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9. Locksley returned almost instantly with a willow wand about six feet in length, perfectly straight, and rather thicker than a man's thumb. He began to peel this with great composure, observing, at the same time, that to ask a good woodsman to shoot at a target so broad as had hitherto been used, was to put shame upon his skill. “For his own part,” he said, “and in the land where he was bred, men would as soon take for their mark King Arthur's round-table, which held sixty knights around it. A child of seven years old,” he said, “might hit yonder target with a headless shaft; but,” added he, walking deliberately to the other end of the lists, and sticking the willow wand upright in the ground, “ he that hits that rod at five-score yards, — I call him an archer fit to bear both bow and quiver before a king, an it were the stout King Richard himself.”
10. “My grandsire,” said Hubert, “ drew a good bow at the battle of Hastings, and never shot at such a mark in his life, — and neither will I. If this yeoman can cleave that rod, I give him the bucklers; a man can but do his best, and I will not shoot where I am sure to miss. I might as well shoot at the end of our parson's whittle, or at a wheat straw, or at a sunbeam, as at a twinkling white streak which I can hardly see.”
11. “Cowardly dog!” said Prince John. “Sirrah Locksley, do thou shoot; but if thou hittest such a mark, I will say thou art the first man ever did so. Howe'er it be, thou shalt not crow over us with a mere show of superior skill.”
“I will do my best, as Hubert says," answered Locksley;
no man can do more.” 12. So saying, he again bent his bow, but on the present occasion looked with attention to his weapon, and changed the string, which he thought was no longer truly round, having been a little frayed by the two former shots. He then took his aim with some deliberation, and the multitude awaited the event in breathless silence. The archer vindicated their opinion of his skill: his arrow split the willow rod against which it was aimed. A jubilee of acclamation followed; and even Prince John, in admiration of Locksley's skill, lost for an instant his dislike to his person. “These twenty nobles," he said, “which, with the bugle, thou hast fairly won, are thine own; we will make them fifty, if thou wilt take livery and service with us as a yeoman of our body-guard, and be near to our person. For never did so strong a hand bend a bow, nor so true an eye direct a shaft.”
13. “Pardon me, noble prince,” said Locksley; " but I have vowed that, if ever I take service, it should be with your royal brother King Richard. These twenty nobles I leave to Hubert, who has this day drawn as brave a bow as his grandsire did at Hastings. Had his modesty not refused the trial, he would have hit the wand as well as I.” Hubert shook his head as he received with reluctance the bounty of the stranger; and Locksley, anxious to escape further observation, mixed with the crowd and was seen no more.
SIR WALTER Scott.
LVII. - THE CHAMBERED NAUTILUS.
This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadowed main, —
The venturous bark that flings
And coral reefs lie bare,
Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl, –
Wrecked is the ship of pearl !
And every chambered cell,
Before thee lies revealed, -
Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
Built up its idle door,
Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
From thy dead lips a clearer note is borne
While on mine ear it rings,
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll !
Leave thy low-vaulted past !
Till thou at length art free,
0. W. HOLMES.
LVIII. - PASSENGER PIGEONS.
1. I cannot describe to you the extreme beauty of their aerial evolutions, when a hawk chanced to press upon the rear of a flock. At once, like a torrent, and with a noise like thunder, they rushed into a compact mass, pressing upon each other towards the centre. In these almost solid masses, they darted forward in undulating and angular lines, descended and swept close over the earth with inconceivable velocity, mounted perpendicularly so as to resemble a vast column, and when high, were seen wheeling and twisting within their continued lines, which then resembled the coils of a gigantic serpent.