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of Great Renown, inNottinghamshire.
WRITTEN and ILLUS TREATED
By HOWARD PYLE.
PRI N TERS.
NEW YOR K:
Printed byCHARLES 3CRIBNER'S SONS atV
MDCCCLX XXI l. b
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By CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS.
From the Author to the Reader.
y 0 U who so plod amid serious things that you feel it shame to give
yourself up even for a few short moments to mirth and joyous-
ness in the land of Fancy ; you who think that life hath nought
to do with innocent laughter that can harm no one; these pages are not
for you. Clap to the leaves and go no farther than this, for I tell you
plainly that if you go farther you will be scandalized by seeing good,
sober folks of real history so frisk and caper in gay colors and motley,
that you would not know them but for the names tagged to them.
Here is a stout, lusty fellow with a quick temper, yet none so ill for all
that, who goes by the name of Henry II. Here is a fair, gentle lady
before whom all the others bow and call her Queen Eleanor. Here is
a fat rogue of a fellow, dressed up in rich robes of a clerical kind, that
all the good folk call my Lord Bishop of Hereford. Here is a certain
fellow with a sour temper and a grim look the worshipful, the
Sheriff' of Nottingham. And here, above all, is a great, tall, merry
fellow that roams the greenwood and joins in homely sports, and sits
beside the Sheriff at merry feast, which same beareth the name of the
proudest of the Plantagenets Richard of the Lion's Heart. Beside
these there are a whole host of knights, priests, nobles, burghers, yeo-
men, pages, ladies, lasses, landlords, beggars, pedlers, and what not, all
living the merriest of merry lives, and all bound by nothing but a few
odd strands of certain old ballads (snziped and clipped and tied together
again in a score of knots) which draw these jocund fellows here and
there, singing as they go.
Here you will find a hundred dull, sober, jogging places, all tricked
out with flowers and what not, till no one would know them in their
fanciful dress. And here is a country bearing a well-known name,
wherein no chill mists press upon our spirits, and no rain falls but
what rolls off our backs like April showers off the backs of sleek
drakes; where flowers bloom forever and birds are always singing;
where every fellow hath a merry catch as he travels the roads, and ale
and beer and wine (such as muddle no wits) flow like water in a brook.
This country is not Fairy-land. What is it? 'Tis the land of
Fancy, and is of that pleasant kind that, when you tire of it, whisk !
-you clap the leaves of this book together and 'tis gone, and you are
ready for every-day life, with no harm done.
And now I lift the curtain that hangs between here and No-man's-
land. Will you come with me, sweet Reader? I thank you. Give
me your hand.
Robin Hood sets forth to the shooting-match at Nottingham Town-
Meets the King's foresters feasting in the forest The foresters mock
him He slays a deer upon a wager The foresters drive him away
- He slays one of them He seeks refuge in the forest, where many
others join with him Robin Hood sets forth to seek adventure -
Meets a stranger at a bridge They fight upon the bridge -Robin
Hood is overthrown He calls his merry men, who overcome the stran-
ger- Robin Hood shoots a match with the stranger, whom he van-
quis/es The stranger joins the band-- The stranger is christened in
the forest and thenceforth called Little ohn .
The Sheriff of Nottingham sends a messenger to Lincoln The mes-
senger meets a Tinker The Tinker sets forth to seek Robin Hood -
Meets Robin Hood, but does not know him Robin makes the Tin-
ker drunk at the Blue Boar Inn Robin steals his warrant- The
Tinker meets Robin in the forest They fight The Tinker joins the
The Sheriff of Nottingham goes to London to see King Henry The
King chides him The Sheriff returns to Nottingham Town He
proclaims a grand shooting-match Robin and his band go to the shoot-
ing-match in disguise- The fine sight at Nottingham The tattered
X TABLE OF CONTENTS.
stranger in scarlet wins the golden arrow Robin Hood sends a mes-
sage of victory to the Sherif .. 25
Robin and his Band lie hidden in the forest He sends Will Stutely
to seek news of the Sherif's doings Will Stutely is discovered and
captured- News is brought to Robin Hood- Robin and his men set
forth to rescue Will Stutely. An aged Palmer gives young David of
Doncaster news of Stutely Little John cuts Will Stutely's bonds -
Robin Hood and his Band overcome the Sheriff's men and bring Will
Stutely of with them .. 34
Robin Hood meets a jolly young Butcher--He buys the Butcher's
meat Robin sells his meat merrily in Nottingham Town The
Butchers' Guild invite Robin to their great dinner-- The Sherff of
Nottingham is pleased with Robin He barters with Robin for his
horned beasts- The Sheriff accompanies Robin to the forest -Robin
Hood feasts the Sheriff in Sherwood Forest The Sheriff pays dearly
for his meal. 47
Little 7ohn goes to the Fair at Nottingham Town He treats all
the people to ale He dances with. the maidens Little fohn fights
with and overcomes Eric o' Lincoln He wins the prize with the long-
bow He enters the Sheriff's service 57
TABLE OF CONTENTS. xi
Little 7ohn tires of the Sherff's service-- The Sherff's Steward
refuses Little 7ohn his breakfast- Little John smites the Steward-
The Steward calls upon the Cook to help him The Cook and Little
yohn have a merry feast together-- The Cook and Little John have a
mighty battle Little John persuades the Cook to join the Band-
The Cook and Little 7ohn steal the Sheriff's silverplate- Little 7ohn
returns to Robin Hood- Robin Hood chides Little Yohn for stealing
the plate -Little 7ohn brings the Sheriff to Sherwood- Robin Hood
gives the Sherff his plate again, and leads him out of the forest 65
Robin Hood sends Little John on a mission to Ancaster- Little
John tarries by the way at the Blue Boar Inn Little yohn sets forth
once more upon his mission- He meets Arthur a Bland Robin
Hood, seeking Little John to chide him, hears the combat He looks on
unperceived- Arthur a Bland overcomes Little 7ohn Robin Hood
discovers himself and mocks at Little yohn Robin Hood, Little John,
and Arthur a Bland set forth once more to Ancaster 79
The three yeomen rest by the wayside Robin Hood stops a stranger
in scarlet-Robin Hood fights the stranger- He is overcome Little
xii TABLE OF CONTENTS.
7ohn and Arthur a Bland interfere Robin Hood finds the stranger
to be his nephew- Will Scarlet tells his story Little .ohn galls
Robin Hood ... 88
A merry feast by the roadside The four yeomen stop the Miller-
The Miller plays a cunning trick upon them He beats all four of
them Midge, the Miller's son, joins the band- They all return to
-the forest 98
Robin Hood sends Will Stutely and six of the band to seek some one
to dine with him in the forest- They find only a sorrowful minstrel-
Allan a Dale tells his story Robin Hood swears by this and by that
to aid him, and bring him to- his own true love -Will Scarlet tells
Robin Hood of the curtal Friar Allan a Dale sings before Robin
and the band- Allan a Dale joins the band 15
Robin Hood and certain others set forth to seek the Friar of Foun-
tain dale Robin sees a stranger feasting merrily beneath a bank -
Robin joins in the stranger's song- The stout Brother carries Robin
across the water- Robin carries the stout Brother back again -Robin
TABLE OF CONTENTS. xiii
gets a ducking- Robin and the curtal Friar fight a mighty battle-
The Friar gives Robin Hood leave to blow upon his bugle horn -
Robin Hood gives the Friar leave to blow upon his whistle Will
Scarlet meets four old friends The curtal Friar goes back to Sher-
wood with the yeomen 128
Robin puts on a strange garb Robin and a score of his band,
together with Friar Tuck and Allan a Dale, go to the little church in
Brother Dale -Robin will not harp at the Bishop of Hereford's bid
ding Robin stays the marriage Robin gives Ellen's father a goodly
marriage portion The Bishop giveth the bride a wedding-gift Friar
Tuck joins the band 143,
Robin Hood and Little 7ohn set forth each to seek a guest to dine
with them Robin stops a sorrowful Knizht- He brings -the Knight
into the forest--The Knight tells his story Robin finds the Bishop
of Hereford in the forest -Robin shows his skill as an archer- A
forest feast The Bishop finds money to pay the Knight's dues -
The band give fair presents to the Knight-- Little 7ohn goes wvith
the Knight from the forest The Bishop of Hereford abides three
days with Robin Hood 57
xiv TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Sir Richard of the Lea pays his debts to the Prior of Emmet-
Sir Richard saves the life of a young yeoman Sir Richard comes
back to Sherwood to pay his dues Sir Richard brings a fair present
to Robin Hood from himself and his good Lady 171
Robin Hood and Little 7ohn set forth from the forest in search of
adventure Little John as a barefoot friar meets three fair lasses -
Little yohn shows his wit and carries three baskets of eggs at once -
Little yohn meets three merry wags Little yohn travels with two
holy friars Little 7ohn and the friars pray to some purpose 187
Robin Hood meets a beggar on a stile Robin has both a feast and
a fight Robin Hood comes upon four stout beggars Robin Hood
Sovercomes the beggars and gets richly paid for his pains Robin meets
a Corn Engrosser near the cross at Ollerton The Corn Engrosser
tells a misplaced secret to Robin Hood 200
TABLE OF CONTENTS. xv
The Queen sends for Robin Hood to come to London --Robin Hood
sets forth with three of his merry men -Allan a Dale sings before
the Queen The Queen lays a wager with the King at the famous
archery bout at Finsbury Fields The King gives a pledge Robin
Hood and Little John win their prizes, whilst Will Scarlet loses his -
The Queen sends Robin Hood a warning. 219
The Bishop of Hereford stirs up the King's wrath against Robin
Hood- Will Scarlet, Little 7ohn, and Allan a Dale get back to Sher-
wood- Robin has a narrow miss of losing his life -He escapes from
the King's men He changes clothes with a cobbler Robin Hood has
a strange bedfellow He changes clothes with a friar Sir Richard
of the Lea brings Robin Hood to London Robin Hood throws himself
on the Queen's mercy He gets safely back to Sherwood Forest 235
Robin Hood meets with a strange fellow in Sherwood Guy of
Gisbourne tells Robin Hood his story Robin outshoots Guy of Gis-
XVi TABLE OF CONTENTS.
bourne Robin Hood slays Guy of Gisbourne Robin Hood puts on
Guy of Gisbourne's clothes The Widow tells Little 7ohn her story -
Little. ,ohn sets the Widpov's three sons free The Sheriff of Notting-
ham takes Little John Robin Hood rescues Little yohn The Sheriff
carries something away with him that he did not want 255
King Richard of the Lion's Heart comes to Nottingham Sir
Henry of the Lea tells a merry tale The King and six others go into
the forest disguised as friars Robin Hood stops the King in the
forest- Robin Hood misses the mark -Robin Hood gets more than
he bargained for- Sir Richard of the Lea comes to give Robin Hood
warning of danger- The King pardons Sir Richard and Robin Hood
and all the. yeomen Robin Hood leaves Sherwood- He becomes Earl
of Huntingdon 2-70
Robin Hood returns to Sherwood Forest-- Sir William Dale is sent
against him The King's and Robin Hood's men have a mighty battle
in the woodlands The Sheriff of Nottingham is slain Robin
Hood falls sick, and goes to his cousin, the Prioress of Kirklees, to be
bled His cousin betrays him Little 7ohn comes to Robin Hood
through bolts and bars Robin Hood shoots his last shaft Robin
Hoods epitah 288
L 5T ILLV RATION S.
Ornament for Fly-Leaf.
The merry Friar carrieth Robin across the Water. Frontispiece.
Head-Piece Preface vii
Tail-Piece- Preface viii
Head-Piece Table of Contents ix
Head-Piece List of Illustrations xvii
Tail-Piece List of Illustrations xx
Robin Hood meeteth the tall Stranger on the Bridge xxii
Head-Piece Prologue .
Young Robin goes to the Shooting-Match.
Tail-Piece Prologue 10
xviii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Robin and the Tinker at the Blue Boar Inn 12
Head-Piece- Part I. 13
The Sheriff of Nottingham sends a Messenger to Lincoln.
The Sheriff of Nottingham cometh before the King at London 24
The aged Palmer gives young David of Doncaster news of
Will Stutely 39
Tail-Piece Part 44
Robin turns Butcher and sells his meat in Nottingham 46
Head-piece -Part 47
Robin buys the Butcher's meat.
Little John overcomes Eric o' Lincoln 62
The mighty Fight betwixt Little John and the Cook 72
The stout Bout between Little John and Arthur a Bland 78
Head-Piece -Part I. 79
Little 7ohn knoweth not which Road to take.
Merry Robin stops a Stranger in Scarlet 91
The four Yeomen have merry sport with a stout Miller 108
Tail-Piece-Part I 1 12
LIST OF ILL USTRATIONS. xix
Allan a Dale lieth beside the Fountain 114
Head-Piece Part IV. .. 15
Allan a Dale tells his Story.
The merry Friar sings a goodly Song 137
Robin Hood steps betwixt Sir Stephen and his Bride 149
Tail-Piece Part IV. 54
Merry Robin stops a sorrowful Knight 156
Head-Piece- Part V. 57
The young Knight of the Lea overcomes the Knight of Lancaster.
Sir Richard pleadeth before the Prior of Emmet 175
Tail-Piece Part V. 184
Little John in the guise of a Friar stops three Lasses 186
Head-Piece Part VI. 187
Little 7ohn journeys in Holy Company.
Merry Robin clad as a Beggar stops the Corn Engrosser by
the Cross nigh Ollerton 211
Tail-Piece-- Part VI. 216
Allan a Dale singeth before our good Queen Eleanor 218
Head-Piece -Part VII. 219
Young Richard PartingtoQ, cometh to seek merry Robin Hood.
xx LIST OF ILL USTRATIONS.
Stout Robin hath a narrow Escape. 242
Tail-Piece--Part V 252
Robin Hood slayeth Guy of Gisbourne 254
Head-Piece -Part VIII 255
Robin and Little oohn go their ways in search of Adventure.
Merry Robin hath the worst of a Bargain 280
Tail-Piece Part VII 285
Robin shooteth his last Shaft 288
Head-Piece- Epilogue 289
So ye Great Reaper reapeth among the Flowers.
N O-N 4 0-0 .
S,'-* ~. 4*I
the t 2
Robin H ood-meeteth-tet
= Stranger-on-the- Brid
F 8*/~/ A.hslVl~'k. Y.r :
'IofbFkiY IHdoI,' I' \\\IB9h /to I~r,
Giving an account of Robin Hood and his adventure with the King's
foresters. Also telling how his Band gathered around him ; and of
the merry adventure that gained him his good right-hand man, the
famous Little yohn.
1N merry England in the time of old, when good King
Henry the Second ruled the land, there lived within
the green glades of Sherwood Forest, near Nottingham
Town, a famous outlaw whose name was Robin Hood.
No archer ever lived that could speed a gray goose shaft
with such skill and cunning as his, nor were there ever
such yeomen as the sevenscore merry men that roamed
with him through the greenwood shades. Right mer-
rily they dwelt within the depths of Sherwood Forest, suffering neither care
nor want, but passing the time in merry games of archery or bouts of cudgel
play, living upon the King's venison, washed down with draughts of ale of Octo-
Not only Robin himself but all the band were outlaws and dwelt apart from
other men, yet they were beloved by the country people round about,, for no-
one ever came to jolly Robin for help in time of need and went away again
with an empty fist.
And now I will tell how it first came about that Robin Hood fell afoul of the
When Robin was a youth of eighteen, stout of sinew and bold of heart, the
The Sheriffro- Sheriff of Nottingham proclaimed a shooting-match and offered a
claimeth a shoot- prize of a butt of ale to whomsoever should shoot the best shaft
Robin Hood go- in Nottinghamshire. Now," quoth Robin, "will I go too, for
eth with his bow. fain would I draw a string for the bright eyes of my lass, and a
butt of good October brewing." So up he got and took his good stout yew
bow and a score or more of broad clothyard arrows, and started off from Locks-
ley Town through Sherwood Forest to Nottingham.
It was at the dawn of day in the merry May-time, when hedgerows are
green and flowers bedeck the meadows; daisies pied and yellow cuckoo buds
and fair primroses all along the briery hedges; when apple buds blossom and
sweet birds sing, the lark at dawn of day, the throstle cock and cuckoo ; when
.ads and lasses look upon each other with sweet thoughts; when busy house-
wives spread their linen to bleach upon the bright green grass. Sweet was the
greenwood as he walked along its paths, and bright the green and rustling leaves,
amid which the little birds sang with might and main: and blithely Robin
whistled as he trudged along, thinking of Maid Marian and her bright eyes, for
at such times a youth's thoughts are wont to turn pleasantly upon the lass that
he loves the best.
As thus he walked along with a brisk step and a merry whistle, he came
He meeteth the suddenly upon some foresters seated beneath a great oak tree.
KinX s foresers Fifteen there were in all, making themselves merry with feast-
in the green-
wood. ing and drinking as they sat around a huge pasty, to which each
man helped himself, thrusting his hands into the pie, and washing down that
which they ate with great horns of ale which they drew all foaming from a bar-
rel that stood nigh. Each man was clad in Lincoln green, and a fine show
they made, seated upon the sward beneath that fair, spreading tree. Then
one of them, with' his mouth full, called out to Robin,-
"" Hulloa, where goest thou, little lad, with thy one penny bow and thy far-
thing shafts ?"
Then Robin grew angry, for no stripling likes to be taunted with his green
Now," quoth he, "my bow and eke mine arrows are as good as thine; and
moreover, I go to the shooting-match at Nottingham Town, which same has
been proclaimed by our good Sheriff of Nottinghamshire; there I will shoot
with other stout yeomen, for a prize has been offered of a fine butt of ale."
Then one who held a horn of ale in his hand, said, Ho listen to the lad I
Why, boy, thy mother's milk is yet scarce dry upon thy lips, and yet thou prat-
est of standing up with good stout men at Nottingham butts, thou who art
scarce able to draw one string of a two stone bow."
PROLOG UE. 3
"I'll hold the best of you twenty marks," quoth bold Robin, that I hit the
clout at threescore rods, by the good help of Our Lady fair."
At this all laughed aloud, and one said, "Well boasted, thou fair infant, well
boasted! and well thou knowest that no target is nigh to make good thy
And another cried, He will be taking ale with his milk next."
At this Robin grew right mad. "Hark ye," said he; "yonder, at the glade's
end, I see a herd of deer, even more than threescore rods distant. I'11 hold
you twenty marks that, by leave of Our Lady, I cause the best hart among
them to die."
"Now done cried he who had spoken first. "And here are twenty marks.
I wager that thou causes no beast to die, with or without the aid of Our
Then Robin took his good yew bow in his hand, and placing the tip at his
instep, he strung it right deftly; then he nocked a broad clothyard Robin killed a
arrow, and, raising the bow, drew the gray goose-feather to his hart oftheherd.
ear; the next moment the bow-string rang and the arrow sped down the glade
as a sparrowhawk skims in a northern wind. High leaped the noblest hart of
all the herd, only to fall dead, reddening the green path with his heart's blood.
Ha!" cried Robin, "how likest thou that shot, good fellow ? I wot the
wager were mine, an it were three hundred pounds."
Then all the foresters were filled with rage, and he who had spoken the first
and had lost the wager was more angry than all.
"Nay," cried he, the wager is none of thine, and get thee gone, straight-
way, or, by all the saints of heaven, I '11 baste thy sides until thou wilt ne'er
be able to walk again."
Knowest thou not," said another, "that thou hast killed the King's deer,
and, by the laws of our gracious lord and sovereign, King Harry, thine ears
should be shaven close to thy head ?"
"Catch him cried a third.
"Nay," said a fourth, let him e'en go because of his tender years."
Never a word said Robin Hood, but he looked at the 'foresters with a grim
face; then, turning on his heel, strode away from them down the forest glade.
