At last all the buckets were empty, and the christening was over. Then all the men stood round in a ring and gave three cheers for Little John, Robin’s new man.
“Then Robin he took the sweet pretty
And clothed him from top to toe
In garments of green, most gay to be seen,
And gave him a curious longbow.”
After that they sang, danced and played the whole afternoon. Then when the sun sank and the long, cool shadows fell across the grass they all said “good night” and went off into their caves to sleep.
From that day Little John always lived with Robin. They became very, very great friends and Little John was next to Robin in command of the men.
“And so ever after as long as he
Although he was proper and tall,
Yet, nevertheless, the truth to express,
Still Little John they did him call.”
ROBIN HOOD AND THE BUTCHER
The Sheriff of Nottingham hated Robin and would have been very glad if any one had killed him.
The Sheriff was a very unkind man. He treated the poor Saxons very badly. He often took away all their money, and their houses and left them to starve. Sometimes, for a very little fault, he would cut off their ears or fingers. The poor people used to go into the wood, and Robin would give them food and money. Sometimes they went home again, but very often they stayed with him, and became his men.
The Sheriff knew this, so he hated Robin all the more, and he was never so happy as when he had caught one of Robin’s men and locked him up in prison.
But try how he might, he could not catch Robin. All the same Robin used to go to Nottingham very often, but he was always so well disguised that the Sheriff never knew him. So he always escaped.
The Sheriff was too much afraid of him to go into the forest to try to take him. He knew his men were no match for Robin’s. Robin’s men served him and fought for him because they loved him. The Sheriff’s men only served him because they feared him.
One day Robin was walking through the forest when he met a butcher.
This butcher was riding gaily along to the market at Nottingham. He was dressed in a blue linen coat, with leather belt. On either side of his strong gray pony hung a basket full of meat.
In these days as there were no trains, everything had to be sent by road. The roads were so bad that even carts could not go along them very much, for the wheels stuck in the mud. Everything was carried on horseback, in sacks or baskets called panniers.
The butcher rode gaily along, whistling as he went. Suddenly Robin stepped from under the trees and stopped him.
“What have you there, my man?” he asked.
“Butcher’s meat,” replied the man. “Fine prime beef and mutton for Nottingham market. Do you want to buy some?”