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there is confusion worse confounded, with a vengeance, but that is nothing to the hubbub that accompanies it. The better to escape detection, every masker speaks in a feigned tone, knowing that all disguise is in vain, if his voice remains to betray him. Accordingly, the only sounds to be heard are salutations pitched in a shrill falsetto, and conversations maintained in the same discordant key. If any one breaks into a laugh, it rises into a shriek so painful to the ear as to make us doubt whether we are not listening to the voice of some spirit of evil omen. Add to this, the motionless lips whence these sounds issue, and the distorted features of the masks themselves, which bear the human face divine painted in every variety of caricature, and the scene thus presented to the spectator is one of the most unnatural and startling that fancy can picture.

So, at least, thought Don Manuel Breton, as he wandered alone through the crowd. To him, however, the scene was beginning to lose its novelty. For the first half hour he had been sufficiently entertained by watching the masks, and enjoying the unconscious mistakes into which they fell by forgetting their assumed characters. He had detected a couple of Turks in the act of pledging each other in wine without fear of the Prophet, and it wiled away some ten minutes to study the movements of a North American savage, who wore green spectacles, and danced quadrilles to perfection. Nevertheless his interest as a mere spectator was rapidly cooling, and he was preparing to quit the veiled throng, when his steps were arrested by the appearance of a figure which instantly engrossed his undivided attention. It was that of a lady who, like himself, seemed rather a spectator than a partaker in the amusements of the evening. In deference, however, to the universal custom, she wore a mask, and was simply but elegantly attired in the costume of a Serranita or mountaineer. The dress selected was one admirably adapted to show off her fine form to the greatest advantage. Its tightly fitting vest concealed none of the proportions of the bust, while the short skirts disclosed a foot and ankle that a sculptor would have prized for a model.

As she passed close to him, leaning upon the arm of a tall cavalier, it was the thought of Don Manuel, that never among his countrywomenthough grace be the companion of their steps-had he beheld a foot fall so lightly and so freely.

The pair thus introduced to us sauntered carelessly from group to group, addressing themselves to none, but replying with great good humour whenever some inquisitive masker held them at bay. At a little distance followed our hero; who, devoured by an uncontrollable interest in their proceedings, found himself treading in their footsteps as their shadow. They paused at length upon reaching a spot too remote from the laugh and ihe jest to have many occupants. Here, after conversing for a few moments in low tones, they separated; the cavalier hastily withdrawing, while his companion retired to a seat commanding a view of the dancers. Now was the moment for opening an acquaintance with the fair stranger, for so unexpected an opportunity might never occur again. Availing himself, therefore, of the licence denied to none at such seasons, Don Manuel hesitated not to approach and accost her.

• Thou wilt permit me to sit beside thee, Serranita ?'

. With much pleasure,' she replied, 'though I am surprised that for me thou leavest the beauties in the saloon. Thou knowest me, per: chance ?


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There are few of my acquaintances whom I cannot strip of their closest disguise, and thou art not one of these. Wilt thou be pleased then to remove that envious mask, since neither thou nor I have secrets to penetrate?'

It is not every one who can defy with impunity the world's gaze as thou dost,' was the reply of the unknown.

• Thanks, gracious Serranita,' said our hero. Then thou knowest

• Yes, by sight. They tell me thou art a poet. Wilt thou make me some verses ?

"Give me a theme,' said Don Manuel, rising into the enthusiastic; 'or stay, let that theme be the charms thy mask conceals, and I ask but one glance to translate them into words.'

• What! art thou a poet, and must needs consult thy eyes in order to spur thy fancy. Why, the muse thy tribe adores is, according to them, arrayed in every excellence under the sun, and yet I'll engage that not one of them has ever seen her across the street, far less face to face. Canst thou not, then, do the same for me, though thou seest me not. But, believe me, my interest and thine are opposed to the gratification of thy wishes. As long as I remain thus shrouded, I am sure of hearing flattering phrases and smooth speeches to which I am not always accustomed; but take away this friendly shade,' she said, pointing to her mask, and then farewell to thy illusion and mine."

Serranita, this will not persuade me that anything but modesty prevents thee from unmasking. Thou ugly! I would stake my life to the contrary. Yet there is one reason why I should be sorry to see thee unmasked.' • What is it?

I should be compelled to renounce the affectionate tuteo that now passes between us.

How delightful to address thee in the style of the most intimate friends, as a brother, or a lover!'

