"But not a man here shall taste my March beer, 'Till a Christmas carrol he does sing:"
Then all clapt their hands, and they shouted and sung, 'Till the hall and the parlour did ring.
Now mustard and brawn, roast beef and plumb pies, 65 Were set upon every table: And noble George Gamwel said, "Eat and be merry And drink too as long as you're able."
When dinner was ended, his chaplain said grace, And, "Be merry, my friends," said the 'squire; 70 "It rains, and it blows, but call for more ale, And lay some more wood on the fire.
"And now call ye Little John hither to me, For Little John is a fine lad At gambols and juggling, and twenty such tricks, 75 As shall make you both merry and glad.
When Little John came, to gambols they went, Both gentlemen, yeomen, and clown; And what do you think? Why, as true as I live, Bold Robin Hood put them all down. 80
And now you may think the right worshipful 'squire Was joyful this sight for to see; For he said, "Cousin Robin, thou'st go no more home, But tarry and dwell here with me.
"Thou shalt have my land when I die, and till then, 85 Thou shalt be the staff of my age:"
"Then grant me my boon, dear uncle," said Robin, "That Little John may be my page."
And he said, "Kind cousin, I grant thee thy boon; With all my heart, so let it be;" 90 "Then come hither, Little John," said Robin Hood, "Come hither, my page, unto me.
"Go fetch me my bow, my longest long bow, And broad arrows, one, two, or three; For when 'tis fair weather we'll into Sherwood, 95 Some merry pastime to see."
When Robin Hood came into merry Sherwood, He winded his bugle so clear; And twice five and twenty good yeomen and bold Before Robin Hood did appear. 100
"Where are your companions all?" said Robin Hood, "For still I want forty and three:"
Then said a bold yeoman, "Lo, yonder they stand, All under the green wood tree."[L104]
As that word was spoke, Clorinda came by, 105 The queen of the shepherds was she; And her gown was of velvet as green as the grass, And her buskin did reach to her knee.
Her gait it was graceful, her body was straight, And her countenance free from pride; 110 A bow in her hand, and a quiver of arrows Hung dangling by her sweet side.
Her eye-brows were black, ay, and so was her hair, And her skin was as smooth as glass; Her visage spoke wisdom, and modesty too; 215 Sets with Robin Hood such a lass!
Said Robin Hood, "Lady fair, whither away?
O whither, fair lady, away?"
And she made him an answer, "To kill a fat buck; For to-morrow is Titbury day." 120
Said Robin Hood, "Lady fair, wander with me A little to yonder green bower; There set down to rest you, and you shall be sure Of a brace or a leash in an hour."[L124]
And as we were going towards the green bower, 125 Two hundred good bucks we espy'd; She chose out the fattest that was in the herd,[L127]
And she shot him through side and side.
"By the faith of my body," said bold Robin Hood, "I never saw woman like thee; 130 And com'st thou from east, or com'st thou from west, Thou needst not beg venison of me.
"However, along to my bower you shall go, And taste of a forrester's meat:"
And when we came thither we found as good cheer 135 As any man needs for to eat.
For there was hot venison, and warden pies cold, Cream clouted, with honey-combs plenty; And the servitors they were, besides Little John, Good yeomen at least four and twenty. 140
Clorinda said, "Tell me your name, gentle sir;"
And he said, "'Tis bold Robin Hood: 'Squire Gamwel's my uncle, but all my delight Is to dwell in the merry Sherwood;
"For 'tis a fine life, and 'tis void of all strife." 145 "So 'tis, sir," Clorinda reply'd.
"But oh," said bold Robin, "how sweet would it be, If Clorinda would be my bride!"
She blusht at the motion; yet, after a pause Said, "Yes, sir, and with all my heart:" 150 "Then let us send for a priest," said Robin Hood, "And be married before we do part."
But she said, "It may not be so, gentle sir,'
For I must be at Titbury feast; And if Robin Hood will go thither with me, 155 I'll make him the most welcome guest."
Said Robin Hood, "Reach me that buck, Little John, For I'll go along with my dear; And bid my yeomen kill six brace of bucks, And meet me to-morrow just here." 160
Before he had ridden five Staffordshire miles, Eight yeomen, that were too bold, Bid Robin Hood stand, and deliver his buck; A truer tale never was told.
"I will not, faith," said bold Robin; "come, John, 165 Stand by me, and we'll beat 'em all:"
Then both drew their swords, and so cut 'em, and slasht 'em, That five of them did fall.
The three that remain'd call'd to Robin for quarter, And pitiful John begg'd their lives; 170 When John's boon was granted, he gave them good counsel, And sent them all home to their wives.
This battle was fought near to Titbury town, When the bagpipes baited the bull;[L174]
I'm the king of the fidlers, and I swear 'tis truth, 175 And I call him that doubts it a gull:
For I saw them fighting, and fiddled the while, And Clorinda sung "Hey derry down!
The bumkins are beaten, put up thy sword, Bob, And now let's dance into the town." 180
Before we came in, we heard a strange shouting, And all that were in it look'd madly; For some were on bull-back, some dancing a morris, And some singing _Arthur-a-Bradley_.
And there we see Thomas, our justices clerk, 185 And Mary, to whom he was kind; For Tom rode before her, and call'd Mary madam, And kiss'd her full sweetly behind:
And so may your worships. But we went to dinner, With Thomas and Mary, and Nan; 190 They all drank a health to Clorinda and told her Bold Robin Hood was a fine man.
When dinner was ended, sir Roger, the parson Of Dubbridge, was sent for in haste: He brought his mass-book, and he bad them take hands, 195 And joyn'd them in marriage full fast.
And then, as bold Robin Hood and his sweet bride Went hand in hand to the green bower, The birds sung with pleasure in merry Sherwood, And 'twas a most joyful hour. 200
And when Robin came in sight of the bower, "Where are my yeomen?" said he: And Little John answer'd, "Lo, yonder they stand, All under the green wood tree."
Then a garland they brought her by two and by two, 205 And plac'd them all on the bride's head: The music struck up, and we all fell to dance, 'Till the bride and bridegroom were a-bed.
And what they did there must be counsel to me, Because they lay long the next day; 210 And I had haste home, but I got a good piece Of bride-cake, and so came away.
Now out, alas! I had forgotten to tell ye, That marry'd they were with a ring; And so will Nan Knight, or be buried a maiden, 215 And now let us pray for the king:
That he may get children, and they may get more, To govern and do us some good: And then I'll make ballads in Robin Hood's bower, And sing 'em in merry Sherwood. 220
14, Clowdel le.