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The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Raven Edition Volume 3
This morrow at last came, that is to say, a day finally dawned upon a long and weary night of impatience; and then the hours until "one" were snail-paced, dreary, and innumerable. But even Stamboul, it is said, shall have an end, and there came an end to this long delay. The clock struck. As the last echo ceased, I stepped into B--'s and inquired for Talbot.
"Out," said the footman -- Talbot's own.
"Out!" I replied, staggering back half a dozen paces -- "let me tell you, my fine fellow, that this thing is thoroughly impossible and impracticable; Mr. Talbot is not out. What do you mean?"
"Nothing, sir; only Mr. Talbot is not in, that's all. He rode over to S--, immediately after breakfast, and left word that he would not be in town again for a week."
I stood petrified with horror and rage. I endeavored to reply, but my tongue refused its office. At length I turned on my heel, livid with wrath, and inwardly consigning the whole tribe of the Talbots to the innermost regions of Erebus. It was evident that my considerate friend, il fanatico, had quite forgotten his appointment with myself -- had forgotten it as soon as it was made. At no time was he a very scrupulous man of his word. There was no help for it; so smothering my vexation as well as I could, I strolled moodily up the street, propounding futile inquiries about Madame Lalande to every male acquaintance I met. By report she was known, I found, to all- to many by sight -- but she had been in town only a few weeks, and there were very few, therefore, who claimed her personal acquaintance. These few, being still comparatively strangers, could not, or would not, take the liberty of introducing me through the formality of a morning call. While I stood thus in despair, conversing with a trio of friends upon the all absorbing subject of my heart, it so happened that the subject itself passed by.
"As I live, there she is!" cried one.
"Surprisingly beautiful!" exclaimed a second.
"An angel upon earth!" ejaculated a third.
I looked; and in an open carriage which approached us, passing slowly down the street, sat the enchanting vision of the opera, accompanied by the younger lady who had occupied a portion of her box.
"Her companion also wears remarkably well," said the one of my trio who had spoken first.
"Astonishingly," said the second; "still quite a brilliant air, but art will do wonders. Upon my word, she looks better than she did at Paris five years ago. A beautiful woman still; -- don't you think so, Froissart? -- Simpson, I mean."
"Still!" said I, "and why shouldn't she be? But compared with her friend she is as a rush -- light to the evening star -- a glow -- worm to Antares.
"Ha! ha! ha! -- why, Simpson, you have an astonishing tact at making discoveries -- original ones, I mean." And here we separated, while one of the trio began humming a gay vaudeville, of which I caught only the lines-
Ninon, Ninon, Ninon a bas-
A bas Ninon De L'Enclos!
During this little scene, however, one thing had served greatly to console me, although it fed the passion by which I was consumed. As the carriage of Madame Lalande rolled by our group, I had observed that she recognized me; and more than this, she had blessed me, by the most seraphic of all imaginable smiles, with no equivocal mark of the recognition.
As for an introduction, I was obliged to abandon all hope of it until such time as Talbot should think proper to return from the country. In the meantime I perseveringly frequented every reputable place of public amusement; and, at length, at the theatre, where I first saw her, I had the supreme bliss of meeting her, and of exchanging glances with her once again. This did not occur, however, until the lapse of a fortnight. Every day, in the interim, I had inquired for Talbot at his hotel, and every day had been thrown into a spasm of wrath by the everlasting "Not come home yet" of his footman.
Upon the evening in question, therefore, I was in a condition little short of madness. Madame Lalande, I had been told, was a Parisian -- had lately arrived from Paris -- might she not suddenly return? -- return before Talbot came back -- and might she not be thus lost to me forever? The thought was too terrible to bear. Since my future happiness was at issue, I resolved to act with a manly decision. In a word, upon the breaking up of the play, I traced the lady to her residence, noted the address, and the next morning sent her a full and elaborate letter, in which I poured out my whole heart.