Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for beginners. The name of the story is The Heart That Told the Truth. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Heart. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Heart. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
I have a warning for you all. Today’s story is quite scary. It has killing and someone who is crazy. So if you don’t like scary stories, you should not listen to this one. And if you don’t like killing, or you are too young, you also shouldn’t listen to this episode. It’s definitely a break from our episodes in the Great Forest. There are no happy animals in this story.
The story was originally written by Edgar Allan Poe. The original title was The Tell-Tale Heart. Edgar Allan Poe is a famous American author. He wrote in the genre of Gothic Horror. This means scary stories that had gothic elements. Gothic elements means very old houses, castles, vampires, ghosts… Things like that. It was very popular in the Victorian era.
OK, I will describe some words that are in the story.
A vulture is a type of big, ugly bird. That’s spelled V-U-L-T-U-R-E, vulture. They don’t have any hair on their head, and they have lots of skin. They usually live in very hot, dry places. People hate vultures because they survive by eating other dead animals. They fly around in the air, waiting for animals to die, and then eat their dead bodies.
Cloth. A cloth is something you use to make clothes. So all of our clothes are made from different types of cloth. Examples of cloth are cotton, wool, and silk.
Evil means something very bad. It’s usually used in a religious meaning. Evil is the opposite of good.
I told you before that this is a scary story. You might feel scared while listening to it. You can also say that you feel fear. Like, ‘Oh! I’m so scared! I’m full of fear!’
The heart is one of the most important parts of the body. It pushes blood around our body, and it does this by beating, going, ‘babum, babum, babum.’ So your heartbeat is a very important thing, and that’s spelt B-E-A-T, beat.
Sheets are what you use to keep warm in bed. So when you lie down in bed, you pull the sheets over you to keep you warm in the night.
Floor boards, F-L-O-O-R space B-O-A-R-D-S. So the floor is what you walk on in your house. If you have a wooden floor, it is made up of lots of long pieces of wood. And these pieces of wood are called floor boards. It can be very annoying when floor boards are uneven, or a floor board stands out and you always hurt your foot on it.
Finally, there is a phrase, ‘I can’t stand it!’ We say this when we have a difficult situation and it’s gone on for a long time, and it’s just too much now. For example, maybe you’re in an exam and someone is tapping their pen on the table. [sound of pen tapping on table]. And you’re trying to concentrate in the exam, but you can’t concentrate because this person keeps tapping their pen. So finally, you shout, ‘I can’t stand it! Stop tapping that pen!’ and everyone looks at you. This isn’t a real story. This didn’t happen to me. I usually can stand it.
So, listen and enjoy!
The Heart That Told the Truth
Listen, and I will tell you what happened. Then you can judge how healthy my mind is. You see, my body is strong. My hearing has become much stronger. I can hear sounds far and near. I am not weak, like a crazy man.
I don’t know where the idea came from. There was no reason to do it. I didn’t hate the old man. I actually loved him. He had never hurt me. I didn’t even want his money.
It was his eye. His eye was like the eye of a vulture, one of those terrible birds that watch and wait while an animal dies, and then fall onto the dead body and eat it. When the old man looked at me with his vulture eye, a cold feeling went up and down my back. Even my blood went cold. And so, I finally decided I had to kill the old man and close that eye forever!
So you think I’m crazy? A crazy person can’t make plans. But I planned it out slowly and carefully.
Every night around twelve o’clock I slowly opened his door. When the door was open wide enough I put my hand in, and then my head. I held a light in my hand, covered with cloth so the man couldn’t see it. I stood there quietly. Then, carefully, I lifted the cloth, so that a single, thin, small light fell across his eye. I did this for seven nights. His eye was always closed, so the light did not touch it. But I could wait.
I did not want to kill the man. I wanted to kill his eye: the Evil Eye.
Every morning I went to his room, and I asked him in a friendly voice how he had slept. He had no idea that every night, at twelve, I watched him as he did that very thing.
