Part 5 out of 5
accustomed to my present mode of living, and, so far as I was
concerned, it satisfied me very well. I certainly lived a great
deal better than when I was depending upon my old negro cook.
Miss Kitty seemed to be satisfied with things as they were, and
so, in some respects, did her mother. But the latter never
ceased to give me extracts from some of her son George's letters,
and this was always annoying and worrying to me. Evidently he
was not pleased with me as such a close neighbor to his mother,
and it was astonishing how many expedients he proposed in order
to rid her of my undesirable proximity.
"My son George," said Mrs. Carson, one morning, "has been
writing to me about jack-screws. He says that the greatest
improvements have been made in jack-screws."
"What do you do with them, mother?" asked Miss Kitty.
"You lift houses with them," said she. "He says that in
large cities they lift whole blocks of houses with them and build
stories underneath. He thinks that we can get rid of our trouble
here if we use jack-screws."
"But how does he propose to use them?" I asked.
"Oh, he has a good many plans," answered Mrs. Carson. "He
said that he should not wonder if jack-screws could be made large
enough to lift your house entirely over mine and set it out in
the road, where it could be carried away without interfering with
anything, except, of course, vehicles which might be coming
along. But he has another plan--that is, to lift my house up and
carry it out into the field on the other side of the road, and
then your house might be carried along right over the cellar
until it got to the road. In that way, he says, the bushes and
trees would not have to be interfered with."
"I think brother George is cracked!" said Kitty.
All this sort of thing worried me very much. My mind was
eminently disposed toward peace and tranquillity, but who could
be peaceful and tranquil with a prospective jack-screw under the
very base of his comfort and happiness? In fact, my house had
never been such a happy home as it was at that time. The fact of
its unwarranted position upon other people's grounds had ceased
to trouble me.
But the coming son George, with his jack-screws, did trouble
me very much, and that afternoon I deliberately went into Mrs.
Carson's house to look for Kitty. I knew her mother was not at
home, for I had seen her go out. When Kitty appeared I asked her
to come out on her back porch. "Have you thought of any new plan
of moving it?" she said, with a smile, as we sat down.
"No," said I, earnestly. "I have not, and I don't want to
think of any plan of moving it. I am tired of seeing it here, I
am tired of thinking about moving it away, and I am tired of
hearing people talk about moving it. I have not any right
to be here, and I am never allowed to forget it. What I want to
do is to go entirely away, and leave everything behind me--except
"And what is that?" asked Kitty.
"You," I answered.
She turned a little pale and did not reply.
"You understand me, Kitty," I said. "There is nothing in the
world that I care for but you. What have you to say to me?"
Then came back to her her little smile. "I think it would be
very foolish for us to go away," she said.
It was about a quarter of an hour after this when Kitty
proposed that we should go out to the front of the house; it
would look queer if any of the servants should come by and see us
sitting together like that. I had forgotten that there were
other people in the world, but I went with her.
We were standing on the front porch, close to each other, and
I think we were holding each other's hands, when Mrs. Carson came
back. As she approached she looked at us inquiringly, plainly
wishing to know why we were standing side by side before her door
as if we had some special object in so doing.
"Well?" said she, as she came up the steps. Of course it was
right that I should speak, and, in as few words as possible, I
told her what Kitty and I had been saying to each other. I never
saw Kitty's mother look so cheerful and so handsome as when she
came forward and kissed her daughter and shook hands with me.
She seemed so perfectly satisfied that it amazed me. After a
little Kitty left us, and then Mrs. Carson asked me to sit by her
on a rustic bench.
