The kindly reception given to my little Book of Poems
last year has encouraged me to write this
- the life story of Robin Hood - in verse.
Again I wish to thank a colleague of mine
at the King Edward VI Grammar School, Retford,
Notts., for kindly reading through the manuscript,
and for his many valuable suggestions.
P.E.Hammond, 27, Lime Tree Avenue, Retford, Notts.
Copies of this book may be obtained from:First published 1943.
Miss Butler, 14, Bridgegate, Retford, Notts;
Mr J W Freeman, 37, Carolgate, Retford;
the author; or through any bookseller.
The second Henry sat upon the throne
When Robin Hood first saw the light of day.
This country lad, whose birthday is unknown,
An epic part in life was cast to play.
When yet a youth, our chroniclers agree,
He hied him forth unto a neighbouring town
To vie with other youths in archery.
This outing was to bring him great renown.
Not, as he had hoped, for archery,
But, strange as it may seem, for outlawry.
The road he took through Sherwood Forest ran.
Often had he passed that way before.
Few footpaths, roads or deer-tracks this young man
Had failed in early childhood to explore.
A nature lover: birds and beasts, like trees,
To him were things of beauty to enjoy.
Sometimes, 'tis true, his hunger to appease,
His skill at archery he would employ.
The keepers knew his cunning and his skill,
But hitherto had failed to prove a kill.
It chanced upon this very day a deer
Should dart across the roadway just ahead.
He raised his bow, in play it would appear.
No arrow from the stretchéd long-bow sped.
A keeper, hitherto concealed, appeared
And charged him with infringement of the law,
But Robin bade him prove his charge, and jeered.
The keeper gave a very rude guffaw,
And taunted Robin with his lack of skill,
But Robin swore he could have made a kill.
"Then prove it. Look! There goes another deer.
Shoot and I'll bet its ten to one you fail."
The keeper's challenge sounded quite sincere,
And Robin won. "Now come with me to gaol"
The crafty keeper jeered. He blew his horn,
And from the underwood emerged his men.
But Robin fled. The man was not yet born
Who could o'ertake him now: and later, when
Some arrows whistled by his head he turned
And shot, the end one woodsman never learned.
He reached the town, and straightway told his friends
Of all that had befallen him that day.
For either crime he could not make amends,
And with his life he'd no desire to pay.
Now Robin Hood was well beloved by all.
This fair-haired stripling had a winning way.
A leader born: both strong and bold withal;
A man whom men instinctively obey.
There and then friends rallied to his side,
And with him in the forest chose to hide.
An outlaw made by force of circumstance,
He never robbed the poor, but rather took
An interest in their welfare when by chance
He held up bishop, baron, squire or duke.
A big reward was offered in due cause,
But time went by and he was not betrayed.
One day he went to hire a favourite horse,
And at the inn he chanced upon a maid,
To whom (as is the wont of most young men)
He lost his heart, and said he'd call again.
On one such visit to the comely maid
Light-heartedly he sang and swung his staff.
But as it chanced that visit was delayed.
The incident hereafter caused much chaff.
He came upon a narrow bridge of planks.
A stranger on the other side appeared,
And, noticing our hero's childish pranks,
He rudely and ironically cheered.
Annoyed at what he then deemed insolent,
Our hero to his anger thus gave vent.
He hurried to the footbridge. It would seem
To make the stranger wait he did intend.
He little thought this rival of the stream
Would prove to be his dearest life-long friend.
He reached the bridge, and, quarterstaff in hand,
Commenced to cross: John Little did the same.
This burly jovial man took up a stand,
And at the centre, face to face they came.
A contest with the quarterstaff took place:
They tried for long each other to displace.
"A sideway thrust and Robin took a dip."
The contest ended with a faulty slip
On Robin's part. The stranger saw his chance;
A side-way thrust, and Robin took a dip.
Thus ended Robin's youthful arrogance.
His life might well have ended on that day,
But Fate had willed it otherwise 'twould seem.
Some boon companions chanced to pass that way,
And pulled their leader from the swollen stream.
The stranger then was threatened by the band,
But Robin straightway took him by the hand.
