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By a rude table, in a low chamber dimly lighted,
sat two warriors in earnest conversation. Now
clouds darken on their brows, — now smiles lighten
on their cheeks, — now fire flashes from their eyes —
alternately darkening, brightening, burning — out-
ward signs of strong inward emotions. By the
mass ! no cautious diplomatists are these, coolly
playing at " state policy," with no interest save that
the game last. In that conference threat is met by
threat, — old remembrance by old remembrance, —
fierce word by fierce word. One of the warriors
arose. " Sir Esecal," said he, calmly, " it may not
be. No counsel of mine, no command of mine, shall
constrain my sister's affections. To accept thee, or
to reject thee, she is free as the wind."
" Chief of the Irvings," said the knight, slightly
colouring, ' : frank is thy avowal ; frank, but scarcely
friendly. I am thy guest : it would ill beseem me
to speak of services rendered by me to thee and
thine ; yet this I must say, they merit other return."
" Thy services to me and mine, Sir Knight," said
the chief, firmly, " have been services of war — such
as brave men are ever ready to render ; and in like
way shall they be repaid. But brave men seldom
boast of brave deeds, and seldomer, I ween, demand
the sacrifice of a woman's heart as their reward,"

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