The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 3

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 203

was not
aware that the years of my Eugenie extended very considerably beyond
that sum.

About all this there was a nobility of soul--a dignity of candor--which
delighted--which enchanted me--which eternally riveted my chains. I
could scarcely restrain the excessive transport which possessed me.

“My sweetest Eugenie,” I cried, “what is all this about which you are
discoursing? Your years surpass in some measure my own. But what then?
The customs of the world are so many conventional follies. To those who
love as ourselves, in what respect differs a year from an hour? I am
twenty-two, you say, granted: indeed, you may as well call me, at once,
twenty-three. Now you yourself, my dearest Eugenie, can have
numbered no more than--can have numbered no more than--no more
than--than--than--than--”

Here I paused for an instant, in the expectation that Madame Lalande
would interrupt me by supplying her true age. But a Frenchwoman is
seldom direct, and has always, by way of answer to an embarrassing
query, some little practical reply of her own. In the present instance,
Eugenie, who for a few moments past had seemed to be searching for
something in her bosom, at length let fall upon the grass a miniature,
which I immediately picked up and presented to her.

“Keep it!” she said, with one of her most ravishing smiles. “Keep it
for my sake--for the sake of her whom it too flatteringly represents.
Besides, upon the back of the trinket you may discover, perhaps, the
very information you seem to desire. It is now, to be sure, growing
rather dark--but you can examine it at your leisure in the morning. In
the meantime, you shall be my escort home to-night. My friends are
about holding a little musical levee. I can promise you, too, some good
singing. We French are not nearly so punctilious as you Americans, and I
shall have no difficulty in smuggling you in, in the character of an old
acquaintance.”

With this, she took my arm, and I attended her home. The mansion was
quite a fine one, and, I believe, furnished in good taste. Of this
latter point, however, I am scarcely qualified to judge; for it was just
dark as we arrived; and in American mansions of the better sort lights
seldom, during the heat of summer, make their appearance at this, the
most pleasant period of the day. In about an hour after my arrival,
to be sure, a single shaded solar lamp was lit in the principal
drawing-room; and this apartment, I could thus see, was arranged with
unusual good taste and even splendor; but two other

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