Gold THE GEOFFREY CHAUCER PAGE


The Geste of Robin Hood ("ballad romance," 15th Cent.)


 
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Lithe and listen, gentleman,
That be of freeborn blood;
I shall you tell of a good yeoman,
His name was Robin Hood.

Robin was a proud outlaw,
Whiles he walked on ground;
So courteous an outlaw as he was one
Was never none found.

Robin stood in Barnesdale,
And leaned him to a tree;
And by him stood Little John,
A good yeoman was he.

And also did good Scarlok,
And Much, the miller's son;
There was none inch of his body
But it was worth a groom.

Than bespoke Little John
All unto Robin Hood:
`Master, and ye would dine betimes
It would do you much good.'

Than bespoke him good Robin:
`To dine have I no lust,
Till that I have some bold baron,
Or some uncouth guest.

. . . . . . . . .
That may pay for the best,
Or some knight or some squire,
That dwelleth here by west.'

A good manner then had Robin;
In land where that he were,
Every day ere he would dine
Three masses would he hear.

The one in the worship of the Father,
And another of the Holy Ghost,
The third of Our dear Lady,
That he loved allther most.

Robin loved Our dear Lady;
For doubt of deadly sin,
Would he never do company harm
That any woman was in.

`Master,' then said Little John,
"And we our board shall spread,
Tell us whither that we shall go,
And what life that we shall lead.

`Where we shall take, where we shall leave,
Where we shall abide behind;
Where we shall rob, where we shall reeve,
Where we shall beat and bind.'

`Thereof no force,' then said Robin;
`We shall do well y-now;
But look ye do no husband harm,
That tilleth with his plow.

`No more ye shall no good yeoman
That walketh by green shaw;
Nor no knight nor no squire
That will be a good fellow.

`These bishops and these archbishops,
Ye shall them beat and bind;
The high sheriff of Nottingham,
Him hold ye in your mind.'

`This word shall be hold,' said Little John,
`And this lesson we shall lere;
It is far day; God send us a guest,
That we were at our dinner!'

`Take thy good bow in thy hand,' said Robin;
`Late Much wend with thee;
And so shall William Scarlok,
And no man abide with me.'

`And walk up to the Sayles,
And so to Watling Street,
And wait after some uncouth guest
Up chance ye may them meet.

`Be he earl, or any baron,
Abbot, or any knight,
Bring him to lodge to me;
His dinner shall be dight.'

They went up to the Saylis
These yeoman all three;
They looked east, they looked west;
They might no man see.

But as they looked in to Barnesdale,
By a derne street,
Than came a knight riding;
Full soon they did him meet.

All dreary was his semblance,
And little was his pride;
His one foot in the stirrup stood,
That other waved beside.

His hood hanged in his eyen two;
He rode in simple array;
A sorrier man than he was one
Rode never in summer day.

Little John was full courteous,
And set him on his knee:
Welcome be ye, gentle knight,
Welcome are ye to me.

`Welcome be thou to green wood,
Hende knight and free;
My master hath abiden you fasting,
Sir, al these hours three.'

`Who is thy master? ' said the knight
John said, `Robin Hood;'
`He is a good yeoman,' said the knight,
Of him I have heard much good.

`I grant,' he said, `with you to wend,
`My brethren, all in fere;
My purpose was to have dined to day
At Blith or Dancastere.'

Forth then went this gentle knight,
With a careful cheer;
The tears out of his eyen ran,
And fell down by his lere.

They brought him to the lodge-door;
When Robin him did see,
Full courteously did off his hood
And set him on his knee.

`Welcome, sir knight,' then said Robin,
`Welcome art thou to me;
I have abiden you fasting, sir,
All these hours three.'

Than answered the gentle knight,
With words fair and free;
`God thee save, good Robin,
And all thy fair meinie.'

They washed together and wiped both,
And set to their dinner;
Bread and wine they had right enough,
And noumbles of the deer.

Swans and pheasants they had full good,
And fowls of the river;
There failed none so little a bird
That ever was bred on briar.

`Do gladly, sir knight,' said Robin;
`Gramarcy, sir,' said he;
`Such a dinner had I not
Of all these weeks three.

`If I come again, Robin,
Here by this country,
As good a dinner I shall thee make
As that thou hast made to me.'

`Gramarcy, knight,' said Robin;
`My dinner when that I it have,
I was never so greedy, by dear worthy God,
My dinner for to crave.

`But pay ere ye wend,' said Robin;
`Me thinketh it is good right;
It was never the manner, by dear worthy God,
A yeoman to pay for a knight.'

`I have nought in my coffers,' said the knight,
`That I may proffer for shame:'
`Little John, go look,' said Robin,
`Ne let not for no blame.

`Tel me truth,' then said Robin,
`So God have part of thee.'
`I have no more but ten shillings,' said the knight,
So God have part of me.'

`If thou hast no more,' said Robin,
`I will not one penny;
And if thou have need of any more,
More shall I lend thee.

`Go now forth, Little John,
The truth tell thou me;
If there be no more but ten shillings,
No penny that I see.'

Little John spread down his mantel
Full fair upon the ground,
And there he found in the knight's coffer
But even half a pound.

Little John let it lie full still,
And went to his master full low
`What tidings, John?' said Robin;
`Sir, the knight is true inow.'

`Fill of the best wine,' said Robin,
`The knight shall begin
Much wonder thinketh me
Thy clothing is so thin.

`Tell me one word,' said Robin,
And counsel shall it be;
I trowe thou wert made a knight of force,
Or else of yeomanry.

`Or else thou hast been a sorry husband
And lived in stroke and strife;
An okerer, or else a lecher,' said Robin,
With wrong hast led thy life.'

`I am none of those,' said the knight,
By God that made me;
An hundred winter here before
Mine ancestors knights have be.

`But oft it hath befall, Robin,
A man hath be disgraced;
But God that sitteth in heaven above
May amend his state.

`Within this two years, Robin,' he said,
`My neighbors well it know,
Four hundred pound of good money
Full well then might I spend.

`Now have I no good,' said the knight,
`God hath shaped such an end,
But my children and my wife,
Till God it may amend.'

`In what manner,' then said Robin,
`Hast thou lorn thy riches?'
`For My great folly,' he said,
`And for my kindness.

`I had a son, forsooth, Robin,
That should have been mine heir,
When he was twenty winter old,
In field would joust fall fair.

`He slew a knight of Lancaster,
And a squire bold;
For to save him in his right
My goods beth set and sold.

`My lands beth set to wed, Robin,
Until a certain day,
To a rich abbot here beside
Of Saint Mary Abbey.'

`What is the sum?' said Robin;
`Truth then tell thou me;'
`Sir,' he said, 'four hundred pound;
The abbot told it to me.'

`Now and thou lose thy land,' said Robin,
`What will fall of the?'
`Hastily I will me busk,' said the knight,
Over the salty see,

`And see where Christ was quick and dead,
On the mount of Calvary,
Fare well, friend, and have good day;
It may no better be.'

Tears fell out of his eyen two
He would have gone his way:
`Farewell, friend, and have good day;
I ne have no more to pay.'

