"Through the free forrest I can run, The king may not controll; They are but barking tanners sons, To me they shall pay toll. 40
"And if not mine be sheepe and kine, I have cattle on my land; On venison eche day I may dine, Whiles they have none in hand."
These wordes had Robin Hood scarce spoke, 45 When they two men did see, Come riding till their horses smoke: "My brothers both," cried shee.
Each had a good sword by his side, And furiouslie they rode 50 To where they Robin Hood espied, That with the maiden stood.
"Flee hence, flee hence, away with speede!"
Cried she to Robin Hood, "For if thou stay, thoult surely bleede; 55 I could not see thy blood."
"With us, false maiden, come away, And leave that outlawe bolde; Why fledst thou from thy home this day, And left thy father olde?" 60
Robin stept backe but paces five, Unto a sturdie tree; "Ile fight whiles I am left alive; Stay, thou sweete maide, with mee."
He stood before, she stoode behinde, 65 The brothers two drewe nie; "Our sister now to us resign, Or thou full sure shalt die."
Then cried the maide, "My brethren deare, With ye Ile freely wend, 70 But harm not this young forrester, Noe ill doth he pretend."
"Stande up, sweete maide, I plight my troth; Fall thou not on thy knee; Ile force thy cruell brothers both 75 To bend the knee to thee.
"Stand thou behinde this sturdie oke, I soone will quell their pride; Thoult see my sword with furie smoke, And in their hearts blood died." 80
He set his backe against a tree, His foote against a stone; The first blow that he gave so free Cleft one man to the bone.
The tanners bold they fought right well, 85 And it was one to two; But Robin did them both refell, All in the damsells viewe.
The red blood ran from Robins brow, All downe unto his knee; 90 "O holde your handes, my brethren now, I will goe backe with yee."
"Stand backe, stand backe, my pretty maide, Stand backe and let me fight; By sweete St. James be no afraide 95 But I will it requite."
Then Robin did his sword uplift, And let it fall againe; The oldest brothers head it cleft, Right through unto his braine. 100
"O hold thy hand, bolde forrester, Or ill may thee betide; Slay not my youngest brother here, He is my fathers pride."
"Away, for I would scorne to owe, 105 My life to the[e], false maide!"
The youngest cried, and aim'd a blow That lit on Robins head.
Then Robin leand against the tree, His life nie gone did seeme; 110 His eyes did swim, he could not see The maiden start betweene.
It was not long ere Robin Hood Could welde his sword so bright; Upon his feete he firmly stood, 115 And did renew the fight;
Untill the tanner scarce could heave His weapon in the aire; But Robin would not him bereave Of life, and left him there. 120
Then to the greenewood did he fly, And with him went the maide; For him she vowd that she would dye, He'd live for her, he said.
Finis. T. Fleming.
ROBIN HOODS BIRTH, BREEDING, VALOUR, AND MARRIAGE.
Ritson's _Robin Hood_, ii. 1.
Ritson printed this piece from a black-letter copy in a large and valuable collection of old ballads which successively belonged to Major Pearson, the Duke of Roxburghe, and Mr. Bright, but which is now in the British Museum.
The full title of the original is: _A new ballad of bold Robin Hood; shewing his birth, breeding, valour, and marriage at Tilbury Bull-running. Calculated for the meridian of Staffordshire, but may serve for Derbyshire or Kent_.
The copy in _A Collection of Old Ballads_, i. 67, is the same.
Kind gentlemen, will you be patient awhile?
Ay, and then you shall hear anon A very good ballad of bold Robin Hood, And of his brave man Little John.
In Locksly town, in merry Nottinghamshire, 5 In merry sweet Locksly town, There bold Robin Hood he was born and was bred, Bold Robin of famous renown.
The father of Robin a forrester was, And he shot in a lusty strong bow, 10 Two north country miles and an inch at a shot, As the Pinder of Wakefield does know.
For he brought Adam Bell, and Clim of the Clough, And William of Clowdesle,[L14]
To shoot with our forrester for forty mark, 15 And the forrester beat them all three.
His mother was neece to the Coventry knight, Which Warwickshire men call sir Guy; For he slew the blue bore that hangs up at the gate, Or mine host of the Bull tells a lie. 20
Her brother was Gamwel, of Great Gamwel-Hall, A noble house-keeper was he, Ay, as ever broke bread in sweet Nottinghamshire, And a 'squire of famous degree.
The mother of Robin said to her husband, 25 "My honey, my love, and my dear, Let Robin and I ride this morning to Gamwel, To taste of my brother's good cheer."
And he said, "I grant thee thy boon, gentle Joan, Take one of my horses, I pray: 30 The sun is arising, and therefore make haste, For to-morrow is Christmas-day."
Then Robin Hood's father's grey gelding was brought, And sadled and bridled was he; God wot a blue bonnet, his new suit of cloaths, 35 And a cloak that did reach to his knee.
She got on her holyday kirtle and gown, They were of a light Lincoln green; The cloath was homespun, but for colour and make It might a beseem'd our queen. 40
And then Robin got on his basket-hilt sword, And his dagger on his tother side; And said, "My dear mother, let's haste to be gone, We have forty long miles to ride."
When Robin had mounted his gelding so grey, 45 His father, without any trouble, Set her up behind him, and bad her not fear, For his gelding had oft carried double.[L48]
And when she was settled, they rode to their neighbours, And drank and shook hands with them all; 50 And then Robin gallopt, and never gave o're, 'Till they lighted at Gamwel-Hall.
And now you may think the right worshipful 'squire Was joyful his sister to see; For he kist her, and kist her, and swore a great oath, 55 "Thou art welcome, kind sister, to me."
To-morrow, when mass had been said in the chappel, Six tables were covered in the hall, And in comes the 'squire, and makes a short speech, It was, "Neighbours, you're welcome all. 60