The king laughed.
“You are witty, I see,” he said. “But we will let that pass, and say that your answer is right. And now tell me how soon I may ride round the world.”
[Illustration: “You shall live until the day that you die.”]
“You must rise with the sun,” said the shepherd, “and you must ride with the sun until it rises again the next morning. As soon as you do that, you will find that you have ridden round the world in twenty-four hours.”
The king laughed again. “Indeed,” he said, “I did not think that it could be done so soon. You are not only witty, but you are wise, and we will let this answer pass. And now comes my third and last question: What do I think?”
“That is an easy question,” said the shepherd. “You think that I am the Abbot of Can-ter-bur-y. But, to tell you the truth, I am only his poor shepherd, and I have come to beg your pardon for him and for me.” And with that, he threw off his long gown.
The king laughed loud and long.
“A merry fellow you are,” said he, “and you shall be the Abbot of Canterbury in your master’s place.”
“O king! that cannot be,” said the shepherd; “for I can neither read nor write.”
“Very well, then,” said the king, “I will give you something else to pay you for this merry joke. I will give you four pieces of silver every week as long as you live. And when you get home, you may tell the old abbot that you have brought him a free pardon from King John.”
In the rude days of King Rich-ard and King John there were many great woods in England. The most famous of these was Sher-wood forest, where the king often went to hunt deer. In this forest there lived a band of daring men called out-laws.
They had done something that was against the laws of the land, and had been forced to hide themselves in the woods to save their lives. There they spent their time in roaming about among the trees, in hunting the king’s deer, and in robbing rich trav-el-ers that came that way.
There were nearly a hundred of these outlaws, and their leader was a bold fellow called Robin Hood. They were dressed in suits of green, and armed with bows and arrows; and sometimes they carried long wooden lances and broad-swords, which they knew how to handle well. When-ever they had taken anything, it was brought and laid at the feet of Robin Hood, whom they called their king. He then di-vid-ed it fairly among them, giving to each man his just share.
Robin never allowed his men to harm any-body but the rich men who lived in great houses and did no work. He was always kind to the poor, and he often sent help to them; and for that reason the common people looked upon him as their friend.
Long after he was dead, men liked to talk about his deeds. Some praised him, and some blamed him. He was, indeed, a rude, lawless fellow; but at that time, people did not think of right and wrong as they do now.