`Where be thy friends?' said, Robin:
`Sir, never one will me know;
While I was rich enough at home
Great boast then would they blow.

`And now they run away from me,
As beasts on a row;
They take no more heed of me
Than they had me never saw.'

For ruth then wept Little John,
Scarlok and Much in fere;
`Fill of the best wine,' said Robin,
`For here is a simple cheer.

`Hast thou any friend,' said Robin
`Thy borrow that would be?'
`I have none,' then said the knight,
But God that died on tree.'

`Do away thy japes,' then said Robin.
`Thereof will I right none;
Wenest thou I would have God to borrow, suppose; guarantor
Peter, Paul, or John?'

`Nay, by him that me made,
And shaped both sun and moon,'
`Find me a better borrow ' said Robin,
`Or money getest thou none.'

`I have none other,' said the knight,
`The sooth for to say,
But if it be Our dear Lady;
She failed me never ere this day.'

`By dear worthy God,' said Robin,
`To seek all England through,
Yet found I never to my pay
A much better borrow.

`Come now forth, Little John,
And go to my treasury,
And bring me four hundred pound,
And look well told it be.'

Forth then went Little John,
And Scarlok went before;
He told out four hundred pound
By eight and twenty score.

`Is this well told?' said Little Much;
John said, 'What grieveth thee?
It is alms to help a gentle knight,
That is fall in poverty.

`Master,' then said Little John,
`His clothing is full thin;
Ye must give the knight a livery,
To lap his body therein.

`For ye have scarlet and green, master,
And many a rich array;
There is no merchant in merry England
So rich, I dare well say.'

`Take him three yards of every color,
And look well met that it be;'
Little John took none other measure
But his bow-tree.

And at every handful that he met
He leaped foots three;
`What devil's draper,' said little Much,
`Thinkest thou for to be? '

Scarlok stood full still and laugh,
And said, `By God Almighty,
John may give him good measure,
For it costeth him but light.'

`Master,' then said Little John
To gentle Robin Hood,
`Ye must give the knight a horse,
To lead home this good.'

`Take him a gray courser,' said Robin,
`And a saddle new;
He is Our Lady's messenger;
God grant that he be true.'

`And a good palfrey,' said little Much,
`To maintain him in his right;'
`And a pair of boots,' said Scarlock,
`For he is a gentle knight.'

`What shalt thou give him, Little John?' said Robin;
`Sir, a pair of gilt spurs clean,
To pray for all this company;
God bring him out of teen.'

`When shall my day be,' said the knight,
`Sir, and your will be?'
`This day twelve month,' said Robin,
`Under this green tree.

`It were great shame,' said Robin,
`A knight alone to ride,
Without squire, yeoman, or page,
To walk by his side.

`I shall thee lend Little John, my man,
For he shall be thy knave;
In a yeoman's stead he may thee stand,
If thou great need have.'


THE SECOND FITTE


Now is the knight gone on his way;
This game him thought full good;
When he looked on Barnesdale
He blessed Robin Hood.

And when he thought on Barnesdale,
On Scarlok, Much, and John,
He blessed them for the best company
That ever he in come.

Then spoke that gentle knight.
To Little John did he say,
`To-morrow I must to York town,
To Saint Mary abbey.

`And to the abbot of that place
Four hundred pound I must pay;
And but I be there upon this night
My land is lost for ay.'

The abbot said to his convent,
There he stood on ground,
`This day twelve month came there a knight
And borrowed four hundred pound.

`He borrowed four hundred pound,
Upon all his land free;
But he come this ilke day
Disinherit shall he be.'

`It is full early,' said the prior,
`The day is not yet far gone;
I had lever to pay an hundred pound,
And lay down anon.

`The knight is far beyond the sea,
In England is his right,
And suffreth hunger and cold,
And many a sorry night.

`It were great pity,' said the prior,
`So to have his land;
And ye be so light of your conscience,
Ye do to him much wrong.'

`Thou art ever in my beard,' said the abbot,
`By God and Saint Richard;'
With that came in a fat-headed monk,
The high cellarer.

`He is dead or hanged,' said the monk,
`By God that bought me dear,
And we shall have to spend in this place
Four hundred pound by year.'

The abbot and the high cellarer
Start forth full bold;
The high justice of England
The abbot there did hold.

The high justice and many more
Had take in to their hand
Wholly all the knight's debt,
To put that knight to wrong.

They deemed the knight wonder sore,
The abbot and his meinie:
`But he come this ilke day
Disinherit shall he be.'

`He will not come yet,' said the justice,
`I dare well undertake;'
But in sorrow time for them all
The knight came to the gate.

Than bespoke that gentle knight
Until his meinie:
Now put on your simple weeds
That ye brought from the sea.

They put on their simple weeds,
They came to the gates anon;
The porter was ready himself,
And welcomed them everyone.

`Welcome, sir knight,' said the porter;
`My lord to meat is he,
And so is many a gentle man,
For the love of thee.'

The porter swore a full great oath,
`By God that made me,
Here be the best coursed horse
That ever yet saw I me.

`Lead them in to the stable,' he said,
`That eased might they be;'
`They shall not come therein,' said the knight,
By God that died on a tree.'

Lords were to meat y-set
In that abbot's hall;
The knight went forth and kneeled
And saluted them great and small.

`Do gladly, sir abbot,' said the knight,
`I am come to hold my day:'
The first word the abbot spoke,
`Hast thou brought my pay?'

`Not one penny,' said the knight,
`By God that maked me;'
`Thou art a shrewd debtor,' said the abbot;
`Sir justice, drink to me.

`What dost thou here,' said the abbot,
`But thou haddest brought thy pay?'
`For God,' then said the knight,
`To pray of a longer day.'

`Thy day is broke,' said the justice,
`Land getest thou none:'
`Now, good sir justice, be my friend
And fend me of my foes!'

`I am hold with the abbot,' said the justice.
`Both with cloth and fee:'
`Now, good sir sheriff, be my friend,
`Nay, for God,' said he.

`Now, good sir abbot, be my friend,
For thy courtesy,
And hold my lands in thy hand
Till I have made the gree!

`And I will be thy true servant,
And truly serve thee,
Till ye have four hundred pound
Of money good and free.'

The abbot swore a full great oath,
`By God that died on a tree,
Get the land where thou may,
For thou getest none of me.'

`By dear worthy God,' then said the knight,
`That all this world wrought,
But I have my land again,
Full dear it shall be bought.

`God, that was of a maiden borne,
Leave us well to speed!
For it is good to assay a friend
Ere that a man have need.'

The abbot loathly on him did look,
And vilainously him did call;
`Out,' he said, 'thou false knight,
Speed thee out of my hall!'

`Thou lyest,' then said the gentle knight,
`Abbot, in thy hall;
False knight was I never,
By God that made us all.'

Up then stood that gentle knight,
To the abbot said he,
`To suffer a knight to kneel so long,
Thou canst no courtesy.

`In jousts and in tournament
Full far then have I be,
And put my self as far in press
As any that ever I see.'

`What will ye give more,' said the justice,
`And the knight shall make a release?
And else dare I safely swear
Ye hold never your land in peace.'

