THE GEOFFREY CHAUCER PAGE
A GEST OF ROBYN HODE (15th cent. "Ballad Romance")
Lythe and listin, gentilmen,
That be of frebore blode;
I shall you tel of a gode yeman,
His name was Robyn Hode.
Robyn was a prude outlaw,
[Whyles he walked on grounde;
So curteyse an outlaws] as he was one
Was never non founde.
Robyn stode in Bernesdale,
And lenyd hym to a tre;
And bi hym stode Litell John,
A gode yeman was he.
And alsoo dyd gode Scarlok,
And Much, the miller's son;
There was none ynch of his bodi
But it was worth a grome.
Than bespake Lytell Johnn
All vntoo Robyn Hode:
`Maister, and ye wolde dyne betyme
It wolde doo you moche gode.'
Than bespake hym gode Robyn:
`To dyne haue I noo lust,
Till that I haue som bolde baron,
Or som vnkouth gest.
. . . . . . . . .
That may pay for the best,
Or som knyght or [som] squyer,
That dwelleth here bi west.'
A gode maner than had Robyn;
In londe where that he were,
Euery day or he weld dyne
Thre messis wolde he here.
The one in the worship of the Fader,
And another of the Holy Gost,
The thirde of Our dere Lady,
That he loued allther moste.
Robyn loued Oure derë Lady;
For dout of dydly synne,
Wolde he neuer do compani harme
That any woman was in.
`Maistar,' than sayde Lytil Johnn,
"And we our borde shal sprede,
Tell us wheder that we shal go,
And what life that we shall lede.
`Where we shall take, where we shall leue,
Where we shall abide behynde;
Where we shall robbe, where we shal reue,
Where we shal bete and bynde.'
`Therof no force,' than sayde Robyn;
`We shall do well inowe;
But loke ye do no husbonde harme,
That tilleth with his ploughe.
`No more ye shall no gode yeman
That walketh by grenë-wode shawe;
Ne no knyght ne no squyer
That wol be a gode felawe.
`These bisshoppes and these archebishhoppes,
Ye shall them bete and bynde;
The hyë sherif of Notyingham,
Hym holde ye in your mynde.'
`This worde shalbe holde,' sayde Lytell Johnn,
`And this lesson we shall lere;
It is fer dayes; God sende vs a gest,
That we were at oure dynere!'
`Take thy gode bowe in thy honde,' sayde Rob[yn];
`Late Much wende with the;
And so shal Willyam Scarlo[k],
And no man abyde with me.'
`And walke vp to the Saylis,
And so to Watlinge Stret[e],
And wayte after some vnkuth gest
Vp chaunce ye may them mete.
`Be he erle, or ani baron,
Abbot, or ani knyght,
Bringhe hym to lodge to me;
His dyner shall be dight.'
They wente vp to the Saylis
These yeman all thre;
They loked est, they loke[d] weest;
They myght no man see.
But as they loked in to Bernysdale,
Bi a dernë strete,
Than came a knyght ridinghe;
Full sone they gan hym mete.
All dreri was his semblaunce,
And lytell was his pryde;
His one fote in the styrop stode,
That othere wauyd beside.
His hode hanged in his iyn two;
He rode in symple aray;
A soriar man than he was one
Rode neuer in somer day.
Litell Johnn was full curteyes,
And sette hym on his kne:
Welcom be ye, gentyll knyght,
Welcom ar ye to me.
`Welcom be thou to grenë wode,
Hende knyght and fre;
My maister hath abiden you fastinge,
Syr, al these oures thre.'
`Who is thy maister? ' sayde the knyght
Johnn sayde, Robyn Hode;
He is [a] gode yoman,' sayde the knyght,
Of hym I haue herde moche gode.
`I graunte,' he sayde, I with you to wende,
`My bretherne, all in fere;
My purpos was to haue dyned to day
At Blith or Dancastere.'
Furth than went this gentyl knight,
With a carefull chere;
The teris oute of his iyen ran,
And fell downe by his lere.
They brought hym to the lodgë-dore;
Whan Robyn hym gan see,
Full curtesly dyd of his hode
And sette hym on his knee.
`Welcome, sir knight,' than sayde Robyn,
`Welcome art thou to me;
I haue abyden you fastinge, sir,
All these ouris thre.'
Than answered the gentyll knight,
With word&eml;s fayre and fre;
God the saue, goode Robyn,
And all thy fayre meyn&eml;.
They wasshed togeder and wyped bothe,
And sette to theyr dynere;
Brede and wyne they had right ynoughe,
And noumbles of the dere.
Swannes and fessauntes they had full gode,
And foules of the ryuere;
There fayled none so litell a birde
That euer was bred on bryre.
`Do gladly, sir knight,' sayde Robyn;
`Gramarcy, sir,' sayde he;
`Suche a dinere had I nat
Of all these wekys thre.
`If I come ageyne, Robyn,
Here by thys contr&emul;,
As gode a dyner I shall the make
As that thou haest made to me.'
`Gramarcy, knyght,' sayde Robyn;
`My dyner whan that I it haue,
I was neuer so gredy, bi dere worthy God,
My dyner for to craue.
`But pay or ye wende,' sayde Robyn;
`Me thynketh it is gode ryght;
It was neuer the maner, by dere worthi God,
A yoman to pay for a knyhht.'
`I haue nought in my coffers,' saide the knyght,
`That I may profer for shame:'
`Litell Jolinn, go loke,' sayde Robyn,
`Ne let nat for no blame.
`Tel me truth,' than aside Robyn,
`So God haue parte of the
I haue no more but ten shelynges,' sayde the knyght,
So God haue parte of me.'
`If thou hast no more,' sayde Robyn,
`I woll nat one peny;
And yf thou haue nede of any more,
More shall I lend the.
`Go nowe forth, Littell Johnn,
The truth tell thou me;
If there be no more but ten shelinges,
No peny that I se.'
Lyttell Johnn sprede downs hys mantell
Full fayre vpon the grounde,
And there he fonde in the knyght&emul;s cofer
But euen halfe [a] pounde.
Littell Johnn let it lye full styll,
And went to hys maysteer [full] lowe
`What tidyng&emul;s, Johnn? ' sayde Robyn;
`Sir, the knyght is true inowe.'
`Fyll of the best wine,' sayde Robyn,
`The knyght shall begynne
Moche wonder thinketh me
Thy clot[h]ynge is so thin[n]e.
`Tell me [one] worde,' sayde Robyn,
And counsel shal it be;
I trowe thou warte made a knyght of force,
Or ellys of yemanry.
`Or ellys thou hast bene a sori husbande
And lyued in stroke and stryfe;
An okerer, or ellis a lechoure,' sayde Robyn,
Wyth wronge hast led thy lyfe.'
`I am none of those,' sayde the knyght,
By God that madë me;
An hundred wynter here before
Myn auncetres knyghtes haue be.
`But oft it hath befal, Robyn,
A man hath be disgrate;
But God that sitteth in heuen aboue
May amende his state.
`Withyn this two yere, Robyne,' he sayde,
`My neghbours well it knowe,
Foure hundred pounde of gode money
Ful well than myght I spende.
`Nowe haue I no gode,' saide the knyght,
`God hath shaped such an ende,
But my chyldren and my wyfe,
Tyll God yt may amende.'
`In what maner,' than sayde Robyn,
`Hast thou lorne thy rychesse?'
`For My greatë foly,' he sayde,
`And for my kynd[ë]nesse.
`I hade a sone, forsoth, Robyn,
That shulde hau[e] ben myn ayre,
Whanne he was twenty wynter olde,
In felde wolde iust fall fayre.
`He slewe a knyght of Lancaster,
And a squyer bolde;
For to saue hym in his ryght
My godes beth sette and solde.
`My londes beth sette to wedde, Robyn,
Vntyll a certayn day,
To a ryche abbot here besyde
Of Seynt Mari Abbey.'
