“Here’s a letter, St. George”—Richard’s voice now fell to a serious key—“which I have just received from your friend and mine, Mr. N. P. Willis. In it he sends me this most wonderful poem cut from his paper— the Mirror—and published, I discover to my astonishment, some months back. I am going to read it to you if you will permit me. It certainly is a most remarkable production. The wonder to me is that I haven’t seen it before. It is by that Mr. Poe you met at my house some years ago—you remember him?—a rather sad-looking man with big head and deep eyes?” Temple nodded in answer, and Harry’s eyes glistened: Poe was one of his university’s gods. “Just let me read to you what Willis says”—here he glanced down the letter sheet: “’Nothing, I assure you, my dear Horn, has made so great a stir in literary circles as this “Raven” of Poe’s. I am sending it to you knowing that you are interested in the man. If I do not mistake I first met Poe one night at your house.’ And a very extraordinary night it was, St. George,” said Richard, lifting his eyes from the sheet. “Poe, if you remember, read one of his stories for us, and both Latrobe and Kennedy were so charmed that they talked of nothing else for days.”
St. George remembered so clearly that he could still recall the tones of Poe’s voice, and the peculiar lambent light that flashed from out the poet’s dark eyes—the light of a black opal. He settled himself back in his chair to enjoy the treat the better. This was the kind of talk he wanted to-day, and Richard Horn, of all others, was the man to conduct it.
The inventor’s earnestness and the absorbed look on St. George’s and Harry’s faces, and the fact that Horn was about to read aloud, had attracted the attention of several near-by members, who were already straining their ears, for no one had Richard’s gift for reading.
In low, clear tones, his voice rising in intensity as the weird pathos of the several stanzas gripped his heart, he unfolded the marvellous drama until the very room seemed filled with the spirit of both the man and the demon. Every stanza in his clear enunciation seemed a separate string of sombre pearls, each syllable aglow with its own inherent beauty. When he ceased it was as if the soul of some great ’cello had stopped vibrating, leaving only the memory of its melody. For a few seconds no one moved nor spoke. No one had ever heard Richard in finer voice nor had they ever listened to more perfect rhythmic beauty. So great was the effect on the audience that one old habitue, in speaking of it afterward, insisted that Richard must have seen the bird roosting over the door, so realistic was his rendering.