Ballads Of Robin Hood
Robin Hood and the Prince of Aragon (Child Ballad 129)
NOW Robin Hood, Will Scadlock and Little John
Are walking over the plain,
With a good fat buck which Will Scadlock
With his strong bow had slain.
‘Jog on, jog on,’ cries Robin Hood,
‘The day it runs full fast;
For though my nephew me a breakfast gave,
I have not yet broke my fast.
‘Then to yonder lodge let us take our way,
I think it wondrous good,
Where my nephew by my bold yeomen
Shall be welcomd unto the green wood.’
With that he took the bugle-horn,
Full well he could it blow;
Streight from the woods came marching down
One hundred tall fellows and mo.
‘Stand, stand to your arms!’ crys Will Scadlock,
‘Lo! the enemies are within ken:’
With that Robin Hood he laughd aloud,
Crys, They are my bold yeomen.
Who, when they arriv’d and Robin espy’d,
Cry’d, Master, what is your will?
We thought you had in danger been,
Your horn did sound so shrill.
‘Now nay, now nay,’ quoth Robin Hood,
‘The danger is past and gone;
I would have you to welcome my nephew here,
That hath paid me two for one.’
In feasting and sporting they passed the day,
Till Phoebus sunk into the deep;
Then each one to his quarters hy’d,
His guard there for to keep.
Long had they not walked within the green wood,
But Robin he was espy’d
Of a beautiful damsel all alone,
That on a black palfrey did ride.
Her riding-suit was of sable hew black,
Sypress over her face,
Through which her rose-like cheeks did blush,
All with a comely grace.
‘Come, tell me the cause, thou pritty one,’
Quoth Robin, and tell me aright,
From whence thou comest, and whither thou goest,
All in this mournful plight?’
‘From London I came,’ the damsel reply’d,
‘From London upon the thames,
Which circled is, O grief to tell!
Besieg’d with forraign arms.
‘By the proud Prince of Aragon,
Who swears by his martial hand
To have the princess for his spouse,
Or else to waste this land:
‘Except that champions can be found
That dare fight three to three,
Against the prince and giants twain,
Most horrid for to see:
‘Whose grisly looks, and eyes like brands,
Strike terrour where they come,
With serpents hissing on their helms,
Instead of feathered plume.
‘The princess shall be the victors prize,
The king hath vowd and said,
And he that shall the conquest win
Shall have her to his bride.
‘Now we are four damsels sent abroad,
To the east, west, north, and south,
To try whose fortune is so good
To find these champions forth.
‘But all in vaine we have sought about;
Yet none so bold there are
That dare adventure life and blood,
To free a lady fair.’
‘When is the day?’ quoth Robin Hood,
‘Tell me this and no more:’
‘On Midsummer next,’ the damsel said,
‘Which is June the twenty-four.’
With that the teares trickled down her cheeks,
And silent was her tongue;
With sighs and sobs she took her leave,
Away her palfrey sprung.
This news struck Robin to the heart,
He fell down on the grass;
His actions and his troubled mind
Shewd he perplexed was.
‘Where lies your grief?’ quoth Will Scadlock,
‘O master, tell to me;
If the damsels eyes have piercd your heart,
I’ll fetch her back to thee.’
‘Now nay, now nay,’ quoth Robin Hood,
‘She doth not cause my smart;
But it is the poor distressed princess
That wounds me to the heart.
‘I will go fight the giants all
To set the lady free:’
‘The devil take my soul,’ quoth Little John,
‘If I part with thy company.’
‘Must I stay behind?’ quoth Will Scadlock;
‘No, no, that must not be;
I’le make the third man in the fight,
So we shall be three to three.’
These words cheerd Robin at the heart,
Joy shone within his face;
Within his arms he huggd them both,
And kindly did imbrace.
Quoth he, We’ll put on mothly gray,
With long staves in our hands,
A scrip and bottle by our sides,
As come from the Holy Land.
So may we pass along the high-way;
None will ask from whence we came,
But take us pilgrims for to be,
Or else some holy men.
