The Works of Edgar Allan Poe
Part 5 out of 5
seemed to rivet, not only my vision, but my whole powers of thought
and feeling, upon the admirable object before me. I saw -- I felt --
I knew that I was deeply, madly, irrevocably in love -- and this even
before seeing the face of the person beloved. So intense, indeed, was
the passion that consumed me, that I really believe it would have
received little if any abatement had the features, yet unseen, proved
of merely ordinary character, so anomalous is the nature of the only
true love -- of the love at first sight -- and so little really
dependent is it upon the external conditions which only seem to
create and control it.
While I was thus wrapped in admiration of this lovely vision, a
sudden disturbance among the audience caused her to turn her head
partially toward me, so that I beheld the entire profile of the face.
Its beauty even exceeded my anticipations -- and yet there was
something about it which disappointed me without my being able to
tell exactly what it was. I said "disappointed," but this is not
altogether the word. My sentiments were at once quieted and exalted.
They partook less of transport and more of calm enthusiasm of
enthusiastic repose. This state of feeling arose, perhaps, from the
Madonna-like and matronly air of the face; and yet I at once
understood that it could not have arisen entirely from this. There
was something else- some mystery which I could not develope -- some
expression about the countenance which slightly disturbed me while it
greatly heightened my interest. In fact, I was just in that condition
of mind which prepares a young and susceptible man for any act of
extravagance. Had the lady been alone, I should undoubtedly have
entered her box and accosted her at all hazards; but, fortunately,
she was attended by two companions -- a gentleman, and a strikingly
beautiful woman, to all appearance a few years younger than herself.
I revolved in my mind a thousand schemes by which I might obtain,
hereafter, an introduction to the elder lady, or, for the present, at
all events, a more distinct view of her beauty. I would have removed
my position to one nearer her own, but the crowded state of the
theatre rendered this impossible; and the stern decrees of Fashion
had, of late, imperatively prohibited the use of the opera-glass in a
case such as this, even had I been so fortunate as to have one with
me -- but I had not -- and was thus in despair.
At length I bethought me of applying to my companion.
"Talbot," I said, "you have an opera-glass. Let me have it."
"An opera -- glass! -- no! -- what do you suppose I would be doing
with an opera-glass?" Here he turned impatiently toward the stage.
"But, Talbot," I continued, pulling him by the shoulder, "listen to
me will you? Do you see the stage -- box? -- there! -- no, the next.
-- did you ever behold as lovely a woman?"
"She is very beautiful, no doubt," he said.
"I wonder who she can be?"
"Why, in the name of all that is angelic, don't you know who she is?
'Not to know her argues yourself unknown.' She is the celebrated
Madame Lalande -- the beauty of the day par excellence, and the talk
of the whole town. Immensely wealthy too -- a widow, and a great
match -- has just arrived from Paris."
"Do you know her?"
"Yes; I have the honor."
"Will you introduce me?"
"Assuredly, with the greatest pleasure; when shall it be?"
"To-morrow, at one, I will call upon you at B--'s.
"Very good; and now do hold your tongue, if you can."
In this latter respect I was forced to take Talbot's advice; for he
remained obstinately deaf to every further question or suggestion,
and occupied himself exclusively for the rest of the evening with
what was transacting upon the stage.
In the meantime I kept my eyes riveted on Madame Lalande, and at
length had the good fortune to obtain a full front view of her face.
It was exquisitely lovely -- this, of course, my heart had told me
before, even had not Talbot fully satisfied me upon the point -- but
still the unintelligible something disturbed me. I finally concluded
that my senses were impressed by a certain air of gravity, sadness,
or, still more properly, of weariness, which took something from the
youth and freshness of the countenance, only to endow it with a
seraphic tenderness and majesty, and thus, of course, to my
enthusiastic and romantic temperment, with an interest tenfold.
While I thus feasted my eyes, I perceived, at last, to my great
trepidation, by an almost imperceptible start on the part of the
lady, that she had become suddenly aware of the intensity of my gaze.
Still, I was absolutely fascinated, and could not withdraw it, even
for an instant. She turned aside her face, and again I saw only the
chiselled contour of the back portion of the head. After some
minutes, as if urged by curiosity to see if I was still looking, she
gradually brought her face again around and again encountered my
burning gaze. Her large dark eyes fell instantly, and a deep blush
mantled her cheek. But what was my astonishment at perceiving that
she not only did not a second time avert her head, but that she
actually took from her girdle a double eyeglass -- elevated it --
adjusted it -- and then regarded me through it, intently and
deliberately, for the space of several minutes.
Had a thunderbolt fallen at my feet I could not have been more
thoroughly astounded -- astounded only -- not offended or disgusted
in the slightest degree; although an action so bold in any other
woman would have been likely to offend or disgust. But the whole
thing was done with so much quietude -- so much nonchalance -- so
much repose- with so evident an air of the highest breeding, in short
-- that nothing of mere effrontery was perceptible, and my sole
sentiments were those of admiration and surprise.
I observed that, upon her first elevation of the glass, she had
seemed satisfied with a momentary inspection of my person, and was
withdrawing the instrument, when, as if struck by a second thought,
she resumed it, and so continued to regard me with fixed attention
for the space of several minutes -- for five minutes, at the very
least, I am sure.
This action, so remarkable in an American theatre, attracted very
general observation, and gave rise to an indefinite movement, or
buzz, among the audience, which for a moment filled me with
confusion, but produced no visible effect upon the countenance of
Having satisfied her curiosity -- if such it was -- she dropped the
glass, and quietly gave her attention again to the stage; her profile
now being turned toward myself, as before. I continued to watch her
unremittingly, although I was fully conscious of my rudeness in so
doing. Presently I saw the head slowly and slightly change its
position; and soon I became convinced that the lady, while pretending
to look at the stage was, in fact, attentively regarding myself. It
is needless to say what effect this conduct, on the part of so
fascinating a woman, had upon my excitable mind.
Having thus scrutinized me for perhaps a quarter of an hour, the fair
object of my passion addressed the gentleman who attended her, and
while she spoke, I saw distinctly, by the glances of both, that the
conversation had reference to myself.
Upon its conclusion, Madame Lalande again turned toward the stage,
and, for a few minutes, seemed absorbed in the performance. At the
expiration of this period, however, I was thrown into an extremity of
agitation by seeing her unfold, for the second time, the eye-glass
which hung at her side, fully confront me as before, and,
disregarding the renewed buzz of the audience, survey me, from head
to foot, with the same miraculous composure which had previously so
delighted and confounded my soul.
This extraordinary behavior, by throwing me into a perfect fever of
excitement -- into an absolute delirium of love-served rather to
embolden than to disconcert me. In the mad intensity of my devotion,
I forgot everything but the presence and the majestic loveliness of
the vision which confronted my gaze. Watching my opportunity, when I
thought the audience were fully engaged with the opera, I at length
caught the eyes of Madame Lalande, and, upon the instant, made a
slight but unmistakable bow.
She blushed very deeply -- then averted her eyes -- then slowly and
cautiously looked around, apparently to see if my rash action had
been noticed -- then leaned over toward the gentleman who sat by her
I now felt a burning sense of the impropriety I had committed, and
expected nothing less than instant exposure; while a vision of
pistols upon the morrow floated rapidly and uncomfortably through my
brain. I was greatly and immediately relieved, however, when I saw
the lady merely hand the gentleman a play-bill, without speaking, but
the reader may form some feeble conception of my astonishment -- of
my profound amazement -- my delirious bewilderment of heart and soul
-- when, instantly afterward, having again glanced furtively around,
she allowed her bright eyes to set fully and steadily upon my own,
and then, with a faint smile, disclosing a bright line of her pearly
teeth, made two distinct, pointed, and unequivocal affirmative
inclinations of the head.
It is useless, of course, to dwell upon my joy -- upon my transport-
upon my illimitable ecstasy of heart. If ever man was mad with excess
of happiness, it was myself at that moment. I loved. This was my
first love -- so I felt it to be. It was love supreme-indescribable.
It was "love at first sight;" and at first sight, too, it had been
appreciated and returned.
Yes, returned. How and why should I doubt it for an instant. What
other construction could I possibly put upon such conduct, on the
part of a lady so beautiful -- so wealthy -- evidently so
accomplished -- of so high breeding -- of so lofty a position in
society -- in every regard so entirely respectable as I felt assured
was Madame Lalande? Yes, she loved me -- she returned the enthusiasm
of my love, with an enthusiasm as blind -- as uncompromising -- as
uncalculating -- as abandoned -- and as utterly unbounded as my own!
These delicious fancies and reflections, however, were now
interrupted by the falling of the drop-curtain. The audience arose;
and the usual tumult immediately supervened. Quitting Talbot
abruptly, I made every effort to force my way into closer proximity
with Madame Lalande. Having failed in this, on account of the crowd,
I at length gave up the chase, and bent my steps homeward; consoling
myself for my disappointment in not having been able to touch even
the hem of her robe, by the reflection that I should be introduced by
Talbot, in due form, upon the morrow.
This morrow at last came, that is to say, a day finally dawned upon a
long and weary night of impatience; and then the hours until "one"
were snail-paced, dreary, and innumerable. But even Stamboul, it is
said, shall have an end, and there came an end to this long delay.
The clock struck. As the last echo ceased, I stepped into B--'s and
inquired for Talbot.
"Out," said the footman -- Talbot's own.
"Out!" I replied, staggering back half a dozen paces -- "let me tell
you, my fine fellow, that this thing is thoroughly impossible and
impracticable; Mr. Talbot is not out. What do you mean?"
"Nothing, sir; only Mr. Talbot is not in, that's all. He rode over to
S--, immediately after breakfast, and left word that he would not be
in town again for a week."
