm worried, sir.''Why? What's the problem?''It's difficult to say. If you come again, I'll try and tell you,' he said.'When shall I come?''I'll be here again at ten o'clock tomorrow night, sir.''I'll come at eleven then,' I replied.It was dark outside, so he showed me to the path with his light.'Don't call out "hello" again, please,' he said.'Alright.''And don't call out when you come tomorrow night. Why did you shout "Hello, down there!" tonight?' he asked.'I don't know. Did I say those exact words?''Yes. I know those words very well.''I think' I said them because I saw you down here,' I said.'Is that the only reason?'Yes, of course. Why?''You don't think there was any supernatural reason?' he asked.'No.'Then we said goodnight, and I returned to my hotel.?CHAPTER TWODangerI arrived at eleven the following night. The signalman was waiting for me with his light. 'You see, I didn't call out,' I said, smiling. We walked to the signal box and sat down by the fire.'I've decided to tell you what disturbs me,' he began in a quiet voice. 'Yesterday evening I thought you were somebody else.''Who?' I asked.'I don't know.''Does he look like me?''I've never seen his face because his left arm is always in front of it. He waves his right arm — like this.' And he waved violently, like somebody trying to say, 'Please get out of the way!''One night,' continued the signalman, 'the moon was shining and I was sitting here. Suddenly I heard a voice — "Hello, down there!" I went to the door and looked out. There was somebody by the red light near the tunnel and he was waving. "Look out! Look out!" he shouted, and then again, "Hello, down there! Look out!" I took my lamp and ran towards him. "What's wrong? What's happened?" I called. I wondered why he had his arm in front of his eyes. As I came near him, I put out my hand to pull his arm away — but he wasn't there.''Did he go into the tunnel?' I asked.'No. I ran into the tunnel. I stopped and shone my lamp around, but there was nobody there. I was scared, so I ran out fast and came to my box. I sent a telegraph message — "Alarm received. Is anything wrong?" The answer came back: "All well."'I said that the person was probably a hallucination.'Wait a moment, sir,' the signalman said, touching my arm. 'Six hours later a terrible accident happened on this line. They brought a lot of dead and injured people out of the tunnel.''But it was only a coincidence,' I said. 'A very strange coincidence.''Excuse me, but I haven't finished yet, sir.''I'm sorry,' I replied.'This was a year ago. Six or seven months passed and I recovered from the shock. Then one morning at dawn I saw the ghost again.''Did it call out?' I asked.'No. It was silent.''Did it wave its arm?''No. It had its hands in front of its face — like this.' He covered his face with his hands.'Did you go up to it?''No. I came in and sat down, very frightened,' he said. 'When I went back to the door, the ghost was gone.''And afterwards? Did anything happen this time?' I asked again.'Yes. That day a train came out of the tunnel, and I saw in a carriage window a lot of people standing up looking agitated. I gave a signal to the driver to stop. When the train stopped, I ran to it and heard terrible screams. A beautiful young lady was dying in one of the carriages. They brought her here and put her down on the floor between us.'I pushed back my chair in horror.'It's true, sir. That's exactly what happened. Now listen and you'll understand why I'm worried. The ghost came back a week ago, and I've seen it again two or three times.''Is it always at the red light?' I asked.'Yes, the danger light.''What does it do?''It waves — like this,' he replied. He repeated the movements that expressed the words "Please get out of the way!" Then he continued. 'I have no peace or rest. It calls me many times — "Hello, down there! Look out!" And it rings my bell.''Did it ring your bell yesterday when I was here?' I asked him.'Twice,' he replied.'Oh, it's your imagination! I was looking at the bell and listening for it, but it only rang when the station called you.'The signalman shook his head. 