This pleased John Little much for he had guessed
'Twas Robin Hood who'd ta'en him by the hand.
A fervent wish he thereupon expressed
That he might be allowed to join the band.
John Little, as we know, was far from short;
His figure, too, was burly; thereupon
They changed his names about by way of sport.
Henceforward he was known as Little John.
A later contest 'twixt the two with bow
Squared the account of Robin's overthrow.
Whilst Rob was seated drinking in an inn,
A tinker entered, and demanded beer.
When served he proudly turned to those within,
And speaking loudly said, that all might hear,
"I hold a warrant to arrest at sight
The leader of the outlaws, Robin Hood.
Your aid in his arrest I now invite.
Two hundred pounds, it should be understood,
Is offered for his capture: need I say
A pretty nest-egg for a rainy day."
Said Robin Hood, "A pretty nest-egg; true:
Fill up, my friend, and drink to our success.
I have a mind to go along with you:
I'd dearly like to aid in his duress."
The other inmates noticed Robin's wink.
The outlaw's deeds they feignéd to deplore.
Each one in turn then stood the man a drink
Until at length he sprawled across the floor.
Our hero took the warrant from his purse,
But did not stay to hear the tinker's curse.
They met again; this time 'twas in a wood.
The tinker grasped a cudgel and attacked.
Robin was unarmed, but he withstood
The onslaught, stepping sideways as he backed.
He seized his horn, and blew a mighty blast.
Six stalwart comrades rallied to his side.
At such a sight the tinker stood aghast;
His self-reproach he found it hard to hide.
That Lincoln tinker evermore was seen
Among the outlaws dressed in Lincoln green.
The worthy Sheriff, baffled once again,
Then rode to London to inform the King
That all his efforts seemed to be in vain;
To justice Robin Hood he could not bring.
The King was angry. "Leave my Court," he cried,
"And don't return until your task is done.
The King of England will not be defied
By Robin Hood or any mother's son."
The Sheriff was a sad but wiser man.
He racked his brains to find another plan.
Said he, "I have it. Robin Hood will fall
For any contest held for archery.
A crier shall announce to one and all
That such a contest is about to be.
I'll station sleuths on every road and lane
That leads into the town, and on the field
I'll post my men all strangers to detain.
In every booth I'll have a man concealed.
If Robin Hood resists his being ta'en
I swear I'll have the scoundrel maimed or slain."
The day appointed by the Sheriff came,
And many strangers came from far away.
A swarthy, one-eyed dark young man, and lame,
It was who won the special prize that day.
No Robin Hood appeared upon the scene,
Or so the Sheriff and his men maintained.
Deceived they little thought that they had been
By eye-patch, limp, and hair with walnut stained.
That evening Robin, still in his disguise,
Produced a golden arrow. 'Twas the prize.
Next day he went to town, but first he wrote
A message and attached it to an arrow.
'Twas done in fun; he had no wish to gloat.
The Sheriff's mind he did not wish to harrow.
A banquet was in progress: quite unseen
He crept into the hall and there dispatched
The arrow 'twixt the Sheriff and the Dean.
The tankard in the Sheriff's hand was smashed.
'Twas thus the Sheriff learned of Robin's guile.
The Sheriff swore: the Dean could only smile.
Annoyed, the Sheriff sent three hundred men
To scour the ancient forest far and wide.
The outlaws gathered in their secret glen,
And there decided it were best to hide.
They then dispersed; each chose and went his way.
Some went to Lincoln; some to Nottingham;
Some went to Redford, for a holiday,
But Robin said, "I'm happy where I am."
One reason, be it said, he chose to stay
Was that he might see Marion each day.
The scouring of the forest came to naught.
Weary of inaction Robin bade
Will Stutely look about and then report.
To serve the leader Will was very glad.
For his disguises Stutely was renowned.
Dressed as a monk he took the road to town.
Before long a tempting inn he found.
He entered (so did pussy) and sat down.
The friendly cat that welcomed him that day
Was soon to give the pseudo monk away.
He scarce had settled down to drink his ale
When he was followed by some Sheriff's men.
One said he knew the Sheriff's plan would fail;
One could not comb each village, vale and glen.