I stood petrified with horror and rage. I endeavored to reply, but my
tongue refused its office. At length I turned on my heel, livid with
wrath, and inwardly consigning the whole tribe of the Talbots to the
innermost regions of Erebus. It was evident that my considerate
friend, il fanatico, had quite forgotten his appointment with myself
-- had forgotten it as soon as it was made. At no time was he a very
scrupulous man of his word. There was no help for it; so smothering
my vexation as well as I could, I strolled moodily up the street,
propounding futile inquiries about Madame Lalande to every male
acquaintance I met. By report she was known, I found, to all- to many
by sight -- but she had been in town only a few weeks, and there were
very few, therefore, who claimed her personal acquaintance. These
few, being still comparatively strangers, could not, or would not,
take the liberty of introducing me through the formality of a morning
call. While I stood thus in despair, conversing with a trio of
friends upon the all absorbing subject of my heart, it so happened
that the subject itself passed by.
"As I live, there she is!" cried one.
"Surprisingly beautiful!" exclaimed a second.
"An angel upon earth!" ejaculated a third.
I looked; and in an open carriage which approached us, passing slowly
down the street, sat the enchanting vision of the opera, accompanied
by the younger lady who had occupied a portion of her box.
"Her companion also wears remarkably well," said the one of my trio
who had spoken first.
"Astonishingly," said the second; "still quite a brilliant air, but
art will do wonders. Upon my word, she looks better than she did at
Paris five years ago. A beautiful woman still; -- don't you think so,
Froissart? -- Simpson, I mean."
"Still!" said I, "and why shouldn't she be? But compared with her
friend she is as a rush -- light to the evening star -- a glow --
worm to Antares.
"Ha! ha! ha! -- why, Simpson, you have an astonishing tact at making
discoveries -- original ones, I mean." And here we separated, while
one of the trio began humming a gay vaudeville, of which I caught
only the lines-
Ninon, Ninon, Ninon a bas-
A bas Ninon De L'Enclos!
During this little scene, however, one thing had served greatly to
console me, although it fed the passion by which I was consumed. As
the carriage of Madame Lalande rolled by our group, I had observed
that she recognized me; and more than this, she had blessed me, by
the most seraphic of all imaginable smiles, with no equivocal mark of
As for an introduction, I was obliged to abandon all hope of it until
such time as Talbot should think proper to return from the country.
In the meantime I perseveringly frequented every reputable place of
public amusement; and, at length, at the theatre, where I first saw
her, I had the supreme bliss of meeting her, and of exchanging
glances with her once again. This did not occur, however, until the
lapse of a fortnight. Every day, in the interim, I had inquired for
Talbot at his hotel, and every day had been thrown into a spasm of
wrath by the everlasting "Not come home yet" of his footman.
Upon the evening in question, therefore, I was in a condition little
short of madness. Madame Lalande, I had been told, was a Parisian --
had lately arrived from Paris -- might she not suddenly return? --
return before Talbot came back -- and might she not be thus lost to
me forever? The thought was too terrible to bear. Since my future
happiness was at issue, I resolved to act with a manly decision. In a
word, upon the breaking up of the play, I traced the lady to her
residence, noted the address, and the next morning sent her a full
and elaborate letter, in which I poured out my whole heart.
I spoke boldly, freely -- in a word, I spoke with passion. I
concealed nothing -- nothing even of my weakness. I alluded to the
romantic circumstances of our first meeting -- even to the glances
which had passed between us. I went so far as to say that I felt
assured of her love; while I offered this assurance, and my own
intensity of devotion, as two excuses for my otherwise unpardonable
conduct. As a third, I spoke of my fear that she might quit the city
before I could have the opportunity of a formal introduction. I
concluded the most wildly enthusiastic epistle ever penned, with a
frank declaration of my worldly circumstances -- of my affluence --
and with an offer of my heart and of my hand.
In an agony of expectation I awaited the reply. After what seemed the
lapse of a century it came.
Yes, actually came. Romantic as all this may appear, I really
received a letter from Madame Lalande -- the beautiful, the wealthy,
the idolized Madame Lalande. Her eyes -- her magnificent eyes, had
not belied her noble heart. Like a true Frenchwoman as she was she
had obeyed the frank dictates of her reason -- the generous impulses
of her nature -- despising the conventional pruderies of the world.
She had not scorned my proposals. She had not sheltered herself in
silence. She had not returned my letter unopened. She had even sent
me, in reply, one penned by her own exquisite fingers. It ran thus:
"Monsieur Simpson vill pardonne me for not compose de butefulle tong
of his contree so vell as might. It is only de late dat I am arrive,
and not yet ave do opportunite for to -- l'etudier.
"Vid dis apologie for the maniere, I vill now say dat, helas!-
Monsieur Simpson ave guess but de too true. Need I say de more?
Helas! am I not ready speak de too moshe?
This noble -- spirited note I kissed a million times, and committed,
no doubt, on its account, a thousand other extravagances that have
now escaped my memory. Still Talbot would not return. Alas! could he
have formed even the vaguest idea of the suffering his absence had
occasioned his friend, would not his sympathizing nature have flown
immediately to my relief? Still, however, he came not. I wrote. He
replied. He was detained by urgent business -- but would shortly
return. He begged me not to be impatient -- to moderate my transports
-- to read soothing books -- to drink nothing stronger than Hock --
and to bring the consolations of philosophy to my aid. The fool! if
he could not come himself, why, in the name of every thing rational,
could he not have enclosed me a letter of presentation? I wrote him
again, entreating him to forward one forthwith. My letter was
returned by that footman, with the following endorsement in pencil.
The scoundrel had joined his master in the country:
"Left S- -- yesterday, for parts unknown -- did not say where -- or
when be back -- so thought best to return letter, knowing your
handwriting, and as how you is always, more or less, in a hurry.
After this, it is needless to say, that I devoted to the infernal
deities both master and valet: -- but there was little use in anger,
and no consolation at all in complaint.
But I had yet a resource left, in my constitutional audacity.
Hitherto it had served me well, and I now resolved to make it avail
me to the end. Besides, after the correspondence which had passed
between us, what act of mere informality could I commit, within
bounds, that ought to be regarded as indecorous by Madame Lalande?
Since the affair of the letter, I had been in the habit of watching
her house, and thus discovered that, about twilight, it was her
custom to promenade, attended only by a negro in livery, in a public
square overlooked by her windows. Here, amid the luxuriant and
shadowing groves, in the gray gloom of a sweet midsummer evening, I
observed my opportunity and accosted her.
The better to deceive the servant in attendance, I did this with the
assured air of an old and familiar acquaintance. With a presence of
mind truly Parisian, she took the cue at once, and, to greet me, held
out the most bewitchingly little of hands. The valet at once fell
into the rear, and now, with hearts full to overflowing, we
discoursed long and unreservedly of our love.
As Madame Lalande spoke English even less fluently than she wrote it,
our conversation was necessarily in French. In this sweet tongue, so
adapted to passion, I gave loose to the impetuous enthusiasm of my
nature, and, with all the eloquence I could command, besought her to
consent to an immediate marriage.
At this impatience she smiled. She urged the old story of decorum-
that bug-bear which deters so many from bliss until the opportunity
for bliss has forever gone by. I had most imprudently made it known
among my friends, she observed, that I desired her acquaintance- thus
that I did not possess it -- thus, again, there was no possibility of
concealing the date of our first knowledge of each other. And then
she adverted, with a blush, to the extreme recency of this date. To
wed immediately would be improper -- would be indecorous -- would be
outre. All this she said with a charming air of naivete which
enraptured while it grieved and convinced me. She went even so far as
to accuse me, laughingly, of rashness -- of imprudence. She bade me
remember that I really even know not who she was -- what were her
prospects, her connections, her standing in society. She begged me,
but with a sigh, to reconsider my proposal, and termed my love an
infatuation -- a will o' the wisp -- a fancy or fantasy of the moment
-- a baseless and unstable creation rather of the imagination than of
the heart. These things she uttered as the shadows of the sweet
twilight gathered darkly and more darkly around us -- and then, with
a gentle pressure of her fairy-like hand, overthrew, in a single
sweet instant, all the argumentative fabric she had reared.
I replied as best I could -- as only a true lover can. I spoke at
length, and perseveringly of my devotion, of my passion -- of her
exceeding beauty, and of my own enthusiastic admiration. In
conclusion, I dwelt, with a convincing energy, upon the perils that
encompass the course of love -- that course of true love that never
did run smooth -- and thus deduced the manifest danger of rendering
that course unnecessarily long.
This latter argument seemed finally to soften the rigor of her
determination. She relented; but there was yet an obstacle, she said,
which she felt assured I had not properly considered. This was a
delicate point -- for a woman to urge, especially so; in mentioning
it, she saw that she must make a sacrifice of her feelings; still,
for me, every sacrifice should be made. She alluded to the topic of
age. Was I aware -- was I fully aware of the discrepancy between us?
That the age of the husband, should surpass by a few years -- even by
fifteen or twenty -- the age of the wife, was regarded by the world
as admissible, and, indeed, as even proper, but she had always
entertained the belief that the years of the wife should never exceed
in number those of the husband. A discrepancy of this unnatural kind
gave rise, too frequently, alas! to a life of unhappiness. Now she
was aware that my own age did not exceed two and twenty; and I, on
the contrary, perhaps, was not aware that the years of my Eugenie
extended very considerably beyond that sum.
