The Tower Of London by W. Harrison Ainsworth

Fresh flourishes of trumpets succeeded; and several lively airs were played by bands of minstrels stationed at different points of the court-yard.

A wild and tumultuous din was now heard; and the gates being again thrown open, forth rushed a legion of the most grotesque and fantastic figures ever beheld. Some were habited as huge, open-jawed sea-monsters; others as dragons, gorgons, and hydras; others, as satyrs and harpies; others, as gnomes and salamanders. Some had large hideous masks, making them look all head, some monstrous wings, some long coiled tails, like serpents; many were mounted on hobby-horses, and all whose garbs would permit them, were armed with staves, flails, or other indescribable weapons.

When this multitudinous and confused assemblage had nearly filled the inclosure, loud roarings were heard, and from the gateway marched Gog and Magog, arrayed like their gigantic namesakes of Guildhall. A long artificial beard, of a blue tint, supplied the loss which Magog’s singed chin had sustained. His head was bound with a wreath of laurel leaves. Gog’s helmet precisely resembled that worn by his namesake, and he carried a curiously-formed shield, charged with the device of a black eagle, like that with which the wooden statue is furnished. Magog was armed with a long staff, to which a pudding-net, stuffed with wool, was attached; while Gog bore a long lathen spear. The appearance of the giants was hailed with a general roar of delight. But the laughter and applauses were increased by what followed.

Once more opened to their widest extent, the great gates admitted what, at first, appeared to be a moving fortification. From its sides projected two enormous arms, each sustaining a formidable club. At the summit stood a smaller turret, within which, encircled by a wreath of roses and other flowers, decorated with silken pennoncels, sat Xit, his pigmy person clothed in tight silk fleshings. Glittering wings fluttered on his shoulders, and he was armed with the weapons of the Paphian God. The tower, which, with its decorations, was more than twenty feet high, was composed of basket-work, covered with canvas, painted to resemble a round embattled structure. It was tenanted by Og, who moved about in it with the greatest ease. A loophole in front enabled him to see what was going forward, and he marched slowly towards the centre of the inclosure. An edging of loose canvas, painted like a rocky foundation, concealed his feet. The effect of this moving fortress was highly diverting, and elicited shouts of laughter and applause from the beholders.

“That device,” observed Courtenay to the queen, “represents a tower of strength—or rather, I should say, the Tower of London. It is about to be attacked by the rabble rout of rebellion, and, I trust, will be able to make good its defence against them.”

“I hope so,” replied Mary, smiling. “I should be grieved to think that my good Tower yielded to such assailants. But who is that I perceive? Surely, it is Cupid?”

“Love is at present an inhabitant of the Tower,” replied Courtenay, with a passionate look.

Raising his eyes, the next moment, he perceived Elizabeth behind Sir Henry Bedingfeld. She turned from him with a look of reproach.

A seasonable interruption to his thoughts was offered by the tumultuous cry arising from the mummers. Gog and Magog having placed themselves on either side of the Tower as its defenders, the assault commenced. The object of the assailants was to overthrow the fortress. With this view, they advanced against it from all quarters, thrusting one another forward, and hurling their weapons against it. This furious attack was repelled by the two giants, who drove them back as fast as they advanced, hurling some head over heels, trampling others under foot, and exhibiting extraordinary feats of strength and activity. The Tower itself was not behind-hand in resistance. Its two arms moved about like the sails of a windmill, dealing tremendous blows.

The conflict afforded the greatest amusement to the beholders; but while the fortress and its defenders maintained their ground against all the assailants, there was one person who began to find his position somewhat uncomfortable. This was Xit. So long as Og contented himself with keeping off his enemies, the dwarf was delighted with his elevated situation, and looked round with a smile of delight. But when the giant, animated by the sport, began to attack in his turn, the fabric in which he was encased swayed to and fro so violently, that Xit expected every moment to be percipitated to the ground. In vain he attempted to communicate his fears to Og. The giant was unconscious of his danger, and the din and confusion around them was so great, that neither Gog nor Magog could hear his outcries. As a last resource, he tried to creep into the turret, but this he found impracticable.

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