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    The Duc de L'Omelette

    by Edgar Allan Poe
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    And stepped at once into a cooler clime.-- Cowper

    KEATS fell by a criticism. Who was it died of "The Andromache"? {*1}
    Ignoble souls! -- De L'Omelette perished of an ortolan. L'histoire en
    est breve. Assist me, Spirit of Apicius!

    A golden cage bore the little winged wanderer, enamored, melting,
    indolent, to the Chaussee D'Antin, from its home in far Peru. From
    its queenly possessor La Bellissima, to the Duc De L'Omelette, six
    peers of the empire conveyed the happy bird.

    That night the Duc was to sup alone. In the privacy of his bureau he
    reclined languidly on that ottoman for which he sacrificed his
    loyalty in outbidding his king -- the notorious ottoman of Cadet.

    He buries his face in the pillow. The clock strikes! Unable to
    restrain his feelings, his Grace swallows an olive. At this moment
    the door gently opens to the sound of soft music, and lo! the most
    delicate of birds is before the most enamored of men! But what
    inexpressible dismay now overshadows the countenance of the Duc? --
    "Horreur! -- chien! -- Baptiste! -- l'oiseau! ah, bon Dieu! cet
    oiseau modeste que tu as deshabille de ses plumes, et que tu as servi
    sans papier!" It is superfluous to say more: -- the Duc expired in a
    paroxysm of disgust.

    "Ha! ha! ha!" said his Grace on the third day after his decease.

    "He! he! he!" replied the Devil faintly, drawing himself up with an
    air of hauteur.

    "Why, surely you are not serious," retorted De L'Omelette. "I have
    sinned -- c'est vrai -- but, my good sir, consider! -- you have no
    actual intention of putting such -- such barbarous threats into
    execution."

    "No what?" said his majesty -- "come, sir, strip!"

    "Strip, indeed! very pretty i' faith! no, sir, I shall not strip. Who
    are you, pray, that I, Duc De L'Omelette, Prince de Foie-Gras, just
    come of age, author of the 'Mazurkiad,' and Member of the Academy,
    should divest myself at your bidding of the sweetest pantaloons ever
    made by Bourdon, the daintiest robe-de-chambre ever put together by
    Rombert -- to say nothing of the taking my hair out of paper -- not
    to mention the trouble I should have in drawing off my gloves?"

    "Who am I? -- ah, true! I am Baal-Zebub, Prince of the Fly. I took
    thee, just now, from a rose-wood coffin inlaid with ivory. Thou wast
    curiously scented, and labelled as per invoice. Belial sent thee, --
    my Inspector of Cemeteries. The pantaloons, which thou sayest were
    made by Bourdon, are an excellent pair of linen drawers, and thy
    robe-de-chambre is a shroud of no scanty dimensions."

    "Sir!" replied the Duc, "I am not to be insulted with impunity!- Sir!
    I shall take the earliest opportunity of avenging this insult!- Sir!
    you shall hear from me! in the meantime au revoir!" -- and the Duc
    was bowing himself out of the Satanic presence, when he was
    interrupted and brought back by a gentleman in waiting. Hereupon his
    Grace rubbed his eyes, yawned, shrugged his shoulders, reflected.
    Having become satisfied of his identity, he took a bird's eye view of
    his whereabouts.

    The apartment was superb. Even De L'Omelette pronounced it bien comme
    il faut. It was not its length nor its breadth, -- but its height --
    ah, that was appalling! -- There was no ceiling -- certainly none-
    but a dense whirling mass of fiery-colored clouds. His Grace's brain
    reeled as he glanced upward. From above, hung a chain of an unknown
    blood-red metal -- its upper end lost, like the city of Boston, parmi
    les nues. From its nether extremity swung a large cresset. The Duc
    knew it to be a ruby; but from it there poured a light so intense, so
    still, so terrible, Persia never worshipped such -- Gheber never
    imagined such -- Mussulman never dreamed of such when, drugged with
    opium, he has tottered to a bed of poppies, his back to the flowers,
    and his face to the God Apollo. The Duc muttered a slight oath,
    decidedly approbatory.

