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The Baldwin Library
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UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLUME
THE SUNSHINE SERIES
Each with 16 Colour Plates
THIS LAND OF KINGS. By IDA FOULIS
(Fascinating tales of English monarchs
MOTHER GOOSE: Nursery Rhymes
FAVOURITE FAIRY TALES
ALICE IN WONDERLAND
OUR ANIMAL FRIENDS
GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES
THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
HANS ANDERSEN'S FAIRY TALES
KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS
THERE'S A STORY TO TELL
(Bible stories from Old and New Testaments)
LONG, LONG AGO
(Children's stories from the Classics)
THE CHILD'S BOOK OF VERSE
Others in preparation
The distinctive features of this Series are
the large size and the many dainty Colour
Plates by favourite children's artists.
Robin was an adventurous sort even in his youth.
E. CHARLES VIVIAN
WITH 16 COLOUR PLATES
BY HARRY G. THEAKER
WARD, LOCK & CO., LIMITED
LONDON AND MELBOURNE
MADE IN ENGLAND
PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY
BILLING AND SONS LIMITED, GUILDFORD AND LONDON
INTRODUCTION: THE ENGLAND OF ROBIN HOOD 7
HOW SEBALD THE SERF GOT FOOD II
HOW ROBIN TOOK TO THE WOODS 17
HOW ROBIN DINED WITH THE SHERIFF 23
LITTLE JOHN'S QUARTER-STAFF 27
GUY OF GISBORNE'S FIRST ATTEMPT 31
FRIAR TUCK JOINS THE BAND 38
HOW ROBIN WON THE SILVER ARROW 41
THE RESCUE OF MAID MARIAN 49
HOW THE SHERIFF TOOK A HAND 57
HOW THE SHERIFF CAME HOME 62
HOW THEY GOT WILL SCARLETT BACK 67
NEWS FROM THE EAST 73
THE BLACK KNIGHT APPEARS 77
THE END OF EVIL HOLD .. 8
HOW SIR RICHARD PAID HIS DEBT 90
THE GAME OF BUFFETS 96
HOW GUY OF GISBORNE TRIED AGAIN 104
THE NAMED ARROW 8
THE TALE OF ALAN-A-DALE I12
GUY OF GISBORNE'S LAST ATTEMPT 116
THE LAST ARROW 121
"Robin was an adventurous sort even in his youth"
Robin Hood and Little John .
"Sebald faced him with terror in his gaunt face" .
"'Ha!' cried Herbert the Ranger. 'There has been a killing here!'"
"Thus Guy rode off, facing them, his feet lashed under the horse"
"'I bring these poor vessels as a present,' said Robin" .
"Marian was under shelter at Kirklees" .
"There was a brilliant gathering of knights and their ladies up in the
"'Old man,' said Count John, 'I would I had had that right hand of
yours lopped off'" .
"The blow fell with a resounding smack" .
"'Now on the shaft of that arrow, Sheriff, write your name'" .
"The first of them was bare from the waist upwards "
"Father Tuck led by the ear a lean-looking, miserable monk"
"They feasted right merrily, with Marian to grace their table" .
"Then the priest married them" .
"Robin struck home and with one great blow laid Guy of Gisborne dead"
Robin HoodJ anid Litrle J.uhn.
THE ENGLAND OF ROBIN HOOD
SO little is left of the England that Robin Hood and his
merry men knew that it is doubtful if anyone of to-day
would recognize it if it were possible to go to sleep in
our England and to wake up in his.
The greater part of the old ballads, in which the stories
of the famous outlaw are to be found, fix his outlawry as happen-
ing in the reign of King Richard Lion Heart, who, when he went
off to the crusade in the Holy Land, left England in charge of
his bad brother John. And, both in his regency for Richard
and when he came to reign as king, John proved himself the
worst monarch England has ever had.
The people whom Richard and John ruled were by no means
a united nation, as the English are to-day. In the Midlands,
where Robin gathered his band, there were many Saxon families
who hated the Normans as conquerors and oppressors.
The Normans when they first came ruled by fear over their
Saxon subjects. In order to bind his followers closely to him,
William the Conqueror had given them great estates all over
the country, thrusting out the Saxon lords who were the real
owners, and enslaving their men. With their own followers,
and with the wealth they won from their holdings, the Norman
lords became so powerful that even their kings feared them.
In the reign of King Stephen came years of war which
ruined whole counties, and left starving and desperate men
throughout England. The Norman barons set up great castles
all over the country, and from these, with their men-at-arms,
they terrorized the Saxon cultivators of the land, robbed them
of their crops and farming stock, and defied even the King.
Henry II made things a little better, but not much, for he
was concerned over his French possessions as much as over his
English lands. He curbed the power of the barons to some
extent, and the common people who tilled the land began to
breathe rather more easily and to reckon that their worst times
were past. When King Henry died the English hoped much
from King Richard, a strong, just man. But he went over to
his lands in France very soon after his coronation, and left the
people at the mercy of John, his brother.
John was not only bad but weak as well. He yielded to
favourite nobles, gave away lands to win followers, being afraid
of the time when Richard should return and call him to account.
All over the country great castles went up again, most of
them no better than nests of robbers. If one of the barons saw
a farm that he coveted, he brought some accusation against its
owner, had him flung into prison, and took the farm. For before
the signing of Magna Charta a man could be seized and thrown
into prison, and left there till the end of his life without trial.
Most of the barons had power of life and death on their
own estates. They could not only imprison any of their followers
but could inflict any punishment up to hanging.
In later days the Church provided some refuge for oppressed
people, but in this age the offices of the Church were mainly
in the hands of Norman prelates, who had little or no sympathy
with the descendants of the conquered Saxons. Abbeys and
monasteries held great tracts of land, to which some baron was
appointed steward, as was the Guy of Gisborne who was one of
Robin Hood's greatest enemies.
Most harsh and unjust of all, in the eyes of the Saxons, were
the game laws by which the Norman kings tried to reserve all
the game to themselves. All deer were the property of the King,
and if any of his subjects shot an arrow at a buck without leave
he was liable to have his right hand cut off. For a second offence
he might have his eyes put out, and for certain offences the
punishment was death.
Starving men, with hungry children at home, saw fat deer
ranging the forests, and often the temptation was too great for
them. They had been robbed of everything by the followers
of the Kings who made-these laws, and for the sake of a good
meal they took the deer, risking even life itself to feed their
starving little ones.
Swift and sure punishment often followed. Women and
children were turned out from their hovels to starve by the
roadside, while the father swung a corpse on some baron's
gallows. Nobody dared give help to these suffering ones.
Now the England in which these things happened was a
country that we, who travel about as we like, and have freedom
in every way, can hardly understand. No serf who worked on
the land might leave his lord's estate to work for anyone else,
for he was his lord's property. There were great forests over
much of the country; there were no roads, only rutted tracks
leading from one big town to another. A journey of twenty
miles was a great adventure, only to be undertaken after much
thought, and with fear of the outlaws and robbers who infested
every path. For safety, men travelled in companies, when they
travelled at all, and it was very rare for a common man to have
been as much as five miles from his own village.
Between these villages lay great tracts of waste land, and here
and there throughout the country were vast forests, like the
Forest of Sherwood into which Robin Hood retreated when he
IO ROBIN HOOD
was outlawed. There were few paths through these forests;
they were made up of thickets and gloomy woods, and green
glades in which the deer fed, far from the sight of men. Wardens,
as they were called, were appointed by the King to see that
the game laws were not broken, and these wardens appointed
foresters or rangers to patrol the neighbourhood of the villages.
This was the England of Robin Hood, a country in which
a man could hardly call his soul his own unless he were a baron.
Sherwood Forest stretched up from the neighbourhood of
Nottingham towards the little collection of huts that stood
where Sheffield stands to-day. No man knew all its depths,
and parts of it were believed to be enchanted, haunted by gnomes
and elves and even fiery dragons. Here and there lived bands of
desperate men, driven out from their villages in fear of their lives,
ready to pounce on any travellers and rob them of all they
possessed. These men were safe in the forest.
Saxon and Norman alike looked for the return of King
Richard, and hoped for better times with his coming. While
they hoped, the barons and even the great churchmen ground
the poor into lower depths, so that life became harder
Then came Robin Hood, born a freeman-that is to say,
he had never been a serf, but held his own land. He was an
adventurous sort of man even in his youth, and knew as much
as anyone of the intricacies of Sherwood Forest. A friend of
the poor, and one who hated injustice, he made many friends,
farmed his land, and treated his men fairly. Often he talked
of equal justice for rich and poor, but in the beginning it was
only talk, for such a thing seemed impossible. Most of all he
hated the unjust game laws. So things stood, with little law
and still less justice in England, when Robin Hood was young.
Sebald faced hiiin .',ith knifE tpuip I iid and oe r in hI s i .iuI[ face.
HOW SEBALD THE SERF GOT FOOD
W HITE winter lay heavily on Sherwood Forest, and
far across the moors to the North Country where Whitby
Abbey towered over the sea. Winter had been cruelly
long that year, and now, though the time of spring sowing was
near, there was no sign of the bitter cold relaxing.
A bare stone's throw into the Forest, on the edge of the
lands that Guy of Gisborne stewarded for the rich Abbey of
St. Mary's, a ragged figure skulked among the trees. Shreds
of what had once been clothes hung about him as Sebald the
Dolt glanced down the forest aisles, or crouched among the
snow-laden undergrowth; about his legs and feet were tied
wisps of dead grass for warmth, and as he moved he left little
specks of red in each footprint, for the dead stalks and twigs
had pierced the soles of his numbed feet. On and on he moved,
away from the open lands and into the depths of the Forest.
Then he stiffened to absolute stillness, for, moving down
wind, a dozen head of deer came, nosing at the snow for food,
unconscious of his presence. They saw him too late for one of
their number, for Sebald stepped out from behind the tree that
had hidden him, lifted his bow and let fly; a young stag went
down, kicking, and the rest of the deer vanished before Sebald
could reach the wounded thing and end his work with a
Working like a madman, he ripped the skin from the haunch of
the dead beast, cut a slice of the warm flesh, and bolted it as a dog
might have done. After that, he went at the carcase more care-
fully, cutting off the best of the meat and placing it in a pile on
the snow, strip after strip of juicy venison. Then, with a cry that
was more like a dog's bark, he started up, knife in hand, and faced
the tall man whose shadow had fallen across him as he worked.
A young man, this new-comer, with reddish hair, a little
pointed beard, and a lithe, muscular figure that betokened
more than usual strength and quickness. Sebald faced him
with knife upraised and terror in his gaunt face, of which every
line told of hunger and fear.
"Put the knife down, Sebald," said the tall man quietly.
"Robin-Robin of Locksley Sebald gasped. "Master,
I was starved."
"And like to be hanged," said Robin of Locksley. "For
this is death, Sebald, if a forester find one head of deer taken."
If I die of a rope, or of hunger, what difference is there ?"
Sebald asked doggedly. Look you, Master Robin, when this
winter began I had a wife and two little ones. But because I
fell ill, a thing no serf may do, Guy of Gisborne turned us out
of our hut and gave our shelter to Walter the Bald. A serf who
cannot work, said Guy, shall neither eat nor shelter on his lands,
and they drove us out, the wife and the children with me, though
the little ones were all unfit."
True," said Robin, nodding. Guy of Gisborne is a hard
man, and cruel. But it is death to touch the deer, Sebald."
Death ? What is death but a kindness ? Sebald asked.
"For so my wife found it when the cold wrapped her round
and she fell asleep, never to wake more in this world. So the
child Freda found it, for at least she will hunger no more, and
now only the boy Waltheof is left me, and he a-crying with
bitter hunger. By the Rood, Master Robin, if I hang, I hang
with a full belly, and the boy shall have one more good meal "
SEBALD THE SERF 13
There was a look of pity in Robin's eyes. "Where is the
boy ? he asked.
"There "-Sebald pointed along the way he had come-
"in the hollow of a dead elm, wrapped in such rags as I could
find him that he might not die of the cold."
Then you harbour in the forest ? Robin asked.
Sebald nodded. Else I must go back to Guy of Gisborne,
being his man," he answered. "And to go back means lashes
on the back, and labour from morn to night, with more lashes
at the end of it, since I am all unhandy and slow, and so they call
me the dolt, Master Robin. I tell you "-his voice rose to sudden
fierceness-" there is no justice for us Saxon English under
these dogs of Normans "
It is true," Robin answered moodily. "But look you,
Sebald, bring the lad with you and come to my farm. We may
then decide what can best be done for you."
Sebald looked incredulous. To your farm, Master Robin ?
But-but I have killed the king's deer "
A slow smile grew in Robin's eyes. "I may have loosed
a shaft or two myself, at times, good Sebald," he said, for
the deer take toll of my crops without payment. Bring the boy
and come-there is at least a shelter among the cattle where
he may keep warm."
"Master Robin," said Sebald, with tears in his eyes, "well
do they say you've the kindest heart twixtt Nottingham and York."
Tush, man !" said Robin, and turned away. Follow
when you will, and come to me. I will have speech of Guy
of Gisborne, and see if I may not keep you among my men."
He turned away then, and went out from the forest and
across the open to where, a couple of miles away, rose a stout
wooden dwelling with its stables and byres and ricks about it.
Here Robin of Locksley had lived alone since his father's death,
a freeman holding his two hundred acres of land under the
Abbey of St. Mary's. His grandfather, in the time of Henry the
First, had been granted the tenancy of this acreage, the best of
all the lands belonging to the Abbey, and when Robin's father
died Guy of Gisborne had tried vainly to thrust Robin out from
his holding and take back the farm to the Abbey's use.
Now, as Robin went slowly back, thinking bitterly over the
wrongs of men like Sebald, he left one track of footprints straight
from the carcase of the deer to his own homestead. Presently
came Sebald with his boy Waltheof, a lad of ten who shivered
and even cried with the cold as he kept beside his father, and
they left two more tracks in the snow.
Late that afternoon came Herbert the ranger along the edge
of the forest, where Robin's lands began, and when he came to
the tracks in the snow he stopped and looked down. There
was the clear, long-striding track of Robin's shod feet, and
Herbert passed by that, knowing whose feet had made it. Then
he came on the shapeless blurs made by Sebald's grass-wrapped
feet, and beside them the small indentations where the child
Waltheof had walked. Herbert saw red blots in the snow, where
Sebald's torn feet had bled.
Ha he said. There has been a killing here !"
So he turned into the forest, following on the tracks, and
came to the hollow elm where Sebald had left his boy. Thence
he followed on, and came to a place where the snow was all
disturbed and thrown about, and at one place had been made
into a mound on which were still the traces of Sebald's hands.
"A killing," said Herbert to himself, and a burying too."
He grubbed in the mound with his hands, and presently
came on a two-tined antler. Grasping it, he dragged forth all
that Sebald had left of the deer's carcase, and stared down at
it as it lay before him.
u~ -8if'rl ~t
Ha!" cried Heibelt the Raiigcr. there has been a killing here!"
SEBALD THE SERF
So!" said Herbert. Master and man together go
a-hunting! Fine news for Sir Guy! I think he will have
Robin's farm at last, and for this news he will make me bailiff."