`What is the som?' sayde Robyn;
`Trouth than tell thou me;'
`Sir,' he sayde, 'foure hundred pounde;
The abbot told it to me.'
`Nowe and thou lese thy lond,' sayde Robyn,
`What woll fall of the?'
`Hastely I wol me buske,' sayd the knyght,
Ouer the saltë see,
`And se w[h]ere Criste was quyke and dede,
On the mount of Caluerë,
Fare wel, frende, and haue gode day;
It may no better be.'
Teris fell out of hys iyen two
He wolde haue gone hys way:
`Farewel, frende, and haue gode day;
I ne haue no more to pay.,'
`Where be thy frendës?' sayd, Robyn:
`Syr, neuer one wol me knowe;
While I was ryche ynowe at home
Great boste than wolde they blowe.
`And nowe they renne away fro me,
As bestis on a rowe;
They take no more hede of me
Thanne they had me neuer sawe.'
For ruthe thanne wept Litell Johnn,
Scarlok and Muche in fere;
`Fyl of the best wyne,' sayde Robyn,
`For here is a symple chere.
`Hast thou any frende,' sayde Robin
`Thy borowe that woldë be?'
`I haue none, than sayde the knyght,
But God that dyed on tree.'
`Do away thy iapis,' than sayde Robyn.
`Thereof wol I right none;
Wenest thou I wolde haue God to borowe,
Peter, Poule, or Johnn?'
`Nay, by hym that me made,
And shope both sonne and mone,'
`Fynde me a better borow ' sayde Robyn,
`Or money getest thou none.'
`I haue none other,' sayde the knyght,
`The sothe for to say,
But yf yt be Our derë Lady;
She fayled me neuer or thys day.'
`By dere worthy God,' sayde Robyn,
`To seche all Englonde thorowe,
Yet fonde I neuer to my pay
A moche better borowe.
`Come nowe furth, Litell Johnn,
And go to my tresourë,
And bringe me foure hundered pound,
And loke well tolde it be.'
Furth than went Litell Johnn,
And Scarlok went before;
He tolde oute foure hundred pounde
By eight and twenty score.
`Is thys well tolde?' sayde [Litell] Much;
Johnn sayde, 'What gre[ue]th the?
It is almus to helpe a gentyll knyght,
That is fal in pouertë.
`Master,' than sayde Lityll John,
`His clothinge is full thynne;
Ye must gyue the knight a lyueray,
To lappe his body therin.
`For ye haue scarlet and grene, mayster,
And man[y] a riche aray;
Ther is no marchaunt in mery Englond
So ryche, I dare well say.'
`Take hym thre yerdes of euery colour,
And loke well mete that it be;'
Lytell Johnn toke none other mesure
But his bowë-tree.
And at euery handfull that he met
He lepëd footës three;
`What deuyllës drapar,' sayid litell Muche,
Thynkest thou for to be? '
Scarlok stode full stil and loughe,
And sayd, `By God Almyght,
Johnn may gyue hym gode mesure,
For it costeth hym but lyght.'
`Mayster,' than said Litell Johnn
To gentill Robyn Hode,
`Ye must giue the knig[h]t a hors,
To lede home this gode.'
`Take hym a gray coursar,' sayde Robyn,
`And a saydle newe;
He is Oure Ladye's messengere;
God graunt that he be true.'
And a gode palfray,' sayde lytell Much,
`To mayntene hym in his right;'
`And a peyre of botës,' sayde Scarlock,
`For he is a gentyll knight.'
`What shalt thou gyue hym, Litell John?' said Robyn;
`Sir, a peyre of gilt sporis clene,
To pray for all this company;
God bringe hym oute of tene.'
`Whan shal mi day be,' said the knight,
`Sir, and your wyll be?'
`This day twelue moneth,' saide Robyn,
`Vnder this grenë-wode tre.
`It were greate shamë,' sayde Robyn,
`A knight alone to ryde,
Withoutë squyre, yoman, or page,
To walkë by his syde.
`I shall the lende Litell John, my man,
For he shalbe thy knaue;
In a yema[n]'s stede he may the stande,
If thou greate nedë haue.'
THE SECONDE FYTTE
Now is the knight gone on his way;
This game hym thought full gode;
Whanne he loked on Bernesdale
He blessyd Robyn Hode.
And whanne he thought on Bernysdale,
On Scarlok, Much, and Johnn,
He blyssyd them for the best company
That euer he in come.
Then spake that gentyll knyght.
To Lytel Johan gan he saye,
`To-morrowe I must to Yorke tonne,
To Saynt Mary abbay.
`And to the abbot of that place
Foure hondred pounde I must pay;
And but I be there vpon this nyght
My londe is lost for ay.'
The abbot sayd to his couent,
There he stode on grounde,
`This day twelfe moneth came there a knyght
And borowed foure hondred pounde.
[`He borowed foure hondred pounde,]
Upon all his londë fre;
But he come this ylkë day
Dysheryte shall he be.'
`It is full erely,' sayd the pryoure,
`The day is not yet ferre gone;
I had leuer to pay an hondred pounde,
And lay downe anone.
`The knyght is ferre beyonde the see,
In Englonde is his ryght,
And suffreth honger and colde,
And many a sory nyght.
`It were grete pytë,' said the pryoure,
`So to haue his londe;
And ye be so lyght of your consyence,
Ye do to hym moch wronge.'
`Thou arte euer in my berde,' sayd the abbot,
`By God and Saynt Rycharde;'
With that cam in a fat-heded monke,
The heygh selerer.
`He is dede or hanged,' sayd the monke,
`By God that bought me dere,
And we shall haue to spende in this place
Foure hondred pounde by yere.'
The abbot and the hy selerer
Stertë forthe full bolde,
The [hye] iustyce of Englonde
The abbot there dyde holde.
The hyë iustyce and many mo
Had take in to they[r] honde
Holy all the knyghtës det,
To put that knyght to wronge.
They demed the knyght wonder sore,
The abbot and his meynë:
`But he come this ylkë day
Dysheryte shall he be.'
`He wyll not come yet,' sayd the iustyce,
`I dare well vndertake;'
But in sorowe tyrnë for them all
The knyght came to the gate.
Than bespake that gentyll knyght
Untyll his meynë:
Now put on your symple wedes
That ye brought fro the see.
[They put on their symple wedes,]
They came to the gates anone;
The porter was redy hymselfe,
And welcomed them euerychone.
`Welcome, syr knyght,' sayd the porter;
`My lorde to mete is he,
And so is many a gentyll man,
For the loue of the.'
The porter swore a full grete othe,
`By God that mad&eunl; me,
Here be the best coresed hors
That euer yet sawe I me.
`Lede them in to the stable,' he sayd,
`That eased myght they be;'
They shall not come therin,' sayd the knyght,
By God that dyed on a tre.'
Lordës were to mete isette
In that abbotes hall;
The knyght went forth and kneled
And salued them grete and smal
`Do gladly, syr abbot,' sayd the knyght,
`I am come to holde my day:'
The fyrst word the abbot spake,
`Hast thou brought my pay?'
`Not one peny,' sayd the knyght,
`By God that maked me;'
`Thou art a shrewed dettour,' sayd the abbot;
`Syr iustyce, drynke to me.
`What doost thou here,' sayd the abbot,
`But thou haddest brought thy pay?
`For God,' than sayd the knyght,
`To pray of a lenger daye.'
`Thy daye is broke,' sayd the iustyce ,
`Londe getest thou none:'
`Now, good syr iustyce, be my frende
And fende me of my fone!'
`I am holde with the abbot,' sayd the iustyce.
`Both with cloth and fee:'
`Now, good syr sheryf, be my frend,
`Nay, for God,' sayd he.
`Now, good syr abbot, be my frende,
For thy curteysë,
And holde my londës in thy honde
Tyll I haue made the gree!
`And I wyll be thy true seruaunte,
And trewely seruë the,
Tyl ye haue foure hondred pounde
Of money good and free.'
The abbot sware a full grete othe,
`By God that dyed on a tree,
Get the londe where thou may,
For thou getest none of me.'
