Ballads Of Robin Hood
A Geste of Robyn Hode Fyttes 1-4 (Child Ballad 117)
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 outlawe as he was one
Was never non founde.
Robyn stode in Bernesdale,
And lenyd hym to a tre;
And bi hym stode Litell Johnn,
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 wold dyne
Thre messis wolde he here.
The one in the worship of the Fader,
And another of the Holy Gost,
The thirde of Our der Lady,
That he loued allther moste.
Robyn loued Oure der 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 vs 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 gren wode shawe;
Ne no knyght ne no squyer
That wol be a gode felawe.
‘These bisshoppes and these archebishoppes,
Ye shall them bete and bynde;
The hy 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 Robyn;
‘Late Much wende with the;
And so shal Willyam Scarlok,
And no man abyde with me.
‘And walke vp to the Saylis,
And so to Watlingr Strete,
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 loked weest;
They myght no man see.
But as they loked in to Bernysdale,
Bi a dern 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 gren wode,
Hend knyght and fre;
My maister hath abiden you fastinge,
Syr, al these our s thre.’
‘Who is thy maister?’ sayde the knyght;
Johnn sayde, Robyn Hode;
‘He is a gode yoman,’ sayde the knyght,
‘Of hym haue I herde moche gode.
‘I graunte,’ he sayde, ’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 lodg-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 words fayre and fre;
God the saue, goode Robyn,
And all thy fayre meyn.
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,
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 Johnn, go loke,’ sayde Robyn,
‘Ne let nat for no blame.
‘Tel me truth,’ than saide 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 furth, Littell Johnn,
The truth tell thou me;
If there be no more but ten shelinges,
No peny that I se.’
Lyttell Johnn sprede downe hys mantell
Full fayre vpon the grounde,
And there he fonde in the knyght s cofer
But euen halfe a pounde.
Littell Johnn let it lye full styll,
And went to hys maysteer full lowe;
‘What tidyng 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 clothynge is so thinne.
‘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 mad 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 great foly,’ he sayde,
‘And for my kind nesse.
‘I hade a sone, forsoth, Robyn,
That shulde haue ben myn ayre,
Whanne he was twenty wynter olde,
In felde wolde iust full fayre.
‘He slewe a knyght of Lancaster,
And a squyer bolde;
For to saue hym in his ryght
My godes both sette and solde.
‘My londes both 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 salt see,
‘And se where Criste was quyke and dede,
On the mount of Caluer;
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 frend s?’ sayde 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 Robyn,
‘Thy borowe that wold 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 borowe,’ sayde Robyn,
‘Or money getest thou none.’
‘I haue none other,’ sayde the knyght,
‘The sothe for to say,
But yf yt be Our der 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 tresour ,
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 greueth the?
It is almus to helpe a gentyll knyght,
That is fal in pouert.
‘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 many 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 bow-tree.
And at euery handfull that he met
He lep d foot s three;
‘What deuyll s 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 knight a hors,
To lede home this gode.’
‘Take hym a gray coursar,’ sayde Robyn,
‘And a saydle newe;
He is Oure Ladye’s messangere;
God graunt that he be true.’
‘And a gode palfray,’ sayde lytell Much,
‘To mayntene hym in his right;’
‘And a peyre of bot s,’ 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 out of tene.’
‘Whan shal mi day be,’ said the knight,
‘Sir, and your wyll be?’
‘This day twelue moneth,’ saide Robyn,
‘Vnder this gren-wode tre.
‘It were greate sham,’ sayde Robyn,
‘A knight alone to ryde,
Without squyre, yoman, or page,
To walk by his syde.
‘I shall the lende Litell John, my man,
For he shalbe thy knaue;
In a yeman’s stede he may the stande,
If thou greate ned haue.’
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 toune,
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 lond fre;
But he come this ylk 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 pyt,’ 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
Stert forthe full bolde,
The hye iustyce of Englonde
The abbot there dyde holde.
The hy iustyce and many mo
Had take in to theyr honde
Holy all the knyght s det,
To put that knyght to wronge.
They demed the knyght wonder sore,
The abbot and his meyn :
‘But he come this ylk day
Dysheryte shall he be.’
