Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVI / The Wager of Battle. A Tale of the Feudal Ages. >> Page 377

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Page 377

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription THE COMBAT. 377
which, in those days, thoroughly encased the warrior for battle.
The inference, accordingly, was very general, that if by any
possibility, the accuser succeeded in the combat, he would be in-
debted solely to supernatural agency for his good fortune. His
wand of brass, with its crystal bulb�his glassy vizor and hel-
met�were only regarded as designed to divert the scrutiny
from the more secret agency which he employed.
I am ready," said the accuser.
"Hast thou prayed ?" demanded his enemy, in a mocking
fashion. If thou bast not, get thee to thy knees quickly, and
renounce the devil whom thou servest. Verily, but little time
is left thee."
I have prayed, and confessed to the Holy Father. Do
thou likewise, and make thyself humble and contrite. Repent
thee�for, of a truth, my lord, if the king forbid not this com-
bat, thou art doomed this day to go to judgment."
The heart of the accused was hardened within him. He re-
plied with a hiss of defiance and contempt to this last appeal ;
at the same moment he declared himself in readiness also. They
were then withdrawn from the presence for a brief space, and
were severally approached by their friends and attendants. The
archbishop, and the king's favorite went aside with the accuser,
and when the latter returned to the arena, in order to the combat,
the archbishop led away with him the little girl, upon whom, at
parting, the old man bestowed many caresses, accompanied by ma-
ny tears. The spectators were all very much moved by this ten-
derness, and now began to regard him as one set apart for sacri-
fice�doomed to be separated for ever, and by a violent death,
from the object of his affections. And when the opponents
stood, at length, confronting each other with none to go be-
tween�awaiting only the word for the combat a l,'outrance ; �
when they regarded the strong soldier-like frame, and the war-
like bearing of the accused�beheld the ease with which be
strode the lists, and displayed his weapon ; � and contrasted this
image of dire necessity and war, with the feeble, though erect
form of his venerable accuser, �habited in vestments like a
priest or woman with the simple unmeaning wand within his
grasp, and the frail mask of brittle crystal upon his face a
loud murmur of regret and commiseration prevailed among the