Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

classes expressed by crying, “Touch Ralph de Vipont's shield—touch the Hospitaller's shield; he has the least sure seat, he is your cheapest bargain.” The champion, moving onward' amid these well-meant hints, ascended the platform by the sloping alley which led to it from the lists, and, to the astonishment of all present, riding straight up to the central pavilion, struck with the sharp end of his spear the shield of Brian de Bois-Guilbert until it rung again. All stood astonished at his presump- tion, but none more than the redoubted Knight whom he had thus defied to mortal combat. “ Have you confessed yourself brother," said the Templar, “and have you heard mass this morning, that you peril your life so frankly?”—“I am fitter to meet death than thou art,” answered the Disinherited Knight, for by this pame the stranger had recorded himself in the books of the tourney. “ Then take your place in the lists,” said De Bois-Guilbert,” and look your last upon the sun; for this night thou shalt sleep in paradise.”—“Gramercy for thy courtesy," replied the Disinherited Knight; "and to requite it, I advise thee to take a fresh horse, and new lance, for by my honor you will need both.”

Having expressed himself thus confidently, he reined bis horse backwards down the slope which he had ascended, and compelled him in the same manner to move backwards through the lists, till he reached the northern extremity, where he remained stationary, in expectation of his antagonist. This feat of horsemanship again attracted the applause of the multitude. When the two champions stood opposed to each other at the two extremities of the lists, the public expectation was strained to the highest pitch. Few augured the possibility that the encounter could terminate well for the Disinherited Knight; yet his courage and gallantry secured the general good wishes of the spectators. The trumpets had no sooner given the signal, than the champions vanished from their posts with the speed of lighining, and closed in the center of the lists with the shock of a thun

derbolt. The lances burst into shivers up to the very grasp, and it seemed at the moment that both Knights had fallen, for the shock had made each horse recoil backwards upon its hams. The address of the riders recovered their steeds by the use of the bridle and spur, and having glared on each other for an instant with eyes which seemed to flash fire through the bars of their visors, each made a demi-volte, and retiring to the extremity of the lists, received a fresh lance from the attendants.

A loud shout from the spectators, waving of scarfs and handkerchiefs, and general acclamations, attested the interest taken by the spectators in this encounter; the most equal, as well as the best performed, which had graced the day. But no sooner had the Knights resumed their station, than the clamor of applause was hushed into a silence, so deep and so dead, that it seemed the multitude were afraid even to breathe. A few minutes' pause having been allowed, that the combatants and their horses might recover breath, Prince John with his truncheon signed to the trumpets to sound the onset. The champions a second time sprung from their stations, and closed in the center of the lists, with the same speed, the same dexterity, the same violence, but not the same equal fortune as before.

In this second encounter, the Templar aimed at the center of his antagonist's shield, and struck it so fair and forcibly that his spear went to shivers, and the Disinherited Knight reeled in his saddle. On the other hand, that champion had, in the beginning of his career, directed the point of his lance towards Bois-Guilbert's shield, but, changing his aim almost in the moment of encounter, he addressed it to the helmet, a mark inore difficult to hit, but which, if attained, rendered the shock more irresistible. Yet, even at this disadvantage, the Templar sustained his high reputation; and had not the girths of his saddle burst, he might not have been unhorsed. As it chanced, however, saddle, horse, and man, rolled on the ground under a cloud of dust. To extricate him

self from the stirrups and fallen steed, was to the Templar scarce the work of a moment; and stung with madness, both at his disgrace and at the acclamations with which it was hailed by the spectators, he drew his sword and waved it in defiance of his conqueror. The Disinherited Knight sprung from his steed, and also unsheathed his sword. The marshals of the field, however, spurred their horses between them, and reminded them, that the laws of the tournament did not, on the present occasion, permit this species of encounter. “We shall meet again, I trust,” said the Templar, casting a resentful glance at his antagonist; " and where there are none to separate us.”_" If we do not," said the Disinherited Knight, "the fault shall not be mine. On foot or horseback, with spear, with axe, or with sword, I am alike ready to encounter thee."

LXXV. ANIMATED DESCRIPTION OF A BATTLE.-Walter Scott.

It has been truly observed, that it would be difficult to produce a passage in dramatic or epic poetry more full of life, interest and energy, than the following magnificent dialogue between Ivanhoe and the Jewess.