`By dere worthy God,' then sayd the knyght,
`That all this world&eunl; wrought,
But I haue my londe agayne,
Full dere it shall be bought.
`God, that was of a mayden borne,
Leue vs well to spede!
For it is good to assay a frende
Or that a man haue nede.'
The abbot lothely on hym gan loke,
And vylaynesly hym gan call;
Out,' he sayd, 'thou falsë knyght,
Spede the out of my hall!'
`Thou lyest,' then sayd the gentyll knyght,
`Abbot, in thy hal;
False knyght was I neuer,
By God that made vs all.'
Vp then stode that gentyll knyght,
To the abbot sayd he,
`To suffre a knyght to knele so longe,
Thou canst no curteysye.
`In ioustës and in tournament
Full ferre than haue I be,
And put my selfe as ferre in press
As ony that euer I se.'
`What wyll ye gyue more,' sayd the iustice,
`And the knyght shall make a releyse?
And elles dare I safly swere
Ye holde neuer your londe in pees.'
`An hondred pounde,' sayd the abbot;
The justice sayd, `Gyue hym two;'
`Nay, be God,' sayd the knyght,
`Yit gete ye it not so.
`Though ye wolde gyue a thousand more,
Yet were ye neuer the nere;
Shall there neuer be myn heyre
Abbot, iustice, ne frere.'
He stert hym to a borde anone,
Tyll a table rounde,
And there he shoke oute of a bagge
Euen four hundred pound.
`Haue here thi golde, sir abbot,' saide the knight,
`Which that thou lentest me;
Had thou ben curtes at my comynge,
Rewarded shuldest thou haue be.'
The abbot sat styll, and ete no more,
For all his ryall fare;
He cast his hede on his shulder,
And fast began to stare.
`Take me my golde agayne,' saide the abbot,
`Sir iustice, that I toke the:'
`Not a peni,' said the iustice,
`Bi Go[d, that dy]ed on tree.'
`Sir [abbot, and ye me]n of lawe,
Now haue I holde my daye;
Now shall I haue my londe agayne,
For ought that you can saye.'
The knyght stert out of the dore,
Awaye was all his care,
And on he put his good clothynge,
The other he lefte there.
He wente hym forth full mery syngynge,
As men haue tolde in tale;
His lady met hym at the gate,
At home in Verysdale.
`Welcome, my lorde,' sayd his lady;
`Syr, lost is all your good?'
`Be mery, dame,' sayd the knyght,
`And pray for Robyn Hode,
That euer his soulë be in blysse
He holpe me out of tene;
Ne had be his kyndënesse,
Beggers had we bene.
`The abbot and I accorded ben,
He is serued of his pay;
The god yoman lent it me,
As I cam by the way.'
This knight than dwelled fayre at home,
The sothe for to saye,
Tyll he had gete four hundred pound,
Al redy for to pay.
He purueyed him an hundred bowes,
The stryngës well ydyght,
An hundred shefe of arowës gode,
The hedys burneshed full bryght;
And euery arowe an ellë longe,
With pecok wel idyght,
Inocked all with whyte siluer;
It was a semely syght.
He purueyed hym an [hondreth men],
Well harness[ed in that stede],
And hym selfe in that same sete,
And clothed in whyte and rede.
He bare a launsgay in his honde,
And a man ledde his male,
And reden with a lyght songe
But he went at a bridge ther was a wrastelyng,
And there taryed was he,
And there was all the best yemen
Of all the west countree.
A full fayre game there was vp set,
A whyte bulle vp i-pyght,
A grete courser, with sadle and brydil,
With golde burnyssht full bryght.
A payre of gloues, a rede golde rynge,
A pype of wyne, in fay;
What man that bereth hym best i-wys
The pryce shall bere away.
There was a yoman in that place,
And best worthy was he,
And for he was ferre and frembde bested,
Slayne he shulde haue be.
The knight had ruthe of this yoman,
In plac&eunl; where he stode;
He sayde that yoman shulde haue no harme,
For loue of Robyn Hode.
The knyght presed in to the place,
An hundreth folowed hym [free],
With bowës bent and arowës sharpe,
For to shende that companye.
They shulderd all and made hym rome,
To wete what he wolde say;
He toke the yeman bi the hande,
And gaue hym al the play.
He gaue hym fyue marke for his wyne,
There it lay on the molde,
And bad it shulde be set a broche,
Drynkë who so wolde.
Thus longe taried this gentyll knyght,
Tyll that play was done;
So longe abode Robyn fastinge,
Thre hourës after the none.
THE THIRDE FYTTE
Lyth and lystyn, gentilmen,
All that nowe be here;
Of Litell Johnn, that was the knightës man,
Goode myrth ye shall here.
It was vpon a mery day
That yonge men wolde go shete;
Lytell Johnn fet his bowe anone,
And sayde he wolde them mete.
Thre tymes Litell Johnn shet aboute,
And alwey he slet the wande;
The proudë sherif of Notingham
By the markës can stande.
The sherif swore a full greate othe:
`By hym that dyede on a tre,
This man is the best arschère
That euer yet sawe I [me.]
`Say me nowe, wight yonge man,
What is nowe thy name?
In what countre were thou borne,
And where is thy wonynge wane?'
In Holdernes, sir, I was borne,
I-wys al of my dame;
Men cal me Reynolde Grenëlef
Whan I am at home.'
`Sey me, Reyno[I]de Grenëlefe,
Wolde thou dwell with me?
And euery yere I well the gyue
Twenty marke to thy fee.'
`I haue a maister,' sayde Litell Johnn,
`A curteys knight is he;
May ye leuë gete of hym,
The better may it be.'
The sherif gate Litell John
Twelue moneth&eunl;s of the knight;
Therfore he gaue him right anone
A gode hors and a wight.
Nowe is Litell John the sherifës man,
God lende vs well to spede!
But alwey thought Lytell John
To quyte hym wele his mede.
`Nowe so God me helpë,' sayde Litell John,
And by my true leutye,
I shall be the worst seruaunt to hym
That euer yet had he.'
It fell vpon a Wednesday
The sherif on huntynge was gone,
And Litel Iohn lay in his bed,
And was foriete at home.
Therfore he was fastinge
Til it was past the none;
`Gode sir stuarde, I pray to the,
Gyue me my dynere,' saide Litell John.
`It is longe for Grenëlefe
Fastinge thus for to be;
Therfor I pray the, sir stuarde,
Mi dyner gif me.'
`Shalt thou neuer ete ne drynke,' wide the stuarde,
Tyll my lorde be come to towne:'
`I make myn auowe to God,' saide Litell John,
`I had leuer to crake thy crowne.'
The boteler was full vncurteys,
There he stode on flore
He start to the botery
And shet fast the dore.
Lytell Johnn gaue the boteler suche a tap
His backe went nere in two;
Though he liued an hundred ier,
The wors shuld he go.
He sporned the dore with his fote;
It went open wel and fyne;
And there he made large lyueray,
Bothe of ale and of wyne.
`Sith ye wol nat dyne,' sayde Litell John,
`I shall gyue you to drinke;
And though ye lyue an hundred wynter,
On Lytel Johnn ye shall thinke.'
Litell John ete, and Litel John drank,
The whilë that he wolde;
The sherife had in his kechyn a coke,
A stoute man and a bolde.
`I make myn auowe to God,' saide the coke,
Thou arte a shrewde hynde
In ani hous for to dwel,
For to askë thus to dyne.'
And there he lent Litell John
God[ë] strokis thre;
`I make myn auowe to God,' sayde Litell John,
`These strokis lyked well me.
`Thou arte a bolde man and hardy,
And so thinketh me;
And or I pas fro this place
Assayed better shalt thou be.'
Lytell Johnn drew a ful gode sworde,
The coke toke another in hande;
They thought no thynge for to fle,
But stifly for to stande.
There they faught sore togedere
Two mylë way and well more;
Myght neyther other harme done,
The moantnaunce of an owre.
