“I told yer I would,” said the young ruffian, with a grin. “You should ha’ given ’em to me at first, and then I shouldn’t have hurt yer. Come on; I’ll show yer now where yer can get something to eat.”
In his anger and shame Robin felt that he wanted no food now, only to go and hide himself away among the trees; but his enemy’s next words had their effect.
“You didn’t want this here,” he said. “You’ve got plenty on you now. Better nor I have. There, go straight on there, and I’ll show yer. D’yer hear?”
“I don’t want to go now,” said Robin fiercely.
“Oh, don’t yer? Then I do. You’re agoing afore I makes yer, and when they’ve give yer a lot, you’re going to eat part and bring some to me so’s I can help eat the rest. You bring a lot, mind, ’cause I can eat ever so much. Now then, go on.”
“I can’t—I don’t want to,” cried Robin. “You go first.”
“What, and master come, p’raps, and find me gone! Likely! he’d give me the strap again. There, get on.”
Robin winced, for the young ruffian picked up his stick and poked him as he would one of his pigs. But the little fellow could not help himself, and he went on in the required direction among the trees, the forest growing darker and darker, till suddenly voices were heard, and the boy stopped,
“You go straight along there,” he said, “and I’ll wait.”
“No, you go,” said Robin. “You know them.”
“Oh! yes, and them want some more pigs! Want me to be leathered again?”
Robin said “No,” but he felt all the time that he should like to see the young tyrant flogged and forced to return the folded up doublet; and he thought sadly of his spoiled and lost cap.
“Now then, don’t you be long,” cried the young swineherd, and he raised his stick threateningly, and made another thrust at Robin, which was avoided; and feeling desperate now as well as hungry, feeling too, that it would be better to fall into any other hands, the little fellow ran on, following a faint track in and out among the trees, till he came suddenly into an opening, face to face with a group of fifty or sixty people busily engaged around a heap beneath a spreading beech tree.
Robin’s first act was to stand and stare, for the heap consisted of bales similar to those with which he had seen the mules laden a couple of days back, and tied up together a few yards away were the very mules, while the little crowd of men who were busy bore a very strong resemblance to those by whom the attack was made on the previous day.
Robin knew nothing in those days about the old proverb of jumping out of the frying-pan into the fire, but he felt something of the kind as he found himself face to face with the marauders who had seized upon the bales of cloth and put his aunt’s servants to flight, and without a moment’s hesitation he turned and began to hurry back, but ran into the arms of a huge fellow who caught him up as if he had been a baby.