`An hundred pound,' said the abbot;
The justice said, `Give him two;'
`Nay, be God,' said the knight,
`Yet get ye it not so.

`Though ye would give a thousand more,
Yet were ye never the nearer;
Shall there never be mine heir
Abbot, justice, ne friar.'

He start him to a board anon,
Till a table round,
And there he shook out of a bag
Even four hundred pound.

`Have here thy gold, sir abbot,' said the knight,
`Which that thou lentest me;
Had thou been courteous at my coming,
Rewarded shouldest thou have be.'

The abbot sat still, and ate no more,
For all his royal fare;
He cast his heed on his shoulder,
And fast began to stare.

`Take me my gold again,' said the abbot,
`Sir justice, that I took thee:'
`Not a penny,' said the justice,
`By God, that died on tree.'

`Sir abbot, and ye men of law,
Now have I hold my day;
Now shall I have my land again,
For ought that you can say.'

The knight start out of the door,
Away was all his care,
And on he put his good clothing,
The other he left there.

He went him forth full merry singing,
As men have told in tale;
His lady met him at the gate,
At home in Barnesdale.

`Welcome, my lord,' said his lady;
`Sir, lost is all your good?'
`Be merry, dame,' said the knight,
`And pray for Robin Hood,

`That ever his soul; be in bliss
He helped me out of teen;
Ne had be his kindliness,
Beggars had we been.

`The abbot and I accorded been,
He is served of his pay;
The good yeoman lent it me,
As I came by the way.'

This knight then dwelled fair at home,
The sooth for to say,
Till he had got four hundred pound,
Al ready for to pay.

He purveyed him an hundred bows,
The strings well ydight,
An hundred sheaf of arrows good,
The heads burnished full bright;

And every arrow an ell long,
With peacock well ydight,
Y-nocked all with white silver;
It was a seemly sight.

He purveyed him an hundred men,
Well harnessed in that stead,
And himself in that same suit,
And clothed in white and red.

He bare a launcegay in his hand,
And a man led his male,
And rode with a light song
Unto Barnesdale.

But he went at a bridge there was a wrestling,
And there tarried was he,
And there was all the best yeomen
Of all the west country.

A full fair game there was up set,
A white bull up y-pight,
A great courser, with saddle and bridle,
With gold burnished full bright.

A pair of gloves, a red gold ring,
A pipe of wine, in fay;
What man that bereth him best y-wis
The prize shall bear away.

There was a yeoman in that place,
And best worthy was he,
And for he was far and frembde bested,
Slain he should have be.

The knight had ruth of this yeoman,
In place where he stood;
He said that yeoman should have no harm,
For love of Robin Hood.

The knight pressed in to the place,
An hundred followed him free,
With bows bent and arrows sharp,
For to shend that company.

They shouldered all and made him room,
To wit what he would say;
He took the yeoman by the hand,
And gave him all the play.

He gave him five mark for his wine,
There it lay on the molde,
And bade it should be set a-broach,
Drink who so would.

Thus long tarried this gentle knight,
Till that play was done;
So long abode Robin fasting,
Three hours after the noon.


THE THIRD FITTE


Lith and listen, gentleman,
All that now be here;
Of Little John, that was the knight's man,
Good mirth ye shall here.

It was upon a merry day
That young men would go shoot;
Little John fetched his bow anon,
And said he would them meet.

Three times Little John shot about,
And always he slit the wand;
The proud sheriff of Nottingham
By the mark did stand.

The sheriff swore a full great oath:
`By him that died on a tree,
This man is the best archer
That ever yet saw I me.

`Say me now, wight young man,
What is now thy name?
In what country were thou born,
And where is thy wonning wane?'

In Holdernes, sir, I was born,
Y-wis all of my dame;
Men call me Reynolde Green
When I am at home.'

`Say me, ReynoIde Greenleaf,
Would thou dwell with me?
And every year I will thee give
Twenty mark to thy fee.'

`I have a master,' said Little John,
`A courteous knight is he;
May ye leave get of him,
The better may it be.'

The sheriff got Little John
Twelve months of the knight;
Therefore he gave him right anon
A good horse and a wight.

Now is Little John the sheriff's man,
God lend us well to speed!
But always thought Little John
To quit him well his mede.

`Now so God me help,' said Little John,
And by my true loyalty,
I shall be the worst servant to him
That ever yet had he.'

It fell upon a Wednesday
The sheriff on hunting was gone,
And Little John lay in his bed,
And was forgot at home.

Therefore he was fasting
Till it was past the noon;
`Good sir steward, I pray to thee,
Give me my dinner,' said Little John.

`It is long for Greenleaf
Fasting thus for to be;
Therefor I pray thee, sir steward,
My dinner give me.'

`Shalt thou never eat ne drink,' said the steward,
`Till my lord be come to town:'
`I make mine avow to God,' said Little John,
`I had lever to crack thy crown.'

The butler was full uncourageous,
There he stood on floor
He start to the buttery
And shut fast the door.

Little John gave the butler such a tap
His back went nearer in two;
Though he lived an hundred year,
The worse should he go.

He spurned the door with his foot;
It went open well and fine;
And there he made large livery,
Both of ale and of wine.

`Sith ye will not dine,' said Little John,
`I shall give you to drink;
And though ye live an hundred winter,
On Little John ye shall think.'

Little John ate, and Little John drank,
The while that he would;
The sheriff had in his kitchen a cook,
A stout man and a bold.

`I make mine avow to God,' said the cook,
Thou art a shrewd hind
In any house for to dwell,
For to ask thus to dine.'

And there he lent Little John
Good strokes three;
`I make mine avow to God,' said Little John,
`These strokes liked well me.

`Thou art a bold man and hardy,
And so thinketh me;
And ere I pass from this place
Assayed better shalt thou be.'

Little John drew a full good sword,
The cook took another in hand;
They thought no thing for to flee,
But stiffly for to stand.

There they fought sore together
Two mile way and well more;
Might neither other harm do,
The mountance of an hour.

`I make mine avow to God,' said Little John,
And by my true loyalty,
Thou art one of the best sword-men
That ever yet saw I me.

`Couldest thou shoot as well in a bow,
To green wood thou shouldest with me,
And two times in the year thy clothing
Changed should be;

`And every year of Robin Hood
Twenty mark to thy fee:'
`Put up thy sword,' said the cook,
And fellows will we be.'

Than he fetched to Little John
The noumbles of a doe,
Good bread, and full good wine;
They ate and drank thereto.

And when they had drunken well,
Their troth together they plight
That they would be with Robin
That ilke same night.

They did them to the treasure-house,
As fast as they might gone;
The locks, that were of full good steel,
They broke them everyone.

They took away the silver vessel,
And all that they might get;
Pecis, masers, ne spoons,
Would they not forget.

Also they took the good pence,
Three hundred pound and more,
And did them straight to Robin Hood,
Under the green wood here.

`God thee save, my dear master,
And Christ thee save and see!'
And then said Robin to Little John,
`Welcome might thou be.

