'Rebus huius Roberti gestis tota Britannia in cantibus utitur.'
The Text.--There are seven texts of the Gest, to be distinguished as
(i.) begins 'Here begynneth a gest of Robyn Hode'; an undated printed fragment preserved with other early pieces in a volume in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh. It was reprinted in 1827 by David Laing, who then supposed it to be from the press of Chepman and Myllar, Edinburgh printers of the early sixteenth century; but he afterwards had reason to doubt this opinion. It is now attributed to Jan van Doesborch, a printer from Antwerp. The extent of this fragment is indicated below. Internal evidence (collected by Child, iii. 40) shows it to be an older text than
(ii.) 'Here begynneth a lytell geste of Robyn hode'--so runs the title-page; at the head of the poem are added the words--'and his meyne [= meinie, company], And of the proude Sheryfe of Notyngham.' The colophon runs 'Explycit. kynge Edwarde and Robyn hode and Lytell Johan Enprented at London in fletestrete at the sygne of the sone By Wynken de Worde.' This also is undated, and Child says it 'may be anywhere from 1492 to 1534.' Recent bibliographical research shows that Wynkyn de Worde moved to Fleet Street at the end of the year 1500, which gives the downward limit; and as the printer died in 1584, the Lytell Geste must be placed between those dates. The text is complete save for two lines (7.1 and 339.1), which have also dropped from the other early texts. The only known copy is in the Cambridge University Library.
(iii., iv. and v.) Three mutilated printed fragments, containing about thirty-five, seventy, and fifteen stanzas respectively, preserved amongst the Douce fragments in the Bodleian (the last presented by J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps). The first was lent to Ritson in or before 1790 by Farmer, who thought it to be Rastell's printing; in Ritson's second edition (1836) he says he gave it to Douce, and states without reason that it is of de Worde's printing 'probably in 1489.'
(vi.) A mery geste of Robyn Hoode, etc., a quarto preserved in the British Museum, not dated, but printed 'at London vpon the thre Crane wharfe by wyllyam Copland,' who printed there about 1560. This edition also contains 'a newe playe for to be played in Maye games, very plesaunte and full of pastyme.'
(vii.) A Merry Iest of Robin Hood, etc., printed at London for Edward White; no date, but perhaps the 'pastorall plesant commedie' entered to White in the Stationers' Registers, May 14, 1594. There is a copy of this in the Bodleian, and another was in the Huth Library.
The Text here given is mainly the Wynkyn de Worde text, except where the earlier Edinburgh fragment is available; the stanzas which the latter preserves are here numbered 1.-83.3, 113.4-124.1, 127.4-133.2, 136.4-208.3, and 314.2-349.3, omitting 2.2,3 and 7.1. A few variations are recorded in the footnotes, it being unnecessary in the present edition to do more than refer to Child's laborious collation of all the above texts.
The spelling of the old texts is retained with very few exceptions. The reason for this is that although the original texts were printed in the sixteenth century, the language is of the fifteenth, and a number of Middle English forms remain; these are pointed out by Child, iii. 40, and elaborately classified by W. H. Clawson, The Gest of Robin Hood, 4-5. A possible alternative was to treat the Gest on the plan adopted for fifteenth-century texts by E. K. Chambers and the present editor in Early English Lyrics (1907); but in that book the editors were mostly concerned with texts printed from manuscript, whereas here there is good reason to suspect the existence of a text or texts previous to those now available. For the sounded e (ë) I have mostly followed Child.
The Gest is not a single ballad, but a conglomeration of several, forming a short epic. Ballads representing its component parts are not now extant; although on the other hand there are later ballads founded on certain episodes in the Gest. The compiler availed himself of incidents from other traditional sources, but he produced a singularly original tale.
The word gest, now almost obsolete, is derived through Old French from the Latin gesta, 'deeds' or 'exploits.' But as the word was particularly applied to 'exploits as narrated or recited,' there came into use a secondary meaning--that of 'a story or romantic tale in verse,' or 'a metrical chronicle.' The latter meaning is doubtless intended in the title of the Gest of Robyn Hode. A further corruption may be noticed even in the titles of the later texts as given above; Copland adds the word 'mery,' which thirty years later causes White to print a 'Merry Jest.'
I have kept the original divisions of the story into eight 'fyttes,' but it falls more naturally into three main sections, in each of which a complete story is narrated. These may he distinguished thus:--
1. Robin Hood and the Knight.
(Fyttes First, Second, and Fourth.)
2. Robin Hood, Little John, and the Sheriff of Nottingham.
(Fyttes Third, Fifth, and Sixth.)
3. Robin Hood and King Edward.
(Fyttes Seventh and Eighth.)
An argument and general notes are prefixed to each fytte.
[Footnote 1: Mr. Charles Sayle puts it 'before 1519' in his catalogue of the early printed books in the University Library.]
A Gest Of Robyn Hode THE FIRST FYTTE (1-81)
Argument.--Robin Hood refuses to dine until he finds some guest to provide money for his entertainment. He sends Little John and all his men to bring in any earl, baron, abbot, or knight, to dine with him. They find a knight, and feast him beneath the greenwood tree: but when Robin demands payment, the knight turns out to be in sorry plight, for he has sold all his goods to save his son. On the security of Our Lady, Robin lends him four hundred pounds, and gives him a livery, a horse, a palfrey, boots, spurs, etc., and Little John as squire.