"Now," said she, "this will straighten out things in the very
best way. When you are married, you and Kitty can live in the
back building,--for, of course, your house will now be the same
thing as a back building,--and you can have the second floor. We
won't have any separate tables, because it will be a great deal
nicer for you and Kitty to live with me, and it will simply be
your paying board for two persons instead of one. And you know
you can manage your vineyard just as well from the bottom of the
hill as from the top. The lower rooms of what used to be your
house can be made very pleasant and comfortable for all of us. I
have been thinking about the room on the right that you had
planned for a parlor, and it will make a lovely sitting-room for
us, which is a thing we have never had, and the room on the other
side is just what will suit beautifully for a guest-chamber. The
two houses together, with the roof of my back porch properly
joined to the front of your house, will make a beautiful and
spacious dwelling. It was fortunate, too, that you painted your
house a light yellow. I have often looked at the two together,
and thought what a good thing it was that one was not one color
and the other another. As to the pump, it will be very easy now
to put a pipe from what used to be your back porch to our
kitchen, so that we can get water without being obliged to carry
it. Between us we can make all sorts of improvements, and some
time I will tell you of a good many that I have thought of.
"What used to be your house, " she continued, "can be jack-
screwed up a little bit and a good foundation put under it. I
have inquired about that. Of course it would not have been
proper to let you know that I was satisfied with the state of
things, but I was satisfied, and there is no use of denying it.
As soon as I got over my first scare after that house came down
the hill, and had seen how everything might be arranged to suit
all parties, I said to myself, `What the Lord has joined
together, let not man put asunder,' and so, according to my
belief, the strongest kind of jack-screws could not put these two
houses asunder, any more than they could put you and Kitty
asunder, now that you have agreed to take each other for each
Jack Brandiger came to call that evening, and when he had
heard what had happened he whistled a good deal. "You are a
funny kind of a fellow," said he. "You go courting like a snail,
with your house on your back!"
I think my friend was a little discomfited. "Don't be
discouraged, Jack," said I. "You will get a good wife some of
these days--that is, if you don't try to slide uphill to find
OUR ARCHERY CLUB
When an archery club was formed in our village, I was among the
first to join it. But I should not, on this account, claim any
extraordinary enthusiasm on the subject of archery, for nearly
all the ladies and gentlemen of the place were also among the
first to join.
Few of us, I think, had a correct idea of the popularity of
archery in our midst until the subject of a club was broached.
Then we all perceived what a strong interest we felt in the study
and use of the bow and arrow. The club was formed immediately,
and our thirty members began to discuss the relative merits of
lancewood, yew, and greenheart bows, and to survey yards and
lawns for suitable spots for setting up targets for home
Our weekly meetings, at which we came together to show in
friendly contest how much our home practice had taught us, were
held upon the village green, or rather upon what had been
intended to be the village green. This pretty piece of ground,
partly in smooth lawn and partly shaded by fine trees, was the
property of a gentleman of the place, who had presented it, under
certain conditions, to the township. But as the township had
never fulfilled any of the conditions, and had done nothing
toward the improvement of the spot, further than to make it a
grazing-place for local cows and goats, the owner had withdrawn
his gift, shut out the cows and goats by a picket fence, and,
having locked the gate, had hung up the key in his barn. When
our club was formed, the green, as it was still called, was
offered to us for our meetings, and, with proper gratitude, we
elected its owner to be our president.
This gentleman was eminently qualified for the presidency of
an archery club. In the first place, he did not shoot: this gave
him time and opportunity to attend to the shooting of others. He
was a tall and pleasant man, a little elderly. This
"elderliness," if I may so put it, seemed, in his case, to
resemble some mild disorder, like a gentle rheumatism, which,
while it prevented him from indulging in all the wild hilarities
of youth, gave him, in compensation, a position, as one entitled
to a certain consideration, which was very agreeable to him. His
little disease was chronic, it is true, and it was growing upon
him; but it was, so far, a pleasant ailment.
And so, with as much interest in bows and arrows and targets
and successful shots as any of us, he never fitted an arrow to a
string, nor drew a bow. But he attended every meeting, settling
disputed points (for he studied all the books on archery),
encouraging the disheartened, holding back the eager ones who
would run to the targets as soon as they had shot, regardless of
the fact that others were still shooting and that the human body
is not arrow-proof, and shedding about him that general aid and
comfort which emanates from a good fellow, no matter what he may
say or do.