About all this there was a nobility of soul -- a dignity of candor-
which delighted -- which enchanted me -- which eternally riveted my
chains. I could scarcely restrain the excessive transport which
"My sweetest Eugenie," I cried, "what is all this about which you are
discoursing? Your years surpass in some measure my own. But what
then? The customs of the world are so many conventional follies. To
those who love as ourselves, in what respect differs a year from an
hour? I am twenty-two, you say, granted: indeed, you may as well call
me, at once, twenty-three. Now you yourself, my dearest Eugenie, can
have numbered no more than -- can have numbered no more than -- no
more than -- than -- than -- than-"
Here I paused for an instant, in the expectation that Madame Lalande
would interrupt me by supplying her true age. But a Frenchwoman is
seldom direct, and has always, by way of answer to an embarrassing
query, some little practical reply of her own. In the present
instance, Eugenie, who for a few moments past had seemed to be
searching for something in her bosom, at length let fall upon the
grass a miniature, which I immediately picked up and presented to
"Keep it!" she said, with one of her most ravishing smiles. "Keep it
for my sake -- for the sake of her whom it too flatteringly
represents. Besides, upon the back of the trinket you may discover,
perhaps, the very information you seem to desire. It is now, to be
sure, growing rather dark -- but you can examine it at your leisure
in the morning. In the meantime, you shall be my escort home
to-night. My friends are about holding a little musical levee. I can
promise you, too, some good singing. We French are not nearly so
punctilious as you Americans, and I shall have no difficulty in
smuggling you in, in the character of an old acquaintance."
With this, she took my arm, and I attended her home. The mansion was
quite a fine one, and, I believe, furnished in good taste. Of this
latter point, however, I am scarcely qualified to judge; for it was
just dark as we arrived; and in American mansions of the better sort
lights seldom, during the heat of summer, make their appearance at
this, the most pleasant period of the day. In about an hour after my
arrival, to be sure, a single shaded solar lamp was lit in the
principal drawing-room; and this apartment, I could thus see, was
arranged with unusual good taste and even splendor; but two other
rooms of the suite, and in which the company chiefly assembled,
remained, during the whole evening, in a very agreeable shadow. This
is a well-conceived custom, giving the party at least a choice of
light or shade, and one which our friends over the water could not do
better than immediately adopt.
The evening thus spent was unquestionably the most delicious of my
life. Madame Lalande had not overrated the musical abilities of her
friends; and the singing I here heard I had never heard excelled in
any private circle out of Vienna. The instrumental performers were
many and of superior talents. The vocalists were chiefly ladies, and
no individual sang less than well. At length, upon a peremptory call
for "Madame Lalande," she arose at once, without affectation or
demur, from the chaise longue upon which she had sat by my side, and,
accompanied by one or two gentlemen and her female friend of the
opera, repaired to the piano in the main drawing-room. I would have
escorted her myself, but felt that, under the circumstances of my
introduction to the house, I had better remain unobserved where I
was. I was thus deprived of the pleasure of seeing, although not of
hearing, her sing.
The impression she produced upon the company seemed electrical but
the effect upon myself was something even more. I know not how
adequately to describe it. It arose in part, no doubt, from the
sentiment of love with which I was imbued; but chiefly from my
conviction of the extreme sensibility of the singer. It is beyond the
reach of art to endow either air or recitative with more impassioned
expression than was hers. Her utterance of the romance in Otello --
the tone with which she gave the words "Sul mio sasso," in the
Capuletti -- is ringing in my memory yet. Her lower tones were
absolutely miraculous. Her voice embraced three complete octaves,
extending from the contralto D to the D upper soprano, and, though
sufficiently powerful to have filled the San Carlos, executed, with
the minutest precision, every difficulty of vocal
composition-ascending and descending scales, cadences, or fiorituri.
In the final of the Somnambula, she brought about a most remarkable
effect at the words:
Ah! non guinge uman pensiero
Al contento ond 'io son piena.
Here, in imitation of Malibran, she modified the original phrase of
Bellini, so as to let her voice descend to the tenor G, when, by a
rapid transition, she struck the G above the treble stave, springing
over an interval of two octaves.
Upon rising from the piano after these miracles of vocal execution,
she resumed her seat by my side; when I expressed to her, in terms of
the deepest enthusiasm, my delight at her performance. Of my surprise
I said nothing, and yet was I most unfeignedly surprised; for a
certain feebleness, or rather a certain tremulous indecision of voice
in ordinary conversation, had prepared me to anticipate that, in
singing, she would not acquit herself with any remarkable ability.
Our conversation was now long, earnest, uninterrupted, and totally
unreserved. She made me relate many of the earlier passages of my
life, and listened with breathless attention to every word of the
narrative. I concealed nothing -- felt that I had a right to conceal
nothing -- from her confiding affection. Encouraged by her candor
upon the delicate point of her age, I entered, with perfect
frankness, not only into a detail of my many minor vices, but made
full confession of those moral and even of those physical
infirmities, the disclosure of which, in demanding so much higher a
degree of courage, is so much surer an evidence of love. I touched
upon my college indiscretions -- upon my extravagances -- upon my
carousals- upon my debts -- upon my flirtations. I even went so far
as to speak of a slightly hectic cough with which, at one time, I had
been troubled -- of a chronic rheumatism -- of a twinge of hereditary
gout- and, in conclusion, of the disagreeable and inconvenient, but
hitherto carefully concealed, weakness of my eyes.
"Upon this latter point," said Madame Lalande, laughingly, "you have
been surely injudicious in coming to confession; for, without the
confession, I take it for granted that no one would have accused you
of the crime. By the by," she continued, "have you any recollection-"
and here I fancied that a blush, even through the gloom of the
apartment, became distinctly visible upon her cheek -- "have you any
recollection, mon cher ami of this little ocular assistant, which now
depends from my neck?"
As she spoke she twirled in her fingers the identical double
eye-glass which had so overwhelmed me with confusion at the opera.
"Full well -- alas! do I remember it," I exclaimed, pressing
passionately the delicate hand which offered the glasses for my
inspection. They formed a complex and magnificent toy, richly chased
and filigreed, and gleaming with jewels, which, even in the deficient
light, I could not help perceiving were of high value.
"Eh bien! mon ami" she resumed with a certain empressment of manner
that rather surprised me -- "Eh bien! mon ami, you have earnestly
besought of me a favor which you have been pleased to denominate
priceless. You have demanded of me my hand upon the morrow. Should I
yield to your entreaties -- and, I may add, to the pleadings of my
own bosom -- would I not be entitled to demand of you a very -- a
very little boon in return?"
"Name it!" I exclaimed with an energy that had nearly drawn upon us
the observation of the company, and restrained by their presence
alone from throwing myself impetuously at her feet. "Name it, my
beloved, my Eugenie, my own! -- name it! -- but, alas! it is already
yielded ere named."
"You shall conquer, then, mon ami," said she, "for the sake of the
Eugenie whom you love, this little weakness which you have at last
confessed -- this weakness more moral than physical -- and which, let
me assure you, is so unbecoming the nobility of your real nature --
so inconsistent with the candor of your usual character -- and which,
if permitted further control, will assuredly involve you, sooner or
later, in some very disagreeable scrape. You shall conquer, for my
sake, this affectation which leads you, as you yourself acknowledge,
to the tacit or implied denial of your infirmity of vision. For, this
infirmity you virtually deny, in refusing to employ the customary
means for its relief. You will understand me to say, then, that I
wish you to wear spectacles; -- ah, hush! -- you have already
consented to wear them, for my sake. You shall accept the little toy
which I now hold in my hand, and which, though admirable as an aid to
vision, is really of no very immense value as a gem. You perceive
that, by a trifling modification thus -- or thus -- it can be adapted
to the eyes in the form of spectacles, or worn in the waistcoat
pocket as an eye-glass. It is in the former mode, however, and
habitually, that you have already consented to wear it for my sake."
This request -- must I confess it? -- confused me in no little
degree. But the condition with which it was coupled rendered
hesitation, of course, a matter altogether out of the question.
"It is done!" I cried, with all the enthusiasm that I could muster at
the moment. "It is done -- it is most cheerfully agreed. I sacrifice
every feeling for your sake. To-night I wear this dear eye-glass, as
an eye-glass, and upon my heart; but with the earliest dawn of that
morning which gives me the pleasure of calling you wife, I will place
it upon my -- upon my nose, -- and there wear it ever afterward, in
the less romantic, and less fashionable, but certainly in the more
serviceable, form which you desire."
Our conversation now turned upon the details of our arrangements for
the morrow. Talbot, I learned from my betrothed, had just arrived in
town. I was to see him at once, and procure a carriage. The soiree
would scarcely break up before two; and by this hour the vehicle was
to be at the door, when, in the confusion occasioned by the departure
of the company, Madame L. could easily enter it unobserved. We were
then to call at the house of a clergyman who would be in waiting;
there be married, drop Talbot, and proceed on a short tour to the
East, leaving the fashionable world at home to make whatever comments
upon the matter it thought best.
Having planned all this, I immediately took leave, and went in search
of Talbot, but, on the way, I could not refrain from stepping into a
hotel, for the purpose of inspecting the miniature; and this I did by
the powerful aid of the glasses. The countenance was a surpassingly
beautiful one! Those large luminous eyes! -- that proud Grecian nose!
-- those dark luxuriant curls! -- "Ah!" said I, exultingly to myself,
"this is indeed the speaking image of my beloved!" I turned the
reverse, and discovered the words -- "Eugenie Lalande -- aged
twenty-seven years and seven months."
I found Talbot at home, and proceeded at once to acquaint him with my
good fortune. He professed excessive astonishment, of course, but
congratulated me most cordially, and proffered every assistance in
his power. In a word, we carried out our arrangement to the letter,
and, at two in the morning, just ten minutes after the ceremony, I
found myself in a close carriage with Madame Lalande -- with Mrs.