"You may be sure," said one, "he'll try again."
At this Will Stutely (as the saying goes)
"Sat up." The kitten, by the way, till then
Had slept contentedly against his toes.
It rose and rubbed its back against his clothes;
Green pantaloons beneath it did disclose.
The Sheriff's men were quick to note the green.
The 'monk' was rudely handled. Out of breath,
Escorted by the men, he last was seen
Upon the road to Nottingham and Death.
A maid who witnessed the affair then ran
And told her lover, who at once took horse
And warned his sweetheart's friend, Maid Marian,
Who notified the outlaw in due course.
Then Robin Hood and four trustworthy men
Set out to thwart the Sheriff once again.
As Stutely would not give the band away
The Sheriff said the law must take its course;
The execution would take place that day;
But Robin was again to show resource.
As Stutely - proud, defiant - faced the crowd
He noticed Little John and Robin Hood -
Disguised of course. Will almost cried aloud.
Their secret sign he saw and understood.
They jostled forward, elbowing their way.
Their conduct started, as they hoped, a fray.
'Midst the confusion Robin threw his cape
Over the hangman: knocked the Sheriff down
Whilst Little John still furthered the escape
By cutting Stutely's bonds. Outside the town
The other outlaws who had volunteered
Had stolen horses. From a nearby street,
And when the turmoil started, they appeared,
And all the outlaws beat a swift retreat.
Thus once again the Sheriff came off worst.
At his discomfiture he roundly cursed.
Of forest life our hero sometimes tired.
One day he met a butcher on the road.
His horse and cart and produce he acquired,
And to the Fair in Nottingham he rode.
Amongst the traders there he called his wares.
Said he, "No fixéd price I ask to-day,
But Churchmen, gentry, all who have no cares,
Must pay just twice as much as housewives pay.
From pretty maidens all I ask is this:
A friendly smile, and, if they choose, a kiss."
The other butchers angrily resented
His most uncommon way of 'doing trade'
Especially when pretty girls consented
To pay with kiss, and did not seem afraid.
"This fool," said they (they thought him one you know)
"Must have unlimited supplies of meat."
The Sheriff was a cattle dealer, so
He called a banquet so that all might meet.
"It well may be that in his cups," said he,
"He'll lose his head and act more foolishly."
The feast took place; the wine in plenty flowed.
Our hero quite enjoyed both meat and wine.
The latter's potency the Sheriff showed,
And thereupon a contract he did sign.
Three hundred pounds in gold he was to pay:
Five hundred hornéd heads he would receive.
A trysting place as fixed, as was the day.
On best of terms our hero took his leave.
Three hundred pounds in gold the Sheriff paid.
The trysting place was in a forest glade.
The band had long since tired of life in town,
And Robin had been joinéd by more men.
His leadership had won him great renown.
Once more they all foregathered in the glen.
The Sheriff with a bodyguard appeared,
And at the trysting place their reins they drew.
Three hundred hidden outlaws loudly cheered,
And on their bugles blatant blasts they blew.
The butchers did not wait for Rob's commands;
They all flung down their arms and raised their hands.
The party was surrounded; ta'en away
To where the leader had arranged his court.
A court of justice 'twas to prove that day.
The day was also given up to sport.
"Where are the cattle that you promised me?"
The Sheriff said as he impatient grew.
"Pardon me," said Robin truthfully;
"Five hundred hornéd heads I promised you."
"There are the hornéd heads I changed for pelf."
He pointed to some deer. "Just help yourself."
The angry Sheriff said, "You think that's smart;
But I will have you brought to justice yet.
You know these deer may not be ta'en to mart;
Return the cash you took when last we met."
"If you refuse to round up hart or hind,"
Said Robin Hood, "I've nothing more to say.
I'll pay you back all right, but not in kind.
A sporting contest I've arranged today.
Such shooting, wrestling, as today you'll see
Will amply square the bill 'twixt you and me."
At this the Sheriff still more angry grew.
But with the bow he thought himself expert.
Said he, "At archery I'll challenge you."
Said Rob, "Three hundred pounds against your shirt."
The bet was there accepted; need I say
The Sheriff was defeated once again.