But his heart was bitterly angry, for his blood was hot and youthful and prone
Now, well would it have been for him who had first spoken had he left -Robin
Hood alone; but his anger was hot, both because the youth had gotten the
better of him and because of the deep draughts of ale that he had been quaff-
ing. So, of a sudden, without any warning, he sprang to his feet, and seized
upon his bow and fitted it to a shaft. "Ay," cried he, "and I'll hurry thee
anon ;" and he sent the arrow whistling after Robin.
4 PROLOG UE.
It was well for Robin Hood that that same forester's head was spinning with
A forester shoot- ale, or else he would never have taken another step; as it was,
eth at Robin the arrow whistled within three inches of his head. Then he
Hood, and is by
Robin slain turned around and quickly drew his own bow, and sent an arrow
therefore." back in return.
Ye said I was no archer," cried he aloud, "but say so now again !"
The shaft flew straight; the archer fell forward with a cry, and lay on his
face upon the ground, his arrows rattling about him from out of his quiver, the
gray goose shaft wet with his heart's blood. Then, before the others could
gather their wits about them, Robin Hood was gone into the depths of the
greenwood. Some started after him, but not with much heart, for each feared
to suffer the death of his fellow ; so presently they all came and lifted the dead
man up and bore him away to Nottingham Town.
Meanwhile Robin Hood ran through the greenwood. Gone was all the joy
and brightness from everything, for his heart was sick within him, and it was
borne in upon his soul that he had slain a man.
"Alas cried he, thou hast found me an archer that will make thy wife to
wring! I would that thou hadst ne'er said one word to me, or that I had never
passed thy way, or e'en that my right forefinger had been stricken off ere that
this had happened! In haste I smote, but grieve I sore at leisure!" And
then, even in his trouble, he remembered the old saw that "What is done is
done; and the egg cracked cannot be cured."
And so he came to dwell in the greenwood that was to be his home for many
a year to come, never again to see the happy days with the lads
RobinHood be. and lasses of sweet Locksley Town; for he was outlawed, not only
cometh an out- because he had killed a man, but also because he had poached
law. upon the King's deer, and two hundred pounds were set upon his
head, as a reward for whoever would bring him to the court of the King.
Now the Sheriff of Nottingham swore that he himself would bring this knave,
Robin Hood, to justice, and for two reasons: first, because he wanted the two
hundred pounds, and next, because the forester that Robin Hood had killed
was of kin to him.
But Robin Hood lay hidden in Sherwood Forest for one year, and in that
time there gathered around him many others like himself, cast out from other
folk for. this cause and for that. Some had shot deer in hungry winter time,
when they could get no other food, and had been seen in the act by the fores-
ters, but had.escaped, thus saving their ears; some had been turned out of their
inheritance, that their farms might be added to the King's lands in Sherwood
Forest; some had been despoiled by a great baron or a rich abbot or a power-
ful esquire, -all, for one cause or another, had come to Sherwood to escape
wrong and oppression.
So, in all that year, fivescore or more good stout yeomen gathered about
Robin Hood, and chose him to be their leader and chief. Then Robin Hood,
they vowed that even as they themselves had been despoiled they finding himself
would despoil their oppressors, whether baron, abbot, knight, or gather a band
squire, and that from each they would take that which had been about him.
wrung from the poor by unjust taxes, or land rents, or in wrongful fines; but
to the poor folk they would give a helping hand in need and trouble, and would
return to them that which had been unjustly taken from them. Beside this,
they swore never to harm a child nor to wrong a woman, be she maid, wife, or
widow; so that, after a while, when the people began to find that no tarm was
meant to them, but that money or food came in time of want to many a poor
family, they came to praise Robin and his merry men, and to tell many tales of
him and of his doings in Sherwood Forest, for they felt him to be one of them-
Up rose Robin Hood one merry morn when all the birds- were singing
blithely among the leaves, and up rose all his merry men, each Hoodgo-
fellow washing his head and hands in the cold brown brook that eth forth to seek
leaped laughing from stone to stone. Then said Robin: "For adventure.
fourteen days have we seen no sport, so now I will go abroad to seek adven-
tures forthwith. But tarry ye, my merry men all, here in the greenwood; only
see that ye mind well my call. Three blasts upon the bugle horn I will blow
in my hour of need; then come quickly, for I shall want your aid."
b So saying, he strode away through the leafy forest glades until he had come
to the verge of Sherwood. There he wandered for a long time, through high-
way and byway, through dingly dell and forest skirts. Now he met a fair.
buxom lass in a shady lane, and each gave the other a merry word and passed
their way; now he saw a fair lady upon an ambling pad, to whom he doffed his
cap, and who bowed sedately in return to the fair youth; now he saw a fat
monk on a pannier-laden ass; now a gallant knight, with spear and shield and
armor that flashed brightly in the sunlight; now a page clad in crimson; and
now a stout burgher from good Nottingham Town, pacing along with serious
footsteps; all these sights he saw, but adventure found. he none. At last he
took a road by the forest skirts; a bypath that dipped toward a broad, pebbly
stream spanned by a narrow- bridge made of a log of wood. As he drew nigh
this bridge he saw a tall stranger coming from the other side. Thereupon
Robin quickened his pace, as did the stranger likewise; each thinking to cross
"Now stand thou back," quoth Robin, "and let the better man cross first."
Nay," answered the stranger, then stand back thine own- self, for the bet-
ter man, I wot, am I."
6 PROLO G UE.
"That will we presently see," quoth Robin; "and meanwhile stand thou
where thou art, or else, by the bright brow of Saint /Elfrida, I will show thee
right good Nottingham play with a clothyard shaft betwixt thy ribs."
"Now," quoth the stranger, I will tan thy hide till it be as many colors as a
beggar's cloak, if thou darest so much as touch a string of that same bow that
thou oldest in thy hands."
"Thou pratest like an ass," said Robin, "for I could send this shaft clean
through thy proud heart before a curtal friar could say grace over a roast goose
"And thou pratest like a coward," answered the stranger, "for thou stand-
est there with a good yew bow to shoot at my heart, while I have nought in my
hand but a plain blackthorn staff wherewith to meet thee."
Now," quoth Robin, "by the faith of my heart, never have I had a coward's
name in all my life before. I will lay by my trusty bow and eke my arrows,
and if thou darest abide my coming, I will go and cut a cudgel to test thy
"Ay, marry, that will I abide thy coming, and joyously, too," quoth the
stranger; whereupon he leaned sturdily upon his staff to await Robin.
Then Robin Hood stepped quickly to the coverside and cut a good staff of
ground oak, straight, without flaw, and six feet in length, and came back trim-
ming away the tender stems from it, while the stranger waited for him, leaning
upon his staff, and whistling as he gazed round about. Robin observed him
furtively as he trimmed his staff, measuring him from top to toe from out the
corner of his eye, and thought that he had never seen a lustier or a stouter
man. Tall was Robin, but taller was the stranger by a head and a neck, for he
was seven feet in height. Broad was Robin across the shoulders, but broader
was the stranger by twice the breadth of a palm, while he measured at least
.an ell around the waist.
"" Nevertheless," said Robin to himself, "I will baste thy hide right merrily,
.my good fellow;" then, aloud, "Lo, here is my good staff, lusty and tough.
Now wait my coming, an thou darest, and meet me, an thou fearest not; then
we will fight until one or -the other of us tumble into the stream by dint of
Marry, that meeteth my whole heart! cried the stranger, twirling his staff
above his head, betwixt his fingers and thumb, until it whistled again.
Never did the Knights of Arthur's Round Table meet in a stouter fight than.
Tellingof temer- did these two. In a moment Robin stepped quickly upon the
ry bout betwixt
obiHod nd bridge where the stranger stood; first he made a feint, and then
te tall stranger. delivered a blow at the stranger's head that, had it met its mark,
would have tumbled him speedily into the water; but the stranger turned the
blow right deftly, and in return gave one as stout, which Robin also turned as
the stranger had done. So they stood, each in his place, neither moving a
finger's breadth back, for one good hour, and many blows were given and re-
ceived by each in that time, till here and there were sore bones and bumps, yet
neither thought of crying "Enough," or seemed likely to fall from off the
bridge. Now and then they stopped to rest, and each thought.that he never
had seen in all his life before such a hand at quarter-staff. At last Robin gave
the stranger a blow upon the ribs that made his jacket smoke like a damp straw
thatch in the sun. So shrewd was the stroke that the stranger came within a
hair's breadth of falling off the bridge; but he regained himself right quickly,
and, by a dexterous blow, gave Robin a crack on the crown that caused the
blood to flow. Then Robin grew mad with anger, and smote with all his might
at the other; but the stranger warded the blow, and once again The stranger
thwacked Robin, and this time so fairly that he fell heels over overcometh mer'
head into the water, as the queen pin falls in a game of bowls. ry Robin.
And where art thou now, good lad ?" shouted the stranger, roaring with
"Oh, in the flood and floating down with the tide," cried Robin; nor could
he forbear laughing himself at his sorry plight. Then, gaining his feet, he
waded to the bank, the little fish speeding hither and thither, all frightened at
Give me thy hand," cried he, when he had reached the bank. "I must
needs own thou art a brave and a sturdy soul, and, withal, a good stout stroke
with the cudgels. By this and by that, my head hummeth like to a hive of
bees on a hot June day."
Then he clapped his horn to his lips, and winded a blast that went echoing
sweetly down the forest paths. Ay, marry," quoth he again, "thou art a tall
lad, and eke a brave one, for ne'er, I trow, is there a man betwixt here and
Canterbury Town could do the like to me that thou hast done."
"And thou," quoth the stranger, laughing, "takest thy cudgelling like a
brave heart and a stout yeoman."
But now the distant twigs and branches rustled with the coming of men, and
suddenly a score or two of good stout yeomen, all clad in Lincoln green, burst
from out the covert, with merry Will Stutely at their head.
Good master," cried Will, how is this ? Truly thou art all wet from head
to foot, and that to the very skin."
"Why, marry," answered jolly Robin, "yon stout fellow hath tumbled me
neck and crop into the water, and hath given me a drubbing beside."
Then shall he not go without a ducking and eke a drubbing himself! cried
Will Stutely. Have at him, lads "
Then Will and a score of yeomen leaped upon the stranger, but though they
sprang quickly they found him ready and felt him strike right and left with his
stout.staff, so that, though he went down with press of numbers, some of them
rubbed. cracked crowns before he was overcome.
"Nay, forbear !,' cried Robin, laughing until his sore sides ached again; "he
Robin as th is a right good man and true, and no harm shall befall him. Now
Robin asketh the .
strange to join hark ye, good youth, wilt thou stay with me and be one of my
his band. band? Three suits of Lincoln green shalt thou have each year,
beside forty marks in fee, and share with us whatsoever good shall befall us.
Thou shalt eat'sweet venison and quaff the stoutest ale, and mine own good
right-hand man shalt thou be, for never did I see such a cudgel-player in all my
life before.. ..Speak wilt.thou be one of my good merry men ?"
"That know I not," quoth the stranger, surlily, for he was angry at being so
tumbled about. If ye handle yew bow and apple shaft no better than ye do
oaken cudgel, I wot ye are not fit to be called yeomen in my country; but if
there: be any man here that.can shoot a better shaft than I, then will I bethink
me of joining with you."
" "Now by my faith," said Robin, thou art a right saucy varlet, sirrah; yet
I will stoop to thee as I never stooped to man before. Good Stutely, cut thou
a fair white piece.of bark four fingers in breadth, and set it forescore yards dis-
tant on yonder oak. Now, stranger, hit that fairly with a gray goose shaft and
call thyself an archer."
"Ay, marry, that will I," answered he. "Give me a good stout bow and
a.fair broad arrow, and if I hit it not strip me and beat me blue with bow-
Then'he chose the stoutest bow amongst them all, next. to Robin's own, and
Robin shooteth a straight gray goose shaft, well-feathered and smooth, and step-
i and e thie Pa ping to the mark while all the band, sitting or lying upon the
him. greensward, watched to see him shoot he drew the arrow to his
cheek and loosed the shaft right deftly, sending it so straight down the path
that it clove the mark in the very centre. Aha cried he, mend thou that
if thou canst;" while even the yeomen clapped their hands at so fair a shot.
"That is a een shot, indeed," quoth Robin, "mend it I cannot, but mar it I
Then taking up his own good stout bow and nocking an arrow with care he
shot with his very greatest skill. Straight flew the arrow, and so true. that it
lit-fairly upon the stranger's shaft and split it into splinters. Then all the yeo-
men leaped to their feet and shouted for joy that their master had shot so welL
I "Now by the lusty yew bow of good Saint Withold," cried the stranger,
"that is a shot indeed, and never saw I the like in all my life before! Now truly
PR OL OG UE. 9
will I be thy man henceforth and for aye. Good Adam Bell x was a fair shot,
but never shot he so!"
Then have I gained a right good man this day," quoth jolly Robin. What
name goest thou by, good fellow."
Men call me John Little whence I came," answered the stranger.
Then Will Stutely, who loved a good jest, spoke up. Nay, fair little stran-
ger," said he, "I like not thy name and fain would I have it The stranger
o e s. joineth the band
otherwise. Little art thou indeed, and small of bone and sinew, andischristened
therefore shalt thou be christened Little John, and I will be th y merry Will
"Stutely as Little
Then Robin Hood and all his band laughed aloud until the stranger began
to grow angry.
An thou make a jest of me," quoth he to Will Stutely, "thou wilt have sore
bones and little pay, and that in short season."
"Nay, good friend," said Robin Hood, "bottle thine anger for the name fit-
teth thee well. Little John shall thou be called henceforth, and Little John
shall it be. So come, my merry men, and we will go and prepare a christening
feast for this fair infant."
So turning their backs upon the stream, they plunged into the forest once
more, through which they traced their steps till they reached the spot where
they dwelt in the depths of the woodland. There had they built huts of bark
and branches of trees, and made couches of sweet rushes spread over with skins
of fallow deer. Here stood a great oak tree with branches spreading broadly
around, beneath which was a seat of green moss where Robin Hood was wont
to sit at feast and at merrymaking with his stout men about him. Here they
found the rest of the band, some of whom had come in with a brace of fat does.
Then they all built great fires and after a time roasted the does and broached a
barrel of humming ale. Then when the feast was ready they all sat down, but
Robin Hood placed Little John at his right hand, for he was henceforth to be
the second in the band.
Then when the feast was done Will Stutely spoke up. "It is now time, I
ween, to christen our bonny babe, is it not so, merry boys ?" ow that Little
And Aye! Aye! cried all, laughing till the woods echoed with hf'n as ri-t
their mirth." tened.
"Then seven sponsors shall we have," quoth Will Stutely; and hunting
among all the band he chose the seven stoutest men of them all.
"Now by Saint Dunstan," cried Little John, springing to his feet, "more
than one of you shall rue it an you lay finger upon me."
1 Adam Bell, Clym o' the Clough, and William of Cloudesly were three noted north-country bowmen
whose names have been celebrated in many ballads of the olden time.
IO PR OLOG UE.
But without a word they all ran upon him at once, seizing him by his legs
and arms and holding him tightly in spite of his struggles, and they bore him
forth while all stood around to see the sport. Then one came forward who had
been chosen to play the priest because he had a bald crown, and in his hand he
carried a brimming pot of ale. "Now who bringeth this babe ? asked he right
"That do I," answered Will Stutely.
"And what name callest thou him ?"
"Little John call I him."
Now Little John," quoth the mock priest, "thou hast not lived heretofore,
but only got thee along through the world, but henceforth thou wilt live indeed.
When thou livedst not thou wast called John Little, but now that thou dost live
indeed, Little John shalt thou be called, so christen I thee." And at these last
words he emptied the pot of ale upon Little John's head.
Then all shouted with laughter as they saw the good brown ale stream over
Little John's beard and trickle from his nose and chin, while his eyes blinked
with the smart of it. At first he was of a mind to be angry, but found he could
not because the others were so merry; so he, too, laughed with the rest. Then
Robin took this sweet, pretty babe, clothed him all anew from top to toe in Lin-
coln green, and gave him a good stout bow, and so made him a member of the
And thus it was that Robin Hood became outlawed; thus a band of merry
companions gathered about him, and thus he gained his right-hand man, Little
John; and so the prologue ends. And now I will tell how the Sheriff of Not-
tingham three times sought to take Robin Hood, and how he failed each time.
Robin-and the-. Inkr:
at.t t he*
B :L UE-B0AmINN:
(< : .-----/A-"----,-,-------,-----------'-- .,--------'---:-
She-heriffof-'.ortinghramplotting- again stRobin- s ends.a-me5singer.to.L incoln :
Telling how the Sheriff of Nottingham swore that he would deal dole to
Robin Hood. Also, how he made three trials threat, but missed each
time by a good bow's length.
Robin Hood and the Tinker.
OW it was told before how two hundred pounds were set
upon Robin Hood's head, and how the Sheriff of Notting-
ham swore that he himself would seize Robin, both because
he would fain have the two hundred pounds and because
the slain man was a kinsman of his own. Now the Sheriff
did not yet know what a force Robin had about him in Sher-
wood, but thought that he might serve a warrant for his
arrest as he could upon any other man that had broken the laws; therefore he
offered fourscore golden angels to any one who would serve this The Sheriffseeks
warrant. But men of Nottingham Town knew more of Robin to serve a war-
rant upon Robin
Hood and his doings than the Sheriff did, and many laughed to Hood, but can
think of serving a warrant upon the bold outlaw, knowing well that tinnonein Not
Z Z tingham to serve
all they would get for such service would be cracked crowns ; so it.
that no one came forward to take the matter in hand. Thus a fortnight passed,
in which time none came forward to do the Sheriff's business. Then said he:
"A right good reward have I offered to whomsoever would serve my warrant
upon Robin Hood, and I marvel that no one has come to undertake the task."
Then one of his men who was near him said: "Good master, thou wottest
14 ROBIN HOOD AND THE TINKER.
not the force that Robin Hood has about him and how little he cares for war-
rant of king or sheriff. Truly, no one likes to go on this service, for fear of
cracked crowns and broken bones."
"Then I hold all Nottingham men to be cowards," said the Sheriff. "And
let me see the man in all Nottinghamshire that dare disobey the warrant of our
sovereign lord, King Harry, for, by the shrine of Saint Edmund, I will hang
him forty cubits high But if no man in Nottingham dare win fourscore angels,
I will send elsewhere, for there should be men of mettle somewhere in this
Then he called up a messenger in whom he placed great trust, and bade him
saddle his horse and make ready to go to Lincoln Town to see
7tze Sheriff send-
eth a messenger whether he could find any one there that would do his bidding, and
to Lincoln Town. win the reward. So that same morning the messenger started
forth upon his errand.
Bright shone the sun upon the dusty highway that led from Nottingham to
Lincoln, stretching away all white over hill and dale. Dusty was the highway
and dusty the throat of the messenger, so that his heart was glad when he saw
before him the sign of the Blue Boar Inn, when somewhat more than half his
journey was done. The inn looked fair to his eyes, and the shade of the oak
trees that stood around it seemed cool and pleasant, so he alighted from his
horse to rest himself for a time, calling for a pot of ale to refresh his thirsty
There he saw a party of right jovial fellows seated beneath the spreading oak
He meeteth good that shaded the greensward in front of the door, There was a
company at the tinker, two barefoot friars, and a party of six of the King's for-
Blue Boar Iin. esters all clad in Lincoln green, and all them were quaffing hum-
ming ale and singing merry ballads of the good old times. Loud laughed the
foresters, as jests were bandied about between the singing, and louder laughed
the friars, for they were lusty men with beards that curled like the wool of black
rams; but loudest of all laughed the Tinker, and he sang more sweetly than
any of the rest. His bag and his hammer hung upon a twig of the oak tree, and
near by leaned his good stout cudgel, as thick as his wrist 'and knotted at the
Come," cried one of the foresters to the tired messenger, come join us for
this shot. Ho, landlord bring a fresh pot of ale for each man."