There were persons--outsiders--who said that archery clubs
always selected ladies for their presiding officers, but we did
not care to be too much bound down and trammelled by customs and
traditions. Another club might not have among its members such a
genial elderly gentleman who owned a village green.
I soon found myself greatly interested in archery, especially
when I succeeded in planting an arrow somewhere within the
periphery of the target, but I never became such an enthusiast in
bow-shooting as my friend Pepton.
If Pepton could have arranged matters to suit himself, he
would have been born an archer. But as this did not happen to
have been the case, he employed every means in his power to
rectify what he considered this serious error in his
construction. He gave his whole soul, and the greater part of
his spare time, to archery, and as he was a young man of energy,
this helped him along wonderfully.
His equipments were perfect. No one could excel him in, this
respect. His bow was snakewood, backed with hickory. He
carefully rubbed it down every evening with oil and beeswax, and
it took its repose in a green baize bag. His arrows were Philip
Highfield's best, his strings the finest Flanders hemp. He had
shooting-gloves, and little leather tips that could be screwed
fast on the ends of what he called his string-fingers. He had a
quiver and a belt, and when equipped for the weekly meetings, he
carried a fancy-colored wiping-tassel, and a little ebony grease-
pot hanging from his belt. He wore, when shooting, a polished
arm-guard or bracer, and if he had heard of anything else that an
archer should have, he straightway would have procured it.
Pepton was a single man, and he lived with two good old
maiden ladies, who took as much care of him as if they had been
his mothers. And he was such a good, kind fellow that he
deserved all the attention they gave him. They felt a great
interest in his archery pursuits, and shared his anxious
solicitude in the selection of a suitable place to hang his bow.
"You see," said he, "a fine bow like this, when not in use,
should always be in a perfectly dry place."
"And when in use, too," said Miss Martha, "for I am sure that
you oughtn't to be standing and shooting in any damp spot.
There's no surer way of gettin' chilled."
To which sentiment Miss Maria agreed, and suggested wearing
rubber shoes, or having a board to stand on, when the club met
after a rain.
Pepton first hung his bow in the hall, but after he had
arranged it symmetrically upon two long nails (bound with green
worsted, lest they should scratch the bow through its woollen
cover), he reflected that the front door would frequently be
open, and that damp drafts must often go through the hall. He
was sorry to give up this place for his bow, for it was
convenient and appropriate, and for an instant he thought that it
might remain, if the front door could be kept shut, and visitors
admitted through a little side door which the family generally
used, and which was almost as convenient as the other--except,
indeed, on wash-days, when a wet sheet or some article of wearing
apparel was apt to be hung in front of it. But although wash-day
occurred but once a week, and although it was comparatively
easy, after a little practice, to bob under a high-propped sheet,
Pepton's heart was too kind to allow his mind to dwell upon this
plan. So he drew the nails from the wall of the hall, and put
them up in various places about the house. His own room had to
be aired a great deal in all weathers, and so that would not do
at all. The wall above the kitchen fireplace would be a good
location, for the chimney was nearly always warm. But Pepton
could not bring himself to keep his bow in the kitchen. There
would be nothing esthetic about such a disposition of it, and,
besides, the girl might be tempted to string and bend it. The
old ladies really did not want it in the parlor, for its length
and its green baize cover would make it an encroaching and
unbecoming neighbor to the little engravings and the big
samplers, the picture-frames of acorns and pine-cones, the
fancifully patterned ornaments of clean wheat straw, and all the
quaint adornments which had hung upon those walls for so many
years. But they did not say so. If it had been necessary, to
make room for the bow, they would have taken down the pencilled
profiles of their grandfather, their grandmother, and their
father when a little boy, which hung in a row over the
However, Pepton did not ask this sacrifice. In the summer
evenings the parlor windows must be open. The dining-room was
really very little used in the evening, except when Miss Maria
had stockings to darn, and then she always sat in that apartment,
and of course she had the windows open. But Miss Maria was very
willing to bring her work into the parlor,--it was foolish,
anyway, to have a feeling about darning stockings before
chance company,--and then the dining-room could be kept shut up
after tea. So into the wall of that neat little room Pepton
drove his worsted-covered nails, and on them carefully laid his
bow. All the next day Miss Martha and Miss Maria went about the
house, covering the nail-holes he had made with bits of wall-
paper, carefully snipped out to fit the patterns, and pasted on
so neatly that no one would have suspected they were there.
