The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 1

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 160

by Beauvais. In regard to the hair upon the
arm, L'Etoile has been obviously disingenuous. M. Beauvais, not being an
idiot, could never have urged, in identification of the corpse, simply
hair upon its arm. No arm is without hair. The generality of the
expression of L'Etoile is a mere perversion of the witness' phraseology.
He must have spoken of some peculiarity in this hair. It must have been
a peculiarity of color, of quantity, of length, or of situation.

"'Her foot,' says the journal, 'was small--so are thousands of feet. Her
garter is no proof whatever--nor is her shoe--for shoes and garters are
sold in packages. The same may be said of the flowers in her hat. One
thing upon which M. Beauvais strongly insists is, that the clasp on the
garter found, had been set back to take it in. This amounts to nothing;
for most women find it proper to take a pair of garters home and fit
them to the size of the limbs they are to encircle, rather than to try
them in the store where they purchase.' Here it is difficult to suppose
the reasoner in earnest. Had M. Beauvais, in his search for the body of
Marie, discovered a corpse corresponding in general size and appearance
to the missing girl, he would have been warranted (without reference to
the question of habiliment at all) in forming an opinion that his search
had been successful. If, in addition to the point of general size and
contour, he had found upon the arm a peculiar hairy appearance which he
had observed upon the living Marie, his opinion might have been justly
strengthened; and the increase of positiveness might well have been in
the ratio of the peculiarity, or unusualness, of the hairy mark. If,
the feet of Marie being small, those of the corpse were also small, the
increase of probability that the body was that of Marie would not be an
increase in a ratio merely arithmetical, but in one highly geometrical,
or accumulative. Add to all this shoes such as she had been known to
wear upon the day of her disappearance, and, although these shoes may be
'sold in packages,' you so far augment the probability as to verge upon
the certain. What, of itself, would be no evidence of identity, becomes
through its corroborative position, proof most sure. Give us, then,
flowers in the hat corresponding to those worn by the missing girl, and
we seek for nothing farther. If only one flower, we seek for nothing
farther--what then if two or three, or more?

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