The messenger was glad enough to sit down along with the others who were
there, for his limbs were weary and the ale was good.
Now what news bearest thou so fast ?" quoth one, "and whither ridest
thou to-day ?"
The messenger was a chatty soul and loved a bit of gossip dearly; beside
ROBIN HOOD AND THE TINKER. 15
the pot of ale warmed his heart; so that, settling himself in an easy corner of
the inn bench, while the host leaned upon the doorway and the hostess stood
with her hands beneath her apron, he unfolded his budget of news with great
comfort. He told all from the very first: how Robin Hood had slain the fores-
ter, and how he had hidden in the greenwood to escape the law; how that he
lived therein, all against the law, God wot, slaying his Majesty's deer and levy-
ing toll on fat abbot, knight, and esquire, so that none dare travel even on
broad Watling Street or the Foss Way for fear of him; how that the Sheriff,
Heaven save his worship, who paid him, the messenger, sixpence every Satur-
day night, of good broad money stamped with the King's head, beside ale at
Michaelmas and a fat goose at Christmas-tide, had a mind to serve the king's
warrant upon this same rogue, though little would he mind either warrant of
king or sheriff, for he was far from being a law-abiding man. Then he told
how none could be found in all Nottingham Town to serve this warrant, for
fear of cracked pates and broken bones, and how that he, the messenger, was
now upon his way to Lincoln Town to find of what mettle the Lincoln men
might be, and whether there were any there that dared serve this same warrant;
wherefore was he now sitting among the prettiest lads he had ever known, and
the ale was the best ale he had tasted in all his life.
To this discourse they listened with open mouths and eyes, for it was a fair
piece of gossip to them. Then when the messenger had done the jolly Tinker
"Now come I, forsooth, from good Banbury Town," said he, "and no one
nigh Nottingham nor Sherwood either, an that be the mark- can hold
cudgel with my grip. Why lads, did I not meet that mad wag, Simon of Ely,
even at the famous Fair at Hertford Town, and beat him in the ring at that
place before Sir Robert of Leslie and his lady ? This same Robin Hood, of
whom, I wot, I never heard before, is a right merry blade, but gin he be strong,
am not I stronger ? and gin he be sly, am not I slyer ? Now by the bright eyes
of Nan o' the Mill, and by mine own name, and that's Wat o' the Crabstaff, and
by mine own mother's son, and that's myself, will I, even I, Wat o' the Crab-
staff, meet this same sturdy rogue, and gin he mind not the seal of our glorious
sovereign, King Harry, and the warrant of the good Sheriff of Nottingham-
shire, I will so bruise, beat, and bemaul his pate, that he shall never move fin-
ger or toe again! Hear ye that, bully boys? Come, let us have another
Now art thou the man for my farthing," cried the messenger. "And' back
thou goest with me to Nottingham Town."
Nay," quoth the Tinker, shaking his head slowly from side to side. Go I
with no man gin it be not with mine own free will."
16 ROBIN HOOD AND T7E TINKER.
"Nay, nay," said the messenger, "no man is there in Nottinghamshire could
make thee go against thy will, thou brave fellow."
"Ay, that be I brave," said the Tinker.
"Ay, marry," said the messenger, thou art a brave lad; but our good Sheriff
hath offered fourscore angels of bright gold to whosoever shall serve the war-
rant upon Robin Hood; though little good will it do."
"Then I will go with thee, lad. Do but wait till I get my bag, and hammer,
The Tinker and my cudgel. Ay, let me but meet this same Robin Hood,
goeth with tte and let me see whether he will not mind the King's warrant."
messenger to -
serve the war- So, after having paid their score, the messenger, with the Tinker
rant upon Robin
Hood. striding beside his nag, started back to Nottingham again.
One bright morning soon after this time, Robin Hood started off to Notting-
ham Town to find what was a-doing there, walking merrily along the roadside
where the grass was sweet with daisies, his eyes wandering and his thoughts
also. His bugle-horn hung at his hip and his bow and arrows at his back,
while in his hand he bore a good stout oaken staff, which he twirled with his
fingers as he strolled along.
As thus he walked down a shady lane he saw a tinker coming, trolling a
merry song as he drew nigh. On his back hung his bag and his hammer, and in
his hand he carried a right stout crabstaff full six feet long, and thus sang he:-
In peascod time, when hound to horn
Gives ear till buck be killed,
And little lads with pipes of corn
Sit keeping beasts afield" -
"Halloa, good friend !" cried Robin.
"I went to gather strawberries -
"Halloa !" cried Robin again.
"By woods and groves full fair" -
"Halloa! art thou deaf, man ? Good friend, say I "
"And who art thou dost so boldly check a fair song ?" quoth the Tinker,
stopping in his singing. Halloa, thine own self, whether thou be good friend
or no. But let me tell thee, thou stout fellow, gin thou be a good friend it were
well for us both; but gin thou be no good friend it were ill for thee."
"Then let us be good friends," quoth jolly Robin, "for ill would it be to be
-ill, and ill like I thine oaken staff full well to make it but well, so good friends
let us be."
S"Ay, marry, then let us be," said the Tinker. "But, good youth, thy tongue
runneth so nimbly that my poor and heavy wits can but ill follow it, so talk
more plainly, I pray, for I am a plain man, forsooth."
ROBIN HOOD AND THE TINKER. I7
And whence comest thou, my lusty blade ? quoth Robin.
I come from Banbury," answered the Tinker.
"Alas quoth Robin, "I hear there is sad news this merry morn."
Ha is it indeed so ?" cried the Tinker, eagerly. Prythee tell it speedily,
for I am a tinker by trade, as thou seest, and as I am in my trade I am greedy
for news, even as a priest is greedy for farthings."
"Well then," quoth Robin, "list thou and I will tell, but bear thyself up
bravely, for the news is sad, I wot. Thus it is : I hear that two tinkers are in
the stocks for drinking ale and beer!"
"Now a murrain seize thee and thy news, thou scurvy dog," quoth the Tin-
ker, "for thou speakest but ill of good men. But sad news is it indeed, gin
there be two stout fellows in the stocks."
Nay," said Robin, thou hast missed the mark and dost but weep for the
wrong sow. The sadness of the news lieth in that there be but two in the
stocks, for the others do roam the country at large."
"Now by the pewter platter of Saint Dunstan," cried the Tinker, I have a
good part of a mind to baste thy hide for thine ill jest. But gin men be put in
the stocks for drinking ale and beer, I trow thou wouldst not lose thy part."
Loud laughed Robin and cried : Now well taken, Tinker, well taken Why,
thy wits are like beer, and do froth up most when they grow sour But right
art thou, man, for I love ale and beer right well. Therefore come straightway
with me hard by to the sign of the Blue Boar, and if thou drinkest as thou
appearest, and I wot thou wilt not belie thy looks, I will drench thy throat
with as good homebrewed as ever was tapped in all broad Nottinghamshire."
Now by my faith," said the Tinker, "thou art a right good fellow in spite
of thy scurvy jests. I love thee, my sweet chuck, and gin I go not with thee
to that same Blue Boar thou mayst call me a heathen Jew."
Tell me thy news, good friend, I Prythee," quoth Robin as they trudged
along together, "for tinkers, I ween, are all as full of news as an The Tinker
egg of meat." goeth with Robin
Hood to the signt
"Now I love thee as my brother, my bully blade," said the Tin- oftke Blue
ker, else I would not tell thee my news; for sly am I, man, and Boar.
I have in hand a grave undertaking that doth call for all my wits, for I come to
seek a bold outlaw that men, hereabouts, call Robin Hood. Within my pouch I
have a warrant, all fairly written out on parchment, forsooth, with a great red
seal for to make it lawful. Could I but meet this same Robin Hood I would
serve it upon his dainty body, and if he minded it not I would beat him till
every one of his ribs would cry Amen. But thou livest hereabouts, mayhap
thou knowest Robin Hood thyself, good fellow."
"Ay, marry, that do I somewhat," quoth Robin, "and I have seen him this
18 ROBIN HOOD AND THE TINKER.
very morn. But, Tinker, men say that he is but a sad, sly thief. Thou hadst
better watch thy warrant, man, or else he may steal it out of thy very pouch."
Let him but try! cried the Tinker. Sly may he be, but sly am I, too.
I would I had him here now, man to man !" And he made his heavy cudgel to
spin again. "But what manner of man is he, lad ?"
Much like myself," said Robin, laughing, "and in height and build and age
nigh the same; and he hath blue eyes, too, like mine."
Nay," quoth the Tinker, "thou art but a green youth. I thought him to be
a great bearded man, Nottingham men feared him so."
"Truly, he is not so old nor so stout as thou art," said Robin. "But men
do call him a right deft hand at quarterstaff."
"That may be," said the Tinker, right sturdily; but I am more deft than he,
for did I not overcome Simon of Ely in a fair bout in the ring at Hertford
Town? But if thou knowest him, my jolly blade, wilt thou go with me and
bring me to him ? Fourscore bright angels hath the Sheriff promised me if I
serve the warrant upon the knave's body, and ten of them will I give to thee if
thou showest me him."
"Ay, that will I," quoth Robin; "but show me thy warrant, man, until I see
Robin promiseth. whether it be good or no."
to sho the Tin That will I not do, even to mine own brother," answered the
her that which
he seeketh. Tinker. No man shall see my warrant till I serve it upon yon
fellow's own body."
"So be it," quoth Robin. "An thou show it not to me I know not to whom
thou wilt show it. But here we are at the sign of the Blue Boar, so let us in
and taste his brown October."
- No sweeter inn could be found in all Nottinghamshire than that of the Blue
Boar. None had such lovely trees standing around, or was so covered with
trailing clematis and sweet woodbine; none had such good beer and such hum-
ming ale; nor, in winter time, when the north wind howled and snow drifted
around the hedges, was there to be found, elsewhere, such a roaring fire as
blazed upon the hearth of the Blue Boar. At such times might be found a
goodly company of yeomen or country folk seated around the blazing hearth,
bandying merry jests, while roasted crabs 1 bobbed in bowls of ale upon the
hearthstone. Well known was the inn to Robin Hood and his band, for there
had he and such merry companions as Little John or Will Stutely or young
David of Doncaster often gathered when all the forest was filled with snow.
As for mine host, he knew how to keep a still tongue in. his head, and to swal-
low his words before they passed his teeth, for he knew very well which side
of his bread was spread with butter, for Robin and his band were the best of
1 Small sour apples.
ROBIN HOOD AND THE TINKER. 19
customers, and paid their scores without having them chalked up behind the
door. So now, when Robin Hood and the Tinker came thereto and called
aloud for two great pots of ale, none would have known from look or speech
that the host had ever set eyes upon the outlaw before.
"Bide thou here," quoth Robin to the Tinker, "while I go and see that mine
host draweth ale from the right butt, for he hath good October, I Robin Hood
know, and that brewed by Withold of Tamworth." So saying, ringeth the
Tinke-,- to the
he went within and whispered to the host to add a measure of sign of the Blue
Flemish strong waters to the good English ale; which the latter muddlehim
did and brought it to them. with ale.
By Our Lady,"- said the Tinker, after a long draught of the ale, "yon same
Withold of Tamworth a right good Saxon name, too, I would have thee know
-breweth the most humming ale that e'er passed the lips of Wat o' the
"Drink, man, drink," cried Robin, only wetting his own lips meanwhile.
"Ho, landlord! bring my friend another pot of the same. And now for a song,
my jolly blade."
"Ay, that will I give thee a song, my lovely fellow," quoth the Tinker, "for
I never tasted such ale in all my days before. By 'r Lady, it doth make my
head hum even now! Hey, Dame Hostess, come listen, an thou wouldst hear
a song; and thou too, thou bonny lass, for never sing I so well as when
bright eyes do look upon me the while."
Then he sang an ancient ballad of the time of good King Arthur, called the
Marriage of Sir Gawaine, which you may some time read, yourself, in stout
English of early times; and as he sang, all listened to that noble tale of noble
knight and his sacrifice to his king. But long before the Tinker, came to the
last verse his tongue began to trip and his head to spin, because of the strong
waters mixed with the ale. First his tongue tripped, then it grew thick of
sound; then his head wagged from side to side, until at last he fell asleep as
though he never would waken again.
Then Robin Hood laughed aloud, and quickly took the warrant from out the
Tinker's pouch with his deft fingers. "Sly art thou, Tinker," The Tinkerfall-
quoth he, "but not yet, I trow, art thou as sly as that same sly et asleep, and
thief, Robin Hood." the warrant.
Then he called the host to him and said, Here, good man, are ten broad
shillings for the entertainment thou hast given us this day. See that thou
takest good care of thy fair guest there, and when he wakes thou mayst again
charge him ten shillings also, and if he hath it not, thou mayst take his bag and
hammer, and even his coat, in payment. Thus do I punish those that come
into the greenwood to deal dole to me. As for thine own self, never knew I
landlord yet that would not charge twice an he could."
20 ROBIN HOOD AND THE TINKER.
At this the host smiled slyly, as though saying to himself the rustic saw,
" Teach a magpie to suck eggs."
The Tinker slept until the afternoon drew to a close and the shadows grew
The Tinker long beside the woodland edge, then he awoke. First he looked
awaketh, andthe up, then he looked down, then he looked east, then he looked
him pay the score west, for he was gathering his wits together, like barley-straws
aain, so thathe blown apart by the wind. First he thought of his merry compan-
loseth coat, bag,
and hammer; ion, but he was gone. Then he thought of his stout crabstaff,
vowethengeance and that he had within his hand. Then of his warrant, and of the
against Robin. fourscore angels he was to gain for serving it upon Robin Hood.
He thrust his hand into his pouch, but not a scrap nor a farthing was there.
Then he sprang to his feet in a rage.
"Ho, landlord!" cried he, "whither hath that knave gone that was with me
biut now ?"
What knave meaneth your worship ? quoth the landlord, calling the Tinker
worship to soothe him, as a man would pour oil upon angry water; "I saw no
knave with your worship, for I swear no man would dare call that man knave
so nigh to Sherwood Forest. A right stout yeoman I saw with your worship,
but I thought that your worship knew him, for few there be about here that
pass him by and know him not."
"Now, how should I, that ne'er have squealed in your sty, know all the swine
therein ? Who was he, then, an thou knowest him so well ?"
"Why, yon same is a right stout fellow whom men hereabouts do call Robin
Hood; which same" -
"Now, by 'r Lady!" cried the Tinker hastily, and in a deep voice like an
angry bull, "thou didst see me come into thine inn, I, a staunch, honest crafts-
man, and never told me who my company was, well knowing thine own self
who he was. Now, I have a right round piece of a mind to crack thy knave's
pate for thee!" Then he took up his cudgel and looked at the landlord as
though he would smite him where he stood:
"Nay," cried the host, throwing up his elbow, for he feared the blow, how
knew I that thou knewest him not ?"
"Well and 'truly thankful maysf thou be," quoth the Tinker, "that I be a
patient nan, and so do spare thy bald crown, else wouldst thou ne'er cheat cus-
tomer again. But as for this same knave, Robin Hood, I go straightway to
seek him, and if I do not score his knave's pate, cut my staff into fagots and
call nie woman." So saying, he gathered himself together to depart.
Nay," quoth the landlord, standing in front of him and holding out his arms
like a gooseherd driving his flock, for money made him bold, "thou goest not
till thou hast paid me my score."
ROBIN HOOD AND THE TINKER. 21
"But did not he pay thee ?"
Not so much as one farthing; and ten good shillings' worth of ale have ye
drunk this day. Nay, I say, thou goest not away without paying me, else shall
our good sheriff know of it."
"But nought have I to pay thee with, good fellow," quoth the Tinker.
"'Good fellow' not me," said the landlord. "Good fellow am I not when it
cometh to lose ten shillings! Pay me that thou owest me in broad money, or
else leave thy coat and bag and hammer; yet, I wot they are not worth ten
shillings, and I shall lose thereby. Nay, an thou stirrest, I have a great dog
within and I will loose him upon thee. Maken, open thou the door and let
forth Brian if this fellow stirs one step."
"Nay," quoth the Tinker, for, by roaming the country, he had learned
what dogs were, -" take thou what thou wilt have, and let me depart in peace,
and may a murrain go with thee. But oh, landlord! an I catch yon scurvy
varlet, I swear he shall pay full with usury for that he hath had "
So saying, he strode away toward the forest, talking to himself, while the
landlord and his worthy dame and Maken stood looking after him, and laughed
when he had fairly gone.
"Robin and I have stripped yon ass of his pack main neatly," quoth the
Now it happened about this time that Robin Hood was going through the
forest to Foss Way, to see what was to be seen there, for the moon was full
and the night gave promise of being bright. In his hand he carried his stout
oaken staff, and at his side hung his bugle horn. As thus he e Tiner meet
walked up a forest path, whistling, down another path came the eth Robin Hood
Tinker, muttering to himself and shaking his head like an angry within the forest.
bull; and so, at a sudden bend, they met sharply face to face. Each stood
still for a time, and then Robin spoke :-
Halloa, my sweet bird," said he, laughing merrily, "how likest thou thine
ale ? Wilt not sing to me another song ?"
The Tinker said nothing at first, but stood looking at Robin with a grim face.
"Now," quoth he at last, "I am right glad I have met thee, and if I do not
rattle thy bones within thy hide this day, I give thee leave to put thy foot upon
"With all my heart," cried merry Robin; "rattle my bones, an thou canst."
So saying, he gripped his staff and threw himself upon his guard. Thel the
Tinker spat upon his hands, and, grasping his staff, came straight at the other.
He struck two or three blows, but soon found that he had met his match, for
Robin warded and parried all of them, and, before the Tinker thought, he gave
22 ROBIN HOOD AND THE TINKER.
him a rap upon the ribs in return. At this Robin laughed aloud, and the
Tinker grew more angry than ever, and smote again with all his might and
main. Again Robin warded two of the strokes, but at the third, his staff broke
beneath the mighty blows of the Tinker. Now, ill betide thee, traitor staff,"
cried Robin, as it fell from his hands; "a foul stick art thou to serve me thus
in mine hour of need."
Now yield thee," quoth the Tinker, "for thou art my captive; and if thou
do not, I will beat thy pate to a pudding."
To this Robin Hood made no answer, but, clapping his horn to his lips, he
blew three blasts, loud and clear.
"Ay," quoth the Tinker, blow thou mayest, but go thou must with me to
Nottingham Town, for the Sheriff would fain see thee there. Now wilt thou
yield thee, or shall I have to break thy pretty head ?"
An I must drink sour ale, I must," quoth Robin; but never have I yielded
me to man before, and that without wound or mark upon my body. Nor, when
I bethink me, will I yield now. Ho, my merry men! come quickly "
Then from out the forest leaped Little John and six stout yeomen clad in
"How now, good master," cried Little John, "what need hast thou that thou
dost wind thy horn so loudly ?"
"There stands a tinker," quoth Robin, "that would fain take me to Notting.
ham, there to hang upon the gallows tree."
Then shall he himself hang forthwith," cried Little John; and he and the
others made at the Tinker, to seize him.
"Nay, touch him not," said Robin, "for a right stout man is he. A metal
man he is by trade, and a mettled man by nature; moreover, he doth sing a
lovely ballad. Say, good fellow, wilt thou join my merry men all ? Three suits
of Lincoln green shalt thou have a year, beside twenty marks in fee; thou
shalt share all with us and lead a right merry life in the greenwood; for cares
have we not and misfortune cometh not upon us within the sweet shades of
Sherwood, where we shoot the dun deer, and feed upon venison and sweet
oaten cakes, and curds and honey. Wilt thou come with me ?"
