The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 3

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 205

these miracles of vocal execution, she
resumed her seat by my side; when I expressed to her, in terms of the
deepest enthusiasm, my delight at her performance. Of my surprise I
said nothing, and yet was I most unfeignedly surprised; for a certain
feebleness, or rather a certain tremulous indecision of voice in
ordinary conversation, had prepared me to anticipate that, in singing,
she would not acquit herself with any remarkable ability.

Our conversation was now long, earnest, uninterrupted, and totally
unreserved. She made me relate many of the earlier passages of my life,
and listened with breathless attention to every word of the narrative. I
concealed nothing--felt that I had a right to conceal nothing--from her
confiding affection. Encouraged by her candor upon the delicate point of
her age, I entered, with perfect frankness, not only into a detail of
my many minor vices, but made full confession of those moral and even
of those physical infirmities, the disclosure of which, in demanding so
much higher a degree of courage, is so much surer an evidence of love.
I touched upon my college indiscretions--upon my extravagances--upon my
carousals--upon my debts--upon my flirtations. I even went so far as
to speak of a slightly hectic cough with which, at one time, I had been
troubled--of a chronic rheumatism--of a twinge of hereditary gout--and,
in conclusion, of the disagreeable and inconvenient, but hitherto
carefully concealed, weakness of my eyes.

“Upon this latter point,” said Madame Lalande, laughingly, “you have
been surely injudicious in coming to confession; for, without the
confession, I take it for granted that no one would have accused you of
the crime. By the by,” she continued, “have you any recollection--” and
here I fancied that a blush, even through the gloom of the apartment,
became distinctly visible upon her cheek--“have you any recollection,
mon cher ami of this little ocular assistant, which now depends from my
neck?”

As she spoke she twirled in her fingers the identical double eye-glass
which had so overwhelmed me with confusion at the opera.

“Full well--alas! do I remember it,” I exclaimed, pressing passionately
the delicate hand which offered the glasses for my inspection. They
formed a complex and magnificent toy, richly chased and filigreed, and
gleaming with jewels, which, even in the deficient light, I could not
help perceiving were of high value.

“Eh bien! mon ami” she resumed with a certain empressment of manner that
rather surprised me--“Eh bien! mon ami, you have earnestly besought of
me a favor which you have been pleased to denominate priceless. You
have demanded of me my hand upon the morrow. Should I

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