He slung the carcase across his shoulders and hurried off
to Fosse Grange, as Guy of Gisborne's strong house of stone
was named, since it stood by the old fosse that runs from the
Abbey of St. Mary's down toward Newark. It was all but a
castle, this hold from which Guy ruled the lands of St. Mary's
for Hugo de Rainault, the Norman abbot who had been granted
rule of St. Mary's while Henry Curtmantle was yet alive.
A tall man and a fierce was Guy, swarthy and sneering, a
hater of Saxons, at whom he was wont to jeer as he told how
his grandfather had seen their sires run from Senlac when their
Into Guy's hall strode Herbert the ranger, the deer still
across his shoulders. At the back of the hall was a great roaring
fire of logs, before which stood Guy of Gisborne himself, warm-
ing his hands behind his back. To him went Herbert, and laid
the deer before him.
How now, man-how now ? growled Guy. Who has
been gnawing at that meat ? Why is it not a whole carcase ? "
Because Robin of Locksley has gnawed it," said Herbert.
Ha said Guy, his eyes alight. Now by the teeth of
St. Peter we have him Have you proof, Herbert ? "
Proof enough, lord," said Herbert, for there go his foot-
prints from, where the carcase lay buried in the snow, and on
across his land to his own door. There went with them the prints
made by some lumbering serf and a little lad, whom he got to
do the foul work with him. Proof enough, lord."
"Aye," said Guy, "proof enough. We will have Locksley
back for the Abbey, and we will have, too, the hand of Master
Robin chopped from him, or I think, with a word from Abbot
16 ROBIN HOOD
Hugo, I may get leave to tear out his eyes. The Saxon hound
has flouted us long enough, eh, Herbert ? "
"Full long, Lord Guy," Herbert agreed. And I shall be
bailiff of Locksley, an it please you ?"
That is for Abbot Hugo to settle," Guy answered, but
a word from me to him shall be your reward for this news. Now
away with you while I arm," Guy ordered. Bid a dozen of our
men-at-arms get mailed, and saddle me my roan horse, and I
warrant you Locksley farm shall lack a tenant before the sun
reddens to-morrow's snow. Hasten good Herbert, if you would
see your vacant bailiffship waiting."
He put on a suit of mail while Herbert gathered the men,
and an hour before sunset they rode out from the Fosse Grange
toward Locksley farm. The afternoon had gone grey and sullen,
with a moist wind under which the snow began to soften to
slush, and the heavily armed retainers laboured panting behind
Guy's strong horse on their way to their task.
In an empty byre at Locksley farm the boy Waltheof slept
amid warm straw, full-fed for the first time that winter, while
Sebald dozed beside him, fed and content too. In the stout
porch of the homestead stood Robin, looking up at the sky and
snuffing the wind.
"A week of this," he said to himself, and we shall be
sowing our barley. It is winter's end, for a certainty."
Then he saw how, across the whiteness of the open between
the farmstead and the forest edge, came a little company of men
plodding through the snow. They took no note of the winding
track by which they should have come, but marched straight
across the ploughed fields.
Now what do these Norman hogs want ? Robin muttered
angrily. Must they tear up my young wheat with their clumsy
hooves to come at me ? "
HOW ROBIN TOOK TO THE WOODS
G UY OF GISBORNE and his men were still a mile away
when Robin's keen eyes-such eyes as were seldom
equalled for their sure vision-picked out Guy as the
leader of the band, and on the instant Robin linked up his
glimpse of Herbert the ranger gazing at the house a while earlier,
Sebald sheltering in the byre, and the carcase of the deer that
Sebald had brought down.
He stepped back into the house, buckled on his sword, and
reached for his long bow and its quiver. He had Will Scarlett,
his head man, armed in like fashion and out rousing the serfs
while Guy and his band were still half a mile distant.
He had with him Will Scarlett on his right, and on his left
was a fat youth with a great yew bow. This lad was Much, son
of old Much the miller, who should have been helping his father
at the mill, but had stolen away to drink ale with Scarlett instead,
being a lazy lad by nature. Yet, having drunk Robin's ale, he
took his bow and stood by Robin now trouble threatened, though
he knew nothing of the nature of the trouble.
Behind these three were six of Robin's serfs who could handle
either bow or quarter-staff well, since Robin always encouraged
such play among them, not knowing when it might be useful.
So stood the nine of them, with Sebald crouching somewhere
in the rear, when Guy of Gisborne rode into hearing.
Robin laid an arrow on the string and held the bow lightly,
as did both Scarlett and Much. Guy, who knew even then what
n .. 17 H
skill the man before him had with the bow, reined in as he saw
the arrows fitted.
Robin of Locksley Guy cried out from the barred visor
of his helm, put down your arms and yield you all to me,
steward and liege man of Abbot Hugo de Rainault, that you
may suffer your due punishment! "
But Robin lifted the bow as if to take aim, and Guy's men-at-
arms loosened their shields as they saw it.
Strong words, steward," Robin answered composedly.
" Why and for what should we yield us ? "
For that you and your men have slain the king's deer
in this forest of Sherwood," Guy called back. And for that
I declare you, Robin of Locksley, dispossessed of your holding,
and to lose your right hand that you may draw bow no more."
Without trial, steward ?" Robin asked incredulously.
" Without defence or question you pass judgment and sentence ? "
Trial, hind ? Guy echoed contemptuously. What think
you yourself, a baron of the realm, that you look for trial ? The
case is proved against you, and in the name of Abbot Hugo I
do justice on you and such men as are guilty with you!"
Justice, you Norman thief ? Robin fired back. I tell
you, Guy of Gisborne, since King Richard went crusading there
has been no justice in our England. Let your men come but
another ten paces forward and some of you shall never see
another day's light "
Guy sat still on his horse for nearly a minute, then he
beckoned a man of his, who came with shield raised to guard
head and breast from any arrow that might fly.
Loose me a crossbow bolt or two at that tall felon, and
make us a free way into Locksley farmstead," Guy bade quietly.
The man stepped back among his fellows, and fitted a bolt
to the crossbow behind another's shield. The feathered quarrel
hissed viciously, unsuspectedly, and a serf who stood between
and a little behind Robin himself and Scarlett crumpled down
without a sound, for the point had entered his brain. Without
losing sight of Guy's movements, Robin saw the deed.
First blood he cried. Now guard you, Guy of Gisborne,
for here you shall only enter dead."
On the word, he loosed the arrow from his string, and it
quivered and stuck in the visor bars of Guy of Gisborne's helm,
so strongly shot that Guy reeled and nearly fell from his saddle
with the shock. And scarce had that arrow struck before a second
shaft from Robin's bow went in at the neck of the cross-bowman
who had shot the serf, so that the man fell with his life blood
pouring out on to the snow.
"Now are we all dead men if they take us," Robin said to
his followers, so shoot hard and often till they come at us, and
may the shafts pierce the mail! But do you run, Much, for this
is no quarrel of yours."
"I will run," said Much, no more than a barrel of ale
untapped. For here is foul work, and I will not see it done."
At that he loosed his string and sent a shaft humming, to
glance off a retainer's shield harmlessly. Seven other arrows
sang through the air, and one of them found the brain of a man-
at-arms, and one went through a man's calf, so that he sat down
in the snow and squealed as he pulled the shaft out.
"An end of three," said Robin, who grew cool now the
fight had begun, and still stands Locksley untouched." He
sighted one man whose crossbow was aimed, and drove off a
humming shaft that took the man in the wrist and pierced through
flesh and gristle up to his elbow. "Four he shouted as the
man turned and ran, shrieking. How like you our welcome,
steward ? If you get not my right hand, you get the use of it "
With all his force he loosed another shaft at Guy's helmet
20 ROBIN HOOD
m which the broken end of the first arrow still stuck. This
second arrow struck higher, squarely in the front of the steel,
which, as Robin knew, it could not pierce, but the force of it
was so great that Guy of Gisborne tumbled down into the snow
and lay half stunned with the shock. And while he lay, a heap
of rags shot out from behind Robin, fled across the intervening
space, and a wild scream went up as Sebald the Dolt leaped on
Herbert the ranger, a flying fury.
This for my wife starved yelled Sebald," and this for the
child you thrust out into the cold !" And twice the knife with
which he had cut up the deer flashed, while Herbert, drawing his
dagger even as he was stabbed, fell dying, and thrust the dagger into
Sebald's heart, so that he too fell, dead, on the body of the man who
had turned him out from his hut at Guy of Gisborne's bidding.
There was a tall man of Guy's following who, when his
master fell, advanced with drawn sword to stand over him, and
presently Guy got on his feet and drew his sword as well. The
two of them led on, both covered in mail, against the party in
the shadow of the house, among whom were now seven unharmed
and two dead by crossbow bolts. But Guy's party had nearly
thirty yards to come, against the finest archer who ever drew
bow in England, and they came heavily because of the deep,
soft snow, while the great arrows hummed toward them. So
if was that only these two came up, for of the rest of Guy's men
three sat in the snow, sore wounded, and the rest lay dead.
But Guy of Gisborne, trusting in his mail of proof, came on,
as did his man, and Much the miller's son ran out with his
quarter-staff and thwacked the man across his helm, so that he
fell down senseless. But Robin stood against Guy of Gisborne
with his sword, and Scarlett and the serfs stood round.
It was a fight of which there could be but one end, for Guy
of Gisborne, heavily armed, and but lately stunned by Robin's
Thus Guy rode oft, facing towards them, his feet lashed tightly
under the horse.
arrow ringing against his helm, was slow, while Robin skipped
round him and struck where he would. At the last Robin lifted
his sword and brought it down on the helmet so strongly that
the blade snapped, and as Guy staggered Robin flung the useless
hilt away and wrenched Guy's own sword out of his grasp.
"Now yield-yield to my justice, steward Robin bade.
"Never !" Guy grated back.
Seize him, Scarlett," said Robin. "To it, serfs, and bind
him tightly. There is a reckoning due now."
They grasped and held the man, while Robin himself went
off and led in the roan war horse on which Guy had ridden.
He came back with it to where they held Guy of Gisborne
prisoner and cursing most foully.
Cease !" Robin thundered at him. "Are honest serfs
to have their ears befouled by such a man as this By the Rood,
steward, death is but an inch distant from thee."
Kill and make an end," said Guy. I had as well be dead
Not so," said Robin, for there has been enough of killing
this day, and the shaming is not yet finished. Hark, steward !
For this killing I am an outlawed man, and these poor loyal souls
with me-that much I know. Abbot Hugo will welcome the
excuse, but I have it in mind to send him a messenger of this
day's work before the price is set on my head. Lift him on the
horse, Scarlett, and face his head toward its tail."
This they did, Scarlett and the serfs heaving most mightily
until they had the kicking, struggling steward placed. Then
they brought ropes at Robin's bidding, and Much the miller's
son lashed Guy's feet tightly under the horse, so that he could
not move to dismount.
"Now, steward," said Robin, "ride you thus to Abbot
Hugo, or first to your own grange, I care not which. But say to
Abbot Hugo that from this day he may take Locksley farm, to
the use of the fat thieves that wear the cowl in St. Mary's under
him. Tell him, too, that he and his shall pay for the farm, for
from this day I declare war on him and all his kind, as on you
and your kind, who from behind stone walls ravage honest men.
Scarlett, give him a rein in each hand and let him go."
Then Robin picked up the steward's sword and struck the
horse across his flank with the flat of it, and Guy rode off, facing
toward them, into the darkness, shouting threats of the ven-
geance of Abbot Hugo until he was out of hearing.
Now," said Robin, "there is much to do. Let us bury
these our men, but leave Guy's men till he come again."
This they did, and when it was over Robin gathered his
men in the great front room of the farmstead, and spoke to them
by the flickering rushlight while they sat over meat and ale.
With the dawn comes Guy again," he told them, and for
to-day's work there is torture and a hanging for every man of us,
if they find us. As for me, I am for the depths of Sherwood,
where no man may track or find us. A free life and an open, lads,
with wood a-plenty for fires to warm us, and to roast our meat
as we bring it down. War on those who have drained our lives
of all but labour that they may fatten-who comes with me ? "
I," said Scarlett and Much together, and then all the rest
answered too. They were but nine, all told, that followed
Robin to the forest at first, but they were brave men all.
I thank you, friends," he said, and look for a better life
there than we have known yet. Now to take all that we can
carry for our comfort, and away. This thaw will hide our tracks.
But first do you, Much, take the lad Waltheof to your father's
mill, and there leave him to be tended."
By midnight Locksley stead stood empty.
HOW ROBIN DINED WITH THE SHERIFF
IT was mid-March when Robin, who knew the forest wilds
better than any man of his time, led his nine men to a glade
in a valley where a cave at the side gave them shelter, a clear
stream provided water, and the deer, plentiful enough, served
for meat. For the rest, they had brought all the stores there
were in Locksley, and for the time were fed and content.
Robin gathered his nine followers, since no more had yet
come to join them, and declared his purpose to them.
Now look you, my merry men, that you do no harm to
yeomen, or to them that till with the plough, or to the knight
or squire who is kind to the poor. But these bishops and abbots
who rob the poor, and the high sheriffs who bind and beat them,
cropping their ears and cruelly ill-treating them, these you shall
lighten of their ill-gotten gains. Yet, by the Virgin, you shall
never do harm to any woman in the land."
This was the law of the band that Robin formed, and, but
a day after he had made it, he and his men lay along the road to
Nottingham, being out on a hunt, when the Prior of Newark
came down the road with half a dozen baggage mules and monks
to lead them, and only a couple of armed retainers of the Priory
for guard. Since these two took to their horses' heels at sight
of nine resolute bowmen and their hooded leader-for Robin
had drawn a hood over his face before he showed himself-
there was no fighting. But there were two kegs of good wine,
and four hundred marks in gold, and a store of brown cloth,
and bags of good white flour, which Robin counted up while
the Prior and his monks stood by.
"Now, Prior," said Robin, we will bind you all on your
mules, and give you a hand apiece free to guide them home,
where you may tell that Robin i' the Hood begins his rule in
Sherwood Forest, and war on all oppressors of the poor."
And, while the disgruntled Prior and his monks made their
sorry way on toward Newark, Robin and his men retreated to
their fastness with this welcome spoil. From that day the great
outlaw began to be known as Robin i' the Hood, or Robin Hood.
Now, lying up in the forest, they had no news of what went
on in the outer world, and Robin himself determined to get news
in some way. The spring was still young when, on the track
between Mansfield village and Nottingham town, he met with
the potter of Mansfield, who rode in his cart with a load of pots
for sale in Nottingham.
"Now I am a ruined man," said the potter, for he saw
Scarlett and Robin's men lurking beside the way, and knew
himself among outlaws. "For if I lose my horse and
"You shall lose nothing by me," Robin promised. "Sell
me the pots at the price you would ask in Nottingham, and I
will leave you two gold marks as surety for the horse and cart.
But lend me too your clothes with the potter's clay on them,
lest I should be known in Nottingham as Robin i' the Hood."
