Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow
No: 152; variant: 152A
- WHEN as the sheriff of Nottingham
Was come, with mickle grief,
He talkd no good of Robin Hood,
That strong and sturdy thief.
Fal lal dal de
- So unto London-road he past,
His losses to unfold
To King Richard, who did regard
The tale that he had told.
- ‘Why,’ quoth the king, ‘what shall I do?
Art thou not sheriff for me?
The law is in force, go take thy course
Of them that injure thee.
- ‘Go get thee gone, and by thyself
Devise some tricking game
For to enthral yon rebels all;
Go take thy course with them.’
- So away the sheriff he returnd,
And by the way he thought
Of the words of the king, and how the thing
To pass might well be brought.
- For within his mind he imagined
That when such matches were,
Those outlaws stout, without [all] doubt,
Would be the bowmen there.
- So an arrow with a golden head
And shaft of silver white,
Who won the day should bear away
For his own proper right.
- Tidings came to brave Robin Hood,
Under the green-wood tree:
‘Come prepare you then, my merry men,
We’ll go yon sport to see.’
- With that stept forth a brave young man,
David of Doncaster:
‘Master,’ said he, ‘Be ruld by me,
From the green-wood we’ll not stir.
- ‘To tell the truth, I’m well informed
Yon match is a wile;
The sheriff, I wiss, devises this
Us archers to beguile.’
- ‘O thou smells of a coward,’ said Robin Hood,
‘Thy words does not please me;
Come on’t what will, I’ll try my skill
At yon brave archery.’
- O then bespoke brave Little John:
Come, let us thither gang;
Come listen to me, how it shall be
That we need not be kend.
- Our mantles, all of Lincoln green,
Behind us we will leave;
We’ll dress us all so several
They shall not us perceive.
- One shall wear white, another red,
One yellow, another blue;
Thus in disguise, to the exercise
We’ll gang, whateer ensue.
- Forth from the green-wood they are gone,
With hearts all firm and stout,
Resolving [then] with the sheriff’s men
To have a hearty bout.
- So themselves they mixed with the rest,
To prevent all suspicion;
For if they should together hold
They thought [it] no discretion.
- So the sheriff looking round about,
Amongst eight hundred men,
But could not see the sight that he
Had long expected then.
- Some said, If Robin Hood was here,
And all his men to boot,
Sure none of them could pass these men,
So bravely they do shoot.
- ‘Ay,’ quoth the sheriff, and scratchd his head,
‘I thought he would have been here;
I thought he would, but, tho he’s bold,
He durst not now appear.’
- O that word grieved Robin Hood to the heart;
He vexe:d in his blood;
Eer long, thought he, thou shalt well see
That here was Robin Hood.
- Some cried, Blue jacket! another cried, Brown!
And the third cried, Brave Yellow!
But the fourth man said, Yon man in red
In this place has no fellow.
- For that was Robin Hood himself,
For he was cloathd in red;
At every shot the prize he got,
For he was both sure and dead.
- So the arrow with the golden head
And shaft of silver white
Brave Robin Hood won, and bore with him
For his own proper right.
- These outlaws there, that very day,
To shun all kind of doubt,
By three or four, no less no more,
As they went in came out.
- Until they all assembled were
Under the green-wood shade,
Where they report, in pleasant sport,
What brave pastime they made.
- Says Robin Hood, All my care is,
How that yon sheriff may
Know certainly that it was I
That bore his arrow away.
- Says Little John, My counsel good
Did take effect before,
So therefore now, if you’ll allow,
I will advise once more.
- ‘Speak on, speak on,’ said Robin Hood,
‘Thy wit’s both quick and sound;
[I know no man amongst us can
For wit like thee be found.’]
- ‘This I advise,’ said Little John;
‘That a letter shall be pend,
And when it is done, to Nottingham
You to the sheriff shall send.’
- ‘That is well advised,’ said Robin Hood,
‘But how must it be sent?’
‘Pugh! when you please, it’s done with ease,
Master, be you content.
- ‘I’ll stick it on my arrow’s head,
And shoot it into the town;
The mark shall show where it must go,
When ever it lights down.’
- The project it was full performd;
The sheriff that letter had;
Which when he read, he scratchd his head,
And rav’d like one that’s mad.
- So we’ll leave him chafing in his grease,
Which will do him no good;
Now, my friends, attend, and hear the end
Of honest Robin Hood.