"Stand you still, master," quoth Litle John, "Under this tree so grene, And I will go to yond wight yeoman, To know what he doth meane." 40
"Ah! John, by me thou settest noe store, And that I farley finde: How offt send I my men beffore, And tarry my selfe behinde?
"It is no cunning a knave to ken, 45 And a man but heare him speake; And itt were not for bursting of my bowe, John, I thy head wold breake."
As often wordes they breeden bale, So they parted Robin and John; 50 And John is gone to Barnesdale; The gates he knoweth eche one.
But when he came to Barnesdale, Great heavinesse there hee hadd, For he found tow of his owne fellwes, 55 Were slaine both in a slade.
And Scarlette he was flying a-foote Fast over stocke and stone, For the sheriffe with seven score men Fast after him is gone. 60
"One shoote now I will shoote," quoth John, "With Christ his might and mayne; Ile make yond fellow that flyes soe fast, To stopp he shall be fayne."
Then John bent up his long bende-bowe, 65 And fetteled him to shoote: The bowe was made of tender boughe, And fell downe to his foote.
"Woe worth, woe worth thee, wicked wood, That ere thou grew on a tree! 70 For now this day thou art my bale, My boote when thou shold bee."
His shoote it was but loosely shott, Yet flewe not the arrowe in vaine, For itt mett one of the sheriffes men, 75 Good William a Trent was slaine.
It had bene better of William a Trent To have bene abed with sorrowe, Than to be that day in the greenwood slade To meet with Little Johns arrowe. 80
But as it is said, when men be mett Fyve can doe more than three, The sheriffe hath taken Little John, And bound him fast to a tree.
"Thou shalt be drawen by dale and downe, 85 And hanged hye on a hill;"
"But thou mayst fayle of thy purpose," quoth John, "If itt be Christ his will."
Lett us leave talking of Little John, And thinke of Robin Hood, 90 How he is gone to the wight yeoman, Where under the leaves he stood.
"Good morrowe, good fellowe," sayd Robin so fayre, "Good morrowe, good fellow, quoth he: Methinkes by this bowe thou beares in thy hande, 95 A good archere thou sholdst bee."
"I am wilfulle of my waye," quo' the yeman, "And of my morning tyde:"
"Ile lead thee through the wood," sayd Robin, "Good, fellow, Ile be thy guide." 100
"I seeke an outlawe," the straunger sayd, "Men call him Robin Hood: Rather Ild meet with that proud outlawe Than fortye pound soe good."
"Now come with me, thou wight yeman,[L105] 105 And Robin thou soone shalt see; But first let us some pastime find Under the greenwood tree.
"First let us some masterye make Among the woods so even; 110 We may chance to meet with Robin Hood Here att some unsett steven."
They cutt them downe two summer shroggs, That grew both under a breere, And sett them threescore rood in twaine, 115 To shoote the prickes y-fere.
"Leade on, good fellowe," quoth Robin Hood, "Leade on, I do bidd thee;"
"Nay, by my faith, good fellowe," hee sayd, "My leader thou shalt bee." 120
The first time Robin shot at the pricke, He mist but an inch it fro; The yeoman was an archer good, But he cold never shoote soe.
The second shoote had the wighte yeman,[L125] 125 He shote within the garlande; But Robin he shott far better than hee, For he clave the good pricke-wande.
"A blessing upon thy heart," he sayd, "Good fellowe, thy shooting is goode; 130 For an thy hart be as good as thy hand, Thou wert better then Robin Hoode.
"Now tell me thy name, good fellowe," sayd he, "Under the leaves of lyne;"
"Nay, by my faith," quoth bolde Robin, 135 "Till thou have told me thine."
"I dwell by dale and downe," quoth hee, "And Robin to take Ime sworne; And when I am called by my right name, I am Guye of good Gisbrne." 140
"My dwelling is in this wood," sayes Robin, "By thee I set right nought: I am Robin Hood of Barnesdale, Whom thou so long hast sought."
He that had nether beene kithe nor kin 145 Might have seene a full fayre fight, To see how together these yeomen went With blades both browne and bright:
To see how these yeomen together they fought Two howres of a summers day, 150 Yett neither Robin Hood nor sir Guy Them fettled to flye away.
Robin was reachles on a roote, And stumbled at that tyde; And Guy was quicke and nimble withall, 155 And hitt him ore the left side.
"Ah, deere Ladye," sayd Robin Hood tho, "Thou art both mother and may; I think it was never mans destinye To dye before his day." 160
Robin thought on our ladye deere, And soone leapt up againe, And strait he came with an awkwarde stroke, And he sir Guy hath slayne.
He took sir Guys head by the hayre, 165 And sticked itt on his bowes end: "Thou hast beene a traytor all thy liffe, Which thing must have an end."
Robin pulled forth an Irish kniffe, And nicked sir Guy in the face, 170 That he was never on woman born Cold tell whose head it was.
Sayes, "Lye there, lye there now, sir Guye, And with me be not wrothe; Iff thou have had the worse strokes at my hand, 175 Thou shalt have the better clothe."
Robin did off his gowne of greene, And on sir Guy did it throwe, And hee put on that capull hyde, That cladd him topp to toe. 180
"The bowe, the arrowes, and litle horne, Now with me I will beare; For I will away to Barnesdale, To see how my men doe fare."
Robin Hood sett Guyes horne to his mouth, 185 And a loud blast in it did blow: That beheard the sheriffe of Nottingham, As he leaned under a lowe.
"Hearken, hearken," sayd the sheriffe, "I heare nowe tydings good, 190 For yonder I heare sir Guyes horne blowe, And he hath slaine Robin Hoode.
"Yonder I heare sir Guyes horne blowe, Itt blowes soe well in tyde, And yonder comes that wight yeoman,[L195] 195 Cladd in his capull hyde.
"Come hyther, come hyther, thou good sir Guy, Aske what thou wilt of mee:"
"O I will none of thy gold," sayd Robin, "Nor I will none of thy fee. 200
"But now I have slaine the master," he sayes, "Let me goe strike the knave; This is all the rewarde I aske, Nor noe other will I have."
"Thou art a madman," said the sheriffe, 205 "Thou sholdest have had a knights fee; But seeing thy asking hath beene soe bad, Well granted it shale be."
When Litle John heard his master speake, Well knewe he it was his steven; 210 "Now shall I be looset," quoth Litle John, "With Christ his might in heaven."
Fast Robin hee hyed him to Little John, He thought to loose him belive: The sheriffe and all his companye 215 Fast after him did drive.
"Stand abacke, stand abacke," sayd Robin, "Why draw you mee soe neere?
It was never the use in our countrye, Ones shrift another shold heere." 220
But Robin pulled forth an Irysh knife, And losed John hand and foote, And gave him sir Guyes bow into his hand, And bade it be his boote.