Contented by the sight of the two gold marks and the price
of his pots, the potter made the exchange, and Robin drove off
to Nottingham, leaving the potter with his men till he should
return. Having reached the town market-place, he set up his
wares at less than half their usual price, and soon sold all the
cheaper stuff. But he had left a dozen or so of large dishes.
Now across the market stood the great house of Robert de
ROBIN AND THE SHERIFF
Rainault, Sheriff of Nottingham and brother to Hugo de Rainault,
Abbot of St. Mary's. Robin put his wares in a basket, went
across the market-square, and knocked at the Sheriff's door.
Presently came a serving woman.
"Having traded well in your market," said Robin, with a
bow, I bring these poor vessels as a present for Mistress de
Rainault, if she will accept them as a gift."
A gift from you ? the woman asked.
Robin nodded. From the potter of Mansfield," he answered,
and, leaving the basket, went back to his cart and waited.
Presently the woman came across the square and found him
by his cart. Good potter," she said, my master thinks it a
right welcome gift, for we were short of dishes, and he asks
that you come and take meat at his board."
Gladly," said Robin, especially if there be ale as well as
meat, for crying pots for sale is dry work."
He followed the woman into de Rainault's house, well
knowing that its owner would hang him yards high if he guessed
his identity. There they gave him a seat at the great board, below
the salt, with de Rainault's men, and piled his plate high, with
a great horn of ale beside it. Meanwhile de Rainault, seated
above the salt with his wife and some friends, talked.
Forty gold marks," said the Sheriff, "and the crier shall
cry it in the town to-day."
Forty ?" said one of his friends. "A high price for any
But this is a dangerous man," the Sheriff explained. He
killed seven of Guy of Gisborne's armed followers with his own
hand, and made Guy a laughing-stock to boot. And with a
great band of seventy or more followers he robbed the Prior
of Newark of all the good man possessed."
Good," said Robin to himself, the fifty have grown."
26 ROBIN HOOD
A dangerous villain," said the Sheriff's wife, let us hope
he do not come to Nottingham."
"Let him come!" cried de Rainault. "I would capture
him myself, and give you half the forty marks for new dresses."
Would you though ? said Robin to himself, smiling.
"And to-day," the Sheriff went on, "he shall be cried
through the streets of Nottingham as wolf's head, outlaw, for
any man to take or kill at sight, with forty marks reward for
proof of his death or for his body if captured alive. We must
rid our good country of such pests."
Robin got up from the board, having eaten enough, and
marched up to stand before the Sheriff, to whom he bowed low.
Thanks for the good food, lord Sheriff," he said, and
I will now get back to my trade."
Who are you, and what is your trade ? the Sheriff asked.
And I trust your noble dame will find my poor pots
welcome," Robin concluded, without answering the question.
Ha said de Rainault, 'tis our potter! The dishes
were right welcome, potter, and I trust you have fed well at
my board. But now, where do you go ? "
Back to Mansfield, to make more pots, for I have sold
all my stock," Robin answered.
Look to your going, then," the Sheriff warned him, for
there is a most pestilent rogue loose in Sherwood who will rob
you of every groat if he find you. We have put out a reward of
forty gold marks for his head, and Guy of Gisborne is assembling
a band to scour the forest for him next week and root him out.
If you get news of him, wouldd be worth a silver mark here."
"Lord Sheriff," said Robin meekly, "if I can earn that
silver mark, I will come back with the news. But I am a man of
peace, and trust I do not fall in with this outlaw. I give you
good day." Robin bowed and went out.
LITTLE JOHN'S QUARTER-STAFF
W HEN Robin Hood had got back his own clothes from
the potter, and handed over the horse and cart, he bade
Will Scarlett lead his men back to their hiding place
in the forest, and, taking his bow and the sword he had captured
from Guy of Gisborne, set out alone for a look at his lands of
Locksley. He reached them in mid-afternoon, to see that Guy's
men were already sowing the barley he had hoped to sow, for
spring was advancing fast now, and the trees had begun to put
on their spring coats.
Again, as he watched and thought of the price set on his
head, he renewed in his heart the promise he had made to Guy
that the Abbot should pay in full for the farm, as should all
fat abbots and great men who throve on the poverty of others.
Henceforth the greenwood must be his home, he knew, and he
could never go back to Locksley.
He turned back and made his way along a little track that
would lead him to his band. This track took him down a wooded
slope to a stream, across which a felled tree made a footbridge,
and, as he neared the bridge from his side of the stream, a great,
tall man came down to it from the other side. The tall man
carried nothing but a big quarter-staff of oak, and he hurried,
as did Robin, to be first to get to the bridge. Each of them set
foot on it at the same time, and neither would draw back.
Out! said the giant. Out, little man, and make way for
me, unless you want a ducking in the stream."
Not so fast," said Robin, or I will do the ducking myself,
and leave you with a wet coat."
The great man swung his heavy quarter-staff within a foot
of Robin's nose. Get back he shouted, before I hurt you."
But Robin, at the swing of the great staff, laid an arrow on
The giant dropped his staff and leaned on it as he stood on
the bridge. "Now this is a coward facing me, for I have no
bow," he said. If I had, I could teach you how to shoot."
"No coward I," Robin retorted. "Had I such a staff as
that, I would teach you more about quarter-play than you could
ever teach me of archery."
Go and cut a staff, then," said the giant, "for there are
plenty about. I will wait here, and we will fight on the bridge.
The one who thwacks the other into the stream shall have right
to cross first."
Then with his hunting-knife Robin cut himself a great staff,
trimmed it to his liking, and returned, at which the giant stood
up and the fight began.
From the attitude of his opponent the giant could see that
he had no easy task, and he began cautiously, feeling his way to
find what Robin knew of quarter-staff play. He soon found out,
for in less than a minute Robin gave him a thwack across the
shoulders that shook him into rage, and after that they guarded
and parried each other's blows till the great staves hummed,
and the giant, skilfully evading the blows aimed at him, fairly
danced on the bridge, until he nearly danced into the water.
Keep at it, bantam," he roared, "the lesson is only just
begun. Good guard, but I am only just warming to it. Look
to your head "
Parry and thrust and blow gave neither the advantage for
a time, but then Robin caught the giant another mighty buffet
I bring these poor vessels as a present for Mistress de Rainault,"
said Robin to the serving woman.
which came down on his head and would have broken the skull
of a weaker man.
Take that," said Robin, and let me across this bridge."
"Never," roared the big man, and, twirling his great staff,
he came on again. Playing skilfully, in spite of the buzzing
in his head after Robin's blow, he parried another like it and
gave Robin a mighty thwack which made him lose his foothold
and tun'ibled him into the stream with a great splash.
"Now," said the big man gleefully, "I cross the bridge
first. But where are you gone ? "
"Here, swimming with the stream," Robin answered from
the water, as he caught at the log bridge and drew himself up.
The giant leaned down and gave him a hand, roaring with
laughter at his dripping figure. Then they sat down on the
Giant," said Robin, "never met I such a fighter with the
staff. I yield you best at it."
'Twas a joyous fight," said the giant, "and I would I
might meet such a fighter every day, but good men are scarce.
We will have a match with the bow some day when I find you
dry-but at a target, not at each other."
"Willingly," Robin answered. "But how do they call you,
big man ?"
_" As a rule," said the giant, "they call me too late for a
good meal, and so I am often hungry, but my name is John of
Mansfield, since I come from that village."
"And what do you here in the forest ? Robin pursued.
"Hide," said John. "I was Ralph of Mansfield's man, and
one morning I slept too late. Ralph is a cruel master, and he
ordered me forty lashes for my sleep, but I took the whip and
stunned the man that should have laid them on, and then there
was naught for it but to flee."
So said Robin. Here is another Guy of Gisborne."
John laughed. As like as a pea to another pea," he agreed.
"They say that a man named Robin took Guy and tied him
facing his horse's tail, and took to the forest after, being out-
lawed. I would put my hand in his and be his man," said John.
" For look you, archer, I will give no man best with the quarter-
staff, but a man may not earn his living by play alone, and
this forest is an uneasy place if one have no companions."
Put your hand in mine then," Robin said.
The giant stared at him.
You-you are this Robin ? John asked, amazed.
Robin laughed. "And a-wanting good men," he answered.
" Say, you tiny little man, how shall it be ? Will you put your
hand in mine and join with me now the chance is here ? "
Willingly, and now," said John. Give me a good bow
and feed me well, and I will draw a string with your best against
Guy and his men."
"Then let us go, little John of Mansfield," Robin agreed,
"for we have a full mile to trudge. And you being but a man
and a half in size, we will name you Little John."
So they went on, and Robin's men gave their new comrade
a good welcome when Robin had told them of the fight on the
bridge and laughed at his own discomfiture at the game of
quarter-staff. And this was one of the qualities that made him
dear to his followers, that he could take a beating in good part.
There were then in Sherwood scores of masterless men like
John of Mansfield, and when they heard how Robin had spoiled
the Prior of Newark they sought him out with a view to joining
him. But he would take only the best and most skilful at arms,
and these he made to swear to follow the rules he had given to
his nine men from Locksley. Even so, he had many more than
nine when Guy of Gisborne came hunting him in Sherwood.
GUY OF GISBORNE'S FIRST ATTEMPT
H ALF-WAY between OUerton and Worksop is a spot on
which once stood the rich Abbey of St. Mary's, where
Hugo de Rainault ruled in Robin Hood's time. A little
to the north of it, on an eminence that commanded all the country
round, rose the great castle of Belame, from which Isambart
de Belame, as bad a baron as ever followed such a bad prince
as John, terrorized the lands about him.
Isambart was useful to Abbot Hugo, so there was peace
between them, no matter how Isambart outraged the people
who fell into his grasp. And when Guy of Gisbore had been
shamed and the Prior of Newark had suffered loss at Robin's
hands, Abbot Hugo sent for Isambart to meet him and Guy,
to make an end of the bold outlaw.
The three held a council in the Abbot's pleasant room in
St. Mary's Abbey. Hugo was a great, fat man who always spoke
Norman-French, though he understood English. Isambart was
tall and lean and fierce, with a nose like a hawk's beak.
It is ever the same," said the Abbot. Let a man but get
up and do some evil deed against us and the outlaws of the
Forest will swarm round him. Now, as you know, Sir Isambart,
we have few men-at-arms belonging to our Abbey."
Some five or six less than you had before they tried to take
this Robin of Locksley," Isambart agreed.
"And Guy, here, knows his way in Sherwood Forest,"
the Abbot pursued. Now it is my wish that you lend me, say,
thirty well-armed men to add to my own, and with Guy at their
head they will root out this Robin before he becomes dangerous."
"And what do I get ? Isambart asked.
"You get the honour of helping Holy Church at need,"
said the Abbot.
Isambart smiled craftily. "A cheap reward," he remarked.
" Good Hugo, since my wife died I am a lonely man in my castle
of Belame. If I give you my help in this matter, you shall give
me your ward Marian, who is under shelter at Kirklees with the
Abbess there, but is none the less yours to give to any man."
Ha said the Abbot. This is a great reward you ask."
Truly great," Isambart agreed, for you thought to make
a nun of Marian and take all her broad lands to add to yours of
St. Mary's. But she is too beautiful to be a nun, and would
better be wife to me."
It is too much to ask," the Abbot said.
So be it," Isambart replied, but when this bold outlaw
is burning your Abbey over your head you will wish you had
paid the price of my thirty men before he set fire to you."
Enough," said the Abbot hastily. You shall have the
maid when Guy here has done his work. It is a bargain."
That is not the bargain," Isambart insisted. If I lend
you thirty of my men to follow Guy, then I shall have the maid
whether he make an end of this Robin or no."
The Abbot reflected that with the score of men he had him-
self, and Isambart's thirty, he would have a band that could
easily put an end to a few ragged outlaws. It was safe enough.
So be it, Sir Isambart," he said. Give me the men to
follow my steward on this hunt, and then Guy shall escort the
maid Marian to your castle, to be married to you in the chapel
there with him for witness."
You shall have the men in three days," Isambart promised.
Marion was under shelter at Kirklees, with the Abbess there.
GUY OF GISBORNE
They held this council on the day that Robin sold pots in
Nottingham, and Isambart kept his promise, so that thirty
stout fellows, well armed, reported themselves to Guy of
Gisborne outside his stone grange three days later. Then Guy
gathered his men, and they set out for the depths of Sherwood.
They took two days' provisions with them, knowing that the
hunt might be a long one. For Sherwood in those days was ten
times the size it is now, a place of thickets and gloomy depths, and
caves in which men might hide, and deep hollows.
Robin, who had explored the depths of the Forest from
his boyhood, spied on the gathering at Guy's grange from a
distance, and knew how many men Guy had with him, and he
determined to lead them such a dance as had never been known
in the Forest. He had now over thirty followers, all men that
he had proved, and had no fear of Guy's band, who, heavily
armed as they were, would soon tire on the tracks he meant
them to follow.
When, a little after sunrise, Guy led his party from the
grange, Robin himself and Little John lay up to watch them
march. The two saw where the party would enter the forest,
and Robin hurried to get on the track, where he laid a naked
sword, with its point toward the way Guy and his men must
come. Then he and Little John hid themselves.
Presently came Guy, fully armed and with his visor down,
riding at the head of his men. He saw the sword lying on the
grass, and bade one of his men pick it up. But, as the man stooped,
a voice screeched out of the forest depths.
Put that down! Dead men have no use for swords."
The man started back as if the sword had been a snake,
frightened by the eldritch screech, which he took for the voice
of one of the spirits of the forest.
Pick it up, man Guy roared. Art afraid of a voice ?"
The man bent agin to pick up the sword, and again the
voice called out as he stooped.
It is death to touch it-death to touch it! "
Again the man left the sword alone. "Master," he said,
trembling, "I dare not. It is a fairy sword."
"You are a fairy fool! Guy snorted. Hold my horse."
In his full armour he started to dismount, to pick up the
sword himself. Just as he lifted his leg over the high cantle of
his saddle, a great arrow hummed out of the forest and rattled
on the side of his helmet, so that he lost his balance and crashed
to the ground like a crate of ironware. And then with yells his
men took to their heels and bolted back, for the sword began to
move of itself across the grass.
Guy, unharmed, got to his feet and, staring stupidly at the
moving sword, saw that it was tied to a fine cord which led into
the forest depths beside the track. He rushed at it, grasped, and
snapped the cord.
"A trick-a trick !" he shouted. Back here to me, you
fools, and follow that cord We will have the knave at the end "
He ran into the thicket, not knowing that Robin had run
the cord round a tree and back across the track to its other side,
a little higher up. A dozen of Guy's men, recovering from their
fear, followed their master; but they had nothing to guide
them now, for Robin had pulled the cord out of their sight and
wound it in.
As they beat the bushes with their swords, and thrust behind
trees there came suddenly a screech of laughter from behind,
an elfish noise that set them shuddering.
Ha, ha, ha Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha The voice echoed among
the trees, so that they could not tell whence it came, nor who
made it. Even Guy of Gisbome crossed himself in fear.
"It is the pixies of the wood," said one scared man to
GUY OF GISBORNE
another. "Now we shall be led in circles till we drop and die
of starvation, for once the pixies get at a man in Sherwood
there is no escape for him."