Said Robin Hood, "Another bet I'll make.
If on their feet, with staff your men remain
Against my men, your money I'll not take."
The Sheriff's party lost the tournament.
Sans deer, sans gold, sans shirt, he homeward went.
Now Little John had grown extremely fat,
And Robin Hood made fun of him one day.
But John was not the man to suffer that
Without resentment, so he went away,
And in his temper challenged to a fight
One Arthur Bland, who (as his name implies)
Was not a man to think a lot of might,
And bragging, boastful men he did despise.
But challenged thus by Little John he gave
Much better than he got, and things looked grave.
But Robin had looked on the while unseen,
And did not wish to see the death of John.
He thought it now high time to intervene,
So stepping from the thicket cried, "Hold on!
Good men are scarce in Nottingham my friends,
Shake hands and call the stupid quarrel off.
Now John, it's up to you to make amends;
That green cap with the feather humbly doff.
As you, my friend, have put up such a fight,
We hope you'll join our merry band tonight."
He thereupon consented, and the three
Set out for what adventure they could find.
But Robin started talking boastfully.
This trait to Little John was not confined.
He bragged of all his triumphs with the staff;
He quite forgot his failure at the stream.
This brought from Little John a sneering laugh,
And Rob was soon to lose his self-esteem.
A stranger whom they met upon the road
Into a quarrel straightway he did goad.
"Throw him your staff," cried Rob to Little John
As he advanced to prove his boastful word.
The stranger had already seized upon
A piece of broken fence which he preferred.
A short exchange; then Robin made a thrust.
The stranger parried the attack with ease.
A cunning side blow; Robin rolled in dust.
'Twas Little John's turn now to twit and tease.
"Now Rob, it's up to you to make amends.
Shake hands, and do not anger would-be friends."
The stranger, as it proved, was more than friend,
For Robin learned he bore the family name.
His nephew he had chosen to offend.
For this, himself he never ceased to blame.
It seemed his nephew (quite by accident.
Like Robin Hood himself) had killed a man,
And fleeing then from justice he had meant
To join his uncle and turn highwayman.
"In our affairs Fate seems to take a hand,"
Said Robin Hood, "You're welcome to the band."
The four resumed their journey. On the road
They came upon a party of the band
Who'd made a miller there set down his load-
A sack of flour; it's seizure they had planned.
They made him turn his pockets all outside:
They found no money, so began to curse;
But meanwhile Robin had the sack untied;
The flour, he thought, might hide the miller's purse.
"Produce your purse," said one, "if in the flour,
Or this may prove to be your latest hour."
The miller feigned reluctance; 'twas a ruse,
"Look sharp," they cried, "we cannot wait all day."
His captors then the miller did abuse
What time he started slowly to obey.
They crowded round, but Robin stood aside.
A handful on the ground the man did place.
"Be quick! be quick!" the bending outlaws cried,
And each received a handful in the face.
The miller grabbed his purse and ran away,
But Robin Hood stepped forth and barred his way.
His clever ruse impressed bold Robin Hood;
He intervened; his men got this command:
"Restore the miller's means of livelihood.
I'd gladly welcome him into our band."
The miller in his turn was so impressed
With Robin's manner and command of men,
A wish to join he thereupon expressed.
He was enrolled among them there and then.
As round the fire that night their ale they quaffed
They thought of their discomfiture and laughed.
Little John once borrowed a disguise,
And dressed up as a monk adventure sought.
Before long, and much to his surprise,
He came upon two monks. "What fun," he thought.
Approaching them, he pleaded poverty,
And asked if they could succour him with cash.
At which they both in turn professed to be
As poor as he: a statement rather rash:
For presently they both confessed that they
Had only coppers for their meal to pay.
"You've only copper in your purse you say.
That's quickly mended," Little John replied.
"For silver there I'll kneel me down and pray,
To me it will belong if found inside."
Then, after he had knelt and closed his eyes.
He bade them turn the contents on the ground,
And neither to the monks' nor his surprise,
Some silver midst the copper coins were found.
"For love of Truth, my friends, I'd have you pray."
The silver he took up and went his way.
