Page:Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag, Volume 2.djvu/61

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placidly gnawing bones and wiping up the gravy on her plate with bits of bread.

Jules responded with spirit, talked, jested, quoted poetry, paid compliments right and left, and now and then passed the salt, filled a glass, or offered a napkin to his fiancée with a French shrug and a tender glance.

After dinner Madame F. begged him to recite one of his poems; for it appeared this all-accomplished man was beloved of the muse, and twanged the lyre as well as wielded the sword. With much persuasion and many modest apologies, Jules at length consented, took his place upon the rug, thrust one hand into his bosom, turned up his eyes, and, in a tremendous voice, declaimed a pensive poem of some twenty stanzas, called, "Adieu to my past."

The poet's friends listened with rapt countenances and frequent bursts of emotion or applause; but the Americans suffered agonies, for the whole thing was so absurdly melodramatic that it was with great difficulty they kept themselves from explosions of laughter. When the little man dropped his voice to a hoarse whisper, in bidding adieu to the lost loves of his youth, tender-hearted