Robin's unwillingness to dine until he has a guest appears to be a parody of King Arthur's custom of refusing dinner until he has had an adventure. (See Child, i. 257, note .) The offer of the Virgin as security for a loan is apparently derived from a well-known miracle of Mary, in which a Christian, wishing to borrow money of a Jew, takes him to a church and makes him lay his hand on a statue of the Virgin and Child, praying that, if he fails to return the money on the day fixed to the lender, but gives it to the statue, Christ will return it to the Jew. This miracle eventually takes place, but is attributed rather to the Virgin than to her Son. (See Child, iii. 52.)
THE FIRST FYTTE
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 outlaw as he was one
Was never non yfounde.
Robyn stode in Bernesdale,
And lenyd hym to a tre;
And bi him 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 untoo Robyn Hode:
'Maister, and ye wolde dyne betyme
It wolde doo you moche gode.'
Than bespake hym gode Robyn:
'To dyne have I noo lust,
Till that I have som bolde baron,
Or som unkouth gest.
... ... ...
'That may pay for the best,
Or some knyght or som squyer
That dwelleth here bi west.'
A gode maner than had Robyn:
In londe where that he were,
Every 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 was of Our dere Lady
That he loved allther moste.
Robyn loved Oure dere Lady;
For dout of dydly synne,
Wolde he never do compani harme
That any woman was in.
'Maistar,' than sayde Lytil Johnn,
'And we our borde shal sprede,
Tell us wheeler that we shall go
And what life that we shall lede.
'Where we shall take, where we shall leve,
Where we shall abide behynde;
Where we shall robbe, where we shall reve,
Where we shall bete and bynde.'
'Thereof 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 grene-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 hye 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 us a gest,
That we were at our dynere.'
'Take thy gode bowe in thy honde,' sayde Robyn;
'Late Much wende with thee;
And so shal Willyam Scarlok,
And no man abyde with me.
'And walke up to the Saylis
And so to Watlinge Strete,
And wayte after some unkuth gest,
Up 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 up to the Saylis,
These yemen all three;
They loked est, they loked weest,
They myght no man see.
But as they loked in to Bernysdale,
Bi a dernë strete,
Than came a knyght ridinghe;
Full sone they gan hym mete.
All dreri was his semblaunce,
And lytell was his pryde;
His one fote in the styrop stode,
That othere wavyd beside.
His hode hanged in his iyn two;
He rode in symple aray;
A soriar man than he was one
Rode never in somer day.
Litell Johnn was full curteyes,
And sette hym on his kne:
'Welcome be ye, gentyll knyght,
Welcom ar ye to me.
'Welcom be thou to grenë wode,
Hendë knyght and fre;
My maister hath abiden you fastinge,
Syr, al these ourës thre.'
'Who is thy maister?' sayde the knyght;
Johnn sayde, 'Robyn Hode';
'He is a gode yoman,' sayde the knyght,
'Of hym I have herde moche gode.
'I graunte,' he sayde, 'with you to wende,
My bretherne, all in fere;
My purpos was to have 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 him to the lodgë-dore;
Whan Robyn gan hym 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 have abyden you fastinge, sir,
All these ouris thre.'
Than answered the gentyll knight,
With wordës fayre and fre:
'God thee save, goode Robyn,
And all thy fayre meynë.'
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 ryvere;
There fayled none so litell a birde
That ever 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 contrë,
As gode a dyner I shall thee make
As thou haest made to me.'
'Gramarcy, knyght,' sayde Robyn;
'My dyner whan that I it have,
I was never so gredy, by dere worthy God,
My dyner for to crave.
'But pay or ye wende,' sayde Robyn;
'Me thynketh it is gode ryght;
It was never the maner, by dere worthi God,
A yoman to pay for a knyght.'
'I have nought in my coffers,' saide the knyght,
'That I may prefer for shame':
'Litell John, go loke,' sayde Robyn,
'Ne let not for no blame.
'Tel me truth,' than saide Robyn,
'So God have parte of thee':
'I have no more but ten shelynges,' sayde the knyght,
'So God have parte of me.'
'If thou have no more,' sayde Robyn,
'I woll nat one peny;
And yf thou have 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 upon the grounde,
And there he fonde in the knyghtës cofer
But even halfe a pounde.
Littell Johnn let it lye full styll,
And went to hys maysteer full lowe;
'What tydynges, 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 wert made a knyght of force,
Or ellys of yemanry.
'Or ellys thou hast been a sori husbande,
And lyved in stroke and strife;
An okerer, or ellis a lechoure,' sayde Robyn,
'Wyth wronge hast led thy lyfe.'
'I am none of those,' sayde the knyght,
'By God that madë me;
An hundred wynter here before
Myn auncetres knyghtes have be.
'But oft it hath befal, Robyn,
A man hath be disgrate;
But God that sitteth in heven above
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 have I no gode,' saide the knyght,
'God hath shapen suche 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 greate foly,' he sayde,
'And for my kyndënesse.
'I hade a sone, forsoth, Robyn,
That shulde have ben myn ayre,
Whanne he was twenty wynter olde,
In felde wolde just full fayre.
'He slewe a knyght of Lancashire,
And a squyer bolde;
For to save him in his ryght
My godes beth sette and solde.
'My londes beth sette to wedde, Robyn,
Untyll 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 shall fall of thee?'
