THE MERRY ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD
THE MERRY ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD
FROM THE AUTHOR TO THE READER
You who so plod amid serious things that you feel it shame to give
yourself up even for a few short moments to mirth and joyousness
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 are a whole host of knights
priests nobles burghers yeomen pages ladies lasses landlords
beggars peddlers and what not all living the merriest of merry lives
and all bound by nothing but a few odd strands of certain old ballads
(snipped 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 Fairyland. 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 everyday 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.
I HOW ROBIN HOOD CAME TO BE AN OUTLAW 1
II ROBIN HOOD AND THE TINKER 14
III THE SHOOTING MATCH AT NOTTINGHAM TOWN 27
IV WILL STUTELY RESCUED BY HIS COMPANIONS 38
V ROBIN HOOD TURNS BUTCHER 50
VI LITTLE JOHN GOES TO NOTTINGHAM FAIR 61
VII HOW LITTLE JOHN LIVED AT THE SHERIFF'S 68
VIII LITTLE JOHN AND THE TANNER OF BLYTH 81
IX ROBIN HOOD AND WILL SCARLET 92
X THE ADVENTURE WITH MIDGE THE MILLER'S SON 102
Xl ROBIN HOOD AND ALLAN A DALE 115
XII ROBIN HOOD SEEKS THE CURTAL FRIAR 129
XIII ROBIN HOOD COMPASSES A MARRIAGE 145
XIV ROBIN HOOD AIDS A SORROWFUL KNIGHT 156
XV HOW SIR RICHARD OF THE LEA PAID HIS DEBTS 172
XVI LITTLE JOHN TURNS BAREFOOT FRIAR 186
XVII ROBIN HOOD TURNS BEGGAR 202
XVIII ROBIN HOOD SHOOTS BEFORE QUEEN ELEANOR 222
XIX THE CHASE OF ROBIN HOOD 243
XX ROBIN HOOD AND GUY OF GISBOURNE 262
XXI KING RICHARD COMES TO SHERWOOD FOREST 281
How Robin Hood Cane to Be an Outlaw
IN 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 merrily they dwelled 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 October brewing.
Not only Robin himself but all the band were outlaws and dwelled 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 came about that Robin Hood fell afoul
of the law.
When Robin was a youth of eighteen stout of sinew and bold
of heart the Sheriff of Nottingham proclaimed a shooting
match and offered a prize of a butt of ale to whosoever should
shoot the best shaft in Nottinghamshire. "Now" quoth Robin
"will I go too for 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 Locksley Town
through Sherwood Forest to Nottingham.
It was at the dawn of day in the merry Maytime 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 lads and lasses look upon each other with sweet thoughts; when busy
housewives 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 suddenly upon some foresters seated beneath a great
oak tree. Fifteen there were in all making themselves merry
with feasting 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 barrel 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 farthing shafts?"
Then Robin grew angry for no stripling likes to be taunted
with his green years.
"Now" quoth he "my bow and eke mine arrows are as good as shine;
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!
Why boy thy mother's milk is yet scarce dry upon thy lips and yet
thou pratest of standing up with good stout men at Nottingham butts
thou who art scarce able to draw one string of a two-stone bow."
"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 wager."
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'll 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 causest no beast to die with or without the aid
of Our Lady."
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 arrow and raising the bow drew the gray goose feather
to his ear; the next moment the bowstring 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 straightway or by all the saints of heaven
I'll 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 to boil.
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 quaffing. 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.
It was well for Robin Hood that that same forester's head was
spinning with ale or else he would never have taken another step.
As it was the arrow whistled within three inches of his head.
Then he turned around and quickly drew his own bow and sent
an arrow 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