Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVI / The Wager of Battle. A Tale of the Feudal Ages. >> Page 371

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Page 371

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription THE PHILOSOPHER'S CELL. 371
loves not strife. My soul shrinks in horror from the shedding of human blood. Require not this last proof at my hands. Suffer me to keep my conscience white, and clear of this sacrifice. Let this unhappy man live ; for as surely as we strive together, so surely must he perish."
Now this passeth all belief, as it passeth all human endurance !" exclaimed the accused with irrepressible indignation. " I claim the combat, 0 king, on any condition. Let him come as he will, with what weapons he may,. though forged in the very armory of Satan. My talisman is in the holy cross, and the good sword buckled at my thigh by the holiest prince in Christendom, will not fail me against the devil and all his works. I demand the combat !"
Be ye both ready within three days !" said the king.
I submit," replied the aged man. I trust in the mercy of God to sustain me against this trial, and to acquit me of its awful consequences."
Ready, ay, ready !" was the answer of the accused, as with his hand he clutched fiercely the handle of his sword, until the steel rang again in the iron scabbard.
THE scene underwent a sudden change, and I now found myself in a small and dimly-lighted apartment, which seemed designed equally for a studio and a laboratory of art. The walls were surrounded by enormous cases, on the shelves of which were massive scrolls' of vellum, huge parchment manuscripts, and volumes fastened with clasps of brass and silver. Some of these lay open. Charts hung wide marked with strange characters. Frames of ebony were thus suspended also bearing the signs of the zodiac. Other furniture, of quaint and strange fashion, seemed to show conclusively that the possessor pursued the seductive science of astrology. He had other pursuits � a small furnace, the coals of which were ignited, occupied one corner of the chamber, near which stood a table covered with retorts and receivers, cylinders and gauging-glasses, and all the other paraphernalia which usually belong to the analytic worker in chemistry. The old man, and the young girl described in