"Ay, marry, will I join with you all," quoth the Tinker, "for I love a merry
The inker join- life, and I love thee, good master, though thou didst thwack my
eth the band. ribs and cheat me into the bargain. Fain am I to own thou art
both a stouter and a slyer man than I; so I will obey thee and be thine own
So all turned their steps to the forest depths, where the Tinker was to live
henceforth. For many a day he sang ballads to the band, until the famous
Allan a Dale joined them, before whose sweet voice all others seemed as harsh
as a raven's ; but of him we will learn hereafter.
___ f %)
Of, 0 ti
N ~e. ,eit
q k-il London
The Shooting-Match at Nottingham Town.
HEN the Sheriff was very wroth because of this failure to take jolly Robin,
for it came to his ears, as ill news always does, that the peo- The sheriffis
ple laughed at him and made a jest of his thinking to serve wroth.
a warrant upon such a one as the bold outlaw; and a man hates nothing so
much as being made a jest of; so he said: Our gracious Lord and Sovereign
King himself shall know of this, and how his laws are perverted and despised
by this band of rebel outlaws. As for yon traitor Tinker, him will I hang, if
I catch him, upon the very highest gallows tree in all Nottinghamshire."
Then he bade all his servants and retainers to make ready to go to London
Town, to see and speak with the King.
At this there was bustling at the Sheriff's castle, and men ran hither and
thither upon this business and upon that, while the forge fires of He maketh him
Nottingham glowed red far into the night like twinkling stars, for ready togo to
all the smiths of the town were busy making or mending armor t
for the Sheriff's troop of escort. For two days this labor lasted, then, on the
third, all was ready for the journey. So forth they started in the bright sun-
light, from Nottingham Town to Fosse Way and thence to Watling Street;
and so they journeyed for two days, until they saw at last the spires and towers
of great London Town; and many folks stopped, as they journeyed along, and
gazed at the show they made riding along the highways with their flashing
armor, and gay plumes and trappings.
In London King Henry and his fair Queen Elinor held their court, gay with
ladies in silks and satins and velvets and cloth of gold, and also brave knights
and gallant courtiers. Thither came the Sheriff and was shown into the King's
"A boon, a boon," quoth he, as he knelt upon the ground.
"Now what wouldst thou have?" said the King. "Let us the sK!e seti
hear what may be thy desires."
good my Lord and Sovereign," spake the Sheriff, "in Sherwood Forest,
in our own good shire of Nottingham, liveth a bold outlaw whose name is Robin
"In good sooth," said the King, "his doings have reached even our own
royal ears. He is a saucy, rebellious varlet, yet, I am fain to own, a right merry
26 THE SHOOTING-MA TCH AT NOTTINGHAM TOWN.
"But hearken, 0 my most gracious Sovereign," said the Sheriff. "I sent a
warrant to him with thine own royal seal attached, by a right lusty knave, but
he beat the messenger and stole the warrant. And he killeth thy deer and
robbeth, thine own liege subjects even upon the great highways."
Why, how now," quoth the King, wrathfully. What wouldst thou have me
The King is do ? Comest thou not to me with a great array of men-at-arms
wroth. and retainers, and yet art not able to take a single band of lusty
knaves without armor on breast, in thine own county What wouldst thou
have me do ? Art thou not my Sheriff ? Are not my laws in force in Notting-
hamshire ? Canst thou not take thine own course against those that break
the laws or do an injury to thee or thine ? Go, get thee gone, and think well;
devise some plan of thine own but trouble me no further. But look well to it,
master Sheriff, for I will have my laws obeyed by all men within my kingdom,
and if thou art not able to enforce them thou art no sheriff for me. So look
well to thyself, I say, or ill may befall thee as well as all the thieving knaves in
Nottinghamshire. When the flood cometh it sweepeth away grain as well as
Then the Sheriff turned away with a sore and troubled heart, and sadly he
The Sheriff rued his fine show of retainers, for he saw that the King was
getteth him home. angry because he had so many men about him and yet could not
enforce the laws. So, as they all rode slowly back to Nottingham, the Sheriff
was thoughtful and full of care. Not a word did he speak to any one, and no
one of his men spoke to him, but all the time he was busy devising some plan
to take Robin Hood.
Aha !" cried he suddenly, smiting his hand upon his thigh, "I have it now!
Ride on, my merry men all, and let us get back to Nottingham Town as speed-
ily as we may. And mark well my words: before a fortnight is passed, that
evil knave, Robin Hood, will be safely clapped into Nottingham gaol."
But what was the Sheriff's plan?
As a Jew takes each one of a bag of silver angels, feeling each coin to find
whether it be clipped or not, so the Sheriff, as all rode slowly and sadly back
toward Nottingham, took up thought after thought in, turn, feeling around
the edges of each but finding in every one some flaw. At last he thought of
the daring soul of jolly Robin and how, as he the Sheriff knew, he often came
even within the walls of Nottingham.
"Now," thought the Sheriff, could I but persuade Robin nigh to Notting-
ham Town so that I could find him, I warrant I would lay hands upon him so
stoutly that he would never get away again." Then of a sudden it came to him
like a flash that were he to proclaim a great shooting-match and offer some
grand prize, Robin Hood might be over-persuaded by his spirit to come to the
THE SHOOTING-MATCH AT NOTTINGHAM TOWN 27
butts; and it was this thought which caused him to cry "Aha !" and smite his
palm upon his thigh.
So, as soon as he had returned safely to Nottingham, he sent messengers
north and south, and east and west, to proclaim through town, The Sherffiro-
hamlet, and countryside, this grand shooting-match, and every claimeth a shoot-
one was bidden that could draw a long bow, and the prize was to Nottingham
be an arrow of pure beaten gold. Town.
When Robin Hood first heard the news of this he was in Lincoln Town, and
hastening back to Sherwood Forest he soon called all his merry men about him
and spoke to them thus : -
Now hearken, my merry men all, to the news that I have brought from Lin-
coin Town to-day. Our friend the Sheriff of Nottingham hath Robin heareth of
proclaimed a shooting-match, and hath sent messengers to tell ,then shotin
match and fixeth
of it through all the country side, and the prize is to. be a bright togo thereunto.
golden arrow. Now I fain would have one of us win it, both because of the
fairness of the prize and because our sweet friend the Sheriff hath offered'it.
So we will take our bows and shafts and go there to shoot, for I know right
well that merriment will be a-going. What say ye, lads ? "
Then young David of Doncaster spoke up and said: "Now listen, I pray
thee, good master, unto what I say. I have come straight from our friend
Eadom o' the Blue Boar, and there I heard the full news of this same match.
But, master, I know from him, and he got it from the Sheriff's man Ralph o'
the Scar, that this same knavish Sheriff hath but laid a trap for thee in this
shooting-match and wishes nothing so much as to see thee there. So go not,
good master, for I know right well he doth seek to beguile thee, but stay within
the greenwood lest we all meet dole and woe."
Now," quoth Robin, thou art a wise lad and keepest thine ears open and'
thy mouth shut, as becometh a wise and crafty woodsman. But shall we let it
be said that the Sheriff of Nottingham did cow bold Robin Hood and seven-
score as fair archers as are in all merry England ? Nay, good David, what thou
tellest me maketh me to desire the prize even more than I else should do. But
what sayeth our good gossip Swanthold ? is it not' A hasty man burneth his
mouth, and the fool that keepeth his eyes shut falleth into the pit ?' Thus
he says, truly, therefore we must meet guile with guile. Now some of you
clothe yourselves as curtal friars, and some as rustic peasants, and some as tin-
kers, or as beggars, but see that each man taketh a good bow or broadsword, in
case need should arise. As for myself, I will shoot for this same golden arrow,
and should I win it, we will hang it to the branches of our good greenwood tree
for the joy of all the band. How like you the plan, my merry men all? "
Then "good, good !" cried all the band right heartily.
28 THE SHOOTING-MATCH AT NOTTINGHAM TOWN.
A fair sight was Nottingham Town on the day of the shooting-match. All
The merry match along upon the green meadow beneath the town wall stretched a
at Nottingham row of benches, one above the other, which were for knight and
lady, squire and dame, and rich burghers and their wives; for
none but those of rank and quality were to sit there. At the end of the range,
near the target, was a raised seat bedecked with ribbons and scarfs and gar-
lands of flowers, for the Sheriff of Nottingham and his dame. The range was
two score paces broad. At one end stood the target, at the other a tent of
striped canvas, from the pole of which fluttered many-colored flags and
streamers. In this booth were casks of ale, free to be broached by any of the
archers who might wish to quench their thirst.
Across the range from where the seats for the better folk were raised was a
railing to keep the poorer people from crowding in front of the target. Al-
ready, while it was early, the benches were beginning to fill with people of
quality, who kept constantly arriving in little carts, or upon palfreys that cur-
veted gayly to the merry tinkle of silver bells at bridle-reins; with these came
also the poorer folk, who sat or lay upon the green grass near the railing that
kept them from off the range. In the great tent the archers were gathering
by twos and threes; some talking loudly of the fair shots each man had made
in his day; some looking well to their bows, drawing a string betwixt the
fingers to see that there was no fray upon it, or inspecting arrows, shutting
one eye and peering down a shaft to see that it was not warped, but straight
and true, for neither bow nor shaft should fail at such a time and for such a
prize. And never were such a company of yeomen as were gathered at Not-
tingham Town that day, for the very best archers of merry England had come
to this shooting-match. There was Gill o' the Red Cap, the Sheriff's own head
archer, and Diccon Cruikshank of Lincoln Town, and Adam o' the Dell, a man
of Tamworth, of threescore years and more, yet hale and lusty still, who in
his time had shot in the famous match at Woodstock, and had there beaten
that renowned archer, Clym o' the Clough. And many more famous men of
the long.bow were there, whose names have been handed down to us in goodly
ballads of the olden time.
But now all'the benches were filled with guests, lord and lady, burgher and
dame, when at last the Sheriff himself came with his lady, he riding with stately
mien upon his milk-white horse and she upon her brown filly. Upon his head
he wore a purple velvet cap, and purple velvet was his robe, all trimmed about
with rich ermine; his jerkin and hose were of sea-green silk, and his shoes of
black velvet, the pointed toes fastened to his garters with golden chains. A
golden chain hung about his neck, and at his collar was a great carbuncle set
in red gold. His lady was dressed in blue velvet, all trimmed with swan's
THE SHOOTING-MATCH AT NOTTINGHAM TOWN. 29
down. So they made a gallant sight as they rode along side byside, and all
the people shouted from where they crowded across the space from the gentle-
folk; so the Sheriff and his lady came to their place, where men-at-arms, with
hauberk and spear, stood about, waiting for them.
Then when the Sheriff and his dame had sat down, he bade his herald wind
upon his silver horn; who thereupon sounded three blasts that came 'echoing
cheerily back from the gray walls of Nottingham. Then the archers stepped
forth to their places, while all the folk shouted with a mighty voice, each man
calling upon his favorite yeoman. Red Cap !" cried some; "Cruikshank !"
cried others; "Hey for William o' Leslie!" shouted others yet again; while
ladies waved silken scarfs to urge each yeoman to do his best.
Then the herald stood forth and loudly proclaimed the rules of the game as
follows : -
"Shoot each man from yon mark, which is sevenscore yards and ten from
the target. One arrow shooteth each man first, and from all the archers shall
the ten that shooteth the fairest shafts be chosen for to shoot again. Two
arrows shooteth each man of these ten, then shall the three that shoot the fair-
est shafts be chosen for to shoot again. Three arrows shooteth each man of
those three, and to him that shooteth the fairest shafts shall the prize be
Then the Sheriff leaned forward, looking keenly among the press of archers
to find whether Robin Hood was amongst them; but no one was there clad in
Lincoln green, such as was worn by Robin and his band. "Nevertheless,"
said the Sheriff to himself, "he may still be there, and I miss him among the
crowd of other men. But let me see when but ten men shoot, for I wot he
will be among the ten, or I know him not."
And now the archers shot, each man in turn, and the good folk never saw
such archery as was done that day. Six arrows were within the The archers
clout, four within the black, and only two smote the outer ring; shoot.
so that when the last arrow sped and struck the target, all the people shouted
aloud, for it was noble shooting.
And now but ten men were left of all those that had shot before, and of these
ten, six were famous throughout the land, and most of the folk gathered there
knew them. These six men were Gilbert o' the Red Cap, Adam o' the Dell,
Diccon Cruikshank, William o' Leslie, Hubert o' Cloud, and Swithin o' Hert-
ford. Two others were yeomen of merry Yorkshire, another was a tall stran-
ger in blue, who said he came from London Town, and the last was a tattered
stranger in scarlet, who wore a patch over one eye.
"Now," quoth the Sheriff to a man-at-arms who stood near him, "seest thou
Robin Hood amongst those ten ?"
30. THE SHOOTING-MATCH AT NOTTINGHAM TOWN.
"Nay, that do I not, your worship," answered the man. "Six of them I
know right well. Of those Yorkshire yeomen, one is too tall and the other too
short for that bold knave. Robin's beard is as yellow as gold, while yon tat-
tered beggar in scarlet hath a beard of brown, besides being blind of one eye.
As for the stranger in blue, Robin's shoulders, I ween, are three inches broader
"Then," quoth the Sheriff, smiting his thigh angrily, "yon knave is a coward
as well as a rogue, and dares not show his face among good men and true."
Then, after they had rested a short time, those ten stout men stepped forth
to shoot again. Each man shot two arrows, and as they shot, not a word was
spoken, but all the crowd watched with scarce a breath of sound; but when the
last had shot his arrow another great shout arose, while many cast their caps
aloft for joy of such marvellous shooting.
"Now by our gracious Lady fair," quoth old Sir Amyas o' the Dell, who,
bowed with fourscore years and more, sat near the Sheriff, "ne'er saw I such
archery in all my life before, yet have I seen the best hands at the long bow
for threescore years and more."
And now but three men were left of all those that had shot before. One
was Gill o'-the Red Cap, one the tattered stranger in scarlet, and one Adam o'
the Dell of Tamworth Town. Then all the people called aloud, some crying,
" Ho for Gilbert o' the Red Cap and some, Hey for stout Adam o' Tam-
worth !" but not a single man in the crowd called upon the stranger in scarlet.
"Now, shoot thou well, Gilbert," cried the Sheriff, and if thine be the best
shaft, fivescore broad silver pennies will I give.to thee beside the prize."
"Truly I will do my best," quoth Gilbert, right sturdily. "A man cannot do
aught but his best, but that will I strive to do this day." So saying, he drew
forth a fair smooth arrow with a broad feather and fitted it deftly to the string,
then drawing his bow with care he sped the shaft. Straight flew the arrow and
lit fairly in the clout, a finger breadth from the centre. A Gilbert, a Gilbert! "
shouted all the crowd; and, Now, by my faith," cried the Sheriff, smiting his
hands together, "that is a shrewd shot."
Then the tattered stranger stepped forth, and all the people laughed as they
Heofthetatte-ed saw a yellow patch that showed beneath his arm when he raised
garb beateth Gill his elbow to shoot, and also to see him aim with but one eye. He
"o' the Red Cap. drew the good yew bow quickly, and quickly loosed a shaft; so
short was the time that no man could draw a breath betwixt the drawing and
the shooting; yet his arrow lodged nearer the centre than the other by twice
the length of a barleycorn.
".Now by all the saints in Paradise!" cried the Sheriff, "that is a lovely
shaft in very truth !"
THE SHOOTING-MATCH AT NOTTINGHAM TOWN 31
Then Adam o' the Dell shot, carefully and cautiously, and his arrow lodged
close beside the stranger's. Then after a short space they all three shot again,
and once more each arrow lodged within the clout, but this time Adam o' the
Dell's was farthest from the centre, and again the tattered stranger's shot was
the best. Then, after another time of rest, they all shot for the third time.
This time Gilbert took great heed to his aim, keenly measuring the distance
and shooting with shrewdest care. Straight flew the arrow, and all shouted till
the very flags that waved in the breeze shook with the sound, and the rooks and
daws flew clamoring about the roofs of the old gray tower, for the shaft had
lodged close beside the spot that marked the very centre.
Well done, Gilbert! cried the Sheriff, right joyously. "Fain am I to be-
lieve the prize is thine, and right fairly won. Now, thou ragged knave, let me
see thee shoot a better shaft than that."
Naught spake the stranger but took his place, while all was hushed, and no
one spoke or even seemed to breathe, so great was the silence for e stranger in
wonder what he would do. Meanwhile, also, quite still stood the scarlet winneth
stranger holding his bow in his hand, while one could count five there.
then he drew his trusty yew, holding it drawn but a moment, then loosed the
string. Straight flew the arrow, and so true that it smote a gray goose feather
from off Gilbert's shaft, which fell fluttering through the sunlit air as the stran-
ger's arrow lodged close beside his of the red cap, and in the very centre.
No one spoke a word for a while and no one shouted, but each man looked into
his neighbor's face amazedly.
"Nay," quoth old Adam o' the Dell presently, drawing a long breath and
shaking his head as he spoke; "twoscore years and more have I shot shaft,
and maybe not all times bad, but I shoot no more this day, for no man can
match with yon stranger, whosoe'er he may be." Then he thrust his shaft
into his quiver, rattling, and unstrung his bow without another word.
Then the Sheriff came down from his dais and drew near, in all his silks and
velvets, to where the tattered stranger stood leaning upon his stout bow, whilst
the good folk crowded around to see the man who shot so wondrously well.
"Here, good fellow," quoth the Sheriff, "take thou the prize, and well and
fairly hast thou won it, I trow. What may be thy name, and whence comest
thou ? "
"Men do call me Jock o' Teviotdale, and thence am I come," said the stran-
"Then, by Our Lady, Jock, thou art the fairest archer that e'er mine eyes be-
held, and if thou wilt join my service I will clothe thee with a better coat than
that thou hast upon thy back; thou shalt eat and drink of the best, and at every
Christmas-tide fourscore marks shall be thy wage. I trow thou drawest better
32 THE SHOOTING-MATCH AT NOTTINGTHA M TO WN.
bow than that same coward knave, Robin Hood, that dared not show his face
here this day. Say, good fellow, wilt thou join my service ?"
"Nay, that will I not," quoth the stranger, roughly. "I will be mine own,
and no man in all merry England shall be my master."
"Then get thee gone, and a murrain seize thee cried the Sheriff, and his
voice trembled with anger. "And by my faith and troth I have a good part of
a mind to have thee beaten for thine insolence !" Then he turned upon his
heel and strode away.
It was a right motley company that gathered about the noble greenwood tree
Roin andhis in Sherwood's depths that same day. A score and more of bare-
bandcome again foot friars were there, and some that looked like tinkers, and some
to Sherwood. that seemed to be sturdy beggars and rustic hinds; and seated
upon a mossy couch was one all clad in tattered scarlet, with a patch over one
eye; and in his hand he held the golden arrow that was the prize of the great
shooting-match. Then, amidst a noise of talking and laughter, he took the
patch from off his eye and stripped away the scarlet rags from off his body. and
showed himself all clothed in fair Lincoln green, and quoth he: Easy come
these things away, but walnut stain cometh not so speedily from yellow hair."
Then all laughed louder than before, for it was Robin Hood himself that had
won the prize from the Sheriff's very hands.
Then all sat down to the woodland feast and talked amongst themselves of
the merry jest that had been played upon the Sheriff, and of the adventures
that had befallen each member of the band in his disguise. But when the feast
was done, Robin Hood took Little John apart and said, Truly am I vexed in
my blood, for I heard the Sheriff say to-day,' Thou shootest better than that
coward knave, Robin Hood, that dared not show his face here this day.' I
would fain let him know who it was who won the golden arrow from out his
hand, and also that I am no coward such as he takes me to be."