'Hastely I wol me buske,' sayd the knyght,
'Over the saltë see,
'And se where Criste was quyke and dede,
On the mount of Calverë;
Fare wel, frende, and have gode day;
It may no better be.'
Teris fell out of hys iyen two;
He wolde have gone hys way;
'Farewel, frende, and have gode day,
I ne have no more to pay.'
'Where be thy frendës?' sayde Robyn:
'Syr, never one wol me knowe;
While I was rych 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 never sawe.'
For ruthe thanne wept Litell Johnn,
Scarlok and Much in fere;
'Fyl of the best wyne,' sayde Robyn,
'For here is a symple chere.
'Hast thou any frende,' sayde Robyn,
'Thy borrowe that woldë be?'
'I have none,' than sayde the knyght,
'But God that dyed on tree.'
'Do away thy japis,' than sayde Robyn,
'Thereof wol I right none;
Wenest thou I wolde have 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 have none other,' sayde the knyght,
'The sothe for to say,
But yf yt be Our dere Lady;
She fayled me never or thys day.'
'By dere worthy God,' sayde Robyn,
'To seche all Englonde thorowe,
Yet fonde I never to my pay
A moche better borowe.
'Come nowe furth, Litell Johnn,
And go to my tresourë,
And bringe me foure hundred 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 lytell Much;
Johnn sayde: 'What greveth thee?
It is almus to helpe a gentyll knyght
That is fal in povertë.
'Master,' than sayde Lityll John,
'His clothinge is full thynne;
Ye must gyve the knight a lyveray,
To lappe his body therein.
'For ye have scarlet and grene, mayster,
And many a rich aray;
Ther is no marchaunt in mery Englond
So ryche, I dare well say.'
'Take hym thre yerdes of every colour,
And loke well mete that it be.'
Lytell Johnn toke none other mesure
But his bowë-tree.
And at every handfull that he met
He lepëd fotës three;
'What devylles drapar,' sayd litell Much,
'Thynkest thou for to be?'
Scarlok stode full stil and loughe,
And sayd, 'By God Almyght,
Johnn may gyve hym gode mesure,
For it costeth hym but lyght.'
'Mayster,' than said Litell Johnn
To gentill Robyn Hode,
'Ye must give the knight a hors
To lede home al this gode.'
'Take him 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 botës,' sayde Scarlok,
'For he is a gentyll knight.'
'What shalt thou gyve him, Litell John?'
'Sir, a peyre of gilt sporis clene,
To pray for all this company;
God bringe hym oute of tene.'
'Whan shal mi day be,' said the knight,
'Sir, and your wyll be?'
'This day twelve moneth,' saide Robyn,
'Under this grene-wode tre.
'It were great shamë,' said Robyn,
'A knight alone to ryde,
Withoutë squyre, yoman, or page,
To walkë by his syde.
'I shal thee lende Litell Johnn, my man,
For he shalbe thy knave;
In a yeman's stede he may thee stande,
If thou greate nedë have.'
1.1: 'Lythe and listin,' hearken and listen: a very common opening.
1.2: 'frebore,' free-born.
2.2,3: 'Whyles . . . outlaw': supplied from the Wynkyn de Worde text.
4.4: i.e., worthy of a groom, or young man.
5.3: 'and,' if.
6.4: 'unkouth,' unknown.
7.1: Wanting in all versions.
7.3: 'som,' supplied from Wynken de Worde's text.
8.4: 'messis,' masses.
9.4: 'allther moste,' most of all.
10.2: 'dout,' fear.
12.3: 'reve,' pillage.
13.1: 'no force,' no matter.
16.2: 'lere,' learn.
16.3: 'fer dayes,' late in the day: 'gest,' exploit.
18.1: The Sayles, a small part of the manor of Pontefract.
18.2: Watling Street = the great North Road.
18.4: 'Up chaunce,' in case.
19.4: 'dight,' prepared.
21.2: 'dernë strete,' hidden or obscure path.
23.1: 'iyn,' eyes.
25.2: 'Hendë,' noble.
27.2: 'in fere,' in company.
28.2: 'carefull chere,' sorrowful face.
28.4: 'lere,' cheek.
31.4: 'meynë,' company.
32.4: 'noumbles,' entrails.
34.1: 'Do gladly' = make yourself at home; a hospitable expression. Cp. 103.1 and 232.1.
37.1: 'or ye wende,' before you go.
38.4: 'let not,' leave nothing undone.
39.2,4: 'have parte of,' perhaps means 'protect,' or 'take my part.'
45.3: This refers to 'distraint of knighthood,' instituted in 1224, compelling military tenants to receive knighthood or pay a composition.
46.3: 'okerer,' usurer.
48.2: 'disgrate,' unfortunate.
49.4: From the rhyme it is obvious the verses have here been confused, especially as all copies print 50.3 before 50.2.
52.4: 'just,' joust, tilt.
53.4, 54.1: 'beth' (in another version 'both'), are.
54.1: 'sette to wedde,' put in pledge.
56.1: 'lese,' lose.
57.1: 'quyke' = quick, alive.
59.4: 'blowe,' utter.
60.2: 'on a rowe,' in file.
61.1: 'ruthe,' pity.
61.4: 'chere,' entertainment.
62.2: 'borrowe,' security.
64.2: 'shope,' shaped.
65.4: 'or,' before.
