The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 1

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 178

men
have so dragged a corpse at all as to have left evident traces of the
dragging?

"And here we must refer to an observation of Le Commerciel; an
observation upon which I have already, in some measure, commented. 'A
piece,' says this journal, 'of one of the unfortunate girl's petticoats
was torn out and tied under her chin, and around the back of her
head, probably to prevent screams. This was done by fellows who had no
pocket-handkerchiefs.'

"I have before suggested that a genuine blackguard is never without a
pocket-handkerchief. But it is not to this fact that I now especially
advert. That it was not through want of a handkerchief for the purpose
imagined by Le Commerciel, that this bandage was employed, is rendered
apparent by the handkerchief left in the thicket; and that the object
was not 'to prevent screams' appears, also, from the bandage having been
employed in preference to what would so much better have answered
the purpose. But the language of the evidence speaks of the strip in
question as 'found around the neck, fitting loosely, and secured with
a hard knot.' These words are sufficiently vague, but differ materially
from those of Le Commerciel. The slip was eighteen inches wide, and
therefore, although of muslin, would form a strong band when folded or
rumpled longitudinally. And thus rumpled it was discovered. My inference
is this. The solitary murderer, having borne the corpse, for some
distance, (whether from the thicket or elsewhere) by means of the
bandage hitched around its middle, found the weight, in this mode
of procedure, too much for his strength. He resolved to drag the
burthen--the evidence goes to show that it was dragged. With this object
in view, it became necessary to attach something like a rope to one of
the extremities. It could be best attached about the neck, where the
head would prevent its slipping off. And, now, the murderer bethought
him, unquestionably, of the bandage about the loins. He would have used
this, but for its volution about the corpse, the hitch which embarrassed
it, and the reflection that it had not been 'torn off' from the garment.
It was easier to tear a new slip from the petticoat. He tore it, made
it fast about the neck, and so dragged his victim to the brink of the
river. That this 'bandage,' only attainable with trouble and delay, and
but imperfectly answering its purpose--that this bandage was employed
at all, demonstrates that the necessity for its employment sprang from
circumstances arising at a period when the handkerchief was no longer
attainable--that is to say,

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