`Also be that fair yeoman
Thou bringest there with thee;
What tidings from Nottingham?
Little John, tell thou me.'

`Well thee greeteth the proud sheriff,
And sendeth thee here by me
His cook and his silver vessel,
And three hundred pound and three.'

`I make mine avow to God,' said Robin,
`And to the Trinity,
It was never by his good will
This good is come to me.'

Little John there him bethought
On a shrewd wile;
Five mile in the forest he ran,
Him happed all his will.

Than he met the proud sheriff,
Hunting with hounds and horn;
Little John could of courtesy,
And kneeled him before.

`God thee save, my dear master,
And Christ thee save and see!'
`Reynolde Greenleaf,' said the sheriff,
Where hast thou now be?'

`I have be in this forest;
A fair sight did I see;
It was one of the fairest sights
That ever yet saw I me.

`Yonder I saw a right fair hart,
His color is of green;
Seven score of deer upon a herd
Be with him all bydene.

`Their tines are so sharp, master,
Of sixty, and well more,
That I durst not shoot for dread,
Lest they would me slay.'

`I make mine avow to God,' said the sheriff,
`That sight would I fain see:'
`Busk you thitherward, my dear master,
Anon, and wend with me.'

The sheriff rode, and Little John
Of foot he was full smart,
And when they came before Robin,
`Lo, sir, here is the master-hart.'

Still stood the proud sheriff,
A sorry man was he;
`Woe thee worth, Reynolde Greenleaf,
Thou hast betrayed now me.'

`I make mine avow to God,' said Little John,
`Master, ye be to blame;
I was mis-served of my dinner
When I was with you at home.'

Soon he was to supper set,
And served well with silver white,
And when the sheriff saw his vessel,
For sorrow he might not eat.

`Make glad cheer,' said Robin Hood,
`Sheriff, for charity,
And for the love of Little John
Thy life I grant to thee.'

When they had supped well,
The day was all gone;
Robin commanded Little John
To draw off his hose and his shone;

His kirtell, and his coat of pie,
That was furred well and fine,
And took him a green mantel,
To lap his body therein.

Robin commanded his wight young men,
Under the green tree,
They should lie in that same suit,
That the sheriff might them see.

All night lay the proud sheriff
In his breech and in his shirt;
No wonder it was, in green wood,
Though his sides gan to smart.

`Make glad cheer,' said Robin Hood,
`Sheriff, for charity;
For this is our order y-wis,
Under the greenwood tree.'

`This is harder order,' said the sheriff,
`Than any anchorite or friar;
For all the gold in merry England
I would not long dwell here.'

`All this twelve months,' said Robin,
`Thou shalt dwell with me;
I shall thee teach, proud sheriff,
An outlaw for to be.'

`Ere I be here another night,' said the sheriff,
`Robin, now pray I thee,
Smite off mine head rather to-morrow,
And I forgive it thee.

`Let me go,' then said the sheriff,
`For saint Charity,
And I will be the best friend
That ever yet had ye.'

`Thou shalt swear me an oath,' said Robin,
`On my bright brand;
Shalt thou never await me scathe,
By water ne by land.

`And if thou find any of my men,
By night or by day,
Upon thine oath thou shalt swear
To help them that thou may.'

Now hath the sheriff sworn his oath,
And home he began to go;
He was as full of green wood
As ever was heap of stone.


THE FOURTH FITTE


The sheriff dwelled in Nottingham;
He was fain he was agone;
And Robin and his merry men
Went to wood anon.

`Go we to dinner,' said Little John;
Robin Hood said, `Nay;
For I dread Our Lady be wroth with me,
For she sent me not my pay.'

`Have no doubt, master,' said Little John;
`Yet is not the sun at rest;
For I dare say, and safely swear,
The knight is true and trusty.'

`Take thy bow in thy hand,' said Robin,
`Let Much wend with thee,
And so shall William Scarlok,
And no man abide with me.

`And walk up under the Sayles,
And to Watling-Street,
And wait after some uncouth guest;
Up chance ye may them meet.

`Whether he be messenger,
Or a man that mirthes can,
Of my good he shall have some,
If he be a poor man.'

Forth then start Little John,
Half in tray and teen,
And gird him with a full good sword,
Under a mantel of green.

They went up to the Sayles,
These yeomen all three;
They looked east, they looked west,
They might no man see.

But as they looked in Barnesdale,
By the high way,
Than were they ware of two black monks,
Each on a good palfrey.

Then bespoke Little John,
To Much he did say,
`I dare lay my life to wed,
That these monks have brought our pay.

`Make glad cheer,' said Little John,
`And frese your bows of ewe,
And look your hearts be siker and sad,
Your strings trusty and true.

`The monk hath two and fifty men,
And seven somers full strong;
There rideth no bishop in this land
So royally, I understand.

`Brethren,' said Little John,
`Here ask no more but we three;
But we bring them to dinner,
Our master dare we not see.

`Bend your bows,' said Little John,
`Make all yon press to stand;
The foremost monk, his life and his death
Is closed in my hand.

`Abide, churl monk,' said Little John,
`No farther that thou go;
If thou dost, by dear worthy God,
Thy death is in my hand.

`And evil thrift on thy heed,' said Little John,
`Right under thy hat's band;
For thou hast made our master wroth,
He is fasting so long.'

`Who is your master?' said the monk;
Little John said, `Robin Hood;'
`He is a strong thief,' said the monk,
Of him heard I never good.'

`Thou lyest,' then said Little John,
`And that shall rue thee;
He is a yeoman of the forest,
To dine he hath bode thee.'

Much was ready with a bolt,
Readily and anon,
He set the monk to-fore the breast,
To the ground that he did go.

Of two and fifty wight young yeomen
There abode not one,
Save a little page and a groom,
To lead the somers with Little John.

They brought the monk to the lodge-door,
Whether he were loath or lief,
For to speak with Robin Hood,
Maugre in their teeth.

Robin did adown his hood,
The monk when that he see;
The monk was not so courteous,
His hood then let he be.

`He is a churl, master, by dear worthy God,'
Than said Little John:
`Thereof no force,' said Robin,
`For courtesy can he none.

`How many men,' said Robin,
`Had this monk, John?'
Fifty and two when that we met,
But many of them be gone.'

`Let blow a horn,' said Robin,
`That fellowship may us know;'
Seven score of wight yeomen
Came pricking on a row.

And everyone of them a good mantle
Of scarlet and of ray;
All they came to good Robin,
To wit what he would say.

They made the monk to wash and wipe,
And sit at his dinner,
Robin Hood and Little John
They served him both in-fere.

`Do gladly, monk,' said Robin.
`Gramercy, sir,' said he.
`Where is your abbey, when ye are at home,
And who is your avow?'

`Saint Mary abbey,' said the monk,
`Though I be simple here.'
`In what office? ' said Robin:
`Sir, the high cellarer.'

`Ye be the more welcome,' said Robin,
`So ever mote I thee;
Fill of the best wine,' said Robin,
`This monk shall drink to me.

`But I have great marvel,' said Robin,
`Of all this long day;
I dread Our Lady be wroth with me,
She sent me not my pay.'

