Read the passage below and then answer the following questions.
"I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between
the scantlings [foundation beams]. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye
– not even his – could have detected any thing wrong. There was nothing to wash out
– no stain of any kind – no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had
caught all – ha! ha!
When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o’clock – still dark as midnight. As
the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to
open it with a light heart, for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who
introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had
been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.
I smiled, for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search – search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.
The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my
ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct: it continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued
and gained definiteness – until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.
No doubt I now grew very pale; but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice.
Yet the sound increased – and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound – much
such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath – and yet
the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly – more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men – but the noise
steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed – I raved – I swore! I swung the
chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose
over all and continually increased. It grew louder – louder – louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! – no, no!
They heard! – they suspected! – they knew! – they were making a mockery of my horror!
– this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was
more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt
that I must scream or die! and now – again! – hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!
“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble [pretend] no more! I admit the deed! – tear up the planks! here, here! – It is the beating of his hideous heart!”
The Tell-tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe