Then ten fresh targets were brought forward, and every sound was hushed as the archers took their places once more.
Then while the deep buzz and hum of talking sounded all around like the noise of the wind in the leafy forest, Queen Eleanor turned to the King, and quoth she, "Thinkest thou that these yeomen so chosen are the very best archers in all merry England?
Yea, truly," said the King, smiling, for he was well pleased with the sport that he had seen; "and I tell thee, that not only are they the best archers in all merry England, but in all the wide world beside.
But what wouldst thou say," quoth Queen Eleanor, "if I were to find three archers to match the best three yeomen of all thy guard?
I would say thou hast done what I could not do," said the King, laughing, "for I tell thee there lives not in all the world three archers to match Tepus and Gilbert and Clifton of Buckinghamshire.
The tenscore archers ranged themselves in two long rows on each side of the lists--a gallant array--while their captains, as a special mark of favor, stood near the royal box.
Each man, also, of the King's archers should shoot three arrows at the target bearing the colors of his band, until the best bowman in each band should be chosen.
Then all the people shouted again, in token that the terms of the contest pleased them; and the archers waved their bows aloft, and wheeled into position facing their respective targets.
If I produce five archers who can out-shoot your ten, will you grant my men full grace and amnesty?
Would'st advise me to meet a wager of the King's, that I can produce other archers as good as Tepus and Gilbert and Clifton?
Well--it's queer to have brought Miss Welland, anyhow," some one said in a low tone, with a side- glance at Archer.
Suddenly Newland Archer felt himself impelled to decisive action.
Archer bowed without extending his hand, as was the custom on being introduced to a lady; and Ellen Olenska bent her head slightly, keeping her own pale-gloved hands clasped on her huge fan of eagle feathers.
She made way for him by pushing back her chair, and promptly, and a little ostentatiously, with the desire that the whole house should see what he was doing, Archer seated himself at the Countess Olenska's side.
Oh, centuries and centuries; so long," she said, "that I'm sure I'm dead and buried, and this dear old place is heaven;" which, for reasons he could not define, struck Newland Archer as an even more disrespectful way of describing New York society.