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The Seven Champions Of Christendom by W. H. G. Kingston


Saint George and his virtuous Lady, having arrived in Africa, were travelling to Egypt from the west, when they chanced to arrive at a magnificent country, inhabited only by Amazonians.

Journeying along, great was their surprise to find every town and village desolate of people; the fields untilled; and fields overgrown with weeds: nor man, nor woman, nor child was to be seen.

Scarcely food even from the berries in the woods could they procure to satisfy their hunger.

In this extremity, after many days, they arrived before a rich pavilion -- all of green and crimson, bordered with gold and azure -- the hooks of ivory, the cords of silk, while at the top stood a golden eagle, and at each corner a green silver griffin shining in the sun. Beautiful as was the tent, still more lovely was the lady who stood before it -- a maiden queen -- crowned with an imperial diadem, and clothed in a robe of green, with the body formed of lace of gold, and her crimson kirtle bound with violet-coloured velvet, the wide sleeves being embroidered with flowers of gold and rich pearls. Around her stood her maiden attendants in comely attire, with silver coronets on their heads, and silver bows in their hands, while at their backs hung quivers full of golden arrows.

With courteous words the Queen invited the Knight and his Lady to enter her pavilion, when she told him that her country was sorely afflicted by the arts of a wicked magician, named Osmond, who had sought her love, and having been rejected had conceived the most deadly hatred against her.

|He has built,| she said, |a mighty tower on the borders of my realm, from which issues so deadly and dark a smoke that my people are driven from their homes, and the country remains desolate. He has left the guarding of the castle to a terrible giant, the ugliest monster eyes ever beheld. He is thirty feet in height, his head three times the size of that of the largest ox, his eyes larger than two sunflowers, and his teeth, with which he can break a bar of iron, standing out a foot from his mouth; his arms long and bony, his skin black as coal and hard as brass, and his strength so great that he can carry away three knights in armour, and their steeds, with the greatest ease.|

|Now, by my halidom, but I will fetter this monster and break the enchantment, or never see this place again.| In vain the Princess Sabra entreated him not to undertake the adventure.

Even the Amazonian Queen thought it beyond his power.

At daybreak, accompanied by De Fistycuff, he set forth, leaving the side of his weeping wife, and assuring her that he would return in safety. As he and his Squire advanced into the enchanted district the light of day decreased; darker and darker it grew, till they could with difficulty grope their way before them, while dense clouds of smoke seemed to be rolling thicker and thicker over their heads. Nothing could surpass the melancholy and depressing gloom of the air.

At length, by a faint glimmer of lurid light, they beheld the gates of the enchanted tower, at which sat, on a block of rock, a huge giant in his iron coat, with a mace of steel in his hand. At first sight of Saint George and his Squire, he beat his teeth so mightily together that they rang like the stroke of an anvil; and then he sprang up and rushed forward, thinking to take the Champion, horse and all, within his mouth, with the Squire under one arm, and to bear them into the tower.

When, however, the giant opened his mouth, showing his teeth sharp as steel, Saint George thrust his trusty sword Ascalon so far down it, that the monster cried out loud as thunder in his pain and terror; the very earth trembled, his mouth smoked like a fiery furnace, and his eyes rolled in his head like brands of flaming fire: but the Champion pressed him harder and harder, the blood flowing in a great stream from his mouth, till he was forced to cry out for mercy, and to beg for life. This Saint George granted him, on condition that he would discover all the secrets of the tower, and ever after be his true servant. Then the giant swore to speak the truth, and told him that the necromancer had made a huge fire in a deep vault whence all the smoke came forth, but that near the fire was a fair and pleasant fountain, the water of which, if any knight could cast it on the fire, the smoke would cease and the fire be put out. This sufficed Saint George.

Ordering the giant to keep the door, and leaving De Fistycuff to watch over him, he advanced into the tower, which was full of vast windows; and then he entered a long dark passage with a door at one end, set as thick with spikes of steel as are the prickles of a sea-urchin's skin; yet, dashing open the door, in spite of the clouds of smoke which rushed out, he descended in total darkness, thundering blows all the time raining down on his burgonet, which he guarded off with his shield, and voices from unseen spirits screeching in his ears, while the heat, great at first, increased so fiercely that he was almost melted, his armour becoming nearly red-hot.

Just as he was about to faint he espied the crystal fountain, and quickly filling his shield from it, he cast the water on the fire. Backwards and forwards he went, till, to his joy, he saw the smoke ceasing and the blue sky appearing, when the light of the sun entering the dark passage, he saw on the stairs many great images of brass, with mighty maces of steel, which had struck him the heavy blows as he descended.

The fire being quenched, and the enchantment being thus happily quashed, the country was restored to its former prosperous condition, while Saint George received warm thanks of the Amazonian Queen; and then, with the Princess Sabra by his side, and followed by De Fistycuff, and the huge Giant Orcus as he was called, he set off to join the Christian army in the south. On their way, however, finding that they were not far from Bagabornabou, the native land of the lovely Sabra, they determined to journey thither.

