Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XI / The Bride of Hate: Or, The Passage of a Night >> Page 195

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Page 195

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription TO THE TO WER.
195
justified a vigorous appetite and an enormous consumption of
the various viands before us. I remarked one thing in the man-
agement of the feast which occasioned my astonishment. There
was a regular taster of the several dishes, who went through his
office before Bruno invited me to eat. I had heard and read of
this officer^and the objects of this precaution in the history of
past and barbarous centuries, but that he should be thought
necessary in a modern household and in a Christian country was
a subject of very natural wonder; and I did not hesitate to say
as much to my companion and friend. But my comment only
met his smile ; lie did not answer me, but contented himself with
assuring me that I might eat in safety. He even enlarged on
the excellence of some of the dishes, most of which were new to
me. I did little more in the progress of the repast than follow
the example of the taster, who, his office over, had instantly
retired, but not before casting a glance, as I fancied, of particular
meaning toward Bruno, who returned it with one similarly sig-
nificant ! I observed that all the retainers exhibited a singular
degree of deference to this man, that his wishes seemed antici-
pated, and his commands were instantly obeyed. Yet be spoke
to them rather in the language of an intimate companion than a
master. He was jocose and familiar, made inquiries into their
exclusive concerns, and seemed to have secured their affections
entirely. It was not long before I discovered that this was
the case. From the scale a manger, as neither of us cared
to eat, we retired after a brief delay, and, leaving the castle,
emerged by a low postern into an open court which had once
been enclosed and covered, but of the enclosure of which only
one section of the wall remained, connecting the main building
with a sort of tower, which, as I afterward found, contained the
apartments assigned me by the baroness. To this tower Bruno
now conducted me. Crossing the court, we entered a small door
at the foot of the tower, which my conductor carefully bolted
behind him. We then ascended a narrow and decaying flight
of steps, which, being circular, gradually conducted us to an
upper chamber of greater height from the ground than, looking
upward from below, I had at first esteemed it. This chamber
was in very good repair, and at one time seemed, indeed, to
have been very sumptuously furnished. There was, however,