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Casks of choice wine had been rolled out from the cellars, and starving peasants squatted, goblet in hand, draining off vintages which De Rochefort had set aside for noble and royal guests. Others, with slabs of bacon and joints of dried meat upon the ends of their pikes, held them up to the blaze or tore at them ravenously with their teeth.

THE leisurely promenade up and down the lawn with ladies and deferential gentlemen, in anticipation of the dinner-bell, was Dr. Middleton's evening pleasure. The hard labour of the day approved the cooling exercise and the crowning refreshments of French cookery and wines of known vintages.

Although the night was scarcely cold enough to demand it, there was a log of wood burning in the fireplace; there were two easy-chairs, low and roomy; and on the mantelpiece were some glasses, and a big black broad-bottomed bottle, such as used to carry the still vintages of Champagne even into the remote wilds of the Highlands, before the art of making sparkling wines had been discovered. Mr.

The bettered custom of the present day had not then made progress enough to affect his table; he was not only fond of a glass of good wine, but had the ambition of the cellar largely developed; he would fain be held a connaisseur in wines, and kept up a good stock of distinguished vintages, from which he had brought of such to Glenruadh as would best bear the carriage.

Others are still more capricious in their tastes; and after gathering together a heap of the nuts of all ages, and ingeniously tapping them, will first sip from one and then from another, as fastidiously as some delicate wine-bibber experimenting, glass in hand, among his dusty demijohns of different vintages.

The huge machine was for ever threatening to fall to pieces, and required the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job to keep it running. One paid one's steward a fortune, and yet he robbed right and left, and quarrelled with the chef besides. The butler was suspected of getting drunk upon rare and costly vintages, and the new parlour-maid had turned out to be a Sunday reporter in disguise.

At six o'clock we were served a delectable dinner in the great oak-paneled dining-room of the castle, prepared by the Earl's French chef, Louis La Violette; and we passed the evening in the library, sipping away several more bottles of the Earl's best vintages and listening to the more or less improbable tales of their adventures in the three faraway realms of the world by Messrs.

"Some of the best vintages of France, my lord," said the woman eagerly, and drawing a deep breath of relief in the feeling that the trouble was at an end, though there was a twitching now and then at the corners of her eyes suggesting that she was not quite at ease.

Not that he counted on them too confidently, for he told his friends that to provide for the worst he had supplied himself with a few cases of the best vintages of Médoc and the Côte d'Or, of which the bottles, then under discussion, might be taken as very favorable specimens.

He was one of those literary men who, in quest of beauty, have to go outside time, into the days that are no more, or the days that have never been. As though the wine of life were not as intoxicating, and its vintages as rich nowadays as ever they were!