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The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Raven Edition Volume 5
I have said that "to enter the Cafe in the cul-de-sac Le Febvre was to enter the sanctum of a man of genius" - but then it was only the man of genius who could duly estimate the merits of the sanctum. A sign, consisting of a vast folio, swung before the entrance. On one side of the volume was painted a bottle; on the reverse a pate. On the back were visible in large letters Oeuvres de Bon-Bon. Thus was delicately shadowed forth the two-fold occupation of the proprietor.
Upon stepping over the threshold, the whole interior of the building presented itself to view. A long, low-pitched room, of antique construction, was indeed all the accommodation afforded by the Cafe. In a corner of the apartment stood the bed of the metaphysician. An army of curtains, together with a canopy a la Grecque, gave it an air at once classic and comfortable. In the corner diagonary opposite, appeared, in direct family communion, the properties of the kitchen and the bibliotheque. A dish of polemics stood peacefully upon the dresser. Here lay an ovenful of the latest ethics - there a kettle of dudecimo melanges. Volumes of German morality were hand and glove with the gridiron - a toasting-fork might be discovered by the side of Eusebius - Plato reclined at his ease in the frying-pan- and contemporary manuscripts were filed away upon the spit.
In other respects the Cafe de Bon-Bon might be said to differ little from the usual restaurants of the period. A fireplace yawned opposite the door. On the right of the fireplace an open cupboard displayed a formidable array of labelled bottles.
It was here, about twelve o'clock one night during the severe winter the comments of his neighbours upon his singular propensity - that Pierre Bon-Bon, I say, having turned them all out of his house, locked the door upon them with an oath, and betook himself in no very pacific mood to the comforts of a leather-bottomed arm-chair, and a fire of blazing fagots.
It was one of those terrific nights which are only met with once or twice during a century. It snowed fiercely, and the house tottered to its centre with the floods of wind that, rushing through the crannies in the wall, and pouring impetuously down the chimney, shook awfully the curtains of the philosopher's bed, and disorganized the economy of his pate-pans and papers. The huge folio sign that swung without, exposed to the fury of the tempest, creaked ominously, and gave out a moaning sound from its stanchions of solid oak.
It was in no placid temper, I say, that the metaphysician drew up his chair to its customary station by the hearth. Many circumstances of a perplexing nature had occurred during the day, to disturb the serenity of his meditations. In attempting des oeufs a la Princesse, he had unfortunately perpetrated an omelette a la Reine; the discovery of a principle in ethics had been frustrated by the overturning of a stew; and last, not least, he had been thwarted in one of those admirable bargains which he at all times took such especial delight in bringing to a successful termination. But in the chafing of his mind at these unaccountable vicissitudes, there did not fail to be mingled some degree of that nervous anxiety which the fury of a boisterous night is so well calculated to produce. Whistling to his more immediate vicinity the large black water-dog we have spoken of before, and settling himself uneasily in his chair, he could not help casting a wary and unquiet eye toward those distant recesses of the apartment whose inexorable shadows not even the red firelight itself could more than partially succeed in overcoming. Having completed a scrutiny whose exact purpose was perhaps unintelligible to himself, he drew close to his seat a small table covered with books and papers, and soon became absorbed in the task of retouching a voluminous manuscript, intended for publication on the morrow.
He had been thus occupied for some minutes when "I am in no hurry, Monsieur Bon-Bon," suddenly whispered a whining voice in the apartment.
"The devil!" ejaculated our hero, starting to his feet, overturning the table at his side, and staring around him in astonishment.
"Very true," calmly replied the voice.
"Very true! - what is very true? - how came you here?" vociferated the metaphysician, as his eye fell upon something which lay stretched at full length upon the bed.