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Black Cat


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Story by Poe, published in 1843, collected in Tales (1845).

A condemned murderer tells of his crime and its discovery. For years he cherished a pet black cat, Pluto, until intemperate drinking led him to destroy one of its eyes during a fit of malevolence. The cat recovered, but its master's perverse mood continued, and he tied it by the neck to a tree. The same night, his home was destroyed by fire, except for a newly plastered wall that bore the image of a cat with a noose about its neck. Now poverty-stricken and degenerate, the man was haunted by this image, but nevertheless brought home a stray one-eyed cat, which had a single white mark on its black breast, resembling a gallows. He came to hate the animal, and one day attempted to kill it with an axe; murdering his wife when she interfered, he placed her body in a cellar recess that he concealed with plaster. When police came to make a search, they found nothing until a ghastly scream from the walled recess caused them to open it and discover the cat seated upon the head of the corpse.

Subjects: Literature.


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