66.3: 'pay,' liking.
72.2: 'mete,' measured. So 73.1 'met' = measured.
74.1: 'loughe,' laughed.
78.4: 'tene,' trouble.
81.2: 'knave,' servant.
81.3: i.e., he shall stand for thee instead of a yeoman.]
A Gest Of Robyn Hode THE SECOND FYTTE (82-143)
Argument.--The knight goes to York to pay down his four hundred pounds to the abbot of St. Mary Abbey, who has retained the services of the high justice of England 'with cloth and fee,' an offence defined as conspiracy by statutes of the first three Edwards. The knight, pretending he has not brought the money, requests an extension of time; but the abbot will not hear of it, and is supported in his refusal by the justice: the knight's lands will be forfeited. The justice advises the abbot (117, etc.) to give the knight a sum to 'make a release' and prevent subsequent legal difficulties. The knight brings the matter to an end by paying down the four hundred pounds, saying that had the abbot been more courteous, he should have had interest on the loan.
The knight returns to his home in Wyresdale, and saves up the sum to be repaid to Robin Hood. As he sets out for Barnsdale with a goodly company, he finds a great wrestling-match taking place at Wentbridge, which delays him a while.
The word 'frembde' (138.3) is now obsolete except in Scots and north-country dialect, and is spelled in various ways. It occurs more than once in Chaucer, and twice in Sidney's Arcadia. 'Fremit,' the common Scots form, may be found in Burns. More recently, it appears in books of Westmoreland, Cumberland, or Northumberland dialect. Cp. Mrs. Gaskell, Sylvia's Lovers: 'There's a fremd man i' t' house.' It means 'foreign' or 'strange.'
[Footnote 2: Wentbridge is mentioned in Robin Hood and the Potter, 6.1. The river Went is the northern boundary of Barnsdale.]
THE SECOND FYTTE
Now is the knight gone on his way;
This game hym thought full gode;
Whanne he loked on Bernësdale
He blessyd Robyn Hode.
And whanne he thought on Bernysdale,
On Scarlok, Much and Johnn
He blyssyd them for the best company
That ever 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 upon this nyght
My londe is lost for ay.'
The abbot sayd to his covent,
There he stode on grounde,
'This day twelfe moneth came there a knyght
And borowed foure hondred pounde.
['He borowed four hondred pounde]
Upon all his londë fre;
But he come this ylkë day
Disherited shall he be.'
'It is full erely,' sayd the pryoure,
The day is not yet ferre gone;
I had lever to pay an hondred pounde,
And lay downe anone.
'The knyght is ferre beyonde the see,
In Englonde is his ryght,
And suffreth honger and colde
And many a sory nyght.
'It were grete pytë,' said the pryoure,
'So to have his londe;
And ye be so lyght of your consyence,
Ye do to hym moch wronge.'
'Thou arte ever 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 have to spende in this place
Foure hondred pounde by yere.'
The abbot and the hy selerer
Stertë forthe full bolde,
The highe justyce of Englonde
The abbot there dyde holde.
The hye justyce and many mo
Had take in to theyr honde
Holy all the knyghtës det,
To put that knyght to wronge.
They demed the knyght wonder sore,
The abbot and his meynë:
'But he come this ylkë day
Dysheryte shall he be.'
'He wyll not come yet,' sayd the justyce,
'I dare well undertake';
But in sorowe tymë for them all
The knight came to the gate.
Than bespake that gentyll knyght
Untyll his meynë:
'Now put on your symple wedes
That ye brought fro the see.'
[They put on their symple wedes,]
They came to the gates anone;
The porter was redy hymselfe
And welcomed them everychone.
'Welcome, syr knyght,' sayd the porter,
'My lorde to mete is he,
And so is many a gentyll man,
For the love of thee.'
The porter swore a full grete othe:
'By God that madë me,
Here be the best coresed hors
That ever yet sawe I me.
'Lede them in to the stable,' he sayd,
'That eased myght they be';
'They shall not come therin,' sayd the knyght,
'By God that dyed on a tre.'
Lordës were to mete isette
In that abbotes hall;
The knyght went forth and kneled down,
And salved them grete and small.
'Do gladly, syr abbot,' sayd the knyght,
'I am come to holde my day.'
The fyrst word that the abbot spake,
'Hast thou brought my pay?'
'Not one peny,' sayd the knyght,
'By God that makëd me.'
'Thou art a shrewed dettour,' sayd the abbot;
'Syr justyce, 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 justyce,
'Londë getest thou none.'
'Now, good syr justyce, be my frende
And fende me of my fone!'
'I am holde with the abbot,' sayd the justyce,
'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 curteysë,
And holde my londës in thy honde
Tyll I have made the gree!
'And I wyll be thy true servaunte,
And trewely serve the,
Tyll ye have foure hondred pounde
Of money good and free.'
The abbot sware a full grete othe,
'By God that dyed on a tree,
Get the londë where thou may,
For thou getest none of me.'
'By dere worthy God,' then sayd the knyght,
'That all this worldë wrought,
But I have my londe agayne,
Full dere it shall be bought.
'God, that was of a mayden borne,
Leve us well to spede!
For it is good to assay a frende
Or that a man have nede.'
The abbot lothely on hym gan loke,
And vylaynesly hym gan call;
'Out,' he sayd, 'thou false knyght,
Spede thee out of my hall!'