Simpson, I should say -- and driving at a great rate out of town, in
a direction Northeast by North, half-North.
It had been determined for us by Talbot, that, as we were to be up
all night, we should make our first stop at C--, a village about
twenty miles from the city, and there get an early breakfast and some
repose, before proceeding upon our route. At four precisely,
therefore, the carriage drew up at the door of the principal inn. I
handed my adored wife out, and ordered breakfast forthwith. In the
meantime we were shown into a small parlor, and sat down.
It was now nearly if not altogether daylight; and, as I gazed,
enraptured, at the angel by my side, the singular idea came, all at
once, into my head, that this was really the very first moment since
my acquaintance with the celebrated loveliness of Madame Lalande,
that I had enjoyed a near inspection of that loveliness by daylight
"And now, mon ami," said she, taking my hand, and so interrupting
this train of reflection, "and now, mon cher ami, since we are
indissolubly one -- since I have yielded to your passionate
entreaties, and performed my portion of our agreement -- I presume
you have not forgotten that you also have a little favor to bestow --
a little promise which it is your intention to keep. Ah! let me see!
Let me remember! Yes; full easily do I call to mind the precise words
of the dear promise you made to Eugenie last night. Listen! You spoke
thus: 'It is done! -- it is most cheerfully agreed! I sacrifice every
feeling for your sake. To-night I wear this dear eye-glass as an
eye-glass, and upon my heart; but with the earliest dawn of that
morning which gives me the privilege of calling you wife, I will
place it upon my -- upon my nose, -- and there wear it ever
afterward, in the less romantic, and less fashionable, but certainly
in the more serviceable, form which you desire.' These were the exact
words, my beloved husband, were they not?"
"They were," I said; "you have an excellent memory; and assuredly, my
beautiful Eugenie, there is no disposition on my part to evade the
performance of the trivial promise they imply. See! Behold! they are
becoming -- rather -- are they not?" And here, having arranged the
glasses in the ordinary form of spectacles, I applied them gingerly
in their proper position; while Madame Simpson, adjusting her cap,
and folding her arms, sat bolt upright in her chair, in a somewhat
stiff and prim, and indeed, in a somewhat undignified position.
"Goodness gracious me!" I exclaimed, almost at the very instant that
the rim of the spectacles had settled upon my nose -- "My goodness
gracious me! -- why, what can be the matter with these glasses?" and
taking them quickly off, I wiped them carefully with a silk
handkerchief, and adjusted them again.
But if, in the first instance, there had occurred something which
occasioned me surprise, in the second, this surprise became elevated
into astonishment; and this astonishment was profound -- was extreme-
indeed I may say it was horrific. What, in the name of everything
hideous, did this mean? Could I believe my eyes? -- could I? -- that
was the question. Was that -- was that -- was that rouge? And were
those- and were those -- were those wrinkles, upon the visage of
Eugenie Lalande? And oh! Jupiter, and every one of the gods and
goddesses, little and big! what -- what -- what -- what had become of
her teeth? I dashed the spectacles violently to the ground, and,
leaping to my feet, stood erect in the middle of the floor,
confronting Mrs. Simpson, with my arms set a-kimbo, and grinning and
foaming, but, at the same time, utterly speechless with terror and
Now I have already said that Madame Eugenie Lalande -- that is to
say, Simpson -- spoke the English language but very little better
than she wrote it, and for this reason she very properly never
attempted to speak it upon ordinary occasions. But rage will carry a
lady to any extreme; and in the present care it carried Mrs. Simpson
to the very extraordinary extreme of attempting to hold a
conversation in a tongue that she did not altogether understand.
"Vell, Monsieur," said she, after surveying me, in great apparent
astonishment, for some moments -- "Vell, Monsieur? -- and vat den? --
vat de matter now? Is it de dance of de Saint itusse dat you ave? If
not like me, vat for vy buy de pig in the poke?"
"You wretch!" said I, catching my breath -- "you -- you -- you
villainous old hag!"
"Ag? -- ole? -- me not so ver ole, after all! Me not one single day
more dan de eighty-doo."
"Eighty-two!" I ejaculated, staggering to the wall -- "eighty-two
hundred thousand baboons! The miniature said twenty-seven years and
"To be sure! -- dat is so! -- ver true! but den de portraite has been
take for dese fifty-five year. Ven I go marry my segonde usbande,
Monsieur Lalande, at dat time I had de portraite take for my daughter
by my first usbande, Monsieur Moissart!"
"Moissart!" said I.
"Yes, Moissart," said she, mimicking my pronunciation, which, to
speak the truth, was none of the best, -- "and vat den? Vat you know
about de Moissart?"
"Nothing, you old fright! -- I know nothing about him at all; only I
had an ancestor of that name, once upon a time."
"Dat name! and vat you ave for say to dat name? 'Tis ver goot name;
and so is Voissart -- dat is ver goot name too. My daughter,
Mademoiselle Moissart, she marry von Monsieur Voissart, -- and de
name is bot ver respectaable name."
"Moissart?" I exclaimed, "and Voissart! Why, what is it you mean?"
"Vat I mean? -- I mean Moissart and Voissart; and for de matter of
dat, I mean Croissart and Froisart, too, if I only tink proper to
mean it. My daughter's daughter, Mademoiselle Voissart, she marry von
Monsieur Croissart, and den again, my daughter's grande daughter,
Mademoiselle Croissart, she marry von Monsieur Froissart; and I
suppose you say dat dat is not von ver respectaable name.-"
"Froissart!" said I, beginning to faint, "why, surely you don't say
Moissart, and Voissart, and Croissart, and Froissart?"
"Yes," she replied, leaning fully back in her chair, and stretching
out her lower limbs at great length; "yes, Moissart, and Voissart,
and Croissart, and Froissart. But Monsieur Froissart, he vas von ver
big vat you call fool -- he vas von ver great big donce like yourself
-- for he lef la belle France for come to dis stupide Amerique- and
ven he get here he went and ave von ver stupide, von ver, ver stupide
sonn, so I hear, dough I not yet av ad de plaisir to meet vid him --
neither me nor my companion, de Madame Stephanie Lalande. He is name
de Napoleon Bonaparte Froissart, and I suppose you say dat dat, too,
is not von ver respectable name."
Either the length or the nature of this speech, had the effect of
working up Mrs. Simpson into a very extraordinary passion indeed; and
as she made an end of it, with great labor, she lumped up from her
chair like somebody bewitched, dropping upon the floor an entire
universe of bustle as she lumped. Once upon her feet, she gnashed her
gums, brandished her arms, rolled up her sleeves, shook her fist in
my face, and concluded the performance by tearing the cap from her
head, and with it an immense wig of the most valuable and beautiful
black hair, the whole of which she dashed upon the ground with a
yell, and there trammpled and danced a fandango upon it, in an
absolute ecstasy and agony of rage.
Meantime I sank aghast into the chair which she had vacated.
"Moissart and Voissart!" I repeated, thoughtfully, as she cut one of
her pigeon-wings, and "Croissart and Froissart!" as she completed
another -- "Moissart and Voissart and Croissart and Napoleon
Bonaparte Froissart! -- why, you ineffable old serpent, that's me --
that's me -- d'ye hear? that's me" -- here I screamed at the top of
my voice -- "that's me-e-e! I am Napoleon Bonaparte Froissart! and if
I havn't married my great, great, grandmother, I wish I may be
Madame Eugenie Lalande, quasi Simpson -- formerly Moissart -- was, in
sober fact, my great, great, grandmother. In her youth she had been
beautiful, and even at eighty-two, retained the majestic height, the
sculptural contour of head, the fine eyes and the Grecian nose of her
girlhood. By the aid of these, of pearl-powder, of rouge, of false
hair, false teeth, and false tournure, as well as of the most skilful
modistes of Paris, she contrived to hold a respectable footing among
the beauties en peu passees of the French metropolis. In this
respect, indeed, she might have been regarded as little less than the
equal of the celebrated Ninon De L'Enclos.
She was immensely wealthy, and being left, for the second time, a
widow without children, she bethought herself of my existence in
America, and for the purpose of making me her heir, paid a visit to
the United States, in company with a distant and exceedingly lovely
relative of her second husband's -- a Madame Stephanie Lalande.
At the opera, my great, great, grandmother's attention was arrested
by my notice; and, upon surveying me through her eye-glass, she was
struck with a certain family resemblance to herself. Thus interested,
and knowing that the heir she sought was actually in the city, she
made inquiries of her party respecting me. The gentleman who attended
her knew my person, and told her who I was. The information thus
obtained induced her to renew her scrutiny; and this scrutiny it was
which so emboldened me that I behaved in the absurd manner already
detailed. She returned my bow, however, under the impression that, by
some odd accident, I had discovered her identity. When, deceived by
my weakness of vision, and the arts of the toilet, in respect to the
age and charms of the strange lady, I demanded so enthusiastically of
Talbot who she was, he concluded that I meant the younger beauty, as
a matter of course, and so informed me, with perfect truth, that she
was "the celebrated widow, Madame Lalande."
In the street, next morning, my great, great, grandmother encountered
Talbot, an old Parisian acquaintance; and the conversation, very
naturally turned upon myself. My deficiencies of vision were then
explained; for these were notorious, although I was entirely ignorant
of their notoriety, and my good old relative discovered, much to her
chagrin, that she had been deceived in supposing me aware of her
identity, and that I had been merely making a fool of myself in
making open love, in a theatre, to an old woman unknown. By way of
punishing me for this imprudence, she concocted with Talbot a plot.
He purposely kept out of my way to avoid giving me the introduction.