`I make myn auowe to God,' sayde LitelI Johnn,
And by my true lewtë,
Thou art one of the best sworde-men
That euer yit sawe I [me.]
`Cowdest thou shote as well in a bowe,
To grenë wode thou shuldest with me,
And two times in the yere thy clothinge
Chaunged shuldë be;
`And euery yere of Robyn Hode
Twenty merke to thy fe:'
`Put vp thy swerde,' saide the coke,
And felowës woll we be.'
Thanne he fet to Lytell Johnn
The nowmbles of a do,
Gode brede, and full gode wyne;
They ete and drank theretoo.
And when they had dronkyn well,
Theyre trouthës togeder they plight
That they wo[l]de be with Robyn
That ylkë samë nyght.
They dyd them to the tresoure-hows,
As fast as they myght gone;
The lokkës, that were of full gode stele,
They brake them euerichone.
They toke away the siluer vessell,
And all that thei mig[h]t get;
Pecis, masars, ne sponis,
Wolde thei not forget.
Also [they] toke the godë pens,
Thre hundred pounde and more,
And did them st[r]eyte to Robyn Hode,
Under the grenë wode here.
`God the saue, my derë mayster,
And Criste the saue and se!'
And thanne sayde Robyn to Litell Johnn,
`Welcome myght thou be.
`Also be that fayre yeman
Thou bryngest there with the;
What tydyngës fro Noty[n]gham?
Lytill Johnn, tell thou me.'
`Well the gretith the proudë sheryf,
And sende[th] the here by me
His coke and his siluer vessell,
And thre hundred pounde and thre.'
`I make myne avowe to God,' sayde Robyn,
`And to the Trenytë,
It was neuer by his gode wyll
This gode is come to me.'
Lytyll Johnn there hym bethought
On a shrewde wyle;
Fyue myle in the forest he ran,
Hym happed all his wyll.
Than he met the proudë sheref,
Huntynge with houndes and horne;
Lytell Johnn coude of curtesye,
And knelyd hym befome.
`God the saue, my derë mayster,
And Criste the saue and se!'
Reynolde Grenëlefe,' sayde the shryef,
Where hast thou nowe be?'
`I haue be in this forest;
A fayre syght can I se;
It was one of the fayrest syghtes
That euer yet sawe I me.
`Yonder I sawe a ryght fayre harte,
His coloure is of grene;
Seuen score of dere vpon a herde
Be with hym all bydene.
`Their tyndës are so sharpe, maister,
Of sexty, and well mo,
That I durst not shote for drede,
Lest they wolde me slo.'
`I make myn auowe to God,' sayde the shyref,
`That syght wolde I fayne se:'
`Buske you thyderwarde, mi derë mayster,
Anone, and wende with me.'
The sherif rode, and Litell Johnn
Of fote he was full smerte,
And whane they came before Robyn,
`Lo, sir, here is the mayster-herte.'
Still stode the proudë sherief,
A sory man was he;
`Wo the worthe, Reynolde Grenëlefe,
Thou hast betrayed nowe me.'
`I make myn auowe to God,' sayde Litell Johnn,
`Mayster, ye be to blame;
I was mysserued of my dynere
Whan I was with you at home.'
Sone he was to souper sette,
And serued well with siluer white,
And when the sherif sawe his vessell,
For sorowe he myght net ete.
`Make glad chere,' sayde Robyn Hode,
`Sherif, for charitë,
And for the loue of Litill Johnn
Thy lyfe I graunt to the.'
Whan they had souped well,
The day was al gone;
Robyn commaunde[d] Litell Johnn
To drawe of his hosen and his shone;
His kirtell, and his cote of pie,
That was fured well and fine,
And to[ke] hym a grene mantel,
To lap his body therin.
Robyn commaundyd his wight yonge men,
Vnder the grenë-wode tree,
They shulde lye in that same sute,
That the sherif myght them see.
All nyght lay the proudë sherif
In his breche and in his [s]chert;
No wonder it was, in grenë wode,
Though his sydës gan to smerte.
`Make glade chere,' sayde Robyn Hode,
`Sheref, for charitë;
For this is our ordre i-wys,
Vnder the grenëwode tree.'
`This is harder order,' sayde the sherief,
`Than any ankir or frere;
For all the golde in mery Englonde
I wolde nat longe dwell her.'
`All this twelue monthes,' sayde Robin,
`Thou shalt dwell with me;
I shall the techë, proudë sherif,
An outlawe for to be.'
`Or I be here another nyght,' sayde the sherif,
`Robyn, nowe pray I the,
Smyte of mijn hede rather to-morowe,
And I forgyue it the.
`Lat me go,' than sayde the sherif,
`For sayntë charitë,
And I well be the best[ë] frende
That euer yet had ye.'
`Thou shalt swere me an othe,' sayde Robyn,
`On my bright bronde;
Shalt thou neuer awayte me scathe,
By water ne by lande.
`And if thou fynde any of my men,
By nyght or [by] day,
Vpon thyn othë thou shalt swere
To helpe them tha[t] thou may.'
Nowe hathe the sherif sworne his othe,
And home he began to gone;
He was as full of grenë wode
As euer was hepe of stone.
THE FOURTH FYTTE
The sherif dwelled in Notingham;
He was fayne he was agone;
And Robyn and his mery men
Went to wode anone.
`Go we to dyner,' sayde Littell Johnn;
Robyn Hode sayde, `Nay;
For I drede Our Lady be wroth with me,
For she sent me nat my pay.
`Haue no doute, maister,' sayde Litell Johnn;
`Yet is nat the sonne at rest;
For I dare say, and sauely swere,
The knight is true and truste.'
`Take thy bowe in thy hande,' sayde Robyn,
`Late Much wende with the,
And so shal Wyllyam Scarlok,
And no man abyde with me.
`And walke vp vnder the Sayles,
And to Watlynge-strete,
And wayte after some vnketh gest;
Vp-chaunce ye may them mete.
`Whether he be messengere
Or a man that myrthës can,
Of my good he shall haue some,
Yf he be a porë man.'
Forth then stert Lytel Johan,
Half in tray and tene,
And gyrde hym with a full good sworde,
Under a mantel of grene.
They went vp to the Sayles,
These yemen all thre;
They loked est, they loked west,
They myght no man se.
But as [t]he[y] loked in Bernysdale,
By the hyë waye,
Than were they ware of two blacke monkes,
Eche on a good palferay.
Then bespake Lytell Johan,
To Much he gan say,
I dare lay my lyfe to wedde,
That [these] monkes haue brought our pay.
Make glad chere,' sayd Lytell Johan,
`And frese your bowes of ewe,
And loke your hertës be seker and sad,
Your stryngës trusty and trewe.
`The monke hath two and fifty [men,]
And seuen somers full stronge;
There rydeth no bysshop in this londe
So ryally, I vnderstond.
`Brethern,' sayd Lytell Johan,
`Here axe no more but we thre;
But we bryngë them to dyner,
Our mayster dare we not se.
`Bende your bowes,' sayd Lytell Johan,
`Make all yon press to stonde;
The formost monke, his lyfe and his deth
Is closed in my honde.
`Abyde, chorle monke,' sayd Lytell Johan,
`No ferther that thou gone;
Yf thou doost, by dere worthy God,
Thy deth is in my honde.
`And euyll thryfte on thy hede,' sayd Lytell Johan,
`Ryght vnder thy hattës bonde;
For thou hast made our mayster wroth,
He is fastynge so longe.'
`Who is your mayster?' sayd the monke;
Lytell Johan sayd, `Robyn Hode;'
`He is a stronge thefe,' sayd the monke,
Of hym herd I neuer good.'
`Thou lyest,' than sayd Lytell Johan,
`And that shall rewë the;
He is a yeman of the forest,
To dyne he hath bodë the.'
Much was redy with a bolte,
Redly and anone,
He set the monke to-fore the brest,
To the grounde that he can gone.
