"God yow saue, my lege kyng,"
To speke Johne was fulle bolde; 215 He gaf hym the letturs in his hond, The kyng did hit unfold.
The kyng red the letturs anon, And seid, "so mot I the, Ther was neuer zoman in mery Inglond 220 I longut so sore to see.
"Wher is the munke that these shuld haue browzt?"
Oure kynge gan say; "Be my trouthe," seid Litull Jone, "He dyed aftur the way." 225
The kyng gaf Moche and Litul Jon xx pound in sertan, And made theim zemen of the crowne, And bade theim go agayn.
He gaf Johne the seel in hand, 230 The scheref for to bere, To brynge Robyn hym to, And no man do hym dere.
Johne toke his leve at oure kyng, The sothe as I yow say; 235 The next way to Notyngham To take he zede the way.
When Johne came to Notyngham The zatis were sparred ychone; Johne callid vp the porter, 240 He answerid sone anon.
"What is the cause," seid Litul John, "Thou sparris the zates so fast?"
"Because of Robyn Hode," seid [the] porter, In depe prison is cast. 245
"Johne, and Moche, and Wylle Scathlok, For sothe as I yow say, Thir slew oure men vpon oure wallis, And sawtene vs euery day."
Litulle Johne spyrred aftur the schereff, 250 And sone he hym fonde; He oppyned the kyngus prive seelle, And gaf hym in his honde.
"When the schereff saw the kyngus seelle, He did of his hode anon; 255 "Wher is the munke that bare the letturs?"
He seid to Litulle Johne.
"He is so fayn of hym," seid Litulle Johne, "For sothe as I yow sey, He has made hym abot of Westmynster, 260 A lorde of that abbay."
The scheref made John gode chere, And gaf hym wine of the best; At nyzt thei went to her bedde, And euery man to his rest. 265
When the scheref was on-slepe Dronken of wine and ale, Litul Johne and Moche for sothe Toke the way vnto the jale.[L269]
Litul Johne callid vp the jayler, 270 And bade hym ryse anon; He seid Robyn Hode had brokyn preson, And out of hit was gon.
The portere rose anon sertan, As sone as he herd John calle; 275 Litul Johne was redy with a swerd, And bare hym to the walle.
"Now will I be porter," seid Litul Johne, "And take the keyes in honde;"
He toke the way to Robyn Hode, 280 And sone he hym vnbonde.
He gaf hym a gode swerd in his hond, His hed with for to kepe, And ther as the walle was lowyst Anon down can thei lepe. 285
Be that the cok began to crow, The day began to sprynge, The scheref fond the jaylier ded, The comyn belle made he rynge.
He made a crye thoroowt al the tow[n], 290 Whedur he be zoman or knave, That cowthe brynge hym Robyn Hode, His warisone he shuld haue.
"For I dar neuer," said the scheref, "Cum before oure kynge, 295 For if I do, I wot serten, For sothe he wil me henge."
The scheref made to seke Notyngham, Bothe be strete and stye, And Robyn was in mery Scherwode 300 As lizt as lef on lynde.
Then bespake gode Litulle Johne, To Robyn Hode can he say, "I haue done the a gode turne for an euylle, Quyte me whan thou may.[L305] 305
"I haue done the a gode turne," said Litulle Johne, "For sothe as I you saie; I haue brouzt the vnder grene wode lyne; Fare wel, and haue gode day."
"Nay, be my trouthe," seid Robyn Hode, 310 "So shalle hit neuer be; I make the maister," seid Robyn Hode, "Off alle my men and me."
"Nay, be my trouthe," seid Litulle Johne, "So shall hit neuer be, 315 But lat me be a felow," seid Litulle Johne, "Non odur kepe I'll be."
Thus Johne gate Robyn Hode out of prisone, Sertan withoutyn layne; When his men saw hym hol and sounde, 320 For sothe they were ful fayne.
They filled in wyne, and made him glad, Vnder the levys smale, And zete pastes of venysone, That gode was with ale. 325
Than worde came to oure kynge, How Robyn Hode was gone, And how the scheref of Notyngham Durst neuer loke hyme vpone.
Then bespake oure cumly kynge, 330 In an angur hye, "Litulle Johne hase begyled the schereff, In faith so hase he me.
"Litulle Johne has begyled vs bothe, And that fulle wel I se, 335 Or ellis the schereff of Notyngham Hye hongut shuld he be.
"I made hem zemen of the crowne, And gaf hem fee with my hond, I gaf hem grithe," seid oure kyng, 340 "Thorowout alle mery Inglond.
"I gaf hem grithe," then seide oure kyng, "I say, so mot I the, For sothe soche a zeman as he is on In alle Ingland ar not thre. 345
"He is trew to his maister," seide oure kynge, "I sey, be swete seynt Johne; He louys bettur Robyn Hode, Then he dose vs ychone.
"Robyne Hode is euer bond to him, 350 Bothe in strete and stalle; Speke no more of this matter," seid oure kynge,[L352]
"But John has begyled vs alle."
Thus endys the talkyng of the munke And Robyne Hode i-wysse; God, that is euer a crowned kyng, Bryng vs alle to his blisse.
32. MS. ther.
39. MS. th' now.
93. See the Fourth Fit of the _Lyttell Geste_.
100. MS. gode wone.
125. MS. rule.
195. MS. so.
305. MS. Quyte the.
352. MS. mere.