My street inquiries about "the lovely widow, Madame Lalande," were
supposed to refer to the younger lady, of course, and thus the
conversation with the three gentlemen whom I encountered shortly
after leaving Talbot's hotel will be easily explained, as also their
allusion to Ninon De L'Enclos. I had no opportunity of seeing Madame
Lalande closely during daylight; and, at her musical soiree, my silly
weakness in refusing the aid of glasses effectually prevented me from
making a discovery of her age. When "Madame Lalande" was called upon
to sing, the younger lady was intended; and it was she who arose to
obey the call; my great, great, grandmother, to further the
deception, arising at the same moment and accompanying her to the
piano in the main drawing-room. Had I decided upon escorting her
thither, it had been her design to suggest the propriety of my
remaining where I was; but my own prudential views rendered this
unnecessary. The songs which I so much admired, and which so
confirmed my impression of the youth of my mistress, were executed by
Madame Stephanie Lalande. The eyeglass was presented by way of adding
a reproof to the hoax -- a sting to the epigram of the deception. Its
presentation afforded an opportunity for the lecture upon affectation
with which I was so especially edified. It is almost superfluous to
add that the glasses of the instrument, as worn by the old lady, had
been exchanged by her for a pair better adapted to my years. They
suited me, in fact, to a T.
The clergyman, who merely pretended to tie the fatal knot, was a boon
companion of Talbot's, and no priest. He was an excellent "whip,"
however; and having doffed his cassock to put on a great-coat, he
drove the hack which conveyed the "happy couple" out of town. Talbot
took a seat at his side. The two scoundrels were thus "in at the
death," and through a half-open window of the back parlor of the inn,
amused themselves in grinning at the denouement of the drama. I
believe I shall be forced to call them both out.
Nevertheless, I am not the husband of my great, great, grandmother;
and this is a reflection which affords me infinite relief, -- but I
am the husband of Madame Lalande -- of Madame Stephanie Lalande --
with whom my good old relative, besides making me her sole heir when
she dies -- if she ever does -- has been at the trouble of concocting
me a match. In conclusion: I am done forever with billets doux and am
never to be met without SPECTACLES.
~~~ End of Text ~~~
A Tale Containing an Allegory.
The gods do bear and will allow in kings
The things which they abhor in rascal routes.
_Buckhurst's Tragedy of Ferrex and Porrex._
ABOUT twelve o'clock, one night in the month of October, and during
the chivalrous reign of the third Edward, two seamen belonging to the
crew of the "Free and Easy," a trading schooner plying between Sluys
and the Thames, and then at anchor in that river, were much
astonished to find themselves seated in the tap-room of an ale-house
in the parish of St. Andrews, London -- which ale-house bore for sign
the portraiture of a "Jolly Tar."
The room, although ill-contrived, smoke-blackened, low-pitched, and
in every other respect agreeing with the general character of such
places at the period -- was, nevertheless, in the opinion of the
grotesque groups scattered here and there within it, sufficiently
well adapted to its purpose.
Of these groups our two seamen formed, I think, the most interesting,
if not the most conspicuous.
The one who appeared to be the elder, and whom his companion
addressed by the characteristic appellation of "Legs," was at the
same time much the taller of the two. He might have measured six feet
and a half, and an habitual stoop in the shoulders seemed to have
been the necessary consequence of an altitude so enormous. --
Superfluities in height were, however, more than accounted for by
deficiencies in other respects. He was exceedingly thin; and might,
as his associates asserted, have answered, when drunk, for a pennant
at the mast-head, or, when sober, have served for a jib-boom. But
these jests, and others of a similar nature, had evidently produced,
at no time, any effect upon the cachinnatory muscles of the tar. With
high cheek-bones, a large hawk-nose, retreating chin, fallen
under-jaw, and huge protruding white eyes, the expression of his
countenance, although tinged with a species of dogged indifference to
matters and things in general, was not the less utterly solemn and
serious beyond all attempts at imitation or description.
The younger seaman was, in all outward appearance, the converse of
his companion. His stature could not have exceeded four feet. A pair
of stumpy bow-legs supported his squat, unwieldy figure, while his
unusually short and thick arms, with no ordinary fists at their
extremities, swung off dangling from his sides like the fins of a
sea-turtle. Small eyes, of no particular color, twinkled far back in
his head. His nose remained buried in the mass of flesh which
enveloped his round, full, and purple face; and his thick upper-lip
rested upon the still thicker one beneath with an air of complacent
self-satisfaction, much heightened by the owner's habit of licking
them at intervals. He evidently regarded his tall shipmate with a
feeling half-wondrous, half-quizzical; and stared up occasionally in
his face as the red setting sun stares up at the crags of Ben Nevis.
Various and eventful, however, had been the peregrinations of the
worthy couple in and about the different tap-houses of the
neighbourhood during the earlier hours of the night. Funds even the
most ample, are not always everlasting: and it was with empty pockets
our friends had ventured upon the present hostelrie.
At the precise period, then, when this history properly commences,
Legs, and his fellow Hugh Tarpaulin, sat, each with both elbows
resting upon the large oaken table in the middle of the floor, and
with a hand upon either cheek. They were eyeing, from behind a huge
flagon of unpaid-for "humming-stuff," the portentous words, "No
Chalk," which to their indignation and astonishment were scored over
the doorway by means of that very mineral whose presence they
purported to deny. Not that the gift of decyphering written
characters -- a gift among the commonalty of that day considered
little less cabalistical than the art of inditing -- could, in strict
justice, have been laid to the charge of either disciple of the sea;
but there was, to say the truth, a certain twist in the formation of
the letters -- an indescribable lee-lurch about the whole -- -which
foreboded, in the opinion of both seamen, a long run of dirty
weather; and determined them at once, in the allegorical words of
Legs himself, to "pump ship, clew up all sail, and scud before the
Having accordingly disposed of what remained of the ale, and looped
up the points of their short doublets, they finally made a bolt for
the street. Although Tarpaulin rolled twice into the fire-place,
mistaking it for the door, yet their escape was at length happily
effected -- and half after twelve o'clock found our heroes ripe for
mischief, and running for life down a dark alley in the direction of
St. Andrew's Stair, hotly pursued by the landlady of the "Jolly Tar."
At the epoch of this eventful tale, and periodically, for many years
before and after, all England, but more especially the metropolis,
resounded with the fearful cry of "Plague!" The city was in a great
measure depopulated -- and in those horrible regions, in the vicinity
of the Thames, where amid the dark, narrow, and filthy lanes and
alleys, the Demon of Disease was supposed to have had his nativity,
Awe, Terror, and Superstition were alone to be found stalking abroad.
By authority of the king such districts were placed under ban, and
all persons forbidden, under pain of death, to intrude upon their
dismal solitude. Yet neither the mandate of the monarch, nor the huge
barriers erected at the entrances of the streets, nor the prospect of
that loathsome death which, with almost absolute certainty,
overwhelmed the wretch whom no peril could deter from the adventure,
prevented the unfurnished and untenanted dwellings from being
stripped, by the hand of nightly rapine, of every article, such as
iron, brass, or lead-work, which could in any manner be turned to a
Above all, it was usually found, upon the annual winter opening of
the barriers, that locks, bolts, and secret cellars, had proved but
slender protection to those rich stores of wines and liquors which,
in consideration of the risk and trouble of removal, many of the
numerous dealers having shops in the neighbourhood had consented to
trust, during the period of exile, to so insufficient a security.
But there were very few of the terror-stricken people who attributed
these doings to the agency of human hands. Pest-spirits,
plague-goblins, and fever-demons, were the popular imps of mischief;
and tales so blood-chilling were hourly told, that the whole mass of
forbidden buildings was, at length, enveloped in terror as in a
shroud, and the plunderer himself was often scared away by the
horrors his own depreciations had created; leaving the entire vast
circuit of prohibited district to gloom, silence, pestilence, and
It was by one of the terrific barriers already mentioned, and which
indicated the region beyond to be under the Pest-ban, that, in
scrambling down an alley, Legs and the worthy Hugh Tarpaulin found
their progress suddenly impeded. To return was out of the question,
and no time was to be lost, as their pursuers were close upon their
heels. With thorough-bred seamen to clamber up the roughly fashioned
plank-work was a trifle; and, maddened with the twofold excitement of
exercise and liquor, they leaped unhesitatingly down within the
enclosure, and holding on their drunken course with shouts and
yellings, were soon bewildered in its noisome and intricate recesses.
Had they not, indeed, been intoxicated beyond moral sense, their
reeling footsteps must have been palsied by the horrors of their
situation. The air was cold and misty. The paving-stones, loosened
from their beds, lay in wild disorder amid the tall, rank grass,
which sprang up around the feet and ankles. Fallen houses choked up
the streets. The most fetid and poisonous smells everywhere
prevailed; -- and by the aid of that ghastly light which, even at
midnight, never fails to emanate from a vapory and pestilential at
atmosphere, might be discerned lying in the by-paths and alleys, or
rotting in the windowless habitations, the carcass of many a
nocturnal plunderer arrested by the hand of the plague in the very
perpetration of his robbery.
-- But it lay not in the power of images, or sensations, or
impediments such as these, to stay the course of men who, naturally
brave, and at that time especially, brimful of courage and of
"humming-stuff!" would have reeled, as straight as their condition
might have permitted, undauntedly into the very jaws of Death. Onward
-- still onward stalked the grim Legs, making the desolate solemnity
echo and re-echo with yells like the terrific war-whoop of the
Indian: and onward, still onward rolled the dumpy Tarpaulin, hanging
on to the doublet of his more active companion, and far surpassing
the latter's most strenuous exertions in the way of vocal music, by
bull-roarings in basso, from the profundity of his stentorian lungs.
They had now evidently reached the strong hold of the pestilence.