Then -Little John said, Good master, take thou me and Will Stutely and we
will send yon fat Sheriff news of all this by a messenger such as he doth not
That day the Sheriff sat at meat in the great hall of his house at Nottingham
Robin Hood Town. Long tables stood down the hall, at which sat men-at-
sendeth a es- arms and household servants and good stout villains,1 in all four-
Shetrff score and more. There they talked of the day's shooting as they
ate their meat and quaffed their ale. The Sheriff sat at the head of the table
upon a raised seat under a canopy, and beside him sat his dame.
"By my troth," said he, "I did reckon full roundly that that knave, Robin
Hood, would be at the game to-day. I did not think that he was such a coward.
THE SHOOTING-MATCH AT NOTTINGHAM TOWN. 33
But who could that saucy knave be who answered me to my beard so bravely ?
I wonder that I did not have him beaten; but there was something about him
that spoke of other things than rags and tatters."
Then, even as he finished speaking, something fell rattling among the dishes
on the table, while those that sat near started up wondering what it might be.
After a while one of the men-at-arms gathered courage enough to pick it up and
bring it to the Sheriff. Then every one saw that it was .a blunted gray goose
shaft, with a fine scroll, about the thickness of a goose quill, tied near to its
head. The Sheriff opened the scroll and glanced- at it, while the veins upon
his forehead swelled and his cheeks grew ruddy with rage as he read, for this
was what he saw :
"Now Heaven bless thy grace this day,
Say all in sweet Sherwood,
For thou didst give theprize away
To merry Robin Hood."
"Whence came this ?" cried the Sheriff in a mighty voice.
"Even through the window, your worship," quoth the man who had handed
the shaft to him.
Will Stutely rescued by his Good Compan-
N OW when the Sheriff found that neither law nor guile could overcome
Robin Hood, he was much perplexed, and said to himself, "Fool that I
am! Had I not told our King of Robin Hood, I would not have gotten
The'Sherifftry- myself into such a coil; but now I must either take him captive
et fre ainst or have wrath visited upon my head from his most gracious Maj-
band. esty. I have tried law, and I have tried guile, and I have failed
in both; so I will try what may be done with might."
Thus communing within himself, he called his constables together and told
them what was in his mind. "Now take ye each four men, all armed in proof,"
said he, "and get ye gone to the forest, at different points, and lay in wait for
this same Robin Hood. But if any constable finds too many men against him,
let him sound a horn, and then let each band within hearing come with all
speed and join the party that calls them. Thus, I think, shall we take this
green-clad knave. Furthermore, to him that first meeteth with Robin Hood
shall one hundred pounds of silver money be given, if he be brought to me,
dead or alive; and to him that meeteth with any of his band shall twoscore
pounds be given, if such be brought to me dead or alive. So, be ye bold and
be ye crafty."
So thus they went in threescore companies of five to Sherwood Forest, to
take Robin Hood, each constable wishing that he might be the one to find the
bold outlaw, or at least one of his band. For seven days and nights they
hunted.through the forest glades, but never saw so much as a single man in
Lincoln green; for tidings of all this had been brought to Robin Hood by
trusty Eadom o' the Blue Boar.
When he first heard the news, Robin said, If the Sheriff dare send force to
meet force, woe will it be for him and many a better man beside, for blood
will flow, and there will be great trouble for all. But fain would I shun blood
and battle, and fain would I not deal sorrow to women folk and wives because
good stout yeomen lose their lives. Once I slew a man, and never do I wish to
slay a man again, for it is bitter for the soul to think thereon. So now we will
abide silently in Sherwood Forest, so that it may be well for all; but should
WILL STUTELY RESCUED BY HIS GOOD COMPANIONS. 35
we be forced to defend ourselves, or any of our band, then let each man draw
bow and brand with might and main."
At this speech many of the band shook their heads, and said to themselves,
"Now the Sheriff will think that we are cowards, and folk will Robin and his
band abide with-
scoff throughout the countryside, saying that we fear to meet in Sherwood
these men." But they said nothing aloud, swallowing their depths, where
they hide them-
words, and doing as Robin bade them. selves.
Thus they hid in the depths of Sherwood Forest for seven days and seven
nights, and never showed their faces abroad in all that time; but early in the
morning of the eighth day Robin Hood called the band together and said,
"Now who will go and find what the Sheriff's men are at by this time ? for I
know right well they will not bide forever within Sherwood shades."
At this a great shout arose, and each man waved his bow aloft and cried that
he might be the one to go. Then Robin Hood's heart was proud when he
looked around on his stout, brave fellows, and he said, "Brave and true are ye
all, my merry men, and a right stout band of good fellows are ye; but ye can-
not all go, so I will choose one from amongst you, and it shall be good Will
Stutely, for he is as sly as e'er an old dog fox in Sherwood Forest."
Then Will Stutely leaped high aloft and laughed loudly, clapping his hands,
for pure joy that he should have been chosen from amongst them all. "Now
thanks, good master," quoth he, "and if I bring not news of those knaves to
thee, call me no more thy sly Will Stutely."
Then he clad himself in a friar's gown, and underneath the robe he hung a
good broadsword in such a place that he could easily lay hands Will Stutely go-
upon it. Thus clad, he set forth upon his quest, until he came to o the Sherw's
the verge of the forest, and so to the highway. He saw two bands doings.
of the Sheriff's men, yet he turned neither to the right nor the left, but
only drew his cowl the closer over his face, folding his hands as if in medita-
tion. So at last he came to the Sign of the Blue Boar. "For," quoth he to
himself, our good friend Eadom will tell me all the news."
At the Sign of the Blue Boar he found a band of the Sheriff's men drinking
right lustily; so, without speaking to any one, he sat down upon He cometh unto
a distant bench, his staff in his hand, and his head bowed forward the good Sign of
the Blue Boar.
as though he were meditating. Thus he sat waiting until he the Blue Boar.
might see the landlord apart, and Eadom did not know him, but thought him
to be some poor tired friar, so he let him sit without saying a word to him or
molesting him, though he liked not the cloth; "for," said he to himself, "it is
a hard heart that kicks the lame dog from off the sill."
As Stutely sat thus, there came a great house cat and rubbed against his
knee, raising his robe a palm's breadth high. Stutely pushed his robe quickly
36 WILL STUTEL Y RESCUED BY HIS GOOD COMPANIONS.
down again, but the constable who commanded the Sheriff's men saw what had
passed, and saw also fair Lincoln green beneath the friar's robe. He said
nothing at the time, but communed within himself in this wise: Yon is no
ne constable sus- friar of orders gray, and also, I wot, no honest yeoman goeth
Sicioneth him. about in priest's garb, nor doth a thief go so for naught. Now I
think in good sooth that is one of Robin Hood's own men." So, presently, he
said aloud: -
0 holy father, wilt thou not take a good pot of March beer to slake thy
thirsty soul withal ?" But Stutely shook his head silently, for he said to him-
self, Maybe there be those here who know my voice."
Then the constable said again, "Whither goest thou, holy friar, upon this
hot summer's day ?"
"I go a pilgrim to Canterbury Town," answered Will Stutely, speaking
grtiffly, so that none might know his voice.
Then the constable said, for the third time, Now tell me, holy father, do
pilgrims to'Canterbury wear good Lincoln green beneath their robes? Ha!
by my faith, I take thee to be some lusty thief, and perhaps one of Robin
Hood's own band! Now, by Our Lady's grace, if thou movest hand or foot, I
will run thee.through the body with my sword "
Then he flashed forth his bright sword and leaped upon Will Stutely, thinking
he would take him unaware; but Stutely had his own sword tightly held in his
hand, beneath his robe, so he drew it forth before the constable came upon
him. Then the stout constable struck a mighty blow; but he struck no more
They fiht, and in all that fight, for Stutely, parrying the blow right deftly, smote
Will Stutely is the constable back again with all his might. Then he would have
taken. escaped, but could not, for the other, all dizzy with the wound
and with the. flowing blood, seized him by the knees with his arms even as he
reeled and fell. Then the others rushed upon him, and Stutely struck again
at another of the Sheriff's men, but the steel cap glanced the blow, and though
the blade bit deep, it did not kill. Meanwhile, the constable, fainting as he was,
drew Stutely downward, and the others, seeing the yeoman hampered so,
rushed upon him again, and one smote him a blow upon the crown so that the
blood ran down' his face and blinded him. Then, staggering, he fell, and all
sprang upon him, though he struggled so manfully that they could hardly hold
him fast. Then they bound him with stout hempen cords so that he could not
move either hand or foot, and thus they overcame him. But it was a doleful
day's doings for two of that band; for the constable was sorely wounded, and
the other, that Stutely smote upon the crown, lay sick for many a day ere he
was the stout.man that he had been before this famous fight.
Robin Hood stood under the greenwood tree, thinking of Will Stutely and
WILL STUTELY RESCUED BY HIS GOOD COMPANIONS. 37
how he might be faring, when suddenly he saw two of his stout yeomen come
running down the forest path, and betwixt them ran buxom The news is
Maken of the Blue Boar. Then Robin's heart fell, for he knew broughtto Robin.
they were the bearers of ill tidings.
"Will Stutely hath been taken," cried they, when they had come to where
"And is it thou that hast brought such doleful news ?" said Robin to the
"t Ay, marry, for I saw it all," cried she, panting as the hare pants when it
has escaped the hounds; and I fear he is wounded sore, for one smote him
main shrewdly i' the crown. They have bound him and taken him to Notting-
ham Town, and ere I left the Blue Boar I heard that he should be hanged to-
"He shall not be hanged to-morrow day," cried .Robin; or, if he be, full
many a one shall gnaw the sod, and many shall have cause to cry Alack-a-
Then he clapped his horn to his lips and blew three blasts right loudly, and
presently his good yeomen came running through the greenwood Robin Hood call-
until sevenscore bold blades were gathered around him. eth his merry
men about him.
"Now hark you all!" cried Robin. "Our dear companion,
Will Stutely, hath been taken by that vile Sheriff's men, therefore doth it be-
hoove us to take bow and brand in hand to bring him off again; for I wot
that we ought to risk life and limb for him, as he hath risked life and limb for
us. Is it not so, my merry men all ? Then all cried, "Ay! with a great
"Now," quoth Robin again, "if there be any here that care not to risk life
and limb, let them bide within Sherwood shades, for I constrain no man to my
will; but to-morrow I will bring Will Stutely back or I will die with 'him."
Then up spake .stout Little John. "Thinkest thou, good master," he said,
"that there be one among us all that would not risk life and limb for fellow in
trouble ? If such there be, then do not I know every man in this company of
stout yeomen. And, moreover, if there be such, I wot he should be stripped
and beaten from out our merry woodlands. Is it not so, good friends ?"
Then all cried, "Ay!" again, for there was not one man amongst them all
that would not venture everything for a friend in need.
So the next day they all wended their way from Sherwood Forest, but by
different paths, for it behooved them to be very crafty; so the band separated
into parties of twos and threes, which were all to meet again in a tangled dell
that lay near to Nottingham Town. Then, when they had all gathered together
at the place of meeting, Robin spoke to them thus :--
38 WILL STUTELY RESCUED BY HIS GOOD COMPANIONS.
"Now we will lie here in ambush until we can get news, for it doth behoove
us to be cunning and wary if we would bring our friend, Will
men come to Not- Stutely, off from the Sheriff's clutches."
tighamTown, So they lay hidden a long time, until the sun stood high in the
and do lie in am-
bush till that they sky. The day was warm and the dusty road was bare of travel-
can get news. lers, except an aged palmer who walked slowly along the high-
road that led close beside the gray castle wall of Nottingham Town. When
Robin saw that no other wayfarer was within sight, he called young David of
Doncaster, who was a shrewd man for his years, and said to him, "Now get
thee forth, young David, and speak to yonder palmer that walks beside the
town wall, for he hath come but now from Nottingham Town, and may tell thee
news of good Stutely, perchance."
So David strode forth, and when he came up to the pilgrim, he saluted him
and said: "Good morrow, holy father, and canst thou tell me when Will
Stutely will be hanged upon the gallows tree ? I fain would not miss the sight,
for I have come from afar to see so sturdy a rogue hanged."
Now, out upon thee, young man," cried the Palmer, "that thou shouldst
speak so when a good stout man is to be hanged for nothing but guarding his
own life!" and he struck his staff upon the ground in anger. "Alas, say I,
that this thing should be! for even this day, toward evening, when the sun
falleth low, he shall be hanged, fourscore rods from the great town gate of Not-
tingham, where three roads meet; for there the Sheriff sweareth he shall die
as a warning to all outlaws in Nottinghamshire. But yet, I say again, Alas!
for, though Robin Hood and his band may be outlaws, yet he taketh only from
the rich and the strong and the dishonest man, while there is not a poor widow
nor a peasant with many children, nigh to Sherwood, but has barley-flour
enough all the yearlong through him. It grieves my heart to see one as gal-
lant as this Stutely die, for I have been a good Saxon yeoman in my day, ere I
turned palmer, and well I know a stout hand and one that smiteth shrewdly.at
a cruel Norman or a proud abbot with fat money-bags. Had good Stutely's
master but known how his man was compassed about with perils, perchance he
might send succor to bring him out of the hand of his enemies."
"Ay, marry, that is true," cried the young man. "If Robin and his men be
nigh this place, I wot right well they will strive to bring him forth from his
peril. But fare thee well, thou good old man, and believe me, that, if Will
Stutely die, he shall be right well avenged."
Then he turned and strode rapidly away; but the Palmer looked after him,'
' uttering, I wot that youth is no country hind that hath come to see a good
inan die. Well, well, perchance Robin -Hood is not so far away but that there
will be stout doings this day." So he went upon his way, muttering to him-
z-'~i ... .. o --
il .] /,o
r e, , es"Yvng,
Se. e l er. tVt
of" Doncastcr'e ,
WILL STUTELY RESCUED BY HIS GOOD COMPANIONS. 41
When David of Doncaster told Robin Hood what the Palmer had said to
him, Robin called the band around him and spoke to them thus : David of Don-
"Now let us get straightway into Nottingham Town, and mix caster brings
news of Will
ourselves with the people there ; but keep ye one another in sight, Stutely unto
pressing as near the prisoner and his guards as ye can, when Robin Hood.
they come outside the walls. Strike no man without need, for I would fain
avoid bloodshed, but if ye do strike, strike hard, and see that there be no need
to strike again. Then keep all together until we come again to Sherwood, and
let no man leave his fellows."
The sun was low in the western sky when a bugle-note sounded from the cas-
tle wall. Then all was bustle in Nottingham Town and crowds filled the streets,
for all knew that the famous Will Stutely was to be hanged that day. Pres-
ently the castle gates opened wide and a great array of men-at-arms came forth
with noise and clatter, the Sheriff, all clad in shining mail of linked chain, rid-
ing at their head. In the midst of all the guard, in a cart, with a halter about
his neck, rode Will Stutely. His face was pale with his wound and with loss
of blood, like the moon in broad daylight, and his fair hair was clotted in points
upon his forehead, where the blood had hardened. When he came forth from
the castle he looked up and he looked down, but though he saw some faces that
showed pity and some that showed friendliness, he saw none that he knew.
Then his heart sank within him like a plummet of lead, but nevertheless he
spoke up boldly.
"Give a sword into my hand, 'Sir Sheriff," said he, "and Will Stutely
wounded man though I be, I will fight thee and all thy men till asketk the
life and strength be gone." sword to fight
Nay, thou naughty varlet," quoth the Sheriff, turning his head the Sherfwill
and looking right grimly upon Will Stutely, "thou shalt have no not give him.
sword but shall die a mean death, as beseemeth a vile thief like thee."
"Then do but untie my hands and I will fight thee and thy men with no
weapon but only my naked fists. I crave no weapon, but let me not be meanly
hanged this day."
Then the Sheriff laughed aloud. "Why, how now," quoth he, "is thy proud
stomach quailing ? Shrive thyself, thou vile knave, for I mean that thou shalt
hang this day, and that where three roads meet, so that all men shall see thee
hang, for carrion crows and daws to peck at."
thou dastard heart!" cried Will Stutely, gnashing his teeth at the
Sheriff. "Thou coward hind! If ever my good master meet Will astutely
thee thou shalt pay dearly for this day's work! He doth scorn raileth at the
thee, and so do all brave hearts. Knowest thou not that thou Shr
and thy name are jests upon the lips of every brave yeoman ? Such a one
42 WILL STUTELY RESCUED BY HIS GOOD COMPANION.
as thou art, thou wretched craven, will never be able to subdue bold Robin
"Ha !" cried the Sheriff, in a rage, ".is it even so ? Am I a jest with thy
master, as thou callest him ? Now I will make a jest of thee and a sorry jest
withal, for I will quarter thee limb from limb, after thou art hanged." Then he
spurred his horse forward, and said no more to Stutely.
At last they came to the great town gate, through which Stutely saw the fair
country beyond, with hills and dales all clothed in verdure, and far away the
dusky line of Sherwood's skirts. Then when he saw the slanting sunlight lying
on field and fallow, shining redly here and there on cot and farmhouse, and
when he heard the sweet birds singing their vespers, and the sheep bleating
upon the hillside, and beheld the swallows flying in the bright air, there came
a great fulness to his heart so that all things blurred to his sight through salt
tears, and he bowed his head lest the folk should think him unmanly when they
saw the tears in his eyes. Thus he kept his head bowed till they had passed
through the gate and were outside the walls of the town. But when he looked
up again he felt his heart leap within him and then stand still for pure joy, for
he saw the face of one of his own dear companions of merry Sherwood; then
glancing quickly around he saw well-known faces upon all sides of him, crowd-
ing closely upon the men-at-arms who were guarding him. Then of a sudden
the blood sprang to his cheeks, for he saw for a moment his own good master
in the press, and, seeing him, knew that Robin Hood and all his band were
there. Yet betwixt him and them was a line of men-at-arms.
"Now, stand back !" cried the Sheriff in a mighty voice, for the crowd pressed
around on all sides. "What mean ye, varlets, that ye push upon us so ? Stand
back, I say !"
Then came a bustle and a noise, and one strove to push between the men-at-
Little ohn corn- arms so as to reach the cart, and Stutely saw that it was Little
eth to the rescue John that made all that stir.
f Wil Stte. Now stand thou back!" cried one of the men-at-arms whom
Little John pushed with his elbows.
Now stand thou back thine own self," quoth Little John, and straightway
smote the man a buffet beside his head that felled him as'a butcher fells an ox,
and then he leaped to the cart where Stutely sat.
I pray thee take leave of thy friends ere thou diest, Will," quoth he, "or
maybe I will die with thee if thou must die, for I could never have better com-
pany." Then with one stroke he cut the bonds that bound the other's arms
and legs, and Stutely leaped straightway from the cart.
"Now as I live," cried the Sheriff, "yon varlet I know right well is a sturdy
rebel Take him, I bid you all, and let him not go "
WILL STUTEL Y RESCUED BY HIS GOOD COMPANIONS. 43
So saying he spurred his horse upon Little John, and rising in his stirrups
smote with might and main, but Little John ducked quickly underneath the
horse's belly and the blow whistled harmlessly over his head.
"Nay, good Sir Sheriff," cried he, leaping up again when the blow had passed,
I must e'en borrow thy most worshipful sword." Thereupon he twitched the
weapon deftly from out the Sheriff's hand. "Here, Stutely," be cried, "the
Sheriff hath lent thee his sword Back to back with me, man, and defend thy-
self, for help is nigh "
Down with them! bellowed the Sheriff in a voice like an angry bull; and
he spurred his horse upon the two who now stood back to back, forgetting in
his rage that he had no weapon with which to defend himself.
"Stand back, Sheriff !" cried Little John; and even as he spoke, a bugle-
horn sounded shrilly, and a clothyard shaft whistled within an Robin Hood and
inch of the Sheriff's head. Then there came a swaying hither his and over-
come the Sher-
and thither and oaths and cries and groans and clashing of steel, if's men.
and swords flashed in the setting sun, and a score of arrows whistled through
the air: and some cried Help, help and some, "A rescue, a rescue "
"Treason cried the Sheriff in a loud voice. Bear back bear back else
we be all dead men Thereupon he reined his horse backward through the
thickest of the crowd.