'No, the ghost's ring is different. You didn't see or hear it — but I did.''And was the ghost there when you looked out?''Yes, twice.''Will you come to the door with me and look for it now?'He came to the door and I opened it.'Can you see it?' I asked.'No. It's not there.''Right,' I said.We went in, shut the door and sat down. Now I was certain that the ghost did not exist.'I think you understand,' he said, 'that I'm disturbed by one question: what does the ghost mean?''No, I don't understand you.''What is the ghost warning me about? What is the danger? Where is it? Some horrible disaster is going to happen, but what can I do? I can't send a telegraph to the station. What can I say? Message: "Danger! Take care!" Answer: "What danger? Where?" Message: "Don't know. But be careful!" They'll think I'm mad.'The poor signalman looked very worried. He pushed his fingers into his black hair. Then he took his handkerchief and wiped his face and hands.'Why doesn't the ghost tell me where the accident will happen? Why doesn't it tell me how I can prevent it? Why didn't it say that the beautiful young lady was in danger? My God, I'm only a poor signalman! Why me!'I tried to calm him down. I said he must do his duty well, as correctly as possible — and that was all. He became calm after a while, and I offered to stay with him for the night.'No, it's alright, thank you,' he said. 'Come back an hour after sunset tomorrow.' I left him at two o'clock in the morning. In my hotel room I thought about what to do. The signalman was intelligent, careful and correct in his work. But the situation disturbed him very much. How could he continue to do his job well? So I finally decided to take him to the best doctor in town.The next evening I went out early. It was nearly sunset when I reached the path above the railway. I had another hour before the signalman came, so I decided to go for a walk. But as I looked down at the railway I saw a man at the tunnel. He had his left arm in front of his eyes, and he was waving violently.I cannot describe my horror. But it passed when I saw that the man was not a ghost. He was a real person, and there were some other men not far away from him. The red light was not shining. Near it was a small object like a bed covered with a sheet. I ran down the path very fast. 'What's the matter?' I asked the men.'The signalman is dead, sir,' one of them said.'What? The man I know?''If you know him, you'll recognise him.' And the man pulled back the sheet.'Oh, how did this happen?' I cried, recognising the dead signalman.The man at the tunnel came forward and spoke. 'A train knocked him down and killed him this morning. It was just getting light. The train came out of the tunnel, and he was standing with his lamp near the line, with his back to the train. Show the gentleman, Tom.''I'm the train driver, sir,' Tom said. 'I saw the signalman as I came towards the end of the tunnel. There was no time to slow down. He didn't hear my whistle, so I shouted very loudly.''What did you say?' 'I said, "Hello, down there! Look out! Look out! Please get out of the way!" I called to him many times, and I put this arm in front of my eyes because I didn't want to see, and I waved this arm — like this — but it was too late...'
The upper Berth
F. Marion Crawford
Words, you might not know:
CHAPTER ONEThe Mystery of Cabin 105We were all tired after a long dinner one evening, but nobody wanted to go home. Then somebody shouted, ‘Bring the cigars!’ It was Brisbane — a big, strong man. Everybody turned to look at him.Lighting his cigar, he said, ‘It’s strange, you know.’ We all stopped talking. ‘It’s strange,’ he said again. ‘People are always asking if anyone’s seen a ghost. Well, I have.’Somebody said, ‘Tell us the story, Brisbane.’ We lit our cigars, ordered another bottle of champagne, and listened to his story.‘When I used to travel to America, I liked to sail on certain ships. The Kamtschatka used to be my favourite. It isn’t my favourite now, and I never want to travel on it again.‘I remember it was a warm morning in June. When I went on board I told the steward I the number of my cabin — 105. He nearly dropped my suitcase.‘Well, God help you!’ he said quietly.‘I thought he might be drunk, but I said nothing and followed him. Cabin 105 was a large room with two berths with curtains around them. Mine was the lower one. That morning the cabin seemed empty and depressing, and I didn’t like it.‘I gave the steward some money and he thanked me. ‘I’ll try to make you comfortable,’ he said, and then added quietly, ‘If that’s possible in this cabin.’‘I was surprised, but again I thought he was drunk. I was wrong.‘Our voyage began. On the first day everything was normal. That night I was tired and went to my cabin early. I noticed another suitcase by the door and a walking stick and an umbrella in the berth above mine. I wasn’t happy because I had wanted to be on my own. Who was my companion? I decided to stay awake and see. Later, I was lying in bed in the dark when he came in. He was tall, very thin and pale, with fair hair and a beard and grey eyes. He looked like the type of man who makes money on Wall Street or by gambling. I decided I didn’t want to talk to him.