The eighth night I was more careful when I opened the door. The hands of a clock move more quickly than my hand did. I had never felt so strong before. Tonight I would win!
The old man was lying there on the bed. He was dreaming, and had no idea that I was at the door. Then he moved. But I was not scared. The darkness in the room was thick and heavy. I knew he could not see me opening the door. I continued to push. I put my head in. I put my hand in. I put the light in, covered with the cloth.
Suddenly, the old man sat up in bed and said, ‘Who’s there?’
I stood still. I didn’t move for a whole hour. I didn’t hear him lie down again, either. He just sat there, listening. Then he made a scared sound. I knew he was sitting up in his bed, filled with fear.
He knew that I was there. He did not see me. He did not hear me. But he could feel me. He knew that Death was standing there.
Slowly, bit by bit, I lifted the cloth, until a small light came out and fell onto that vulture eye! It was open, and I felt more and more hate as it looked at me. I could not see the old man’s face. Only that eye, that hard blue eye. My blood turned to ice.
I told you my hearing had become very strong, didn’t I? It was then that I heard a soft, quick sound, like the sound of a clock through a wall.
It was the beating of the old man’s heart.
I tried to stand quietly. But the sound grew louder. The old man was getting more and more scared. And I hated him more and more.
But it wasn’t just hate. In the dark night, I started to feel fear. His heart was beating so loudly that someone would hear!
The time had come.
I threw away the light and ran into the room. ‘Die! Die!’
The old man shouted in fear. I fell onto him and held the sheets tightly over his head. His heart kept beating, but I smiled. I knew I would win.
The heart beat for several minutes, and finally stopped.
The old man was dead.
I took away the sheets and held my ear to his chest. There was no sound. Yes, he was dead!
His eye would hurt me no more.
So you still think I’m crazy? But I was so clever. I put the body where nodoby would find it.
First I cut off the head, and then the arms and the legs. I was very careful, and didn’t get any blood on the floor. I pulled up three of the floor boards and put the pieces of the body there. Then I put the boards down again, so that no human eye could see they had been moved.
I heard someone knock at the door. It was now four o’clock in the morning, but still dark. But I was not scared as I went to open the door.
Three policemen were there. One of the neighbours had heard the old man’s shout and called the police. The three policemen had come to ask questions and to search the house.
I asked them to come in. I told them that I was the one who shouted, because I had a bad dream. I told them the old man was away. He had gone to visit a friend in the country. I took them through the whole house. I told them to search it all.
Finally, I took them to the old man’s bedroom. I asked them to sit down and talk for a while. It was like playing a game.
My easy voice made the policemen believe my story. They sat talking to me in a friendly way. But I wanted them to go. My head hurt and there was a strange sound in my ears. I talked more, and faster.
The sound became clearer. But they kept sitting and talking.
Suddenly, I knew that the sound was not in my ears. It was not inside my head. I turned white. I talked faster and louder. And the sound, too, became louder. It was soft and quick, like the sound of a clock through a wall.
A sound I knew well.
The sound grew so loud it hurt my ears. Why wouldn’t the policemen leave? Louder, louder. I stood up and walked around the room. I pushed my chair across the floor to make more noise, to cover that terrible sound. I talked even louder. But the men kept sitting and talking and smiling.
They heard it! I was sure. They knew! Now they were playing a game with me. Their smiles hurt me, just like the old man’s Evil Eye. Bang, bang, bang!
I couldn’t stand it any longer. I pointed at the floor boards and shouted, ‘Yes! Yes, I killed him. Pull up the floor boards and you will see! I killed him. But tell me! Why won’t his heart stop beating?! Why won’t it stop?!’
I hope you enjoyed the story. You can support the podcast by leaving a review on iTunes. Search for Easy Stories in English, give us a star rating, and say what you like about the show. It would really help us grow. Thank you for listening, and until next week.