Of two and fyfty wyght youge yemen
There abode not one,
Saf a lytell page and a grome,
To lede the somers with Lytel Johan.
They brought the monke to the lodgë-dore,
Whether he were loth or lefe,
For to speke with Robyn Hode,
Maugre in theyr tethe.
Robyn dyde adowne his hode,
The monke whan that he se;
The monke was not so curtëyse,
His hode then let he be.
`He is a chorle, mayster, by dere worthy God,'
Than sayd Lytell Johan:
`Thereof no force,' sayd Robyn,
For curteysy can he none.
How many men,' sayd Robyn,
`Had this monke, Johan?'
Fyfty and two when that we met,
But many of them be gone.'
`Let blowe a horne,' sayd Robyn,
`That felaushyp may vs knowe;'
Seuen score of wyght yemen
Came pryckynge on a rowe.
And euerych of them a good mantell
Of scarlet and of raye;
All they came to good Robyn,
To wyte what he wolde say.
They made the monke to wasshe and wype,
And syt at his denere,
Robyn Hode and Lytell Johan
They serued him both in-fere.
`Do gladly, monke,' sayd Robyn.
`Gramercy, syr,' sayd he.
`Where is your abbay, whan ye are at home,
And who is your avowë?'
`Saynt Mary abbey,' sayd the monke,
`Though I be symple here.'
`In what offyce? ' sayd Robyn:
`Syr, the hyë selerer.'
`Ye be the more welcome,' sayd Robyn,
`So euer mote I the;
Fyll of the best wyne,' sayd Robyn,
`This monke shall drunks to me.
`But I haue grete meruayle,' sayd Robyn,
`Of all this longe day;
I drede Our Lady be wroth with me,
She sent me not my pay.'
`Haue no doute, mayster,' sayd Lytll Johan,
`Ye haue no nede, I saye;
This monke it hath brought, I dare well swere,
For he is of her abbay.'
`And she was a borowe,' sayd Robyn,
`Betwene a knyght and me,
Of a lytell money that I hym lent,
Under the grenë-wode tree.
`And yf thou hast that syluer ibrought,
I pray the let me se;
And I shall helpe the eftsones,
Yf thou haue nede to me.'
The monke swore a full grete othe,
With a sory chere,
Of the borowehode thou spekest to me,
Herde I neuer ere.'
I make myn avowe to God,' sayd Robyn,
`Monke, thou art to blame;
For God is holde a ryghtwys man,
And so is his dame.
`Thou toldest with thyn ownë tonge,
Thou may not say nay,
How thou arte her seruaunt,
And seruest her euery day.
`And thou art made her messengere,
My money for to pay;
Therfore I can the morë thanke
Thou arte come at thy day.
`What is in your cofers?' sayd Robyn,
`Trewe than tell thou me:'
`Syr,' he sayd, `twenty marks,
Al so mote I the.'
`Yf there be no more,' sayd Robyn,
`I wyll not one peny;
Yf thou hast myster of ony more,
Syr, more I shall lende to the.
'And yf I fyndë [more,' sayd] Robyn,
`I-wys thou shalte it for gone;
For of thy spendynge-syluer, monke,
Thereof wyll I ryght none.
`Go nowe forthe, Lytell Johan,
`And the trouth tell thou me;
If there be no more but twenty marke,
No peny that I se.'
Lytell Johan spred his mantell downe,
As he had done before,
And he tolde out of the monkës male
Eyght [hondred] Pounde and more.
Lytell Johan let it lye full styll,
And went to his mayster in hast;
'Syr,' he sayd, 'the monke is trewe ynowe,
Our Lady hath doubled your cast.'
`I make myn avowe to God,' sayd Robyn --
`Monke, what tolde I the? - -
Our Lady is the trewest woman
That euer yet founde I me.
`By dere worthy God,' sayd Robyn,
`To seche all Englond thorowe,
Yet founde I neuer to my pay
A moche better borowe.
'Fyll of the best wyne, and do hym drynke,' sayd Robyn,
`And grete well thy lady hende,
And yf she haue nede to Robyn Hode,
A frende she shall hym fynde.
'And yf she nedeth ony more syluer,
Come thou agayne to me,
And, by this token she hath me sent,
She shall haue such thre.'
The monke was goynge to London ward,
There to holde grete mote,
The knyght that rode so hye on hors,
To brynge hym vnder fote.
`Whether be ye away?' sayd Robyn:
`Syr, to maners in this londe,
Too reken with our reues,
That haue done moch wronge.'
`Come now forth, Lytell Johan,
And harken to my tale;
A better yemen I knowe none,
To seke a monkës male.'
`How moch is in yonder other corser?' sayd Robyn,
`The soth must we see:
By Our Lady,' than sayd the monke,
`That were no curteysye,
`To bydde a man to dyner,
And syth hym bete and bynde.'
It is our oldë maner,' sayd Robyn,
To leue but lytell behynde.'
The monke toke the hors with spore,
No lenger wolde he abyde:
`Askë to drynkë,' than sayd Robyn,
`Or that ye forther ryde.'
`Nay, for God,' than sayd the monke,
`Me reweth I cam so nere;
For better chepe I myght haue dyned
In Blythe or in Dankestere.'
`Grete well your abbot,' sayd Robyn,
`And your pryoury I you pray,
And byd hym send me such a monke
To dyner euery day.'
Now lete we that monke be styll,
And speke we of that knyght:
Yet he came to holde his day,
Whyle that it was lyght.
He dyde him streyt to Bernysdale,
Under the grenë-wode tre,
And he founde there Robyn Hode,
And all his mery meynë.
The knyght lyght doune of his good palfrey;
Robyn whan he gan see,
So curteysly he dyde adoune his hode,
And set hym on his knee.
`God the sauë, Robyn Hode,
And all this company:'
`Welcome be thou, gentyll knyght,
And ryght welcome to me.'
Than bespake hym Robyn Hode,
To that knyght so fre:
`What nedë dryueth the to grenë wode?
I praye the, syr knyght, tell me.
`And welcome be thou, ge[n]tyll knyght,
Why hast thou be so longe?'
`For the abbot and the hyë iustyce
Wolde haue had my londe.'
`Hast thou thy londe [a]gayne?' sayd Robyn;
`Treuth than tell thou me:'
`Ye, for God,' sayd the knyght,
`And that thanke I God and the.
`But take not a grefe,' sayd the knyght, that I haue be so longe ;
I came by a wrastelynge,
And there I holpe a porë yeman,
With wronge was put behynde.'
`Nay, for God,' sayd Robyn,
'Syr knyght, that thanke I the;
What man that helpeth a good yeman,
His frende than wyll I be.'
`Haue here foure hondred pounde,' than sayd the knyght,
`The whiche ye lent to me;
And here is also twenty marke
For your curteysy.'
`Nay, for God,' than sayd Robyn,
`Thou broke it well for ay;
For Our Lady, by her [hyë] selerer,
Hath sent to me my pay.
`And yf I toke it i-twyse,
A shame it were to me;
But trewely, gentyll knyght,
Welcom arte thou to me.'
Whan Robyn had tolde his tale,
He leugh and bad good chere:
`By my trouthë,' then sayd the knyght,
`Your money is redy here.'
`Broke it well,' sayd Robyn,
`Thou gentyll knyght so fre
And welcome be thou, ge[n]tyll knyght,
Under my trystell-tre.
`But what shall these bowës do?' sayd Robyn,
And these arowës ifedred fre?'
`By God,' than sayd the knyght,
'A porë present to the.'
`Come now forth, LytelI Johan,
And go to my treasurë,
And brynge me there foure hondred pounde;
The monke ouer-tolde it me.
`Haue here foure hondred pounde,
Thou gentyll knyght and trewe,
And bye hors and harnes good,
And gylte thy spores all newe.
`And yf thou fayle ony spendynge,
Com to Robyn Hode,
And by my trouth thou shalt none fayle,
The whyles I haue any good.
`And broke well thy foure hondred pound,
Whiche I lent to the,
And make thy selfe no more so bare,
By the counsell of me.'
