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The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Raven Edition Volume 5


page 5 of 8 | page 1 | Table of Contents

Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

Actuated by these enlightened views, our hero bade the gentleman sit down, while he himself took occasion to throw some fagots upon the fire, and place upon the now re-established table some bottles of Mousseux. Having quickly completed these operations, he drew his chair vis-a-vis to his companion's, and waited until the latter should open the conversation. But plans even the most skilfully matured are often thwarted in the outset of their application - and the restaurateur found himself nonplussed by the very first words of his visiter's speech.

"I see you know me, Bon-Bon," said he; "ha! ha! ha! - he! he! he! - hi! hi! hi! - ho! ho! ho! - hu! hu! hu!" - and the devil, dropping at once the sanctity of his demeanor, opened to its fullest extent a mouth from ear to ear, so as to display a set of jagged and fang-like teeth, and, throwing back his head, laughed long, loudly, wickedly, and uproariously, while the black dog, crouching down upon his haunches, joined lustily in the chorus, and the tabby cat, flying off at a tangent, stood up on end, and shrieked in the farthest corner of the apartment.

Not so the philosopher; he was too much a man of the world either to laugh like the dog, or by shrieks to betray the indecorous trepidation of the cat. It must be confessed, he felt a little astonishment to see the white letters which formed the words "Rituel Catholique" on the book in his guest's pocket, momently changing both their color and their import, and in a few seconds, in place of the original title the words Regitre des Condamnes blazed forth in characters of red. This startling circumstance, when Bon-Bon replied to his visiter's remark, imparted to his manner an air of embarrassment which probably might, not otherwise have been observed.

"Why sir," said the philosopher, "why sir, to speak sincerely - I I imagine - I have some faint - some very faint idea - of the remarkable honor-"

"Oh! - ah! - yes! - very well!" interrupted his Majesty; "say no more - I see how it is." And hereupon, taking off his green spectacles, he wiped the glasses carefully with the sleeve of his coat, and deposited them in his pocket.

If Bon-Bon had been astonished at the incident of the book, his amazement was now much increased by the spectacle which here presented itself to view. In raising his eyes, with a strong feeling of curiosity to ascertain the color of his guest's, he found them by no means black, as he had anticipated - nor gray, as might have been imagined - nor yet hazel nor blue - nor indeed yellow nor red - nor purple - nor white - nor green - nor any other color in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth. In short, Pierre Bon-Bon not only saw plainly that his Majesty had no eyes whatsoever, but could discover no indications of their having existed at any previous period - for the space where eyes should naturally have been was, I am constrained to say, simply a dead level of flesh.

It was not in the nature of the metaphysician to forbear making some inquiry into the sources of so strange a phenomenon, and the reply of his Majesty was at once prompt, dignified, and satisfactory.

"Eyes! my dear Bon-Bon - eyes! did you say? - oh! - ah! - I perceive! The ridiculous prints, eh, which are in, circulation, have given you a false idea of my personal appearance? Eyes! - true. Eyes, Pierre Bon-Bon, are very well in their proper place - that, you would say, is the head? - right - the head of a worm. To you, likewise, these optics are indispensable - yet I will convince you that my vision is more penetrating than your own. There is a cat I see in the corner - a pretty cat- look at her - observe her well. Now, Bon-Bon, do you behold the thoughts - the thoughts, I say, - the ideas - the reflections - which are being engendered in her pericranium? There it is, now - you do not! She is thinking we admire the length of her tail and the profundity of her mind. She has just concluded that I am the most distinguished of ecclesiastics, and that you are the most superficial of metaphysicians. Thus you see I am not altogether blind; but to one of my profession, the eyes you speak of would be merely an incumbrance, liable at any time to be put out by a toasting-iron, or a pitchfork. To you, I allow, these optical affairs are indispensable. Endeavor, Bon-Bon, to use them well; - my vision is the soul."