Five minutes later young Robin was standing as he had been placed by his big companion, who sat down and watched him while he sturdily drew the notch of his arrow right to his ear, and then loosed the whizzing shaft to go flying away through the woodland shade, while Little John shouted as gleefully as some big boy.
“Hurrah! Well done, little one! There it is, sticking in yonder tree.”
“As far as you like, Robin,” said the outlaw, “only you must be wise. Don’t go far enough to lose your way. Learn the forest by degrees. Some day you will not be able to lose yourself.”
“But suppose I did lose myself,” said the boy; “what then?”
“I should have to tell Little John to bring all my merry men to look for you, and Maid Marian here would sit at home and cry till you were found.”
“Then I will not lose myself,” said Robin. And he always remembered his promise when he took his bow and arrows and, with his sword hanging from his belt, went away from the outlaws’ camp for a long ramble.
His bow was just as high as he was himself, that being the rule in archery, and his arrows, beautifully made by Little John, were just half the length of his bow.
As to his sword, that was a dagger in a green shark-skin sheath given to him by Robin Hood, who said rightly enough that it was quite big enough for him.
Maid Marian found a suitable buckle for the belt, one which Little John cut out of a very soft piece of deer-skin, the same skin forming the cross-belt which went over the boy’s shoulder and supported his horn.
For he was supplied with a horn as well, this being necessary in the forest, and Robin Hood himself taught him in the evenings how to blow the calls by fitting his lips to the mouthpiece and altering the tone by placing his hand inside the silver rim which formed the mouth.
It was not easy, but the little fellow soon learned. All the same, though, he made some strange sounds at first, bad enough, Little John declared, to give one of Maid Marian’s cows the tooth-ache, and frighten the herds of deer farther and farther away.
That was only at the first, for young Robin very soon became quite a woodman, learning fast to sound his horn, to shoot and hit his mark, and to find his way through the great wilderness of open moorland and shady trees.
But it was more than once that he lost his way, for the trees and beaten tracks were so much alike and all was so beautiful that it was easy to wander on and forget all about finding the way back through the sun-dappled shades.
And so it happened that one morning when the outlaw band had gone off hunting, to bring back a couple of fat deer for Robin Hood’s larder, young Robin started by himself, bow in hand, down one of the lovely beech glades, and had soon gone farther than he had been before.