‘If he gets up early, I’ll get up late,’ I said to myself before I went to sleep.‘During the night a loud noise suddenly woke me up. It was the other man jumping out of bed. Then I heard him unlock the cabin door; he ran out very fast, leaving the door open. I heard his footsteps along the passage. I got up angrily to close the door, and went back to sleep.‘When I woke up, it was still dark. The air was damp I and I felt cold. There was a strange smell in the cabin, like old sea water. I could hear the other man moving in the berth above mine. ‘So he’s come back,’ I thought. Then he made a low sound of pain, and I thought he was feeling seasick. Then I fell asleep.‘When I woke up again the cabin was still cold. Suddenly I noticed that the window was open, so i got up and closed it. The curtains were closed around the other berth, so I thought the man was asleep. The smell of sea water had disappeared.‘At about seven o’clock I went for a walk around the ship and I met the ship’s doctor from Ireland, a young man with black hair, blue eyes and a happy face. I said the weather was not very good.‘It was very cold last night,’ I continued. ‘But my window was open all night, and the room was damp.’‘Damp! Where is your cabin?’‘It’s cabin 105...’‘The ship’s doctor looked at me with big eyes. I asked what was the matter.‘Oh — nothing,’ he answered. ‘Well, I’ll tell you. Everybody has complained about that room on our last three trips.’‘Good. And I’m going to complain, too.’‘But I believe there’s something... No, I mustn’t frighten you.’‘Oh, you won’t frighten me. If I get a bad cold, I’ll come to you!’We laughed, and I offered him a cigar. Then he asked me if I had a room-mate.‘Yes, a strange man who runs out in the middle of the night and leaves the door open.’‘The ship’s doctor gave me a curious look. ‘Did he come back?’‘Yes. He was there when I woke up.’‘Look, my cabin is big enough for four people. You can sleep there tonight.’ I was really surprised; why was he so anxious about me? I thanked him and said my cabin was fine: there was nothing wrong with it.‘We doctors aren’t superstitious,’ he said, ‘but please don’t sleep in 105. Come and stay in my cabin.’‘But why?’‘Because the last three people who slept there went overboard.’‘I looked at him to see if he was joking, but he looked very serious.‘I said, ‘I really don’t think I’ll be the fourth person to go overboard.’‘I think you’ll change your mind before we arrive in America,’ he said.‘After breakfast I went to my cabin to get a book. The curtains around my room-mate’s berth were still closed, so I thought he was asleep. As I came out, I met the steward, who said the captain wanted to see me in his cabin.‘I want to ask you a favour,’ said the captain when I arrived. ‘Your room-mate has disappeared. Did you notice anything strange about him?’‘Has he... gone overboard?’ I asked, remembering the ship doctor’s story.‘Yes, I think so.’‘That’s incredible! He’s the fourth person.’ And I told him the story of cabin 105. I also told him what had happened to me in the night.‘That’s the same story the other room-mates told me,’ the captain said. ‘Nobody saw the man last night. The steward found his berth empty this morning and looked for him, but he’s disappeared. Please don’t tell the other passengers. I don’t want my ship to get a bad reputation for suicide. You can sleep in any cabin you like for the rest of the voyage. Is that alright?’‘Thank you, Captain, but my cabin is empty now so I’ll stay there.’‘The captain tried to change my mind, but I told him I was happy to have the room to myself. I asked him if the steward could remove my room-mate’s things and do something about the damp and the window. After I left the captain, I saw the ship’s doctor and we played cards. I went to my room late.?CHAPTER TWOThe Cabin of TerrorIn my cabin I thought of the tall man, now dead somewhere in the ocean, and I opened the curtains around his berth. It was empty. Suddenly I noticed that the window was open and secured with a hook. Angry, I went to look for the steward. I showed him the window.‘Why is it open?’ I shouted. ‘I’ll report you to the captain.’‘The steward was frightened and he closed the window. ‘Nobody can keep this window closed at night, sir. Look, is that locked or not? You try it and see, please.’‘The window was securely locked.