Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 125

Gamelyn Arrested

It was certainly a stroke of rash daring thus to venture into the county where his brother was sheriff, but he strode boldly into the moot-hall, with his hood thrown back, so that all might recognise him, and cried aloud: “God save all you lordings here present! But, thou broken-backed sheriff, evil mayst thou thrive! Why hast thou done me such wrong and disgrace as to have me indicted and proclaimed an outlaw?” Sir John did not hesitate to use his legal powers, but, seeing his brother was quite alone, had him arrested and cast into prison, whence it was his intention that only death should release him.

Otho as Surety

All these years the second brother, Otho, had lived quietly on his own lands and taken no heed of the quarrels of the two others; but now, when news came to him of Sir John’s deadly hatred to their youngest brother, and Gamelyn’s desperate plight, he was deeply grieved, roused himself from his peaceful life, and rode to see if he could help his brother. First he besought Sir John’s mercy for the prisoner, for the sake of brotherhood and family love; but he only replied that Gamelyn must stay imprisoned till the justice should hold the next assize. Then Otho offered to be bail, if only his young brother might be released from his bonds and brought from the dismal dungeon where he lay. To this Sir John finally consented, warning Otho that if the accused failed to appear before the justice he himself must suffer the penalty for the breach of bail. “I agree,” said Otho. “Have him released at [Pg 222] once, and deliver him to me.” Then Gamelyn was set free on his brother’s surety, and the two rode home to Otho’s house, talking sadly of all that had befallen, and how Gamelyn had become king of the outlaws. The next morning Gamelyn asked Otho’s permission to go to the greenwood and see how his young men fared but Otho pointed out so clearly how dreadful would be the consequences to him if he did not return that the young man vowed:

“‘I swear by James, the mighty saint of Spain,
That I will not desert thee, nor will fail
To stand my trial on the appointed day,
If God Almighty give me strength and health
And power to keep my vow. I will be there,
That I may show what bitter hate Sir John,
My cruel brother, holds against me.’”

Gamelyn Goes to the Woods

Thereupon Otho bade him go. “God shield thee from shame! Come when thou seest it is the right time, and save us both from blame and reproach.” So Gamelyn went gaily to the merry greenwood, and found his company of outlaws; and so much had they to tell of their work in his absence, and so much had he to relate of his adventures, that time slipped by, and he soon fell again into his former mode of life, and his custom of robbing none but Churchmen, fat abbots and priors, monks and canons, so that all others spoke good of him, and called him the “courteous outlaw.”