Will Scarlett, Little John and Robin Hood
When out one day met Alan of the Dale,
A minstrel living in the neighbourhood.
He looked dejected, weary, sick and pale,
They asked if there was aught that they could do
To help relieve his pain or maybe grief.
The latter word a sigh and tear drew.
Moaned he, "Frustrate the squire, he's but a thief.
My Ellen's father says that she must be
The squire's helpmate, yet she loves but me."
"If you can find a priest," said Robin Hood,
"We'll see you wed to Ellen spite of all.
There's Friar Tuck, who lives in yonder wood.
Cheer up! On him this very hour I'll call."
They found the friar ere long within the wood;
A merry man and fond of jollity.
Said he, "I'd offer viands if I could;
But here is ale, so have a drink with me."
As drinking cups the outlaws used their horns.
Each green-coat's girdle this strange cup adorns.
"What brings you here?" the friar slyly said;
"'Tis not for blackberries and nuts you search."
Said Rob, "I come to ask if you would wed
Dear friends of mine in Steetley Parish Church."
"Right gladly will I wed you two dear friends:
No work more pleasant, sir, could I desire
Than tie a knot on which so much depends.
I'd have you know I love the lasses, sire.
Methinks I like the dear as well as you."
The friar winked and nudged the other two.
The wedding day arrived; the bells were rung;
The bride-to-be stood trembling by the squire.
From out the congregation Robin sprang.
Said he, "Hold there! I wish to now enquire
If Ellen loves the would-be bridegroom there.
If not, and if the clergy so desire,
I can a magic potion soon prepare.
With love 'twill set the coldest heart on fire."
He looked a wizard in his strange disguise,
And everybody present showed surprise.
The squire at this, of course, was much annoyed.
The congregation rose and shouted "Shame!"
The clergy wished a fracas to avoid,
So from the chancel to the nave they came.
The squire, thinking they would make a pact,
And feeling guilty flounced outside the church.
Now was the time for Robin Hood to act.
"See how he's left your daughter in the lurch:
A most disgraceful scene to have occurred."
The father thereupon no more demurred.
The marriage of the young folk then took place.
'Twas Friar Tuck who tied the wedding knot.
The friar then fair Ellen did embrace:
The bridegroom didn't seem to care a jot.
The honeymoon was spent in Robin's glade,
Where Ellen charmed the outlaws with her song.
The minstrel on his harp each evening played.
Their healths were drunk by all the whole day long,
And Robin Hood then asked the three to be
Henceforth full members of his company.
Wearying once of inactivity
Rob called some men together and thus spake:
"Let's take us to the highway and there see
If any kind of booty we can take."
He had not travelled far upon the road
Before he met a most dejected knight.
He asked the knight his trouble to unload.
"Alas! said he, "my son, in mimic fight,
Has wounded his opponent; he's to pay
Six hundred pounds, as fine, a week today."
"He asked the Knight his trouble to unload."
"I've mortgaged my estate, my keep and lands,
And, in due course, the fine I hope to pay.
The avaricious mortgagee demands
Four hundred pounds in gold from me today,
Or forfeiture of all my lands and keep.
My son upon a pilgrimage is gone."
"Cheer up," said Robin Hood, "and do not weep:
I cannot bear to see you woe-begone.
Tears ill become Sir Richard of the Lee.
We'll find a way to thwart this mortgagee."
"Please do not think me rude if I enquire
His name," said Robin Hood. 'Tis my belief-"
Sir Richard interrupted, 'Tis the Prior
Of Emmett, sire, who's caused me so much grief."
"Aha!" said Rob, 'twas him I did suspect
His double-crossing's known throughout the land.
I promise you he'll yet live to respect
His bargains and my merry outlaw band.
Now come with me and we will find a way
This avaricious churchman to repay."
At length they reached the secret forest glade,
And there they saw (at least to Rob 'twas plain)
That Little John or someone else had made
A capture of a bishop with his train.
Upon an iron-bound chest the bishop sat,
Surrounded by his horses and his men.
Robin Hood politely raised his hat
Just like a normal well-bred citizen.
"God bless you," said the bishop, and his men
And all the outlaws there, returned "Amen."
