elbow. The minister
decamped; leaving his own letter--one of no importance--upon the table."
"Here, then," said Dupin to me, "you have precisely what you demand
to make the ascendancy complete--the robber's knowledge of the loser's
knowledge of the robber."
"Yes," replied the Prefect; "and the power thus attained has, for some
months past, been wielded, for political purposes, to a very dangerous
extent. The personage robbed is more thoroughly convinced, every day, of
the necessity of reclaiming her letter. But this, of course, cannot be
done openly. In fine, driven to despair, she has committed the matter to
"Than whom," said Dupin, amid a perfect whirlwind of smoke, "no more
sagacious agent could, I suppose, be desired, or even imagined."
"You flatter me," replied the Prefect; "but it is possible that some
such opinion may have been entertained."
"It is clear," said I, "as you observe, that the letter is still in
possession of the minister; since it is this possession, and not any
employment of the letter, which bestows the power. With the employment
the power departs."
"True," said G.; "and upon this conviction I proceeded. My first care
was to make thorough search of the minister's hotel; and here my chief
embarrassment lay in the necessity of searching without his knowledge.
Beyond all things, I have been warned of the danger which would result
from giving him reason to suspect our design."
"But," said I, "you are quite au fait in these investigations. The
Parisian police have done this thing often before."
"O yes; and for this reason I did not despair. The habits of the
minister gave me, too, a great advantage. He is frequently absent from
home all night. His servants are by no means numerous. They sleep at a
distance from their master's apartment, and, being chiefly Neapolitans,
are readily made drunk. I have keys, as you know, with which I can
open any chamber or cabinet in Paris. For three months a night has
not passed, during the greater part of which I have not been engaged,
personally, in ransacking the D-- Hotel. My honor is interested, and, to
mention a great secret, the reward is enormous. So I did not abandon
the search until I had become fully satisfied that the thief is a more
astute man than myself. I fancy that I have investigated every nook and
corner of the premises in which it is possible that the paper can be
"But is it not possible," I suggested, "that although the letter may
be in possession of the minister, as it unquestionably is, he may have
concealed it elsewhere than upon
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice; Let me see, then, what thereat is and this mystery explore-- Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;-- 'Tis the wind and nothing more.Page 2
" Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken, "Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store, Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore-- Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore Of 'Never--nevermore.Page 3
" "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil!-- Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore, Desolate, yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-- On this home by Horror haunted--tell me truly, I implore-- Is there--_is_ there balm in Gilead?--tell me--tell me, I implore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.Page 4
" And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadows on the floor; And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted--nevermore!.