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He said that everybody in the ball-room knew me, and that our bank was doing very well, though, of course, that was a trifle to me. Towards the end of the ball, when it was already full daylight, a masquer, dressed as a Venetian gondolier, was accosted by a lady masquer, also in Venetian costume. She challenged the gondolier to prove himself a Venetian by dancing the 'forlana' with her.

I followed them about for a quarter of an hour, and the curiosity about them only increased, and then I paid a visit to Canano's table, where play was running high. A masquer dressed in the Venetian style was punting on a single card, going fifty sequins paroli and paix de paroli, in my fashion.

No doubt she exposed her vanity to some rude shocks, but she had also the inestimable advantage of hearing truths which her courtiers would certainly not tell her. The masquer who was pronounced to be Orloff followed her everywhere, and did not let her out of his sight for a moment. He could not be mistaken, as he was an exceptionally tall man and had a peculiar carriage of the head.

No masquer this, but a grim messenger from the Shades, bringing dire warning to one, at least, of that gay company. As it had come, so it vanished, but all the gaiety had gone from the merry throng. The ill-omened dancer had laid a chilly hand on the heart of many a wedding guest.

I did not recognize the voice but I knew the style, and felt quite certain that the masquer must be one of my old friends, for she spoke with the intonations and phraseology which I had rendered popular in my chief places of resort at Paris.

There were some who said it was a monkish trick, contrived for his own ends by one of the brethren from Beauvais, but, less than six months later, all Scotland believed that the skeleton masquer at Jedburgh had, indeed, come to warn an unfortunate land of its approaching doom.

I arrested my progress in a hall where the French square dance was being performed, and suddenly there appeared a masquer disguised in the Venetian style. The costume was so complete that I at once set him down as a fellow-countryman, for very few strangers can imitate us so as to escape detection. As it happened, he came and stood next to me.

This is the cleverest masquer of them all, for there is not a single detail, either in his dress, his aspect or his demeanour, which is not strictly in conformity with the character he represents. He is clad in the garb of an American Indian.

"Where will we meet with such merry groups now-a-days?" the Squire will exclaim, shaking his head mournfully; "and then as to the gayety that prevailed in dress throughout all ranks of society, and made the very streets so fine and picturesque: 'I have myself, says Gervaise Markham, 'met an ordinary tapster in his silk stockings, garters deep fringed with gold lace, the rest of his apparel suitable, with cloak lined with velvet! Nashe, too, who wrote in 1593, exclaims at the finery of the nation: 'England, the player's stage of gorgeous attire, the ape of all nations' superfluities, the continual masquer in outlandish habiliments."

Such a pageant would, even in these sober days, rouse London from her cold propriety. Having thrown aside his academic robe, each masquer had donned a fantastic dress of silver cloth embroidered with gold lace, gold plate, and ostrich plumes.