'Thou lyest,' then sayd the gentyll knyght,
'Abbot, in thy hal;
False knyght was I never,
By God that made us all.'
Up then stode that gentyll knyght,
To the abbot sayd he,
'To suffre a knyght to knele so longe,
Thou canst no curteysye.
'In joustës and in tournement
Full ferre than have I be,
And put myself as ferre in prees
As ony that ever I se.'
'What wyll ye gyve more,' sayd the justyce,
'And the knyght shall make a releyse?
And ellës dare I safly swere
Ye holde never your londe in pees.'
'An hondred pounde,' sayd the abbot;
The justice sayd, 'Gyve hym two';
'Nay, be God,' sayd the knyght,
'Yit gete ye it not so.
'Though ye wolde gyve a thousand more,
Yet were ye never the nere;
Shal there never be myn heyre
Abbot, justice, ne frere.'
He stert hym to a borde anone,
Tyll a table rounde,
And there he shoke oute of a bagge
Even four hundred pound.
'Have here thi golde, sir abbot,' saide the knight,
'Which that thou lentest me;
Had thou ben curtes at my comynge,
Rewarded shuldest thou have 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 justice, that I toke thee.'
'Not a peni,' said the justice,
'Bi God, that dyed on tree.'
'Sir abbot, and ye men of lawe,
Now have I holde my daye:
Now shall I have 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 have 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 ever his soulë be in blysse:
He holpe me out of tene;
Ne had be his kyndënesse,
Beggers had we bene.
'The abbot and I accorded ben,
He is served of his pay;
The god yoman lent it me
As I cam by the way.'
This knight than dwelled fayre at home,
The sothë for to saye,
Tyll he had gete four hundred pound,
Al redy for to pay.
He purveyed him an hundred bowes,
The stryngës well ydyght,
An hundred shefe of arowes gode,
The hedys burneshed full bryght;
And every arowe an ellë longe,
With pecok well idyght,
Inocked all with whyte silver;
It was a semely syght.
He purveyed him 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 up set,
A whyte bulle up i-pyght,
A grete courser, with sadle and brydil,
With golde burnyssht full bryght.
A payre of gloves, 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 have be.
The knight had ruthe of this yoman,
In placë where that he stode;
He sayde that yoman shulde have no harme,
For love of Robyn Hode.
The knyght presed in to the place,
An hundreth folowed hym [free],
With bowes bent and arowes sharpe,
For to shende that companye.
They shulderd all and made hym rome,
To wete what he wolde say;
He took the yeman bi the hande,
And gave hym al the play.
He gave hym five marke for his wyne,
There it lay on the molde,
And bad it shulde be set a broche,
Drynkë who so wolde.
Thus longe taried this gentyll knyght,
Tyll that play was done;
So long abode Robyn fastinge
Thre hourës after the none.
83.4: From here to 118.3 the Edinburgh fragment is wanting.
86.1: 'covent' = convent.
87.1: Wanting: supplied by Ritson.
87.3: 'But,' unless: 'ylkë,' same.
88.3: 'lever,' rather.
91.4: 'selerer' cellarer or steward.
92.2: 'bought,' ransomed.
93.3: 'highe,' supplied from Copland's edition.
95.1: 'demed,' judged.
95.4: 'dysheryte,' dispossessed; cf. 87.4.
98.: Wanting in all editions: supplied by Ritson.
100.3: 'coresed,' perhaps = coursed; i.e. a horse used in tourneys, a courser, or charger.
102.4: 'salved,' greeted.
103.1: See 34.1.
104.3: 'shrewed,' cursed.
105.2: 'But,' unless. So 111.3
106.4: 'fone,' foes.
107.1,2: 'retained by presents of cloth and money.' --Child.
108.4: 'made the gree,' paid my dues. (Old French gre, Latin gratum.)
112.2: 'Leve,' grant.
112.4: 'Or that,' before that. The proverb is a favourite in Middle English: see Early English Lyrics, CXI.
116.3: 'as ferre in prees,' in as thick a part of the fight.
118.4: From here to 124.1 the Edinburgh fragment is available.
119.2: 'nere,' nearer. Cp. Robin Hood and the Potter, 46.3.
123.2: 'toke,' gave.
126.4: 'Verysdale,' Wyresdale or Wyersdale.
127.4: The Edinburgh fragment is again available as far as 133.2.
128.2: 'tene,' trouble.
131.2: 'ydyght,' fitted.
132.3: 'Inocked' = i-nocked, notched.
133.1,2: The latter halves of these lines are torn away in the Edinburgh fragment. The Cambridge text is resumed at 133.3.
133.2: 'stede,' place.
134.1: 'launsgay,' javelin.
134.2: 'male,' baggage. Cp. 374.1.
135.1: So the Cambridge text: Child suggests '? But at Wentbrydge ther was.' See Argument.
136.2: 'i-pyght,' put.
136.4: Edinburgh fragment again.
138.3: 'frembde bested,' in the position of a foreigner or stranger. See fore-note.
140.2: 'free,' supplied from the 'fere,' misprinted in the Cambridge text. Copland, 'in fere.'
140.4: 'shende,' put to rout.
141.1: 'rome,' room.]