‘Well, you’ll see that in half an hour it’ll be open again — and secured, too. That’s the horrible thing, sir — it is secured with the hook!’ ‘I checked the window again. ‘If I find it open in the night, I’ll give you ten pounds. But it’s impossible.’‘We said goodnight, and I went to bed. I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t. Sometimes I looked at the window; it was closed, and I smiled thinking of the steward’s story. As I was falling asleep, I suddenly felt some cold air and sea water on my face. I jumped out of bed, and the movement of the ship threw me onto the sofa under the window. It was open — and secured with the hook! I was surprised but not scared. I closed the window and locked it. Then I stood watching it in the dark cabin.‘Suddenly I heard a sound behind me and turned round. A sound of pain came from the berth above mine. I opened the curtain and put my hand in: there was somebody in it! The air was very damp, and there was a horrible smell of old sea water. I touched a man’s arm; it was wet, and as cold as ice. As I pulled it, the thing came towards me — a soft, wet, heavy thing — and it fell against me. I fell back across the cabin. In a moment the door opened and the thing ran out. I followed it as fast as possible. I’m sure I saw it in the low light of the corridor before it disappeared. Now I was really frightened.‘This is crazy,’ I thought. Had I really seen it? I went back into the cabin, lit a candle and saw with horror that the window was open. I looked at the other berth; it smelt of sea water but it was dry! I closed the window and sat on the sofa all night. The window did not open.‘When dawn came, I got dressed and went on deck, where I saw the ship’s doctor.‘You were right, Doctor,’ I said. ‘There’s something very strange about cabin 105.’‘Did you have a bad night?’ he asked.‘So I told him everything. Then I asked if he believed me.‘Yes, of course. You must come and stay in my cabin tonight.’‘Why don’t you come and stay in mine for one night? Help me to understand what happened.’‘I’m sorry, but no. I don’t want to see any ghosts.’‘I laughed at him. ‘Do you really believe it was a ghost?’‘Can you explain it then?’ he asked angrily. ‘No, you can’t!’‘But you’re a doctor, a man of science. You must know there’s a rational explanation.’‘There isn’t a rational explanation. I hope you find somebody to help you. Good morning, Mr Brisbane.’ And the ship’s doctor continued his walk.‘I didn’t want to spend another night in my cabin, but I was obstinate and decided to do it alone. I couldn’t find anybody to help me. Later, I met the captain and told him this.‘I’ll stay with you tonight,’ he said, ‘and we’ll see what happens. I think we can find out what’s wrong with that berth.’‘He brought a carpenter to the cabin and told him to examine the berth very carefully. When the carpenter finished his work he said, ‘In my opinion it’s better to lock the door with some big screws. Four people have died already. This cabin is haunted.’‘I’ll try it for one more night,’ I answered.‘I was feeling better now because I had the captain’s company for the night. He was a calm, brave man, and he really wanted to solve the mystery. I was smoking a cigar at about ten o’clock that evening when he came to speak to me.‘This is a serious problem, Mr Brisbane,’ he said. ‘We’ve lost four passengers on four trips, so we must find out what’s wrong. If nothing happens tonight, we’ll try tomorrow. Are you ready?’‘We went down to cabin 105. The captain closed the door and locked it. He put my big suitcase in front of the door and sat on it, so nothing could get out. The window was closed. I opened the curtains around the other berth, and put my lamp there. Then I checked around the cabin and under my bed and the sofa.‘Nobody can come into the cabin, nobody can open the window, and only you and I are in the cabin,’ I said.‘Very good,’ answered the captain calmly. ‘So if we see anything, it’s only our imagination — or something supernatural.’‘Do you really believe it’s something supernatural?’ I asked sleepily.‘No, I don’t. What are you looking at?’‘I didn’t answer. I was looking at the window; was the lock really beginning to turn or was it my imagination? Yes, perhaps it was — very slowly, so slowly that I wasn’t really sure.‘It’s moving!’ the captain cried. ‘But what’s that smell? I can smell old sea water — can you?’