Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Purloined Letter

"I paid especial attention to a large writing table near which he sat, and upon which lay confusedly, some miscellaneous letters and other papers, with one or two musical instruments and a few books. Here, however, after a long and very deliberate scrutiny, I saw nothing to excite particular suspicion.

At length my eyes, in going the circuit of the room, fell upon a trumpery fillagree card-rack of pasteboard, that hung dangling by a dirty blue ribbon, from a little brass knob just beneath the middle of the mantelpiece.  In this rack, which had four or five compartments, were five or six visiting cards and a solitary letter.  This last was much soiled and crumpled.  It was torn nearly in two, across the middle -- as if a design, in the first instance, to tear it entirely up as worthless, had been altered, or stayed, in the second.  It had a large black seal, bearing the D---- cipher very conspicuously, and was addressed, in a diminutive female hand, to D----, the minister, himself.  It was thrust carelessly, and even, as it seemed, contemptuously, into one of the uppermost divisions of the rack.

No sooner had I glanced at this letter, than I concluded it to be that of which I was in search. ...

…I protracted my visit as long as possible….I kept my attention really riveted upon the letter….and fell at length upon a discovery which set at rest whatever trivial doubt I might have entertained.  In scrutinising the edges of the paper, I observed them to be more chafed than seemed necessary.  They presented the broken appearance which is manifested when a stiff paper, have been once folded and pressed with a folder, is refolded in a reversed direction, in the same creases or edges which had formed the original fold.  This discovery was sufficient.  It was clear to me that the letter had been turned, as a glove, inside out, redirected, and re-sealed."

The Purloined Letter  Edgar Allan Poe

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