Page:The Coming Race, etc - 1888.djvu/173
were dismounted, and swarms of Moors, with lifted knives, gathered round them as they lay, searching for the joints of the armour, which might admit a mortal wound. Gradually, one by one, many of Villena's comrades joined their leader ; and now the green mantle of Don Alonzo de Pacheco was seen waving without the copse, and Villena congratulated himself on the safety of his brother. Just at that moment, a Moorish cavalier spurred from his troop, and met Pacheco in full career. The Moor was not clad, as was the common custom of the Paynim nobles, in the heavy Christian armour. He wore the light flexile mail of the ancient heroes of Araby or Fez. His turban, which was protected by chains of the finest steel inter- woven with the folds, was of the most dazzling white white, also, were his tunic and short mantle ; on his left arm hung a short circular shield, in his right hand was poised a long and slender lance. As this Moor, mounted on a charger in whose raven hue not a white hair could be detected, dashed forward against Pacheco, both Christian and Moor breathed hard, and remained passive. Either nation felt it as a sacrilege to thwart the encounter of champions so renowned.
"God save my brave brother!" muttered Villena, anxiously. "Amen," said those around him ; for all who had ever witnessed the wildest valour in that war, trembled as they recognized the dazzling robe and coal-black charger of Muza Ben Abil Gazan. Nor was that renowned infidel mated with an unworthy foe. "Pride of the tournament, and terror of the war," was the favourite title which the knights and ladies of Castile had bestowed on Don Alonzo de Pacheco.
When the Spaniard saw the redoubted Moor approach, he halted abruptly for a moment, and then, wheeling his horse round, took a wider circuit, to give additional impetus to his charge. The Moor, aware of his purpose, halted also, and awaited the moment of his rush ; when once more he darted forward, and the combatants met with a skill which called forth a cry of involuntary applause from the Christians themselves. Muza received on the small surface of his shield the ponderous spear of Alonzo, while his own light lance struck upon the helmet of the Christian, and by the exactness of the aim rather than the weight of the blow, made Alonzo reel in his saddle.
The lances were thrown aside the long broad falchion of the Christian, the curved Damascus cimiter of the Moor, gleamed in the nir. They reined their chargers opposite each other in grave and deliberate silence.
"Yield thee, sir knight ! " at length cried the fierce Moor, " for