He said, "Brave gentlemen, be good, And let the poor man be; 140 When ye have taken a beggar's blood, It helps you not a flea.
"It was but in my own defence, If he hath gotten skaith; But I will make a recompense, 145 Much better for you baith.
"If ye will set me safe and free, And do me no danger, An hundred pounds I will you give, And much more good silver, 150
"That I have gather'd this many years, Under this clouted cloak, And hid up [wonder] privately,[L153]
In bottom of my pock."
The young men to a council yeed, 155 And let the beggar gae; They wist full well he had no speed From them to run away.
They thought they would the money take, Come after what so may; 160 And then they would not bring him back, But in that place him slay.
By that good Robin would not know That they had gotten coin; It would content him for to show 165 That there they had him slain.
They said, "False carl, soon have done, And tell forth thy money; For the ill turn that thou hast done 'Tis but a simple fee. 170
"And yet we will not have thee back, Come after what so may, If thou will do that which thou spake, And make us present pay."
O then he loos'd his clouted cloak, 175 And spread it on the ground, And thereon laid he many a pock, Betwixt them and the wind.
He took a great bag from his hase, It was near full of meal, 180 Two pecks in it at least there was, And more I wot full well.
Upon his cloak he laid it down, The mouth he open'd wide, To turn the same he made him bown, 185 The young men ready spy'd.
In every hand he took a nook Of that great leathern meal, And with a fling the meal he shook, Into their faces hail: 190
Wherewith he blinded them so close, A stime they could not see; And then in heart he did rejoice, And clapt his lusty tree.
He thought if he had done them wrong, 195 In mealing of their cloaths, For to strike off the meal again With his pike-staff he goes.
Or any of them could red their eyne, Or could a glimm'ring see, 200 Ilk one of them a dozen had Well laid on with the tree.
The young men were right swift of foot, And boldly ran away, The beggar could them no more hit, 205 For all the haste he may.
"What ails this haste?" the beggar said, "May ye not tarry still, Until your money be received?
I'll pay you with good will. 210
"The shaking of my pocks, I fear, Hath blown into your eyne; But I have a good pike-staff here Can ripe them out full clean."
The young men answer'd never a word, 215 They were dumb as a stane; In the thick wood the beggar fled, E'er they riped their eyne.
And syne the night became so late, To seek him was in vain: 220 But judge ye, if they looked blate, When they came home again.
Good Robin spear'd how they had sped; They answer'd him, "Full ill:"
"That cannot be," good Robin says, 225 "Ye have been at the mill.
"The mill it is a meatrif place, They may lick what they please; Most like ye have been at that art, Who would look to your cloaths." 230
They hang'd their heads, they droped down, A word they could not speak: Robin said, "Because I fell a-swoon, I think you'll do the like.
"Tell on the matter, less or more, 235 And tell me what and how[L236]
Ye have done with the bold beggar, I sent you for right now."
And when they told him to an end, As I have said before, 240 How that the beggar did them blind, What misters process more,
And how he lin'd their shoulders broad[L243]
With his great trenchen tree,[L244]
And how in the thick wood he fled, 245 E'er they a stime could see,
And how they scarcely could win home, Their bones were beft so sore, Good Robin cry'd, "Fy! out, for shame!
We're sham'd for evermore." 250
Altho' good Robin would full fain Of his wrong revenged be, He smil'd to see his merry young men Had gotten a taste of the tree.
72,73. Wanting in the original, and restored from the Aberdeen copy.
153, wonder. RITSON.
243, 244. These two lines are restored from the Aberdeen ballad. G.
THE JOLLY PINDER OF WAKEFIELD.
WITH ROBIN HOOD, SCARLET, AND JOHN.
Ritson's _Robin Hood_, ii. 18.
"From an old black-letter copy, in A. a Wood's collection, compared with two others in the British Museum, one in black-letter.
"Several lines of this ballad are quoted in the two old plays of the _Downfall_ and _Death of Robert earle of Huntington_, 1601, 4to. b. l.
but acted many years before. It is also alluded to in Shakespeare's _Merry Wives of Windsor_, act i. scene 1, and again in his Second Part of _King Henry IV._, act v. scene 3.
"In 1557 certain 'ballets' are entered on the books of the Stationers'
Company, 'to John Wallye and Mrs. Toye,' one of which is entitled _Of Wakefylde and a grene_; meaning apparently the ballad here reprinted."
In Wakefield there lives a jolly pinder, In Wakefield all on a green, _In Wakefield all on a green_.
"There is neither knight nor squire," said the pinder, "Nor baron that is so bold, 5 _Nor baron that is so bold_, Dare make a trespass to the town of Wakefield, But his pledge goes to the pinfold," &c.