Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVI / The Wager of Battle. A Tale of the Feudal Ages. >> Page 369

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Page 369

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription TIE GAGE TAKEN UP. 369
looking down, as he spoke, upon the little girl who stood beside
him, while the big tears gathered in his eyes as he gazed.
Do you demand a champion ?" was the inquiry of the king.
"No, sire ! If, in behalf of my truth, this battle must be
fought, its dangers must be mine only."" Thine !" exclaimed the favorite.
" Ay, my lord � mine. None other than myself must encoun-
ter this peril."
A murmur of ridicule passed through the assembly. The
accused laughed outright, as the exulting warrior laughs, with
his captive naked beneath his weapon. A brief pause followed,
and a visible anxiety prevailed among the audience. Their
ridicule afforded to the accuser sufficient occasion for reply :
This murmur of surprise and ridicule that I hear on every
hand, is of itself a sufficient commentary upon this trial of truth
by the wager of battle. It seems to all little less than madness,
that a feeble old. man like myself, even though in the cause of
right, should oppose himself to the most valiant warrior in the
kingdom. Yet, if it be true that God will make himself mani-
Ifest in the issue, what matters it whether I be old or young,
strong or weak, well-skilled or ignorant in arms ? If there be a
just wisdom in this mode of trial, the feeblest rush, in main-
tenance of the truth, were mighty against the steel-clad bosom
of the bravest. I take the peril. I will meet this bold criminal,
nothing fearing, and will, in my own person, engage in the bat-
tle which is thus forced upon me. But I know not the use of
lance, or sword, or battle-axe. These weapons are foreign to
my hands. Is it permitted me to use such implements of
defence as my own skill and understanding may invent, and I
may think proper to employ ?"
Thou shalt use no evil arts, old man," exclaimed the church-
man who had before spoken, anticipating the answer of the
monarch. "No sorcery, no charms, no spells, no accursed de-
vices of Satan. I warn thee, if thou art found guilty of arts
like these, thou shalt surely perish by fire."
None of these, holy father, shall I employ. My arts shall
be those only, the principles of which I shall proclaim to thy-
self, or to any noble gentleman of the king's household. My
weapons shall be those only which a human intelligence may