The bishop smiled; he'd heard of Robin Hood,
And pictured him as being somewhat rude.
Outlawry as a means of livelihood
With horror, not to say disdain, he viewed.
But on the morrow (as he went his way
And turned the matter over in his mind)
Against its wickedness he'd much to say.
Some outlawry it seemed could help mankind.
But why he changed his mind we've yet to say,
And why for his conversion had to play.
The Friar met the Bishop once again.
Healths were drunk, and compliments exchanged.
To entertain the Bishop and his men
A contest with the long-bow was arranged.
The Bishop was delighted when ere long
A banquet on the greensward there was laid.
Fair Ellen charmed the Bishop with her song;
The minstrel on his harp sweet music made.
When at the close the men had all retired,
Bold Robin with a brain-wave was inspired.
He told the Bishop of Sir Richard's plight,
And asked if he would care to lend his aid.
The Bishop said he'd do so with delight,
But recently some big bills he had paid.
"What have you in that iron-bound chest, my lord?"
Er-manuscripts and bills; there's naught of worth."
The Bishop coughed and blushed; he hem'd and haw'd.
Our hero scarcely could restrain his mirth.
"I'd like to see those manuscripts, my lord,
But now to lose more sleep we can't afford."
The morning came; the Bishop then confessed
That yesterday he had not told the truth.
A wish to make amends he then expressed.
Said Robin Hood, 'Twas just a slip forsooth.
Your gold into three portions we'll divide;
The poor, my men and you shall benefit."
The Bishop frowned; then sighing, he replied,
"To your suggestion humbly I submit."
One thousand and five hundred pounds there were.
Sir Richard Lee was lent the poor man's share.
Sir Richard was delighted with the loan.
"Within a year," said he, "'twill be repaid.
I shan't forget this kindness you have shown;
To face the Prior now I'm not afraid."
He saw the Prior that day, but played the part
Of humble suppliant upon his knees.
But from the first the Prior steeled his heart.
"No, no," said he, "myself I cannot please.
I cannot now revoke my last demand;
I too have debts to pay you understand."
"One hundred pounds I gladly would remit
For payment now: no longer can I wait.
My lawyer and the Sheriff here admit
Your keep and lands I may confiscate."
"Your lawyer and the Sheriff heard you say
One hundred pounds you gladly would remit
For payment now. Three hundred pounds I'll pay.
'Tis there," Sir Richard said, producing it.
"Two better witnesses I could not find."
The paid account the three foiled schemers signed.
One day, disguiséd as a beggarman,
Rob met four beggars resting by the road,
But soon with him to quarrel they began;
His mastery at fisticuffs he showed.
He left them all discomfited; then met
A usurer who boasted of his wealth.
But Robin said, "No store by wealth I set;
I much prefer the blessing of good health."
"A pinching shoe, my friend, one oft endures."
Said Rob, My shoe is worth much more than yours."
"On that," the miser said, "I'll have a bet,"
"Then prove that you are right," said Robin Hood.
"My shoe enables me keep free of debt."
Said Rob, "I wouldn't change e'en though I could."
The miser took his shoe from off his foot,
And proudly showed a secret second sole.
Into it his treasure he had put.
A smile 'twas hard for Robin to control.
"Now try my shoe," said he, removing his;
"A fair exchange you know no robbery is."
One day Queen Eleanor, who long had known
Of Robin's skill with bow and arrow, sent
A page boy to the forest all alone,
To find the outlaw and to him present
A message from Her Majesty the Queen.
"The King," it ran, "a shooting match has planned
To take place shortly on the Royal green.
Your presence I invite; nay, I command;
Safe conduct will be given you and your men.
I hope you'll be successful once again."
"A wager with His Majesty I've made
That your men will win. 'Tis my belief.
I know your famous archers of the glade
Will do their best to win the arrow sheaf."
"Your Gracious Majesty, I'm not the man
To disappoint a lady," he replied;
"Commands, though given to a highwayman,
Must be obeyed; to serve it is my pride.
Your confidence we hope to justify.
To win, and help you win your bet, we'll try."
The match the King arranged was duly held.