Silence, fool!" roared Guy. It is but this pestilent
outlaw tricking us. Let me but get on my horse and come at
him and I will put an end to his tricks. Back to the path, and
He assembled the band again, all but two who, once they
had started running, never stopped till they got back to St.
Mary's grange, where they gave out that Guy of Gisborne and
all his men were bewitched and lost in Sherwood depths, past
any man's finding. But Guy led on along the track, and his
men took heart and followed.
Now they came to a place where the track became very
narrow between great trees, so that at one point they had all to
go in single file. Guy himself went first on his horse, and his
men followed on foot, one by one. The place was very gloomy
because of the interlacing branches of the great trees over them.
Here, as the last man waited his turn to move, a rope suddenly
coiled down from the branches, with a loop at its end which
tightened round his neck and drew him up, but not before he
let out a wild yell of fear.
The men just in front, seeing him suddenly dangling in
mid-air in the gloom, bolted forward, and it was a couple of
minutes or more before any could come to his rescue. Then
one of them ran and cut him down with a sword, and he tumbled
on the grass, half strangled, and unable to speak for the time.
Up that tree, one of you," Guy shouted, and get me the
villain who dropped the rope. Swift, before he escape !"
But all they found was the other end of the rope knotted
round a branch, and no sign of any man. So far, except for this
half-strangled man, they had come to no real harm, but every
36 ROBIN HOOD
man of them devoutly wished himself out of this haunted
And, in a glade a quarter of a mile away, Robin and his men
were splitting their sides with laughter at the dance they were
leading Guy's party, for this was sport after their own hearts.
"Now for the bridge," Robin said. If they go on, they
must come to the bridge. It is ready for them, eh, Will ?"
Ready and waiting, Robin," said Will Scarlett.
They went on through the forest to a point where two logs
formed the main supports of a rough bridge across a stream,
with smaller logs laid crosswise on them to make the roadway,
and trampled brushwood on the cross pieces for footing. Here,
again, Robin had had his men loop ropes round one of each
great log, and now they took their stand at the other ends of the
two ropes, ten to each, well hidden in thickets. There they
waited till Robin himself, on the watch for Guy's party, should
give the word.
Marching solidly together, and searching every thicket on
each side of the track, Guy and his men came down to the stream.
The rough bridge was strong enough to take them all at once,
and Guy rode down on to it, peering into the woods on the other
side. He was half-way across, with a dozen of his men around
him, when a voice called Heave "
Then Robin's two parties pulled on their ropes with all
their force, and the two supporting logs of the bridge, with the
earth dug away from their ends in readiness, parted, one up-
stream and one down, so that the bridge itself collapsed, and with
a mighty splash Guy on his horse and his followers went into the
depths of the stream. If it had not been for his horse, which
pulled him ashore on the bank from which he had come, Guy of
Gisborne would have been drowned in his heavy armour, and
of his twelve followers one was drowned in the swift current
GUY OF GISBORNE 37
before his fellows could rescue him. They had all they could
do to scramble out themselves.
Now, while Guy stood shivering and cursing on the bank,
with no bridge by which to cross, three men stepped into view
on the far side of the stream. In the middle was Robin Hood
with Little John on his right and Will Scarlett on his left.
"At them with your crossbows, you fools!" yelled Guy,
soaked and wrathful. There stands the outlaw himself-will
you let him jeer at you in safety ? "
Hold Robin cried. "My men are all about you, and
the first man who aims a bolt dies. So far, Guy of Gisborne, I
and my men have but played with you. Go back to safety before
we turn our play to earnest, if you would get out alive."
Go back ? Never shouted Guy. Never till we have
hanged you, rascal, and made an end of your tricks in Sherwood."
Then look to yourselves," Robin answered. We give
you till nightfall to withdraw from the forest. If you are still
within it then, it shall be at your peril."
Shoot them down, men !" Guy shouted. "Here-give
me a crossbow."
But before a bolt could be laid to string, the three had
vanished, and there was the broad stream between their hiding-
places and Guy of Gisborne's men. All the forest was silent
and empty again, without a sign of enemy, though Guy and his
men felt that they were watched by invisible eyes. So Guy
thought better of it and led his men home.
And, after this, Robin had more offers of service in his band
than he wanted, so that he was able to pick and choose only
the very best of men to join his merry throng. It was in these
days that his band grew to its strength of seven score great
fighters,*each of them a match for two ordinary men, and from
then onward Robin was called the king of Sherwood.
FRIAR TUCK JOINS THE BAND
IN mid-morning one day Robin buckled on his sword, took
his bow, and set out with Little John and Much. Noon
had passed when they came up, hidden by the forest growth
to where a path led down toward a ford over a stream. On a
little knoll beside the ford sat an enormous man in a friar's
robe, which was tucked up into his belt. He gnawed at a great
venison pasty, and down beside him stood a great flagon, the
sight of which made all three of the outlaws feel thirsty.
"Do you two stay hidden here," Robin bade, while I
have a game with this great friar, who would be a good match
for you, methinks, Little John."
He strode out toward the friar, who gave him one glance
and then went on eating unconcernedly. Robin went straight
up to him, suddenly whipped out his sword, and put the point
of it at the friar's breast.
Ho, you!" he said roughly. "Up and carry me across
this stream, lest I wet my feet in the water."
The friar put down his half-eaten pasty and sighed. Since
it must be, it must be," he said. Get up on my back then."
He bent his back, and Robin got on it, but took care to keep
his drawn sword in his hand. The friar took to the water and
He splashed on, with the water nearly waist deep in the
middle of the ford, and came out on the other bank. Then,
as Robin slipped from his back, the friar turned and gripped
him with surprising agility, snatched away his sword, and flung
him down on the turf.
My turn to ride he said. Up, man, and carry me back
to my dinner, else I will spit you on this skewer of yours !"
There was no help for it, Robin knew-his own trick had been
turned against him. He bent his back, and the friar, getting up
on it, made him grunt with his great weight.
But when they got to the bank again, and the friar got down
ponderously, Robin suddenly bent himself and jumped back-
ward, hitting the friar in a way that knocked all the wind out
of him and caused him to drop the sword. With a nimble leap
Robin picked it up.
"No dinner yet, friar," he said. Carry me back, and be
careful over it, or I'll slice an ear off you."
Again the friar took to the water, with Robin on his back,
and waded in; when he had got to the middle he suddenly
bent nearly double and pitched Robin into the stream.
Now, impudent rascal, sink or swim," he said. I am for
And back he went, leaving Robin to climb out from the
water, laughing at the adventure. Presently Robin came up to
him, with his sword in its sheath, all dripping from the water.
A bold monk this," said Robin. Tell me your name."
Men call me Friar Tuck. How do they call you, rascal ?"
Robin of Locksley, but better known as Robin Hood."
The friar leaped to his feet with a laugh. "What ?" he
asked. "Have I made carry me the man who sent Guy of
Gisborne home in his shirt and spoiled the Prior of Newark ? "
So," said Robin, "but I made you carry me too. Now,
friar, there is more meat like that you are eating in Sherwood,
and. many a drink like that in your flask. I have come out to-day
to find you."
Here is a man who likes priors and abbots as little as I
like them myself," said the friar, and has as little respect for
the King's deer as I have. But perhaps, Robin, you keep fast
days in Sherwood. Is it so ? "
If you will join my band, we will keep just as many fast
days as you order us," Robin promised.
"Ah, tempt me not, Robin Hood-tempt me not! For I
am a holy man."
Venison, friar-good fat deer, well cooked, a roast swan
once in a while, and pheasants. Strong ale a-plenty, and good
casks of wine as well. Come with us, for we need such a cook
as I have heard you are."
"Enough, Robin-I yield," the friar said with a chuckle.
" It is too much for sinful man to resist."
Now we shall have a chaplain to our band," Robin remarked,
and raised his hand in a signal, at which Scarlett and Little
John came out of the wood toward their chief. Friar Tuck
stared at the mighty form of Little John and sighed.
Good Robin," he said, "if you keep such tiny babies in
your band as this we must e'en take back some feeding bottles."
If it were not for your robe and cowl, friar," said Little
John, I would cut me a quarter-staff and tan your hide."
Cut it, man, and I will throw back the cowl and tuck up
the robe," the friar offered. For so they call me Friar Tuck,
since ever my robe is tucked in my belt to let me fight more
freely. Let us have a bout, and I will warrant you cry for mercy."
We will have that bout in our glade, not here," said Robin.
" Let us away, friar, if you are ready."
So Robin Hood won Friar Tuck to join his band, and they
say there was no merrier or beaver man than the good friar in
all the Midlands. He could sing them a song, cook them a royal
feast, and fight well at need.
HOW ROBIN WON THE SILVER ARROW
NOW that Robin had got his band together little passed
in the North Midlands, or in Yorkshire itself, of which
he did not know, for the country people, seeing that
he was for their rights and against the oppression of the barons
and the church dignitaries, gave him and his men any aid they
asked. This was the time when John ruled England in his
brother's absence, and Queen Berengaria, together with the
Queen-Mother, Eleanor, laid all England under heavy tribute
to get together the money to ransome King Richard, who lay a
prisoner to Luitpold of Austria in the castle of Gratz.
Even John himself, much as he feared his brother's return,
helped to gather in tribute for the ransom, and for that purpose
made a progress of the midland counties. When he came to
Nottingham, the Sheriff, Robert de Rainault, held a tournament
in his honour, for Robert was John's man and profited by John's
tyrannies. Much, the miller's son, who had been to visit his
father, brought back news of the tournament.
There will be rare sport on the third day," said Much,
"for there is to be archery at a mark, after the sword-play on
foot, and the prize for the best archer is a silver bugle and a
silver arrow feathered with gold."
I have a mind to hang that bugle over my shoulder and to
put the silver arrow in my quiver," said Robin Hood thoughtfully.
There is too much risk in it, good master," Little John
warned him. "Many a man in Nottingham would be glad of
the forty gold marks the Sheriff set as the price of your
And many a man there would guard me from the Sheriff,"
said Robin. "Little John, we will go after that bugle and the
arrow. Out of all the clothes and armour we have taken of late,
there will be disguises for a couple of score of us, and I will
shoot for the Sheriff's prize."
They planned it out, decided who should go to Nottingham
to see Robin shoot for the Sheriff's prize, and how they should
When the day came, there arrived at Pike's field certain
millers, dusty with the meal and flour of their trade, and cattle
herders with smocks and hats pulled down over their eyes, and
a giant beggar who limped on a crutch, as Little John had
decided that was his best disguise, and all these watched the
sword play and cheered the winners most lustily.
Although it was the third day of the tournament there was
a brilliant gathering of knights and their ladies up in the stand
with Count John and the Sheriff, and the field was thronged
with sightseers from miles round, for seldom did such great
people come to Nottingham. When the swordsmen had finished
and the targets were set up for archery, the people flocked to
the barriers on either side to see the shooting, as nearly sixty
tall fellows stood forth to shoot.
Among them was an old, ragged man with dirty face and
Now Prince John, seeing this ragged ancient among so many
stout fellows, leaned forward in his seat and called down to the lists.
Clerk," he asked harshly, what does that ragged beggar
among the archers ? Why is he there ?"
Sire," the clerk called back, "he enters himself to shoot
against them for the silver bugle and arrow."
THE SILVER ARROW
There was a ripple of laughter among the crowd, but the
old man shook his fist at the clerk and turned to the royal stand.
Your worship," he squeaked, I be Hodden o' Barnsdale,
and as good a man as these beef-fed louts, any day."
"Turn him out, clerk," cried the Sheriff.
"Not so," said John, "let the man shoot. And if he put
not an arrow in the target he shall be drubbed out of the lists."
Now the archers were lined up, six at a time, for the first
trial, which would leave one man in every six to shoot off for
the prize. When Hodden o' Barnsdale's turn came, he was three
inches nearer the centre of the target than any other of his six.
Chance, mere chance," said the clerk angrily, for he had
hoped to see old Hodden beaten.
There were now twelve men left. Old Hodden had shot
best; but it was regarded as a chance shot. Now a single great
target was set up, into which each man of the dozen must shoot
an arrow in turn till each had shot three arrows, but if any man
missed the target altogether he must retire from the contest.
The distance was one hundred and twenty yards.
The first two archers missed altogether, and walked off
with mortification on their faces. Then came Hubert, who
landed his shaft within six inches of the black spot in the centre
of the target, and two more who only scored on the outer edge.
Then old Hodden, stepping into place with a grin, loosed off
a shaft so carelessly that he seemed to take no aim at all, and
turned away before the arrow struck the target.
Child's play this," he said.
But from the watchers near the target a roar went up, for
his arrow was in the black spot, barely half an inch across.
Then another roar went up, for Henry, John's archer, had
planted a shaft within an eighth of an inch of old Hodden's.
No other archer came near the centre of the target in this first
round, and, since three more missed altogether, there were but seven
left for the second stage of the contest. Old Hodden, having made
the best shot before, was set to shoot first when the fresh target
was put up, and he loosed off his arrow with as little care as before.
They should set up a mark to make it worth a man's while
to try," he said as he turned away. Shooting at that great
white thing is no more than throwing stones in a pond."
And down at the other end of the range the spectators yelled
and threw up their hats. A Hodden-a Hodden they cried,
for the old man had put his arrow in the black spot again. But
when John's man Henry had shot they went wild, for Henry
split Hodden's arrow with his shot.
Man," said Hodden to Henry, "there are few archers
like us two, and be he Norman or English, I love a man who can
put in such a shaft as that."
Henry regarded the old man curiously. "I would take a
lesson or two off you, Master Hodden," he answered, "for
mine is my best shooting, while with you it is a matter of ease."
Later maybe," Hodden said. Let us see what this braggart
of the Sheriff's choosing will do."
But Hubert cursed when he saw that his shaft was a good
two inches off the spot, though he had dwelt long on his aim.
Still, he cheered up when two more of the seven missed this
smaller target, and left only five for the final shot, with only
Hodden and Henry better than himself.
Now the clerk, turning towards where John sat, called out
the names of the five left in, and John signed to him.
"Bring them before us, clerk," he called.
So the five were ranged before the stand, with Henry on
the right, and Hodden o' Barnsdale next to him. John nodded
at his man. Go to it, Henry," he bade, "and when I hand
you the bugle I will see that it is filled with silver pennies."
THE SILVER ARROW
Your worship," old Hodden squeaked, "he hath yet to
win the prize. When I have beaten him, will the bugle be filled
wi' silver pennies for me ? "
Ha You beat Henry ? John mocked. Aye, if you can
beat such an archer I will fill the bugle with silver pennies."
Thank ye, your worship. Since a Norman thief stole my
land my old woman ha' wanted a new gown, and the pennies
'ull buy her a rare one."
Aye," said John, angered again, "and you who dare call
Normans thieves to our face shall have your right hand cut off
when Henry has beaten you and taken the bugle. Away with
them to their work, clerk, and watch this old rascal closely, lest
he run away after his shot."
The five were ranged up before a still smaller target, and
Hubert was first to shoot. He missed the black spot in the centre
by a bare half inch and stood back with a frown of vexation.
