Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/353

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Its point knows the sound of a breastplate of iron,
    And gladly it springs, like my steed, to the shock.

Doubt not my arm in the combat will serve me—
    My bard sings the deeds of his chieftain, with pride;
And the strength of a legion to-morrow will nerve me
    To conquer in battle, and win thee my bride.
Doubt not my heart, in its truth, here repeating
    That thou art its life-pulse—the throb of my breast—
And never till death stops my bosom’s swift beating,
    In the cold narrow house, will thy thought be at rest.

Springing to her feet at the first sound of the voice, every feature of her beautiful face lighted up with intense joy, she stood like a young pythoness filled with the oracle, and extended her arms toward a figure arrayed in the long, fringed colchal of a bard, that now emerged from the grove, and whom her heart told her truly could be no other than Maon. Casting back the hood from his face, he stood revealed in the waning moonlight, and raising his hand to his lips, then waving it upward in parting salutation to the maiden, he again entered the grove and disappeared; and Brehilda, strengthened by the words of his song, and reassured by his presence, retired to her couch, and soon in sweet slumber forgot the cares that oppressed her heart.

The morrow, like all dreaded to-morrows, dawned brightly. The combat was to take place early in the day, and the field had been prepared for the rivals and those who were to witness the contest. The thrones of the Irish monarch and the kings of the four provinces were arranged much in the same manner as in the hall of legislation, save that the King of Connaught had his place on the left of the King of Munster, while platforms or galleries were erected on either side for the accommodation of spectators.

It is not to be supposed that a trial of arms in that remote time was conducted with the order and magnificence of the more modern tournament; but still the field was not wanting in much of the material that served to make up the display of that after period. The seats around the arena were now filling to their utmost extent and capacity. There were nobles and knights, and esquires bearing the shields of their chiefs; and to the several orders of bards assem-