Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVI / The Wager of Battle. A Tale of the Feudal Ages. >> Page 364

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Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 364 SOUTHWARD Ho !
ble. The sad countenance of the monarch deepened to severity,
while a smile of triumph and exultation rose to that of the favor-
ite behind his throne. At this sight the accused person recov-
ered all his audacity. With half-choking utterance, and features
kindling with fury rather than faltering with fear, he demanded,
Am I to be heard, your majesty ?"
A wave of the monarch's hand gave him the desired permis-
sion, and his reply burst forth like a torrent. He gave the lie
to his accuser, whom he denounced as an impostor, as one who
was the creature of his and the king's enemies, and tampering,
himself, with the sovereign's life while pretending to minister to
his ailments. He ridiculed, with bitterness and scorn, the notion
that any faith should be given to the statements, though even
offered on oath, of one whom he affirmed to be an unbeliever
and a Jew ; and, as if to crown his defence with a seal no less
impressive than that of his accuser, he advanced to the foot of
the throne, grasped the sacred volume from the hands by which
it was upheld, and kneeling, with his lips pressed upon the
opened pages, he imprecated upon himself, if his denial were
not the truth, all the treasured wrath and thunder in the stores
of Heaven !
The accuser heard, with uplifted hands and looks of holy hor-
ror, the wild and terrible invocation. Almost unconsciously his
lips parted with the comment
" God have mercy upon your soul, my lord, for you have
spoken a most awful perjury !"
The king looked bewildered, the favorite behind him dissatis-
fied, and the whole audience apparently stunned by equal incer-
titude and excitement. The eyes of all parties fluctuated be-
tween the accused and the accuser. They stood but a few paces
asunder. The former looked like a man who only with a great
struggle succeeded in controlling his fury. The latter stood sor-
rowful, but calm. The little girl who had brought in the holy
volume stood before him, with one of his hands resting upon her
head. Her features greatly resembled his own. She looked
terrified ; her eyes fastened ever upon the face of her father's
enemy with a countenance of equal curiosity and suspicion.
Some conversation, the sense of which did not reach me, now
ensued between the king and two of his counsellors, to which