Then old Hodden raised another cheer as he planted his arrow
in the black, but not exactly in the centre. Then came Henry,
whose arrow struck level with old Hodden's in the black, so
that the two shots were exactly equal. The other two made
worse shots than Hubert, and retired.
Your worship," said the clerk to the Sheriff, Henry and
Hodden o' Barnsdale must shoot it off, for they have tied."
Henry stood forward, dwelt long on his aim and shot. There
was a buzz of applause, for his arrow landed in the black, though
well to the left.
Now, old fool !" John cried, excited over his man's shoot-
ing, take your stand and loose your last arrow, before you lose
With no sign of fear, Hodden stepped to his place and this
time, it was noted, he took more careful aim. The great arrow
hummed from the string and struck with a thud, and again
the crowd roared applause, for Hodden's shot had split Henry's
arrow, and landed in the centre of the black.
"Your worship," said old Hodden, "this shooting at walls
o' white is but a game for babes. Let us set up a peeled willow
wand at a hundred and fifty cloth yards, and the first to split it
takes the bugle."
Why then, you old fool," said John, we shall sit here till
Christmas and longer, for no man ever hit such a target."
"Lord," said Henry,." I have heard of such shooting, and
once I have hit such a target, though but at fifty yards. If the
old man is willing, then so am I."
So be it," said John. One shot apiece, and he who shoots
nearest to the wand shall take the bugle and the silver arrow."
The last target was cleared away, a slip of willow peeled and
stuck in the ground, and the distance carefully measured off.
"Do you shoot first," Hodden said to his opponent, "for
there are clouds coming, and I would give you the best light."
Master," said Henry, you be a right courteous old man,
and I thank you. But no man can hit the wand at that distance,
and we must find another mark when we have failed at this."
He made a good attempt, dwelling long on his aim, and
twice lowering his bow at the merest breath of wind. At last he
shot, and a great Ooh of wonder went up from the watchers,
for his arrow had grazed the wand.
A fine shot, good Henry," said old Hodden, as he stooped
and plucked a spike of grass. He threw it in the air, to get the
set of the faint breeze, twanged his bowstring, and set the arrow
on it. Then he stepped to the mark, took careful aim, and let
fly. A mighty shout went up when it was seen that he had split
the wand fairly with the arrow.
Old Hodden turned to Henry and held out his hand.
"Though the bugle is mine, do you take the pennies out of it,
THE SILVER ARROW
Master Henry," he said, for I would not wish to shoot against
a better man."
But Henry shook his head. "I have pennies a-plenty, old
man," he answered, "and the full prize is yours, fairly won.
Do you take-it all, and may we yet meet for another match."
I trust so," said Hodden. I will go and claim my prize."
So he went up to where John, very unwillingly, held the silver
bugle full of pennies in one hand, and the beautiful gold and
silver arrow in the other. John frowned at him fiercely.
Old man," he said, "I would I had had that right hand
of yours lopped off rather than you should take this prize. Take
it and begone."
For such courtesy, your worship, no less than for the
prize, my thanks," Hodden answered, and took the bugle and
the arrow. With a quick movement he swung the bugle, flinging
its contents of silver pennies far and wide among the people
who stood round to watch, and then he backed away from where
John and the Sheriff sat.
Stop-hold that man!" John cried. 'Tis some thief
disguised, for such as he seems do not fling silver pennies
But Hodden was already clear of the crowd about the stand,
and, with an arrow ready on his string, he pointed straight at
John's craven heart.
"Take back that order, or die, Count John!" he cried in
Let him go-let him go John yelled, in sheer terror.
Now Guy of Gisborne, who had watched the shooting, and
more especially had kept an eye on old Hodden, suddenly
reached out and grasped the archer's tattered old hat. It came
off, and with it the dirty old grey wig and beard that had con-
cealed his face.
'Tis Robin Hood-seize him!" Guy shouted. Out-
lawed-forty marks for the man who takes him-"
But he said no more, for just then the limping beggar raised
his crutch and brought it down on Guy's head with such force
that he dropped senseless, and Little John's voice roared out:
"A Hood! A Hood! To us, merry men, English all! "
A score or more of stout fellows, armed with great quarter-
staves, came knocking their way through the crowd that gathered
round, and Robin, seizing a staff, retreated with them after he
had slung his bow so as to have both hands free. Meanwhile
Little John's shout had served its purpose of setting the Saxon
English people of Nottingham against John's Norman followers,
and in five minutes or less there were a dozen separate fights
going on, while John and the Sheriff fled for safety, and Robin
and his men retreated steadily beyond the barriers of the lists.
Here they came on a body of men-at-arms, set to keep order
among the crowd, and now drawn up with swords ready to stop
them. But Robin and Little John advanced with a rush, with
quarter-staves whizzing round them, and the first who tried
conclusions with them found their swords either shattered or
whirled out of their hands by the flying staves. And when Will
Scarlett, Much, and the rest of the band joined issue with the
men-at-arms, and the staves rattled on their pates in earnest,
such as were not laid stunned took to their heels and bolted,
while the good people of Nottingham roared with laughter to
see John's hated followers put to flight in such fashion.
Without the loss of a man, Robin drew off, and the surging
crowds prevented any men whom the Sheriff sent in pursuit
from finding which way he had gone. The outlaws reached the
shelter of the forest in safety, and made their way to their retreat.
'Twas a joyous adventure, Robin," said Little John, as
they ate, but we will not go to Nottingham again this month."
There was a brilliant gathering of knights and ladies up in the stand.
THE RESCUE OF MAID MARIAN
ABOUT a fortnight after the tournament at Nottingham,
Isambart de Belame came to Hugo de Rainault, Abbot
of St. Mary's. Hugo welcomed his ally in his own com-
fortable room in the Abbey, sent for a flagon of his best wine,
and settled to hear what Isambart had to say.
The summer is passing," said Isambart, and I would
get married before the crops are gathered, Abbot Hugo."
"A wise resolve," Hugo agreed, nodding. So you come
to me for a priest to marry you in the chapel of Belame ? "
"A priest, yes," said Isambart, "and the bride as well,
according to our bargain when I lent you thirty of my men
to root out the outlaws from Sherwood Forest."
Surely, man," the Abbot protested, you would not claim
that bargain ? "
"A bargain is a bargain," Isambart retorted.
Let us talk it over. You say you would wed the maid."
That was the bargain."
Ha! Hum!" Hugo reflected awhile, for he could not
afford to break his friendship with Isambart. "Well," he said
when he had thought it out, the maid has no taste to be a nun,
and she must marry somebody. I will send to Kirklees and
bid her prepare to marry you."
When ? Isambart asked, rather grimly
I will send a man to-morrow," the Abbot promised.
"Now look you, Abbot," said Isambart, this is no matter
for shifts and tricks. Send your steward, Guy of Gisborne,
with an escort of a dozen good men, and have the maid convoyed
safely to my castle of Belame within the week. Send me, too, a
priest to marry us, and the bargain will then be kept. Shall
it be so ? "
Hugo nodded assent, reluctantly, for there was no way out
of it that he could see. When Isambart had gone he sent for
Guy of Gisborne and explained what must be done.
So you take the men, Guy, and set out to-morrow," he
bade. "Have them all well mounted, and ride to Kirklees for
the maid. And see that you go well armed, and keep clear of
Robin Hood and his men till the maid is safely at the castle."
Guy went out to do the Abbot's bidding.
Next day came a wandering beggar into Robin Hood's
retreat in Sherwood, one of the scouts who brought in news
every day to the outlaws' hold, and he told how Guy of Gisborne
and his men were setting out to escort Marian from Kirklees.
"Aye," said Robin, "but where do they take her ? Not
to the Abbey, surely, for that is no place for her ? "
They take her to Castle Belame, to be married to Isambart."
"What ? Robin shouted. "Marry a fair maid to that
thieving wolf ? I say this shall not be. One wife of Isambart's
has pined to death in Evil Hold, and there shall be no more
while I rule in Sherwood. Let us arm a couple of score of the
band with the good armour we took from Guy of Gisborne
and his men, and ambush him on his way to Isambart's castle."
And so it was done. Robin sent out spies to find out the road
by which Guy of Gisborne would travel to Evil Hold, and, when
the time came, set out with his men and lay up in a thicket
beside the track, a little beyond Worksop. They had waited
half a morning, and began to fear that Guy had taken some
other road, when Robin spied a couple of armed men riding
down from the Yorkshire border, and there was talk and the
clatter of hoofs behind them. When they were still a score yards
away he stood out alone in the middle of the track, and saw Guy,
heavily armed, leading a white palfrey on which rode the maid
he had been sent to find at Kirklees and escort to Isambart.
With arrow on the string, Robin stood, and the two foremost
men reined in at sight of him.
Stand, Guy of Gisborne Robin cried. Deliver up the
maid for escort back to Kirklees, and I will do you no harm."
They say that Marian, seeing him standing there, one man
defying a score, loved him from that minute. For the journey
had been a thing of dread for her, and she loathed the thought
of going to Evil Hold, yet could see no way of escape, since
she was Hugo's ward and must do his bidding. But Guy pointed
at the lone figure with a yell.
"Robin Hood-seize him, men! Fifty gold marks wait
for the man who takes him At him, you villains "
Now fifty gold marks, in those days, would buy a farm and
leave some over, so Guy's men needed no second bidding. The
two foremost spurred at him, one a little in front of his fellow,
and Robin's arrow crashed into the brain of the leading horse,
which, falling to earth lay in the track so that the second rider
came to grief. The two of them lay stunned and helpless, one
pinned down by the dead horse and the other kicked by his
floundering steed before it got up and galloped away.
Must I be always baulked by this rascally hound ?" Guy
roared in rage. At him, you others, and seize the outlaw "
But not one of them moved to obey, for Robin had another
arrow on the string, and they knew since the tournament at
Nottingham that he never missed. With a curse, Guy dropped
the palfrey's rein, drew his sword, and spurred at the lone figure
just as Robin raised his silver bugle and blew a blast on it.
52 ROBIN HOOD
Suddenly the woods became alive with armed men, surrounding
the maid and Guy's followers, while Robin stepped aside as
his enemy thundered past, and stooped to evade the sword.
Foul stroke, Guy," he said, as Guy tried to rein in and
come back at him. Get down, man, and let us have it out."
But Guy looked back and saw that his men were all being
disarmed and pinioned by Robin's followers, who outnumbered
his party by two to one and more. He struck in his spurs and
galloped on, leaving Marian to her fate.
Robin watched the fleeing man for perhaps a hundred yards,
and then lifted his bow. The heavy arrow sang on its way and
took the horse behind his shoulder, so that he came down with
a mighty crash, and Guy lay in his armour on the track. Robin
strode up to him and prodded him with his foot, laughing.
Why, man," he said, "this is a poor sort of escort. To
leave a maid in distress, in the hands of savage outlaws, is no
sort of play for an honest steward. How will it sound in the ears
of Abbot Hugo when he hears ? "
Guy scrambled to his feet. Mocker and thief !" he said
fiercely, "if I had but my sword you should mock no more."
Robin pointed to where the sword had fallen. "Take the
sword," he said, and though you be in armour and I but clad
for the woods, we will try a bout here and now, steward. For
surely you will strike a blow for the maid you were to guard ? "
The game was up, Guy knew. He could not hope to get
Marian out of the clutches of Robin and his men, and, with
his horse lying dead, there was no chance' of flight.
"And if I beat you," he said sullenly, "your men will but
"Now, now!" Robin protested, "that is the way of a
Norman cur, I know well, but it is not the way of us of the
greenwood. Should you beat me, Guy of Gisborne, you go
" Old man," said Count John, I would I had had that right hand
of yours lopped off rather than you should take this prize."
MAID MARIAN 53
free to your master, but the maid shall not go to Isambart in
Evil Hold. So take your sword, and let us see if your work
with it is as big as your bragging."
Without more ado Guy took up his sword, and found Robin
ready when he turned to stand on guard. They went at their
grim work with a will, and the flashing blades ground on each
other as they thrust and parried, while Robin's men, having
disarmed and tied up Guy's followers, came round to watch
the duel, and Marian urged the palfrey forward with a prayer
for the safety of her deliverer.
For ten minutes or more, the blades flashed in the sunlight,
and Guy panted in his armour, striving with every trick he knew
to get past Robin's guard; but in vain. By the end of that time
it was apparent that Robin was merely playing with his opponent,
dancing round him and fencing lightly with a smile on his lips.
Now steady, Guy," he bade mockingly. Save breath,
man-save breath! If the Abbot have no better swordsmen
than you, his Abbey is poorly guarded. Bad thrust-try again "
A little ripple of laughter went up from the watchers, which
infuriated Guy. He made a couple of wild passes that Robin
parried easily, and then with a twist so quick that no man could
tell quite how it was done Robin ripped his sword out of his
grasp and sent it flying into the bushes.
Now, steward," he said, lowering his own point, "what
shall we do with you ? We have already one suit of your armour,
and it would be a pity to spoil you of this you wear."
Mock me no more," said Guy sullenly, but kill me and
make an end."
"This is no day for killing," Robin answered. Get you
gone to Abbot Hugo and tell him the maid is in safe keeping
on her way back to Kirldees. Tell him, too, that if Isambart
press his suit any more, I will come and burn Evil Hold."
"You mean to let me go ?" Guy asked incredulously.
"Why should I keep you ?" Robin answered. It would
but be wasting the food that a good man might eat, and we in
Sherwood do not hunt the deer to feed such as you."
He turned and beckoned to Little John. "Turn these men
of his loose, each with his hands so tied behind his back that
they cannot untie each other," he said. "And tie Guy's hands
too, and put him on a horse, for he is tired after that bout with
the sword. Now do you, Guy, ride with these men where you
will, so long as you ride away from here, and see that you do
not come against me again, or I may not treat you so easily
When Little John and the rest had done his bidding, Robin
watched Guy and his sorry band of followers ride off toward
St. Mary's Abbey. Then he turned to Marian, who still sat
waiting on the white palfrey.
She was slim and fair, the chroniclers tell, with great blue
eyes and hair of gold, a right fair maid, who, at her father's
death, had been given into the wardship of Abbot Hugo till
she should come of age and marry with his approval. Robin
made her a low bow.
We have saved you from the clutch of Isambart de Belame,"
he said, and now, if you will, we will escort you back to safety
Good sir," she answered, I have no wish to go back to
Kirklees, for if I did I should still be at the mercy of Abbot
Hugo, who perhaps would yet find a way to send me to the
fiend who rules in Evil Hold."
"Why, that is true," said Robin, "yet a fair maid like you
cannot wander about the world with nobody to guard and shelter
you, and all your lands and wealth are in Hugo's clutches, I
know. Where can you go, if not to Kirklees ? "
Marian looked down and blushed. "I am among loyal,
honest men, I see, in spite of the tales I have heard of Robin
Hood and his men. May I not remain among them ?"
Robin came near and looked into her eyes.
It would give us all great joy to have such a one among
us," he told her, "yet the greenwood is no place for maidens
who have been used to shelter and every care. 'Tis but a rough
life we live in the forest glades, and you would weary of it."