And were I so indiscreet,' said the Serranita, 'as to reveal myself, thou wouldst scarce have time to falter out a freezing á los pies de usted. Wilt thou be more indulgent than the rest of mankind, to whom ugliness is the greatest crime of a woman ??

Oh! I am quite of another disposition,' was his reply: 'I am not one of those who fly from an ugly woman as from a raging lion ; and believe me, wert thou as odious or frightful as I believe thee to be the reverse, I should not worship thee the less. Could I forget the melody of thy voice, or the sweetness of thy manner, or the grace that reigns in thy movements could I forget these? Impossible. But where is the ugliness with which thou wouldst terrify me? I do not see it in the elegance of thy shape, or in the beauty of thy hand. Surely it does not reside in that fairy-like foot, or those flashing eyes, still less in the dark hair that clusters round thy snowy throat, or in the smile that hangs on thy lips; for these also have I seen, in spite of thy mask.'

• Nevertheless, be assured that thou wilt be horror-struck if I discover myself.'

That is impossible, Serranita, for I have seen every featureno,' he said, checking himself, the nose is the only one I have not


seen; but with those eyes, that mouth, and that figure, I care not how shapeless it be-yes, I repeat, were it a monstrous blot upon thy charms, I should be as devoted to it as to them. Wilt thou not unmask them ?—or must I be a suppliant at thy feet for the favour I beg ?

Thou wilt repent thy indiscretion,' urged the stranger.

Had Don Manuel read Shakspeare, he would have exclaimed, like Claudio,

I'll hold my mind, wert thou an Ethiop.' It was in a similar vein, however, that he said, I will abide the consequences, whatever they be.'

• Enough, enough,' replied the unknown; thou shalt see me without my mask, but thy hands alone must remove it; by thyself shall thy ungoverned impatience be chastised.'

Thanks, thanks, fair Serranita,' he said. 'Envy me, ye less favoured mortals. Give me the lyre, O muses ! At this moment I am inspired!

* At this moment thou art a madman, and the next moment thou wilt be a fool,' was the flattering reply, which in his eagerness to behold the speaker he heeded not.

• Vexation! I cannot untie this knot: let me cut it. Ah! how beauti_

The concluding syllable died away on his lips. In full view was a nose, not of the pigmy kind that we mortals generally wear, but one whose gigantic style of architecture would have added dignity, if not grace, to the front of a Cyclops. There it stood in the centre of that radiant countenance, the monarch of all it surveyed, displaying such a luxuriance of growth as bespoke extraordinary carelessness on the part of the cultivator, who had thus suffered it to run to seed. The line of Quevedo,

'Erase un hombre á una nariz pegado,' gives but a poor notion of the relations between it and its possessor. For some moments following his rash discovery, the eyes of our hero performed the office of his tongue. At length, finding it absolutely necessary to say something, he made a desperate attempt at a few phrases of gallantry, but all in vain. Confusedly they came forth; in fact he knew not what he was saying, and spoke as incoherently as if the human steeple he was gazing at was in reality one nodding over his head, and about to crush him to the earth. Fortunately for his embarrassment, the Serranita, who doubtless hardened by sad experience to such scenes, laughed loud and long, in evident enjoyment of his perplexity. Far from resenting the look of horror and blank disappointment with which he regarded her, it seemed to gratify her rather than otherwise. The longer she laughed, the higher rose our hero's courage, his ideas at the same time returning to a convalescent state, the first symptom of which was to descry an imaginary friend in an unknown passer-by.

Under pretence, therefore, of having something important to communicate, he hastily arose, and, without casting another look at the portentous unmasked,


muttered between his teeth an icy.á los pies de usted,' and ingloriously betook himself to flight.

Shame and mortification added wings to his feet. Turning neither to the right hand nor to the left, lest a chance side-glance should reveal the hateful nose, he shot swiftly forwards, haunted by an indefinable dread of something terrible to be encountered by looking back, and only to be shunned by speed of foot. A few steps brought him to the thickest of the throng,—another sent him into the centre of a quadrille party. An earthquake could not have wrought direr mishaps than he did as he worked his way through it. Those who were tripping it on the fantastic toe found themselves on a sudden unceremoniously tripped up, and rolling fantastically on the hard marble pavement. As for the author of their overthrow, he was unconsciously pursuing his way with the air of a conqueror ; breastplates and helmets, ruined past a tinsmith's skill, clashing at his feet; while his path was strewed with roses (artificial) from the hair of affrighted maidens. Regardless of these, and a thousand other impediments, he made no pause until he reached the outer door. There Don Manuel stopped, too breathless and faint to dive into the darkness beyond, where for ever would be gladly have entombed himself and his agitated spirits. His purpose changed, however, as the cool midnight air flowing into the heated rooms awakened calmer thoughts in his bewildered brain. The result of these deliberations was to suggest that he felt hungry-exceedingly hungry. He was in no mood to contest the point, and therefore turned away from the door, and with a slow and sober pace bent his steps towards the refreshment room. Throwing himself into a chair beside one of the nearest tables, he took up the bill of fare, and began to study it with great zeal. Nevertheless the past still engrossed his thoughts; for the waiter, whom he had summoned upon entering, had to report himself twice before the purport of his words was clearly understood.