One afternoon, as I was passing the old ladies' house, saw,
or thought I saw, two men carrying in a coffin. I was struck
"What!" I thought. "Can either of those good women-- Or can
Without a moment's hesitation, I rushed in behind the men.
There, at the foot of the stairs, directing them, stood Pepton.
Then it was not he! I seized him sympathetically by the hand.
"Which?" I faltered. "Which? Who is that coffin for?"
"Coffin!" cried Pepton. "Why, my dear fellow, that is not a
coffin. That is my ascham."
"Ascham?" I exclaimed. "What is that?"
"Come and look at it," he said, when the men had set it on
end against the wall. "It is an upright closet or receptacle for
an archer's armament. Here is a place to stand the bow, here are
supports for the arrows and quivers, here are shelves and hooks,
on which to lay or hang everything the merry man can need. You
see, moreover, that it is lined with green plush, that the door
fits tightly, so that it can stand anywhere, and there need be no
fear of drafts or dampness affecting my bow. Isn't it a
perfect thing? You ought to get one."
I admitted the perfection, but agreed no further. I had not
the income of my good Pepton.
Pepton was, indeed, most wonderfully well equipped; and yet,
little did those dear old ladies think, when they carefully
dusted and reverentially gazed at the bunches of arrows, the arm-
bracers, the gloves, the grease-pots, and all the rest of the
paraphernalia of archery, as it hung around Pepton's room, or
when they afterwards allowed a particular friend to peep at it,
all arranged so orderly within the ascham, or when they looked
with sympathetic, loving admiration on the beautiful polished
bow, when it was taken out of its bag--little did they think, I
say, that Pepton was the very poorest shot in the club. In all
the surface of the much-perforated targets of the club, there was
scarcely a hole that he could put his hand upon his heart and say
Indeed, I think it was the truth that Pepton was born not to
be an archer. There were young fellows in the club who shot with
bows that cost no more than Pepton's tassels, but who could stand
up and whang arrows into the targets all the afternoon, if they
could get a chance; and there were ladies who made hits five
times out of six; and there were also all the grades of archers
common to any club. But there was no one but himself in Pepton's
grade. He stood alone, and it was never any trouble to add up
Yet he was not discouraged. He practised every day except
Sundays, and indeed he was the only person in the club who
practised at night. When he told me about this, I was a little
"Why, it's easy enough," said he. "You see, I hung a
lantern, with a reflector, before the target, just a little to
one side. It lighted up the target beautifully, and I believe
there was a better chance of hitting it than by daylight, for the
only thing you could see was the target, and so your attention
was not distracted. To be sure," he said, in answer to a
question, "it was a good deal of trouble to find the arrows, but
that I always have. When I get so expert that I can put all the
arrows into the target, there will be no trouble of the kind,
night or day. However," he continued, "I don't practise any more
by night. The other evening I sent an arrow slam-bang into the
lantern, and broke it all to flinders. Borrowed lantern, too.
Besides, I found it made Miss Martha very nervous to have me
shooting about the house after dark. She had a friend who had a
little boy who was hit in the leg by an arrow from a bow, which,
she says, accidentally went off in the night, of its own accord.
She is certainly a little mixed in her mind in regard to this
matter, but I wish to respect her feelings, and so shall not use
As I have said, there were many good archers among the ladies
of our club. Some of them, after we had been organized for a
month or two, made scores that few of the gentlemen could excel.
But the lady who attracted the greatest attention when she shot
was Miss Rosa.
