The Magic Egg and Other Stories HTML version

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 practice.
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further than to make it a grazing-place for local cows and goats, the owner had withdrawn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.