Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
115. A Little Geste of Robin Hood and his Meiny
The Second Fytte
How the Knight paid his Creditors against their will


Now is the Knight gone on his way;
  This game him thought full good;
When he looked on Barnèsdale,
  He blessèd Robin Hood.

And when he thought on Barnèsdale,
  ‘On Scathelock, Much, and John,
He blessèd them for a company
  The best he ever in come.

‘Then spake that gentle Knight,
  To Little John gan he say,        10
‘To-morrow I must to York town
  To Saint Mary’s Abbèy;

‘And to the Abbot of that place
  Four hundred pound must pay;
But I be there upon this night        15
  My land is lost for aye.’

The Abbot said to his Convènt,
  Where he stood on ground,
‘This day twelve moneth came a knight,
  And borrowed four hundred pound.        20

‘He borrowèd four hundred pound
  Upon his land and fee;
But he come this ilkè day
  Disherited shall he be.’

‘It is full early,’ said the Prior,
  ‘The day is not yet far gone;
I had liever pay an hundred pound,
  And lay it down anon.

‘The Knight is far beyond the sea,
  In England is his right,        30
And suffereth hunger and cold
  And many a sorry night.

‘It were great pity,’ said the Prior,
  ‘So to have his land;
An ye be so light of your conscience,        35
  Ye do him muchè shand.’

‘Thou art ever in my beard,’ said the Abbot,
  ‘By God and Saint Richard!’
With that came in a fat-headed monk,
  The Highè Cellarèr.        40

‘He is dead or hangèd,’ said the monk,
  ‘By Him that bought me dear,
And we shall have to spend in this place
  Four hundred pound by year.’

The Abbot and the High Cellarer
  Started forth full bold,
The High Justice of Engèland
  The Abbot there did hold.

The High Justice and many mo
  Had taken into their hand        50
Wholly all the Knightès debt,
  To put that Knight to shand.

They deemèd the Knight wonder sore,
  The Abbot and his meinèe:
‘But he come this ilkè day,        55
  Disherited shall he be.’

‘He will not come yet,’ said the Justice,
  ‘I dare well undertake.’
But in sorry timè for them all
  The Knight came to the gate.        60

Then bespake that gentle Knight
  Until his meinèe:
‘Now put on your simple weeds
  That ye brought from the sea.’

They putten on their simple weeds,
  They came to the gates anon;
The Porter was ready himself,
  And welcomed them every one.

‘Welcome, Sir Knight,’ said the Porter,
  ‘My lord to meat is he,        70
And so is many a gentle man,
  For the love of thee.’

The Porter swore a full great oath:
  ‘By Him that madè me,
Here be the bestè corsèd horse        75
  That ever yet I see.

‘Lead them into the stable,’ he said,
  ‘That easèd might they be’;
‘They shall not come therein,’ said the Knight,
  ‘By Him that died on tree.’        80

Lordès were to meat y-set
  In that Abbot’s hall;
The Knight went forth and kneelèd down
  And salued them great and small.

‘Do gladly, Sir Abbot,’ said the Knight,
  ‘I am come to hold my day.’
The first word that the Abbot spake,
  ‘Hast thou brought me my pay?’

‘Not one penny,’ said the Knight,
  ‘By Him that makèd me’:        90
‘Thou art a shrewd debtor,’ said the Abbot;
  ‘Sir Justice, drink to me!’

‘What doest thou here,’ said the Abbot,
  ‘But thou hadst brought thy pay?’
‘Alack is me,’ then said the Knight,        95
  ‘To pray of a longer day!’

‘Thy day is broke,’ said the Justice,
  ‘Land gettest thou none.’—
‘Now, good Sir Justice, be my friend,
  And fend me of my fone!’        100

‘I am held with the Abbot,’ said the Justice,
  ‘Both with cloth and fee.’—
‘Now, good Sir Sheriff, be my friend!’
  ‘Nay, nay, not I,’ said he.

‘Now, good Sir Abbot, be my friend,
  For thy courtesy,
And hold my landès in thy hand
  Till I have made thee gree

‘And I will be thy true servànt
  And truly servè thee,        110
Till ye have four hundred pound
  Of money good and free.’

The Abbot sware a full great oath,
  ‘By Him that died on tree,
Get thy landès where thou mayst,        115
  For thou gettest none of me!’

‘By dear-worth God,’ then said the Knight,
  ‘That all this worldè wrought,
But I have my land again,
  Full dear it shall be bought.        120

‘God, that was of a maiden born,
  Give us well to speed!
For it is good to assay a friend
  Ere that a man have need.’

The Abbot loathly on him gan look,
  And villainously him gan call;
‘Out,’ he said, ‘thou falsè Knight,
  Speed thee out of my hall!

