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The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Raven Edition Volume 4
THE MAN THAT WAS USED UP.
"Mann? - _Captain_ Mann?" here screamed some little feminine interloper from the farthest corner of the room. "Are you talking about Captain Mann and the duel? - oh, I _must_ hear - do tell - go on, Mrs. O'Trump! - do now go on!" And go on Mrs. O'Trump did - all about a certain Captain Mann, who was either shot or hung, or should have been both shot and hung. Yes! Mrs. O'Trump, she went on, and I - I went off. There was no chance of hearing anything farther that evening in regard to Brevet Brigadier General John A. B. C. Smith.
Still I consoled myself with the reflection that the tide of ill luck would not run against me forever, and so determined to make a bold push for information at the rout of that bewitching little angel, the graceful Mrs. Pirouette.
"Smith?" said Mrs. P., as we twirled about together in a _pas de zephyr_, "Smith? - why, not General John A. B. C.? Dreadful business that of the Bugaboos, wasn't it? - dreadful creatures, those Indians! - _do_ turn out your toes! I really am ashamed of you - man of great courage, poor fellow! - but this is a wonderful age for invention - O dear me, I'm out of breath - quite a desperado - prodigies of valor - _never heard!!_ - can't believe it - I shall have to sit down and enlighten you - Smith! why, he's the man" ---
"Man-_Fred_, I tell you!" here bawled out Miss Bas-Bleu, as I led Mrs. Pirouette to a seat. "Did ever anybody hear the like? It's Man-_Fred_, I say, and not at all by any means Man-_Friday_." Here Miss Bas-Bleu beckoned to me in a very peremptory manner; and I was obliged, will I nill I, to leave Mrs. P. for the purpose of deciding a dispute touching the title of a certain poetical drama of Lord Byron's. Although I pronounced, with great promptness, that the true title was Man-_Friday_, and not by any means Man-_Fred_, yet when I returned to seek Mrs. Pirouette she was not to be discovered, and I made my retreat from the house in a very bitter spirit of animosity against the whole race of the Bas-Bleus.
Matters had now assumed a really serious aspect, and I resolved to call at once upon my particular friend, Mr. Theodore Sinivate; for I knew that here at least I should get something like definite information.
"Smith?" said he, in his well-known peculiar way of drawling out his syllables; "Smith? - why, not General John A. B. C.? Savage affair that with the Kickapo-o-o-os, wasn't it? Say! don't you think so? - perfect despera-a-ado - great pity, 'pon my honor! - wonderfully inventive age! - pro-o-odigies of valor! By the by, did you ever hear about Captain Ma-a-a-a-n?"
"Captain Mann be d--d!" said I; "please to go on with your story."
"Hem! - oh well! - quite _la mÍme cho-o-ose_, as we say in France. Smith, eh? Brigadier-General John A. B. C.? I say" - [here Mr. S. thought proper to put his finger to the side of his nose] - "I say, you don't mean to insinuate now, really and truly, and conscientiously, that you don't know all about that affair of Smith's, as well as I do, eh? Smith? John A-B-C.? Why, bless me, he's the ma-a-an" ---
"_Mr_. Sinivate," said I, imploringly, "_is_ he the man in the mask?"
"No-o-o!" said he, looking wise, "nor the man in the mo-o-on."
This reply I considered a pointed and positive insult, and so left the house at once in high dudgeon, with a firm resolve to call my friend, Mr. Sinivate, to a speedy account for his ungentlemanly conduct and ill-breeding.
In the meantime, however, I had no notion of being thwarted touching the information I desired. There was one resource left me yet. I would go to the fountain-head. I would call forthwith upon the General himself, and demand, in explicit terms, a solution of this abominable piece of mystery. Here, at least, there should be no chance for equivocation. I would be plain, positive, peremptory - as short as pie-crust - as concise as Tacitus or Montesquieu.