Will Scarlett, Alan Dale and Little John
Their reputations with the bow upheld,
But Robin (first in every contest) shone.
The King was angry as he well might be.
He lost his bet, but that was not the worst.
The Queen (it was not very hard to see)
For Robin Hood a tender feeling nursed.
The King commanded that he be be detained.
The Queen o'erheard the order and was pained.
She sent a note to Robin Hood which read,
"Beware! The Lion growls; beware thy head."
Robin warned his men, and bade them mix
Among the surging crowd, and steal away.
Never had he been in such a fix,
But his imagination saved the day.
He asked a country cobbler if he'd care
To be a member of his merry band.
Said he, "I would; but all I have to wear
Is this old smock." Said Rob, "I understand.
Then let us change our clothes behind this tree."
The offer was accepted eagerly.
"Then let us change our clothes behind this tree."
The cobbler soon was taken by the sleeve,
And brought before the King and Councillors.
His tale, of course, they could not disbelieve.
The Councillors gave way to loud guffaws.
The King was angry. "Let him be pursued;
Bring him to my court alive or dead.
My vengeance he must not again elude."
But Robin from the field by now had fled.
The Sheriff's and the Bishop's troops were sent
To capture Rob. That night they got his scent.
Tired and hungry, Robin found an inn,
And having eaten, quickly sought a bed.
Sleep it took him much less time to win
Than all the prizes which from now he'd fled.
Next morning when he woke and looked around
(Judge of his surprise; no doubt you can),
A monk inside the bed with him he found.
So there and then he hit upon a plan
To make a good escape, and here it is:
He left the monk his clothes and dressed in his.
Shortly after he had breakfasted,
And taken his departure in high glee,
The Sheriff's men arrived, and in the bed
They found the monk a-sleeping peacefully.
"Get up, you lazy whelp!" the leader cried.
"You thought that you'd escape in this disguise."
He'd seen the cobbler's smock upon the bed.
He wasn't ready for the next surprise.
The monk sat up and started counting beads;
Then asked if he could help relieve their needs.
"Good Lord! we've lost the outlaw once again,"
The leader cried, and then he stormed and roared,
"We'll have to beard the lion in his den
Ere law and order is again restored."
But as he stormed and raved the page appeared.
"The Queen," he said, "now wished it understood
The King had now relented, but she feared
That they by now had captured Robin Hood.
If so, immediately he must be freed,
For England needs more men of such a breed."
Years went by, and Richard sat the throne.
The town of Nottingham was all astir.
A week before, the news had been made known
His Majesty would pay a visit there.
The townsfolk deemed it meet to cheer and sing;
A long procession turned into the street;
Soldiers, pages, knights, and then the King.
The crowd with Robin's outlaws was complete.
And need we say that Robin Hood was there;
The King had seen his penetrating stare.
That evening, at the banquet that was held.
The Sheriff (now a new one) told the King
The man who stared, and whom they both beheld,
Was Robin Hood, the outlaw who should swing,
The Bishop interposed, and, colouring,
Said "Oh! come, come! good sir; I'm not so sure.
I would not care to see the outlaw swing;
I know for certain that he helps the poor."
The King then said, "I'd like to meet this man;
He seems to be a kindly highwayman."
"Bring him to me here without delay."
"Your Majesty, 'tis easier said than done.
To capture him they tried for many a day,
But in the war of wits he always won."
"I'd gladly give a hundred pounds in gold
To whomsoever brought this man to me."
A guest who overheard the King made bold
To say, "An' it may please Your Majesty.
Methinks you might yourself outwit this man
By seeking him in guise of holy-man."
The King was so amused at this remark,
And pleased withal, he said, "By heaven, I'll try.
Bring me a band of monks before the lark
Tomorrow morning sings and soars on high."
The morning came; they had not ridden far
Before they overtook a man in green.
He stopped and turned as if their way he'd bar.
Such impudence the king had never seen.
But heading the procession in his cowl
He dare not well protest nor even scowl.
Rob asked where they were going. Well he knew.
He recognised the King in his disguise.
The King then stuttered just as people do
In lower walks of life when telling lies.