‘He wyll not come yet,’ sayd the iustyce,
‘Idare well vndertake;’
But in sorowe tym for them all
The knyght came to the gate.
Than bespake that gentyll knyght
Untyll his meyn:
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,
’Brry God that mad 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.’
Lord s were to mete isette
In that abbotes hall;
The knyght went forth and kneled downe,
And salued them grete and small.
‘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 frende!’
‘Nay, for God,’ sayd he.
‘Now, good syr abbot, be my frende,
For thy curteys ,
And holde my lond s in thy honde
Tyll I haue made the gree!
‘And I wyll be thy true seruaunte,
And trewely seru 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 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 fals 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 ioust s and in tournement
Full ferre than haue I be,
And put my selfe as ferre in prees
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 God, that dyed on tree.’
‘Sir abbot, and ye men 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 soul be in blysse:
He holpe me out of tene;
Ne had be his kynd nesse,
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 stryng s well ydyght,
An hundred shefe of arow s gode,
The hedys burneshed full bryght;
And euery arowe an ell longe,
With pecok wel idyght,
Inocked all with whyte siluer;
It was a semely syght.
He purueyed hym an hondreth men,
Well harnessed 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 as he went at a brydge 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 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 bow s bent and arow s 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,
Drynk who so wolde.
Thus longe taried this gentyll knyght,
Tyll that play was done;
So longe abode Robyn fastinge,
Thre hour s after the none.
Lyth and lystyn, gentilmen,
All that nowe be here;
Of Litell Johnn, that was the knight s 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 alway he slet the wande;
The proud sherif of Notingham
By the mark s can stande.
The sherif swore a full greate othe:
‘By hym that dyede on a tre,
This man is the best arsch re
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 Gren lef
Whan I am at home.’
‘Sey me, Reynolde Gren lefe,
Wolde thou dwell with me?
And euery yere I woll the gyue
Twenty marke to thy fee.’
‘I haue a maister,’ sayde Litell Johnn,
‘A curteys knight is he;
May ye leu gete of hym,
The better may it be.’
The sherif gate Litell John
Twelue moneth s of the knight;
Therfore he gaue him right anone
A gode hors and a wight.
Nowe is Litell John the sherif s man,
God lende vs well to spede!
But alwey thought Lytell John
To quyte hym wele his mede.
‘Nowe so God me help,’ 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 Gren lefe
Fastinge thus for to be;
Therfor I pray the, sir stuarde,
Mi dyner gif me.’
‘Shalt thou neuer ete ne drynke,’ saide 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 whil 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 ask thus to dyne.’
And there he lent Litell John
God strokis thre;
‘I make myn auowe to God,’ sayde Lytell 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 myl way and well more;
Myght neyther other harme done,
The mountnaunce of an owre.
‘I make myn auowe to God,’ sayde Litell Johnn,
And by my true lewt,
Thou art one of the best sworde-men
That euer yit sawe I me.
‘Cowdest thou shote as well in a bowe,
To gren wode thou shuldest with me,
And two times in the yere thy clothinge
Chaunged shuld be;
‘And euery yere of Robyn Hode
Twenty merke to thy fe:’
‘Put vp thy swerde,’ saide the coke,
‘And felow s 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 trouth s togeder they plight
That they wolde be with Robyn
That ylk sam nyght.
They dyd them to the tresoure-hows,
As fast as they myght gone;
The lokk s, that were of full gode stele,
They brake them euerichone.
They toke away the siluer vessell,
And all that they might get;
Pecis, masars, ne sponis,
Wolde thei not forget.
Also they toke the god pens,
Thre hundred pounde and more,
And did them streyte to Robyn Hode,
Under the gren wode hore.
‘God the saue, my der 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 tydyng s fro Notyngham?
Lytill Johnn, tell thou me.’
‘Well the gretith the proud sheryf,
And sendeth 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 Trenyt,
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 proud sheref,
Huntynge with houndes and horne;
Lytell Johnn coude of curtesye,
And knelyd hym beforne.
‘God the saue, my der mayster,
And Criste the saue and se!’
‘Reynolde Gren lefe,’ 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 tynd s 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 der mayster,
Anone, and wende with me.’
The sherif rode, and Litell Johnn
Of fote he was smerte,
And whane they came before Robyn,
‘Lo, sir, here is the mayster-herte.’
