He had a weak point - this Fortunato - although in other regards
he was a man to be respected and even feared. He prided himself on
his connoisseurship in wine. Few Italians have the true virtuoso
spirit. For the most part their enthusiasm is adopted to suit the
time and opportunity - to practise imposture upon the British and
Austrian millionaires. In painting and gemmary, Fortunato, like
his countrymen, was a quack - but in the matter of old wines he was
sincere. In this respect I did not differ from him materially: I
was skilful in the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely
whenever I could.
It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the
carnival season, that I encountered my friend. He accosted me with
excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much. The man wore
motley. He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head
was surmounted by the conical cap and bells. I was so pleased to see
him, that I thought I should never have done wringing his hand.
I said to him - "My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How
remarkably well you are looking to-day! But I have received a pipe
of what passes for Amontillado, and I have my doubts."