A Gest Of Robyn Hode - The Third Fytte (144-204)
Argument.--The narrative of the knight's loan is for the moment dropped, in order to relate a gest of Little John, who is now (81.2) the knight's 'knave' or squire. Going forth 'upon a mery day,' Little John shoots with such skill that he attracts the attention of the Sheriff of Nottingham (who is here and elsewhere the type of Robin Hood's enemies), and enters his service for a year under the name of Reynold Greenleaf. While the sheriff is hunting, Little John fights his servants, robs his treasure-house, and escapes back to Robin Hood with 'three hundred pound and more.' He then bethinks him of a shrewd wile, and inveigles the sheriff to leave his hunting in order to see a right fair hart and seven score of deer, which turn out to be Robin and his men. Robin Hood exacts an oath of the sheriff, equivalent to an armistice; and he returns home, having had his fill of the greenwood.
THE THIRD FYTTE
Lyth and lystyn, gentilmen,
All that now be here;
Of Litell Johnn, that was the knightës man,
Goode myrth ye shall here.
It was upon a mery day
That yonge men wolde go shete;
Lytell Johnn fet his bowe anone,
And sayde he wolde them mete.
Thre tymes Litell Johnn shet aboute,
And alwey he slet the wande;
The proudë sherif of Notingham
By the markës can stande.
The sherif swore a full greate othe:
'By hym that dyede on a tre,
This man is the best arschere
That ever yet sawe I me.
'Say me nowe, wight yonge man,
What is nowe thy name?
In what countrë were thou borne,
And where is thy wonynge wane?'
'In Holdernes, sir, I was borne,
I-wys al of my dame;
Men cal me Reynolde Grenëlef
Whan I am at home.'
'Sey me, Reynolde Grenëlefe,
Wolde thou dwell with me?
And every yere I woll thee gyve
Twenty marke to thy fee.'
'I have a maister,' sayde Litell Johnn,
'A curteys knight is he;
May ye levë gete of hym,
The better may it be.'
The sherif gate Litell John
Twelve monethës of the knight;
Therefore he gave him right anone
A gode hors and a wight.
Nowe is Litell John the sherifes man,
God lende us well to spede!
But alwey thought Lytell John
To quyte hym wele his mede.
'Nowe so God me helpe,' sayde Litell John,
'And by my true leutye,
I shall be the worst servaunt to hym
That ever yet had he.'
It fell upon a Wednesday
The sherif on huntynge was gone,
And Litel John 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 thee,
Gyve me my dynere,' saide Litell John.
'It is longe for Grenëlefe
Fastinge thus for to be;
Therfor I pray thee, sir stuarde,
Mi dyner gif me.'
'Shalt thou never ete ne drynke' saide the stuarde,
'Tyll my lorde be come to towne.'
'I make myn avowe to God,' saide Litell John,
'I had lever to crake thy crowne.'
The boteler was full uncurteys,
There he stode on flore;
He start to the botery
And shet fast the dore.
Lytell Johnn gave the boteler suche a tap
His backe went nere in two;
Though he lived 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 lyveray,
Bothe of ale and of wyne.
'Sith ye wol nat dyne,' sayde Litell John,
'I shall gyve you to drinke;
And though ye lyve an hundred wynter,
On Lytel Johnn ye shall thinke.'
Litell John ete, and Litel John drank,
The while that he wolde;
The sherife had in his kechyn a coke,
A stoute man and a bolde.
'I make myn avowe to God,' said the coke,
'Thou arte a shrewde hynde
In ani hous for to dwel,
For to aske thus to dyne.'
And there he lent Litell John
Godë strokis thre;
'I make myn avowe 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 took another in hande;
They thought no thynge for to fle,
But stifly for to stande.
There they faught sore togedere
Two mylë way and well more;
Myght nether other harme done,
The mountnaunce of an owre.
'I make myn avowe to God,' sayde Litell Johnn,
'And by my true lewtë;
Thou art one of the best sworde-men
That ever yit sawe I me.
'Cowdest thou shote as well in a bowe,
To grene wode thou shuldest with me,
And two times in the yere thy clothinge
Chaunged shuldë be;
'And every yere of Robyn Hode
Twenty merke to thy fe.'
'Put up thy swerde,' saide the coke,
'And felowes 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 trouthes togeder they plight
That they wolde be with Robyn
That ylkë samë nyght.
They dyd them to the tresoure-hows,
As fast as they myght gone;
The lokkes, that were of full gode stele,
They brake them everichone.
They toke away the silver vessell,
And all that thei might get;
Pecis, masars, ne sponis,
Wolde thei not forget.
Also they toke the godë pens,
Thre hundred pounde and more,
And did them streyte to Robyn Hode,
Under the grene wode hore.
'God thee save, my dere mayster,
And Criste thee save and se!'
And thanne sayde Robyn to Litell Johnn,
'Welcome myght thou be.
'Also be that fayre yeman
Thou bryngest there with thee;
What tydyngës fro Notyngham?
Lytill Johnn, tell thou me.'
'Well thee gretith the proude sheryf,
And sendeth thee here by me
His coke and his silver vessell,
And thre hundred pounde and thre.'
'I make myne avowe to God,' sayde Robyn,
'And to the Trenytë,
It was never by his gode wyll
This gode is come to me.'
Lytyll Johnn there hym bethought
On a shrewde wyle;
Fyve myle in the forest he ran,
Hym happëd all his wyll.
Than he met the proude sheref,
Huntynge with houndes and horne;
Lytell Johnn coude of curtesye,
And knelyd hym beforne.
