Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 186

The Monk Departs

“Where were you journeying?” asked the outlaw leader. “To settle accounts with the bailiffs of our manors,” replied the cellarer; but he was in truth journeying to London, to obtain powers from the king against Sir Richard of the Lea. Robin thought for a moment, and then said: “Ah, then we must search your other coffer,” and in spite of the cellarer’s indignant protests he was deprived of all the money that second coffer contained. Then he was allowed to depart, vowing bitterly that a dinner in Blythe or Doncaster would have cost him much less dear.

[Pg 333]

Sir Richard Arrives

Late that afternoon Sir Richard of the Lea and his little company arrived at the trysting tree, and full courteously the knight greeted his deliverer and apologised for his delay. Robin asked of his welfare, and the knight told of his protection of the poor wrestler, for which Robin thanked him warmly. When he would fain have repaid the loan the generous outlaw refused to accept the money, though he took with hearty thanks the bows and arrows. In answer to the knight’s inquiries, Robin said that he had been paid the money twice over before he came; and he told, to his debtor’s great amusement, the story of the high cellarer and his eight hundred pounds, and concluded: “Our Lady owed me no more than four hundred pounds, and she now gives you, by me, the other four hundred. Take them, with her blessing, and if ever you need more come to Robin Hood.”

So Sir Richard returned to Uterysdale, and long continued to use his power to protect the bold outlaws, and Robin Hood dwelt securely in the greenwood, doing good to the poor and worthy, but acting as a thorn in the sides of all oppressors and tyrants.

[Pg 334]



IN dealing with hero-legends and myths we are sometimes confronted with the curious fact that a hero whose name and date can be ascertained with exactitude has yet in his story mythological elements which seem to belong to all the ages. This anomaly arises chiefly from the fact that the imagination of a people is a myth-making thing, and that the more truly popular the hero the more likely he is to become the centre of a whole cycle of myths, which are in different ages attached to the heroes of different periods. The folk-lore of primitive races is a great storehouse whence a people can choose tales and heroic deeds to glorify its own national hero, careless that the same tales and deeds have done duty for other peoples and other heroes. Hence it happens that Hereward the Saxon, a patriot hero as real and actual as Wellington or Nelson, whose deeds were recorded in prose and verse within forty years of his death, was even then surrounded by a cloud of romance and mystery, which hid in vagueness his family, his marriage, and even his death.