Robin Shoots the Sheriff
Not far into the greenwood is a fine castle, walled and double-ditched. Home to Sir Richard at the Lee, it was to this castle that Robin Hood and his men turned for refuge after the Sheriff and his men had ambushed them at the Silver Arrow contest.
Sir Richard generously opened his gates to the outlaws with the Sheriff's men in hot pursuit. 'Robin Hood, you are most welcome,' Sir Richard told him, 'and I thank you again for your comfort, courtesy and great kindness in the greenwood, there is no one in the world I honour more. The Sheriff of Nottingham may do his worst but right here you'll stay.'
When all the outlaws were inside, Sir Richard commanded his men: 'Shut the gates, raise the drawbridge and let nobody pass. Arm you well; make ready to man the walls.'
'I swear by St. Quentin,' Sir Richard said to Robin, 'there is only one thing I ask of you - that you dwell here and sup and dine with me.'
Barred by the castles gates, the Sheriff stirred up all the country around, gathered a strong army of men and beset the knight's castle. 'Traitor knight!' the Sheriff (pictured top right) shouted to Sir Richard from the safety of the far side of the drawbridge. 'You harbour the King's enemies in defiance of law and justice.'
'Sir,' replied Sir Richard from the ramparts, 'I will stand by the deeds I have done and stake my lands on it. Go forth, sir, and do no more to me until you know the King's will.'
With this straight answer the Sheriff went off to London to report to Earl John and to explain his side of the story: 'Sir Richard intends to stand by what he has done in defence of these dangerous outlaws. Mark my words, he will be lord in all the northern lands and set you, my lord, at nought.'
Earl John rebuked him: 'This is no time to bother me with the small problem of a knight and a few outlaws - not when there is a kingdom at stake. Go home, Sheriff, and recruit plenty of good archers from around the country to deal with these criminals.' The Sheriff took his leave, returned home but was unable to recruit enough archers.
At the end of forty days Robin Hood returned to the greenwood and was followed soon after by Little John when the wound in his knee had healed.
After failing to capture Robin Hood, the Sheriff lay in wait to capture Sir Richard at the Lee. The unsuspecting gentle knight set off hawking alone by the riverside when the Sheriff's men pounced on him and bound him. 'Rather than a £100 I wish I had Robin Hood as well,' the proud Sheriff swore as he and his army of men set off for Nottingham prison with their captive.
Sir Richard's wife, a beautiful and spirited lady, saw what had happened from a high window in her castle and mounting a swift palfrey, rode fast into the greenwood. She soon found Robin Hood and his merry men: 'God save you, good Robin , and all your company. Grant me a boon for our dear Lady's sake. Do not let my wedded lord be shamefully slain. It is for your sake that he has been tightly bound and carried off to Nottingham prison.'
'Who has taken your lord?' asked Robin.
'The proud Sheriff of Nottingham, but truth is, they've barely gone a few miles.'
Robin was still rankling at being ambushed by the Sheriff and furiously leapt into action: 'To arms, my merry men, and by my faith whoever fails me at this sorry time shall no longer dwell with me in Sherwood Forest.'
Many good bows were bent, bright swords brandished, seven score or more, before bounding feet lightly skipped over the hedges and ditches that lay in front of the outlaws. 'I swear to God,' shouted Robin, 'I would dearly love to see the Sheriff, and if I find him, he will receive my justice.'
The pursuing outlaw had entered the streets of Nottingham before they caught up with the Sheriff, his armed escort and their prisoner Sir Richard at the Lee.
'Stay proud Sheriff!' shouted Robin. 'Stay and speak with me. It must be seven years since I last travelled so fast on foot and I swear it is not to your good.'
The Sheriff rushed on towards the prison refusing to slow. Robin bent his bow right back and fired an arrow that struck the Sheriff with such force that he fell lifeless to the ground. 'Lie there proud Sheriff, evil must end. No man could trust your wiles while you were alive.'
Meanwhile, Robin's men had drawn their swords so sharp and keen and were laying into the Sheriff 's men, driving them away and forcing them to give up their prisoner. Robin went up to the gentle knight, cut free his bonds, put a bow in his hand and bade him stand by him: 'Leave your horse behind and learn how to run through the thicket and fen in the greenwood with my men. Best abide with me without any rent until I have a pardon from our comely king.'
Away went Robin and the gentle knight , running at the head of the outlaw band, out of the town till they all disappeared into the greenwood.
Nottingham town has lost a Sheriff whilst the greenwood has gained a knight.
'I thought you could use one measuring rule for buying and a different one for selling!'
|Tales of Robin Hood