'God thee save, my dere mayster,
Ande Criste thee save and se!'
'Reynolde Grenelefe,' sayde the shryef,
'Where hast thou nowe be?'
'I have be in this forest;
A fayre syght can I se;
It was one of the fayrest syghtes
That ever yet sawe I me.
'Yonder I sawe a ryght fayre harte,
His coloure is of grene;
Seven score of dere upon a herde
Be with hym all bydene.
'Their tyndes are so sharp, maister,
Of sexty, and well mo,
That I durst not shote for drede,
Lest they wolde me slo.'
'I make myn avowe to God,' sayde the shyref,
'That syght wolde I fayne se.'
'Buske you thyderwarde, my dere mayster,
Anone, and wende with me.'
The sherif rode, and Litell Johnn
Of fote he was full smerte,
And whane they came before Robyn,
'Lo, sir, here is the mayster-herte.'
Still stode the proude sherief,
A sory man was he;
'Wo the worthe, Raynolde Grenelefe,
Thou hast betrayed nowe me.'
'I make myn avowe to God,' sayde Litell Johnn,
'Mayster, ye be to blame;
I was mysserved of my dynere
When I was with you at home.'
Sone he was to souper sette,
And served well with silver white,
And when the sherif sawe his vessell,
For sorowe he myght nat ete.
'Make glad chere,' sayde Robyn Hode,
'Sherif, for charitë,
And for the love of Litill Johnn
Thy lyfe I graunt to thee.'
Whan they had soupëd 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 therein.
Robyn commaundyd his wight yonge men,
Under the grene-wode tree,
They shulde lye in that same sute
That the sherif myght them see.
All nyght lay the proude sherif
In his breche and in his schert;
No wonder it was, in grene wode,
Though his sydës gan to smerte.
'Make glad chere,' sayde Robyn Hode,
'Sheref, for charitë;
For this is our ordre i-wys
Under the grene-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 twelve monthes,' sayde Robin,
'Thou shalt dwell with me;
I shall thee techë, proude sherif,
An outlawe for to be.'
'Or I be here another nyght,' sayde the sherif,
'Robyn, nowe pray I thee,
Smyte of min hede rather to-morrowe,
And I forgyve it thee.
'Lat me go,' than sayde the sherif,
'For sayntë charitë,
And I woll be the bestë frende
That ever yet had ye.'
'Thou shalt swere me an othe,' sayde Robyn,
'On my bright bronde;
Shalt thou never awayte me scathe
By water ne by lande.
'And if thou fynde any of my men,
By nyght or by day,
Upon thyn othë thou shalt swere
To helpe them that thou may.'
Now hath the sherif sworne his othe,
And home he began to gone;
He was as full of grenë-wode
As ever was hepe of stone.
145.2: 'shete,' shoot.
145.3: 'fet,' fetched.
148.1: 'wight,' strong, active.
148.4: 'wonynge wane': both words mean dwelling or habitation.
153.4: To give him his full reward.
154.2: 'leutye,' loyalty.
155.4: 'foriete,' forgotten.
160.4: 'go' = walk.
161.3: 'lyveray,' purveyance.
168.2: 'Two mylë way' = the time it takes to go two miles. See Early English Lyrics, cxxvi. 55, and note.
168.4: 'mountnaunce,' duration.
172.2: 'nowmbles,' entrails: cf. 32.4.
175.3: 'Pecis,' cups; 'masars,' bowls.
177.2: Cf. Child Waters, 2.2 (First Series, p. 37).
183.2: See 177.2 and note.
183.3: 'shryef' may be a misprint, but 'shreeve' is another spelling of 'sheriff.'
185.4: 'bydene,' together.
186.1: 'tyndes' = tynes, forks of the antlers.
186.4: 'slo,' slay.
194.3: 'toke,' gave.
198.2: 'ankir,' anchorite, hermit.
200.1: 'Or,' ere.
202.3: 'awayte me scathe,' lie in wait to do me harm.
204.4: i.e. as ever a hip (berry of the wild rose) is of its stone.]
A Gest Of Robyn Hode - THE FOURTH FYTTE (205-280)
Argument.--Robin Hood will not dine until he has 'his pay,' and he therefore sends Little John with Much and Scarlok to wait for an 'unketh gest.' They capture a monk of St. Mary Abbey, and Robin Hood makes him disgorge eight hundred pounds. The monk, we are told, was on his way to London to take proceedings against the knight.
In due course the knight, who was left at the end of the second fytte at the wrestling-match, arrives to pay his debt to Robin Hood; who, however, refuses to receive it, saying that Our Lady had discharged the loan already.
The admirable, naïvely-told episode of Our Lady's method of repaying money lent on her security, is not without parallels, some of which Child points out (III. 53-4).
THE FOURTH FYTTE
The sherif dwelled in Notingham;
He was fayne he was agone;
And Robyn and his mery men
Went to wode anone.
'Go we to dyner,' sayde Littell Johnn;
Robyn Hode sayde, 'Nay;
For I drede Our Lady be wroth with me,
For she sent me nat my pay.'
'Have no doute, maister,' sayde Litell Johnn;
'Yet is nat the sonne at rest;
For I dare say, and savely swere.
The knight is true and truste.'
'Take thy bowe in thy hande,' sayde Robyn,
'Late Much wende with thee,
And so shal Wyllyam Scarlok,
And no man abyde with me.
