Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVI / The Wager of Battle. A Tale of the Feudal Ages. >> Page 375

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Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription TIIE COMBATANTS. 375
not in any degree differ from that in which he had always ap-
peared habited before. It consisted of a loose, flowing robe of
the purest white, most like, but more copious than the priestly
cassock. His opponent, in complete steel, shining like the sun,
with helmeted head and gauntleted hand, afforded to the spec-
tators a most astonishing difference between the combatants.
The wonder increased with their speculations. The surprise
extended itself to the king, who proffered, as Saul had done to
David, the proper armor of a warrior to 'the defenceless man.
But this he steadily refused. The king, himself, condescended
to remonstrate.
This is sheer madness, old man. Wouldst than run upon
thy death with uncovered head and bosom ?"" Oh ! sire, I fear not death, and feel that I am not now to
die. Yet would I still implore that I may be spared this trial.
Once more I lay myself at the foot of the throne, to supplicate
its mercy."
For thyself !" cried his enemy, with a scornful taunt.
For myself and for thee !" was the firm reply, that I may
be spared the pang of sending thee before the Eternal Judge,
with all thy unatoned crimes upon thy head."
The voice and words of the venerable speaker, deep and sol-
emn, thrilled, with a sensible effect, throughout the assembly.
Whence should he derive this confidence ? From heaven or
from hell. The conclusion to which they came, more than ever
confirmed their belief in his reputed sorceries ; and his words
inspired a deep and silent terror among the crowd. But the ac-
cused, strong in his skill, courage, and panoply of steel, if not in
the justice of his cause, mocked scornfully, and defied the doom
which was threatened. Some of his friends, however, shared
strongly in the apprehensions of the vulgar.
"He bath no visible armor," was their cry ; with what
would he defend himself? How know we that he bath not
magic arts, and devices of hell, with which he secretly arms
himself ?"
Thou lust weapons visible weapons, as I hear"�re-
marked the king.
They are at hand, sire�they are here."" Thou hast dealt in no forbidden practice ?"