“Up spoke her brother, dark and grim:
’Now by the bright blue sky,
E’er yet a day hath gone for him
Thy wicked bird shall die!
For he hath wrought thee bitter harm,
By some strange art or cunning charm.’
“Then, with a sad and mournful song,
Away the bird did fly,
And o’er the castle eaves, and through
The gray and windy sky.
‘Come forth!’ then cried the brother grim,
‘Why dost thou gaze so after him?’
“It is May Ellen’s wedding day,
The sky is blue and fair,
And many a lord and lady gay
In church are gathered there.
The bridegroom was Sir Hugh the Bold,
All clad in silk and cloth of gold.
“In came the bride in samite white
With a white wreath on her head;
Her eyes were fixed with a glassy look,
Her face was as the dead,
And when she stood among the throng,
She sang a wild and wondrous song.
“Then came a strange and rushing sound
Like the coming wind doth bring,
And in the open windows shot
Nine swans on whistling wing,
And high above the heads they flew,
In gleaming fight the darkness through.
“Around May Ellen’s head they flew
In wide and windy fight,
And three times round the circle drew.
The guests shrank in affright,
And the priest beside the altar there,
Did cross himself with muttered prayer.
“But the third time they flew around,
Fair Ellen straight was gone,
And in her place, upon the ground,
There stood a snow-white swan.
Then, with a wild and lovely song,
It joined the swift and winged throng.
“There’s ancient men at weddings
For sixty years and more,
But such a wondrous wedding day,
They never saw before.
But none could check and none could stay,
The swans that bore the bride away_.”
Not a sound broke the stillness when Allan a Dale had done, but all sat gazing at the handsome singer, for so sweet was his voice and the music that each man sat with bated breath, lest one drop more should come and he should lose it.
“By my faith and my troth,” quoth Robin at last, drawing a deep breath, “lad, thou art—Thou must not leave our company, Allan! Wilt thou not stay with us here in the sweet green forest? Truly, I do feel my heart go out toward thee with great love.”
Then Allan took Robin’s hand and kissed it. “I will stay with thee always, dear master,” said he, “for never have I known such kindness as thou hast shown me this day.”
Then Will Scarlet stretched forth his hand and shook Allan’s in token of fellowship, as did Little John likewise. And thus the famous Allan a Dale became one of Robin Hood’s band.
Robin Hood Seeks the Curtal Friar
The stout yeomen of Sherwood Forest were ever early risers of a morn, more especially when the summertime had come, for then in the freshness of the dawn the dew was always the brightest, and the song of the small birds the sweetest.