``Dave ain't going to pick YOU out, I tell ye. I heered Mr. Budd thar myself tell him he HAD to pick out some other gal.''
``You hush!'' said Mollie indignantly.
It looked as though the Knight of the Cumberland had grown rebellious and meant to choose whom he pleased, but on his way back the Hon. Sam must have given more surreptitious signs, for the Knight of the Cumberland reined in before the Blight and held up his lance to her. Straightway the colors that were meant for Marston fluttered from the Knight of the Cumberland's spear. I saw Marston bite his lips and I saw Mollie's face aflame with fury and her eyes darting lightning--no longer at Marston now, but at the Blight. The mountain girl held nothing against the city girl because of the Wild Dog's infatuation, but that her own lover, no matter what the Hon. Sam said, should give his homage also to the Blight, in her own presence, was too much. Mollie looked around no more. Again the Hon. Sam rose.
``Love of ladies,'' he shouted, ``splintering of lances! Stand forth, gallant knights. Fair eyes look upon your deeds! Toot again, son!''
Now just opposite the grandstand was a post some ten feet high, with a small beam projecting from the top toward the spectators. From the end of this hung a wire, the end of which was slightly upturned in line with the course, and on the tip of this wire a steel ring about an inch in diameter hung lightly. Nearly forty yards below this was a similar ring similarly arranged; and at a similar distance below that was still another, and at the blast from the Hon. Sam's herald, the gallant knights rode slowly, two by two, down the lists to the western extremity--the Discarded Knight and the Knight of the Cumberland, stirrup to stirrup, riding last--where they all drew up in line, some fifty yards beyond the westernmost post. This distance they took that full speed might be attained before jousting at the first ring, since the course--much over one hundred yards long --must be covered in seven seconds or less, which was no slow rate of speed. The Hon. Sam arose again:
Farther down the lists a herald took up the same cry and the good knight of Athelstanic build backed his steed from the line and took his place at the head of the course.
With his hickory truncheon the Hon. Sam signed to his trumpeter to sound the onset.
With the blare of the trumpet Athelstane sprang from his place and came up the course, his lance at rest; a tinkling sound and the first ring slipped down the knight's spear and when he swept past the last post there was a clapping of hands, for he held three rings triumphantly aloft. And thus they came, one by one, until each had run the course three times, the Discarded jousting next to the last and the Knight of the Cumberland, riding with a reckless Cave, Adsum air, the very last. At the second joust it was quite evident that the victory lay between these two, as they only had not lost a single ring, and when the black horse thundered by, the Hon. Sam shouted ``Brave lance!'' and jollied his betting enemies, while Buck hugged himself triumphantly and Mollie seemed temporarily to lose her chagrin and anger in pride of her lover, Dave. On the third running the Knight of the Cumberland excited a sensation by sitting upright, waving his lance up and down between the posts and lowering it only when the ring was within a few feet of its point. His recklessness cost him one ring, but as the Discarded had lost one, they were still tied, with eight rings to the credit of each, for the first prize. Only four others were left--the Knight of the Holston and the Knight of the Green Valley tying with seven rings for second prize, and the fat Maxwelton Braes and the Knight at Large tying with six rings for the third. The crowd was eager now and the Hon. Sam confident. On came the Knight at Large, his face a rainbow, his plume wilted and one red base-ball stocking slipped from its moorings--two rings! On followed the fat Maxwelton, his plaid streaming and his kilts flapping about his fat legs--also two rings!