Still stode the proud sherief,
A sory man was he;
‘Wo the worthe, Raynolde Gren lefe,
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 whan the sherif sawe his vessell,
For sorowe he myght nat ete.
‘Make glad chere,’ sayde Robyn Hode,
‘Sherif, for charit,
And for the loue of Litill Johnn
Thy lufe I graunt to the.’
Whan they had souped well,
The day was al gone;
Robyn commaunded Litell Johnn
To drawe of his hosen and his shone;
His kirtell, and his cote of pie,
That was fured well and fine,
And toke hym a grene mantel,
To lap his body therin.
Robyn commaundyd his wight yonge men,
Vnder the gren-wode tree,
They shulde lye in that same sute,
That the sherif myght them see.
All nyght lay the proud sherif
In his breche and in his schert;
No wonder it was, in gren wode,
Though his syd s gan to smerte.
‘Make glade chere,’ sayde Robyn Hode,
‘Sheref, for charit;
For this is our ordre i-wys,
Vnder the gren-wode 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 tech, proud sherif,
An outlaw 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 saynt charit ,
And I woll be the best 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 oth thou shalt swere
To helpe them that thou may.’
Nowe hathe the sherif sworne his othe,
And home he began to gone;
He was as full of gren wode
As euer was hepe of stone.
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,
Foe 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 myrth s can,
Of my good he shall haue some,
Yf he be a por man.’
Forth then stert Lytel Johan,
Half in tray and tene,
And gyrde hym with a full good swerde,
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 they loked in Bernysdale,
By the hy 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 hert s be seker and sad,
Your stryng s 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 are no more but we thre;
But we bryng them to dyner,
Our mayster dare we not se.
‘Bende your bowes,’ sayd Lytell Johan,
‘Make all yon prese 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 hatt s 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 rew the;
He is a yeman of the forest,
To dyne he hath bod 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 yonge 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 lodg-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 curt yse,
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 whan 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 avow?’
‘Saynt Mary abbay,’ sayd the monke,
‘Though I be symple here.’
‘In what offyce?’ sayd Robyn:
‘Syr, the hy selerer.’
‘Ye be the more welcome,’ sayd Robyn,
‘So euer mote I the;
Fyll of the best wyne,’ sayd Robyn,
’This monke shall drynke to me.
‘But I haue grete meruayle,’ sayd Robyn,
‘Of all this long day;
I drede Our Lady be wroth with me,
She sent me not my pay.’
‘Haue no doute, mayster,’ sayd Lytell 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 g’Rene-wode tree.
‘And yf thou hast that syluer ibrought,
I pray the let me se;
And I shall help 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 own 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 cun the mor thanke
Thou arte come at thy day.
‘What is in your cofers?’ sayd Robyn,
‘Trewe than tell thou me:’
‘Syr,’ he sayd, ’Twenty marke,
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 fynd 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 monk s male
Eyght hundred 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 monk s 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 old maner,’ sayd Robyn,
‘To leue but lytell behynde.’
The monke toke the hors with spore,
No lenger wolde he abyde:
‘Ask to drynk,’ 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 pryour, 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 gren-wode tre,
And he founde there Robyn Hode,
And all his mery meyn.
The knyght lyght doune of his good palfray;
Robyn whan he gan see,
So curteysly he dyde adoune his hode,
And set hym on his knee.
‘God the sau, 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 ned dryueth the to gren wode?
I praye the, syr knyght, tell me.
‘And welcome be thou, gentyll knyght,
Why hast thou be so longe?’
‘For the abbot and the hy iustyce
Wolde haue had my londe.’
‘Hast thou thy londe agayne?’ 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 por 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 hy 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 had good chere:
‘By my trouthe,’ then sayd the knyght,
‘Your money is redy here.’
‘Broke it well,’ sayd Robyn,
‘Thou gentyll knyght so fre;
And welcome be thou, gentyll knyght,
Under my trystell-tre.
‘But what shall these bow s do?’ sayd Robyn,
‘And these arow s ifedred fre?’
‘By God,’ than sayd the knyght,
‘A por present to the.’
‘Come now forth, Lytell Johan,
And go to my treasur,
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!