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minstrel would be followed by the humbler gleeman, forming one of a band of re. vellers, in which would be comprised a taborer, a bagpiper, and dancers or tumblers, and who, tempted by the well-known liberality of the foresters, would penetrate the thick wood to find them. And great would be the applause at their humorous dances and accompanying songs, at their balancings and tumblings; wonderful, almost too wonderful to be produced without the aid of evil spirits, would seem their sleight-of-hand tricks. At another time there would be suddenly heard echoing through the forest glades the sounds of strange bugles from strange hunters. Their rich apparel shows them to be of no ordinary rank. How dare they then intrude upon the forest king ? Nay, there is not any danger. Are there not lady hunters among the company ? So their husbands, brothers, sons, and fathers hunt freely through Sherwood in their company, safe from the sudden arrow, aye, though even the hated sheriff himself be among them. But there were occasions when the forest would present a much more extraordinary scene than any we have yet referred to. For scores of miles around, what preparations are there not made when the words “Robin Hood's Fair“ spread from mouth to mouth, and the time and place of it being held become known! Thither would resort all the yeomen aud yeomen's wives of the district, each one hoping to get a “Robin Hood's pennyworth,” as the well-understood phrase went, in some courtepy or hood, in handkerchiefs telling their goodness by their weight, iv hats, boots or shoes, the spoil of some recent campaign, and bespeaking their general excellence from the known quality of their recent owners. Thither would resort the emissaries of more than one priory and respectable monastery, to look after some richly illuminated Missal or MS. that they had heard were among the good things of the fair, or to execute the High Cellarer's commission to purchase any rare spices that might be offered. Knightly messengers too would not be wanting, coming thither to look after choice weapons, or trinkets, or weighty chains of gold: perhaps even the very men who had been despoiled, and whose treasures had contributed so largely to the "fair,” would be sending to it, to purchase silently back some favourite token at a trifling price, hopeless of regaining it by any other mode. Of course the Jews would flock to Sherwood on such occasions from any and all distances. And as the fair proceeded, if any quarrels took place between the buyers and sellers, a Jew would be sure to be concerned. Even whilst he laughed in his heart at the absurd price he was to give for the rich satin vest, or the piece of cloth of gold of such rare beauty that the forester was measuring with his long bow, generally of his own height, for a yard, and even then skipping two or three inches between each admeasurement, the Jew would be sure to be haggling to lower the price or to be increasing the quantity; till reminded that he was not dealing with the most patient as well as with the most liberal of men, by a different application of the tough yew. Then the adventures of the forest !-indigenous and luxuriant as its bilberries ; how they give a seasoning, as it were, to the general conjunction of life in the forest, and prevented the possibility of its ever being felt as weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable !” Were recruits wanted ?—there was a pretty opening for adveuture in seeking them. They must be men of mark or likelihood who can alone be enlisted into brave Robin's band, and severe accordingly were the tests applied. In order to prove their courage, for instance, it seems, from the later ballads, it was quite indispensable that they should have the best of it with some veteran forester, either in shooting with the bow, or playfully breaking a crown with the quarter-staff, or even by occasionally beating their antagonists when contending with inadequate weapons.
Let us now look at two or three of the more interesting adventures which are recorded in the famous ballad of the "Lytell Geste” as having actually taken place
In one part of this poem we find a story of the most interesting character, and told with extraordinary spirit, discrimination of character, and dramatic effect. Whilst Little John, Scathelock (the Scarlet of a later time), and Much the Miller's son, were one day watching in the forest, they beheld a knight riding along :
All dreari then was his semblaunte,
And lytell was his pride ;
The other waved besyde.
He rode in symple aray;
Rode never in somers day. The outlaws courteously accost and surprise him with the information that their master has been waiting for him, fasting, three hours ; Robin Hood, it appears, having an objection to sit down to dinner till he can satisfy himself he has earned it, by finding strangers to sit down with him—and pay the bill. Having "washed," they dine :
Brede and wyne they had ynough,
And nombles Centrails] of the deer;
And foules of the revere :
That ever was bred on brere. After dinner the Knight thanks his host for his entertainment, but Robin hints that thanks are not enough. The Knight replies that he has nothing in his coffers that he can for shame offer—that, in short, his whole stock consists of ten shillings. Upon this Robin bids Little John examine the coffers to see if the statement be true (a favourite mode with Robin of judging of the character of his visitors), and informs the Knight at the same time that if he really have no more, more he will lend him.
“What tydynge, Johan ?"-sayd Robyn :
“Syr, the Knyght is trewe enough." The great outlaw is now evidently interested; and, with mingled delicacy and frankness, inquiries as to the cause of the Knight's low estate, fearing that it implies some wrong doing on his part. It comes out at last that his son has killed a “Knyght of Lancastshyre” in the tournament, and that, to defend him “in his right,” he has sold all his own goods, and pledged his lands unto the Abbot of St Mary's, York; the day is now nearly arrived, and he is not merely unable to redeem them before too late, but well nigh penniless into the bargain :
"What is the somme?” sayd Robyn;
“ Trouthe then tell thou me."
The Abbot tolde it to me."
“ What shall fall of the ?"
6 Over the salt see;
On the mount of Calvaré.
It may noo better be