Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVI / The Wager of Battle. A Tale of the Feudal Ages. >> Page 357

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Page 357

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription THE SOVEREIGN. 357
which at length reached my ears, and diverted my gaze from the
remote and lofty, to the rich tesselated pavement of the apart-
ment. If the mere splendor of the structure had so fastened
upon my imagination, what can I say of the scene which now
commanded my attention ! There was the pomp of courts, the
pride of majesty, the glory of armor, the grace and charm of
aristocratic beauty, in all her plumage, to make me forgetful of
all other display. I now beheld groups of noble persons, clad
in courtly dresses, in knightly armor, sable and purple, with a
profusion of gold and jewels, rich scarfs, and plumes of surpas-
sing splendor. Other groups presented me with a most imposing
vision of that gorgeous church, whose mitred prelates could place
their feet upon the necks of mightiest princes, and sway, for good
or evil, the destinies of conflicting nations. There were priests
clad in flowing garments, courtiers in silks, and noblest dames,
who had swayed in courts from immemorial time. Their long
and rustling trains were upborne by damsels and pages, lovely
enough, and richly enough arrayed, to be apt ministers in the
very courts of Love himself. A chair of state, massive, and
richly draped in purple and gold, with golden insignia, over which
hung the jeweled tiara of sovereignty, was raised upon a dais
some five feet above the level of the crowd. This was filled by
a tall and slender person, to whom all made obeisance as to an
imperial master. He was habited in sable, a single jewel upon
his brow, bearing up a massive shock of feathers as black and
glossy as if wrought out of sparkling coal. The air of majesty
in his action, the habitual command upon his brow, left inc in no
doubt of his sovereign state, even had the obeisance of the mul-
titude been wanting. But he looked not as if long destined to
hold sway in mortal provinces. His person was meagre, as if
wasted by disease. His cheeks were pale and hollow; while a
peculiar brightness of the eyes shone in painful contrast with the
pale and ghastly color of his face. Behind his chair stood one
who evidently held the position of a favorite and trusted coun-
sellor. He was magnificently habited, with a profusion of jewels,
which nevertheless added but little to the noble air and exquisite
symmetry of his person. At intervals he could be seen to bend
over to the ear of the prince, as if whispering him in secret.
This show of intimacy, if pleasing to his superior, was yet