Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 180

Robin Offers a Loan

This pitiful story touched the hearts of the simple and kindly outlaws; they wept for pity, and cared not to hide their tears from each other, until Robin made them all pledge their guest in bumpers of good red wine. Then their chief asked, as if continuing his own train of thought: “Have you any friends who will act as sureties for the repayment of the loan?” “None at all,” replied the knight hopelessly, “but God Himself, who suffered on the Tree for us.” This last reply angered Robin, who thought it savoured too much of companionship with the fat and hypocritical monks whom he hated, and he retorted sharply: “No such tricks for me! Do you think I will take such a surety, or even one of the saints, in return for good solid gold? Get some more substantial surety, or no gold shall you have from me. I cannot afford to waste my money.”

The Knight Offers Surety

The knight replied, sighing heavily: “If you will not take these I have no earthly surety to offer; and in Heaven there is only our dear Lady. I have served her truly, and she has never failed me till now, when her servant, the abbot, is playing me so cruel a trick.” “Do you give Our Lady as your surety?” said Robin Hood. “I would take her bond for any sum, for throughout all England you could find no better surety than our dear Lady, who has always been gracious to me. She is enough security. Go, Little John, to my treasury and bring me four hundred pounds, well counted, with no false or clipped coin therein.”

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Robin Hood’s Gifts

Little John, accompanied by Much, the careful treasurer of the band, went quickly to the secret place where the master-outlaw kept his gold. Very carefully they counted out the coins, testing each, to see that it was of full weight and value. Then, on the suggestion of Little John, they provided the knight with new clothing, even to boots and spurs, and finally supplied him with two splendid horses, one for riding and one to carry his baggage and the coffer of gold.

The guest watched all these preparations with bewildered eyes, and turned to Robin, crying, “Why have you done all this for me, a perfect stranger?” “You are no stranger, but Our Lady’s messenger. She sent you to me, and Heaven grant you may prove true.”

The Bond of Repayment

“God grant it,” echoed the knight. “But, Robin, when shall I repay this loan, and where? Set me a day, and I will keep it.” “Here,” replied the outlaw, “under this greenwood tree, and in a twelvemonth’s time; so will you have time to regain your friends and gather your rents from your redeemed lands. Now farewell, Sir Knight; and since it is not meet for a worthy knight to journey unattended, I will lend you also my comrade, Little John, to be your squire, and to do you yeoman service, if need be.” The knight bade farewell to Robin and his generous followers, and was turning to ride away, when he suddenly stopped and addressed the master-outlaw: “In faith, good Robin, I had forgotten one thing. You know not my name. I am