Thus than holpe hym good Robyn,
The knyght all of his care:
God, that syt in heuen hye,
Graunte vs well to fare!
THE FYFTH FYTTE.
Now hath the knyght his leue i-take,
And wente hym on his way;
Robyn Hode and his mery men
Dwelled styll full many a day.
Lyth and lysten, gentil men,
And herken what I shall say,
How the proudë sheryfe of Notyngham
Dyde crye a full fayre play;
That all the best archers of the north
Sholde come vpon a day,
And [he] that shoteth allther best
The game shall bere a way.
He that shoteth allther best,
Furthest fayre and lowe,
At a payre of fynly buttes,
Under the grenë-wode shawe,
A ryght good arowe he shall haue,
The shaft of syluer whyte,
The hede and the feders of ryche rede golde,
In Englond is none lyke.
This than herde good Robyn,
Under his trystell-tre:
`Make you redy, ye wyght yonge men;
That shotynge wyll I se.
`Buske you, my mery yonge men,
Ye shall go with me;
And I wyll wete the shryuës fayth,
Trewe and yf he be.'
Whan they had theyr bowes i-bent,
Theyr takles fedred fre,
Seuen score o wyght yonge men
Stode by Robyns kne.
Whan they cam to Notyngham,
The buttes were fayre and longe;
Many was the bolde archere
That shoted with bowës stronger
`There shall but syx shote with me;
The other shal kepe my he[ue]de,
And standë with good bowës bent,
That I be not desceyued.'
The fourth outlawe his bowe gan bende,
And that was Robyn Hode,
And that behelde the proud[ë] sheryfe,
All by the but [as] he stode.
Thryës Robyn shot about,
And alway he slist the wand,
And so dyde good Gylberte
Wyth the whytë hande.
Lytell Johan and good Scatheloke
Were archers good and fre;
Lytell Much and good Reynolde,
The worste wolde they not be.
Whan they had shot aboute,
These archours fayre and good,
Euermore was the best,
For soth, Robyn Hode.
Hym was delyuered the good arowe,
For best worthy was he;
He toke the yeft so curteysly,
To grenë wode wolde he.
They cryed out on Robyn Hode,
And grete hornës gan they blowe
`Wo worth the, treason!' sayd Robyn,
`Full euyl thou art to knowe.
`And wo be thou! thou proudë sheryf,
Thus gladdynge thy gest;
Other wyse thou behotë me
In yonder wylde forest.
`But had I the in grenë wode,
Under my trystell-tre,
Thou sholdest leue me a better wedde
Than thy trewe lewtë.'
Full many a bowe there was bent,
And arowës let they glyde;
Many a kyrtell there was rent,
And hurt many a syde.
The outlawes shot was so stronge
That no man myght them dryue,
And the proud[ë] sheryfës men,
They fled away full blyue.
Robyn sawe the busshement to-broke,
In grenë wode he wolde haue be;
Many an arowe there was shot
Amonge that company.
Lytell Johan was hurte full sore,
With an arowe in his kne
That he myght neyther go nor ryde;
It was full grete pytë.
`Mayster,' then sayd Lytell Johan,
`If euer thou loue[d]st me,
And for that ylkë lordës loue
That dyed vpon a tre,
`And for the medes of my seruyce,
That I haue serued the,
Lete neuer the proudë sheryf
Alyue now fynde me.
`But take out thy brownë swerde,
And smyte all of my hede,
And gyue me woundes depe and wyde;
No lyfe on me be lefte.'
`I wolde not that,' sayd Robyn,
`Johan, that thou were slawe,
For all the golde in mery Englonde,
Though it lay now on a rawe.'
`God forbede,' sayd Lytell Much,
`That dyed on a tre,
That thou sholdest, Lytell Johan,
Parte our company.'
Up he toke hym on his backe,
And bare hym well a myle;
Many a tyme he layd hym downe,
And shot another whyle.
Then was there a fayre castell,
A lytell within the wode;
Double-dyched it was about,
And walled, by the rode.
And there dwelled that gentyll knyght,
Syr Rychard at the Lee,
That Robyn had lent his good,
Under the grenë-wode tree.
In he toke good Robyn,
And all his company:
`Welcome be thou, Robyn Hode,
Welcome arte thou to me;
`And moche [I] thanke the of thy confort,
And of thy curteysye,
And of thy gretë kyndënesse,
Under the grenë-wode tre.
`I loue no man in all this worlde
So much as I do the;
For all the proud[ë] sheryf of Notyngham,
Ryght here shalt thou be.
`Shyt the gates, and drawe the brydge,
And let no man come in,
And arme you well, and make you redy,
And to the walles ye wynne.
`For one thynge, Robyn, I the behote;
I swere by Saynt Quyntyne,
These forty dayes thou wonnest with me,
To soupe, ete, and dyne.'
Bordes were layde, and clothes were spredde,
Redely and anone;
Robyn Hode and his mery men
To metë can they gone.
THE VI. FYTTE.
Lythe and lysten, gentylmen,
And herkyn to your songe
Howe the proudë shyref of Notyngham,
And men of armys stronge,
Full fast cam to the hyë shyref,
The contrë vp to route,
And they besette the knyghtës castell,
The wallës all aboute.
The proudd shyref loude gan crye,
And sayde, `Thou traytour knight,
Thou kepest here the kynges enemys,
Agaynst the lawe and right.'
`Syr, I wyll auowe that I haue done,
The dedys that here be dyght,
Vpon all the landës that I haue,
As I am a trewë knyght.
`Wende furth, sirs, on your way,
And do no more to me
Tyll ye wyt oure kyngës wille,
What he wyll say to the.'
The shyref thus had his answere,
Without any lesynge;
[Fu]rth he yede to London towne,
All for to tel our kinge.
Ther he telde him of that knight,
And eke of Robyn Hode,
And also of the bolde archars,
That were soo noble and gode.
`He wyll auowe that he hath done,
To mayntene the outlawes stronge;
He wyll be lorde, and set you at nought,
In all the northe londe.'
`I wil be at Notyngham,' saide our kynge,
`Within this fourteenyght,
And take I wyll Robyn Hode,
And so I wyll that knight.
`Go nowe home, shyref,' sayde our kynge,
`And do as I byd the;
And ordeyn gode archers ynowe,
Of all the wydë contrë.'
The shyref had his leue i-take,
And went hym on his way,
And Robyn Hode to grenë wode,
Vpon a certen day.
And Lytel John was hole of the arowe
That shot was in his kne,
And dyd hym streyght to Robyn Hode,
Vnder the grenë-wode tree.
Robyn Hode walked in the forest,
Vnder the leuys grene;
The proudë shyref of Notyngham
Thereof he had grete tene.
The shyref there fayled of Robyn Hode,
He myght not haue his pray;
Than he awayted this gentyll knyght,
Bothe by nyght and day.
Euer he wayted the gentyll knyght,
Syr Richarde at the Lee,
As he went on haukynge by the ryuer-syde,
And lete [his] haukës flee.
Toke he there this gentyll knight,
With men of armys stronger
And led hym to Notyngham warde,
Bounde bothe fote and hande.
The sheref sware a full grete othe,
Bi hym that dyed on rode,
He had leuer than an hundred pound
That he had Robyn Hode.
This harde the knyghtës wyfe,
A fayr lady and a free;
She set hir on a gode palfrey,
To grenë wode anone rode she.
Whanne she cam in the forest,
Vnder the grenë-wode tree,
Fonde she there Robyn Hode,
And al his fayre menë.
`God the sauë, gode Robyn,
And all thy company;
For Our derë Ladyes sake,
A bonë graunte thou me.
`Late neuer my wedded lorde
Shamefully slayne be;
He is fast bowne to Notingham warde,
For the loue of the.'
Anone than saide goode Robyn
To that lady so fre,
`What man hath your lorde [i-take?
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
`For soth as I the say;
He is nat yet thre mylës
Passed on his way.'