`Have no doubt, master,' said Little John,
`Ye have no need, I say;
This monk it hath brought, I dare well swear,
For he is of her abbey.'

`And she was a borrow,' said Robin,
`Between a knight and me,
Of a little money that I him lent,
Under the green tree.

`And if thou hast that silver y-brought,
I pray thee let me see;
And I shall help thee eftsoons,
If thou have need to me.'

The monk swore a full great oath,
With a sorry cheer,
Of the borrow-hood thou speakest to me,
Heard I never ere.'

`I make mine avow to God,' said Robin,
`Monk, thou art to blame;
For God is hold a righteous man,
And so is his dame.

`Thou toldest with thine own tongue,
Thou may not say nay,
How thou art her servant,
And servest her every day.

`And thou art made her messenger,
My money for to pay;
Therefore I can the more thank
Thou art come at thy day.

`What is in your coffers?' said Robin,
`True then tell thou me:'
`Sir,' he said, `twenty marks,
Al so mote I thee.'

`If there be no more,' said Robin,
`I will not one penny;
If thou hast myster of any more,
Sir, more I shall lend to thee.

'And if I find more,' said Robin,
`Y-wis thou shalt it forgo;
For of thy spending-silver, monk,
Thereof will I right none.

`Go now forth, Little John,
`And the truth tell thou me;
If there be no more but twenty mark,
No penny that I see.'

Little John spread his mantle down,
As he had done before,
And he told out of the monk's male
Eight hundred pound and more.

Little John let it lie full still,
And went to his master in haste;
'Sir,' he said, 'the monk is true enough;
Our Lady hath doubled your cast.'

`I make mine avow to God,' said Robin --
`Monk, what told I thee? - -
Our Lady is the truest woman
That ever yet found I me.

`By dear worthy God,' said Robin,
`To seek all England through,
Yet found I never to my pay
A much better borrow.

'Fill of the best wine, and do him drink,' said Robin,
`And greet well thy lady hende,
And if she have need to Robin Hood,
A friend she shall him find.

`And if she needeth any more silver,
Come thou again to me,
And, by this token she hath me sent,
She shall have such three.'

The monk was going to London ward,
There to hold great mote,
The knight that rode so high on horse,
To bring him under foot.

`Whether be ye away?' said Robin:
`Sir, to manors in this land,
To reckon with our reeves,
That have done much wrong.'

`Come now forth, Little John,
And hearken to my tale;
A better yeomen I know none,
To seek a monk's male.'

`How much is in yonder other courser?' said Robin,
`The sooth must we see:
By Our Lady,' then said the monk,
`That were no courtesy,

`To bid a man to dinner,
And sith him beat and bind.'
`It is our old; manner,' said Robin,
To leave but little behind.'

The monk took the hors with spur,
No longer would he abide:
`Ask to drink,' then said Robin,
`Ere that ye further ride.'

`Nay, for God,' then said the monk,
`Me rueth I came so near;
For better cheap I might have dined
In Blythe or in Dankestere.'

`Greet well your abbot,' said Robin,
`And your priory I you pray,
And bid him send me such a monk
To dinner every day.'

Now let we that monk be still,
And speak we of that knight:
Yet he came to hold his day,
While that it was light.

He did him straight to Barnesdale,
Under the green tree,
And he found there Robin Hood,
And all his merry meinie.

The knight light down of his good palfrey;
Robin when he did see,
So courteously he did adown his hood,
And set him on his knee.

`God thee save, Robin Hood,
And all this company:'
`Welcome be thou, gentle knight,
And right welcome to me.'

Than bespoke him Robin Hood,
To that knight so free:
`What need driveth thee to green wood?
I pray thee, sir knight, tell me.

`And welcome be thou, gentle knight,
Why hast thou be so long?'
`For the abbot and the high justice
Would have had my land.'

`Hast thou thy land again?' said Robin;
`Truth then tell thou me:'
`Yee, for God,' said the knight,
`And that thank I God and thee.

`But take not a grief,' said the knight, `that I have be so long ;
I came by a wrestling,
And there I helped a poor yeoman,
With wrong was put behind.'

`Nay, for God,' said Robin,
'Sir knight, that thank I thee;
What man that helpeth a good yeoman,
His friend then will I be.'

`Have here four hundred pound,' then said the knight,
`The which ye lent to me;
And here is also twenty mark
For your courtesy.'

`Nay, for God,' then said Robin,
`Thou brook it well for ay;
For Our Lady, by her high cellarer,
Hath sent to me my pay.

`And if I took it twice,
A shame it were to me;
But truly, gentle knight,
Welcome art thou to me.'

When Robin had told his tale,
He laughed and bade good cheer:
`By my troth,' then said the knight,
`Your money is ready here.'

`Brook it well,' said Robin,
`Thou gentle knight so free
And welcome be thou, gentle knight,
Under my trystell-tree.

`But what shall these bows do?' said Robin,
And these arrows y-feathered free?'
`By God,' then said the knight,
'A poor present to thee.'

`Come now forth, Little John,
And go to my treasury,
And bring me there four hundred pound;
The monk over-told it me.

`Have here four hundred pound,
Thou gentle knight and true,
And buy horse and harness good,
And gild thy spurs all new.

`And if thou fail any spending,
Come to Robin Hood,
And by my truth thou shalt none fail,
The whiles I have any good.

`And brook well thy four hundred pound,
Which I lent to thee,
And make thy self no more so bare,
By the counsel of me.'

Thus then helped him good Robin,
The knight all of his care:
God, that sit in heaven high,
Grant us well to fare!


THE FIFTH FITTE.


Now hath the knight his leave y-take,
And went him on his way;
Robin Hood and his merry men
Dwelled still full many a day.

Lith and listen, gentle men,
And hearken what I shall say,
How the proud sheriff of Nottingham
Did cry a full fair play;

That all the best archers of the north
Should come upon a day,
And he that shooteth allther best
The game shall bear away.

He that shooteth allther best,
Furthest fair and low,
At a pair of finely butts,
Under the green shaw,

A right good arrow he shall have,
The shaft of silver white,
The head and the feathers of rich red gold,
In England is none like.

This then heard good Robin,
Under his trystell-tree:
`Make you ready, ye wight young men;
That shooting will I see.

`Busk you, my merry young men,
Ye shall go with me;
And I will wit the sheriff's faith,
True and if he be.'

When they had their bows y-bent,
Their tackles feathered free,
Seven score of wight young men
Stood by Robin's knee.

When they came to Nottingham,
The butts were fair and long;
Many was the bold archer
That shooted with bow stronge.

`There shall but six shoot with me;
The other shall keep my hevede,
And stand with good bows bent,
That I be not deceived.'

The fourth outlaw his bow did bend,
And that was Robin Hood,
And that beheld the proud sheriff,
All by the butt as he stood.

Thrice Robin shot about,
And always he slit the wand,
And so did good Gylbert
With the white hand.

Little John and good Scarlock
Were archers good and free;
Little Much and good Reynolde,
The worst would they not be.

When they had shot about,
These archers fair and good,
Evermore was the best,
For sooth, Robin Hood.

