That night there was such a feast held in the greenwood as Nottinghamshire never saw before. To that feast you and I were not bidden, and pity it is that we were not; so, lest we should both feel the matter the more keenly, I will say no more about it.
Robin Hood Aids a Sorrowful Knight
SO PASSED the gentle springtime away in budding beauty; its silver showers and sunshine, its green meadows and its flowers. So, likewise, passed the summer with its yellow sunlight, its quivering heat and deep, bosky foliage, its long twilights and its mellow nights, through which the frogs croaked and fairy folk were said to be out on the hillsides. All this had passed and the time of fall had come, bringing with it its own pleasures and joyousness; for now, when the harvest was gathered home, merry bands of gleaners roamed the country about, singing along the roads in the daytime, and sleeping beneath the hedgerows and the hay-ricks at night. Now the hips burned red in the tangled thickets and the hews waxed black in the hedgerows, the stubble lay all crisp and naked to the sky, and the green leaves were fast turning russet and brown. Also, at this merry season, good things of the year are gathered in in great store. Brown ale lies ripening in the cellar, hams and bacon hang in the smoke-shed, and crabs are stowed away in the straw for roasting in the wintertime, when the north wind piles the snow in drifts around the gables and the fire crackles warm upon the hearth.
So passed the seasons then, so they pass now, and so they will pass in time to come, while we come and go like leaves of the tree that fall and are soon forgotten.
Quoth Robin Hood, snuffing the air, “Here is a fair day, Little John, and one that we can ill waste in idleness. Choose such men as thou dost need, and go thou east while I will wend to the west, and see that each of us bringeth back some goodly guest to dine this day beneath the greenwood tree.”
“Marry,” cried Little John, clapping his palms together for joy, “thy bidding fitteth my liking like heft to blade. I’ll bring thee back a guest this day, or come not back mine own self.”
Then they each chose such of the band as they wished, and so went forth by different paths from the forest.
Now, you and I cannot go two ways at the same time while we join in these merry doings; so we will e’en let Little John follow his own path while we tuck up our skirts and trudge after Robin Hood. And here is good company, too; Robin Hood, Will Scarlet, Allan a Dale, Will Scathelock, Midge, the Miller’s son, and others. A score or more of stout fellows had abided in the forest, with Friar Tuck, to make ready for the homecoming, but all the rest were gone either with Robin Hood or Little John.