‘Yes. It’s strange because the cabin is dry,’ I said.Just then my lamp suddenly went out. As I stood up to get it, the captain jumped up with a loud cry of surprise. I turned and ran towards him as he called for help. He was trying to stop the window from opening, but the lock was turning against his hands. Suddenly the window opened. The captain, his face very pale, stood by the door so nobody could escape.‘There’s somebody in that berth!’ he shouted, his eyes big and scared. ‘Stand by the door while I look. It won’t escape.’‘But I jumped up and put my hands into the upper berth. Inside there was something ghostly and horrible, and it moved in my hands. It felt like the body of a drowned I man — cold, soft, and wet from a long time in the water. I held on to it tightly but it was as strong as ten men. And it moved, a smooth, wet thing with a putrid smell, and dead white eyes that stared at me, and wet hair over its dead face. It pushed against me, put its arms around my neck, and forced me back. I fought with the thing, but it was too strong, and finally I fell and let it go.‘It moved quickly towards the captain. He tried to hit it, but he fell down with a cry of horror. As the thing stood over the captain, I almost screamed with terror, but I had no voice. Suddenly the thing disappeared. It seemed to go through the window, but I don’t know how that was possible.‘The captain and I lay on the floor for a long time. When I moved at last, I knew my arm was broken. I stood up and tried to help the captain; he wasn’t injured, but he was in a bad state of shock. ‘That’s the end of my story. The ship’s carpenter put four big screws in the door of 105, and no passengers slept in it again. If you ever travel on The Kamtschatka and ask for that cabin, the captain will tell you that it’s occupied. Yes, it is occupied — by a dead thing!’
In the dark
Words, you might not know:
haunt, thunder, blanket, rid.
CHAPTER ONEA Shocking ConfessionMaybe he was mad. Maybe he had a sixth sense. Or was he really haunted? I He told me the first part of the story, and I saw the last part with my own eyes.At school my friend Haldane and I hated a boy called Visger. When we did something wrong, he always told the teacher. One day we stole some cherries from a tree.'Do you know who did it, Visger?' the teacher asked. 'It was Haldane and Winston,' he replied. Later, Haldane asked him how he knew it was us. 'I didn't know,' he said. 'I just felt certain. And I was right.' Haldane and I grew up. Visger became a vegetarian and never drank alcohol. He also became Sir George Visger.When we all left Oxford University, I went away to India. After a year I came back and wanted to see Haldane. He was always happy, kind, and honest. I wanted to see the smile in his blue eyes again and hear his happy laugh, so I went to visit him in London. But this time he did not laugh. He was miserable, his face was pale and he looked weak and ill.He was packing his things, and there were lots of big boxes full of furniture and books around the house.'I'm moving,' he said. I don't like this house. There's something strange about it; I'm going tomorrow.''Let's go out and have some dinner,' I said.'I'm too busy.' He looked nervously around the room. 'Look, I'm really happy to see you, but... Why don't you go to the restaurant and bring back some food?'When I came back, we sat by the fire and ate the food. I tried to tell jokes and he tried to laugh, but sometimes he looked into the shadows in the corners of the room. We finished our meal, and then I said, 'Well?''What's the matter?''You tell me,' I answered.He was silent. Again he looked into the shadows.'You're very nervous,' I said. 'What is it? Drink? Gambling? Women? Tell me, or go and tell your doctor. You're ill, my friend.''I won't be your friend if you talk like that.''Well, I am your friend, and something is wrong. Come on, tell me.'But he did not tell me anything. He asked me to stay for the night, but I had a room in a hotel so I left him. When I returned the next morning, he was gone and some men were putting his boxes into a van. Haldane did not leave his new address.I saw him again more than a year later. He came to see me early one morning before breakfast. He looked really bad, worse than before. His face was thin and white, like a ghost, and his hands were shaking.I invited him to have breakfast with me, but I did not ask him any questions because I knew he wanted to tell me something. I made coffee, talked and waited.'I'm going to kill myself,' he began. 'Don't worry, I won't do it here or now. I'll do it when it's necessary, when I can't continue to live any more. And I want somebody to know why. Can I tell you?''Yes, of course,' I said, astonished.''You must promise not to tell anybody while I'm alive,' he said.'I promise.'He looked at the fire silently. 