Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 136

With three such good archers game was easily shot and a merry meal was quickly prepared in the greenwood, and all joyfully partook of venison and other dainties. Throughout the repast William devotedly waited on his wife with deepest love and reverence, for he could not forget how she had defended him and risked her life to stand by him.

William’s Proposed Visit to London

When the meal was over, and they reclined on the green turf round the fire, William began thoughtfully:

“It is in my mind that we ought speedily to go to London and try to win our pardon from the king. Unless we approach him before news can be brought from Carlisle he will assuredly slay us. Let us go at once, leaving my dear wife and my two youngest sons in a convent here; but I would fain take my eldest boy with me. If all goes well he can bring good news to Alice in her nunnery, and if all goes ill he shall bring her my last wishes. But I am sure I am not meant to die by the law.” His brethren approved the plan, and they took fair Alice and her two youngest children to [Pg 241] the nunnery, and then the three famous archers with the little boy of seven set out at their best speed for London, watching the passers-by carefully, that no news of the doings in Carlisle should precede them to the king.

Outlaws in the Royal Palace

The three yeomen, on arriving in London, made their way at once to the king’s palace, and walked boldly into the hall, regardless of the astonished and indignant shouts of the royal porter. He followed them angrily into the hall, and began reproaching them and trying to induce them to withdraw, but to no purpose. Finally an usher came and said: “Yeomen, what is your wish? Pray tell me, and I will help you if I can; but if you enter the king’s presence thus unmannerly you will cause us to be blamed. Tell me now whence you come.”

William fearlessly answered: “Sir, we will tell the truth without deceit. We are outlaws from the king’s forests, outlawed for killing the king’s deer, and we come to beg for pardon and a charter of peace, to show to the sheriff of our county.”

The King and the Outlaws

The usher went to an inner room and begged to know the king’s will, whether he would see these outlaws or not.