Ivanhoe HTML version

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.