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Directly the angel continued,
5 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Again there was a rest, while the words sank into their minds.
“And this shall be a sign unto you,” the annunciator said next; “ Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
9. The herald spoke not again ; yet he stayed a while. Suddenly the light, of which he seemed the centre, turned roseate and began to tremble ; then, up far as the men could see, there was flashing of white wings, and coming and going of radiant forms, and voices as of a multitude chanting in unison, “ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men !” Not once the praise, but many times. Then the herald raised his eyes as seeking approval of one far off; he arose lightly, and, without effort, floated out of view, taking the light up with him.
10. When the shepherds came fully to their senses, one of them said, “ It was Gabriel, God's messenger unto men.” None answered. « Christ the Lord is born!' said he not so ? And did he not also say, “in the city of David,' which is our Bethlehem, yonder ? And that we should find him a babe in swaddling clothes, and • lying in a manger'?”
11. The first speaker gazed into the fire, thoughtfully, but at length said, like one possessed of a sudden resolve, “ There is but one place in Bethlehem where there are mangers, but one; and that is in the cave near the old
Kahn. Brethren, let us go see this thing which is come to pass. The priests and doctors have been a long time looking for the Christ. Now he is born, and the Lord has given us a sign by which to know him. Let us go and worship him.”
6. But the flocks !”
6 The Lord will take care of them. Let us make haste.” Then they all arose and left the mârâh.
LVI. - THE ARCHERY CONTEST.
1. To the best archer a prize was to be awarded, being a bugle-horn, mounted in silver, and a silken baldric richly ornamented with a medallion of St. Hubert, the patron of sylvan sport.
More than thirty yeómen at first presented themselves as competitors, several of whom were rangers and underkeepers in the royal forests. When, however, the archers understood with whom they were to be matched, upwards of twenty withdrew themselves from the contest, unwilling to encounter the dishonor of almost certain defeat.
The diminished list still amounted to eight. Prince John stepped from his royal seat to view more nearly the persons of these chosen yeomen, several of whom wore the royal livery.
2. One by one the archers, stepping forward, delivered their shafts yeomanlike and bravely. Of twentyfour arrows shot in succession, ten were fixed in the target, and the others ranged so near it that, considering the distance of the mark, it was accounted good archery. Of the ten shots two within the inner ring were shot by Hubert, a forester in the service of Malvoisin, who was accordingly pronounced victorious.
“Now, Locksley,” said Prince John to the bold yeoman, with a bitter smile, “wilt thou try conclusions with Hubert, or wilt thou yield up bow, baldric, and quiver to the provost of the sports ?”
“Sith it be no better," said Locksley, “I am content to try my fortune; on condition that when I have shot two shafts at yonder mark of Hubert's, he shall be bound to shoot one at that which I shall propose."
3. “ That is but fair," answered Prince John, “and it shall not be refused thee. If thou dost beat this braggart, Hubert, I will fill the bugle with silver pennies for thee.”
can do but his best,” answered Hubert; “ but my grandsire drew a good long-bow at Hastings, and I trust not to dishonor his memory.
The former target was now removed, and a fresh one of the same size placed in its room. Hubert, who, as victor in the first trial of skill, had the right to shoot first, took his aim with great deliberation, long measuring the distance with his eye, while he held in his hand his bended bow, with the arrow placed on the string.
66 A man
4. At length he made a step forward, and raising the bow at the full stretch of his left arm, till the centre, or grasping-place, was nigh level with his face, he drew his bowstring to his ear. The arrow whistled through the air, and lighted within the inner ring of the target, but not exactly in the centre.
“You have not allowed for wind, Hubert,” said his antagonist, bending his bow, “ or that had been a better shot."
So saying, and without showing the least anxiety to pause upon his aim, Locksley stepped to the appointed station, and shot his arrow as carelessly in appearance as if he had not even looked at the mark. He was speaking almost at the instant that the shaft left the bowstring, yet it alighted in the target two inches nearer to the white spot which marked the centre than that of Hubert.
5. “Hubert,” said Prince John, “ an thou suffer that runagate knave to overcome thee, thou art worthy of the gallows !”
Hubert had but one set speech for all occasions. “ An your highness were to hang me,” he said, “ a man can but do his best. Nevertheless, my grandsire drew a good bow — "
“Never mind thy grandsire and all his generation,” interrupted John; “shoot, knave, and shoot thy best, or it shall be the worse for thee!”
6. Thus exhorted, Hubert resumed his place; and, not neglecting the caution which he had received from his adversary, he made the necessary allowance for a
very light air of wind, which had just arisen, and shot so successfully that his arrow alighted in the very centre of the target.
“ A Hubert! a Hubert !” shouted the populace, more interested in a known person than a stranger. “In the clout! - in the clout !- a Hubert forever!”
7. “Thou canst not mend that shot, Locksley,” said the prince, with an insulting smile.
“I will notch his shaft for him, however,” replied Locksley; and letting fly his arrow with a little more precaution than before, it lighted right upon that of his competitor, which it split to shivers. The people who stood around were so astonished at his wonderful dexterity, that they could not even give vent to their surprise in their usual clamor.
“ This must be no man of flesh and blood," whispered the yeomen to each other. “Such archery was never seen since a bow was first bent in Britain.”
8. “ And, now,” said Locksley, “I will crave your Grace's permission to plant such a mark as is used in the North Country; and welcome every brave yeoman who shall try a shot at it, to win a smile from the bonny lass he loves best.”
He then turned to leave the lists. “Let your guards attend me,” he said, “if you please, - I go but to cut a rod from the next willow-bush.”
Prince John made a signal that some attendants should follow him, in case of his escape; but the cry of “ Shame! shame !” which burst from the multitude, induced him to alter his ungenerous purpose.