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American Detective Fiction    April 1841-July 1891

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  Published in
Graham’s Magazine, April 4, 1841
    "Murders in the Rue Morgue" continued from p. 25

has been described in one portion of the testimony as ‘dark bruises, and deep indentations of finger nails,’ upon the throat of Mademoiselle L’Espanaye, and in another, (by Messrs. Dumas and Etienne,) as ‘a series of livid spots, evidently the impression of fingers.’

“You will perceive,” continued my friend, spreading out the paper upon the table before us, “you will perceive that this drawing gives the idea of a firm and fixed hold. There is no slipping apparent. Each finger has retained—possibly until the death of the victim—the fearful grasp by which it originally imbedded itself. Attempt now to place all your fingers, at one and the same time, in the impressions as you see them.”

I made the attempt in vain.

“We are possibly not giving this matter a fair trial,” he said. “The paper is spread out upon a plane surface; but the human throat is cylindrical. Here is a billet of wood, the circumference of which is about that of the throat. Wrap the drawing around it, and try the experiment again.”

    I did so; but the difficulty was even more obvious than before. “This,” I said, “is the mark of no human hand.”

“Assuredly it is not,” replied Dupin; “read now this passage from Cuvier.”

It was a minute anatomical and generally descriptive account of the large fulvous Ourang-Outang of the East Indian Islands. The gigantic stature, the prodigious strength and activity, the wild ferocity, and the imitative propensities of these mammalia are sufficiently well known to all. I understood the full horrors of the murder at once.

“The description of the digits,” said I, as I made an end of reading, “is in exact accordance with this drawing. I see that no animal but an Ourang-Outang, of the species here mentioned, could have impressed the indentations as you have traced them. This tuft of yellow hair is identical in character with that of the beast of Cuvier. But I cannot possibly comprehend the particulars of this frightful mystery. Besides, there were two

Continued on p. 27

   
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