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Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 177

The three yeomen, taking their longbows in hand and arrows in their belts, walked up through the willow plantation to a place on Watling Street where another road crossed it; but there was no one in sight. As they stood with bows in hand, looking towards the forest of Barnesdale, they saw in the distance a knight

“Little John caught the horse by the bridle”

Little John Escorts the Knight

The knight raised his head and looked blankly at the outlaw, who at once doffed his cap, saying, “Welcome, Sir Knight! I give you, on my master’s behalf, a hearty welcome to the greenwood. Gentle knight, come now to my master, who hath waited three hours, fasting, for your approach before he would dine. Dinner is prepared, and only tarries your courteous appearance.” The stranger knight seemed to consider this address carefully, for he sighed deeply, and then said: “I cry thee mercy, good fellow, for the delay, though I wot not how I am the cause thereof. But who is thy master?” Little John replied: “My master’s name is Robin Hood, and I am sent to guide you to him.” The knight said: “So Robin Hood is thy leader? I have heard of him, and know him to be a good yeoman; therefore I am ready to accompany thee, though, in good sooth, I had intended to eat my midday meal at Blythe or Doncaster to-day. But it matters little where a broken man dines!”

Robin Hood’s Feast

The three yeomen conducted the knight along the forest ways to the trysting oak where Robin awaited [Pg 318] them. As they went they observed that the knight was weeping silently for some great distress, but their courtesy forbade them to make any show of noticing his grief. When the appointed spot was reached, Robin stepped forward and courteously greeted his guest, with head uncovered and bended knee, and welcomed him gladly to the wild greenwood. “Welcome, Sir Knight, to our greenwood feast! I have waited three hours for a guest, and now Our Lady has sent you to me we can dine, after we have heard Mass.” The knight said nothing but, “God save you, good Robin, and all your merry men”; and then very devoutly they heard the three Masses, sung by Friar Tuck. By this time others of the outlaw band had appeared, having returned from various errands, and a gay company sat down to a banquet as good as any the knight had ever eaten.


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