It was a very strange life for a boy who had been accustomed to every comfort, but young Robin enjoyed it, for everything seemed to be so new and fresh, and the men treated him as if he had come to them for the purpose of being made into a pet.
They were, of course, fierce outlaws and robbers, ready to turn their bows and swords against anyone; but the poor people who lived in and about the forest liked and helped them, for Robin Hood’s men never did them harm, while as to young Robin, they were all eager to take him out with them and show him the wonders of the forest.
On the second day after his arrival in the camp, the boy asked when he was to be shown the way home, and he asked again on the third day, but only to be told each time that he should go soon.
On the fourth day he forgot to ask, for he was busy with big Little John, who smiled with satisfaction when young Robin chose to stay with him instead of going with some of the men into the forest after a deer.
Young Robin forgot to ask when he was to be shown the way home, because Little John had promised to make him a bow and arrows and to teach him how to use them. The great tall outlaw kept his word too, and long before evening he hung a cap upon a broken bough of an oak tree and set young Robin to work about twenty yards away shooting arrows at the mark.
“You’ve got to hit that every time you shoot,” said Little John; “and when you can do that at twenty yards you have got to do it at forty. Now begin.”
For the bow was ready and made of a piece of yew, and half a dozen arrows had been finished.
“Think you can hit it?” said Little John, after showing the boy how to string his bow and fit the notch of the arrow to the string.
“Oh! yes,” said Robin confidently.
“That’s right! then you will soon be able to kill a deer.”
“But I don’t want to kill a deer,” said the boy. “I want to see some, but I shouldn’t like to kill one.”
“Wait till you’re hungry, my fine fellow,” said Little John, laughing. “But my word! you look fine this morning; just like one of us. Did Maid Marian make you that green jerkin?”
“Yes,” said the boy.
“That’s right; so’s your cap and feather. But now then, try if you can hit the cap. Draw the arrow right to the head before you let it go. My word, what funny little fumbling fingers yours are!”
“Are they?” cried Robin, who thought that his teacher’s hands were the biggest he had ever seen.
“Like babies’ fingers,” said Little John, smiling down at the boy as if very much amused. “Now then, draw right to the head.”
“I can’t,” said the boy; “it’s so hard.”
“That’s because you are not used to it, little one. Try again. Hold tight, and pull hard. Steadily. That’s the way. Now loose it and let it go.”