"Ah! what do I wish to take? Hum-bring me—a nose.'

Sorry we have no noses,' said the attendant, but there are some excellent tongues at your service.'

* Nonsense,' replied Don Manuel. · Vamos á ver,' he added , • bring me some jamon de Asturias,' which was accordingly set before him.

While the pangs of hunger were being appeased, those of memory grew less sharp; each mouthful of savoury ham that disappeared from view falling like balm upon his vexed thoughts, and helping to banish some compunctious visitings regarding broken vows and a deserted phenomenon.

• Wonderful are the works of Nature !' was his inward remark, as he replenished his plate for the third time; but never was she so wonderful or so false as in this case, never. As for the usual specimens of her fancy which deform our streets, she seems to have been merely trying her hand at something new, and to have sent thern into the world in disgust at her failure. But this is quite another thing. To chisel out a form of exquisite grace, and when nothing but a single stroke was wanting to make it faultless—to stay her hand, and pronounce her work perfect, is very inexcusable in NatureI'm not sure

whether it isn't a decided case of malice prepense against the feelings of her children-and then to make us fancy it all loveliness, and to entrap us into loving it, and bestowing on it honied sentences! Fool that I was, to be so laken in!'

As remembrance thus touched upon the part he had so recently played, Don Manuel groaned aloud, and gnashed his teeth in a most violent manner, whereby a choice morsel of ham came to an untimely end; but, this outbreak over, his reflections by degrees rolled back to their former channel.

• Well, the fault is not mine, but Nature's; and, to speak the truth, I am afraid that now-a-days she has turned a swindler-yes, a low swindler. But if she has done me once, it shall only be once; for if she makes another attempt to impose on me, I'll immediately get up a society for putting her down. So let her beware.'

With this consoling reflection, and the aid of sundry rasos of Man. zanilla, our hero's past adventure faded from his thoughts at the moment that some one proceeded to occupy a chair on the opposite side of the table. This of itself was not enough to attract bis attention; but when a long black shadow crossed the board, and fell upon his plate, he lifted up his eyes with a mingled feeling of awe and amazement Powers of grace! it was the nose. Confronting him with all its artillery of charms, and apparently in the happiest humour with itself and every one, its bright eyes sparkling with smiles appeared to invite a renewal of the conversation so abruptly terminated in the ball. room. By its side stood the tall cavalier we have alluded to before, now rather thrown into the background, and immovable and grave as a statue.

To start up, with the intention of again escaping, was the first impulse of Don Manuel, after recovering from his astonishment; but his strength failed him as the nose, wreathed in a most fascinating smile, inquired if he was going away without inviting it to sup.

Can the force of audacity go further !' thought he, as he sank back in his chair in a state of petrifaction. To invite itself to sup with me!-me, whom it has tricked beyond endurance-whom it has seen escaping from its presence as from an accursed thing—to claim me as a friend! And then the cool familiarity of its manner : decidedly nothing human would have acted so Have I committed some crime, and is this “goblin damn'd” sent to follow me wherever I go, as a punishment for my sins ? Nothing more likely. I have heard of the evil eye that haunts people to their graves, and this must be a variety of the same tribe, –an evil nose, whose duty is to meet me unexpectedly at the corners of streets and in lone places, and to lean over my shoulder amid crowds, and make my life a chain of miseries. Pero venga loque venga, I defy its powers! and if it be of flesh,' he muttered, grasping his knife, and waving it aloft, óbitterly shall it repent this presumption.'

Probably the nose descried the sanguinary complexion of his musings; for as his uplifted knife carved the air in dangerous vicinity, it drew back with some precipitation, doubtless unwilling to be cut down in the flower of its youth

'I shall not cause you much expense,' were its next words: 'a glass of ponche à la romana, and nothing more.'

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