For the Knight of the Cumberland had turned the black horse's head and was riding, like Ivanhoe, in front of the nobles and ladies, his eyes burning up at them through the holes in his white mask. Again he turned, his mask still uplifted, and the behavior of the beauties there, as on the field of Ashby, was no whit changed: ``Some blushed, some assumed an air of pride and dignity, some looked straight forward and essayed to seem utterly unconscious of what was going on, some drew back in alarm which was perhaps affected, some endeavored to forbear smiling and there were two or three who laughed outright.'' Only none ``dropped a veil over her charms'' and thus none incurred the suspicion, as on that field of Ashby, that she was ``a beauty of ten years' standing'' whose motive, gallant Sir Walter supposes in defence, however, was doubtless ``a surfeit of such vanities and a willingness to give a fair chance to the rising beauties of the age.'' But the most conscious of the fair was Mollie below, whose face was flushed and whose brown fingers were nervously twisting the ribbons in her lap, and I saw Buck nudge her and heard him whisper:
``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.