His trumpet sounds; the challenged makes reply;
With clangour rings the field, resounds the vaulted sky.
Their visors closed, their lances in the rest,
Or at the helmet pointed or the crest,
They vanish from the barrier, speed the race,
And spurring see decrease the middle space.
Palamon and Arcite.
In the midst of Prince Johns cavalcade, he suddenly stopped, and, appealing to the Prior of Jorvaulx, declared the principal business of the day had been forgotten.
By my halidom, said he, we have forgotten, Sir Prior, to name the fair Sovereign of Love and of Beauty, by whose white hand the palm is to be distributed. For my part, I am liberal in my ideas, and I care not if I give my vote for the black-eyed Rebecca.
Holy Virgin, answered the Prior, turning up his eyes in horror, a Jewess!We should deserve to be stoned out of the lists; and I am not yet old enough to be a martyr. Besides, I swear by my patron saint, that she is far inferior to the lovely Saxon, Rowena.
Saxon or Jew, answered the Prince, Saxon or Jew, dog or hog, what matters it? I say, name Rebecca, were it only to mortify the Saxon churls.
A murmur arose even among his own immediate attendants.
This passes a jest, my lord, said De Bracy; no knight here will lay lance in rest if such an insult is attempted.
It is the mere wantonness of insult, said one of the oldest and most important of Prince Johns followers, Waldemar Fitzurse, and if your Grace attempt it, cannot but prove ruinous to your projects.
I entertained you, sir, said John, reining up his palfrey haughtily, for my follower, but not for my counsellor.
Those who follow your Grace in the paths which you tread, said Waldemar, but speaking in a low voice, acquire the right of counsellors; for your interest and safety are not more deeply gaged than their own.
From the tone in which this was spoken, John saw the necessity of acquiescence. I did but jest, he said; and you turn upon me like so many adders! Name whom you will, in the fiends name, and please yourselves.
Nay, nay, said De Bracy, let the fair sovereigns throne remain unoccupied until the conqueror shall be named, and then let him choose the lady by whom it shall be filled. It will add another grace to his triumph, and teach fair ladies to prize the love of valiant knights, who can exalt them to such distinction.
If Brian de Bois-Guilbert gain the prize, said the Prior, I will gage my rosary that I name the Sovereign of Love and Beauty.
Bois-Guilbert, answered De Bracy, is a good lance; but there are others around these lists, Sir Prior, who will not fear to encounter him.
Silence, sirs, said Waldemar, and let the Prince assume his seat. The knights and spectators are alike impatient, the time advances, and highly fit it is that the sports should commence.
Prince John, though not yet a monarch, had in Waldemar Fitzurse all the inconveniences of a favourite minister, who, in serving his sovereign, must always do so in his own way. The Prince acquiesced, however, although his disposition was precisely of that kind which is apt to be obstinate upon trifles, and, assuming his throne, and being surrounded by his followers, gave signal to the heralds to proclaim the laws of the tournament, which were briefly as follows:
First, the five challengers were to undertake all comers.
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