Now Robin Hood and his band might have slain half of the Sheriff's men
had they desired to do so, but they let them push out of the press and get them
gone, only sending a bunch of arrows after them to hurry them in their flight.
Oh stay shouted Will Stutely after the Sheriff. "Thou wilt never catch
bold Robin Hood if thou dost not stand to meet him face to face." But the
Sheriff, bowing along his horse's back, made no answer but only spurred the
Then Will Stutely turned to Little John and looked him in the face till the
tears ran down from his eyes and he wept aloud, and kissing his friend's cheeks,
"0 Little John!" quoth he, "mine own true friend, and he that I love better
than man or woman in all the world beside! Little did I reckon to see thy
face this day, or to meet thee this side Paradise." And Little John could make
no answer, but wept also.
Then Robin Hood gathered his band together in a close rank, with Will
Stutely in the midst, and thus they moved slowly away toward Sherwood, and
were gone, as a storm-cloud moves away from the spot where a tempest has
swept the land. But they left ten of the Sheriff's men lying along the ground
wounded some more, some less yet no one knew who smote them down.
Thus the Sheriff of Nottingham tried thrice to take Robin Hood and failed
each time; and the last time he was frightened, for he felt how near he had
44 WILL STUTELY RESCUED BY HIS GOOD COMPANIONS.
come to losing his life; so he said: "These men fear neither God nor man,
nor King nor king's officers. I would sooner lose mine office than my life, so I
will trouble them no more." So he kept close within his castle for many a day
and dared not show his face outside of his own household, and all the time he
was gloomy and would speak to no one, for he was ashamed of what had hap-
pened that day.
Robin. turns, butcher-and.
ells. his. meat.in.Nottinghaml
t.i. ,re. -. *
i i O--
Robin Hood turns Butcher.
-. SOW after all these things had happened, and it became
known to Robin Hood how the Sheriff had tried three
times to make him captive, he said to himself : If I have
J the chance, I will make our worshipful Sheriff pay right
__.'_ -^^ well for that which he hath done to me. Maybe I may
bring him some time into Sherwood Forest, and have him
- ~to a right merry feast with us." For when Robin Hood
caught a baron or a squire, or a fat abbot or bishop, he
brought them to the greenwood tree and feasted them before he lightened their
But in the mean time Robin Hood and his band lived quietly in Sherwood
Forest, without showing their faces abroad, for Robin knew that How Robin and
Nottingham, those in authority being very wroth with him. But wood Forest for
though they did not go abroad, they lived a merry life within the a year.
woodlands, spending the days in shooting at garlands hung upon a willow wand
at the end of the glade, the leafy aisles ringing with merry jests and laughter:
48 ROBIN HOOD TURNS BUTCHER.
for whoever missed the garland was given a sound buffet, which, if delivered
by Little John, never failed to topple over the unfortunate yeoman. Then
they had. bouts of wrestling and of cudgel play, so that every day they gained
i-n skill and strength.
Thus they dwelt for nearly a year, and in that time Robin Hoo.d often turned
over in his mind many means of making an even score with the
forth to seek Sheriff. At last he began to fret at his confinement; so one day
adventeth auth he took up his stout cudgel and set forth to seek adventure, stroll-
er and buyeth ing blithely along until he came to the edge of Sherwood. There,
is ware. as he rambled along the sunlit road, he met a lusty young Butcher
driving a fine mare, and riding in a stout new cart, all hung about with meat.
Merrily whistled the Butcher as he jogged along, for he was going to the mar-
ket; and the day was fresh and sweet, making his heart blithe within him.
"Good morrow to thee, jolly fellow," quoth Robin; thou seemest happy
this merry morn."
"Ay, that am I," quoth the jolly Butcher; and why should I not be so ?
Am I not hale in wind and limb ? Have I not the bonniest lass in all Notting-
hamshire ? And lastly, am I not to be married to her on Thursday next in
sweet Locksley Town ?"
Ha," said Robin, "comest thou from Locksley Town ? Well do I know
that fair place for miles about, and wbll do I know each hedgerow and gentle
pebbly stream, and even all the bright little fishes therein; for there I was born
and bred. Now, where goest thou with thy meat, my fair friend ? "
I go to the market at Nottingham Town to sell my beef and my mutton,"
answered the Butcher. But who art thou that comest from Locksley Town ?"
"A yeoman am I, good friend, and men do call me Robin Hood."
"Now, by Our Lady's grace," cried the Butcher, well do I know thy name,
and many a time have I heard thy deeds both sung and spoken of. But Heaven
forbid that thou shouldst take ought of me! An honest man am I, and have
wronged neither man nor maid; so trouble me not, good master, as I have
never troubled thee."
"Nay, Heaven forbid, indeed," quoth Robin, that I should take from such
as thee, jolly fellow! Not so much as one farthing would I take from thee, for
I love a fair Saxon face like thine right well; more especially when it cometh
from Locksley Town, and most especially when the man that owneth it is to
marry a bonny lass on Thursday next.. But come, tell me for what price thou
wilt sell all thy meat and thy horse and cart."
"At four marks do I value meat, cart, and mare," quoth the Butcher; but
if I do not sell all my meat I will not have four marks in value."
Then Robin Hood plucked the purse from his girdle, and quoth he, "Here
ROBIN HOOD TURNS BUTCHER. 49
in this purse are six marks. Now, I would fain be a butcher for the day and
sell my meat in Nottingham Town, wilt thou close a bargain with me and take
six marks for thine outfit ?"
"Now may the blessings of all the saints fall on thine honest head!" cried
the Butcher right joyfully, as he leaped down from his cart and took the purse
that Robin held out to him.
Nay," quoth Robin, laughing loudly, "many do like me and wish me well,
but few call me honest. Now get thee gone back to thy lass, and give her a
sweet kiss from me." So, saying, he donned the Butcher's apron, and, climb-
ing into the cart, he took the reins in his hand, and drove, off through the for-
est to Nottingham Town.
When he came to Nottingham, he entered that part of the market where
butchers stood, and took up his inn 1 in the best place he could Robin se/eth his
find. Next, he opened his stall and spread his meat upon the meat in Notting-
bench, then, taking his .cleaver and steel and clattering them to-
gether, he trolled aloud, in merry tones :-
"Now come, ye lasses, and eke, ye dames,
And buy your meat from me;
For three pennyworths of meat I sell
For the charge of one penny.
Lamb have I that hath fed upon nought
But the dainty daisies pied,
And the violet sweet, and the daffodil
That grow fair streams beside.
And beef have Ifrom the heather wolds,
And mutton from dales all green,
And veal as white as a maiden's brow,
With its mother's milk, I ween.
Then come, ye lasses, and eke, ye dames,
Come, buy your meat from me;
For three pennyworths of meat I sell
For the charge of onepenny."
Thus he sang blithely, while all who stood near listened amazedly; then,
when he had finished, he clattered the steel and cleaver still more loudly, shout-
ing lustily, Now, who'll buy ? who '11 buy ? Four fixed prices have I. Three
pennyworths of meat I sell to a fat friar or priest for sixpence, for I want not
their custom; stout aldermen I charge threepence, for it doth not matter to me
4 1 Stand for selling.
50 ROBIN HOOD TURNS BUTCHER.
whether they buy or not; to buxom dames I sell three pennyworths of meat for
one penny, for I like their custom well; but to the bonny lass that hath a liking
for a good tight butcher I charge nought but one fair kiss, for I like her custom
the best.of all."
Then all began to stare and wonder, and crowd around, laughing, for never
was such selling heard of in all Nottingham Town; but when they came to
buy they found it as. he had said, for he gave good wife or dame as much
meat for one penny as they could buy elsewhere for three, and when a widow
or a poor woman came to him, he gave her flesh for nothing; but when a. merry
lass came and gave him a kiss, he charged not one penny for his meat; and
many such came to his stall, for his eyes were as blue as the skies of June, and
he laughed merrily, giving to each full measure. Thus he sold his meat so
fast that no butcher that stood near him could sell anything.
Then they began to talk among themselves, and some said, This must be
The butchers do some thief who has stolen cart, horse, and meat;" but others
tak of Robin said, "Nay, when did ye ever see a thief who parted with his
themselves. goods so freely and merrily ? This must be some prodigal who
hath sold his father's land, and would fain live merrily while the money lasts."
And. these latter being the, greater number, the others came round, one by
one, to their way of thinking.
Then some of the butchers came to him to make his acquaintance. "Come,
brother," quoth one who was the head of them all, "we be all of
e butchers ask
Robin to dine one-trade, so wilt thou go dine with us ? For this day the Sheriff
with them at the hath asked all the Butcher Guild to feast with him at the Guild
great Guild Hall,
and he goeth with Hall. There will be stout fare and much to drink, and that thou
them. likest, or I much mistake thee."
"Now, beshrew his heart," quoth jolly Robin, that would deny a butcher.
Arid, mor-eover, I will go dine with you all, my sweet lads, and that as fast as
I can hie." Whereupon, having sold all his meat, he closed his stall, and went
with them to the great Guild Hall.
There the Sheriff had already come in state, and with him many butchers.
When Robin and those that were with him came in, all laughing at some merry
jest he had been telling them, those that were near the Sheriff whispered to
him, "Yon is a right mad blade, for he hath sold more meat for one penny this
day than we could sell for three, and to whatsoever merry lass gave him a kiss
he gave meat for nought." And others said, He is some prodigal that hath
sold his land for silver and gold, and meaneth to spend all right merrily."
Then the Sheriff called Robin to him, not knowing him in his butcher's
The Sher'i mak- dress, and made him sit close to him on his right hand; for he
Robi of loved a rich young prodigal especially when he thought that he
ROBIN HOOD TURNS BUTCHER. 51
might lighten that prodigal's pockets into his own most worshipful purse. So
he made much of Robin, and laughed and talked with him more than with any
of the others.
At last the dinner was ready to be served and the Sheriff bade Robin say
grace, so Robin stood up and said: Now Heaven bless us all and eke good
meat and good sack within this house, and may all butchers be and remain as
honest men as I am."
At this all laughed, the Sheriff loudest of all, for he said to himself, Surely
this is indeed some prodigal, and perchance I may empty his purse of some of
the money that the fool throweth about so freely." Then he spake Aloud to
Robin, saying: "Thou art a jolly young blade, and I love thee mightily;"
and he smote Robin upon the shoulder.
Then Robin laughed loudly too. "Yea," quoth he, "I know thou dost love a
jolly blade, for didst thou not have jolly Robin Hood at thy shooting-match and
didst thou not gladly give him a bright golden arrow for his own ?"
At this the Sheriff looked grave and all the guild of butchers too, so that
none laughed but Robin, only some winked slyly at each other.
Come, fill us some sack! cried Robin. "Let us e'er be merry while we
may, for man is but dust, and he hath but a span to live here till the worm get-
teth him, as our good gossip Swanthold sayeth; so let life be merry while it
lasts, say I. Nay, never look down i' the mouth, Sir Sheriff. Who knowest
but that thou mayest catch Robin Hood yet if thou drinkest less good sack and
Malmsey, and bringest down the fat about thy paunch and the dust from out
thy brain. Be merry, man."
Then the Sheriff laughed again, but not as though he liked the jest, while the
butchers said, one to another, Before Heaven, never have we seen such a mad.
rollicking blade. Mayhap, though, he will make the Sheriff mad."
How now, brothers," cried Robin, "be merry! nay, never count over your
farthings, for by this and by that I will pay this shot myself, e'en though it cost
two hundred pounds. So let no man draw up his lip, nor thrust his forefinger
into his purse, for I swear that neither butcher nor Sheriff shall pay one penny
for this feast."
Now thou art a right merry soul," quoth the Sheriff, "and I wot tho.u must
have many a head of horned beasts and many an acre of land, that thou dost
spend thy money so freely."
"Ay, that have I," quoth Robin, laughing loudly again, "five hundred and
more horned beasts have I and my brothers, and none of them have we been
able to sell, else I might not have turned butcher. As for my land, I have
never asked my steward how many acres I have."
At this the Sheriff's eyes twinkled, and he chuckled to himself. "Nay, good
52 ROBIN HOOD TURNS BUTCHER.
youth," quoth he, "if thou canst not sell thy cattle it may be I will find a man
that will lift them from thy hands ; perhaps that man may be myself, for I love
a merry youth and would help such a one along the path of life. Now how
much dost thou want for thy horned cattle ?"
"Well," quoth:Robin, they are worth at least five hundred pounds."
Robin bargain- Nay," answered the Sheriff, slowly, and as if he were thinking
eth to sellive within himself ; "well do I love thee, and fain would I help thee
beasts to the along, but. five hundred pounds in money is a good round sum;
Sheriff beside I have it not by me. Yet I will give thee three hundred.
pounds for them all, and that in good hard silver and gold."
"Now thou old Jew!" quoth Robin; "well thou knowest that so many
horned cattle are worth seven hundred pounds and more, and even that. is but
small for them, and yet thou, with thy gray hairs and one foot in the grave,
wouldst trade upon the folly of a wild youth."
At this the Sheriff looked grimly at Robin. "Nay," quothRobin, look not
on me as though thou hadst sour beer in thy mouth, man. I will take thine
offer, for I and my brothers do need the money. We lead. a merry life, and no
one leads a merry life for a farthing, so I will close the bargain with thee. But
mind that thou bringest a good three hundred pounds .with thee, for I trust not
one that driveth so shrewd a bargain."
I will bring the money," said the Sheriff. "But what is thy name, good
"<' Men call me Robert o' Locksley," quoth bold Robin..
"Then, good Robert o' Locksley," quoth the Sheriff, I will come this day
to see thy horned beasts. But first my clerk shall draw up a paper in which
thou shalt be bound to the sale, for thou gettest not my money without I get
thy beasts in return."
Then-Robin Hood laughed again. "So be it," he cried, smiting his palm
upon the Sheriff's hand. "Truly my brothers will be thankful to thee for thy
Thus the b again was closed; but many of the butchers talked among them-
selves of the Sheriff, saying that it was but a scurvy trick to beguile a poor
spendthrift youth in this way.
TIae afternoon had come when the Sheriff mounted his horse and joined
The sXerff Robin Hood, who stood outside the gateway of the paved court
goeth with Robin waiting for him, for he had sold his horse and cart to a trader for
Hood to see his
horned beasts. two marks. Then they set forth upon their way, the Sheriff rid-
ing upon his horse and Robin running beside him. Thus they left Nottingham
Town and travelled forward along the dusty highway, laughing and jesting to-
gether as though they had been old friends; but all the time the Sheriff said
ROBIN ROOD TURNS BUTCHER. -53
within himself, Thy jest to me of Robin Hood shall cost thee dear, good fel-
low, even four hundred pounds, thou fool." For he thought he would make at
least that much by his bargain.
So they journeyed onward till they came within the verge of Sherwood For-
est, when presently the Sheriff looked up and down and to the right and to the
left of him and then grew quiet and ceased his laughter. Now," quoth he,
" may Heaven and its saints preserve us this day from, a rogue men call Robin
Then Robin laughed aloud. "Nay," said he, thou mayst set thy mind at
rest, for well do I know Robin Hood and well do I know that thou art in no
more danger from him this day than thou art from me."
At this the Sheriff looked askance at Robin, saying to himself, "I like not
that thou seemest so well acquainted with this bold outlaw, and I wish that I
were well out of Sherwood Forest."
But still they travelled deeper into the forest shades, and the deeper they went
the more quiet grew the Sheriff. At last they came to where the road took a
sudden bend, and before them a herd of- dun deer went tripping across the
path. Then Robin Hood came close to the Sheriff and pointing his finger he
said, These are my horned beasts; good Master Sheriff. How dost thou like
them ? Are they not fat and fair .to see ?"
At this the Sheriff drew rein quickly. "Now fellow," quoth he, "I .would
I were well out of this forest, for I like not thy company. Go thou thine own
path, good friend, and let me but go mine."
But Robin only laughed and caught the Sheriff's bridle rein. "Nay," cried
he, "stay a while, for I would thou shouldst see my brothers who own these fair
horned beasts with me." So saying he clapped his bugle to his mouth and
winded three merry notes, and presently up the -path came leaping fivescore
good stout yeomen with Little John at their head.
What wouldst thou have, good master?" quoth Little John.
"Why," answered Robin, dost thou not see that I have brought goodly com-
pany to feast with us to-day ? Fye, for shame do you npt see our good and
worshipful master, the Sheriff of Nottingham ? Take thou his bridle, Little
John, for he has honored us to-day by coming to feast with us."
Then all doffed their hats humbly, without smiling, or seeming to be in jest,
whilst Little John took the bridle rein and led the palfrey still deeper into the
forest, all marching in order, with Robin Hood walking beside the Sheriff, hat
All this time the Sheriff said never a word but only looked about him like
one suddenly awakened from sleep; but when he found himself going within
the very depth of Sherwood his heart sank within him, for he thought, "Surely
54 R OBINV HOOD TURNS B UTCHER.
my three hundred pounds will be taken, from me, even if they take not my life
itself, for I have plotted against their lives more than once." But all seemed
humble and meek and not a word was said of danger, either to life or money.
So at last they came to that part of Sherwood Forest where a noble oak
spread its branches wide, and beneath it was a seat all made of moss, on
which Robin sat down, placing the Sheriff at his right hand. "Now busk
The Sheriffcom- ye, my merry men all," quoth he, and bring forth the best we
eo three n-d have, both of meat and wine, for his worship, the Sheriff, hath
feasted there, feasted me in Nottingham Guild Hall to-day, and I would not
have him go back empty."
All this time nothing had been said of the Sheriff's money, so presently he
began to pluck up heart; "For," said he to himself, "maybe Robin Hood hath
forgotten all about it."
Then, whilst beyond in the forest bright fires crackled and savory smells of
sweetly roasting venison and fat capons filled the glade, and brown pasties
warmed beside the blaze, did Robin Hood entertain the Sheriff right royally.
They playgames First, several couples stood forth at quarterstaff, and so shrewd
before the Sher- were they at the 'game, and so quickly did they give stroke and
"parry, that the Sheriff, who loved to watch all lusty sports of the
kind, clapped his hands, forgetting where he was, and crying aloud, "Well
struck well struck, thou fellow with the black beard !" little knowing that
the man he called upon was the Tinker that tried to serve his warrant upon
Then the best archers of the band set up a fair garland of flowers at eight-
score paces distance, and shot at it with the cunningest archery practice. But
the Sheriff grew grave, for he did not like this so well, the famous meeting at
the butts in Nottingham Town being still green in his memory, and the golden
arrow that had been won there hanging close behind him. Then, when Robin
saw what was. in the Sheriff's mind, he stopped the sport, and called forth some
of his band, who sang merry ballads, while others made music upon the harp.
When this was done, several yeomen came forward and spread cloths upon
the green grass; and placed a royal feast; while others still broached barrels of
sack and Malmsey and good stout ale, and set them in jars upon the cloth,
The Sheriff with drinking-horns about them. Then all sat down and feasted
feasteth, and and drank merrily together until the sun was low and the half-
after payeth the
score. moon glimmered with a pale light betwixt the leaves of the trees
Then the Sheriff arose and said, "I thank you all, good yeomen, for the
merry entertainment ye have given me this day. Right courteously have ye
used me, showing therein that ye have much respect for our glorious King and
ROBIN HOOD TURNS BUTCHER. 55
his deputy in brave Nottinghamshire. But the shadows grow long, and I must
away before darkness comes, lest I lose myself within the forest."
Then Robin Hood and all his merry men arose also, and Robin said to the
Sheriff, "If thou must go, worshipful sir, go thou must; but thou hast forgot-
ten one thing."
