The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 13

playing requires another to find a given word--the name of
town, river, state or empire--any word, in short, upon the motley and
perplexed surface of the chart. A novice in the game generally seeks to
embarrass his opponents by giving them the most minutely lettered names;
but the adept selects such words as stretch, in large characters, from
one end of the chart to the other. These, like the over-largely lettered
signs and placards of the street, escape observation by dint of being
excessively obvious; and here the physical oversight is precisely
analogous with the moral inapprehension by which the intellect suffers
to pass unnoticed those considerations which are too obtrusively and too
palpably self-evident. But this is a point, it appears, somewhat above
or beneath the understanding of the Prefect. He never once thought
it probable, or possible, that the Minister had deposited the letter
immediately beneath the nose of the whole world, by way of best
preventing any portion of that world from perceiving it.

"But the more I reflected upon the daring, dashing, and discriminating
ingenuity of D--; upon the fact that the document must always have been
at hand, if he intended to use it to good purpose; and upon the decisive
evidence, obtained by the Prefect, that it was not hidden within the
limits of that dignitary's ordinary search--the more satisfied I
became that, to conceal this letter, the Minister had resorted to the
comprehensive and sagacious expedient of not attempting to conceal it at
all.

"Full of these ideas, I prepared myself with a pair of green spectacles,
and called one fine morning, quite by accident, at the Ministerial
hotel. I found D-- at home, yawning, lounging, and dawdling, as usual,
and pretending to be in the last extremity of ennui. He is, perhaps,
the most really energetic human being now alive--but that is only when
nobody sees him.

"To be even with him, I complained of my weak eyes, and lamented the
necessity of the spectacles, under cover of which I cautiously and
thoroughly surveyed the whole apartment, while seemingly intent only
upon the conversation of my host.

"I paid especial attention to a large writing-table near which he sat,
and upon which lay confusedly, some miscellaneous letters and other
papers, with one or two musical instruments and a few books. Here,
however, after a long and very deliberate scrutiny, I saw nothing to
excite particular suspicion.

"At length my eyes, in going the circuit of the room, fell upon a
trumpery fillagree card-rack of pasteboard, that hung dangling by a
dirty blue ribbon, from a little brass knob just beneath the middle

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