Good Robin," she answered, "I had sooner have my
freedom among good men, and go in rags, than live in luxury
and know fear of those round me. Find me shelter, and when
I come to my inheritance I will repay."
"Nay, now," Robin said, "there is no question of repay-
ment. What say you, Little John, shall we give her her will,
and take such a fair flower as this to the shelter of the forest ? "
Marian turned to Little John. Good giant," she said,
"plead for me with your chief. I have great knowledge of
medicines and the art of healing, and I can cook and sew."
"Well, Robin," said Little John, "there is Will Scarlett's
wife for company for her, and if, as she say, she have knowledge
of medicines, she may find something that will sweeten Dame
Scarlett's tongue, for it is bitter enough, and so poor Will may
have an easier time."
Think what it would have been for me if I had been taken
to Evil Hold, good Robin Hood," Marian urged. Is life in
the greenwood any worse than such a fate as that ?"
If it were," Robin answered, "I would go and beg the
Sheriff of Nottingham to hang me out of hand. I see no choice,
Marian, for, as you say, if we take you back to Kirklees, Isambart
will get you sooner or later, and there is no other place that
would hold you when Abbot Hugo bade that you be given up.
But it is a poor fate for such a maid as you."
She looked down at him. It is such a fate as I would ask,"
she said, "and I will come and be one of your band gladly.
Now let us go on, lest Guy of Gisborne rouse up more men."
Robin laughed. If Guy's fighting is all we are likely to
suffer from," he said, life will be an easy business. You shall
come and be Queen of Sherwood, Marian-how say you, men ?
Will she not make a fair queen to rule over our band ? "
Little John flung his hat in the air. "Here is a joyous
adventure he cried. Three cheers, all of you, for the Queen !"
They roared their cheers so lustily that Abbot Hugo might
have heard them at St. Mary's had he been listening. Robin
reached up and grasped Marian's hand.
Remember," he said, "that there is a king in Sherwood
too, Marian. Would you be queen to me as well as Sherwood ? "
Right gladly," she answered, for I have seen no such
man as you in all my life, and I owe you freedom and everything
else from to-day."
Robin gave the word to move, and they set out on their way
back to the forest hold. As they went Little John came up beside
his leader, who walked by the white palfrey talking to Marian.
"Robin," said Little John, "'Twas a lucky chance that
sent you to win our friar to the band, for now he can do the
marrying between you two, and we shall have no need to borrow
a priest from St. Mary's."
True," said Robin," and we will make a feast day of it, and set
the good friar to cooking after he has made us two man and wife."
So it was done, and they say that there was no such fair and
loving wife in all the Midlands as was Maid Marian to Robin
Hood. And, though he knew that he had made a bitter enemy
of Isambart de Belame by this rescue, Robin slept none the worse.
Isambart took no action for the time. But he waited for
revenge all the same.
HOW THE SHERIFF TOOK A HAND
THE Sheriff put no faith in the reports that Robin had
over a hundred men in the forest, for never had he been
seen anywhere with more than thirty or forty. A body
of eighty stout fellows, with himself at the head, Robert reflected,
would clear Sherwood of outlaws, and he called up that number
to go hunting Robin Hood and his men.
The Sheriff, warned by what had happened to Guy of
Gisborne, divided his men into two parties, putting forty under
his man Hubert, and leading the rest himself. Hubert went
straight into the forest from Nottingham, while the Sheriff
took his forty up as far as Locksley farm, on the Abbot's lands,
to drive into Sherwood from there. He had arranged with
Hubert that they should meet at Dark Mere, a great pool in
the depths of Sherwood, and trusted that by having two parties
march in from different points they would come across some
of Robin Hood's men.
The day was hot, and the Sheriff's men sweated in their
armour as they beat and searched the thickets of the forest,
but all in vain. Sharp eyes kept watch on them at their work,
but it was one thing to enter Sherwood and another to find
men in it, and not a man did they see the whole day long, except
for a couple of ragged charcoal burners who denied any know-
ledge of Robin Hood and his band, though rags and a black
face disguised Much the miller's son, and Will Scarlett, if only
the Sheriff had known it. He questioned the two himself.
"I have heard," said Much doubtfully, "that the rogue
hath got wind of your worship's search for him, and hath gone
up into Yorkshire to escape from you. It was a great fat friar
who told me."
A great fat friar ? Robert de Rainault questioned. "Why,
if he were alone in Sherwood that will be their Friar Tuck, one
of this Robin Hood's band. Which way went the friar ? "
He was headed north, and said he was for Yorkshire too,"
said this deceitful charcoal burner. But of course, your worship,
he may have been lying, as fat friars will at times."
"Aye, and lean ones too," the Sheriff agreed. Look you,
fellow, my bands meet this night at Dark Mere, and if you get
any news of this Robin Hood's men and bring it to me there, I
will have a silver mark ready for you."
With that he bade his men march on and leave the two
charcoal burners to their work. As soon as the last man was out
of sight, Much and Scarlett went through the denser part of the
forest to where Robin lay hidden with about fifty of his band.
Much reported his talk with the Sheriff, and Robin and Little
John laughed over it.
Let them search," said Robin, till they are all tired men.
Robert de Rainault is a bigger fool than I took him to be, else
he had not come into Sherwood with so few men. We will be at
Dark Mere to-night too."
"Much, you rascal," said Friar Tuck, "did you dare tell
the Sheriff it was a great fat friar ? "
Much nodded. "I told him so," he answered.
"An you dare to call me fat, I shall be tempted to forget
my sacred self and baste you with my quarter-staff," Friar
Tuck objected. Great, maybe, for I am no common man, but
not fat, Much. It is all good brawn and muscle about me, as
you will know if I have cause to give you a buffet over this."
THE SHERIFF AGAIN 59
"Well, friar," said Much, we may as well have a game of
buffets while the Sheriff gets on with his hunting."
Stand to it," the friar offered. "Do you buffet first."
He stood up and braced himself for the blow. Much gave
him a tremendous cuff with his hand, and the friar rocked a
little on his feet, but no more. He nodded in a satisfied way.
"Not bad for a growing lad, Much," he said. "Now it is
So Much braced himself for the blow, and Friar Tuck drew
back his robe from his great arm, took a long breath, and struck.
The blow fell with a resounding smack, and sent Much full
length on the grass, where he lay while the friar and the rest of
them gazed down at him.
"'Twas but a little pat, good Much," said Friar Tuck
contentedly. "Now if I had really struck you, you would still
be spinning. But call me not fat next time you talk of me."
Now let us two try a round," Little John said to the friar.
"Not now," Robin Hood said, "for Hubert and his men
will come this way in a matter of minutes. To the trees, all of
you, till they are gone, they must find the forest empty to-day."
Empty enough it was when Hubert and his band came by,
though scores of pairs of eyes watched them pass. It was within
an hour of sunset then, and the Sheriff's men were grumbling
as they went about their task.
'Tis a crime to put us few to such work," said one.
Aye," said another, for it would take an army to search
the whole of Sherwood. We shall be weeks at this game, unless
the Sheriff grow tired of it, and I know we are on the wrong
track. Robin Hood's hold is far over to the west from here, a
couple of miles or more beyond Dark Mere."
That man knows too much," said Robin Hood, who could
hear plainly all that was said. It is time to hasten to our
rendezvous. We should all be placed and ready for our game
with the Sheriff before it grows dark."
When Hubert and his party got to Dark Mere, they found the
Sheriff already there with his forty men, in a thoroughly bad
temper over their wasted day. They had brought food with
them, and they ate, and made their bivouac after sentries had
been posted, by which time the twilight was almost gone, and
the gloom under the great trees deepened mysteriously. As
superstitious as were most men in those days, the Sheriff's
men gazed into the shadows with fear of bogles and sprites
and demons, and told each other tales of the evil things that
haunted the forest depths.
"Men say a dragon used to lurk in this mere," said one.
"And you call to mind the tale of the smith of Barnsdale,
who came this way," said another. The fairies took him and
led him round and round a tree all night, and in the morning
he was so cross-eyed that you could never tell which wey he
Aye," said a third, "and the poor man was dumb from
that day on, and so could never tell what had happened to him."
How did folk know what had happened to him then ?"
asked a listener.
But reply was prevented by a burst of demon laughter,
which seemed to come from all points at once, and echoed
through the forest glades.
They stared, pale with fright, but saw nothing. Robin had
determined to play on their fears and prevent them from getting
any rest, and had set his men to laugh from different points.
Now the Sheriff, who conquered his fears of the evil things
of the forest, took ten men and went to look for the cause of
the laughter, but, of course, he found nothing.
There is nothing to fear, men," he said when he came
I 7,, <
The blow fell with a resounding smack and sent Much full length on
THE SHERIFF AGAIN
back-though he did not believe it himself. It is these outlaws
who try to trick us as they did Guy of Gisborne and his men.
But they dare not attack us-we are too strong for them."
Again the demon laughter echoed round them, shrill and long
and mocking. Even the Sheriff's teeth began to chatter, in spite
of his words, while his men shrunk close to each other and
drew their swords, peering into the darkness round them with
'Tis no man's laugh, that," said one. "'Tis boggles "
The Sheriff made the sign of the cross and wished he had
brought a priest with the party. He thought of his good warm
bed in Nottingham and wished himself safe in it.
Again and again the ghostly laughter sounded round them,
seeming to come from every point at once. The Sheriff had
posted eight sentries round their bivouac, and he could just
see them standing in the darkness. While they were there to
give the alarm in case of attack, he felt there was no real danger,
for he was confident that Robin Hood had no more than forty
men in his band altogether.
The night wore on with his men shivering in dread of what
the forest might hold, with the terrible laughter echoing round
them ever and again, never in any definite direction. When the
Sheriff wanted to go out and search again, his men refused to
budge from each others' company, and he was forced to give up.
About two hours after dark he went out to change his sentries,
and found that what he had taken for the men standing at their
posts were straw dummies propped up with sticks. The eight
sentries had vanished, silently and mysteriously, and though
the badly frightened Sheriff called out for them till he was
hoarse there was no reply, except for the bursts of horrible
laughter that sounded at intervals.
HOW THE SHERIFF CAME HOME
IT was worse than useless for the Sheriff to attempt to post
more sentries, for the men were too frightened to leave
their main body now, and de Rainault could only order
the whole force to stand to arms for the rest of the night.
Silence came about them, deep and unbroken, until midnight,
and they waited for dawn to give them a chance of searching
for their lost companions. They were beginning to doze in the
stillness when one of them caught sight of a flying form down
by the waters of Dark Mere, and he cried out and pointed. A
second figure followed the first, then a third, running out of one
patch of shadows into another, and then came a fourth, and a
fifth, all running silently as if they had been ghosts. The Sheriff's
hair bristled with dread, but he conquered his feelings.
The outlaws at last, men he said. Up and after them."
With drawn sword, he ran down to where the five figures
had disappeared, and his man Hubert followed, also with drawn
sword. But, for a minute or more, not a man of the band moved,
and then they went down toward the Mere irresolutely, ashamed
of their cowardice. But it was too late, for both the Sheriff
and Hubert had vanished as if the earth had swallowed them.
Robin and his men, waiting in the gloom, had served them
as they had served the sentries. A heavy cloth flung over the
head of each, and a swift blow had stunned them before they
could cry out, and then Robin's men bore them away, each with
a gag thrust into his mouth lest he should recover enough to
THE SHERIFF'S HOMECOMING 63
shout for help. In that state they were carried all the way to
the secret glade where the outlaws made their head-quarters,
while the band that the Sheriff had brought into the forest
with him waited helplessly.
When morning came they held counsel among themselves,
some arguing that they ought to stay where they were till the
Sheriff reappeared to lead them, others that they ought to go
and search for him, and yet others declaring that they would
look for no man in this haunted forest.
"The dragon of the mere hath got them all," declared
"No dragon, but the bogies of the wood," said another.
'Twas plain, simple enchantment," said the first, "if it
were not the dragon. I doubt me we shall be led to walk this
forest for ever in mazed circles, being enchanted too, or else we
shall all be turned into trees or wild hogs by the demon."
They wrangled and argued among themselves for awhile
longer, and decided that, as they had seen no sign of Robin
Hood or any of his men, and it was useless to search for Robert
de Rainault, they had better go back to Nottingham.
So back they went, weary and ashamed after their day of
tramping through the forest and the sleepless night of terror
that had followed. They found no sign of the Sheriff anywhere,
and, when they told how he had disappeared, Dame de Rainault
called them cowards who had deserted her husband.
While Nottingham buzzed with excitement, the bound and
frightened Sheriff, together with Hubert and the eight sentries,
smelt a rare good meal cooking in the outlaws' secret glade, and
wondered if they would be hanged before it was eaten. All
had sore heads after the terrific buffet that had been given to
each when he was captured, and the Sheriff's head was the
sorest of all, for Little John had dealt him his buffet.
Robin Hood himself came to his prisoners while the outlaws'
meal was still sending forth its savoury odours, and ordered
that the Sheriff should be unbound and set at liberty.
"But make no attempt at escape," he warned, "for as
certainly as you try to get out from this glade, just as surely
will an arrow find your heart, Sheriff Robert. I will see that your
men are fed, and will have you yourself to dine with me to-day."
"That I never will," the Sheriff retorted.
"Starve then," said Robin, "but you shall starve tied up,
and with two lusty men to lash you with wands while I and my
men eat, if you treat my invitation with such discourtesy. Which
will you choose ?"
There is no choice," said the Sheriff sullenly.
Thus, to the joy of all the band, the High Sheriff of Notting-
ham sat at their board in company with Robin Hood and the
rest, but he made a poor meal, though Marian herself saw that
he had the best of everything, and Friar Tuck pointed out the
virtue of good appetite, while Little John devoured great hunks
of venison. When they had finished, Robin called to the
Sheriff to move up along the board and sit facing him.
For there is a reckoning for all things, Sheriff," he said,
" even for a meal with the king of Sherwood. How much shall
he pay, Friar Tuck ?"
Seeing that he is a man of substance, let him put down the
reward he hath offered for your head-fifty marks in gold,"
said the friar.
"What say you, Little John ?"
"Well," said Little John, eyeing the Sheriff, "he is a lean
and ill-favoured beast, over-spare in the flank and mean in the
face, but an he count himself not worth fifty marks in gold then
we must hang him."
"But I have no fifty marks with me," said the Sheriff.
THE SHERIFF'S HOMECOMING 65
We will keep a hostage when you have agreed the sum,"
Robin Hood explained. Do you consent to ransom your-
It is better than a hanging," the Sheriff retorted.
Then swear, on the cross hilt of my sword, that the sum
shall be put under the dead oak by Dark Mere within three
days after you get back to home and wife in Nottingham."
The Sheriff looked up at the sky and down at the ground,
for it went to his heart to swear to any such bond. But when
he saw that Little John had hold of a rope, and was knotting
a noose in the end, he swore the oath most hastily.
Now there is another small matter," said Robin Hood.
"Marian, fetch me an inkhorn and a quill, dear wife, for our
Sheriff can surely write his name, seeing what his station is."
