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mations upon every change of fortune, while all eyes were so riveted on the lists, that the spectators seemed as if they themselves had dealt and received the blows which were there so freely bestowed. And between every pause was heard the voice of the heralds, exclaiming, “ Fight on, brave knights ! Man dies, but glory lives !-Fight on-death is better than defeat !-Fight on, brave knights !—for bright eyes behold your deeds !"
Amid the varied fortunes of the combat, the eyes of all endeavoured to discover the leaders of each band, who, mingling in the thick of the fight, encouraged their companions both by voice and example. Both displayed great feats of gallantry, nor did either Bois-Guilbert or the Disinherited Knight find in the ranks opposed to them a champion who could be termed their unquestioned match. They repeatedly endeavoured to single out each other, spurred by mutual animosity, and aware that the fall of either leader might be considered as decisive of victory. Such, however, was the crowd and confusion, that, during the earlier part of the conflict, their efforts to meet were unavailing, and they were repeatedly separated by the eagerness of their followers, each of whom was anxious to win honour, by measuring his strength against the leader of the opposite party,
But when the field became thin by the numbers on either side who had yielded themselves vanquished, had been compelled to the extremity of the lists, or been otherwise rendered incapable of continuing the strife, the Templar and the Disinherited Knight at Iength encountered hand to hand, with all the fury that mortal animosity, joined to rivalry of honour, could inspire. Such was the address of each in parrying and striking, that the spectators broke forth into a unanimous and involuntary shout, expressive of their delight and admiration.
But at this moment the party of the Disinherited Knight had the worst; the gigantic arm of Front-de-Bouf on the one flank, and the ponderous strength of Athelstane on the other, bearing down and dispersing those immediately exposed to them. Finding themselves freed from their immediate antagonists, it seems to have occurred to both these knights at the same instant, that they would render the most decisive advantage to their party, by aiding the Templar in his contest with his rival. Turning their horses, therefore, at the same moment, the Norman spurred against the Disinherited Knight on the one side, and the Saxon on the other. It was utterly impossible that the object of this unequal and unexpected assault could have sustained it, had he not been warned by a general cry from the spectators, who could not but take interest in one exposed to such disadvantage.
* Beware! beware! Sir Disinherited !” was shouted so universally, that the knight became aware of his danger ; and striking a full blow at the Templar, he reined back his steed in the same moment, so as to escape the charge of Athelstane and Front-de-Bouf. These knights, therefore, their aim being thus eluded, rushed from opposite sides betwixt the object of their attack and the Templar, almost running their horses against each other ere they could stop their career. Recovering their horses, however, and wheeling them round, the whole three pursued their united
purpose of bearing to the earth the Disinherited Knight. Nothing could have saved him, except the remarkable strength and activity of the noble horse which he had won on the preceding day.
This stood him in the more stead, as the horse of Bois-Guilbert was wounded, and those of Front-de-Bouf and Athelstane were both tired with the weight of their gigantic masters, clad in complete armour, and with the preceding exertions of the day. The masterly horsemanship of the Disinherited Knight, and the activity of the noble animal which he mounted, enabled him for a few minutes to keep at sword's point his three antagonists, turning and wheeling, with the agility of a hawk upon the wing, keeping his enemies as far separate he could, and rushing now against the one, now against the other, dealing sweeping blows with his sword, without waiting to receive those which were aimed at him in return.
But although the lists rang with the applause of his dexterity, it was evident that he must at last be overpowered ; and the nobles around Prince John implored him with one voice to throw down his warder, and to save so brave a knight from the disgrace of being overcome by odds. “Not I, by the light of heaven!" answered Prince John ;
this same springal, who conceals his name, and despises our proferred hospitality, has already gained one prize, and may now afford to let others have their turn." As he spoke thus, an unexpected incident changed the fortune of the day.
There was among the ranks of the Disinherited Knight a champion in black armour, mounted on a black horse, large of size, tall, and to all appearance powerful and strong, like the rider by whom he was mounted. This knight, who bore on his shield no device of any kind, had hitherto evinced very little interest in the event of the fight, beating off with seeming ease those combatants who attacked him, but neither pursuing his advantages nor himself assailing any one. In short, he had hitherto acted the part rather of a spectator than of a party in the tournament, a circumstance which procured him among the spectators the name of Le Noir Faineant, or the Black Sluggard.