Him was delivered the good arrow,
For best worthy was he;
He took the gift so courteously,
To green wood would he.

They cried out on Robin Hood,
And great horns did they blow
`Woe worth thee, treason!' said Robin,
`Full evil thou art to know.

`And woe be thou, thou proud sheriff,
Thus gladding thy guest;
Other wise thou behote me
In yonder wild forest.

`But had I thee in green wood,
Under my trystell-tree,
Thou shouldest leave me a better wed
Than thy true loyalty.'

Full many a bow there was bent,
And arrows let they glide;
Many a kirtell there was rent,
And hurt many a side.

The outlaws shot was so strong
That no man might them drive,
And the proud sheriff's men,
They fled away full blive.

Robin saw the bushement to-broke,
In green wood he would have be;
Many an arrow there was shot
Among that company.

Little John was hurt full sore,
With an arrow in his knee
That he might neither go nor ride;
It was full great pity.

`Master,' then said Little John,
`If ever thou lovedest me,
And for that ilke lord's love
That died upon a tree,

`And for the medes of my service,
That I have served thee,
Let never the proud sheriff
Alive now find me.

`But take out thy brown sword,
And smite all off my head,
And give me wounds deep and wide;
No life on me be left.'

`I would not that,' said Robin,
`John, that thou were slain,
For all the gold in merry England,
Though it lay now on a row.'

`God forbid,' said Little Much,
`That died on a tree,
That thou shouldest, Little John,
Part our company.'

Up he took him on his back,
And bare him well a mile;
Many a time he laid him down,
And shot another while.

Then was there a fair castle,
A little within the wood;
Double-ditched it was about,
And walled, by the rood.

And there dwelled that gentle knight,
Sir Richard at the Lee,
That Robin had lent his good,
Under the green-wood tree.

In he took good Robin,
And all his company:
`Welcome be thou, Robin Hood,
Welcome art thou to me;

`And much I thank thee of thy comfort,
And of thy courtesy,
And of thy great kindness,
Under the green-wood tree.

`I love no man in all this world
So much as I do thee;
For all the proud sheriff of Nottingham,
Right here shalt thou be.

`Shut the gates, and draw the bridge,
And let no man come in,
And arm you well, and make you ready,
And to the walls ye win.

`For one thing, Robin, I thee behote;
I swear by Saint Quintine,
These forty days thou wonnest with me,
To sup, eat, and dine.'

Boards were laid, and clothes were spread,
Readily and anon;
Robin Hood and his merry men
To meat did they go.


THE VI. FITTE.


Lith and listen, gentlemen,
And hearken to your song
How the proud sheriff of Nottingham,
And men of arms strong,

Full fast came to the high sheriff,
The country up to rout,
And they beset the knight's castle,
The walls all about.

The proud sheriff loud did cry,
And said, `Thou traitor knight,
Thou keepest here the king's enemies,
Against the law and right.'

`Sir, I will avow that I have done,
The deeds that here be dight,
Upon all the lands that I have,
As I am a true knight.

`Wend forth, sirs, on your way,
And do no more to me
Till ye wit our king's will,
What he will say to thee.'

The sheriff thus had his answer,
Without any lesing;
Forth he yede to London town,
All for to tell our king.

There he told him of that knight,
And eek of Robin Hood,
And also of the bold archers,
That were so noble and good.

`He will avow that he hath done,
To maintain the outlaws strong;
He will be lord, and set you at nought,
In all the north land.'

`I will be at Nottingham,' said our king,
`Within this fourteen night,
And take I will Robin Hood,
And so I will that knight.

`Go now home, sheriff,' said our king,
`And do as I bid thee;
And ordain good archers ynowe,
Of all the wide country;.'

The sheriff had his leave i-take,
And went him on his way,
And Robin Hood to green-wood,
Upon a certain day.

And Little John was whole of the arrow
That shot was in his knee,
And did him straight to Robin Hood,
Under the green-wood tree.

Robin Hood walked in the forest,
Under the leaves green;
The proud sheriff of Nottingham
Thereof he had great teen.

The sheriff there failed of Robin Hood,
He might not have his prey;
Than he awaited this gentle knight,
Both by night and day.

Ever he waited the gentle knight,
Sir Richard at the Lee,
As he went on hawking by the river-side,
And let his hawks flee.

Took he there this gentle knight,
With men of arms stronger,
And led him to Nottingham ward,
Bound both foot and hand.

The sheriff swore a full great oath,
By him that died on rood,
He had liever than an hundred pound
That he had Robin Hood.

This heard the knight's wife,
A fair lady and a free;
She set her on a good palfrey,
To green-wood anon rode she.

When she came in the forest,
Under the green-wood tree,
Found she there Robin Hood,
And al his fair meinie.

`God thee save, good Robin,
And all thy company;
For Our dear Lady's sake,
A boon grant thou me.

`Let never my wedded lord
Shamefully slain be;
He is fast bound to Notingham ward,
For the love of thee.'

Anon then said good Robin
To that lady so free,
`What man hath your lord i-take?
. . . . . . .

. . . . . . .
`For sooth as I thee say;
He is not yet three miles
Passed on his way.'

Up then start good Robin,
As man that had been wood:
`Busk you, my merry men,
For him that died on rood.

And he that this sorrow forsaketh,
By him that died on tree,
Shall he never in green-wood
No longer dwell with me.'

Soon there were good bows bent,
More than seven score;
Hedge ne ditch spared they none
That was them before.

`I make mine avow to God,' said Robin,
`The sheriff would I fain see;
And if I may him take,
I-quit shall it be.'

And when they came to Notingham,
They walked in the street;
And with the proud sheriff
Soon did they meet.

`Abide, thou proud sheriff,' he said,
`Abide, and speak with me;
Of some tidings of our king
I would fain hear of thee.

`This seven year, by dear worthy God,
Ne yede I this fast on foot;
I make mine avow to God, thou proud sheriff,
It is not for thy good.'

Robin bent a full good bow,
An arrow he drew at will;
He hit so the proud sheriff
Upon the ground he lay full still.

And ere he might up arise,
On his feet to stand,
He smote off the sheriff's head
With his bright brand.

`Lie thou there, thou proud sheriff,
Evil mote thou cheve!
There might no man to thee trust
The whiles thou were a-live.'

His men drew out their bright swords,
That were so sharp and keen,
And laid on the sheriff's men,
And drived them down bydene.

Robin start to that knight,
And cut a-two his bond,
And took him in his hand a bow,
And bade him by him stand.

`Leave thy horse thee behind,
And learn for to run;
Thou shalt with me to green-wood,
Through mire, moss, and fen.

`Thou shalt with me to green-wood,
Without any lesing,
Till that I have got us grace
Of Edward, our comely king.'


THE VII. FITTE


The king came to Nottingham,
With knights in great array,
For to take that gentle knight
And Robin Hood, and if he may.

He asked men of that country;
After Robin Hood,
And after that gentle knight,
That was so bold and stout.

When they had told him the case
Our king understood their tale,
And seized in his hand
The knight's lands all.

All the pass of Lancashire
He went both far and near,
Till he came to Plomton Park;
He failed many of his deer.

