The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 3

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 211

surveying me through her eye-glass, she was struck
with a certain family resemblance to herself. Thus interested, and
knowing that the heir she sought was actually in the city, she made
inquiries of her party respecting me. The gentleman who attended her
knew my person, and told her who I was. The information thus obtained
induced her to renew her scrutiny; and this scrutiny it was which so
emboldened me that I behaved in the absurd manner already detailed.
She returned my bow, however, under the impression that, by some odd
accident, I had discovered her identity. When, deceived by my weakness
of vision, and the arts of the toilet, in respect to the age and charms
of the strange lady, I demanded so enthusiastically of Talbot who
she was, he concluded that I meant the younger beauty, as a matter
of course, and so informed me, with perfect truth, that she was “the
celebrated widow, Madame Lalande.”

In the street, next morning, my great, great, grandmother encountered
Talbot, an old Parisian acquaintance; and the conversation, very
naturally turned upon myself. My deficiencies of vision were then
explained; for these were notorious, although I was entirely ignorant
of their notoriety, and my good old relative discovered, much to
her chagrin, that she had been deceived in supposing me aware of her
identity, and that I had been merely making a fool of myself in making
open love, in a theatre, to an old woman unknown. By way of punishing me
for this imprudence, she concocted with Talbot a plot. He purposely kept
out of my way to avoid giving me the introduction. My street inquiries
about “the lovely widow, Madame Lalande,” were supposed to refer to
the younger lady, of course, and thus the conversation with the three
gentlemen whom I encountered shortly after leaving Talbot’s hotel will
be easily explained, as also their allusion to Ninon De L’Enclos. I had
no opportunity of seeing Madame Lalande closely during daylight; and,
at her musical soiree, my silly weakness in refusing the aid of glasses
effectually prevented me from making a discovery of her age. When
“Madame Lalande” was called upon to sing, the younger lady was intended;
and it was she who arose to obey the call; my great, great, grandmother,
to further the deception, arising at the same moment and accompanying
her to the piano in the main drawing-room. Had I decided upon escorting
her thither, it had been her design to suggest the propriety of my
remaining where I was; but my own prudential views rendered this
unnecessary. The songs which I so much admired,

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