The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 121

of the
stranger. What reason could there have been for the low--the singularly
low tone of those unmeaning words which the lady uttered hurriedly in
bidding him adieu? "Thou hast conquered," she said, or the murmurs of
the water deceived me; "thou hast conquered--one hour after sunrise--we
shall meet--so let it be!"

* * * * *

The tumult had subsided, the lights had died away within the palace,
and the stranger, whom I now recognized, stood alone upon the flags. He
shook with inconceivable agitation, and his eye glanced around in search
of a gondola. I could not do less than offer him the service of my own;
and he accepted the civility. Having obtained an oar at the water-gate,
we proceeded together to his residence, while he rapidly recovered his
self-possession, and spoke of our former slight acquaintance in terms of
great apparent cordiality.

There are some subjects upon which I take pleasure in being minute. The
person of the stranger--let me call him by this title, who to all the
world was still a stranger--the person of the stranger is one of these
subjects. In height he might have been below rather than above the
medium size: although there were moments of intense passion when his
frame actually _expanded_ and belied the assertion. The light, almost
slender symmetry of his figure, promised more of that ready activity
which he evinced at the Bridge of Sighs, than of that Herculean strength
which he has been known to wield without an effort, upon occasions of
more dangerous emergency. With the mouth and chin of a deity--singular,
wild, full, liquid eyes, whose shadows varied from pure hazel to intense
and brilliant jet--and a profusion of curling, black hair, from which
a forehead of unusual breadth gleamed forth at intervals all light and
ivory--his were features than which I have seen none more classically
regular, except, perhaps, the marble ones of the Emperor Commodus. Yet
his countenance was, nevertheless, one of those which all men have seen
at some period of their lives, and have never afterwards seen again. It
had no peculiar--it had no settled predominant expression to be fastened
upon the memory; a countenance seen and instantly forgotten--but
forgotten with a vague and never-ceasing desire of recalling it to mind.
Not that the spirit of each rapid passion failed, at any time, to
throw its own distinct image upon the mirror of that face--but that
the mirror, mirror-like, retained no vestige of the passion, when the
passion had departed.

Upon leaving him on the night of our adventure, he solicited me, in
what I thought an urgent manner, to

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