Ivanhoe (Chapter 3, page 2 of 7)


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Chapter 3

In the centre of the upper table, were placed two chairs more elevated
than the rest, for the master and mistress of the family, who presided
over the scene of hospitality, and from doing so derived their Saxon
title of honour, which signifies "the Dividers of Bread."

To each of these chairs was added a footstool, curiously carved and
inlaid with ivory, which mark of distinction was peculiar to them. One
of these seats was at present occupied by Cedric the Saxon, who, though
but in rank a thane, or, as the Normans called him, a Franklin, felt, at
the delay of his evening meal, an irritable impatience, which might have
become an alderman, whether of ancient or of modern times.

It appeared, indeed, from the countenance of this proprietor, that he
was of a frank, but hasty and choleric temper. He was not above the
middle stature, but broad-shouldered, long-armed, and powerfully made,
like one accustomed to endure the fatigue of war or of the chase; his
face was broad, with large blue eyes, open and frank features, fine
teeth, and a well formed head, altogether expressive of that sort of
good-humour which often lodges with a sudden and hasty temper. Pride and
jealousy there was in his eye, for his life had been spent in asserting
rights which were constantly liable to invasion; and the prompt, fiery,
and resolute disposition of the man, had been kept constantly upon the
alert by the circumstances of his situation. His long yellow hair was
equally divided on the top of his head and upon his brow, and combed
down on each side to the length of his shoulders; it had but little
tendency to grey, although Cedric was approaching to his sixtieth year.

His dress was a tunic of forest green, furred at the throat and cuffs
with what was called minever; a kind of fur inferior in quality to
ermine, and formed, it is believed, of the skin of the grey squirrel.
This doublet hung unbuttoned over a close dress of scarlet which sat
tight to his body; he had breeches of the same, but they did not reach
below the lower part of the thigh, leaving the knee exposed. His
feet had sandals of the same fashion with the peasants, but of finer
materials, and secured in the front with golden clasps. He had bracelets
of gold upon his arms, and a broad collar of the same precious metal
around his neck. About his waist he wore a richly-studded belt, in
which was stuck a short straight two-edged sword, with a sharp point, so
disposed as to hang almost perpendicularly by his side. Behind his seat
was hung a scarlet cloth cloak lined with fur, and a cap of the same
materials richly embroidered, which completed the dress of the opulent
landholder when he chose to go forth. A short boar-spear, with a broad
and bright steel head, also reclined against the back of his chair,
which served him, when he walked abroad, for the purposes of a staff or
of a weapon, as chance might require.

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