De Fistycuff, as a herald, went before to announce their arrival, whereon they were received right royally. Such joyful sounds of bells, trumpets, cymbals, and drums, were scarce ever heard before in the kingdom; nor had such stately pageants ever been seen as those which welcomed them; the walls were hung with Indian coverlets and curious tapestry, and the pavement was strewed with odoriferous flowers of every lovely hue.

This being over, the Princess Sabra was crowned Queen of the country, and for many days she and her noble lord reigned there in peace and prosperity, till the desire of martial glory summoned Saint George once more to buckle on his armour, and to join the Christian forces now marching towards Egypt.

Time will not allow a full description of the bloody battle which took place between the Christians and the Pagans, or of the magic arts practised by the fell Enchanter Osmond, who strove with all his power to overthrow or circumvent the former; or how he raised an army of evil spirits from the earth, the air, and fire, and water; and besides a mighty tempest by which huge oaks were torn up by the roots, houses and temples were unroofed, and men and horses carried high up into the air, and let down again with terrific crashes.

While the tempest was raging, they charged into the Christian host with flaming falchions, firing their horses' manes, burning their trappings, and consuming their banners; but undaunted they stood, headed by Saint George and the six other Champions, till the Pagan forces were compelled at length to give way, and to retire from the field.

The acts of the Enchanter were not yet concluded, for he erected a magic tent, with arts so subtle, that the interior seemed like a large country full of gardens, fields, and orchards, and palaces. There he caused six of his spirits to assume the guise of six lovely princesses, travelling the country round in search of six gallant knights who would break some lances in their services. By artful guile the seeming royal ladies persuaded the six Champions to accompany them to their pavilion, where they announced that a right royal banquet was prepared to do them honour.

The Champions departed, unsuspicious of ill; but day after day passed by and they did not return. The troops, by degrees, began to complain that they were left without their leaders; when Saint George, inquiring into the matter, right wisely supposed that it might be some cunning device of the Enchanter Osmond.

On inquiring of his slave, the Giant Orcus, he found that this was indeed too true, and that the Knights were kept in servile bonds in the magic pavilion. Addressing his warriors, he told them of the discovery he had made, when, with loud shouts, they vowed to follow wherever he might lead.

Thus trusting in the noble Champion, they neither feared the necromancer's charms, the flaming dragons, the fierce drakes, the flashing lurid lights, or the legions of hideous monsters armed with burning falchions, which surrounded them as they marched towards the enchanted pavilion.

Far more dangerous were the sounds of sweet music which struck upon their ears, and the enchanting sights which their eyes beheld, as they surrounded the magic tent; but Saint George, recollecting the honour of his knighthood, let drive at the tent with his sword, so furiously, that he cut it into a thousand pieces; when there was exposed to view the fell Enchanter Osmond, sitting on a rock of iron, feeding hideous spirits, who obeyed his will, with drops of blood.

The Champion and his soldiers rushed upon him so furiously that, seizing him unawares, they carried him off, and bound him with chains to the root of a blasted oak, whence neither his own art nor all the spirits he once commanded could release him.

Saint George then set at liberty the six captive Knights, when the lovely princesses, turning into their proper shapes of six hideous spirits, flew off with loud shrieks and hisses through the air.

The necromancer then shrieking forth that all his magic arts and devices had come to nought, tore out his eyes, bit his tongue in two, because that it had so often uttered curses, cut off his hands, which had held his silver wand, the cause of so much evil; and finally ended his existence by devouring his own inside, dying thus a warning to all magicians for future ages.

This adventure being happily terminated, the Christian army advanced towards Egypt and Persia; nor did the Champions ever again sheathe their swords, or unlock their armour, till the subversion of those ancient Empires was accomplished. This being done, they took truce of the world, and triumphantly marched towards Christendom; in which journey they erected many stately monuments in remembrance of their victories and heroical achievements; and through every country that they marched there flocked to them an innumerable company of Pagans, that desired to follow Saint George into Christendom, protesting that they wished to forsake their heathen gods, whose worshippers' chief delight is in the shedding of human blood and every cruelty. To their requests Saint George at once condescended, not only in granting them their desires, but also in honouring them with the favour of his princely countenance.

Once more did the gallant Champion return to England, with the faithful De Fistycuff, and this time he invited the other six Champions to accompany him.

Pen would fail properly to describe the magnificent entertainments with which they were honoured, and the pleasant time they spent there, before they again set forward on their adventures.

There, sad to relate, the Princess Sabra sickened and died, and with grief and anguish Saint George raised a magnificent tomb to her memory, and placed it above her grave. Then, after embracing his three young sons, he once more set out on his travels.

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