Best American Humorous Short Stories HTML version

The Angel Of The Odd
[From The Columbian Magazine, October, 1844.]
BY EDGAR ALLAN POE (1809-1849)
It was a chilly November afternoon. I had just consummated an unusually hearty dinner,
of which the dyspeptic truffe formed not the least important item, and was sitting alone in
the dining-room with my feet upon the fender and at my elbow a small table which I had
rolled up to the fire, and upon which were some apologies for dessert, with some
miscellaneous bottles of wine, spirit, and liqueur. In the morning I had been reading
Glover's Leonidas, Wilkie's Epigoniad, Lamartine's Pilgrimage, Barlow's Columbiad,
Tuckerman's Sicily, and Griswold's Curiosities, I am willing to confess, therefore, that I
now felt a little stupid. I made effort to arouse myself by frequent aid of Lafitte, and all
failing, I betook myself to a stray newspaper in despair. Having carefully perused the
column of "Houses to let," and the column of "Dogs lost," and then the columns of
"Wives and apprentices runaway," I attacked with great resolution the editorial matter,
and reading it from beginning to end without understanding a syllable, conceived the
possibility of its being Chinese, and so re-read it from the end to the beginning, but with
no more satisfactory result. I was about throwing away in disgust
This folio of four pages, happy work
Which not even critics criticise,
when I felt my attention somewhat aroused by the paragraph which follows:
"The avenues to death are numerous and strange. A London paper mentions the decease
of a person from a singular cause. He was playing at 'puff the dart,' which is played with
a long needle inserted in some worsted, and blown at a target through a tin tube. He
placed the needle at the wrong end of the tube, and drawing his breath strongly to puff the
dart forward with force, drew the needle into his throat. It entered the lungs, and in a few
days killed him."
Upon seeing this I fell into a great rage, without exactly knowing why. "This thing," I
exclaimed, "is a contemptible falsehood--a poor hoax--the lees of the invention of some
pitiable penny-a-liner, of some wretched concocter of accidents in Cocaigne. These
fellows knowing the extravagant gullibility of the age set their wits to work in the
imagination of improbable possibilities, of odd accidents as they term them, but to a
reflecting intellect (like mine, I added, in parenthesis, putting my forefinger
unconsciously to the side of my nose), to a contemplative understanding such as I myself
possess, it seems evident at once that the marvelous increase of late in these 'odd
accidents' is by far the oddest accident of all. For my own part, I intend to believe nothing
henceforward that has anything of the 'singular' about it."