Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVI / The Wager of Battle. A Tale of the Feudal Ages. >> Page 367

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Page 367

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription THE GLOVE. 367
do battle for thee, and with God's mercy, sustain the right in
thy behalf."
Thou shalt not !" exclaimed the king, vehemently, but feebly,
half rising as he spoke, and turning to the favorite. Thou
shalt not ! I command thee mix not in this matter."
More was said, but in such a feeble tone that it failed to
reach my senses. When the king grew silent, the favorite
bowed with submissive deference, and sunk again behind the
throne. A scornful smile passed over the lips of the accused,
who looked, with a bitter intelligence of gaze, upon a little group
seemingly his friends and supporters, who had partly grouped
themselves around him. Following his glance, a moment after
toward the royal person, I was attracted by a movement, though
for a single instant only, of the uplifted hand of the favorite. It
was a sign to the accused, the former withdrawing the glove
from his right hand, a moment after, and flinging it, with a sig-
nificant action, to the floor behind him. The accused, whispered
a page in waiting, who immediately stole away and disappeared
from sight. But a little while elapsed when I beheld him ap-
proach the spot where the glove had fallen, recover it adroitly,
and convey it, unperceived, into his bosom. All this by-play,
though no doubt apparent to many in the assembly, was evi-
dently unseen and unsuspected by the king. I inferred the rank
luxuriance of the practice of chivalry in this region, from the
nicety with which the affair was conducted, and the forbearance
of all those by whom it had been witnessed, to make any report
of what they had beheld. The discussion was resumed by the
accuser.
I am aware, your majesty, that by the laws and practice of
your realm, the wager of battle is one that may be freely chal-
lenged by any one accused of treason, or other crime against the
state, against whom there shall be no witness but the accuser.
It is not the fear of danger which makes me unwilling to seek
this conflict ; it is the fear of doing wrong. Though the issues
of battle are in the hands of the Lord, yet who shall persuade
me that he has decreed the combat to take place. Now I do
confess that I regard it as unholy, any invocation of the God of
Peace, to be a witness in a strife which his better lessons teach
us to abhor� a strife grossly at variance with his most settled
and divine ordinances."