A throng of bearded men, in sad-coloured garments and grey steeple-crowned hats, inter-mixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak
, and studded with iron spikes.
I had crossed a marshy tract full of willows, bulrushes, and odd, outlandish, swampy trees; and I had now come out upon the skirts of an open piece of undulating, sandy country, about a mile long, dotted with a few pines and a great number of contorted trees, not unlike the oak
in growth, but pale in the foliage, like willows.
"It is too pretty a piece of steel to get cracked with common oak
cudgel; and that is what would happen on the first pass I made at you.
More leaping tree squirrels, more ruddy madronos and majestic oaks
, more fairy circles of redwoods, and, still beside the singing stream, they passed a gate by the roadside.
It satisfies me that you are the very person whom the Speaking Oak
has been talking about."
His old woods' training was aroused, and he was keenly interested in everything in the moss on the trees and branches; in the bunches of mistletoe hanging in the oaks
; in the nest of a wood-rat; in the water-cress growing in the sheltered eddies of the little stream; in the butterflies drifting through the rifted sunshine and shadow; in the blue jays that flashed in splashes of gorgeous color across the forest aisles; in the tiny birds, like wrens, that hopped among the bushes and imitated certain minor quail-calls; and in the crimson-crested woodpecker that ceased its knocking and cocked its head on one side to survey him.
She was supine under a little oak
, resting after the fury of her elder-hunting, and had taken off the high-heeled slippers she had been silly enough to wear.
As he passed through the forest Prince Andrew turned several times to look at that oak
, as if expecting something from it.
They were upraised in the days "when men knew how to build." The hard red bricks have only grown more firmly set with time, and their oak
stairs do not creak and grunt when you try to go down them quietly.
Thereat the Sweetness of the Strength of the Oak
smiled upon me and said,--
And though he thought at once how senseless was his prayer that they should not have been killed by the oak
which had fallen now, he repeated it, knowing that he could do nothing better than utter this senseless prayer.
"I bespeak this very piece of oak
for the figure-head of the Cynosure.