'It's difficult to begin,' he said. 'You remember George Visger, don't you?''Yes. I haven't seen him for a long time, but somebody told me he went to an island to teach vegetarianism to the cannibals.' I laughed. 'Anyway, he's gone.'Haldane did not laugh. 'Yes, he's gone. But not to an island. He's dead?’'Dead? How?''You remember he always knew when people did bad things, and told the teacher? Well, he told a girl some bad things about me. I loved her, but she left me. Then she died suddenly — oh, it was terrible! When I went to the funeral, he was there. I came back home and sat thinking about it, and then he arrived.''I hope you told him to go away,' I said angrily.'No. I listened to him. He came to say it was better that she was dead and we hadn't got married. I asked why and he said because there was madness in my family.''And is there?''I don't know, but he said he knew and had told my girlfriend. I said I never knew anything about madness in the family. And he said, "So, you see, it's better you didn't get married, isn't it?" And then i put my hands round his neck. I don't know if I meant to kill him, but that's what happened.'I was shocked. I said nothing; what can you say when your friend tells you he is a murderer?Haldane continued. 'I saw that he was dead, but I was very calm. I sat down and thought, there's no blood, no weapon. Everybody knows Visger is going to an island, and he told me he's said goodbye to them. So there's no problem; I must get rid of his body, that's all.''How?'He smiled. 'No, I won't tell you. You promised not to tell anybody, but maybe you'll talk in your sleep or when you have a fever one day. I'll be safe if you don't know where the body is, do you see?'I was sorry for my friend, but I could not believe he was a murderer.I said, 'Yes, I see. Look, let's go away together. Let's travel and see the world, and forget about Visger.'He looked very happy. 'You understand and you don't hate me! Why didn't I tell you before? It's too late now.''Too late? No, it isn't. Come on, we'll pack our suitcases tonight. We'll go where nobody can find us.'He said, 'When I tell you what has happened to me, you'll change your mind.''But I know what has happened to you.''No,' he said slowly, 'I've told you what happened to him, not what happened to me. That's very different. Did I tell you what his last words were? Just before I put my hands around his neck he said, "Careful, Haldane! You'll never get rid of my body." Well, I got rid of his body, and I forgot about his last words. But a year later I was sitting here and I suddenly remembered them. "I got rid of your body very easily, Visger!" I said. And then I looked at the carpet in front of the fire and — Aaah!' Haldane screamed very loudly. 'I can't tell you — no, I can't!'? CHAPTER TWOA HauntedAt that moment we heard thunder outside. I went to the window and saw some dark storm clouds in the sky.'Where was I?' Haldane said. 'Oh yes. I looked at the carpet and there he was — Visger. I can't explain it: the door was closed, the windows were closed. He wasn't there before, and he was there now. That's all.''A hallucination,' I said.'That's exactly what I thought,' he answered. 'But I touched it. It was real; it was heavy and hard, like stone. The arms were rigid like the arms of a statue.''It was a hallucination,' I repeated.'Well, I thought somebody had put him here to frighten me, so I went to the place where I had hidden him, and he was there, just as he was a year before.''My dear Haldane,' I said, 'this is very funny.''You might think it's funny, but when I wake up in the night and think of it, it isn't funny at all. I don't want to die in the dark, Winston. That's why I think I'll kill myself, so I'm sure that I won't die in the dark.''Is that all?''No, he came back again. I was asleep on the train one day, and when I woke up, he was on the seat opposite me. He looked the same as before, hard and rigid like a statue. I threw him out of the window in a tunnel. If I see him again, I'll kill myself. You think I'm mad, but I'm not. You can't help me, nobody can help me. He knew, you see? He said, "You'll never get rid of my body," and I can't. He always knew things. Winston, I promise you I'm not mad.''I don't think you're mad; I think your mind is disturbed. But we'll stay together; if you can talk to me, you won't imagine things.'So we went travelling together, and I was full of hope. Haldane was always a rational man, and I could not believe he was mad. I wanted to help him get better. After a month or two the 'madness' passed and we joked and laughed again. I was extremely happy that my old friend was normal. 