When this very pretty young lady stood up before the ladies'
target--her left side well advanced, her bow firmly held out in
her strong left arm, which never quivered, her head a little
bent to the right, her arrow drawn back by three well-gloved
fingers to the tip of her little ear, her dark eyes steadily
fixed upon the gold, and her dress, well fitted over her fine and
vigorous figure, falling in graceful folds about her feet, we all
stopped shooting to look at her.
"There is something statuesque about her," said Pepton, who
ardently admired her, "and yet there isn't. A statue could never
equal her unless we knew there was a probability of movement in
it. And the only statues which have that are the Jarley wax-
works, which she does not resemble in the least. There is only
one thing that that girl needs to make her a perfect archer, and
that is to be able to aim better."
This was true. Miss Rosa did need to aim better. Her arrows
had a curious habit of going on all sides of the target, and it
was very seldom that one chanced to stick into it. For if she
did make a hit, we all knew it was chance and that there was no
probability of her doing it again. Once she put an arrow right
into the centre of the gold,--one of the finest shots ever made
on the ground,--but she didn't hit the target again for two
weeks. She was almost as bad a shot as Pepton, and that is
saying a good deal.
One evening I was sitting with Pepton on the little front
porch of the old ladies' house, where we were taking our after-
dinner smoke while Miss Martha and Miss Maria were washing, with
their own white hands, the china and glass in which they took so
much pride. I often used to go over and spend an hour with
Pepton. He liked to have some one to whom he could talk on the
subjects which filled his soul, and I liked to hear him talk.
"I tell you," said he, as he leaned back in his chair, with
his feet carefully disposed on the railing so that they would not
injure Miss Maria's Madeira-vine, "I tell you, sir, that there
are two things I crave with all my power of craving--two goals I
fain would reach, two diadems I would wear upon my brow. One of
these is to kill an eagle--or some large bird--with a shaft from
my good bow. I would then have it stuffed and mounted, with the
very arrow that killed it still sticking in its breast. This
trophy of my skill I would have fastened against the wall of my
room or my hall, and I would feel proud to think that my
grandchildren could point to that bird--which I would carefully
bequeath to my descendants--and say, `My grand'ther shot that
bird, and with that very arrow.' Would it not stir your pulses
if you could do a thing like that?"
"I should have to stir them up a good deal before I could do
it," I replied. "It would be a hard thing to shoot an eagle with
an arrow. If you want a stuffed bird to bequeath, you'd better
use a rifle."
"A rifle!" exclaimed Pepton. "There would be no glory in
that. There are lots of birds shot with rifles--eagles, hawks,
wild geese, tomtits--"
"Oh, no!" I interrupted, "not tomtits."
"Well, perhaps they are too little for a rifle," said he. "But
what I mean to say is that I wouldn't care at all for an eagle I
had shot with a rifle. You couldn't show the ball that killed
him. If it were put in properly, it would be inside, where it
couldn't be seen. No, sir. It is ever so much more honorable,
and far more difficult, too, to hit an eagle than to hit a
"That is very true," I answered, "especially in these days, when
there are so few eagles and so many targets. But what is your
"That," said Pepton, "is to see Miss Rosa wear the badge."
"Indeed!" said I. And from that moment I began to understand
Pepton's hopes in regard to the grandmother of those children who
should point to the eagle.
"Yes, sir," he continued, "I should be truly happy to see her
win the badge. And she ought to win it. No one shoots more
correctly, and with a better understanding of all the rules, than
she does. There must truly be something the matter with her
aiming. I've half a mind to coach her a little."
I turned aside to see who was coming down the road. I would
not have had him know I smiled.
The most objectionable person in our club was O. J.
Hollingsworth. He was a good enough fellow in himself, but it
was as an archer that we objected to him.
There was, so far as I know, scarcely a rule of archery that
he did not habitually violate. Our president and nearly all of
us remonstrated with him, and Pepton even went to see him on the
subject, but it was all to no purpose. With a quiet disregard of
other people's ideas about bow-shooting and other people's
opinions about himself, he persevered in a style of shooting
which appeared absolutely absurd to any one who knew anything of
the rules and methods of archery.
