The Outlaws’ Feast
Robin Hood doffed his cap and greeted his guest with all courtesy, but the monk would not reply, and Little John’s account of their meeting made it evident that he was a churlish and unwilling guest. However, he was obliged to celebrate the three usual Masses, was [Pg 331] given water for his ablutions before the banquet, and then when the whole fellowship was assembled he was set in the place of honour at the feast, and reverently served by Robin himself. “Be of good cheer, Sir Monk,” said Robin. “Where is your abbey when you are at home, and who is your patron saint?” “I am of St. Mary’s Abbey, in York, and, simple though I be, I am the high cellarer.”
The High Cellarer and the Suretyship
“For Our Lady’s sake,” said Robin, “we will give this monk the best of cheer. Drink to me, Sir Monk; the wine is good. But I fear Our Lady is wroth with me, for she has not sent me my money.” “Fear not, master,” returned Little John; “this monk is her cellarer, and no doubt she has made him her messenger and he carries our money with him.” “That is likely,” replied Robin. “Sir Monk, Our Lady was surety for a little loan between a good knight and me, and to-day the money was to be repaid. If you have brought it, pay it to me now, and I will thank you heartily.” The monk was quite amazed, and cried aloud: “I have never heard of such a suretyship”; and as he spoke he looked so anxiously at his sumpter-mules that Robin guessed there was gold in their pack-saddles.
The Monk is Searched
Accordingly the leader feigned sudden anger. “Sir Monk, how dare you defame our dear Lady? She is always true and faithful, and as you say you are her servant, no doubt she has made you her messenger to bring my money. Tell me truly how much you have in your coffers, and I will thank you for coming so punctually.” The monk replied: “Sir, I [Pg 332] have only twenty marks in my bags”; to which Robin answered: “If that be all, and you have told the truth I will not touch one penny; rather will I lend you some if you need it; but if I find more, I will leave none, Sir Monk, for a religious man should have no silver to spend in luxury.” Now the monk looked very greatly alarmed, but he dared make no protest, as Little John began to search his bags and coffers.
Success of the Search
When Little John opened the first coffer he emptied its contents, as before, into his cloak, and counted eight hundred pounds, with which he went to Robin Hood, saying, “Master, the monk has told the truth; here are twenty marks of his own, and eight hundred pounds which Our Lady has sent you in return for your loan.” When Robin heard that he cried to the miserable monk: “Did I not say so, monk? Is not Our Lady the best surety a man could have? Has she not repaid me twice? Go back to your abbey and say that if ever St. Mary’s monks need a friend they shall find one in Robin Hood.”