Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> The Unknown Masque: A Sketch of the Crescent City >> Page 199

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription THE UNKNOWN MASQUE199
and the danger of which he equally unveiled before my sight. As
he had no doubts of himself, no apprehensions of his own weakness,
he went every where without scruple, and I with him. I could tell
some queer things about our wanderings—but these may serve here-
after. Suffice it now, that, in three weeks, I could myself have served
as cicerone to the stranger in New-Orleans, with quite as much credit
as one half the native citizens.
Through my friend's sister I obtained access to society. This is
not so easy a matter where the French Creoles are concerned. They
are a proud aristocratic people, and half detest and half despise, the
new men of Anglo-Saxon blood, who seek their fortunes in the ex-
treme south. The American trading population is their aversion.
They think better of the same race when not engaged in commerce.
This distinction favored me. But my friend's sister, Madame C
provided me with a sufficient passport. I went under her wing. I
had a little smattering of French which contributed to my progress,
and being of lively but unobtrusive habits, I made my way with
tolerable success, and soon had the entree of several noble houses.
Invitations poured in upon me, and one delightful Wednesday in
January, found R. F. and myself in the same chamber, eagerly and
anxiously busy in adjusting our habits for the masque-ball of Madame
Elinor de B. This lady was a belle and a fortune. She was
the young widow of the—at one time celebrated Col. Eugene de
B a famous swordsman and sugar planter. His death had been
sudden; but he was twenty years the senior of his wife, and her
grief was of no long duration. Eleven months before had she yielded
his mortal remains to the earth, and we were now to enjoy, at her
dwelling, the most splendid and picturesque masquerade that had
ever taken place in New-Orleans. New-Orleans will long remember
the event in the curious circumstances which it occasioned.
I was excited to the last degree with expectation. It was my first
appearance in such a scene. I had heard of masqued balls in Europe
of their splendor their intrigue the humor which they brought
forth, the wit and merriment which they stimulated and, to confess
a truth, I had some vague notions of personal adventure—of some
romantic encounter with beauty, and wealth, and sensibility, combined
under some quaint disguise which I was to penetrate, and find my-
self happy in a happy conquest. My friend R. F. had his expectations