At once this knight seemed to throw aside his apathy, when he discovered the leader of his party so hard bestead; for setting spurs to his horse, which was quite fresh, he came to his assistance like a thunderbolt, exclaiming in a voice like a trumpet-call, “ Desdichado, to the rescue ! It was high time; for, while the Disinherited Knight was pressing upon the Templar, Front-de-Beuf had got nigh to him with his uplifted sword ; but ere the blow could descend, the Sable Knight dealt a stroke on his head, which, glancing from the polished helmet, lighted with violence scarcely abated on the chamfron of the steed, and Front-de-Boeuf rolled on the ground, both horse and man equally stunned by the fury of the blow. Le Noir Faineant then turned his horse upon Athelstane of Coningsburgh ; and his own sword having been broken in his encounter with Front-deBoeuf, he wrenched from the hand of the bulky Saxon the battle-axe which he wielded, and, like one familiar with the use of the weapon, bestowed him such a blow upon the crest, that Athelstane also lay senseless on the field. Having achieved this double feat, for which he was the more highly applauded that it was totally unexpected from him, the knight seemed to resume the sluggishness of his character, returning calmly to the northern extremity of the lists, leaving his leader to cope as he best could with Brian de Bois-Guilbert. This was no longer matter of so much difficulty as formerly. The_Templar's horse had bled much, and gave way under the shock of the Disinherited Knight's charge. Brian de Bois-Guilbert rolled on the field, encumbered with the stirrup, from which he was unable to draw his foot. His antagonist sprang from horseback, waved his fatal sword over the head of his adversary, and commanded him to yield himself; when Prince John, more moved by the Templar's dangerous situation than he had been by that of his rival, saved him the mortifica. tion of confessing himself vanquished, by casting down his warder, and putting an end to the conflict.
It was, indeed, only the relics and embers of the fight which continued to burn; for of the few knights who still continued in the lists, the greater part had, by tacit consent, forborne the conflict for some time, leaving it to be determined by the strife of the leaders.
The squires who had found it a matter of danger and difficulty to attend their masters during the engagement, now thronged into the lists to pay their dutiful attendance to the wounded, who were removed with the utmost care and attention to the neighbouring pavilions, or to the quarters prepared for them in the adjoining village.
Thus ended the memorable field of Ashby-de-la-Zouche, one of the most gallantly contested tournaments of that age ; for although four knights, including one who was smothered by the heat of his armour, had died upon the field, yet upwards of thirty were desperately wounded, four or five whom never recovered. Several more were disabled for life; and those who escaped best carried the marks of the conflict to the grave with them. Hence it is always mentioned in the old records as the Gentle and Joyous Passage of Arms of Ashby.
It being now the duty of Prince John to name the knight who had done best, he determined that the honour of the day remained with the knight whom the popular voice had termed Le Noir Faineant. It was pointed out to the Prince, in impeachment of this decree, that the victory had been in fact won by the Disinherited Knight, who, in the course of the day, had overcome six champions with his own hand, and who had finally unhorsed and struck down the leader of the opposite party. But Prince John adhered to his own opinion, on the ground that the Disinherited Knight and his party had lost the day, but for the powerful assistance of the Knight of the Black Armour, to whom, therefore, he persisted in awarding the prize.
To the surprise of all present, however, the knight thus preferred was nowhere to be found. He had left the lists immediately when the conflict ceased, and had been observed by some spectators to move down one of the forest glades with the same slow pace and listless and indifferent manner which had procured him the epithet of the Black Sluggard. After he had been summoned twice by sound of trumpet, and proclamation of the heralds, it became necessary to name another to receive the honours which had been assigned to him. Prince John had now no farther excuse for resisting the claim of the Disinherited Knight, whom, therefore, he named the champion of the day.
Through a field slippery with blood, and encumbered with broken armour and the bodies of slain and wounded horses, the marshals of the lists again conducted the victor to the foot of Prince John's throne.
“Disinherited Knight,” said Prince John, "since by that title only you will conşent to be known to us, we a second time award to you the honours of this tournament, and announce to you your right to claim and receive from the hands of the Queen of Love and Beauty the Chaplet of Honour which your valour has justly deserved." The knight bowed low and gracefully, but returned no answer.