Now they are on their journey gone,
As fast as they may speed,
Yet for all haste, ere they arriv’d,
The princess forth was led:
To be deliverd to the prince,
Who in the list did stand,
Prepar’d to fight, or else receive
His lady by the hand.
With that he walkt about the lists,
With giants by his side:
‘Bring forth,’ said he, ’your champions,
Or bring me forth my bride.
‘This is the four and twentieth day,
The day prefixt upon;
Bring forth my bride, or London burns,
I swear by Acaron.’
Then cries the king, and queen likewise,
Both weeping as they speak,
Lo! we have brought our daughter dear,
Whom we are forcd to forsake.
With that stept out bold Robin Hood,
Crys, My liege, it must not be so;
Such beauty as the fair princess
Is not for a tyrants mow.
The prince he then began to storm;
Crys, Fool, fanatick, baboon!
How dares thou stop my valours prize?
I’ll kill thee with a frown.
‘Thou tyrant Turk, thou infidel,’
Thus Robin began to reply,
‘Thy frowns I scorn; lo! here’s my gage,
And thus I thee defie.
‘And for these two Goliahs there,
That stand on either side,
Here are two little Davids by,
That soon can tame their pride.’
Then did the king for armour send,
For lances, swords, and shields:
And thus all three in armour bright
Came marching to the field.
The trumpets began to sound a charge,
Each singled out his man;
Their arms in pieces soon were hewd,
Blood sprang from every vain.
The prince he reacht Robin a blow
He struck with might and main
Which forcd him to reel about the field,
As though he had been slain.
‘God-a-mercy,’ quoth Robin, ’For that blow!
The quarrel shall soon be try’d;
This stroke shall shew a full divorce
Betwixt thee and thy bride.’
So from his shoulders he’s cut his head,
Which on the ground did fall,
And grumbling sore at Robin Hood,
To be so dealt withal.
The giants then began to rage,
To see their prince lie dead:
‘Thou’s be the next,’ quoth Little John,
‘Unless thou well guard thy head.’
With that his faulchion he whirld about
It was both keen and sharp
He clove the giant to the belt,
And cut in twain his heart.
Will Scadlock well had playd his part,
The giant he had brought to his knee;
Quoth he, The devil cannot break his fast,
Unless he have you all three.
So with his faulchion he run him through,
A deep and gashly wound;
Who damd and foamd, cursd and blasphemd,
And then fell to the ground.
Now all the lists with cheers were filld,
The skies they did resound,
Which brought the princess to herself,
Who was faln in a swound.
The king and queen and princess fair
Came walking to the place,
And gave the champions many thanks,
And did them further grace.
‘Tell me,’ quoth the king, ’whence you are,
That thus disguised came,
Whose valour speaks that noble blood
Doth run through every vain.’
‘A boon, a boon,’ quoth Robin Hood,
‘On my knees I beg and crave:’
‘By my crown,’ quoth the king, ‘I grant;
Ask what, and thou shalt have.’
‘Then pardon I beg for my merry men,
Which are within the green wood,
For Little John, and Will Scadlock,
And for me, bold Robin Hood.’
‘Art thou Robin Hood?’ then quoth the king;
‘For the valour you have shewn,
Your pardons I doe freely grant,
And welcome every one.
‘The princess I promised the victors prize;
She cannot have you all three:;
‘She shall chuse,’ quoth Robin; saith Little John,
Then little share falls to me.
Then did the princess view all three,
With a comely lovely grace,
Who took Will Scadlock by the hand,
Quoth, Here I make my choice.
With that a noble lord stept forth,
Of Maxfield earl was he,
Who lookt Will Scadlock in the face,
Then wept most bitterly.
Quoth he, I had a son like thee,
Whom I lovd wondrous well;
But he is gone, or rather dead;
His name is Young Gamwell.
Then did Will Scadlock fall on his knees,
Cries, Father! father! here,
Here kneels your son, your Young Gamwell
You said you lovd so dear.
But, lord! what imbracing and kissing was there,
When all these friends were met!
They are gone to the wedding, and so to bedding,
And so I bid you good night.