Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 124

Gamelyn Goes to the Greenwood

Meanwhile Adam wandered with Gamelyn in the greenwood, and found it very hard work, with little food. He complained aloud to his young lord:

“‘Would I were back in mine old stewardship—
Full blithe were I, the keys to bear and keep!
I like not this wild wood, with wounding thorns,
And nought of food or drink, or restful ease.’
‘Ah! Adam,’ answered Gamelyn, ‘in sooth
Full many a good man’s son feels bitter woe!
Then cheer thee, Adam.’”

“Then cheer thee, Adam”

As they spoke sadly together Gamelyn heard men’s voices near by, and, looking through the bushes, saw seven score young men, sitting round a plentiful feast, spread on the green grass. He rejoiced greatly, bidding Adam remember that “Boot cometh after bale,” and pointing out to him the abundance of provisions near at hand. Adam longed for a good meal, for they had found little to eat since they came to the greenwood. At that moment the master-outlaw saw them in the underwood, and bade his young men bring to him these new guests whom God had sent: perchance, he said, there were others besides these two. The seven bold youths who started up to do his will cried to the two new-comers: “Yield and hand us your bows and arrows!” “Much sorrow may he have who yields to you,” cried Gamelyn. “Why, with five more ye would be only twelve, and I could fight you all.” When the [Pg 220] outlaws saw how boldly he bore himself they changed their tone, and said mildly: “Come to our master, and tell him thy desire.” “Who is your master?” quoth Gamelyn. “He is the crowned king of the outlaws,” quoth they; and the two strangers were led away to the chief.

The master-outlaw, sitting on a rustic throne, with a crown of oak-leaves on his head, asked them their business, and Gamelyn replied: “He must needs walk in the wood who may not walk in the town. We are hungry and faint, and will only shoot the deer for food, for we are hard bestead and in great danger.”

Gamelyn Joins the Outlaws

The outlaw leader had pity on their distress, and gave them food; and as they ate ravenously the outlaws whispered one to another: “This is Gamelyn!” “This is Gamelyn!” Understanding all the evils that had befallen him, their leader soon made Gamelyn his second in command; and when after three weeks the outlaw king was pardoned and allowed to return home, Gamelyn was chosen to succeed him and was crowned king of the outlaws. So he dwelt merrily in the forest, and troubled not himself about the world outside.

The Law at Work

Meanwhile the treacherous Sir John had recovered, and in due course had become sheriff, and indicted his brother for felony. As Gamelyn did not appear to answer the indictment he was proclaimed an outlaw and wolf’s-head, and a price was set upon his life. Now his bondmen and vassals were grieved at this, for they feared the cruelty of the wicked sheriff; they therefore sent messengers to Gamelyn to tell him the ill news, and deprecate his wrath. The youth’s anger [Pg 221] rose at the tidings, and he promised to come and beard Sir John in his hall and protect his own tenants.