'He's forgotten about Visger,' I thought, 'and now he's fine!'We arrived in Bruges, where there was a big exhibition and all the hotels were full. We could only find one room with a single bed in a hotel called the Grande Vigne, so I had to sleep in the armchair.We had dinner and went to a pub, and it was late when we returned to our room. We talked for a while, and then Haldane got into bed. I tried to sleep in the armchair, but it was not very comfortable. I was nearly asleep when Haldane began to talk about his will.'I've left everything to you, Winston,' he said. 'I know I can trust you to take care of everything.''Thank you,' I said sleepily. 'Let's talk about it in the morning.'But he continued, telling me what a good friend I was. I told him to go to sleep, but he said he was thirsty.'Oh, alright,' I said. 'Light the candle and go and get some water — and then please let me sleep!''No, you light it. I don't want to get out of bed in the dark. I might step on something or walk into something that wasn't there when I got into bed.'I lit the candle, and he sat up in bed and looked at me. His face was very pale, his hair untidy and his eyes were shining.'That's better,' he said. 'Oh, look here! There are two big letters on the sheet in red cotton. GV! George Visger!''No, it's the symbol of the Hotel Grande Vigne,' I said. 'Hurry up and get the water!''Please come with me, Winston.''I'll go down by myself.' And I went to the door with the candle in my hand. He jumped off the bed in a second.'No! I don't want to stay alone in the dark,' he said like a frightened child.I tried to make a joke of it, but I was very disappointed. It was clear to me that all my time spent trying to help him had been wasted, and that he was not better after all. We went down as quietly as we could, and got some water from the dining room. Haldane took the candle from me, and went very slowly back towards our room. He looked around very carefully. I knew what he was looking for, and I became angry and nervous. When we entered the room, I almost expected to see something on the carpet, but of course there was nothing. I put out the candle, pulled the blankets round me, and tried to get comfortable in my chair so I could sleep again.'You've got all the blankets,' Haldane said.'No, I haven't. Only the ones I had before.''Well, I can't find mine. I'm so cold. Light the candle! Quick, light it! There's something horrible...'But I could not find the matches.'Light the candle, light the candle!' he shouted. 'If you don't, he'll come to me, he'll come in the dark. I can't die in the dark; please, Winston, light the candle!''I am lighting it,' I said angrily. But in the dark I was trying to find the matches with my hands — on the shelf, the table... I could not remember where I had put them. 'You're not going to die. It's alright. I'll get the matches in a second.''It's cold. It's cold. It's cold,' he said, like that, three times. And then he screamed loudly, like a child, or like a rabbit attacked by dogs.'What is it?' I cried.There was silence. Then, very slowly, 'It's Visger,' he said, and his voice seemed strange and distant.'Of course it isn't!' My hand found the matches as I spoke.'He's here!' he screamed. 'Here, next to me. In the bed.'I lit the candle. I ran to the bed.He was lying on the edge of the bed. Next to him was a dead man, white and cold.Haldane had died in the dark.***There was a simple explanation. Haldane and I were in the wrong room — the dead man's room. His name was Felix Leblanc, and he had died from a heart attack earlier that day.I found out more information in England. The police found the body of a man with a bottle of poison in his hand in a railway tunnel. His name was Simmons, and he had drunk poison in Haldane's carriage because he was depressed. Haldane had thrown his body out of the window.Haldane left me all his possessions in his will. I asked a police inspector to be with me when I opened the boxes he had left me. Inside one were the bodies of two men. One man was identified later; he was a salesman who had died of epilepsy. The other body was Visger's. I leave it to you to explain the events in this story. I cannot find an explanation that satisfies me.
Edgar Allan Poe
Words, you might not know:
footspet, deer, abbey, chandelier, tapestries, fainted, revive, sigh, paralysed.