The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 3

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 196

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 Madame Lalande.

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

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