"Nay, I forgot nought," said the Sheriff; yet all the same his heart sank
But I say thou hast forgot something," quoth Robin. We keep a merry
inn here in the greenwood, but whoever becometh our guest must pay his
Then the Sheriff laughed, but the laugh was hollow. "Well, jolly boys,"
quoth he, "we have had a merry time together to-day, and even if ye had not
asked me, I would have given you a score of pounds for the sweet entertain-
ment I have had."
Nay," quoth Robin seriously, "it would ill beseem us to treat your worship
so meanly. By my faith, Sir Sheriff, I would be ashamed to show my face if I
did not reckon the King's deputy at three hundred pounds. Is it not so, my
merry men all ?"
Then Ay cried all, in a loud voice.
Three hundred devils !" roared the Sheriff. "Think ye that your beggarly
feast was worth three pounds, let alone three hundred ?"
Nay," quoth Robin, gravely.- Speak not so roundly, your worship. I do
love thee for the sweet feast thou hast given me this day in merry Nottingham
Town; but there be those here who love thee not so much. If thou wilt look
down the cloth thou wilt see Will Stutely, in whose eyes thou hast no great
favor ; then two other stout fellows are there here that thou knowest not, that
were wounded in a brawl nigh Nottingham Town, some time ago- thou wot-
test when; one of them was sore hurt in one arm, yet he hath got the use of it
again. Good Sheriff, be advised by rme; pay thy score without more ado, or
maybe it may fare ill with thee."
As he spoke the Sheriff's ruddy cheeks grew pale, and he said nothing more
but looked upon the ground and gnawed his nether lip. Then slowly he drew
forth his fat purse and threw it upon the cloth in front of him.
"Now take the purse, Little John," quoth Robin Hood, "and see that the
reckoning be right. We would not doubt our Sheriff, but he might not like it
if he should find he had not paid his full score."
Then Little John counted.the money, and found that the bag held three hun-
dred pounds in silver and gold. But to the Sheriff it seemed as if every clink
of the bright money was a drop of blood from his veins; and when he saw it all
counted out in a heap of silver and gold, filling a wooden platter, he turned
away and silently mounted his horse.
56 'ROBIN HOOD TURNS BUTCHER.
"Never have we had so worshipful a guest 'before quoth Robin ;" and, as
the day waxeth late, I will send one of my young men to guide'thee out of the
"Nay,' heaven forbid!" cried the Sheriff, hastily. "I can find mine own
way, good man, without aid."
"Then I will put thee on the right track mine own self," quoth Robin ; and,
taking the Sheriff's horse by the bridle rein, he led him into the main forest
path; then, before he let him go, he said, "Now, fare thee well, good Sheriff,
and when next thou thinkest to despoil some poor prodigal, remember thy feast
in Sherwood Forest. 'Ne'er buy a horse, good friend, without first looking into
its mouth,' as 6ur good gaffer Swanthold says. And so, once more, fare thee
well." Then he clapped his hand to the horse's back, and off went nag and
Sheriff through the forest glades.
Then bitterly the Sheriff rued the day that first he meddled'with Robin Hood,
for all men laughed at him and many ballads were sung by folk throughout the
country, of how the Sheriff went to shear and came home shorn to the very
quick. For thus men sometimes overreach themselves through greed and
Little John goes to the Fair at Nottingham
N OW we will tell of the merry adventures that befell Little John at the
shooting-match at Nottingham, and 'how he' overcame Eric o' Lincoln in
the famous bout at quarterstaff in that town; also how he entered the
Slheriff's service, and of his merry encounter with the Sheriff's cook. So listen
to what follows.
Spring had gone since the Sheriff's feast in Sherwood, and summer also, and
the mellow month of October had come. All the air was cool and fresh; the
harvests were gathered home, the young birds were full fledged, the hops were
plucked, and apples were ripe. But though time had so smoothed things over
that men no longer talked of the horned beasts that the Sheriff wished to buy,
he was still sore about the matter and could not bear to hear Robin Hood's
name spoken in his presence.
With October had come the time for holding the great Fair which was cele-
brated every five years at Nottingham Town, to which folk came from far and
near throughout the'country. At such times archery was always the main sport
of the day, for the Nottinghamshire yeomen were the best hand at the longbow
in all Merry England ; but this year the Sheriff hesitated a long time before he
issued proclamation of the Fair, fearing lest Robin Hood and his band might
come to it. At first he had a great part of a mind not to proclaim the Fair, but
second thought told him that men would laugh at him and say among them-
selves that he was afraid of Robin Hood, so he put that thought e Sheriffro.
by. At last he fixed in his mind that he would offer such a prize claimeth the
as they would not care to shoot for. At such times it had been ham, atnde on-
the custom to offer a half score of marks or a tun of ale, so this eth a prizefor
t1e archery bout.
year he proclaimed that a prize of two fat steers should be given
to the best bowman.
When Robin Hood heard what had been proclaimed he was vexed, arid said,
"Now beshrew this Sheriff 'that he should offer such a prize that none but
shepherd hinds will care to shoot for it! I would have loved nothing better
than to have had another bout at merry' Nottingham Town, but if I should win
this prize naught would it pleasure or profit me."
58 LITTLE yOHNI GOES TO THE FAIR AT NOTTINGHAM TOWN.
Then up spoke Little John : "Nay, but hearken, good master," said he, "only
Little yohn will to-day Will Stutely, young David of Doncaster, and I were at the
go tom fortti sign of the Blue Boar, and there we heard all the news of this
the prize. merry Fair, and also that the Sheriff hath offered this prize that
we of Sherwood might not care to come to the Fair; so, good master, if thou
wilt, I would fain go and strive to win'even this poor thing among the stout
yeomen who will shoot at Nottingham Town."
"Nay, Little John," quoth Robin, "thou art a sound stout fellow, yet thou
lackest the cunning that good Stutely hath, and I would not have harm befall
thee for all Nottinghamshire. Nevertheless if thou wilt go, take some disguise
lest there be those there who may know thee."
So be it, good master," quoth Little John; "yet all the disguise that I wish
Sis.a good suit of scarlet instead of this of Lincoln green. I will draw the cowl
of my jacket about my head so that it will hide my brown hair and beard, and
then, I trust, no one will know me."
"It is much against my will," said Robin Hood, nevertheless, if thou dost wish
it, get thee gone, but bear thyself seemingly, Little John, for thou art mine own
right hand man and I could ill bear to have harm befall thee."
So Little John clad himself all in scarlet, and started off to the Fair at Not-
Right merry were these Fair days at Nottingham, when the green before
the great town gate was dotted with booths standing in rows, with tents of
many-colored canvas, hung about with streamers and garlands of flowers, and
the folk came from all the countryside, both gentle and common. In some
booths there was dancing to merry music, in others flowed ale and beer, and in
others yet again sweet cakes and barley sugar were sold; and sport was going
outside the booths also, where some minstrel sang ballads of the olden time,
playing a' second upon the harp, or where the wrestlers struggled with one
another within the sawdust ring; but the people gathered most of all around a
raised platform where stout fellows played at quarterstaff.
So Little John came to the Fair. All scarlet were his hose and jerkin, and
Little ohn corn- scarlet was his cowled cap, with a scarlet feather stuck in the side
eth to the Fair. of it. Over his .shoulders was slung a stout bow of yew, and
across his back hung a quiver of good round arrows. Many turned to look
after such a stout, tall fellow, for his shoulders were broader by a palm's
breadth than any that were there, and he stood a head taller than all the other
men. The lasses, also, looked at him askance, thinking they had never seen a
First of all he went to the booth where stout ale was sold, and, standing aloft
LITTLE JOHN GOES TO THE FAIR AT NOTTINGHAM TO WN 59
on a bench, he called to all that were near to come and drink with him. Hey,
sweet lads! cried he, "who will drink ale with a stout yeoman? Come, all!
come, all! Let us be merry, for the day is sweet and the ale is tingling. Come
hither, good yeoman, and thou, and thou; for not a farthing shall one of you
pay. Nay, turn hither, thou lusty beggar, and thou' jolly tinker, for all shall
be merry with me."
Thus he shouted, and all crowded around, laughing, while the brown ale
flowed ; and they called Little John a brave fellow, each swearing that he loved
him as his own brother; for when one has entertainment with nothing to pay,
one loves the man that gives it to one.
The next place Little John went to was the dancing booth, where three .men
made sweet music with bagpipes. Here he laid aside his bow and his quiver,
and joined in the sport, dancing so long that none could stand against him. A
score of lasses came, one after another, and strove to dance him down, but could
not do so; for Little John leaped so high, snapping his fingers the while, and
shouted so loud, that every lass vowed that she had never seen so sweet a lad
in all her life before.
Then, after he had danced a long time, he strolled to the platform where
they were at cudgel-play, for he loved a bout at quarterstaff as he loved meat
and drink; and here befell an adventure that was sung in ballads throughout
the mid-country for many a day.
One fellow there was that cracked crowns of every one who threw cap into
the ring. This was Eric o' Lincoln, of great renown, whose name had been
sung in ballads throughout the countryside. When Little John reached the
stand he found none fighting, but only bold Eric walking up and down the
platform, swinging his staff and shouting lustily: "Now, who will come and
strike a stroke for the lass he loves the best, with a good Lincolnshire yeoman ?
How now, lads ? step up step up or else the lasses' eyes are not bright here-
abouts, or the blood of Nottingham youth is sluggish and cold. Lincoln against
Nottingham, say I! for no one hath put foot upon the boards this day such as
we of Lincoln call a cudgel-player."
At this, one would nudge another with his elbow, saying, "Go thou, Ned !"
or Go thou, Thomas !" but no lad cared to gain a cracked crown for nothing.
Presently Eric saw where Little John stood among the others, a head
and shoulders above them all, and he called to him loudly, "Hal- L n
Little yohn beat-
loa, thou long-legged fellow in scarlet! Broad are thy shoulders eth Erico' Lin-
and thick thy head ; is not thy lass fair enough for thee to take cn at the Fair
cudgel in hand for her sake ? In truth, I believe that Notting- at Nottingham
ham men do turn to. bone and sinew, for neither heart nor courage
have they! Now, thou great lout, wilt thou not twirl staff for Nottingham ?"
60 LITTLE _OIHN GOES TO THE FAIR AT NOTTIZNGHAM TO WN.
Ay," quoth Little John, <' had I but mine own good staff here, it would
pleasure me hugely to crack thy knave's pate, thou saucy braggart.! I wot it
would be well for thee an thy cock's comb were cut! Thus he spoke, slowly
at first, for he was slow to move; but his wrath gathered headway like a great
stone rolling down a hill, so that-at the end he was full of anger.
Then Eric o' Lincoln laughed aloud. "Well spoken for one who fears to
meet me fairly, man to man," said he. "Saucy art thou thine own self, and, if
thou puttest foot upon these boards, I will make thy saucy tongue rattle within
Now," quoth Little John, "is there never a man here that will lend me
a good stout' staff till I- try the-mettle of yon fellow ? At this, half a score
reached him their staves, and he took the stoutest and heaviest of them all.
Then, looking up and down the cudgel, he said, "Now, I have in my-hand but
a splint of wood, a barley-straw, an it were, yet, I trow it will have to serve
me; 'so here goeth." Thereupon he cast the cudgel upon the stand, and, leap-
ing lightly after it, snatched it up in his hand again.
Then each man stood in his place and measured the other with fell looks
until--he that directed the sport cried, "Play!" At this they stepped forth,
each grasping' his staff tightly in the middle. Then those that stood around
saw the stoutest game of quarterstaff that e'er Nottingham Town beheld. At
first Eric o' Lincoln thought that he would gain an easy advantage, so he came
forth as if he would say, "Watch, good people, how'that I carve you this- cock-
etel right speedily;" but he presently found it to be no such speedy matter.
Right deftly he struck, and with great skill of fence, but he had found his
match in Little John. Once, twice, thrice he struck, and three times Little
John turned the blows to the left hand and to the right. Then quickly and
with a dainty backhanded blow he rapped Eric beneath his guard so shrewdly
that it made his head ring again. Then Eric stepped back to gather his wits,
while a great shout went- up and all were glad that Nottingham had cracked
Lincoln's crown; and thus ended the first bout of the game.
Then presently the director of the sport cried, Play!" and they came to-
gether again; 'but now Eric played 'warily, for he found his man was 'of right
good mettle, and also he had no sweet memory of the blow that he had got; so
this bout neither Little John nor the Lincoln man caught a stroke within his
guard;. then, after a while, they parted again, and this made the second bout.
Then for the third time they came together, and at first Eric strove to be
wary, as he had been before; but, growing mad at finding himself so foiled, he
lost his wits, and began to rain blows so fiercely and so fast that they rattled
like hail on penthouse 'roof; but; in spite of all, he did not reach within Little
"Johin's guard. Then at last Little John saw his chance and seized it right
'- -- 'or e
L& tt 5~
LITTLE JOHN GOES TO THE FAIR AT NOTTINGHAM TOWN. 63
cleverly. Once more, with a quick blow, he rapped Eric beside the head, and
ere he could regain himself, Little John slipped his right hand down to his
left, and, with a swinging blow, smote the other so sorely upon the crown that
down he fell as though he would never move again.
Then the people shouted so loud that folk came running from all about to
see what was the ado; while Little John leaped down from the stand and gave
the staff back to him that had lent it to him. And thus ended the famous bout
between Little John and Eric o' Lincoln of great renown.
But now the time had come when those who were to shoot with the long bow
were to take their places, so the people began flocking to the butts where the
shooting was to be. Near the target, in a good place, sat the Sheriff, upon a
raised dais, with many gentlefolk around him. When the archers had taken
their places, the herald came forward and proclaimed the rules of the game, and
how each should shoot three shots, and to him that should shoot the best the
prize of two fat steers was to belong. A score of brave shots were gathered
there, and among them some of the keenest hands at the long bow in Lincoln
and Nottinghamshire; and among them Little John stood taller than all the
rest. "Who is yon stranger clad all in scarlet ?" 'said some; and others an-
swered, "It is he that hath but now so soundly cracked the crown of Eric o'
Lincoln." Thus the people talked among themselves, until at last it reached
even the Sheriff's ears.
And now each man stepped forward and shot in turn; but though each shot
well, Little John was the best of all, for three times he struck the Little yohn
clout, and once only the length of a barleycorn from the centre. shooteth in the
famous Fair at
" Hey for the tall archer! shouted the.crowd; and some among Vottin.rgnam
them shouted, Hey for Reynold Greenleaf !" for this was the- Town, and win-
neth the rise.
name that Little John had called himself that day.
Then the Sheriff stepped down from the raised seat and came to where the
archers stood, while all doffed their caps that saw him coming.
He looked keenly at Little John, but did not know him, though. talked to Little
he said, after a while, How now, good fellow, methinks there is , but know-
eth him not.
that about thy face that I have seen erewhile.'"
"Mayhap it may be so," quoth Little John, "for often have I seen your
worship;" and, as he spoke, he looked steadily into the Sheriff's eyes, so that
the latter did not suspect who he was.
"A brave blade art thou, good friend," said the Sheriff, "and I hear that
thou hast well upheld the skill of Nottinghamshire against that of Lincoln 'this
day. What may be thy name, good fellow ? "
Men do call me Reynold Greenleaf, your worship," said Little John; and
the old ballad that tells of this, adds, So, in truth, was he a green leaf, but of
what manner of tree the Sheriff wotted not."
64 LITTLE JOHN. GOES TO THE FAIR AT NOTTINGHAM TOWN.
"Now, Reynold Greenleaf," quoth the Sheriff, "thou art the fairest hand at
the long bow that mine eyes ever beheld, next to that false knave, Robin Hood,
from whose wiles Heaven forfend me! Wilt, thou join my service, good fellow?
Thou shalt be paid right well, for three suits of clothes shalt thou have a year,
with good food and as much ale as thou canst drink; and, beside this, I will
pay thee forty marks each Michaelmastide."
"Then here stand I a free man, and right gladly will I enter thy house-
Little John en- hold," said Little John ; for he. thought he might find some merry
tereth the sher- jest, should he enter the Sheriff's service.
Fairly hast.;thou won the fat steers," said the Sheriff, "and
thereunto I will add a butt of good March beer, for joy of having gotten such a
man ; for, I wot, thou shootest as fair a shaft as Robin Hood himself."
Then," said Little John, "for joy of having gotten myself into thy service, I
Little John giv- will. give fat steers and brown ale to all these good folk, to make
ek the trz to them merry withal." At this arose a great shout, many casting
the folk at the
Fair. their caps aloft, for joy of the gift.
Then some built great fires and roasted the steers, and others broached the
butt of ale, with which all made themselves merry; then; when they had eaten
and drunk as much as they could,, and when the day faded and the great moon
arose, all red and round, over the spires, and towers of Nottingham Town, they
joined hands and danced around the fires, to the music of bagpipes and harps.
But long before, this merrymaking had begun, the Sheriff and his new servant,
Reynold Greenleaf, were in the Castle of Nottingham.
How Little John lived at the Sheriffs
SHUS Little John entered into the Sheriff's service, and found the life he
led there easy enough, for the Sheriff made him his right-hand man, and
held him in great favor. He sat nigh the Sheriff at meat, and he ran be-
side his horse when he went a-hunting; so that, what with hunting and hawk-
ing a little, and eating rich dishes and drinking good sack and Ho that Little
sleeping until late hours in the morning, he grew as fat as a stall- yohnlivedinthe
fed ox. Thus things floated easily along with the tide, until one
day when the Sheriff went a-hunting, there happened that which broke the
smooth surface of things.
This morning the Sheriff and many of his men set forth to meet certain
lords, to go a-hunting. He looked all about h'im for his good The Sheriff go-
man, Reynold Greenleaf, but, not finding him, was vexed, for he eth a-hunting
and leaveth Lit-
wished to show Little John's skill to his noble friends. As for tie yohn at
Little John, he lay abed, snoring lustily, till the sun was high in home.
the heavens. At last he opened his eyes and looked about him, but did not
move to arise. Brightly shone the sun in at the window, and all the air was
sweet with the scent of woodbine that hung in sprays about the wall without,
for the cold winter was past and spring was come again, and Little John lay
"still, thinking how sweet was everything on this fair morn. Just then he heard,
faint and far away, a distant bugle-note sounding thin and clear. The sound
was small, but, like a little pebble dropped into a glassy fountain, it broke all
the smooth surface of his thoughts, until his whole soul was filled with disturb-
ance. His spirit seemed to awaken from its sluggishness, and his memory
brought back to him all the merry greenwood life, how the birds were sing-
ing blithely there this bright morning, and how his loved companions and
friends were feasting and making merry, or perhaps talking of him with sober
speech; for when he first entered the Sheriff's service he did so in jest;. but
the hearthstone was warm during the winter, and the fare was full, and so he
had abided, putting off from day to day his going back to Sherwood, until six
long months had passed. But now he thought of his good master, and of Will
Stutely, whom he loved better than any one in all the world, and of young
66 HO W LITTLE O7HN LIVED AT THE SHERIFF'S HOUSE.
David of Doncaster, whom he had trained so well in all manly sports, till there
came over his heart a great and bitter longing for them all, so that his eyes
filled with tears. Then he said aloud: Here I grow fat like a stall-fed ox and
all my manliness departeth from me while I become a sluggard and dolt. But
I will arouse me and go back to mine own dear friends once. more, and never
will I leave them again till life doth leave my lips." So saying, he leaped from
bed, for he hated his sluggishness now.
When he came down-stairs he saw the Steward standing near the pantry
Little yohn seek- door,-a great, fat man, with a huge bundle of keys hanging
eth his break- to his girdle. Then Little John said, Ho, Master Steward, a
fast, but the
Steward giveth hungry man am I, for nought have I had for all this blessed
it him not. morn. Therefore, give me to eat."
