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    Thou Art the Man

    by Edgar Allan Poe
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    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.
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