Their way at every step or plunge grew more noisome and more horrible
-- the paths more narrow and more intricate. Huge stones and beams
falling momently from the decaying roofs above them, gave evidence,
by their sullen and heavy descent, of the vast height of the
surrounding houses; and while actual exertion became necessary to
force a passage through frequent heaps of rubbish, it was by no means
seldom that the hand fell upon a skeleton or rested upon a more
Suddenly, as the seamen stumbled against the entrance of a tall and
ghastly-looking building, a yell more than usually shrill from the
throat of the excited Legs, was replied to from within, in a rapid
succession of wild, laughter-like, and fiendish shrieks. Nothing
daunted at sounds which, of such a nature, at such a time, and in
such a place, might have curdled the very blood in hearts less
irrevocably on fire, the drunken couple rushed headlong against the
door, burst it open, and staggered into the midst of things with a
volley of curses.
The room within which they found themselves proved to be the shop of
an undertaker; but an open trap-door, in a corner of the floor near
the entrance, looked down upon a long range of wine-cellars, whose
depths the occasional sound of bursting bottles proclaimed to be well
stored with their appropriate contents. In the middle of the room
stood a table -- in the centre of which again arose a huge tub of
what appeared to be punch. Bottles of various wines and cordials,
together with jugs, pitchers, and flagons of every shape and quality,
were scattered profusely upon the board. Around it, upon
coffin-tressels, was seated a company of six. This company I will
endeavor to delineate one by one.
Fronting the entrance, and elevated a little above his companions,
sat a personage who appeared to be the president of the table. His
stature was gaunt and tall, and Legs was confounded to behold in him
a figure more emaciated than himself. His face was as yellow as
saffron -- but no feature excepting one alone, was sufficiently
marked to merit a particular description. This one consisted in a
forehead so unusually and hideously lofty, as to have the appearance
of a bonnet or crown of flesh superadded upon the natural head. His
mouth was puckered and dimpled into an expression of ghastly
affability, and his eyes, as indeed the eyes of all at table, were
glazed over with the fumes of intoxication. This gentleman was
clothed from head to foot in a richly-embroidered black silk-velvet
pall, wrapped negligently around his form after the fashion of a
Spanish cloak. -- His head was stuck full of sable hearse-plumes,
which he nodded to and fro with a jaunty and knowing air; and, in his
right hand, he held a huge human thigh-bone, with which he appeared
to have been just knocking down some member of the company for a
Opposite him, and with her back to the door, was a lady of no whit
the less extraordinary character. Although quite as tall as the
person just described, she had no right to complain of his unnatural
emaciation. She was evidently in the last stage of a dropsy; and her
figure resembled nearly that of the huge puncheon of October beer
which stood, with the head driven in, close by her side, in a corner
of the chamber. Her face was exceedingly round, red, and full; and
the same peculiarity, or rather want of peculiarity, attached itself
to her countenance, which I before mentioned in the case of the
president -- that is to say, only one feature of her face was
sufficiently distinguished to need a separate characterization:
indeed the acute Tarpaulin immediately observed that the same remark
might have applied to each individual person of the party; every one
of whom seemed to possess a monopoly of some particular portion of
physiognomy. With the lady in question this portion proved to be the
mouth. Commencing at the right ear, it swept with a terrific chasm to
the left -- the short pendants which she wore in either auricle
continually bobbing into the aperture. She made, however, every
exertion to keep her mouth closed and look dignified, in a dress
consisting of a newly starched and ironed shroud coming up close
under her chin, with a crimpled ruffle of cambric muslin.
At her right hand sat a diminutive young lady whom she appeared to
patronise. This delicate little creature, in the trembling of her
wasted fingers, in the livid hue of her lips, and in the slight
hectic spot which tinged her otherwise leaden complexion, gave
evident indications of a galloping consumption. An air of gave
extreme haut ton, however, pervaded her whole appearance; she wore in
a graceful and degage manner, a large and beautiful winding-sheet of
the finest India lawn; her hair hung in ringlets over her neck; a
soft smile played about her mouth; but her nose, extremely long,
thin, sinuous, flexible and pimpled, hung down far below her under
lip, and in spite of the delicate manner in which she now and then
moved it to one side or the other with her tongue, gave to her
countenance a somewhat equivocal expression.
Over against her, and upon the left of the dropsical lady, was seated
a little puffy, wheezing, and gouty old man, whose cheeks reposed
upon the shoulders of their owner, like two huge bladders of Oporto
wine. With his arms folded, and with one bandaged leg deposited upon
the table, he seemed to think himself entitled to some consideration.
He evidently prided himself much upon every inch of his personal
appearance, but took more especial delight in calling attention to
his gaudy-colored surtout. This, to say the truth, must have cost him
no little money, and was made to fit him exceedingly well -- being
fashioned from one of the curiously embroidered silken covers
appertaining to those glorious escutcheons which, in England and
elsewhere, are customarily hung up, in some conspicuous place, upon
the dwellings of departed aristocracy.
Next to him, and at the right hand of the president, was a gentleman
in long white hose and cotton drawers. His frame shook, in a
ridiculous manner, with a fit of what Tarpaulin called "the horrors."
His jaws, which had been newly shaved, were tightly tied up by a
bandage of muslin; and his arms being fastened in a similar way at
the wrists, I I prevented him from helping himself too freely to the
liquors upon the table; a precaution rendered necessary, in the
opinion of Legs, by the peculiarly sottish and wine-bibbing cast of
his visage. A pair of prodigious ears, nevertheless, which it was no
doubt found impossible to confine, towered away into the atmosphere
of the apartment, and were occasionally pricked up in a spasm, at the
sound of the drawing of a cork.
Fronting him, sixthly and lastly, was situated a singularly
stiff-looking personage, who, being afflicted with paralysis, must,
to speak seriously, have felt very ill at ease in his unaccommodating
habiliments. He was habited, somewhat uniquely, in a new and handsome
mahogany coffin. Its top or head-piece pressed upon the skull of the
wearer, and extended over it in the fashion of a hood, giving to the
entire face an air of indescribable interest. Arm-holes had been cut
in the sides, for the sake not more of elegance than of convenience;
but the dress, nevertheless, prevented its proprietor from sitting as
erect as his associates; and as he lay reclining against his tressel,
at an angle of forty-five degrees, a pair of huge goggle eyes rolled
up their awful whites towards the celling in absolute amazement at
their own enormity.
Before each of the party lay a portion of a skull, which was used as
a drinking cup. Overhead was suspended a human skeleton, by means of
a rope tied round one of the legs and fastened to a ring in the
ceiling. The other limb, confined by no such fetter, stuck off from
the body at right angles, causing the whole loose and rattling frame
to dangle and twirl about at the caprice of every occasional puff of
wind which found its way into the apartment. In the cranium of this
hideous thing lay quantity of ignited charcoal, which threw a fitful
but vivid light over the entire scene; while coffins, and other wares
appertaining to the shop of an undertaker, were piled high up around
the room, and against the windows, preventing any ray from escaping
into the street.
At sight of this extraordinary assembly, and of their still more
extraordinary paraphernalia, our two seamen did not conduct
themselves with that degree of decorum which might have been
expected. Legs, leaning against the wall near which he happened to be
standing, dropped his lower jaw still lower than usual, and spread
open his eyes to their fullest extent: while Hugh Tarpaulin, stooping
down so as to bring his nose upon a level with the table, and
spreading out a palm upon either knee, burst into a long, loud, and
obstreperous roar of very ill-timed and immoderate laughter.
Without, however, taking offence at behaviour so excessively rude,
the tall president smiled very graciously upon the intruders --
nodded to them in a dignified manner with his head of sable plumes --
and, arising, took each by an arm, and led him to a seat which some
others of the company had placed in the meantime for his
accommodation. Legs to all this offered not the slightest resistance,
but sat down as he was directed; while tile gallant Hugh, removing
his coffin tressel from its station near the head of the table, to
the vicinity of the little consumptive lady in the winding sheet,
plumped down by her side in high glee, and pouring out a skull of red
wine, quaffed it to their better acquaintance. But at this
presumption the stiff gentleman in the coffin seemed exceedingly
nettled; and serious consequences might have ensued, had not the
president, rapping upon the table with his truncheon, diverted the
attention of all present to the following speech:
"It becomes our duty upon the present happy occasion" --
"Avast there!" interrupted Legs, looking very serious, "avast there a
bit, I say, and tell us who the devil ye all are, and what business
ye have here, rigged off like the foul fiends, and swilling the snug
blue ruin stowed away for the winter by my honest shipmate, Will
Wimble the undertaker!"
At this unpardonable piece of ill-breeding, all the original company
half started to their feet, and uttered the same rapid succession of
wild fiendish shrieks which had before caught the attention of the
seamen. The president, however, was the first to recover his
composure, and at length, turning to Legs with great dignity,
"Most willingly will we gratify any reasonable curiosity on the part
of guests so illustrious, unbidden though they be. Know then that in
these dominions I am monarch, and here rule with undivided empire
under the title of 'King Pest the First.'
"This apartment, which you no doubt profanely suppose to be the shop
of Will Wimble the undertaker -- a man whom we know not, and whose
plebeian appellation has never before this night thwarted our royal
ears -- this apartment, I say, is the Dais-Chamber of our Palace,
devoted to the councils of our kingdom, and to other sacred and lofty
"The noble lady who sits opposite is Queen Pest, our Serene Consort.
The other exalted personages whom you behold are all of our family,
and wear the insignia of the blood royal under the respective titles
of 'His Grace the Arch Duke Pest-Iferous' -- 'His Grace the Duke
Pest-Ilential' -- 'His Grace the Duke Tem-Pest' -- and 'Her Serene
Highness the Arch Duchess Ana-Pest.'
