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The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Raven Edition Volume 3


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Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

YOU hard-headed, dunder-headed, obstinate, rusty, crusty, musty, fusty, old savage!" said I, in fancy, one afternoon, to my grand uncle Rumgudgeon -- shaking my fist at him in imagination.

Only in imagination. The fact is, some trivial discrepancy did exist, just then, between what I said and what I had not the courage to say -- between what I did and what I had half a mind to do.

The old porpoise, as I opened the drawing-room door, was sitting with his feet upon the mantel-piece, and a bumper of port in his paw, making strenuous efforts to accomplish the ditty.

Remplis ton verre vide!

Vide ton verre plein!

"My dear uncle," said I, closing the door gently, and approaching him with the blandest of smiles, "you are always so very kind and considerate, and have evinced your benevolence in so many -- so very many ways -- that -- that I feel I have only to suggest this little point to you once more to make sure of your full acquiescence."

"Hem!" said he, "good boy! go on!"

"I am sure, my dearest uncle [you confounded old rascal!], that you have no design really, seriously, to oppose my union with Kate. This is merely a joke of yours, I know -- ha! ha! ha! -- how very pleasant you are at times."

"Ha! ha! ha!" said he, "curse you! yes!"

"To be sure -- of course! I knew you were jesting. Now, uncle, all that Kate and myself wish at present, is that you would oblige us with your advice as -- as regards the time -- you know, uncle -- in short, when will it be most convenient for yourself, that the wedding shall -- shall come off, you know?"

"Come off, you scoundrel! -- what do you mean by that? -- Better wait till it goes on."

"Ha! ha! ha! -- he! he! he! -- hi! hi! hi! -- ho! ho! ho! -- hu! hu! hu!- that's good! -- oh that's capital -- such a wit! But all we want just now, you know, uncle, is that you would indicate the time precisely."

"Ah! -- precisely?"

"Yes, uncle -- that is, if it would be quite agreeable to yourself."

"Wouldn't it answer, Bobby, if I were to leave it at random -- some time within a year or so, for example? -- must I say precisely?"

"If you please, uncle -- precisely."

"Well, then, Bobby, my boy -- you're a fine fellow, aren't you? -- since you will have the exact time I'll -- why I'll oblige you for once:"

"Dear uncle!"

"Hush, sir!" [drowning my voice] -- I'll oblige you for once. You shall have my consent -- and the plum, we mus'n't forget the plum -- let me see! when shall it be? To-day's Sunday -- isn't it? Well, then, you shall be married precisely -- precisely, now mind! -- when three Sundays come together in a week! Do you hear me, sir! What are you gaping at? I say, you shall have Kate and her plum when three Sundays come together in a week -- but not till then -- you young scapegrace -- not till then, if I die for it. You know me -- I'm a man of my word -- now be off!" Here he swallowed his bumper of port, while I rushed from the room in despair.

A very "fine old English gentleman," was my grand-uncle Rumgudgeon, but unlike him of the song, he had his weak points. He was a little, pursy, pompous, passionate semicircular somebody, with a red nose, a thick scull, [sic] a long purse, and a strong sense of his own consequence. With the best heart in the world, he contrived, through a predominant whim of contradiction, to earn for himself, among those who only knew him superficially, the character of a curmudgeon. Like many excellent people, he seemed possessed with a spirit of tantalization, which might easily, at a casual glance, have been mistaken for malevolence. To every request, a positive "No!" was his immediate answer, but in the end -- in the long, long end -- there were exceedingly few requests which he refused. Against all attacks upon his purse he made the most sturdy defence; but the amount extorted from him, at last, was generally in direct ratio with the length of the siege and the stubbornness of the resistance. In charity no one gave more liberally or with a worse grace.

For the fine arts, and especially for the belles-lettres, he entertained a profound contempt. With this he had been inspired by Casimir Perier, whose pert little query "A quoi un poete est il bon?" he was in the habit of quoting, with a very droll pronunciation, as the ne plus ultra of logical wit. Thus my own inkling for the Muses had excited his entire displeasure. He assured me one day, when I asked him for a new copy of Horace, that the translation of "Poeta nascitur non fit" was "a nasty poet for nothing fit" -- a remark which I took in high dudgeon. His repugnance to "the humanities" had, also, much increased of late, by an accidental bias in favor of what he supposed to be natural science. Somebody had accosted him in the street, mistaking him for no less a personage than Doctor Dubble L. Dee, the lecturer upon quack physics. This set him off at a tangent; and just at the epoch of this story -- for story it is getting to be after all -- my grand-uncle Rumgudgeon was accessible and pacific only upon points which happened to chime in with the caprioles of the hobby he was riding. For the rest, he laughed with his arms and legs, and his politics were stubborn and easily understood. He thought, with Horsley, that "the people have nothing to do with the laws but to obey them."