I used to like to look at him when his turn came around to
shoot. He was not such a pleasing object of vision as Miss Rosa,
but his style was so entirely novel to me that it was
interesting. He held the bow horizontally, instead of
perpendicularly, like other archers, and he held it well
down--about opposite his waistband. He did not draw his arrow
back to his ear, but he drew it back to the lower button of his
vest. Instead of standing upright, with his left side to the
target, he faced it full, and leaned forward over his arrow, in
an attitude which reminded me of a Roman soldier about to fall
upon his sword. When he had seized the nock of his arrow between
his finger and thumb, he languidly glanced at the target, raised
his bow a little, and let fly. The provoking thing about it was
that he nearly always hit. If he had only known how to stand,
and hold his bow, and draw back his arrow, he would have been a
very good archer. But, as it was, we could not help laughing at
him, although our president always discountenanced anything of
Our champion was a tall man, very cool and steady, who went
to work at archery exactly as if he were paid a salary, and
intended to earn his money honestly. He did the best he could in
every way. He generally shot with one of the bows owned by the
club, but if any one on the ground had a better one, he would
borrow it. He used to shoot sometimes with Pepton's bow, which
he declared to be a most capital one. But as Pepton was always
very nervous when he saw his bow in the hands of another than
himself, the champion soon ceased to borrow it.
There were two badges, one of green silk and gold for the
ladies, and one of green and red for the gentlemen, and these
were shot for at each weekly meeting. With the exception of a
few times when the club was first formed, the champion had always
worn the gentlemen's badge. Many of us tried hard to win it
from him, but we never could succeed; he shot too well.
On the morning of one of our meeting days, the champion told
me, as I was going to the city with him, that he would not be
able to return at his usual hour that afternoon. He would be
very busy, and would have to wait for the six-fifteen train,
which would bring him home too late for the archery meeting. So
he gave me the badge, asking me to hand it to the president, that
he might bestow it on the successful competitor that afternoon.
We were all rather glad that the champion was obliged to be
absent. Here was a chance for some one of us to win the badge.
It was not, indeed, an opportunity for us to win a great deal of
honor, for if the champion were to be there we should have no
chance at all. But we were satisfied with this much, having no
reason--in the present, at least--to expect anything more.
So we went to the targets with a new zeal, and most of us
shot better than we had ever shot before. In this number was O.
J. Hollingsworth. He excelled himself, and, what was worse, he
excelled all the rest of us. He actually made a score of eighty-
five in twenty-four shots, which at that time was remarkably good
shooting, for our club. This was dreadful! To have a fellow who
didn't know how to shoot beat us all was too bad. If any visitor
who knew anything at all of archery should see that the member
who wore the champion's badge was a man who held his bow as if he
had the stomach-ache, it would ruin our character as a club. It
was not to be borne.
Pepton in particular felt greatly outraged. We had met
very promptly that afternoon, and had finished our regular
shooting much earlier than usual; and now a knot of us were
gathered together, talking over this unfortunate occurrence.
"I don't intend to stand it," Pepton suddenly exclaimed. "I
feel it as a personal disgrace. I'm going to have the champion
here before dark. By the rules, he has a right to shoot until
the president declares it is too late. Some of you fellows stay
here, and I'll bring him."
And away he ran, first giving me charge of his precious bow.
There was no need of his asking us to stay. We were bound to see
the fun out, and to fill up the time our president offered a
special prize of a handsome bouquet from his gardens, to be shot
for by the ladies.
Pepton ran to the railroad station, and telegraphed to the
champion. This was his message:
"You are absolutely needed here. If possible, take the five-
thirty train for Ackford. I will drive over for you. Answer."
There was no train before the six-fifteen by which the
champion could come directly to our village; but Ackford, a small
town about three miles distant, was on another railroad, on which
there were frequent afternoon trains.
The champion answered:
"All right. Meet me."
Then Pepton rushed to our livery stable, hired a horse and
buggy, and drove to Ackford.