Then the Steward looked grimly at him and rattled the keys in his girdle, for
he hated Little John because he had found favor with the Sheriff. "So, Mas-
ter Reynold Greenleaf, thou art an hungered, art thou ?" quoth he. "But, fair
youth, if thou livest long enough, thou wilt find that he who getteth overmuch
sleep for an idle head goeth with an empty stomach. For what sayeth the old
saw, Master Greenleaf ? is it not 'The late fowl findeth but ill faring?'"
"Now, thou great purse of fat !" cried Little John, I ask thee not for fool's
wisdom, but for bread and meat. Who art thou, that thou shouldst deny me to
eat? By Saint Dunstan, thou hadst best tell me where my breakfast is, if thou
wouldst save broken bones !"
"Thy breakfast, Master Fireblaze, is in the pantry," answered the Steward.
"Then fetch it hither cried Little John, who waxed angry by this time.
"Go thou and fetch it thine own self," quoth the Steward. "Am I thy
slave, to fetch and carry for thee?"
I say, go thou, bring it me !"
"I say, go thou, fetch it for thyself !"
"Ay, marry, that will I, right quickly!" quoth Little John, in a rage; and,
Little ohn so saying, he strode to the pantry and tried to open the door;
"breaketh in u- but found it locked, whereat the Steward laughed and rattled
on the Steward's
pantry. his keys. Then the wrath of Little John boiled over, and, lifting
his clenched fist, he smote the pantry door, bursting out three panels, and
making so large an opening that he could easily stoop and walk through it.
When the Steward saw what was done, he waxed mad with rage; and, as
Little John stooped to look within the pantry, he seized him from behind by
the nape of the neck, pinching him sorely and smiting him over the head with
his keys till the yeoman's ears rang again. At this Little John turned upon
the Steward and smote him such a buffet that the fat man fell to the floor and
lay there as though he would never move again. "There," quoth Little John,
HO W LITTLE 7OHN LIVED AT THE SHERIFF'S HOUSE. 67
"think well of that stroke and never keep a good breakfast from a hungry man
So saying, he crept into the pantry and looked about him to see if he could
find something to appease his hunger. He saw a great venison pasty and two
roasted capons, beside which was a platter of plover's eggs; moreover, there
was a flask of sack and one of canary, -a sweet sight to a hungry man.
These he took down from the \shelves and placed upon a sideboard, and pre-
pared to make himself merry.
Now the Cook, in the kitchen across the courtyard, heard the loud talking
between Little John and the Steward, and also the blow that Little John struck
the other, so he came running across the court and up the stairway to where
the Steward's pantry was, bearing in his hands the spit with the roast still upon
it. Meanwhile the Steward had gathered his wits about him and risen to his
feet, so that when the Cook came to the Steward's pantry he saw him glower-
ing through the broken door at Little John, who was making ready for a good
repast, as one dog glowers at another that has a bone. When the Steward saw
the Cook, he came to him, and, putting one arm over his shoulder, "Alas,
sweet friend! quoth he, for the Cook was a tall, stout man, -" seest thou
what that vile knave, Reynold Greenleaf, hath done ? He hath broken in upon
our master's goods, and hath smitten me a buffet upon the ear, so that I
thought I was dead. Good Cook, I love thee well, and thou shalt have a good
pottle of our master's best wine every day, for thou art an old and faithful
servant. Also, good Cook, I have ten shillings that I mean to give as a gift to
thee. But hatest thou not to see a vile upstart like this Reynold Greenleaf
taking it upon him so bravely ? "
"Ay, marry, that do I," quoth the Cook boldly, for he liked the Steward
because of his talk of the wine and of the ten shillings. "Get thee gone
straightway to thy room, and I will bring out this knave by his ears." So say-
ing, he laid aside his spit and drew the sword that hung by his side; where-
upon the Steward left as quickly as he could, for he hated the sight of naked
Then the Cook walked straightway to the broken pantry door, through which
he saw Little John tucking a napkin beneath his chin, and pre- The Cook comet
paring to make himself merry. t break in upon
the feast of Lit-
"Why, how now, Reynold Greenleaf ? said the Cook; "thou tie ohn.
art no better than a thief, I wot. Come thou straight forth, man, or I will carve
thee as I would carve a sucking pig."
"Nay, good Cook, bear thou thyself more seemingly, or else I will come
forth to thy dole. At most times I am as a yearling lamb, but when one
cometh between me and my meat, I am a raging lion, as it were."
68 HO W LITTLE 7OHN LIVED AT THE SHERIFF'S HO USE.
"Lion or no lion," quoth the valorous Cook, come thou straight forth, else
thou art a coward heart as well as a knavish thief."
"Ha!" cried Little John, "coward's name have I never had; so, look to
.thyself, good Cook, for I come forth straight, the roaring lion I did speak of
Then he, too, drew his sword and came out of the pantry; then, putting
themselves into position, they came slowly together, with grim and angry
looks; but suddenly Little John lowered his point. "Hold, good Cook! said
he. "Now, I bethink me it were ill of us to fight with good victuals standing
so nigh, and such a feast as would befit two stout fellows such as we are.
Marry, good friend, I think we should enjoy this fair feast ere we fight. What
sayest thou, jolly Cook? "
At this speech the Cook looked up and down, scratching his head in doubt,
for he loved good feasting. At last he drew a long breath, and said to Little
John, "Well, good friend, I like thy plan right well; so, pretty boy, say I, let
us feast, with all my heart, for one of us may sup in Paradise before night-
So each thrust his sword back into the scabbard, and entered the pantry;
Little yohn then, after they had seated themselves, Little John drew his dag-
feasteth with the ger and thrust it into the pie. "A hungry man must be fed,"
Cooquoth he, "so, sweet chuck, I help myself without leave." But
the Cook did not lag far behind, for straightway his hands also were deeply
thrust within the goodly pasty. After this, neither of them spoke further, but
used their teeth to better purpose. But though neither spoke, they looked at
one another, each thinking within himself that he had never seen a more lusty
fellow than the one across the board.
At last, after a long time had passed, the Cook drew a full, deep breath, as
though of much regret, and wiped his hands upon the napkin, for he could eat
no more. Little John, also, had enough, for he pushed the pasty aside, as
though he would say, "I want thee by me no more, good friend." Then he
took the pottle of sack, and said he, Now, good fellow, I swear by all that is
bright, that thou art the stoutest companion at eating that ever I had. Lo! I
drink thy health." So saying, he clapped the flask to his lips and cast his eyes
aloft, while the good wine flooded his throat. Then he passed the pottle to
the Cook, who also said, Lo, I drink thy health, sweet fellow! Nor was he
behind Little John in drinking any more than in eating.
"Now," quoth Little John, "thy voice is right round and sweet, jolly lad; I
doubt not thou canst sing a ballad most blithely; canst thou not ?"
"Truly, I have trolled one now and then," quoth the Cook; "yet I would
not sing alone."
HOW LITTLE JOHN LIVED AT THE SHERIFF'S HOUSE. 69
"Nay, truly," said Little John, that were but ill courtesy. Strike up thy
ditty, and I will afterwards sing one to match it, if I can."
So be 'it, pretty boy," quoth the Cook. "And hast thou e'er heard the
song of the Deserted Shepherdess ? "
"Truly, I know not," answered Little John; "but sing thou away and let
Then the Cook took another draught from the pottle, and, clear- The Cook sing-
eth of the Desert-
ing his throat, sang right sweetly, ed Sheperdess.
THE SONG OF THE DESERTED SHEPHERDESS.
"In Lenten time, when leaves wax green,
And pretty birds begin to mate,
When lark doth sing, and thrush, I ween,
And stockdove cooeth soon and late,
Fair Phillis sat beside a stone,
And thus I heard her make her moan:
0 willow, willow, willow, willow /
I 'l take me of thy branches fair
And twine a wreath to deck my hair.
"' The thrush hath taken him a she,
The robin, too, and eke the dove;
My Robin hath deserted me,
And left me for another love.
So here, by brookside, all alone,
I sit me down and make my moan.
0 willow, willow, willow, willow /
I 'l take me of thy branches fair
And twine a wreath to deck my hair.'
But ne'er came herring from the sea,
But good as he were in the tide;
Young Corydon came o'er the lea,
And sat him Phillis down beside.
So, presently, she changed her tone,
And 'gan to cease her from her moan,
'O willow, willow, willow, willow /
Thou mayst e'en keep thy garlands fair,
I want them not to deck my hair.' "
"Now, by my faith," cried Little John, that same is a right good song, and
hath truth in it, also."
70 HOW LITTLE, 7OHNV LIVED AT THE SHERIFF'S -HOUSE.
"Glad am I thou likest it, sweet lad," said the Cook; "now sing thou one
also, for ne'er should a man be merry alone, or sing and list not."
"Then I will sing thee a song of a right good knight of Arthur's court, and
Little yohnsing- how he cured his heart's wound without running upon the dart
eth of the Good again, .as did thy Phillis ; for I wot she did but cure one smart
Knight and khis
Love. by giving herself another. So, list thou while I sing -
THE GOOD KNIGHT AND IIS LO VE.
When Arthur, King, did rule this land,
A goodly king was he,
And had he of stout knights a band
Of merry company.
"Among them all, both great and small,
A good stout knight was there,
A lusty child, and eke a tall,
That loved a lady fair.
"But nought would she to do with he,
But turned her face away ;
So gat he gone to far country,
And left that lady gay.
There all alone he made his moan,
And eke did sob and sigh,
And weep till it would move a stone,
And he was like to die.
But still his heart did feel the smart,
And eke the dire distress,
And rather grew his pain more sharp
As grew his body less.
Then gat he back where was good sack
And merry company,
And soon did cease to cry Alack!'
When blithe and gay was he.
"From which I hold, and feel full bold
To say, and eke believe,
That gin the belly go not cold
The heart will cease to grieve."
The. Mighty.Fight betwixt:
Little John anadthe.Cook:
HOW LITTLE 7OIN LIVED AT THE SHERIFF'S HOUSE. 73
"Now, by my faith," cried the Cook, as he rattled the pottle against the side-
board,. I like that same song hugely, and eke the motive of it, which lieth
like a sweet kernel in a hazel-nut."
Now thou art a man of shrewd opinions," quoth Little John, and I love
thee truly as thou wert my brother."
"And I love thee, too. But the day draweth on, and I have my cooking to
do ere our master cometh home; so let us e'en go and settle this brave fight
we have in hand."
"Ay, marry," quoth Little John, "and that right speedily. Never have I
been more laggard in fighting than in eating and drinking. So come thou
straight forth into the passage-way, where there is good room to swing a sword,
and I will try to serve thee."
Then they both stepped forth into the broad passage that led to the Stew-
ard's pantry, where each man drew his sword again, and without more ado fell
upon the other as though he would hew his fellow limb from limb. Then their
swords clashed upon one another with great din, and sparks flew from each
blow in showers. So they fought up and down the hall for an Little ohn and
hour and more, neither striking the other a blow,' though they the Cookfight.
strove their best to do so; for both were skilful at the fence; so nothing came
of all their labor. Ever and anon they rested, panting; then, after getting
their wind, at it they would go again more fiercely than ever. At last Little
John cried aloud, Hold, good Cook !" whereupon each rested upon his sword,
"Now will I make my vow," quoth Little John, "thou art the very best
swordsman that ever mine eyes beheld. Truly, I had thought to carve thee ere
"And I had thought to do the same by thee," quoth the Cook; "but I have
missed the mark somehow."
"Now I have been thinking within myself," quoth Little John, "what we are
fighting for ; but albeit I do not rightly know."
Why, no more do I," said the Cook. "I bear no love for that pursy Stew-
ard, but I thought that we had engaged to fight with one another, and that it
must be done."
"Now," quoth Little John, "it doth seem to me that instead of striving to
cut one another's throats, it were better for us to be boon companions. What
sayst thou, jolly Cook, wilt thou go with me to Sherwood Forest and join with
Robin Hood's band ? Thou shalt live a merry life within the woodlands, and
sevenscore good companions shalt thou have,-one of whom is mine own self.
Thou shalt have two suits of Lincoln green each year, and forty marks in
74 HOW LITTLE JOHN LIVED AT THE SHERIFF'S HOUSE.
"Now, thou art a man after mine own heart !" cried the Cook right heart-
7Te Cook goeth ily; "and, as thou speakest of it, that is the very service for me.
with Little 7on I will go with thee, and that right gladly. Give me thy palm,
to join Robin
Hood's band. sweet fellow, and I will be thine own companion from henceforth.
What may be thy name, lad ?"
Men do call me Little John, good fellow."
"How? And art thou indeed Little John, and Robin Hood's own right-hand
man ? Many a time and oft have I heard of thee, but never did I hope to set
eyes upon thee. And thou art indeed the famous Little John!" And the
Cook seemed lost in amazement, and looked upon his companion with open eyes.
"I am Little John, indeed, and I will bring to Robin Hood this day a right
stout fellow to join his merry band. But ere we go, good friend, it seemeth to
me to be a vast pity that, as we have had so much of the good Sheriff's food,
we should not also carry off some of his silver plate' to Robin Hood, as a pres-
ent from his worship."
"Ay, marry is it," said the Cook. And so they began hunting about, and
took as much silver as they could lay hands upon, clapping it into a bag, and
when they had filled the sack they set forth to Sherwood Forest.
Plunging into the woods, they came at last to the greenwood tree, where they
Little /ohn found Robin Hood and threescore of his merry men lying upon
bring et the the fresh green grass. When Robin and his men saw who it was
Cook to Robin
Hood. that came, they leaped to their feet. "Now welcome!" cried
Robin Hood, "Now welcome, Little John! for long hath it been since we have
heard from.thee, though we all knew that thou hadst joined the Sheriff's ser-
vice. And how hast thou fared all these long days ?"
Right merrily have I lived at the Lord Sheriff's," answered Little John, "and
I have come straight thence. See, good master! I have brought thee his cook,
and even his silver plate." Thereupon he told Robin Hood and his merry men
that were there all that had befallen him since he had left them to go to the
Fair at Nottingham Town.. Then all shouted with laughter, except Robin
Hood; but he looked grave.
". Nay, Little John," said he, "thou art a brave blade and a trusty fellow. I
Robin Hood re- am glad thou hast brought thyself back to us, and with such.a
buketh Little good companion as the Cook, whom we all welcome to Sherwood.
yohn. But I like not so well that thou hast stolen the Sheriff's plate like
some paltry thief. The Sheriff hath been punished by us, and hath lost three
hundred pounds, even as he sought to despoil another; but he hath done
nought that we should steal his household plate from him."
Though Little John was vexed with this, he strove to pass it off with a jest.
"Nay, good master," quoth he, "if thou thinkest the Sheriff gave us not the
plate, I will fetch him, that he may tell us with his own lips he giveth it all to
H-OW LITTLE .OHN LIVED AT THE SHERIFF'S HOUSE. 75
us." So saying, he leaped to his feet, and was gone before Robin Hood could
call him back.
Little John ran for full five miles till he came to where the Sheriff of Not-
tingham and a gay company were hunting near the forest. When Little John
came to the Sheriff he doffed his cap and bent his knee. "God save thee,
good master," quoth he.
"Why, Reynold Greenleaf!" cried the Sheriff, "whence comest thou and
where hast thou been ?"
"1 I have been in the forest," answered Little John, speaking amazedly, "and
there I saw a sight such as ne'er before man's eyes beheld Yonder I saw a.
young hart all in green from top to toe, and about him was a herd of threescore
deer, and they, too, were all of green from head to foot. Yet I dared not shoot,
good master, for fear lest they should slay me."
Why, how now, Reynold Greenleaf," cried the Sheriff; "art thou dreaming,
or art thou mad, that thou dost bring me such a tale ?"
"Nay, I am not dreaming nor am I mad," said Little John; and if thou
wilt come with me, I will show thee this fair sight, for I have seen it with mine
own eyes. But thou must come alone, good master, lest the others frighten
them and they get away."
So the party all rode forward, and Little John led them downward into the
Now, good master," quoth he at last, "we are nigh where I saw this herd."
Then the Sheriff descended from his horse and bade them wait for him until
he should return; and Little John led him forward through a Little ohn
close copse until suddenly they came to a great open glade, at the bri to Robin
end of which Robin Hood sat beneath the shade of the great oak Hood.
tree, with his merry men all about him. "See, good Master Sheriff," quoth
Little John, "yonder is the hart of which I spake to thee."
At this the Sheriff turned to Little John, and said bitterly, "Long ago I
thought I remembered thy face, but now I know thee. Woe betide thee, Lit-
.tle John, for thou hast betrayed me this day."
Then Little John laughed aloud. Good Master Sheriff," said he, "thou
dost indeed know me, and I am Little John. But let me tell thee, all this
would not have happened had not thy beggarly Steward starved me, and had
he given me food to eat when I asked it. But if he gave none to me, the
green hart will give thee another feast, and when thou goest back, tell thy
Steward the time will come when he and I shall have a reckoning."
In the mean time Robin Hood had come to them. Now welcome, Master
Sheriff," said he. Hast thou come to-day to take another feast with me ? "
Nay, heaven forbid !" said the Sheriff, in tones of deep earnest. "I care
for no feast and have no hunger to-day."
76 HOW LITTLE OUHN LIVED AT THE SHERIFF'S HOUSE.
"Nevertheless," quoth Robin, "if thou hast no hunger, maybe thou hast
thirst, and well I know thou wilt take a cup of sack with me. But I am grieved
that thou wilt not feast with me, for thou couldst have victuals to thy liking,
for there stands thy Cook."
Then he led the Sheriff, will-he-nill-he, to the seat he knew so well beneath
the greenwood tree.
"Ho, lads !" cried Robin, "fill our good friend, the Sheriff, a right brimming
cup- of sack and fetch it hither, for he is faint and weary."
Then one of the band brought the Sheriff a cup of sack, bowing low as he
handed it to him; but the Sheriff could not touch the wine, for. he saw it served
in one of his own silver flagons, on one of his own silver plates.
How now," quoth Robin, "dost thou not like our new silver service ? We
have gotten a bag of it this day." So saying, he held up the sack of silver that
Little John and the Cook had brought with them.
Then the Sheriff's heart was bitter within him; but, -not daring to say any-
thing, he only gazed upon the ground. Robin looked keenly at him for a time
before he spoke again ; then said he, Now, Master Sheriff, the last time thou
camest to Sherwood Forest thou didst come seeking to despoil a poor spend-
thrift, and thou wert despoiled thine own self; but now thou comest seeking to
do no harm, nor do I know that thou hast despoiled any man. I take my tithes
from fat priests and lordly squires, to help those that they despoil and to raise
up those that they bow down; but I know not that thou hast tenants of thine
own whom thou 'hast wronged in any way. Therefore, take thou thine own
again, nor will I dispossess thee to-day of so much as one farthing. "Come with
me, and I will lead thee from the forest back to thine own party again."
Then, slinging the bag upon his shoulder, he turned away, the Sheriff follow-
ing him, all too perplexed in mind to speak. So they went forward until they
came to within a furlong of the spot where the Sheriff's companions were wait-
ing for him. Then Robin Hood gave the sack of silver back to the Sheriff.
" Take thou thine own again," he said, "and, hearken to me, good Sheriff, take
thou a piece of advice with it. Try thy servants well ere thou dost engage
them again so readily." Then, turning, he left the other Standing bewildered,
with the sack in his hands.
The company that waited for the Sheriff were all amazed to see him come
out of the forest bearing a heavy sack upon his shoulders; but though they
questioned him, he answered never a word, acting like one who walks in a
dream. Without a word, he placed the bag across his nag's back, and then,
mounting, rode away, all following him; but all the time there was a great tur-
moil of thoughts within his head, tumbling one over the other. And thus ends
the merry tale of Little John and how he entered the Sheriff's service.