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Chapter 45

The Painter is persuaded to accompany Pickle to a Masquerade in Woman’s Apparel —-Is engaged in a troublesome Adventure, and, with his Companion, conveyed to the Bastille.

The painter, at the request of Pickle, who had a design upon the count’s sense of hearing, favoured the company with the song of Bumper Squire Jones, which yielded infinite satisfaction to the baron, but affected the delicate ears of the Italian in such a manner, that his features expressed astonishment and disquiet; and by his sudden and repeated journeys to the door, it plainly appeared, that he was in the same predicament with those who, as Shakespeare observes, “when the bagpipe sings in the nose, cannot contain their urine for affection.”

With a view, therefore, of vindicating music from such a barbarous taste. Mr. Pallet had no sooner performed his task, than the count honoured his friends with some favourite airs of his own country, which he warbled with infinite grace and expression, though he had not energy sufficient to engage the attention of the German, who fell fast asleep upon his couch, and snored so loud, as to interrupt, and totally annul, this ravishing entertainment; so that they were fain to have recourse again to the glass, which made such innovation upon the brain of the physician, that he sang divers odes of Anacreon. to a tune of his own composing, and held forth upon the music and recitative of the ancients with great erudition; while Pallet, having found means to make the Italian acquainted with the nature of his profession, harangued upon painting with wonderful volubility, in a language which (it was well for his own credit) the stranger did not understand.

At length the doctor was seized with such a qualm, that he begged Peregrine to lead him to his chamber; and the baron, being waked, retired with the count. Peregrine, being rendered frolicsome with the wine he had drunk, proposed that he and Pallet should go to a masquerade, which he recollected was to be given that night. The painter did not want curiosity and inclination to accompany him, but expressed his apprehension of losing him in the ball; an accident which could not fail to be very disagreeable, as he was an utter stranger to the language and the town. To obviate this objection, the landlady, who was of their council, advised him to appear in a woman’s dress, which would lay his companion under the necessity of attending him with more care, as he could not with decency detach himself from the lady whom he should introduce; besides, such a connection would hinder the ladies of pleasure from accosting and employing their seducing arts upon a person already engaged.

Our young gentleman foreseeing the abundance of diversion in the execution of this project, seconded the proposal with such importunity and address, that the painter allowed himself to be habited in a suit belonging to the landlady, who also procured for him a mask and domino, while Pickle provided himself with a Spanish dress. In this disguise, which they put on about eleven o’clock, did they, attended by Pipes, set out in a fiacre for the ball-room, into which Pickle led this supposititious female, to the astonishment of the whole company, who had never seen such an uncouth figure in the appearance of a woman.

After they had taken a view of all the remarkable masks, and the painter had been treated with a of glass of liqueur, his mischievous companion gave him the slip; and, vanishing in an instant, returned with another mask and a domino over his habit, that he might enjoy Pallet’s perplexity, and be at hand to protect him from insult. The poor painter, having lost his guide, was almost distracted with anxiety, and stalked about the room, in quest of him, with such huge strides and oddity of gesture, that he was followed by a whole multitude, who gazed at him as a preternatural phenomenon. This attendance increased his uneasiness to such a degree, that he could not help uttering a soliloquy aloud, in which he cursed his fate for having depended upon the promise of such a wag; and swore, that if once he was clear of this scrape, he would not bring himself into such a premunire again for the whole kingdom of France.

Divers petit-maitres, understanding the mask was a foreigner, who in all probability could not speak French, made up to him in their turns, in order to display their wit and address, and teased him with several arch questions, to which he made no other reply than “No parly Francy. D— your chattering! Go about your business, can’t ye.” Among the masks was a nobleman, who began to be very free with the supposed lady, and attempted to plunge his hand into her bosom: hut the painter was too modest to suffer such indecent treatment; and when the gallant repeated his efforts in a manner still more indelicate, lent him such a box on the ear, as made the lights dance before him, and created such a suspicion of Pallet’s sex, that the Frenchman swore he was either a male or a hermaphrodite, and insisted upon a scrutiny, for the sake of his own honour, with such obstinacy of............

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