‘Thou liest,’ said the gentle Knight.
  ‘Abbot, in thy hall;        130
Falsè Knight was I never,
  By God that made us all.’

Up then stood that gentle Knight,
  To the Abbot said he,
‘To suffer a knight to kneel so long,        135
  Thou canst no courtesy.

‘In joustès and in tournaments
  Full far then have I be,
And put myself as far in press
  As any that ever I see.’        140

‘What will ye give more,’ said the Justice,
  ‘An the Knight shall make a release?
And ellès dare I safely swear
  Ye hold never your land in peace.’

‘An hundred pound,’ said the Abbot;
  The Justice said, ‘Give him two;’
‘Nay, by God,’ said the Knight,
  ‘Ye get not my land so.

‘Though ye would give a thousand more,
  Yet were ye never the nigher;        150
Shall there never be mine heir
  Abbot, Justice, nor Friar.’

He started to a board anon,
  Till a table round,
And here he shook out of a bag        155
  Even four hundred pound.

‘Have here thy gold, Sir Abbot,’ he said,
  ‘Which that thou lentest me;
Hadst thou been courteous at my coming,
  I would have rewarded thee.’        160

The Abbot sat still, and ate no more,
  For all his royal fare;
He cast his head on his shouldèr,
  And fast began to stare.

‘Take me my gold again,’ he said,
  ‘Sir Justice, that I took thee.’—
‘Not a penny,’ said the Justice,
  ‘By Him that died on tree.’—

‘Sir Abbot, and ye men of law,
  Now have I held my day;        170
Now shall I have my land again,
  For aught that you can say.’

The Knight out started of the door,
  Away was all his care,
And on he put his good clothing,        175
  The other he left there.

He went him forth full merry singing,
  As men have told in tale;
His Lady met him at the gate,
  At home in Uttersdale.        180

‘Welcome, my lord,’ said his Lady;
  ‘Sir, lost is all your good?’—
‘Be merry, damè,’ said the Knight,
  ‘And pray for Robin Hood,

‘That ever his soulè be in bliss:
  He help me out of teen;
Ne had not been his kindèness,
  Beggars had we been.

The Abbot and I accorded be,
  He is servèd of his pay;        190
The goodè yeoman lent it me,
  As I came by the way.’

This Knight then dwellèd fair at home,
  The soothè for to say,
Till he had got four hundred pound,        195
  All ready for to pay.

He purvey’d him an hundred bows,
  The stringès well y-dight,
An hundred sheaf of arrows good,
  The heads burnish’d full bright;        200

And every arrow an ellè long,
  With peacock well y-dight,
Y-notchèd all with white silvèr;
  It was a seemly sight.

He purvey’d him an hundred men,
  Well harness’d in that stead,
And himself in that samè suit,
  And clothed in white and red.

He bare a lancegay in his hand,
  And a man led his mail,        210
And roden with a lightè song
  Unto Barnèsdale.

As he went at a bridge there was a wrestling,
  And there tarrièd was he,
And there was all the best yeomen,        215
  Of all the west country.

A full fair game there was upset,
  A white bull up y-pight;
A great courser with saddle and bridle,
  With gold burnish’d full bright;        220

A pair of gloves, a red gold ring,
  A pipe of wine, in good fay:
What man beareth him best, i-wis,
  The prize shall bear away.

There was a yeoman in that place,
  And best worthy was he,
And for he was far and frembd bestad,
  I-slain he should have be.

The Knight had ruth of this yeoman.
  In place where that he stood,        230
He said that yeoman should have no harm,
  For love of Robin Hood.

The Knight pressèd into the place,
  An hundred followed him free,
With bows bent, and arrows sharp,        235
  For to shende that company.

They shoulder’d all, and made him room,
  To wete what he would say,
He took the yeoman by the hand
  And gave him all the play;        240

He gave him five mark for his wine,
  There it lay on the mould,
And bade it should be set a-broach,
  Drink who so would.

Thus long tarried this gentle Knight,
  Till that play was done . .
So long abode Robin fasting,
  Three hours after the noon.
GLOSS:  come] came.  But] unless.  fee] property.  ilkè] same.  shand] shame.  in my beard] contradicting, or thwarting me.  deemèd] judged.  wonder sore] monstrous severely.  Until] unto.  corsèd] bodied.  salued] saluted.  shrewd] cursed.  But] if not.  fend] defend.  fone] foes.  gree] satisfaction.  But I have] unless I have.  canst] knowest.  put myself …  in press] adventured myself.  release] quittance.  ellès] else.  Take] give.  Ne had not been] had it not been for.  With peacock … y-dight] fitted with peacock feathers.  lancegay] a javelin-lance.  his mail] his bag or trunk.  roden] they rode.  y-pight] placed, fixed.  far and frembd bestad] in the plight of one from far and a stranger.  shende] shame.  wete] know.


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