"As regards," continued he, "your demand of the business upon which
we sit here in council, we might be pardoned for replying that it
concerns, and concerns alone, our own private and regal interest, and
is in no manner important to any other than ourself. But in
consideration of those rights to which as guests and strangers you
may feel yourselves entitled, we will furthermore explain that we are
here this night, prepared by deep research and accurate
investigation, to examine, analyze, and thoroughly determine the
indefinable spirit -- the incomprehensible qualities and nature -- of
those inestimable treasures of the palate, the wines, ales, and
liqueurs of this goodly metropolis: by so doing to advance not more
our own designs than the true welfare of that unearthly sovereign
whose reign is over us all, whose dominions are unlimited, and whose
name is 'Death.'
"Whose name is Davy Jones!" ejaculated Tarpaulin, helping the lady by
his side to a skull of liqueur, and pouring out a second for himself.
"Profane varlet!" said the president, now turning his attention to
the worthy Hugh, "profane and execrable wretch! -- we have said, that
in consideration of those rights which, even in thy filthy person, we
feel no inclination to violate, we have condescended to make reply to
thy rude and unseasonable inquiries. We nevertheless, for your
unhallowed intrusion upon our councils, believe it our duty to mulct
thee and thy companion in each a gallon of Black Strap -- having
imbibed which to the prosperity of our kingdom -- at a single draught
-- and upon your bended knees -- ye shall be forthwith free either to
proceed upon your way, or remain and be admitted to the privileges of
our table, according to your respective and individual pleasures."
"It would be a matter of utter impossibility," replied Legs, whom the
assumptions and dignity of King Pest the First had evidently inspired
some feelings of respect, and who arose and steadied himself by the
table as he spoke -- "It would, please your majesty, be a matter of
utter impossibility to stow away in my hold even one-fourth part of
the same liquor which your majesty has just mentioned. To say nothing
of the stuffs placed on board in the forenoon by way of ballast, and
not to mention the various ales and liqueurs shipped this evening at
different sea-ports, I have, at present, a full cargo of 'humming
stuff' taken in and duly paid for at the sign of the 'Jolly Tar.' You
will, therefore, please your majesty, be so good as to take the will
for the deed -- for by no manner of means either can I or will I
swallow another drop -- least of all a drop of that villainous
bilge-water that answers to the hall of 'Black Strap.'"
"Belay that!" interrupted Tarpaulin, astonished not more at the
length of his companion's speech than at the nature of his refusal --
"Belay that you tubber! -- and I say, Legs, none of your palaver! My
hull is still light, although I confess you yourself seem to be a
little top-heavy; and as for the matter of your share of the cargo,
why rather than raise a squall I would find stowageroom for it
myself, but" --
"This proceeding," interposed the president, "is by no means in
accordance with the terms of the mulct or sentence, which is in its
nature Median, and not to be altered or recalled. The conditions we
have imposed must be fulfilled to the letter, and that without a
moment's hesitation -- in failure of which fulfilment we decree that
you do here be tied neck and heels together, and duly drowned as
rebels in yon hogshead of October beer!"
"A sentence! -- a sentence! -- a righteous and just sentence! -- a
glorious decree! -- a most worthy and upright, and holy
condemnation!" shouted the Pest family altogether. The king elevated
his forehead into innumerable wrinkles; the gouty little old man
puffed like a pair of bellows; the lady of the winding sheet waved
her nose to and fro; the gentleman in the cotton drawers pricked up
his ears; she of the shroud gasped like a dying fish; and he of the
coffin looked stiff and rolled up his eyes.
"Ugh! ugh! ugh!" chuckled Tarpaulin without heeding the general
excitation, "ugh! ugh! ugh! -- ugh! ugh! ugh! -- ugh! ugh! ugh! -- I
was saying," said he, "I was saying when Mr. King Pest poked in his
marlin-spike, that as for the matter of two or three gallons more or
less of Black Strap, it was a trifle to a tight sea-boat like myself
not overstowed -- but when it comes to drinking the health of the
Devil (whom God assoilzie) and going down upon my marrow bones to his
ill-favored majesty there, whom I know, as well as I know myself to
be a sinner, to be nobody in the whole world, but Tim Hurlygurly the
stage-player -- why! it's quite another guess sort of a thing, and
utterly and altogether past my comprehension."
He was not allowed to finish this speech in tranquillity. At the name
Tim Hurlygurly the whole assembly leaped from their name seats.
"Treason!" shouted his Majesty King Pest the First.
"Treason!" said the little man with the gout.
"Treason!" screamed the Arch Duchess Ana-Pest.
"Treason!" muttered the gentleman with his jaws tied up.
"Treason!" growled he of the coffin.
"Treason! treason!" shrieked her majesty of the mouth; and, seizing
by the hinder part of his breeches the unfortunate Tarpaulin, who had
just commenced pouring out for himself a skull of liqueur, she lifted
him high into the air, and let him fall without ceremony into the
huge open puncheon of his beloved ale. Bobbing up and down, for a few
seconds, like an apple in a bowl of toddy, he, at length, finally
disappeared amid the whirlpool of foam which, in the already
effervescent liquor, his struggles easily succeeded in creating.
Not tamely, however, did the tall seaman behold the discomfiture of
his companion. Jostling King Pest through the open trap, the valiant
Legs slammed the door down upon him with an oath, and strode towards
the centre of the room. Here tearing down the skeleton which swung
over the table, he laid it about him with so much energy and good
will, that, as the last glimpses of light died away within the
apartment, he succeeded in knocking out the brains of the little
gentleman with the gout. Rushing then with all his force against the
fatal hogshead full of October ale and Hugh Tarpaulin, he rolled it
over and over in an instant. Out burst a deluge of liquor so fierce
-- so impetuous -- so overwhelming -- that the room was flooded from
wall to wall -- the loaded table was overturned -- the tressels were
thrown upon their backs -- the tub of punch into the fire-place --
and the ladies into hysterics. Piles of death-furniture floundered
about. Jugs, pitchers, and carboys mingled promiscuously in the
melee, and wicker flagons encountered desperately with bottles of
junk. The man with the horrors was drowned upon the spot-the little
stiff gentleman floated off in his coffin -- and the victorious Legs,
seizing by the waist the fat lady in the shroud, rushed out with her
into the street, and made a bee-line for the "Free and Easy,"
followed under easy sail by the redoubtable Hugh Tarpaulin, who,
having sneezed three or four times, panted and puffed after him with
the Arch Duchess Ana-Pest.
~~~ End of Text ~~~
THREE SUNDAYS IN A WEEK
YOU hard-headed, dunder-headed, obstinate, rusty, crusty, musty,
fusty, old savage!" said I, in fancy, one afternoon, to my grand
uncle Rumgudgeon -- shaking my fist at him in imagination.
Only in imagination. The fact is, some trivial discrepancy did exist,
just then, between what I said and what I had not the courage to say
-- between what I did and what I had half a mind to do.
The old porpoise, as I opened the drawing-room door, was sitting with
his feet upon the mantel-piece, and a bumper of port in his paw,
making strenuous efforts to accomplish the ditty.
Remplis ton verre vide!
Vide ton verre plein!
"My dear uncle," said I, closing the door gently, and approaching him
with the blandest of smiles, "you are always so very kind and
considerate, and have evinced your benevolence in so many -- so very
many ways -- that -- that I feel I have only to suggest this little
point to you once more to make sure of your full acquiescence."
"Hem!" said he, "good boy! go on!"
"I am sure, my dearest uncle [you confounded old rascal!], that you
have no design really, seriously, to oppose my union with Kate. This
is merely a joke of yours, I know -- ha! ha! ha! -- how very pleasant
you are at times."
"Ha! ha! ha!" said he, "curse you! yes!"
"To be sure -- of course! I knew you were jesting. Now, uncle, all
that Kate and myself wish at present, is that you would oblige us
with your advice as -- as regards the time -- you know, uncle -- in
short, when will it be most convenient for yourself, that the wedding
shall -- shall come off, you know?"
"Come off, you scoundrel! -- what do you mean by that? -- Better wait
till it goes on."
"Ha! ha! ha! -- he! he! he! -- hi! hi! hi! -- ho! ho! ho! -- hu! hu!
hu!- that's good! -- oh that's capital -- such a wit! But all we want
just now, you know, uncle, is that you would indicate the time
"Ah! -- precisely?"
"Yes, uncle -- that is, if it would be quite agreeable to yourself."
"Wouldn't it answer, Bobby, if I were to leave it at random -- some
time within a year or so, for example? -- must I say precisely?"
"If you please, uncle -- precisely."
"Well, then, Bobby, my boy -- you're a fine fellow, aren't you? --
since you will have the exact time I'll -- why I'll oblige you for
"Hush, sir!" [drowning my voice] -- I'll oblige you for once. You
shall have my consent -- and the plum, we mus'n't forget the plum --
let me see! when shall it be? To-day's Sunday -- isn't it? Well,
then, you shall be married precisely -- precisely, now mind! -- when
three Sundays come together in a week! Do you hear me, sir! What are
you gaping at? I say, you shall have Kate and her plum when three
Sundays come together in a week -- but not till then -- you young
scapegrace -- not till then, if I die for it. You know me -- I'm a
man of my word -- now be off!" Here he swallowed his bumper of port,
while I rushed from the room in despair.
