Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVI / The Wager of Battle. A Tale of the Feudal Ages. >> Page 360

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Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 860 SOUTHWARD HO
excited before, he seemed to be almost maddened now. His
eyes followed the murmuring voices from side to side of the as-
sembly, with a fearful flashing energy, which made them dilate,
as if endangering the limits of their reddened sockets. A like
feverish and impatient fury threw his form into spasmodic action.
His figure seemed to rise and swell, towering above the rest.
His arms were stretched in the direction of the assailing voices.
His clenched fist seemed to threaten the speakers with in-
stant violence. Unintimidated by the presence in which he
stood, his appearance was that of a subject, not only too strong
for his superior, but too confident and presumptuous for his own
self-subjection, even in the moment of greatest peril to himself.
He resumed his composure at last, and the murmur ceased
around him. There was deep silence, and the eyes of the stran-
ger were fixed rigidly upon those of his prince. The latter was
evidently moved. His hand was extended�something he spoke
which I again lost ; but, strange to say, the reply of the stranger
came sharply and distinctly to my ear.
Swear ! Why should I swear ? Should I call upon the
Holy Evangel as my witness, when I see not my accuser ? Let
him appear. Let him look me in the face, if there be lord or
knight in this assembly so bold, and tell me that I am guilty of
this treason. Sire ! I challenge my accuser. I have no other
answer to the charge !"
THE lips of the king moved. The nobleman who stood be-
hind his throne, and whom I conceived to be his favorite, bent
down and received his orders ; then disappeared behind one of
the columns whose richly-decorated, but slender shafts, rose up
directly behind him, like some graceful stems of the forest, over
which the wildering vine, and the gaudy parasite clambers with
an embrace that kills. But a few moments elapsed when the
favorite reappeared. He was accompanied by a person, whose
peculiar form and aspect will deserve especial description.
In that hall, in the presence of princes, surrounded by knights
and nobles of the proudest in the land, the person newly come
though seemingly neither knight nor noble�was one of the most