There our king was wont to see
Herds many one,
He could unneth find one deer,
That bore any good horn.

The king was wonder wroth withal,
And swore by the Trinity,
`I would I had Robin Hood,
With eyen I might him see.

`And he that would smite off the knight's head,
And bring it to me,
He shall have the knight's lands,
Sir Richard at the Lee.

`I give it him with my charter,
And seal it with my hand,
To have and hold for ever more,
In all merry England.'

Than bespoke a fair old knight,
That was true in his fay:
`A, my liege lord the king,
One word I shall you say.

`There is no man in this country;
May have the knight's lands,
While Robin Hood may ride or go,
And bear a bow in his hands,

`That he ne shall lose his head,
That is the best ball in his hood:
Give it no man, my lord the king,
That ye will any good.'

Half a year dwelled our comely king
In Nottingham, and well more;
Could he not hear of Robin Hood,
In what country that he were.

But always went good Robin
By halk and eke by hill,
And always slew the king's deer,
And wielded them at his will.

Than bespoke a proud forester,
That stood by our king's knee:
`If ye will see good Robin,
Ye must do after me.

`Take five of the best knights
That be in your lede,
And walk down by yon abbey,
And get you monk's weed.

`And I will be your lead-man,
And lead you the way,
And ere ye come to Nottingham,
Mine head then dare I lay,

`That ye shall meet with good Robin,
On life if that he be;
Ere ye come to Nottingham,
With eyen ye shall him see.'

Full hastily our king was dight,
So were his knights five,
Every one of them in monk's weed,
And hasted them thither blive.

Our king was great above his cowl,
A broad hat on his crown,
Right as he were abbot-like,
They rode up in-to the town.

Stiff boots our king had on,
Forsooth as I you say;
He rode singing to green-wood;
The convent was clothed in gray.

His male-hors and his great somers
Followed our king behind,
Till they came to green-wood,
A mile under the lind.

There they met with good Robin,
Standing on the way,
And so did many a bold archer,
For sooth as I you say.

Robin took the king's horse,
Hastily in that stead,
And said, `Sir abbot, by your leave,
A while ye must abide.

`We be yeomen of this forest,
Under the green-wood tree;
We live by our king's deer,
Other shift have not we.

`And ye have churches and rents both,
And gold full great plenty;
Give us some of your spending,
For Saint Charity.'

Than bespoke our comely king,
Anon then said he;
`I brought no more to green-wood
But forty pound with me.

`I have lain at Nottingham
This fortnight with our king,
And spent I have full much good,
On many a great lording.

`And I have but forty pound,
No more than have I me;
But if I had an hundred pound,
I would vouch it safe on thee.'

Robin took the forty pound,
And departed it in two parts;
Halfendell he gave his merry men,
And bade them merry to be.

Full courteously Robin did say
`Sir, have this for your spending;
We shall mete another day;'
'Gramercy,' then said our king.

`But well thee greeteth Edward, our king,
And sends to thee his seal,
And biddeth thee come to Nottingham,
Both to meat and meal.'

He took out the broad targe,
And soon he let him see;
Robin could his courtesy,
And set him on his knee.

`I love no man in all the world
So well as I do my king;
Welcome is my lord's seal;
And, monk, for thy tiding,

`Sir abbot, for thy tidings,
To day thou shalt dine with me,
For the love of my king,
Under my trystell-tree.'

Forth he lad our comely king,
Full fair by the hand;
Many a deer there was slain,
And full fast dightand.

Robin took a full great horn,
And loud he did blow;
Seven score of wight young men
Came ready on a row.

All they keeled on their knee,
Full fair before Robin:
The king said him self until,
And swore by Saint Austin,

`Here is a wonder seemly sight;
Me thinketh, by God's pain,
His men are more at his bidding
Then my men be at mine.'

Full hastily was their dinner ydight,
And thereto did they go;
They served our king with all their might,
Both Robin and Little John.

Anon before our king was set
The fat venison,
The good white bread, the good red wine,
And thereto the fine ale and brown.

`Make good cheer,' said Robin,
`Abbot, for charity;
And for this ilke tiding,
Blessed may thou be.

`Now shalt thou see what life we lead,
Or thou hence wend;
Then thou may inform our king,
When ye together lende.'

Up they start all in hast,
Their bows were smartly bent;
Our king was never so sore aghast,
He weened to have been shente.

Two yards there were up set,
Thereto did they gange;
By fifty pass, our king said,
The marks were too long.

On every side a rose-garland,
They shot under the lyne:
`Who so faileth of the rose-garland,' said Robin,
His tackle he shall tine,

`And yield it to his master,
Be it never so fine;
For no man will I spare,
So drink I ale or wine:

`And here a buffet on his head,
I-wys right all bare:'
And all that fell in Robin's lot,
He smote them wonder sore.

Twice Robin shot about,
And ever he cleaved the wand,
And so did good Gylberte
With the White hand.

Little John and good Scarlocke,
For nothing would they spare;
When they failed of the garland,
Robin smote them full sore.

At the last shot that Robin shot,
For all his friend's fare,
Yet he failed of the garland
Three fingers and more.

Than bespoke good Gylberte,
And thus he did say;
`Master,' he said, `your tackle is lost,
Stand forth and take your pay.'

`If it be so,' said Robin,
`That may no better be,
Sir abbot, I deliver thee mine arrow,
I pray thee, sir, serve thou me.'

`It falleth not for mine order,' said our king,
`Robin, by thy leave,
For to smite no good yeoman,
For doubt I should him grieve.'

`Smite on boldly,' said Robin,
`I give the large leave:'
Anon our king, with that word,
He folded up his sleeve,

And such a buffet he gave Robin,
To ground he yede full near:
`I make mine avow to God,' said Robin,
`Thou art a stalwart friar.

`There is pith in thine arm,' said Robin,
`I trowe thou canst well shoot:'
Thus our king and Robin Hood
Together did they meet.

Robin beheld our comely king
Wistly in the face,
So did Sir Richard at the Lee,
And kneeled down in that place.

And so did all the wild outlaws,
When they see them kneel:
`My lord the king of England,
Now I know you well.'

`Mercy then, Robin,' said our king,
`Under your trystyll-tree,
Of thy goodness and thy grace,
For my men and me!'

`Yes, for God,' said Robin,
`And as God me save,
I ask, mercy, my lord the king,
And for my men I crave.'

`Yes, for God,' then said our king,
`And thereto sent I me,
With that thou leave the green-wood,
And all thy company;

`And come home, sir, to my court,
And there dwell with me.'
`I make mine avow to God,' said Robin,
`And right so shall it be.

`I will come to your court,
Your service for to see,
And bring with me of my men
Seven score and three.

`But me like well your service,
I will come again full soon,
And shot at the dun deer,
As I am wont to done.'


THE VIII. FITTE.


Hast thou any green cloth,' said our king,
`That thou wilt sell now to me?'
`Ye, for God,' said Robin,
`Thirty yards and three.'

`Robin,' said our king,
`Now pray I thee,
Sell me some of that cloth,
To me and my meinie.'