“ The skirts of the wood seemed lined with archers, although only a few are advanced from its dark shadow.” “ Under what banner?” asked Ivanhoe.“ Under no ensign of war which I can observe," answered Rebecca. “A singular novelty," muttered the knight, “to advance to storm such a castle without pennon or banner displayed.See'st thou who they be that act as leaders?" “A knight clad in sable armor, is the most conspicuous,'' said the Jewess; “ he alone is arined from head to heel, and seems to assume the direction of all around him."-" What device does he bear on his shield ?" replied Ivanhoe.“Something resembling a bar of iron, and a padlock painted blue on the black shield.” “A fetterlock and shackle bolt azure," said Ivanhoe; “I know not who may bear the device, but well I ween it might now be mine own. Canst thou not see the motto?" “ Scarce the device itself at this distance,” replied Rebecca; “but when the sun glances fair upon his shield, it shows as I tell you."_" Seem there no other leaders?” exclaimed the anxious inquirer.- None of mark and distinction that I can behold from this station,” said Rebecca ; " but doubtless the other side of the castle is also assailed. They seem even now preparing to advance.-God of Zion protect us!—What a dreadful sight !-Those who advance first bear huge shields, and defences made of plank; the others fo!low, bending their bows as they come on.—They raise their bows! God of Moses, forgive the creatures ihou hast made !"

Her description was here suddenly interrupted by the signal for assault, which was given by the blast of a shrill bugle, and at once answered by a flourish of the Norman trumpets from the battlements, which, mingled with the deep and hollow clang of the nakers, (a species of kettledrum,) retorted in notes of defiance the challenge of the enemy." And I must lie here like a bedridden monk," exclaimed Ivanhoe, " while the game that gives me freedom or death is played out by the hand of others !-Look from the window once again, kind maiden, but beware that you are not marked by the archers beneath.-Look out once more, and tell me if they yet advance to the storm.” With patient courage, strengthened by the interval which she had employed in mental devotion, Rebecca again took post at the lattice, sheltering herself, however, so as not to be visible from beneath.

" What dost thou see, Rebecca ?” again demanded the wounded knight.-"Nothing but the cloud of arrows, flying so thick as to dazzle mine eyes, and to hide the bowmen who shoot them.”_" That cannot endure,” said Ivanhoe ; if they press not right on to carry the castle by pure force of arms, the archery may avail but little against stone walls and bulwarks. Look for the knight of the fetterlock, fair Rebecca, and see how he bears himself; for as the leader is, so will his followers be.”—“I see him not,” said Rebecca.-“ Foul craven !” exclaimed Ivanhoe; “ does he blench from the helm when the wind blows highest ?”_" He blenches not ! he blenches not !" said Rebecca, “ I see him now; he leads a body of men close under the outer barrier of the barbican. They pull down the piles and palisades; they hew down the barriers with axes.—His high black plume floats abroad over the throng, like a raven over the field of the slain. They have made a breach in the barriers—they rush in they are thrust back? Front-de-Beuf heads the defenders, I see his gigantic form above the press. They throng again to the breach, and the pass is disputed hand to hand and man to man. God of Jacob! it is the meeting of two fierce tides—the conflict of two oceans moved by adverse winds.”

She turned her head from the lattice, as if unable longer to endure a sight so terrible. "Look forth again, Rebecca," said Ivanhoe, mistaking the cause of her retiring; "the archery must in some degree have ceased, since they are now fighting hand to hand.-Look again, there is now less danger." Rebecca again looked forth, and almost immediately exclaimed, “ Holy prophets of the law! Front-de-Beuf and the Black Knight fight hand to hand on the breach, amid the roar of their followers, who watch the progress of the strife. Heaven strike with the cause of the oppressed and of the captive !" She then uttered a loud shriek, and exclaimed, “ He is down!-he is down !"_" Who is down?” cried Ivanhoe; "for our dear Lady's sake, tell me which has fallen?"_" The Black Knight," answered Rebecca faintly ; then instantly again shputed with joyful eagerness, " But no—but no! the name of the Lord of Hosts be blessed ! he is on foot again, and fights as if there were twenty men's strength in his single arm.-His sword is brokenhe snatches an ax from a yeoman-he presses Front

« FöregåendeFortsätt »