Myrtle's tale

Myrtle recounts how she died, giving Harry and Ron vital information about the Chamber of Secrets

Extract from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

by J.K. Rowling

‘What d’you want me to do?’ said Lockhart weakly. ‘I don’t know where the Chamber of Secrets is. There’s nothing I can do.’

‘You’re in luck,’ said Harry, forcing Lockhart to his feet at wandpoint. ‘We think we know where it is. And what’s inside it. Let’s go.’

They marched Lockhart out of his office and down the nearest stairs, along the dark corridor where the messages shone on the wall, to the door of Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom.

They sent Lockhart in first. Harry was pleased to see that he was shaking.

Moaning Myrtle was sitting on the cistern of the end toilet.

‘Oh, it’s you,’ she said, when she saw Harry. ‘What do you want this time?’

‘To ask you how you died,’ said Harry.

Myrtle’s whole aspect changed at once. She looked as though she had never been asked such a flattering question.

‘Ooooh, it was dreadful,’ she said with relish. ‘It happened right in here. I died in this very cubicle. I remember it so well. I’d hidden because Olive Hornby was teasing me about my glasses. The door was locked, and I was crying, and then I heard some- body come in. They said something funny. A different language, I think it must have been. Anyway, what really got me was that it was a boy speaking. So I unlocked the door, to tell him to go and use his own toilet, and then –’ Myrtle swelled importantly, her face shining, ‘I died.’

‘How?’ said Harry.

‘No idea,’ said Myrtle in hushed tones. ‘I just remember seeing a pair of great big yellow eyes. My whole body sort of seized up, and then I was floating away ...’ She looked dreamily at Harry. ‘And then I came back again. I was determined to haunt Olive Hornby, you see. Oh, she was sorry she’d ever laughed at my glasses.’

‘Where exactly did you see the eyes?’ said Harry.

‘Somewhere there,’ said Myrtle, pointing vaguely towards the sink in front of her toilet.

Harry and Ron hurried over to it. Lockhart was standing well back, a look of utter terror on his face.

It looked like an ordinary sink. They examined every inch of it, inside and out, including the pipes below. And then Harry saw it: scratched on the side of one of the copper taps was a tiny snake.

‘That tap’s never worked,’ said Myrtle brightly, as he tried to turn it.

‘Harry,’ said Ron, ‘say something. Something in Parseltongue.’

‘But –’ Harry thought hard. The only times he’d ever managed to speak Parseltongue were when he’d been faced with a real snake. He stared hard at the tiny engraving, trying to imagine it was real. ‘Open up,’ he said.

He looked at Ron, who shook his head.

‘English,’ he said.

Harry looked back at the snake, willing himself to believe it was alive. If he moved his head, the candlelight made it look as though it was moving.

‘Open up,’ he said.

Except that the words weren’t what he heard; a strange hissing had escaped him, and at once the tap glowed with a brilliant white light and began to spin. Next second, the sink began to move. The sink, in fact, sank, right out of sight, leaving a large pipe exposed, a pipe wide enough for a man to slide into.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

By J.K. Rowling