Ivanhoe (Chapter 6, page 1 of 12)


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Chapter 6

To buy his favour I extend this friendship:
If he will take it, so; if not, adieu;
And, for my love, I pray you wrong me not.

--Merchant of Venice

As the Palmer, lighted by a domestic with a torch, passed through the
intricate combination of apartments of this large and irregular mansion,
the cupbearer coming behind him whispered in his ear, that if he had
no objection to a cup of good mead in his apartment, there were many
domestics in that family who would gladly hear the news he had brought
from the Holy Land, and particularly that which concerned the Knight of
Ivanhoe. Wamba presently appeared to urge the same request, observing
that a cup after midnight was worth three after curfew. Without
disputing a maxim urged by such grave authority, the Palmer thanked them
for their courtesy, but observed that he had included in his religious
vow, an obligation never to speak in the kitchen on matters which were
prohibited in the hall. "That vow," said Wamba to the cupbearer, "would
scarce suit a serving-man."

The cupbearer shrugged up his shoulders in displeasure. "I thought to
have lodged him in the solere chamber," said he; "but since he is so
unsocial to Christians, e'en let him take the next stall to Isaac the
Jew's.--Anwold," said he to the torchbearer, "carry the Pilgrim to the
southern cell.--I give you good-night," he added, "Sir Palmer, with
small thanks for short courtesy."

"Good-night, and Our Lady's benison," said the Palmer, with composure;
and his guide moved forward.

In a small antechamber, into which several doors opened, and which was
lighted by a small iron lamp, they met a second interruption from the
waiting-maid of Rowena, who, saying in a tone of authority, that her
mistress desired to speak with the Palmer, took the torch from the hand
of Anwold, and, bidding him await her return, made a sign to the
Palmer to follow. Apparently he did not think it proper to decline this
invitation as he had done the former; for, though his gesture
indicated some surprise at the summons, he obeyed it without answer or
remonstrance.

A short passage, and an ascent of seven steps, each of which was
composed of a solid beam of oak, led him to the apartment of the Lady
Rowena, the rude magnificence of which corresponded to the respect which
was paid to her by the lord of the mansion. The walls were covered with
embroidered hangings, on which different-coloured silks, interwoven with
gold and silver threads, had been employed with all the art of which the
age was capable, to represent the sports of hunting and hawking. The bed
was adorned with the same rich tapestry, and surrounded with curtains
dyed with purple. The seats had also their stained coverings, and one,
which was higher than the rest, was accommodated with a footstool of
ivory, curiously carved.

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