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The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Raven Edition Volume 3
I spoke boldly, freely -- in a word, I spoke with passion. I concealed nothing -- nothing even of my weakness. I alluded to the romantic circumstances of our first meeting -- even to the glances which had passed between us. I went so far as to say that I felt assured of her love; while I offered this assurance, and my own intensity of devotion, as two excuses for my otherwise unpardonable conduct. As a third, I spoke of my fear that she might quit the city before I could have the opportunity of a formal introduction. I concluded the most wildly enthusiastic epistle ever penned, with a frank declaration of my worldly circumstances -- of my affluence -- and with an offer of my heart and of my hand.
In an agony of expectation I awaited the reply. After what seemed the lapse of a century it came.
Yes, actually came. Romantic as all this may appear, I really received a letter from Madame Lalande -- the beautiful, the wealthy, the idolized Madame Lalande. Her eyes -- her magnificent eyes, had not belied her noble heart. Like a true Frenchwoman as she was she had obeyed the frank dictates of her reason -- the generous impulses of her nature -- despising the conventional pruderies of the world. She had not scorned my proposals. She had not sheltered herself in silence. She had not returned my letter unopened. She had even sent me, in reply, one penned by her own exquisite fingers. It ran thus:
"Monsieur Simpson vill pardonne me for not compose de butefulle tong of his contree so vell as might. It is only de late dat I am arrive, and not yet ave do opportunite for to -- l'etudier.
"Vid dis apologie for the maniere, I vill now say dat, helas!- Monsieur Simpson ave guess but de too true. Need I say de more? Helas! am I not ready speak de too moshe?
This noble -- spirited note I kissed a million times, and committed, no doubt, on its account, a thousand other extravagances that have now escaped my memory. Still Talbot would not return. Alas! could he have formed even the vaguest idea of the suffering his absence had occasioned his friend, would not his sympathizing nature have flown immediately to my relief? Still, however, he came not. I wrote. He replied. He was detained by urgent business -- but would shortly return. He begged me not to be impatient -- to moderate my transports -- to read soothing books -- to drink nothing stronger than Hock -- and to bring the consolations of philosophy to my aid. The fool! if he could not come himself, why, in the name of every thing rational, could he not have enclosed me a letter of presentation? I wrote him again, entreating him to forward one forthwith. My letter was returned by that footman, with the following endorsement in pencil. The scoundrel had joined his master in the country:
"Left S- -- yesterday, for parts unknown -- did not say where -- or when be back -- so thought best to return letter, knowing your handwriting, and as how you is always, more or less, in a hurry.
After this, it is needless to say, that I devoted to the infernal deities both master and valet: -- but there was little use in anger, and no consolation at all in complaint.
But I had yet a resource left, in my constitutional audacity. Hitherto it had served me well, and I now resolved to make it avail me to the end. Besides, after the correspondence which had passed between us, what act of mere informality could I commit, within bounds, that ought to be regarded as indecorous by Madame Lalande? Since the affair of the letter, I had been in the habit of watching her house, and thus discovered that, about twilight, it was her custom to promenade, attended only by a negro in livery, in a public square overlooked by her windows. Here, amid the luxuriant and shadowing groves, in the gray gloom of a sweet midsummer evening, I observed my opportunity and accosted her.
The better to deceive the servant in attendance, I did this with the assured air of an old and familiar acquaintance. With a presence of mind truly Parisian, she took the cue at once, and, to greet me, held out the most bewitchingly little of hands. The valet at once fell into the rear, and now, with hearts full to overflowing, we discoursed long and unreservedly of our love.