'And walke up under the Sayles,
And to Watlynge-strete,
And wayte after some unketh gest;
Up chaunce ye may them mete.
'Whether he be messengere,
Or a man that myrthës can,
Of my good he shall have some,
Yf he be a porë 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 up 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 hyë waye,
Than were they ware of two blacke monkes,
Eche on a good palferay.
Then bespake Lytell Johan,
To Much he gan say,
'I dare lay my lyfe to wedde,
That these monkes have brought our pay.
'Make glad chere,' sayd Lytell Johan,
'And frese your bowes of ewe,
And loke your hertes be seker and sad,
Your strynges trusty and trewe.
'The monke hath two and fifty men,
And seven somers full stronge;
There rydeth no bysshop in this londe
So ryally, I understond.
'Brethern,' sayd Lytell Johan,
'Here are no more but we thre;
But we bryngë them to dyner,
Our mayster dare we not se.
'Bende your bowes,' sayd Lytell Johan,
'Make all yon prese to stonde;
The formost monke, his lyfe and his deth
Is closëd 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 evyll thryfte on thy hede,' sayd Lytell Johan,
'Ryght under thy hattë'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 never good.'
'Thou lyest,' than sayd Lytell Johan,
'And that shall rewë thee;
He is a yeman of the forest,
To dyne he hath bodë thee.'
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 lodgë-dore,
Whether he were loth or lefe,
For to speke with Robyn Hode,
Maugre in theyr tethe.
Robyn dyde adowne his hode,
The monke whan that he se;
The monke was not so curteyse,
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 us knowe.'
Seven score of wyght yemen,
Came pryckynge on a rowe.
And everych 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 served him both in fere.
'Do gladly, monke,' sayd Robyn.
'Gramercy, syr,' sayd he.
'Where is your abbay, whan ye are at home,
And who is your avowë?'
'Saynt Mary abbay,' sayd the monke,
'Though I be symple here.'
'In what offyce?' said Robyn:
'Syr, the hye selerer.'
'Ye be the more welcome,' sayd Robyn,
'So ever mote I the!
Fyll of the best wyne,' sayd Robyn,
'This monke shall drynke to me.
'But I have grete mervayle,' sayd Robyn,
'Of all this longë day;
I drede Our Lady be wroth with me,
She sent me not my pay.'
'Have no doute, mayster,' sayd Lytell Johan,
'Ye have no nede, I saye;
This monke hath brought it, 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 grene-wode tree.
'And yf thou hast that sylver ibrought,
I pray thee let me se;
And I shall helpë thee eftsones,
Yf thou have nede to me.'
The monke swore a full grete othe,
With a sory chere,
'Of the borowehode thou spekest to me,
Herde I never ere.'
'I make myn avowe to God,' sayd Robyn,
'Monke, thou art to blame;
For God is holde a ryghtwys man,
And so is his dame.
'Thou toldest with thyn ownë tonge,
Thou may not say nay,
How thou arte her servaunt,
And servest her every day.
'And thou art made her messengere,
My money for to pay;
Therefore I cun the morë thanke
Thou arte come at thy day.
'What is in your cofers?' sayd Robyn,
'Trewe than tell thou me.'
'Syr,' he sayd, 'twenty 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 thee.
'And yf I fyndë more,' sayd Robyn,
'I-wys thou shalte it forgone;
For of thy spendynge-sylver, monke,
Thereof wyll I ryght none.
'Go nowe forthe, Lytell Johan,
And the trouth tell thou me;
If there be no more but twenty marke,
No peny that I se.'
Lytell Johan spred his mantell downe,
As he had done before,
And he tolde out of the monkës male
Eyght hondred pounde and more.
Lytell Johan let it lye full styll,
And went to his mayster in hast;
'Syr,' he sayd, 'the monke is trewe ynowe,
Our Lady hath doubled your cast.'
'I make myn avowe to God,' sayd Robyn--
'Monke, what tolde I thee?--
Our Lady is the trewest woman
That ever yet founde I me.
'By dere worthy God,' sayd Robyn,
'To seche all Englond thorowe,
Yet founde I never 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 have nede to Robyn Hode,
A frende she shall hym fynde.
'And yf she nedeth ony more sylver,
Come thou agayne to me,
And, by this token she hath me sent,
She shall have such thre.'
The monke was goynge to London ward,
There to hold grete mote,
The knyght that rode so hye on hors,
To brynge hym under fote.
'Whether be ye away?' sayd Robyn.
'Syr, to maners in this londe,
To reken with our reves,
That have done moch wronge.'
'Come now forth, Lytell Johan,
And harken to my tale;
A better yemen I knowe none,
To seke a monkës male.'
'How moch is in yonder other corser?' sayd Robyn,
'The soth must we see.'
'By Our Lady,' than sayd the monke,
'That were no curteysye,
'To bydde a man to dyner,
And syth hym bete and bynde.'
'It is our olde maner,' sayd Robyn,
'To leve but lytell behynde.'
The monke toke the hors with spore,
No lenger wolde he abyde:
'Askë to drynke,' 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 have 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 every 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 grene-wode tre,
And he founde there Robyn Hode,
And all his mery meynë.
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 savë, 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 nede dryveth thee to grene-wode?
I praye thee, syr knyght, tell me.
'And welcome be thou, gentyll knyght,
Why hast thou be so longe?'