He took an arrow from the quiver on the ground beside
him, and laid it on the board before the Sheriff as Marian brought
the pen and ink. Dipping the pen in the inkhorn, he handed it
to Robert de Rainault.
Now on the shaft of that arrow, Sheriff, write your own
name," he bade. See that you write it fairly and well, too."
Reluctantly the Sheriff complied. Robin inspected the
arrow when the writing was finished, and nodded approval.
It will serve," he said. Sheriff, you have set out a reward
for me, you have threatened to hang me, and you have come
into Sherwood to hunt me down as I hunt the deer in this forest.
I have been patient with you thus far, and have done you and
your men no harm, but now I tell you that as surely as you move
against me again, just so surely shall this arrow that bears your
name be sent through your evil heart."
The Sheriff stared at the arrow and made no answer.
"You shall go back to Nottingham this night," Robin
pursued, and see that you remember the oath you swore,
I.B. f Z
and that fifty marks in gold lie under the dead oak by Dark
Mere in three days' time."
The gold shall be there," said the Sheriff.
"Else," said Robin, it will be the worse for a man you
hold as worth somewhat to you. For I will keep your man
Hubert here, and if the gold be not paid he hangs. Already, I
know, he hath killed a man at your bidding, for no crime at
all except that the man was a Saxon and held land of you that
you wanted back, but even for this I will not punish either him
or you, so long as you keep your word."
I have both sworn and said the gold shall be there," the
Sheriff retorted sullenly. I can do no more."
Then wait here till. nightfall," Robin ordered.
This last order irked the Sheriff very much, for he had
hoped to go out in daylight, and so get some hint of the precise
spot in which this strong retreat of Robin's band was located.
But he had to wait till nightfall, when suddenly Little John
seized him as he walked among the huts, and a coarse sack
was put over his head, after which his hands and feet were tied.
We mean no harm, Sheriff," Little John told him, "but
it is our leader's order that you travel in this fashion."
They tied him on a mule and led it out from the glade.
For hours, it seemed to the Sheriff, the beast plodded on in
silence, until, suddenly, the sack was ripped from his head and
he saw the stars twinkling above. Somebody gripped the back
of his neck, and he opened his mouth to cry out, when a wad
of linen was stuffed in it and tied hastily with a kerchief that
went round and behind his head. Then, as they lifted him off
the mule, he saw a great wall before him, and knew it for the
wall of his city of Nottingham.
There just outside the gate, the outlaws laid him down
carefully and silently, and there they left him.
HOW THEY GOT WILL SCARLETT BACK
W ITHIN the castle yard of Evil Hold was bustle and
excitement, for, in addition to the ordinary tasks of the
morning, there was the business of putting up a tall
gallows for the hanging of Will Scarlett, captured the previous
day, and Isambart himself, together with his friend Roger the
Cruel, strode about, the two of them in full armour, bestowing
an order here and a kick on some unfortunate worker there.
Isambart was in high good humour, for nobody but himself
had ever been able to lay hands on any man of Robin's band.
The bustle and excitement were at their highest when a
tattered old man drove up to the drawbridge, passed the man on
sentry duty without being questioned, since both the horse and
cart were well known, and passed through the low arch in the
great wall that shut in the castle yard and formed the outer
defence of the great keep, in which were Isambart's living-rooms,
with the dungeons under them. In the entry to the arch, the
old man reached back to one of his bundles, jerked the string
off the mouth of the sack, and with a push let loose a beehive,
which went rolling back toward the guard-house, away from
the darkness of the arch.
Taking no notice, the old man, who was Robin Hood dis-
guised, drove on, straight toward the keep. He was within ten
yards of its open portal when Isambart spied him.
"Hey, old fool !" Isambart yelled. Think you that we
store our wood in our banqueting hall ? Fetch your cart here "
68 ROBIN HOOD
Staring at him stupidly, the old man fumbled with the string
of his second sack. Isambart took a couple of steps toward the
cart, but stopped as a tremendous yelling and screaming came
from the direction of the guard-house. Then the old man got
the string off his sack, gave it a push, and out toppled Robin's
second beehive at Isambart's feet, just as Robin pulled down the
gauze over his face and neck from under his hat, and made a
flying leap that landed him almost in the doorway of the keep.
A great cloud of angry bees rose up all over the castle yard,
just as the door of the keep slammed in Isambart's face, and
he heard the sound of the great bolts being shot home. Then
the horse, stung by half a dozen bees at once, shot forward and
scattered a group of Isambart's men who were running toward
their master, while first Isambart himself, and then Roger the
Cruel, yelled and danced as the bees got under their armour
and began to sting. They slapped at the hard metal they wore,
and made matters worse, while Isambart's men ran all ways.
Some of them ran out under the arch toward the draw-
bridge, but there they met a second angry swarm in possession.
The men on guard had bolted for the moat, and stood in the
shallows with only the tops of their heads showing, except
when they bobbed up for breath, to find the bees waiting to
take vengeance on them. Isambart and his men ran hither and
thither, yelling and shouting, and wherever they ran the bees
followed, hot-and angry. Since the castle had been built for a
stronghold, there was no way in except that of the great entrance
which Robin Hood had barred from the inside, and no way out
except past the guard-house, so here were Isambart and his
men penned in the yard, absolutely at the mercy of the bees.
Roger the Cruel, rolling on the ground and squealing as
the stings got at him under his armour, spied a dark storehouse
built in the outer walls, and made for its shelter, yelling and
Now on the shaft of that arrow, Sheriff, write your own name."
WILL SCARLETT'S RESCUE 69
slapping himself all over, just as a great arrow hummed over
the wall and thudded into the earth at Isambart's feet. Isambart
dancing and slapping with his gauntleted hands, stared at it.
"Attacked-attacked by Robin Hood's band !" he shouted.
" To me, men, and lower away at the portcullis Up with the
But the bees were keeping his men busy, and they crowded
round the dark doorway in which Roger the Cruel was trying
to shelter himself, with a little cloud of bees buzzing spitefully
around the head of every one of them. Isambart's shout went
unheard, for they were all shouting at once, and Isambart
himself, stopping every now and again to dance and slap himself,
made for the chamber in the wall in which was the portcullis
gear, to lower it and keep the outlaws out, for now the arrows
began to fall thick and fast, and already three of his men were
wounded by them before they could get to the shelter of the wall.
Inside the great keep Robin darted into a little room on the
right of the doorway, where the only man on guard lounged
carelessly. In ten seconds the man was lying stunned by a blow
from the heavy cudgel Robin carried in addition to his sword,
and Robin had the bunch of keys which he saw lying on the
table. As the uproar began among the bees outside, Robin
swung the heavy door which led to the great hall of the keep
and the upper apartments, locking it with one of the keys he
had taken, and then with another key he unlocked a door at the
head of a stairway that led down into the passage-way between
the dungeons. He locked this door behind him, knowing that
he would not return that way.
Ho, guards he shouted, when he came to the foot of the
stair, into a gloomy corridor lighted only by one torch at its far
end. Out and help to man the walls-the castle is attacked "
Three men ran out into the corridor. The first of them
was bare from the waist upward, and wore a black mask over his
face. Robin knew him for Isambart's head torturer and
executioner, and with a run at him brought down his cudgel
on the man's head with such force that the rascal never moved
again. Another was down before they could realize that they
were being attacked, and, as the third drew a dagger, Robin
hurled himself on him and brought him down on the stone floor
with a crash. Seeing that he, too, was stunned, Robin dragged
him and his fellow into one of the dungeons and turned the
key on them. Having executed the executioner, he troubled
no more about him, but left him lying.
Scarlett ? he shouted. Where are you, good Will ?"
"Here I be !" came a weak voice from the corridor.
Robin went along warily, passing a great chamber through
the doorway of which shone a red glow from the fire in which
the executioner had been heating his implements of torture,
and other doors from which unfortunate victims of Isambart's
cruelty called out or moaned as he passed. He called again to
make sure of the cell in which Scarlett had been placed, found
the right key, and flung the door open.
Will Scarlett staggered out, a bloodstained bandage round
his head. "I knew you would not fail me, Robin," he said
weakly, "but I doubt if I have strength to win back to the
greenwood. They have wounded me sorely."
Courage, good Will," said Robin, and a breath of fresh
air outside this unwholesome place will work wonders. But
I think we have time to unlock a few of these doors as we go.
We may win aid from those within, if we could only arm them."
Door after door he unlocked as they went along the corridor
to the foot of the stairway, and out crawled a dozen pallid
wretches who would have kissed his feet in thankfulness had he
let them, while there were four stout fellows who had not been
WILL SCARLETT'S RESCUE
long confined, and one tall man who bowed courteously to
Robin and thanked him for his deliverance.
He had now five good men, in addition to those who were
so weak from long imprisonment that they were useless, and he
set two of them to help Will Scarlett along. He found a low-set
door in the wall at the foot of the stairs, and, unlocking it, dis-
closed the black darkness of a slimy passage.
Just then they heard faintly the sound of great thunderous
blows above their heads, and Robin smiled grimly at the noise.
That is Isambart, past doubt," he said. He is trying to
batter in his own front door, by the sound of it."
And so it was, for since Robin had locked the door of the
great inner hall, nobody could get at the bolts of the outer door
from its inside to open it, and Isambart's only chance was to
batter it down, though he knew it would take a good month of
carpenters' and smiths' work to make him another like it, to
say nothing of the damage to the masonry.
"We must e'en go this way," said Robin, gazing into the
darkness of the passage. One of you fetch me the torch from
the far end of the corridor, and I will lead the way."
When the torch was brought he advanced into the passage.
For nearly a quarter of a mile, they judged, they tramped through
the dripping, slimy way, until before them daylight showed
through the keyhole of an iron door.
Now let us pray that I have the key of this door," Robin
said, and sought among those he had brought. Among them
was one that fitted, and he led the way out into a deep arch,
beyond which showed the brilliant sunshine of the day.
They found themselves standing at the top of a steep slope,
with the castle wall behind them, and before them the depths
of the moat. Beyond in the distance, waiting for them, lay a
body of Robin's men, among whom Little John stood up and
waved to them to announce that they had been seen, after which
he sank down again into the grass.
We must swim for it," Robin said. Come on, Will,
and let me give you a hand across."
The tall man who had thanked him stepped forward.
"Good sir," he said, "do you let me take one side of him."
Willingly," said Robin, but who may you be that talk like
a Norman, and yet lie in prison at a Norman knight's hands ? "
"I am a knight, Sir Richard at Lea," said the other.
"Mercy on us Robin ejaculated, startled. But let us
get across this water before we talk about it."
He led the way down the bank, helping Scarlett as he went,
and Sir Richard gave the wounded man a lift on his other side.
They got across and climbed out, followed by the four men
who had had strength to arm themselves, and by two other
prisoners. The rest, hopeless and hardly sane after years of
Isambart's cruelties, dared not trust themselves to swim the
moat, and stood by the archway in the wall, staring stupidly.
Poor wretches," Robin said, looking back at them, "I
would that we could have saved them. Let us march quickly."
A little later, a troop of a dozen horsemen clattered out over
the drawbridge, rounded the moat, and galloped across the open
to cut off the fleeing men. Then from under the rags that dis-
guised him Robin took the silver bugle he had won in the
tournament at Nottingham, and blew five blasts on it.
And from the edge of the wood to which Robin and his
party advanced there hummed and sang flight after flight of
great arrows toward the pursuing horsemen, so that within a
minute half their horses were down, and the rest were bolting.
Robin blew one short blast, and the arrow showers ceased.
Man," said Sir Richard at Lea, are you a magician ?"
NEWS FROM THE EAST
WHILE Sir Richard wondered, Robin Hood went on
toward the forest shades, where, as his men gathered
round him and the rescued Will Scarlett, the knight
marvelled still more.
See to our good Will, Little John," Robin bade, for
they had given him a nasty cut over the head, and we must
carry him back to our retreat." He turned then to the knight.
"And you, sir, though you give me an impossible name, will
perhaps come with us for rest and food ? "
Right gladly," the knight answered. But why do you
call the name I give you impossible."
For that Sir Richard at Lea was drowned in the ship that
was sunk when he went to join our King Richard fighting in the
Holy Land. That is an old tale, and I must be the magician
you called me if I rescue a dead man from Isambart's dungeons."
Isambart's dungeons ? the knight echoed. But they
were the dungeons of Roger whom they call the Cruel. I never
saw Isambart de Belame, all the time of my imprisonment."
"This, then, is a mystery," Robin said, puzzled. Good
knight, tell us all your tale as we go back to our camp, and know
yourself safe in Sherwood with Robin Hood and his band."
And who may they be ? the knight asked.
You mean that you have never heard of Robin Hood ? "
Little John asked in amazement. Where have you been ? "
"Jailed from all knowledge these four years past," Sir
Richard answered sadly, so that I know not if my dear daughter
be living, nor what hath passed in the outer world."
Then tell us all the tale," Robin bade.
The tale begins with my wife's dying," the knight said,
at which I determined to go and fight the Saracen with our
great king, for so I might forget my grief awhile. Thus I gave
my daughter Marian into charge of Abbot Hugo of St. Mary's,
and agreed with him that she should be sent to Kirklees. Then,
having but little ready money, I borrowed five hundred marks
from the Abbot for my gear and the hire of a ship for me and
my men, agreeing to pay him fifty marks a year for the use of
the money when I should return, and pledging my chief manor
as proof that I would pay him. So he holds the deeds of the
manor to this day."
Even so," said Robin, and I might have guessed the
hand of Abbot Hugo in this dark tale. But tell us the rest."
Having made all ready, and bidden farewell to my sweet
daughter, I took my men to Hull, and there we set sail in a ship
bound for Bordeaux, where I had been told I should find others
assembling on my errand. But a storm came out of the east
when we had been but three hours at sea, and we drove on to
the Lincolnshire coast. Whether any other man was saved out
of the wreck I do not know, but I was lifted ashore on the end
of a broken spar to which I clung, sore wounded with a great
cut in the head, and near on senseless. To the men who found
me I had strength to bid that they take me to St. Mary's Abbey,
and after that I remember no more, for a fever came of the
great wound I had got."
So you do not know if you came to St. Mary's Abbey ?"
I have memory, like a dream, of Abbot Hugo and Roger
the Cruel talking together," Sir Richard answered, "and after
NEWS FROM THE EAST
that a great darkness as the fever came again. I wakened in the
dungeons from which you released me."
"And for how long does the bond hold under which you
borrowed the marks from the Abbot ? Robin asked.
Four years," the knight answered. Unless it be paid by
Michaelmas Day of this year, then my best manor lands are
forfeit to Abbot Hugo."
Even so," and Robin nodded, and all the plot is clear.
He would keep you jailed, since even he dare not have you
killed, for the full four years, and then the manor would fall
to him. Also he would have you think it was Roger the Cruel
who held you prisoner, and not Isambart de Belame, for he
would have married your daughter Marian to Belame. Now there
are yet seven weeks to Michaelmas Day, good Sir Richard."
And the bond is for seven hundred marks!" said Sir
Richard, while if it were but seven I could not pay it."
Rest content on that, Sir Richard, and I will lend you the
money," Robin said. It is but a small sum to us."
