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THE BLACK WOLF'S BREED

Arrayed in much the same character of finery which bedecked me, I could give no accurate description of his dress, except that with glossy wig and a bit of colour in his cheeks he strutted valiantly as a crowing cock in his own barnyard.

"Come, Placide, we are going to a ball; we can do nothing in our quest to-night."

"To a what?"

"A ball. I thought it might be well to have you look in upon Madame M—'s and recite your lessons. It is to be a famous gathering and well worth your seeing."

I was in a whirl, a stupor, by this time, and obeyed implicitly; beside, it required such an infinite skill to keep my sword from swinging between my legs and throwing me down, I had no time to consider of minor matters. He led the way and I followed meekly as a lap-dog.

At the great entrance gate we became entangled in a medley of soldiers, coachmen, torch-bearers and servants coming and going—such a babel of strange oaths—I wished I were safe again in the quiet of Biloxi. I pleaded with Jerome to turn again, but he was inexorable.

"I expect to find out something to-night," he explained.

Of this ball I remember nothing but that the slippery floor, in which a man could see his own face, kept me in deadly fear lest my sword trip me. Jerome was gay and talkative, pointing out many people of whom I had heard, but they did not look so great after all.