Vp than sterte gode Robyn,
As man that had ben wode:
`Buske you, my mery men,
For hym that dyed on rode.
And he that this sorowe forsaketh,
By hym that dyed on tre,
Shall he neuer in grenë wode
No lenger dwel with me.'
Sone there were gode bowës bent,
Mo than seuen score;
Hedge ne dyche spared they none
That was them before.
`I make myn auowe to God,' sayde Robyn,
`The sherif wolde I fayne see;
And if I may hym take,
I-quyte shall it be.'
And whan they came to Notingham,
They walked in the strete;
And with the proudë sherif
Sonë can they mete.
`Abyde, thou proudë sherif,' he sayde,
`Abyde, and speke with me;
Of some tidinges of oure kinge
I wolde fayne here of the.
`This seuen yere, by dere worthy God,
Ne yede I this fast on fote;
I make myn auowe to God, thou proudë sherif,
It is nat for thy gode.'
Robyn bent a full goode bowe,
An arrowe he drowe at wyll;
He hit so the proudë sherife
Vpon the grounde he lay full still.
And or he myght vp aryse,
On his fete to stonde,
He smote of the sherifs hede
With his bright[ë] bronde.
`Lye thou there, thou proudë sherife,
Euyll mote thou cheue!
There myght no man to the truste
The whyles thou were a lyue.'
His men drewe out theyr bryght swerdes,
That were so sharpe and kene,
And layde on the sheryues men,
And dryued them downe bydene.
Robyn stert to that knyght,
And cut a two his bonde,
And toke hym in his hand a bowe,
And bad hym by hym stonde.
`Leue thy hors the behynde,
And lerne for to renne;
Thou shalt with me to grenë wode,
Through myrë, mosse, and fenne.
`Thou shalt with me to grenë wode,
Without ony leasynge,
Tyll that I haue gete vs grace
Of Edwarde, our comly kynge.'
THE VII. FYTTE
The kynge came to Notynghame,
With knyghtës in grete araye,
For to take that gentyll knyght
And Robyn Hode, and yf he may.
He asked men of that countrë
After Robyn Hode,
And after that gentyll knyght,
That was so bolde and stout.
Whan they had tolde hym the case
Our kynge vnderstode ther tale,
And seased in his honde
The knyghtes londës all.
All the passe of Lancasshyre
He went both ferre and nere,
Tyll he came to Plomton Parke;
He faylyd many of his dere.
There our kynge was wont to se
Herdës many one,
He coud vnneth fynde one dere,
That bare ony good horne.
The kynge was wonder wroth withall,
And swore by the Trynytë,
`I wolde I had Robyn Hode,
With eyen I myght hym se.
`And he that wolde smyte of the knyghtës hede,
And brynge it to me,
He shall haue the knyghtës londes,
Syr Rycharde at the Le.
`I gyue it hym with my charter,
And sele it [with] my honde,
To haue and holde for euer more,
In all mery Englonde.'
Than bespake a fayre olde knyght,
That was treue in his fay:
`A, my leegë lorde the kynge,
One worde I shall you say.
`There is no man in this countrë
May haue the knyghtës londes,
Whyle Robyn Hode may ryde or gone,
And bere a bowe in his hondes,
`That he ne shall lese his hede,
That is the best ball in his hode:
Giue it no man, my lorde the kynge,
That ye wyll any good.'
Half a yere dwelled our comly kynge
In Notyngham, and well more;
Coude he not here of Robyn Hode,
In what countrë that he were.
But alway went good Robyn
By halke and eke by hyll,
And alway slewe the kyngës dere,
And welt them at his wyll.
Than bespake a proude fostere,
That stode by our kyngës kne:
`Yf ye wyll se good Robyn,
Ye must do after me.
`Take fyue of the best knyghtës
That be in your lede,
And walke downe by yon abbay,
And gete you monkës wede.
`And I wyll be your ledës-man,
And lede you the way,
And or ye come to Notyngham,
Myn hede then dare I lay,
`That ye shall mete with good Robyn,
On lyue yf that he be;
Or ye come to Notyngham,
With eyen ye shall hym se.'
Full hast[ë]ly our kynge was dyght,
So were his knyghtës fyue,
Euerych of them in monkës wede,
And hasted them thyder blyve.
Our kynge was grete aboue his cole,
A brode hat on his crowne,
Ryght as he were abbot-lyke,
They rode up in-to the towne.
Styf botës our kynge had on,
Forsoth as I you say;
He rode syngynge to grenë wode,
The couent was clothed in graye.
His male-hors and his gretë somers
Folowed our kynge behynde,
Tyll they came to grenë wode,
A myle vnder the lynde.
There they met with good Robyn,
Stondynge on the waye,
And so dyde many a bolde archere,
For soth as I you say.
Robyn toke the kyngës hors,
Hastëly in that stede,
And sayd, `Syr abbot, by your leue,
A whyle ye must abyde.
`We be yemen of this forests,
Vnder the grenë-wode tre;
We lyue by our kyngës dere,
[Other shyft haue not wee.]
`And ye haue chyrches and rentës both,
And gold full grete plentë;
Gyue vs some of your spendynge,
For saynt[ë] charytë.'
Than bespake our cumly kynge,
Anone than sayd he;
`I brought no more to grenë wode
But forty pounde with me.
`I haue layne at Notyngham
This fourtynyght with our kynge,
And spent I haue full moche good,
On many a grete lordynge.
`And I haue but fourty pound,
No more than haue I me;
But yf I had an hondred pounde,
I wolde vouch it safe on the.'
Robyn toke the forty pounde,
And departed it in two partye;
Halfendell he gaue his mery men,
And bad them mery to be.
Full curteysly Robyn gan say
`Syr, haue this for your spendyng;
We shall mete another day;'
'Gramercy,' than sayd our kynge.
`But well the greteth Edwarde, our kynge,
And sent to the his seale,
And byddeth the com to Notyngham,
Both to mete and mele.'
He toke out the brodë targe,
And sone he lete hym se;
Robyn coud his courteysy,
And set hym on his kne.
`I loue no man in all the worlde
So well as I do my kynge;
Welcome is my lordës seale;
And, monke, for thy tydynge,
`Syr abbot, for thy tydyges,
To day thou shalt dyne with ne,
For the loue of my kynge,
Under my trystell-tre.'
Forth he lad our comly kynge,
Full fayre by the honde;
Many a dere there was slayne,
And full fast dyghtande.
Robyn toke a full grete horne,
And loude he gan blowe;
Seuen score of wyght yonge men
Came redy on a rowe.
All they keeled on theyr kne,
Full fayre before Robyn:
The kynge sayd hym selfe vntyll,
And swore by Saynt Austyn,
`Here is a wonder semely syght;
Me thynketh, by Goddës pyne,
His men are more at his byddynge
Then my men be at myn.'
Full hast[ë]ly was theyr dyner idyght,
And therto gan they gone;
They serued our kynge with al theyr myght,
Both Robyn and Lytell Johan.
Anone before our kynge was set
The fattë venyson,
The good whyte brede, the good rede wyne,
And therto the fyne ale and browne.
`Make good chere,' said Robyn,
`Abbot, for charitë;
And for this ylkë tydynge,
Blyssed mote thou be.
`Now shalte thou se what lyfe we lede,
Or thou hens wende;
Than thou may enfourme our kynge,
Whan ye togyder lende.'
Up they stertë all in hast,
Theyr bowës were smartly bent;
Our kynge was neuer so sore agast,
He wende to haue be shente.
Two yerdës there were vp set,
Thereto gan they gange;
By fyfty pass, our kynge sayd,
The merkës were to longe.
On euery syde a rose-garlonde,
They shot vnder the lyne:
`Who so fayleth of the rose-garlonde,' sayd Robyn,
His takyll he shall tyne,
`And yelde it to his mayster,
Be it neuer so fyne;
For no man wyll I spare,
So drynke I ale or wyne:
`And here a buffet on his hede,
I-wys ryght all bare:'
And all that fell in Robyns lote,
He smote them wonder sare.