"You'd better come with me; you've lost your way."
Said Robin Hood, "You'll never find the Prior.
Perhaps with me awhile you'd like to stay,
And feast and drink with me around my fire.
I'm Robin Hood, Your Majesty; your slave;
For such a King all danger I would brave."
"Then take me to your stronghold. I declare
You shall receive my pardon if you do.
Such men as yours the country cannot spare,
Nor can it lose so bold a man as you."
"I thank Your Majesty. In later life
The pleasures of the forest and the chase
Do not appeal so much as does a wife,
A cottage, and a cosy fireplace."
"Well said," the King replied; "then let's away
And celebrate your last unlawful day."
The day was spent in feasting and in games.
The monks declared they'd never seen such fun.
With venison they helped support their frames,
And as for drink - they had far more than one.
That evening as they sat around the fire,
And talked of all they'd done and seen that day,
A nobleman (to judge by his attire)
Drew rein and shouted much to Rob's dismay,
"Beware! Beware! The King is on your track."
The King arose, and gave him such a crack.
"What do you mean, you traitor," cried the King.
"Such vile behaviour warrants speedy death."
The guilty youth on knees imploring
Cried "Pardon, Sire" then stopped to take a breath.
"I acted so because this outlaw here
Once saved my father from a great disgrace;
With loan a debt he helped my father clear.
To save his life I did not think it base.
Had I to him this tiding failed to bring
I'd served him ill, but better served my King."
"Arise, young man; your conduct I forgive.
That one good turn deserves another's true.
May you and he continue long to live
And pay your debts as honest people do.
'Tis not the first good deed I've heard he's done,
And trust it will not prove to be his last.
Arise and thank him openly, my son,
And do not look so guilty and downcast.
Tomorrow we will all return to town,
And try our indiscretions to live down."
The morning promised such a dismal day
The outlaws were not loth to break their camp.
The winter season was not far away
When forest life is cold and somewhat damp.
Will Scarlet, Little John and Allan Dale
Were then appointed keepers by the King.
No longer now in fear of death or gaol
In trade the rest could find an opening.
And Robin Hood, for all the good he'd done.
Was there created Earl of Huntingdon.
At length King Richard by an arrow fell;
An accident when on the battlefield.
Sad news of Robin, too, we have to tell;
Submission to King John he could not yield.
A longing for the freedom of his youth
Then took possession of him. Back he went
To Sherwood Forest and (to tell the truth)
Maid Marion, to do what long he'd meant;
To marry, and maybe to have an heir.
For life at court nor he nor she would care.
One day he set off for his native shire.
He travelled quite alone, and camped at night.
One night, whilst sitting by the cheerful fire,
He shivered though the fire was burning bright.
Next morning he could hardly move a limb.
His head was aching too. "What's this?" thought he,
"A fever coming on?" His sight was dim.
He struggled hard to try to reach Kirk Lee.
He'd known the Prioress for many a year;
It had been said he'd caused her many a tear.
He reached the place and asked the Prioress
If she could tend him till his health returned.
She took him in, and bade him there confess.
He asked for bleeding, as his head so burned.
Now why she acted thus no one can say.
Some say 'twas jealousy; some ignorance.
But this is what occurred that fateful day.
(For her sake let us hope 'twas by mischance),
She cut an artery instead of vein,
And Robin's life-blood rapidly did drain.
Weak though he had become, he yet had strength
To grasp his horn and blow a feeble blast.
For long he listened tensely, then, at length.
It seemed an echo through the window passed.
Again and yet again the echo came.
Robin smiled and looked towards the door.
He heard a well-known voice admittance claim,
And Little John into the turret tore.
He seized our hero's hand; and weeping knelt,
But Robin for his favourite weapon felt.
"Lie still," said Little John; he scarce could speak,
His grief for Robin Hood was so intense.
He kissed his comrade's faded paling cheek;
He knew that Robin's soul was passing hence.
"My bow;" said Robin Hood, "'tis my desire
To lie where my last arrow falls to earth."
Said he, "Just raise me up a little higher.
This shaft will mark my final sleeping berth."
Through the window there before the bed,
He shot his golden arrow; then fell dead.