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Home: The Toast

There was nothing Sir Walter Scott delighted in more than a pair of flashing eyes. No one is safe from them. Whether you are a fiercely proud Jewess beset by seducers and knaves, a set-in-his-ways baron who disapproves of the young men at court, a mad bride, or just the Fair Maid of Perth, sooner or later your eyes will flash. They may flash fire, they may flash fiercely, they may flash with disdain, but flash they will.

They will almost certainly flash darkly. Light-eyed people rarely flash. A good rule of thumb is that the less English you are, the more likely you are to flash fire from your eyes. Scotsman and wild Irish lasses and Welsh-sounding frontiersman all have a high probability of fire-flashing before you finish Waverly or whatever.

And God help you if someone else’s eyes are flashing at you. You are about to be told off by a young person who has drawn herself up to her full height; enjoy the well-developed flavor of her scorn.


“The address of the riders recovered their steeds by use of the bridle and spur; and having glared on each other for an instant with eyes which seemed to flash fire through the bars of their visors, each made a demi-volte, and, retiring to the extremity of the lists, received a fresh lance from the attendants.”


“What accident?” said Girder, with flashing eyes. “Nae ill come ower them, I trust? Uh?”


“The eyes of the Templar flashed fire at this reproof — ‘Hearken,’ he said, ‘Rebecca; I have hitherto spoken mildly to thee, but now my language shall be that of a conqueror. Thou art the captive of my bow and spear — subject to my will by the laws of all nations; nor will I abate an inch of my right, or abstain from taking by violence what thou refusest to entreaty or necessity.'”


“A glance of disdain flashed from the dark fierce eyes of Bois-Guilbert, but he made no reply.”


“It was not the Captain’s cue to appear himself to be uneasy on the subject of these rumours; but he easily saw from Lady Ashton’s flushed cheek, hesitating voice, and flashing eye, that she had caught the alarm which he intended to communicate.”


“Dark lightning flashed from Roderick’s eye.”


“The hawk’s eye of Callum flashed delight.”


“I could plainly see, that, by the enumeration of his wrongs, he was lashing himself up into a rage, in order to justify in his own eyes the errors they had led him into. In this he perfectly succeeded; his light grey eyes contracting alternately and dilating their pupils, until they seemed actually to flash with flame, while he thrust forward and drew back his foot, grasped the hilt of his dirk, extended his arm, clenched his fist, and finally rose from his seat.”


“Fergus, whose eyes flashed when he was told by Cathleen that her mistress designed to keep her apartment that evening, went himself in quest of her; but apparently his remonstrances were in vain, for he returned with a heightened complexion and manifest symptoms of displeasure.”


“But his ruddy embrowned cheek-bones could be plainly seen, and the large and bright blue eyes, that flashed from under the dark shade of the raised visor; and the whole gesture and look of the champion expressed careless gaiety and fearless confidence—a mind which was unapt to apprehend danger, and prompt to defy it when most imminent—yet with whom danger was a familiar thought, as with one whose trade was war and adventure.”


“The tone of obstinacy with which this was said, her eyes flashing with unnatural light, and her hands firmly clenched, precluded the possibility of dispute; and the utmost length which Lady Ashton’s art could attain, only got her the privilege of dictating the letter, by which her daughter required to know of Ravenswood whether he intended to abide by or to surrender what she termed ‘their unfortunate engagement.'”


“The Black Knight’s eyes seemed to flash fire even through the aperture of his visor.”


“Gladly at this moment would Mac-Ivor have put their quarrel to a personal arbitrement, his eye flashed fire, and he measured Edward as if to choose where he might best plant a mortal wound.”


“Her dark eye flashed;—she paused and sighed:—’O what have I to do with pride!'”


“I think his dark eyes flashed actual fire at this home-taunt, and yet his voice retained the same calm expressive tone with which he had hitherto conducted the conversation.”


“The veins in her beautiful forehead started into swoln blue lines through the hurried impulse of her articulation—her cheek and neck glowed like scarlet—her eyes were like those of an imprisoned eagle, flashing red lightning on the foes which it cannot reach with its talons. Were it possible for one of the Graces to have been animated by a Fury, the countenance could not have united such beauty with so much hatred, scorn, defiance, and resentment.”


The consciousness of this dilemma renewed his extreme embarrassment of look, voice, and manner; he hesitated, looked down, and on the Queen repeating her question with a stern voice and flashing eye, he admitted with faltering words, “That it might be—he could not positively—that is, in certain events—explain the reasons and grounds on which he acted.”


“His thick, brown eyebrows, which had hitherto been drawn close together, were now slightly separated, as in the natural state; and his grey eyes, which had rolled and flashed from under them with an unnatural and portentous gleam, now recovered a steady and determined expression.”

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