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Chapter 12
The heralds left their pricking up and down,
Now ringen trumpets loud and clarion.
There is no more to say, but east and west,
In go the speares sadly in the rest,
In goth the sharp spur into the side,
There see men who can just and who can ride;
There shiver shaftes upon shieldes thick,
He feeleth through the heart-spone the prick;
Up springen speares, twenty feet in height,
Out go the swordes to the silver bright;
The helms they to-hewn and to-shred;
Out burst the blood with stern streames red.
Morning arose in unclouded splendour, and ere the sun was much above the horizon,
the idlest or the most eager of the spectators appeared on the common, moving to the
lists as to a general centre, in order to secure a favourable situation for viewing the
continuation of the expected games.
The marshals and their attendants appeared next on the field, together with the heralds,
for the purpose of receiving the names of the knights who intended to joust, with the
side which each chose to espouse. This was a necessary precaution, in order to secure
equality betwixt the two bodies who should be opposed to each other.
According to due formality, the Disinherited Knight was to be considered as leader of
the one body, while Brian de Bois-Guilbert, who had been rated as having done second-
best in the preceding day, was named first champion of the other band. Those who had
concurred in the challenge adhered to his party of course, excepting only Ralph de
Vipont, whom his fall had rendered unfit so soon to put on his armour. There was no
want of distinguished and noble candidates to fill up the ranks on either side.
In fact, although the general tournament, in which all knights fought at once, was more
dangerous than single encounters, they were, nevertheless, more frequented and
practised by the chivalry of the age. Many knights, who had not sufficient confidence in
their own skill to defy a single adversary of high reputation, were, nevertheless, desirous
of displaying their valour in the general combat, where they might meet others with
whom they were more upon an equality. On the present occasion, about fifty knights
were inscribed as desirous of combating upon each side, when the marshals declared
that no more could be admitted, to the disappointment of several who were too late in
preferring their claim to be included.