A very "fine old English gentleman," was my grand-uncle Rumgudgeon,
but unlike him of the song, he had his weak points. He was a little,
pursy, pompous, passionate semicircular somebody, with a red nose, a
thick scull, [sic] a long purse, and a strong sense of his own
consequence. With the best heart in the world, he contrived, through
a predominant whim of contradiction, to earn for himself, among those
who only knew him superficially, the character of a curmudgeon. Like
many excellent people, he seemed possessed with a spirit of
tantalization, which might easily, at a casual glance, have been
mistaken for malevolence. To every request, a positive "No!" was his
immediate answer, but in the end -- in the long, long end -- there
were exceedingly few requests which he refused. Against all attacks
upon his purse he made the most sturdy defence; but the amount
extorted from him, at last, was generally in direct ratio with the
length of the siege and the stubbornness of the resistance. In
charity no one gave more liberally or with a worse grace.
For the fine arts, and especially for the belles-lettres, he
entertained a profound contempt. With this he had been inspired by
Casimir Perier, whose pert little query "A quoi un poete est il bon?"
he was in the habit of quoting, with a very droll pronunciation, as
the ne plus ultra of logical wit. Thus my own inkling for the Muses
had excited his entire displeasure. He assured me one day, when I
asked him for a new copy of Horace, that the translation of "Poeta
nascitur non fit" was "a nasty poet for nothing fit" -- a remark
which I took in high dudgeon. His repugnance to "the humanities" had,
also, much increased of late, by an accidental bias in favor of what
he supposed to be natural science. Somebody had accosted him in the
street, mistaking him for no less a personage than Doctor Dubble L.
Dee, the lecturer upon quack physics. This set him off at a tangent;
and just at the epoch of this story -- for story it is getting to be
after all -- my grand-uncle Rumgudgeon was accessible and pacific
only upon points which happened to chime in with the caprioles of the
hobby he was riding. For the rest, he laughed with his arms and legs,
and his politics were stubborn and easily understood. He thought,
with Horsley, that "the people have nothing to do with the laws but
to obey them."
I had lived with the old gentleman all my life. My parents, in dying,
had bequeathed me to him as a rich legacy. I believe the old villain
loved me as his own child -- nearly if not quite as well as he loved
Kate -- but it was a dog's existence that he led me, after all. From
my first year until my fifth, he obliged me with very regular
floggings. From five to fifteen, he threatened me, hourly, with the
House of Correction. From fifteen to twenty, not a day passed in
which he did not promise to cut me off with a shilling. I was a sad
dog, it is true -- but then it was a part of my nature -- a point of
my faith. In Kate, however, I had a firm friend, and I knew it. She
was a good girl, and told me very sweetly that I might have her (plum
and all) whenever I could badger my grand-uncle Rumgudgeon, into the
necessary consent. Poor girl! -- she was barely fifteen, and without
this consent, her little amount in the funds was not come-at-able
until five immeasurable summers had "dragged their slow length
along." What, then, to do? At fifteen, or even at twenty-one [for I
had now passed my fifth olympiad] five years in prospect are very
much the same as five hundred. In vain we besieged the old gentleman
with importunities. Here was a piece de resistance (as Messieurs Ude
and Careme would say) which suited his perverse fancy to a T. It
would have stiffed the indignation of Job himself, to see how much
like an old mouser he behaved to us two poor wretched little mice. In
his heart he wished for nothing more ardently than our union. He had
made up his mind to this all along. In fact, he would have given ten
thousand pounds from his own pocket (Kate's plum was her own) if he
could have invented any thing like an excuse for complying with our
very natural wishes. But then we had been so imprudent as to broach
the subject ourselves. Not to oppose it under such circumstances, I
sincerely believe, was not in his power.
I have said already that he had his weak points; but in speaking of
these, I must not be understood as referring to his obstinacy: which
was one of his strong points -- "assurement ce n' etait pas sa
foible." When I mention his weakness I have allusion to a bizarre
old-womanish superstition which beset him. He was great in dreams,
portents, et id genus omne of rigmarole. He was excessively
punctilious, too, upon small points of honor, and, after his own
fashion, was a man of his word, beyond doubt. This was, in fact, one
of his hobbies. The spirit of his vows he made no scruple of setting
at naught, but the letter was a bond inviolable. Now it was this
latter peculiarity in his disposition, of which Kates ingenuity
enabled us one fine day, not long after our interview in the
dining-room, to take a very unexpected advantage, and, having thus,
in the fashion of all modern bards and orators, exhausted in
prolegomena, all the time at my command, and nearly all the room at
my disposal, I will sum up in a few words what constitutes the whole
pith of the story.
It happened then -- so the Fates ordered it -- that among the naval
acquaintances of my betrothed, were two gentlemen who had just set
foot upon the shores of England, after a year's absence, each, in
foreign travel. In company with these gentlemen, my cousin and I,
preconcertedly paid uncle Rumgudgeon a visit on the afternoon of
Sunday, October the tenth, -- just three weeks after the memorable
decision which had so cruelly defeated our hopes. For about half an
hour the conversation ran upon ordinary topics, but at last, we
contrived, quite naturally, to give it the following turn:
CAPT. PRATT. "Well I have been absent just one year. -- Just one year
to-day, as I live -- let me see! yes! -- this is October the tenth.
You remember, Mr. Rumgudgeon, I called, this day year to bid you
good-bye. And by the way, it does seem something like a coincidence,
does it not -- that our friend, Captain Smitherton, here, has been
absent exactly a year also -- a year to-day!"
SMITHERTON. "Yes! just one year to a fraction. You will remember, Mr.
Rumgudgeon, that I called with Capt. Pratol on this very day, last
year, to pay my parting respects."
UNCLE. "Yes, yes, yes -- I remember it very well -- very queer
indeed! Both of you gone just one year. A very strange coincidence,
indeed! Just what Doctor Dubble L. Dee would denominate an
extraordinary concurrence of events. Doctor Dub-"
KATE. [Interrupting.] "To be sure, papa, it is something strange; but
then Captain Pratt and Captain Smitherton didn't go altogether the
same route, and that makes a difference, you know."
UNCLE. "I don't know any such thing, you huzzy! How should I? I think
it only makes the matter more remarkable, Doctor Dubble L. Dee-
KATE. Why, papa, Captain Pratt went round Cape Horn, and Captain
Smitherton doubled the Cape of Good Hope."
UNCLE. "Precisely! -- the one went east and the other went west, you
jade, and they both have gone quite round the world. By the by,
Doctor Dubble L. Dee-
MYSELF. [Hurriedly.] "Captain Pratt, you must come and spend the
evening with us to-morrow -- you and Smitherton -- you can tell us
all about your voyage, and well have a game of whist and-
PRATT. "Wist, my dear fellow -- you forget. To-morrow will be Sunday.
Some other evening-
KATE. "Oh, no. fie! -- Robert's not quite so bad as that. To-day's
PRATT. "I beg both your pardons -- but I can't be so much mistaken. I
know to-morrow's Sunday, because-"
SMITHERTON. [Much surprised.] "What are you all thinking about?
Wasn't yesterday, Sunday, I should like to know?"
ALL. "Yesterday indeed! you are out!"
UNCLE. "To-days Sunday, I say -- don't I know?"
PRATT. "Oh no! -- to-morrow's Sunday."
SMITHERTON. "You are all mad -- every one of you. I am as positive
that yesterday was Sunday as I am that I sit upon this chair."
KATE. [jumping up eagerly.] "I see it -- I see it all. Papa, this is
a judgment upon you, about -- about you know what. Let me alone, and
I'll explain it all in a minute. It's a very simple thing, indeed.
Captain Smitherton says that yesterday was Sunday: so it was; he is
right. Cousin Bobby, and uncle and I say that to-day is Sunday: so it
is; we are right. Captain Pratt maintains that to-morrow will be
Sunday: so it will; he is right, too. The fact is, we are all right,
and thus three Sundays have come together in a week."
SMITHERTON. [After a pause.] "By the by, Pratt, Kate has us
completely. What fools we two are! Mr. Rumgudgeon, the matter stands
thus: the earth, you know, is twenty-four thousand miles in
circumference. Now this globe of the earth turns upon its own axis-
revolves -- spins round -- these twenty-four thousand miles of
extent, going from west to east, in precisely twenty-four hours. Do
you understand Mr. Rumgudgeon?-"
UNCLE. "To be sure -- to be sure -- Doctor Dub-"
SMITHERTON. [Drowning his voice.] "Well, sir; that is at the rate of
one thousand miles per hour. Now, suppose that I sail from this
position a thousand miles east. Of course I anticipate the rising of
the sun here at London by just one hour. I see the sun rise one hour
before you do. Proceeding, in the same direction, yet another
thousand miles, I anticipate the rising by two hours -- another
thousand, and I anticipate it by three hours, and so on, until I go
entirely round the globe, and back to this spot, when, having gone
twenty-four thousand miles east, I anticipate the rising of the
London sun by no less than twenty-four hours; that is to say, I am a
day in advance of your time. Understand, eh?"
UNCLE. "But Double L. Dee-"
SMITHERTON. [Speaking very loud.] "Captain Pratt, on the contrary,
when he had sailed a thousand miles west of this position, was an
hour, and when he had sailed twenty-four thousand miles west, was
twenty-four hours, or one day, behind the time at London. Thus, with
me, yesterday was Sunday -- thus, with you, to-day is Sunday -- and
thus, with Pratt, to-morrow will be Sunday. And what is more, Mr.
Rumgudgeon, it is positively clear that we are all right; for there
can be no philosophical reason assigned why the idea of one of us
should have preference over that of the other."
UNCLE. "My eyes! -- well, Kate -- well, Bobby! -- this is a judgment
upon me, as you say. But I am a man of my word -- mark that! you
shall have her, boy, (plum and all), when you please. Done up, by
Jove! Three Sundays all in a row! I'll go, and take Dubble L. Dee's
opinion upon that."
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