Why," said Sir Richard, only a king could call it a
small sum, and who are you that talk so ? "
King in Sherwood, and some small relative to you by
marriage," Robin answered with a laugh. "You shall see."
For now, marching through the forest shades, they drew
near the outlaws' retreat, and began to descend the path in the
side of the cliff that led to their hidden glade. Sir Richard
shook his head in a puzzled way as he saw the huts in the valley.
Nay," he said, "for I know all my dead wife's people,
and there was none like you among them."
But now Marian came running toward the path, for, like
the good wife she was, she had waited in fear till she could learn
how Robin had fared over his daring venture into Evil Hold.
With no eyes for any other, she flung herself into Robin's arms.
"I could do naught but sit and pray for you," she said,
and all the time I feared for you, in that den of evil men."
Robin kissed her and held her back from him. We are all
safe, and Scarlett back with us with a wound for you to heal,
Marian," he said. But look about you, and see if you know any
of those we bring with us."
Then, with a great cry of joy, she was in Sir Richard's arms,
folded close to his heart. Oh, we all thought you dead!"
she cried happily. Robin, this is too wonderful."
The knight looked at his rescuer over Marian's head. Sir,"
he said, I know not who you are or why you are here, but in
one day you have restored to me my freedom and my daughter,
though why she should first come to your arms- "
Plague on it said Robin with a laugh, may not a man's
own wife kiss him when he comes back ? "
I could wish her no better husband, from the little I know
of him," Sir Richard said. Yet there is a smack of outlawry
about this wild place, and if that is not venison I smell cooking,
I know not the scent of deer meat. Yet it is no affair of mine."
Good Sir Richard," said Robin, some of that same
venison shall speedily be your affair, and we will make this a
feast day in honour of your release and that of my stout Will
Scarlett, whose good wife gave me the two hives of bees that
made such a rout of Isambart and his men in the castle yard,
while I came looking for you. Marian, set Friar Tuck to work
dressing the meat from our larder, and when you tell him who
is our guest I warrant he will excel himself as a cook.
Right merrily did they feast on venison and the meat of the
wild boar, and fat geese and pheasants, with good white bread
such as was seldom seen in those days except at the tables of
the nobles, while Sir Richard looked at his daughter's happy
face as if he could never take his eyes from her.
The first of them was bare from the waist upward and wore a black
THE BLACK KNIGHT APPEARS
AND now Fortune, which so far had befriended Robin,
deserted him, for while he was absent on a distant foray
Isambart de Belame burned out the glade, and carried off
Marian to Evil Hold, with five of Robin's good men.
Dusk was falling when Robin and his party dismounted on
the edge of the woods, and looked out on Evil Hold.
"Look, good Robin," said Little John, with a sob in his
voice, and pointed toward the great castle on its height. In
one way we are too late to aid, for we shall speak with those
five no more."
Above the outer wall of the castle reared a skeleton frame-
work, and on it swung five black figures, still and ominous.
A long time Robin looked at his dead men in silence, and then
he drew his sword and put the cross of its hilt against his lips.
By our Lady the Virgin," he said slowly, I will not rest
from war against this evil man until he is lifeless as are they.
By dawn I will have a plan to make an end of Isambart."
But who comes here ? Little John asked.
From the direction of the castle a strange knight came
toward them, riding a great black horse, and armed all in black,
with visor down. It was strange that he neither reined in nor
showed any sign of alarm at sight of more than a score of armed
men on the track, for in those troubled times such a lone rider
might expect attack. But he came on like a tower of black iron,
and they saw a great battle-axe hanging by his saddle bow.
"A bold man," said Robin, admiringly. "Knight," he
called, what do you ride at on these forest ways ? "
The Black Knight reined in, and when he spoke his voice
sounded hollow from between the bars of his visor.
I do as I will, to whom I will," he answered, but for this
present I seek shelter for my horse and myself in the forest."
Yet there is a strong castle behind you would give shelter,"
Robin pointed out, "if you are on Count John's affairs."
Count John's affairs are near my own," said the knight.
Then in that castle is a man of his, and we will have
pleasure in killing you with him when we set about the castle,"
Robin said. Get you gone, for we, being more than a score,
would not set about one man."
There is a mystery here," the knight said thoughtfully,
"for you are not armed as Normans arm, nor as the Saxons.
And why do you propose to attack yonder castle ? "
For many reasons," Robin answered, why you, being
John's man, may not hear. Get gone, to the castle or elsewhere."
Though John's affairs are very near mine, I am not John's
man," the knight answered, and if there be cause for the pull-
ing down of that castle I might help. But is there cause ? "
Right good cause," Robin answered. If you should care
to eat with us, I can tell you some of the cause, good knight,
and you may see whether it is worth while to swing that great
axe of yours beside us-or against us. For if you are for that
castle's owner, it will give me great pleasure to kill you."
The Black Knight dismounted from his horse, a great, strong
figure of a man. I will eat with you," he said, and we may
discuss this matter while we eat. To my thought, these strong
castles are too plentiful about the country, but whether this one
should be attacked or no is matter for grave thought. You shall
state your reasons."
THE BLACK KNIGHT APPEARS 79
So, when they had all tended their horses, and settled round
a fire deeply set in the forest shade, so that Isambart's sentries
could not see the flame, Robin told the tale of how Sir Richard
at Lea had been imprisoned in Evil Hold for nearly four years,
so that Abbot Hugo might have his manor and Isambart might
have his daughter and the rest of his lands. The Black Knight,
who had raised his visor to eat, but kept his helmet on so that
they could see little of his face, listened to the story.
Right well I know that Sir Richard," he said, for I was
present when he was knighted by King Henry. But where do
you who tell this tale come into it? What have Sir Richard's
woes to do with you ? "
Sir Richard's daughter is my wife," Robin answered.
Yet even then, since you have the maid as your wife, and
this Sir Isambart have not harmed you, it is not your quarrel,"
said the knight.
Robin pointed through the trees in the direction of the
castle. She lies prisoner in that hold, captured in my absence,
when this Sir Isambart burned my home and took my men to
hang them from his castle wall," he said. Knight, by your
talk you are Norman, but so is my wife's father, for there are
some good Normans, and I would that the best of them all, our
King Richard, were back to right some of these wrongs in
England. If you choose to help us, then we are glad of you."
Of a surety I will help you," the Black Knight promised,
"for of this burning of homes and carrying off of women-
aye, and hanging of men too there is too much, and it is
time these robber barons were taught their lesson. But how
will you, with not more than a score men, go up against such
a castle as that ? "
"Aye, how, good Robin ?" asked Little John. Shall we
sit under the wall and scratch a hole in it with our finger nails ? "
What name was that he called you ? the knight asked.
My own name-Robin Hood. But remember, good knight,
you have promised us your aid !"
The knight laughed softly to himself, and for a few moments
sat in thought. Aye, I have promised," he said at last. Yet,
Robin Hood, will you scratch a hole in the wall of the castle
and crawl through, as your man here asked just now ? For it is
no small thing to attack such a place."
I have thirty more men to come," Robin said shortly,
" and when it is time I will scratch you such a hole in the wall
of this castle as shall leave it toppling, if a dozen of the best
of you come with me."
You have a plan then ? the knight asked.
I have more, a key by which to enter the very keep itself.
For when I had rescued Sir Richard along with my own man
from their dungeons, I kept the key of the postern at back of the
castle, and now wait only for the rest of my men to come up
before attacking from the inside, and opening the gate to the
main party of my men."
"A bold game to play, outlaw," he said, but ever the bold
game wins. When your men come up, I will either come with
you by the postern, or lead the main attack for you, as you will."
Robin looked at the knight's mighty frame. Then lead me
the main attack," he said, for craft will mainly serve inside,
but such strength as yours will be needed in the main attack."
The knight sat looking into the embers of their fire, as if
deep in thought. Then he stood up.
I will go and sleep by my horse," he said, but you have
given me much on which to think, Robin Hood. Some day,
perhaps, you may know my name, but before that I will help
you in this business of the castle over on the hill there, for that
is a foul tyrant who hath no place within the law or out of it."
THE END OF EVIL HOLD
W REATHS of autumn mist shrouded the forest ways
next day when Friar Tuck tramped in with the rest of
Robin Hood's men and asked what plans Robin had
made for the attack on Evil Hold. The Black Knight-for they
knew him by no other name-stood by and listened while Robin
told his men how Isambart had hanged the five he had captured,
and many a promise of vengeance was made as they heard.
Now, for the sake of Marian, we must lose no time," Robin
said. This knight hath promised me that he will lead the attack
on the main gateway of the castle, while I, who know of a way
in, will take a score of you who can swim, and attack from the
inside, while Isambart and his men are busy defending the
But," said the knight, at whom all looked as he stood
among them with his visor down, there must be some signal,
so that neither your men nor those I lead attack too soon, for
else this Isambart will dispose of one party first and then turn
on the other."
Signal enough," Robin answered, "for I with these men
swim the moat at the back of the castle, and when you see us
up against the wall itself, then do you attack in front. They
will muster to resist you, and leave me to do what I will in the
keep. And I want Dickon of Hartshead, who helped in the
building of the place, to come with me and show me the ways
of it, since Marian is prisoned there."
He took Little John, and Dickon, and eighteen more, armed
only with swords, since he reckoned on getting at Isambart's
armoury, once they were inside, and knew that if they took
bows the strings would only get wetted and useless in crossing
the moat. They could not have had a better day, for mists
lay over all the countryside, and, moving as only foresters can,
they were able to make their way to the very edge of the moat
unseen. As it was, they came up toward the back of the castle,
where little or no watch was kept, and there waited awhile, for
the mists were deepening to fog, and Robin hoped, if it thickened
a little more, to swim the moat unseen by the men who walked
Unseen he crossed, a little after noon, and helped man after
man up the inner bank until all were across. Then they crawled
warily up the steep slope and gained the shelter of the archway
which hid the iron door leading into Isambart's secret passage,
and then the chain of watchers whom the knight and Friar
Tuck had posted passed back word that it was time to begin
the main attack, at which the larger party of the outlaws, led
by the Black Knight, moved out from the forest toward the gate.
The key of the iron door squealed in its rusty lock as Robin
turned it, and as he thrust the door open he heard a shout from
the battlements, at which he feared lest he had been seen in the
archway. But it was the cry passed on from Isambart that the
main gate was about to be attacked, and after it a trumpet blew
for the assembly of the castle garrison. One by one Robin
and his men filed into the secret way, and in single file marched
down it, in pitch darkness, for after their crossing of the moat
they had no means of making a light.
Cut off from all hearing of what was passing above them,
they reached the door that gave on to the corridor of dungeons
and Isambart's torture chamber, and here Robin, who had kept
THE END OF EVIL HOLD 83
only the one key, called forward Little John to come up beside
'Tis but a flimsy door of wood, John," he whispered,
" and I have no key to it. But it opens outward, and your great
shoulder may serve with my help to make us a way."
He put his own shoulder against the door, and felt it give
slightly. For a moment they listened, but there was no sound
in the corridor beyond, and then Little John put his mighty
bulk against the door with Robin. At a tremendous heave by
them both the woodwork about the lock splintered and gave
way, and they half fell into the dim light of the dungeon corridor.
A moaning came from one of the cells, but no other sound.
Dickon," Robin bade one of his followers, "before our
work here is finished, do you get the keys of these cells and let
loose any poor wretches you find within. But now we have
another door to force at the top of these stairs, before we win
out to the entrance of the keep itself."
He went forward into the torture chamber, which was
unlighted now, and there found two great hammers used for
riveting fetters on Isambart's prisoners. One he took for himself,
and the other for Little John, and led the way up the stair.
Stand back, Robin," Little John bade, and give me that
heavier hammer, for there is room for but one to swing a blow,
He felt about the door till he had found its lock, while one
of the band passed up the torch which burned at the far end
of the dungeon corridor. Little John spat on his hands, took a
grip of the great hammer, and whirled it above his head, bring-
ing it down with a crash on the lock of the door. They saw a
crack of light show beyond, and gripped their swords as the
hammer swung again, and with a second crashing blow burst
them a way out to the entrance of the keep.
Four men, whom Isambart had left to guard his prisoners
when he went to the defence of the drawbridge, started forward,
but Little John's hammer took one in the chest and sent him
flying against another, so that two were down with the one
blow. Robin accounted for a third, and the fourth bolted with
a yell for Isambart's great hall, but never reached it, for the whole
score of Robin's men were close behind him, hot and eager.
They surged into the hall, and paused, for at the far side, bound
in a chair, sat Marian all alone, with a great parchment spread
on the table before her, and an inkhorn and quill beside it.
"Robin!" she cried. Robin-he would have made me
sign away my lands to him, but I would not."
Time for that afterward, dear wife," Robin answered,
stooping to kiss her as he drew his sword to cut her bonds.
" Now, any two of you but Dickon or Little John, take her out
by the secret passage, and across the moat to safety. Here is no
place for women, if we would win the castle."
He stayed but for a word more with her, but, as two
volunteered to escort her out to the safety of the forest, followed
Dickon of Hartshead to Isambart's armoury. A dozen of his
men went out to the shattered door of the keep, which Isambart
himself had had to batter down after Robin had locked him
out of his own castle, and which had not yet been repaired. While
Robin and Dickon were busy getting bows these dozen had to
stand the attack of Roger the Cruel and half a score men-at-arms
who had seen that all was not well inside the castle. Little John
crashed Roger to earth as a great arrow sang by his ear and
pinned another man so that he fell, and Robin shouted joy-
fully. Bows, men-bows for all! Stand aside and let us at
The dozen fell back against the walls, and a hail of arrows
finished off the men Roger had fetched. Now they could hear
THE END OF EVIL HOLD
the roaring attack that went on by the drawbridge, led by the
Black Knight, and Robin served out a bow and full quiver from
Isambart's armoury to each man.
Out and at them," he bade, while they meet the attack
The Black Knight had led his party on with a rush, and they
came at the drawbridge out of the mist while Little John was
battering a way through the door at the top of the dungeon
stair; Friar Tuck, puffing as he ran, bore the biggest ladder
he could find, to help in crossing the moat if they were too late
to win the drawbridge, and two others also carried ladders they
had taken from a farm nearby. The Black Knight, leading the
whole of them in spite of his armour, was still a score yards
from the end of the drawbridge when the alarm sounded within
the castle wall and the end of the bridge swung into the air, for
their advance had been seen by the sentry on the wall.
Into the moat with the ladders !" the Black Knight com-
manded. "They will save us from sinking in our armour."
For Robin's men were heavily armed, while the knight himself
was in complete mail from head to foot. And never had they
seen a man so active; he was like a cat on his feet, in spite of
the weight of metal he carried.
Splash went the ladders at his word, and he leaped into the
water, grasping one and pushing it across as he swam. Cross-
bow bolts rattled on him, but they were no more than flies
buzzing, for all the notice he took of them. Friar Tuck, who
plunged in beside him, grabbed the end of the ladder just in
time as the water closed over his head, and came up blowing
like a whale.
"I had sooner drink wine," he remarked. This moat
hath an unpleasant flavour, like its owner."
The other ladders pitched in, and by the aid of all three a