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The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Raven Edition Volume 4
THE MAN THAT WAS USED UP.
The kind friend who presented me to General Smith whispered in my ear some few words of comment upon the man. He was a _remarkable_ man - a _very_ remarkable man - indeed one of the _most_ remarkable men of the age. He was an especial favorite, too, with the ladies - chiefly on account of his high reputation for courage.
"In _that_ point he is unrivalled - indeed he is a perfect desperado - a down-right fire-eater, and no mistake," said my friend, here dropping his voice excessively low, and thrilling me with the mystery of his tone.
"A downright fire-eater, and _no_ mistake. Showed _that_, I should say, to some purpose, in the late tremendous swamp-fight away down South, with the Bugaboo and Kickapoo Indians." [Here my friend opened his eyes to some extent.] "Bless my soul! - blood and thunder, and all that! - _prodigies_ of valor! - heard of him of course? - you know he's the man" ---
"Man alive, how _do_ you do? why, how _are_ ye? _very_ glad to see ye, indeed!" here interrupted the General himself, seizing my companion by the hand as he drew near, and bowing stiffly, but profoundly, as I was presented. I then thought, (and I think so still,) that I never heard a clearer nor a stronger voice, nor beheld a finer set of teeth: but I _must_ say that I was sorry for the interruption just at that moment, as, owing to the whispers and insinuations aforesaid, my interest had been greatly excited in the hero of the Bugaboo and Kickapoo campaign.
However, the delightfully luminous conversation of Brevet Brigadier General John A. B. C. Smith soon completely dissipated this chagrin. My friend leaving us immediately, we had quite a long _tête-à-tête_, and I was not only pleased but _really_ - instructed. I never heard a more fluent talker, or a man of greater general information. With becoming modesty, he forebore, nevertheless, to touch upon the theme I had just then most at heart - I mean the mysterious circumstances attending the Bugaboo war - and, on my own part, what I conceive to be a proper sense of delicacy forbade me to broach the subject; although, in truth, I was exceedingly tempted to do so. I perceived, too, that the gallant soldier preferred topics of philosophical interest, and that he delighted, especially, in commenting upon the rapid march of mechanical invention. Indeed, lead him where I would, this was a point to which he invariably came back.
"There is nothing at all like it," he would say; "we are a wonderful people, and live in a wonderful age. Parachutes and rail-roads - man-traps and spring-guns! Our steam-boats are upon every sea, and the Nassau balloon packet is about to run regular trips (fare either way only twenty pounds sterling) between London and Timbuctoo. And who shall calculate the immense influence upon social life - upon arts - upon commerce - upon literature - which will be the immediate result of the great principles of electro magnetics! Nor, is this all, let me assure you! There is really no end to the march of invention. The most wonderful - the most ingenious - and let me add, Mr. - Mr. - Thompson, I believe, is your name - let me add, I say, the most _useful_ - the most truly _useful_ mechanical contrivances, are daily springing up like mushrooms, if I may so express myself, or, more figuratively, like - ah - grasshoppers - like grasshoppers, Mr. Thompson - about us and ah - ah - ah - around us!"
Thompson, to be sure, is not my name; but it is needless to say that I left General Smith with a heightened interest in the man, with an exalted opinion of his conversational powers, and a deep sense of the valuable privileges we enjoy in living in this age of mechanical invention. My curiosity, however, had not been altogether satisfied, and I resolved to prosecute immediate inquiry among my acquaintances touching the Brevet Brigadier General himself, and particularly respecting the tremendous events _quorum pars magna fuit_, during the Bugaboo and Kickapoo campaign.
The first opportunity which presented itself, and which (_horresco referens_) I did not in the least scruple to seize, occurred at the Church of the Reverend Doctor Drummummupp, where I found myself established, one Sunday, just at sermon time, not only in the pew, but by the side, of that worthy and communicative little friend of mine, Miss Tabitha T. Thus seated, I congratulated myself, and with much reason, upon the very flattering state of affairs. If any person knew anything about Brevet Brigadier General John A. B. C. Smith, that person, it was clear to me, was Miss Tabitha T. We telegraphed a few signals, and then commenced, _soto voce_, a brisk _tête-à-tête_.