While the trumpets sounded, while the heralds strained their voices in proclaiming honour to the brave and glory to the victor-while ladies waved their silken kerchiefs and embroidered veils, and while all ranks joined in a clamorous shout of exultation, the marshals conducted the Disinherited Knight across the lists to the foot of that throne of honour which was occupied by the Lady Rowena.
On the lower step of this throne the champion was made to kneel down. Indeed his whole action, since the fight had ended, seemed rather to have been upon the impulse of those around him than from his own free will; and it was observed that he tottered as they guided him the second time across the lists. Rowena, descending from her station with a graceful and dignified step, was about to place the chaplet which she held in her hand upon the helmet of the champion, when the marshals exclaimed with one voice, “It must not be thus—his head must be bare.” The knight muttered faintly a few words, which was lost in the hollow of his helmet, but their purport seemed to be a desire that his casque might not be removed.
Whether from love of form, or from curiosity, the marshals paid no attention to his expressions of reluctance, but unhelmed him by cutting the laces of his casque, and undoing the fastening of his gorget. When the helmet was removed, the well-formed, yet sun-burnt features of a young man of twenty-five were seen, amidst a profusion of short fair hair. His countenance was as pale as death, and marked in one or two places with streaks of blood.
Rowena had no sooner beheld him than she uttered a faint shriek ; but at once summoning up the energy of her disposition, and compelling her. self, as it were, to proceed, while her frame yet trembled with the violence of sudden emotion, she placed upon the drooping head of the victor the splendid chaplet which was the destined reward of the day, and pronounced, in a clear and distinct tone, these words : “I bestow on thee this chaplet, Sir Knight, as the meed of valour assigned to this day's victor : Here she paused a moment, and then firmly added, “And upon brows more worthy could a wreath of chivalry never be placed.”
The knight stooped his head, and kissed the hand of the lovely sovereign by whom his valour had been rewarded ; and then, sinking yet farther forward, lay prostrate at her feet.
There was a general consternation. Cedric, who had been struck mute by the sudden appearance of his banished son, now rushed forward, as if to separate him from Rowena. But this had been already accomplished by the marshals of the field, who, guessing the cause of Ivanhoe's swoon, had hastened to undo his armour, and found that the head of a lance had penetrated his breastplate, and inflicted a wound in his side.
“ ' Heroes, approach !' Atrides thus aloud,
'Stand forth distinguished from the circling crowd,
HE name of Ivanhoe was no sooner pronounced than it flew from
mouth to mouth, with all the celerity with which eagerness could convey and curiosity receive it. It was not long ere it reached the
circle of the Prince, whose brow darkened as he heard the news. Looking around him, however, with an air of scorn, “My lords," said he, "and especially you, Sir Prior, what think ye of the doctrine the learned tell us, concerning innate attractions and antipathies ? Methinks that I felt the presence of my brother's minion, even when I least guessed whom yonder suit of armour enclosed."
"Front-de-Bouf must prepare to restore his fief of Ivanhoe,” said De Bracy, who, having discharged his part honourably in the tournament, had laid his shield and helmet aside, and again mingled with the Prince's retinue.
“Ay," answered Waldemar Fitzurse, “this gallant is likely to reclaim the castle and manor which Richard assigned to him, and which your highness's generosity has since given to Front-de-Beuf.'
“ Front-de-Bouf,” replied John, “is a man more willing to swallow three manors such as Ivanhoe than to disgorge one of them. For the rest, sirs, I hope none here will deny my right to confer the fiefs of the crown upon the faithful followers who are around me, and ready to perform the usual military service in the room of those who have wandered to foreign countries, and can neither render homage nor service when called upon.
The audience were too much interested in the question not to pronounce the Prince's assumed right altogether indubitable. “A generous Prince ! -a most noble Lord, who thus takes upon himself the task of rewarding his faithful followers !”
Such were the words which burst from the train, expectants all of them of similar grants at the expense of King Richard's followers and favourites, if indeed they had not as yet received such. Prior Aymer also assented to the general proposition, observing, however, “That the blessed Jerusalem could not indeed be termed a foreign country. She was communis materthe mother of all Christians. But he saw not,” he declared, "how the Knight of Ivanhoe could plead any advantage from this, since he ” (the Prior) was assured that the crusaders, under Richard, had never proceeded much farther than Askalon, which, as all the world knew, was a town of the Philistines, and entitled to none of the privileges of the Holy City.
Waldemar, whose curiosity had led him towards the place where Ivanhoe