    The corners of the room were rounded into niches. Three of these were
    filled with statues of gigantic proportions. Their beauty was
    Grecian, their deformity Egyptian, their tout ensemble French. In the
    fourth niche the statue was veiled; it was not colossal. But then
    there was a taper ankle, a sandalled foot. De L'Omelette pressed his
    hand upon his heart, closed his eyes, raised them, and caught his
    Satanic Majesty -- in a blush.

    But the paintings! -- Kupris! Astarte! Astoreth! -- a thousand and
    the same! And Rafaelle has beheld them! Yes, Rafaelle has been here,
    for did he not paint the ---? and was he not consequently damned? The
    paintings -- the paintings! O luxury! O love! -- who, gazing on those
    forbidden beauties, shall have eyes for the dainty devices of the
    golden frames that besprinkled, like stars, the hyacinth and the
    porphyry walls?

    But the Duc's heart is fainting within him. He is not, however, as
    you suppose, dizzy with magnificence, nor drunk with the ecstatic
    breath of those innumerable censers. C'est vrai que de toutes ces
    choses il a pense beaucoup -- mais! The Duc De L'Omelette is
    terror-stricken; for, through the lurid vista which a single
    uncurtained window is affording, lo! gleams the most ghastly of all
    fires!

    Le pauvre Duc! He could not help imagining that the glorious, the
    voluptuous, the never-dying melodies which pervaded that hall, as
    they passed filtered and transmuted through the alchemy of the
    enchanted window-panes, were the wailings and the howlings of the
    hopeless and the damned! And there, too! -- there! -- upon the
    ottoman! -- who could he be? -- he, the petitmaitre -- no, the Deity
    -- who sat as if carved in marble, et qui sourit, with his pale
    countenance, si amerement?

    Mais il faut agir -- that is to say, a Frenchman never faints
    outright. Besides, his Grace hated a scene -- De L'Omelette is
    himself again. There were some foils upon a table -- some points
    also. The Duc s'echapper. He measures two points, and, with a grace
    inimitable, offers his Majesty the choice. Horreur! his Majesty does
    not fence!

    Mais il joue! -- how happy a thought! -- but his Grace had always an
    excellent memory. He had dipped in the "Diable" of Abbe Gualtier.
    Therein it is said "que le Diable n'ose pas refuser un jeu d'ecarte."

    But the chances -- the chances! True -- desperate: but scarcely more
    desperate than the Duc. Besides, was he not in the secret? -- had he
    not skimmed over Pere Le Brun? -- was he not a member of the Club
    Vingt-un? "Si je perds," said he, "je serai deux fois perdu -- I
    shall be doubly dammed -- voila tout! (Here his Grace shrugged his
    shoulders.) Si je gagne, je reviendrai a mes ortolans -- que les
    cartes soient preparees!"

    His Grace was all care, all attention -- his Majesty all confidence.
    A spectator would have thought of Francis and Charles. His Grace
    thought of his game. His Majesty did not think; he shuffled. The Duc
    cut.

    The cards were dealt. The trump is turned -- it is -- it is -- the
    king! No -- it was the queen. His Majesty cursed her masculine
    habiliments. De L'Omelette placed his hand upon his heart.

    They play. The Duc counts. The hand is out. His Majesty counts
    heavily, smiles, and is taking wine. The Duc slips a card.

    "C'est a vous a faire," said his Majesty, cutting. His Grace bowed,
    dealt, and arose from the table en presentant le Roi.

    His Majesty looked chagrined.

    Had Alexander not been Alexander, he would have been Diogenes; and
    the Duc assured his antagonist in taking leave, "que s'il n'eut ete
    De L'Omelette il n'aurait point d'objection d'etre le Diable."
    If you're writing a The Duc de L'Omelette essay and need some advice, post your Edgar Allan Poe essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

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