|Tomorrow I die.
Tomorrow I die, and today I want to tell the world what happened and
thus perhaps free my soul from the horrible weight which lies upon it.
But listen! Listen, and you shall hear how I have been destroyed.
When I was a child, I had a natural goodness of soul which led me to
love animals — all kinds of animals, but especially those animals we
call pets, animals which have learned to live with men and share their
homes with them. There is something in the love of these animals which
speaks directly to the heart of the man who has learned from experience
how uncertain and changeable is the love of other men.
I was quite young when I married. You will understand the joy I felt to
find that my wife shared with me my love for animals. Quickly she got
for us several pets of the most likeable kind. We had birds, some
goldfish, a fine dog, and a cat.
The cat was a beautiful animal, of unusually large size, and entirely
black. I named the cat Pluto, and it was the pet I liked best. I alone
fed it, and it followed me all around the house. It was even with
difficulty that I stopped it from following me through the streets.
Our friendship lasted, in this manner, for several years, during which,
however, my own character became greatly changed. I began to drink too
much wine and other strong drinks.
As the days passed I became less loving in my manner; I became quick to
anger; I forgot how to smile and laugh. My wife — yes, and my pets, too,
all except the cat — were made to feel the change in my character.
One night I came home quite late from the inn, where I now spent more
and more time drinking. Walking with uncertain step, I made my way with
effort into the house. As I entered I saw — or thought I saw — that
Pluto, the cat, was trying to stay out of my way, to avoid me. This
action, by an animal which I had thought still loved me, made me angry
beyond reason. My soul seemed to fly from my body. I took a small knife
out of my coat and opened it. Then I took the poor animal by the neck
and with one quick movement I cut out one of its fear-filled eyes!
Slowly the cat got well. The hole where its eye had been was not a
pretty thing to look at, it is true; but the cat no longer appeared to
suffer any pain. As might be expected, however, it ran from me in fear
whenever I came near. Why should it not run? Yet this did not fail to
anger me. I felt growing inside myself a new feeling. Who has not, a
hundred times, found himself doing wrong, some evil thing for no other
reason than because he knows he should not? Are not we humans at all
times pushed, ever driven in some unknown way to break the law just
because we understand it to be the law?
One day, in cold blood, I tied a strong rope around the cat’s neck, and
taking it down into the cellar under the house I hung it from one of the
wood beams above my head. I hung it there until it was dead. I hung it
there with tears in my eyes, I hung it because I knew it had loved me,
because I felt it had given me no reason to hurt it, because I knew that
my doing so was a wrong so great, a sin so deadly that it would place my
soul forever outside the reach of the love of God!
That same night, as I lay sleeping, I heard through my open window the
cries of our neighbors. I jumped from my bed and found that the entire
house was filled with fire. It was only with great difficulty that my
wife and I escaped. And when we were out of the house, all we could do
was stand and watch it burn to the ground. I thought of the cat as I
watched it burn, the cat whose dead body I had left hanging in the
cellar. It seemed almost that the cat had in some mysterious way caused
the house to burn so that it could make me pay for my evil act, so that
it could take revenge upon me.
Months went by, and I could not drive the thought of the cat out of my
mind. One night I sat in the inn, drinking as usual. In the corner I saw
a dark object that I had not seen before. I went over to see what it
could be. It was a cat, a cat almost exactly like Pluto. I touched it
with my hand and petted it, passing my hand softly along its back. The
cat rose and pushed its back against my hand.
Suddenly, I realized that I wanted the cat. I offered to buy it from the
innkeeper, but he claimed he had never seen the animal before. As I left
the inn, it followed me, and I allowed it to do so. It soon became a pet
of both my wife and myself. The morning after I brought it home, however,
I discovered that this cat, like Pluto, had only one eye.
How was it possible that I had not noticed this the night before? This
fact only made my wife love the cat more. But I myself found a feeling
of dislike growing in me. My growing dislike of the animal only seemed
to increase its love for me. It followed me, followed me everywhere,
always. When I sat, it lay down under my chair. When I stood up it got
between my feet and nearly made me fall. Wherever I went, it was always
there. At night, I dreamed of it. And I began to hate that cat!
One day my wife called to me from the cellar of the old building where
we were now forced to live. As I went down the stairs, the cat,
following me as always, ran under my feet and nearly threw me down.
In sudden anger, I took a knife and struck wildly at the cat. Quickly my
wife put out her hand and stopped my arm. This only increased my anger
and, without thinking, I turned and put the knife’s point deep into her
heart! She fell to the floor and died without a sound.
I spent a few moments looking for the cat, but it was gone. And I had
other things to do, for I knew I must do something with the body, and
quickly. Suddenly, I noted a place in the wall of the cellar where
stones had been added to the wall to cover an old fireplace which was no
The walls were not very strongly built, and I found I could easily take
down those stones. Behind them there was, as I knew there must be, a
hole just big enough to hold the body. With much effort I put the body
in and carefully put the stones back in their place. I was pleased to
see that it was quite impossible for anyone to know that a single stone
had been moved.
Days passed. Still there was no cat. A few people came and asked about
my wife, but I answered them easily. Then one day several officers of
the police came. Certain that they could find nothing, I asked them in
and went with them as they searched.
Finally, they searched the cellar from end to end. I watched them
quietly, and, as I expected, they noticed nothing. But as they started
up the stairs again, I felt myself driven by some unknown inner force to
let them know, to make them know, that I had won the battle.
“The walls of this building,” I said, “are very strongly built; it is a
fine old house.” And as I spoke, I struck with my stick that very place
in the wall behind which was the body of my wife. Immediately I felt a
cold feeling up and down my back as we heard coming out of the wall
itself a horrible cry.
For one short moment, the officers stood looking at each other. Then
quickly they began to pick at the stones, and in a short time they saw
before them the body of my wife, black with dried blood and smelling of
decay. On the body’s head, its one eye filled with fire, its wide open
mouth the color of blood, sat the cat, crying out its revenge!