Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVI / The Wager of Battle. A Tale of the Feudal Ages. >> Page 378

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Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 378 SOUTHWARD HO
multitude. But this murmur was soon quieted by the cry of the
master of the tournay �
Laissez aller !"
Then followed a painful silence.
Now, sorcerer," cried the knight, raising his glittering sword,
and advancing deliberately and with the confident manner of
the executioner. The aged accuser simply presented the bul-
bous extremity of his wand, and before the accused could smite,
the frail glass was shivered against the bars of his enemy's
mouth-piece. At this moment the knight was seen slightly to
recoil; but it was for a moment only, in the next instant he dart-
ed forward, and with a fierce cry, seemed about to strike. The
old man, in the meantime, had suffered his wand to fall upon the
ground. He made no further effort � offered no show of fear
or flight, but with arms folded, seemed in resignation to await the
death-stroke of his .enemy. But while the weapon of the man
of war was in air, and seemingly about to descend, he was seen
to pause, while his form suddenly became rigid. A quick and
awful shudder seemed to pass through his whole frame. Thus,
for a second, he stood paralyzed, and then a thin, mist-like vapor,
which might be called smoke, was seen to creep out from various
parts of his frame, followed by a thin but oily liquor, that now
appeared oozing through all the crevices of his armor. His arm
dropped nervelessly by his side ; the sword fell from the inca-
pable grasp of his gauntleted hands, and in an inconceivable
fraction of time, he himself, with all his bulk, sunk down upon
the earth falling, not at length, prostrate, either backward or
forward, but in a heap, even upon the spot which he had oc-
cupied when standing ; and as if every bone had suddenly been
withdrawn which had sustained them, the several parts of his
armor became detached, and rolled away--his helmet, his gorget,
his cuiras, his greaves, his gauntlets � disclosing beneath a dark,
discolored mass �a mere jellied substance, in which bones and
muscles were already decomposed and resolved into something
less than flesh. Above this heap might be seen a still bright
and shining eye, which, for a single second, seemed to retain
consciousness and life, as if the soul of the immortal being had
lingered in this beautiful and perfect orb, reluctant to depart.
But in a moment it, too, had disappeared � all the brightness