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as they perceived his uncouth habiliments, set off as they were by his imperturbable German gravity, there was a tumult of laughter and derision along the whole line.
Now it happened that there belonged to this troop an adjutant, a special friend of Lodowic, but, on this occasion, the most bitter of his mockers. A hundred merry jests he passed upon the unlucky man-at-arms, till at last the incensed Paladin beckoned him a pace or two apart, and after a short but angry conference, returned with his face at a white heat to his mistress, and informed her of the event.
"Now this adventure," said the cruel one, "falls out better than I hoped. Thou shalt cast down thy gauntlet in defiance of this uncourteous knight; and though there be no royal lists appointed in these days, ye may have, notwithstanding, a very honourable and chivalrous encounter."
"As for that, Madam," returned Lodowic, "the matter is settled, and without throwing about any gloves at all. I have dared him to meet me to-morrow at sunrise, by the Linden Wood; and one way or another I dare say something desperate will be done between us."
The hard-hearted one, highly in love with this news, embraced Lodowic very tenderly, and, to mark her grace towards him still farther, gave him her glove to wear as a favour during the impending combat. She selected for him, moreover, a new suit of armour, and gave him a fresh shield against any disaster,—a provision which the knight acknowledged with equal gratitude and gravity. And now she had nothing left but to dream, waking or sleeping, of the wager of battle of the morrow; whereas, Lodowic closed his eyes no more through the night, than if he had been watching his arms in a church.
As soon as the cocks began to crow, which he heard with as much pleasure as St. Peter, he put on his arms, and set forth whilst the morning was yet at a grey light. There is no chill so deathlike and subtle, as that which springs up with the vapourish damps before sunrise, and Lodowic soon found himself all over in a cold sweat, answerable to that of the earth. Thoughts of death, beside, began now to be busy within him; the very crimson rents and fissures of the eastern sky suggesting to him the gaping of the gory wounds which might soon be inflicted on his miserable body—for he knew that even the iron defences of the olden knights had not exempted them from such cruel slashes. In the mean time, he studied a pacific discourse, which he trusted would heal up the quarrel better than either sword or lance; and in this Christian temper he arrived at the appointed place. There was no one yet visible within the narrow obscure horizon; wherefore he paced his horse slowly up and down in front of the Linden Wood, between which and himself there flowed a small murmuring stream.
After about twenty turns to and fro, Lodowic beheld some one emerging from the trees, whom the mist of the morning would not let him perfectly distinguish. However, the pale light of the sun began presently to glance upon the figure, turning it from a dark object to a bright one, so that it gleamed out like the rivulet, which stood at nearly the same distance. The figure leaped his horse over the brook with a slight noise that sounded like the jingling of arms, and coming gently into the foreground, Lodowic discerned that it was the Adjutant, in a suit of complete armour. At this sight, he was very much puzzled whether to take it as a new affront or as an apology, that the other came thus, in a suit of the kind that had begotten their difference; but how monstrous was his rage, to discover that it was only a burlesque armour—the helmet being merely a pewter bason, and the shield the cover of a large iron pot. The mocker, pursuing his original jest in this indiscreet way, had prepared a set speech for the encounter.
"You see, Cousin," said he, "that I meet you at your own arms. Here is my helmet to match with yours, and this my buckler is made after the model of your own; here is my corslet too"—but before he could achieve the comparison, his horse was staggering from the rush of the choleric Lodowic, whose spear, whether by accident or design, was buried deep in the other's bosom. The wounded man gave but one groan, and fell backward, and the horse of Lodowic taking fright at the clatter of the armour, started off at full gallop, throwing his rider side by side with the bleeding wretch upon the grass.
As soon as he recovered from the shock, Lodowick got up and gazed with fixed eyes on the wounded man. He was lying on his back, staring dreadfully against the sky; one of his hands was clenched about the handle of the cruel spear—the other he kept striking with mere anguish against the ground, where it soon became dabbled in a pool of blood that had