`Yes, for God,' then said Robin,
`Or else I were a fool;
Another day ye will me clothe,
I trowe, against the Yule.'

The king cast of his cowl then,
A green garment he did on,
And every knight also, i-wys,
Another had full soon.

When they were clothed in Lincoln green,
They cast away their gray;
`Now we shall to Nottingham,'
All thus our king did say.

They bent their bows, and forth they went,
Shooting all in-fere,
Toward the town of Nottingham,
Outlaws as they were.

Our king and Robin rode together,
For sooth as I you say,
And they shot pluck-buffet
As they went by the way.

And many a buffet our king won
Of Robin Hood that day,
And nothing spared good Robin
Our king in his pay.

`So God me help,' said our king,
`Thy game is nought to lere;
I should not get a shot of thee,
Though I shot all this year.'

All the people of Nottingham
They stood and beheld;
They saw nothing but mantels of green
That covered all the field.

Than every man to other did say,
`I dread our king be slain;
Come Robin Hood to the town, i-wys,
On life he left never one.

Full hastily they began to flee,
Both yeomen and knaves,
And old wives that might evil go,
They hipped on their staves.

The king laughed full fast,
And commanded them again;
When they see our comely king,
I-wys they were full fain.

They ate and drank, and made them glad,
And sang with notes high;
Than bespoke our comely king
To Sir Richard at the Lee.

He gave him there his land again,
A good man he bade him be;
Robin thanked our comely king,
And set him on his knee.

Had Robin dwelled in the king's court
But twelve months and three,
That he had spent an hundred pound,
And all his men's fee.

In every place where Robin came
Ever more he laid down,
Both for knights and for squires,
To get him great renown.

By then the year was all agone
He had no man but twain,
Little John and good Scarlocke,
With him all for to gone.

Robin saw young men shoot
Full fair upon a day;
`Alas!' then said good Robin,
`My wealth is went away.

`Sometime I was an archer good,
A stiff and eek a strong;
I was counted the best archer
That was in merry England.

`Alas!' then said good Robin,
`Alas and well a woo!
If I dwell longer with the king,
Sorrow will me slay.'

Forth then went Robin Hood
Till he came to our king;
`My lord the king of England,
Grant me mine asking.

`I made a chapel in Barnesdale,
That seemly is to see,
It is of Mary Magdeleyne,
And thereto would I be.

`I might never in this seven night
No time to sleep nor wink,
Neither all these seven days,
Neither ate nor drink.

`Me longeth sore to Barnesdale,
I may not be therefro;
Barefoot and wolwarde I have hight
Thither for to go.'

`If it be so,' then said our king,
`It may no better be,
Seven night I give the leave,
No longer, to dwell fro me.'

`Gramercy, lord,' then said Robin,
And set him on his knee;
He took his leave full courteously,
To green-wood then went he.

When he came to green-wood,
In a merry morning,
There he heard the notes small
Of birds merry singing.

`It is far gone,' said Robin,
`That I was last here;
Me list a little for to shoot
At the dun deer.'

Robin slew a full great hart
His horn then did he blow,
That all the outlaws of that forest
That horn could they know,

And gathered them together,
In a little throw.
Seven score of wight young men
Came ready on a row,

And fair did off their hoods,
And set them on their knee:
`Welcome,' they said, 'our dear master,
Under this green-wood tree.'

Robin dwelled in green-wood
Twenty year and two;
For all dread of Edward our king,
Again would he not go.

Yet he was beguiled, i-wys,
Through a wicked woman,
The prioress of Kirkesly,
That nigh was of his kin.

For the love of a knight,
Sir Roger of Donkesly,
That was her own special;
Full evil may they thee!

They took together their counsel
Robin Hood for to slay,
And how they might best do that deed,
His banes for to be.

Than bespoke good Robin,
In place where as he stood,
`To morrow I must to Kyrkesly,
Craftily to be leten blood.'

Sir Roger of Donkestere,
By the prioress he lay,
And there they betrayed good Robin Hood,
Through their false play.

Christ have mercy on his soul,
That died on the rood!
For he was a good outlaw,
And did pore men much god.
Hearken and listen





















and = if



desire
















most of all


fear










steal



enough
husbandman



wood, copse









learn
late in the day















prepared







secret, secluded








eyes










courteous. . . noble









all together




care-filled
eyes
face












noble

company




filets, choice slices







Thank you





















stop, delay



















i.e., ten shillings




enough







kept secret
suppose


husbandman

mocker, unbeliever























lost













pledge (i.e., mortgage)









and = if

go










ne have = do not have












together




guarantor


























counted






















measured































sorrow, pain





































but = unless
























and = if





monk in charge of provisions

















retinue
same, very








followers















suited for running



















cursed



but = unless






defend


for grants of cloth as payment






fulfilled the agreement


































know not courtesy




see = saw














ne = nor
















take = give

























sorrow, pain
be = been













prepared



ell = 45 inches

provided with nocks








pack-horse









placed, set




faith





set upon by strangers










destroy







ground
i.e., opened


































customary dwelling



















strong




avenge himself





















ne = nor


would rather











kicked

generous provision


Since










cursed servant











tested







mile way = twenty minutes

amount

















filets






very same


gone = go





mazer, drinking cup






























befell exactly as he wished



knew





be = been









all together








go









may woe come to you




















shoes

tunic; woolen cloth




strong







began to ache




























intend me harm
ne = nor
















happy
























can = knows




grief and pain















as a pledge



grasp (?)
sure and determined



pack horses































asked

arrow







pack horses


liked it or not

curses on









can = knows












striped cloth






together


thank you






monk in charge of provisions


as I may ever prosper

























guarantee





mother














as I may prosper



need














counted; baggage















gaurantor


courteous









court





estate managers





baggage

















it rues me (I am sorry)
at a better price















company










































enjoy; for ever
















meeting tree









counted it out





































best of all





wood







meeting tree



prepare

know
and if = if












guard my head



































promised




pledge










very quickly

ambush break out
be = been










same


rewards



























cross
























go

promise

dwell



























performed









lie
went



also















enough (many)















pain, sorrow









fly








rather (have)










company








toward Nottingham













crazy
prepare yourselves















revenged












went














may you achieve






quickly


in two









lie

























lacked



hardly





eyes












faith








shall not


To whom you wish any good







recess (hiding place)






as I advise


company













prepared


quickly









group of monks

pack-horse; large pack-horse


forest


































grant it to thee



half














could = knew










meeting tree




being killed



strong












prepared

















meet




destroyed


go
paces



trees

lose







indeed







































went









carefully









meeting tree










providing that












But = unless


do













company








indeed








together





game of trading blows








learn















move with difficulty





happy

















paid out money






go

































clothed in coarse wool; promised



















It would please me








space of time
strong




















prosper




killers




leten = let











 
From The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, ed. Francis James Child, Boston, 1884-1898. Spellings have been regularized (with some modernizations) and glossed supplied.

 

For a more detailed account of the hero's death see:

The Death of Robin Hood.
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Last modified: June 28, 2006
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Gold Texts on this page prepared and maintained by L. D. Benson (ldb@wjh.harvard.edu)