A little after half-past six, when several of us were
beginning to think that Pepton had failed in his plans, he
drove rapidly into the grounds, making a very short turn at the
gate, and pulled up his panting horse just in time to avoid
running over three ladies, who were seated on the grass. The
champion was by his side!
The latter lost no time in talking or salutations. He knew
what he had been brought there to do, and he immediately set
about trying to do it. He took Pepton's bow, which the latter
urged upon him. He stood up, straight and firm on the line, at
thirty-five yards from the gentlemen's target; he carefully
selected his arrows, examining the feathers and wiping away any
bit of soil that might be adhering to the points after some one
had shot them into the turf; with vigorous arm he drew each arrow
to its head; he fixed his eyes and his whole mind on the centre
of the target; he shot his twenty-four arrows, handed to him, one
by one, by Pepton, and he made a score of ninety-one.
The whole club had been scoring the shots, as they were made,
and when the last arrow plumped into the red ring, a cheer arose
from every member excepting three: the champion, the president,
and O. J. Hollingsworth. But Pepton cheered loudly enough to
make up these deficiencies.
"What in the mischief did they cheer him for?" asked
Hollingsworth of me. "They didn't cheer me when I beat everybody
on the grounds an hour ago. And it's no new thing for him to win
the badge; he does it every time."
"Well," said I, frankly, "I think the club, AS a club, objects to
your wearing the badge, because you don't know how to shoot."
"Don't know how to shoot!" he cried. "Why, I can hit the
target better than any of you. Isn't that what you try to do
when you shoot?"
"Yes," said I, "of course that is what we try to do. But we
try to do it in the proper way."
"Proper grandmother!" he exclaimed. "It doesn't seem to help
you much. The best thing you fellows can do is to learn to shoot
my way, and then perhaps you may be able to hit oftener."
When the champion had finished shooting he went home to his
dinner, but many of us stood about, talking over our great
"I feel as if I had done that myself," said Pepton. "I am
almost as proud as if I had shot--well, not an eagle, but a
"Why, that ought to make you prouder than the other," said I,
"for a lark, especially when it's soaring, must be a good deal
harder to hit than an eagle."
"That's so," said Pepton, reflectively. "But I'll stick to
the lark. I'm proud."
During the next month our style of archery improved very much, so
much, indeed, that we increased our distance, for gentlemen, to
forty yards, and that for ladies to thirty, and also had serious
thoughts of challenging the Ackford club to a match. But as this
was generally understood to be a crack club, we finally
determined to defer our challenge until the next season.
When I say we improved, I do not mean all of us. I do not mean
Miss Rosa. Although her attitudes were as fine as ever, and
every motion as true to rule as ever, she seldom made a hit.
Pepton actually did try to teach her how to aim, but the various
methods of pointing the arrow which he suggested resulted in
such wild shooting that the boys who picked up the arrows never
dared to stick the points of their noses beyond their boarded
barricade during Miss Rosa's turns at the target. But she was
not discouraged, and Pepton often assured her that if she would
keep up a good heart, and practise regularly, she would get the
badge yet. As a rule, Pepton was so honest and truthful that a
little statement of this kind, especially under the
circumstances, might be forgiven him.
One day Pepton came to me and announced that he had made a
"It's about archery," he said, "and I don't mind telling you,
because I know you will not go about telling everybody else, and
also because I want to see you succeed as an archer."
"I am very much obliged," I said, "and what is the discovery?"
"It's this," he answered. "When you draw your bow, bring the
nock of your arrow"--he was always very particular about
technical terms--"well up to your ear. Having done that, don't
bother any more about your right hand. It has nothing to do with
the correct pointing of your arrow, for it must be kept close to
your right ear, just as if it were screwed there. Then with your
left hand bring around the bow so that your fist--with the arrow-
head, which is resting on top of it--shall point, as nearly as
you can make it, directly at the centre of the target. Then let
fly, and ten to one you'll make a hit. Now, what do you think of
that for a discovery? I've thoroughly tested the plan, and it
"I think," said I, "that you have discovered the way in
which good archers shoot. You have stated the correct method of
managing a bow and arrow."