Twyse Robyn shot aboute,
And euer he cleued the wande,
And so dyde good Gylberte
With the Whytë hande.
Lytell Johan and good Scathelocke,
For nothynge wolde they spare;
When they fayled of the garlonde,
Robyn smote them full sore.
At the last shot that Robyn shot,
For all his frendës fare,
Yet he fayled of the garlonde
Thre fyngers and mare.
Than bespake good Gylberte,
And thus he gan say;
`Mayster,' he sayd, `your takyll is lost,
Stande forth and take your pay.'
`If it be so,' sayd Robyn,
`That may no better be,
Syr abbot, I delyuer the myn arowe,
I pray the, syr, serue thou me.'
`It falleth not for myn ordre,' sayd our kynge,
`Robyn, by thy leue,
For to smyte no good yeman,
For doute I sholde hym greue.'
`Smyte on boldely,' sayd Robyn,
`I giue the largë leue:'
Anone our kynge, with that worde,
He folde vp his sleue,
And sych a buffet he gaue Robyn,
To grounde he yede full nere:
`I make myn avowe to God,' sayd Robyn,
`Thou arte a stalworthe frere.
`There is pith in thyn arme,' sayd Robyn,
`I trowe thou canst well shete:'
Thus our kynge and Robyn Hode
Togeder gan they mete.
Robyn behelde our comly kynge
Wystly in the face,
So dyde Syr Rycharde at the Le,
And kneled downe in that place.
And so dyde all the wylde outlawes,
Whan they se them knele:
`My lorde the kynge of Englonde,
Now I knowe you well.'
`Mercy then, Robyn,' sayd our kynge,
`Vnder your trystyll-tre,
Of thy goodnesse and thy grace,
For my men and me!'
`Yes, for God,' sayd Robyn,
`And also God me saue,
I askë, mercy, my lorde the kynge,
And for my men I craue.'
`Yes, for God,' than sayd our kynge,
`And therto sent I me,
With that thou leue the grenë wode,
And all thy company;
`And come home, syr, to my courte,
And there dwell with me.'
`I make myn avowe to God,' sayd Robyn,
`And ryght so shall it be.
`I wyll come to your courte,
Your seruyse for to se,
And brynge with me of my men
Seuen score and thre.
`But me lykë well your seruyse,
I [wyll] come agayne full soone,
And shote at the donnë dere,
As I am wonte to done.'
THE VIII. FYTTE.
Haste thou ony grenë cloth,' sayd our kynge,
`That thou wylte sell nowe to me?'
`Ye, for God,' sayd Robyn,
`Thyrty yerdës and thre.'
`Robyn,' sayd our kynge,
`Now pray I the,
Sell me some of that cloth,
To me and my meynë.'
`Yes, for God,' then sayd Robyn,
`Or elles I were a fole;
Another day ye wyll me clothe,
I trowe, ayenst the Yole.'
The kynge kest of his colë then,
A grene garment he dyde on,
And euery knyght also, i-wys,
Another had full sone.
Whan they were clothed in Lyncolne grene,
They keste away theyr graye;
`Now we shall to Notyngham,'
All thus our kynge gan say.
They bente theyr bowes, and forth they went,
Shotynge all in-fere,
Towarde the towne of Notyngham,
Outlawes as they were.
Our kynge and Robyn rode togyder,
For soth as I you say,
And they shote plucke-buffet
As they went by the way.
And many a buffet our kynge wan
Of Robyn Hode that day,
And nothynge spared good Robyn
Our kynge in his pay.
`So God me helpë,' sayd our kynge,
`Thy game is nought to lere;
I sholde not get a shote of the,
Though I shote all this yere.'
All the people of Notyngham
They stode and behelde;
They sawe nothynge but mantels of grene
That couered all the felde.
Than euery man to other gan say,
`I drede our kynge be slone;
Comë Robyn Hode to the towne, i-wys
On lyue he lefte neuer one.
Full hast[ë]ly they began to fle,
Both yemen and knaues,
And olde wyues that myght euyll goo,
They hypped on theyr staues.
The kynge l[o]ughe full fast,
And commaunded theym agayne;
When they se our comly kynge,
I-wys they were full fayne.
They ete and dranke, and made them glad,
And sange with notës hye;
Than bespake our comly kynge
To Syr Rycharde at the Lee.
He gaue hym there his londe agayne,
A good man he bad hym be;
Robyn thanked our comly kynge,
And set hym on his kne.
Had Robyn dwelled in the kyngës courte
But twelue monethes and thre,
That [he had] spent an hondred pounde,
And all his mennes fe.
In euery place where Robyn came
Euer more he layde downe,
Both for knyghtës and for squyres,
To gete hym grete renowne.
By than the yere was all agone
He had no man but twayne,
Lytell Johan and good Scathelocke,
With hym all for to gone.
Robyn sawe yonge men shote
Full fayre vpon a day;
`Alas!' than sayd good Robyn,
`My welthe is went away.
`Somtyme I was an archers good,
A styffe and eke a stronge;
I was compted the best archere
That was in mery Englonde.
`Alas!' then sayd good Robyn,
`Alas and well a woo!
Yf I dwele lenger with the kynge,
Sorowe wyll me sloo.'
Forth than went Robyn Hode
Tyll he came to our kynge;
`My lorde the kyng of Englonde,
Graunt me myn askynge.
`I made a chapell in Bernysdale,
That semly is to se,
It is of Mary Magdeleyne,
And thereto wolde I be.
`I might neuer in this seuen nyght
No tyme to slepe ne wynke,
Nother all these seuen dayes,
Nother ete ne drynke.
`Me longeth sore to Bernysdale,
I may nat be therfro;
Barefote and wolwarde I haue hyght
Thyder for to go.'
`Yf it be so,' than sayd our kynge,
`It may no better be,
Seuen nyght I gyue the leue,
No lengre, to dwell fro me.'
`Gramercy, lorde,' then sayd Robyn,
And set hym on his kne;
He toke his leuë full courteysly,
To grenë wode then went he.
Whan he came to grenë wode,
In a mery mornynge,
There he herde the notës small
Of byrdës mery syngynge.
`It is ferre gone,' sayd Robyn,
`That I was last here;
Me lyste a lytell for to shote
At the donnë dere.'
Robyn slewe a full grete harte
His horne than gan he blow,
That all the outlawes of that forest
That horne coud they knowe,
And gadred them togyder,
In a lytell throwe.
Seuen score of wyght yonge men
Came redy on a rowe,
And fayre dyde of theyr hodes,
And set them on theyr kne:
`Welcome,' they sayd, 'our [derë] mayster,
Under this grenë-wode tre.'
Robyn dwelled in grenë wode
Twenty yere and two;
For all drede of Edwarde our kynge,
Agayne wolde he not goo.
Yet he was begyled, i-wys,
Through a wycked woman,
The pryoresse of Kyrkësly,
That nye was of hys kynne
For the loue of a knyght,
Syr Roger of Donkesly,
That was her ownë speciall;
Full euyll motë they the!
They toke togyder theyr counsell
Robyn Hode for to sle,
And how they myght best do that dede,
His banis for to be.
Than bespake good Robyn,
In place where as he stode,
`To morow I muste to Kyrke[s]Iy,
Craftely to be leten blode.'
Syr Roger of Donkestere,
By the pryoresse he lay,
And there they betrayed good Robyn Hode,
Through theyr falsë playe.
Cryst haue mercy on his soule,
That dyed on the rode!
For he was a good outlawe,
And dyde pore men moch god.
From The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, ed.
Francis James Child, Vol. III, Boston, 1890 (Some corrections
to punctuation have been made).
The death of Robin Hood is treated very briefly in the last
two stanzas, as if the author assumed his audience would know
the traditional account of Robin's betrayl and death. They probably
did, in a form quite similar to that in a much later ballad,
with Red Roger in the role of Roger of Donkesly; see
Robin Hood's Death.
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