The Duc de l'Omelette (Poe)

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The Duc de l'Omelette
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A French nobleman died of disgust after being served an improperly prepared bird, only to find himself in a luxurious hell, where he challenged the Devil to a card game and won his freedom.

The Duc de l'Omelette, a young and wealthy nobleman, died suddenly after being served an improperly prepared ortolan, a small and delicate bird considered a delicacy.

Horreur!—chien! Baptiste!—l’oiseau! ah, bon Dieu! cet oiseau modeste que tu as deshabillé de ses plumes, et que tu as servi sans papier!

Three days after his death, the Duc found himself in the presence of the Devil, who demanded that he strip and prepare for eternal torment.

Duc de l'Omelette — narrator; French nobleman; prideful, resourceful, and cunning.
The Devil — Satanic Majesty; ruler of hell; cunning, powerful, and deceptive.

The Duc, however, refused to comply, insisting that he was too important and well-dressed to be subjected to such treatment. The Devil revealed that he had taken the Duc from his luxurious coffin and that his fine clothing was actually a simple shroud.

Who am I?—ah, true! I am Baal-Zebub, Prince of the Fly.

The Duc, realizing his situation, surveyed his surroundings and found himself in a magnificent room filled with beautiful statues, paintings, and other works of art. Despite the opulence, the Duc was filled with terror, as he could see a terrible fire burning outside the window and heard the haunting music that filled the room.

Determined to escape his fate, the Duc challenged the Devil to a duel, but the Devil did not know how to fence. Instead, they agreed to play a game of cards, with the Duc's soul at stake. The Duc, who was an experienced gambler and had some knowledge of the Devil's weaknesses, believed he had a chance to win.

Si je perds, je serai deux fois perdu—I shall be doubly damned—voila tout!

As they played, the Duc carefully counted the cards and managed to slip one into his hand. When the game was over, the Duc presented the winning card to the Devil, who was visibly disappointed. The Duc, having won his freedom, told the Devil that if he had not been the Duc de l'Omelette, he would not have minded being the Devil himself.