"Then you don't think it's an original method with me?"
"Certainly not," I answered.
"But it's the correct way?"
"There's no doubt of that," said I.
"Well," said Pepton, "then I shall make it my way."
He did so, and the consequence was that one day, when the
champion happened to be away, Pepton won the badge. When the
result was announced, we were all surprised, but none so much so
as Pepton himself. He had been steadily improving since he had
adopted a good style of shooting, but he had had no idea that
he would that day be able to win the badge.
When our president pinned the emblem of success upon the
lapel of his coat, Pepton turned pale, and then he flushed. He
thanked the president, and was about to thank the ladies and
gentlemen; but probably recollecting that we had had nothing to
do with it,--unless, indeed, we had shot badly on his behalf,--he
refrained. He said little, but I could see that he was very
proud and very happy. There was but one drawback to his triumph:
Miss Rosa was not there. She was a very regular attendant, but
for some reason she was absent on this momentous afternoon. I
did not say anything to him on the subject, but I knew he felt
this absence deeply.
But this cloud could not wholly overshadow his happiness. He
walked home alone, his face beaming, his eyes sparkling, and his
good bow under his arm.
That evening I called on him, for I thought that when he had
cooled down a little he would like to talk over the affair.
But he was not in. Miss Maria said that he had gone out as soon
as he had finished his dinner, which he had hurried through in a
way which would certainly injure his digestion if he kept up the
practice; and dinner was late, too, for they waited for him, and
the archery meeting lasted a long time today; and it really was
not right for him to stay out after the dew began to fall with
only ordinary shoes on, for what's the good of knowing how to
shoot a bow and arrow, if you're laid up in your bed with
rheumatism or disease of the lungs? Good old lady! She would
have kept Pepton in a green baize bag, had such a thing been
The next morning, full two hours before church-time, Pepton
called on me. His face was still beaming. I could not help
"Your happiness lasts well," I said.
"Lasts!" he exclaimed. "Why shouldn't it last!"
"There's no reason why it should not--at least, for a week,"
I said, "and even longer, if you repeat your success."
I did not feel so much like congratulating Pepton as I had on
the previous evening. I thought he was making too much of his
"Look here!" said Pepton, seating himself, and drawing his
chair close to me, "you are shooting wild--very wild indeed. You
don't even see the target. Let me tell you something. Last
evening I went to see Miss Rosa. She was delighted at my
success. I had not expected this. I thought she would be
pleased, but not to such a degree. Her congratulations were so
warm that they set me on fire."
"They must have been very warm indeed," I remarked.
"`Miss Rosa,' said I," continued Pepton, without regarding my
interruption, "`it has been my fondest hope to see you wear the
badge.' `But I never could get it, you know,' she said. `You
have got it,' I exclaimed. `Take this. I won it for you. Make
me happy by wearing it.' `I can't do that,' she said. `That is
a gentleman's badge.' `Take it,' I cried, `gentleman and all!'
"I can't tell you all that happened after that," continued
Pepton. "You know, it wouldn't do. It is enough to say that she
wears the badge. And we are both her own--the badge and I!"
Now I congratulated him in good earnest. There was a reason
"I don't owe a snap now for shooting an eagle," said Pepton,
springing to his feet and striding up and down the floor. "Let
'em all fly free for me. I have made the most glorious shot that
man could make. I have hit the gold--hit it fair in the very
centre! And what's more, I've knocked it clean out of the
target! Nobody else can ever make such a shot. The rest of you
fellows will have to be content to hit the red, the blue, the
black, or the white. The gold is mine!"
I called on the old ladies, some time after this, and found
them alone. They were generally alone in the evenings now. We
talked about Pepton's engagement, and I found them resigned.
They were sorry to lose him, but they wanted him to be happy.
"We have always known," said Miss Martha, with a little sigh,
"that we must die, and that he must get married. But we don't
intend to repine. These things will come to people." And her
little sigh was followed by a smile, still smaller.