Sir Guy of Gisborne
Robin Hood had a bad dream: 'Two strong yeomen beat and bound me and took my bow, and as sure as I abide in this land I'll have my revenge on those two,' he told Little John.
'Master,' said Little John. 'Dreams are passing things. As the wind blows o'er the hill, they can be very loud in the night but on the morrow may be quite still.'
Robin insisted: 'Get yourself ready, Little John, we're going to search the greenwood for these two yeoman.' Through the forest they went, shooting their bows along the way till they chanced upon a powerfully built yeoman, leaning against a tree. Dressed head to foot in horse-hide, he carried by his side a sword and dagger, both looking as if they had been the bane of many a man.
When Little John offered to go and see what the fellow wanted, Robin sharply admonished him: 'Now that's a marvellous thing when you set no store by me. How often do I send my men before and I follow behind? Only a knave gives himself away when he speaks. If I wasn't wary of breaking my bow, John, I'd crack your head with it.'
Words often breed mischief and the two friends angrily parted - Little John back to Barnsdale and Robin toward the yeoman.
'Good morrow, good fellow!' the yeoman greeted Robin.
'Good morrow, good fellow!' returned Robin. 'Methinks from the bow that you carry that you are a fine archer.'
'That may be but I have missed my way in these woods and lost track of the time.'
'I'll lead you through the woods, good fellow,' offered Robin.
'I seek an outlaw - men call him Robin Hood. I would rather meet him this day than have £20 in gold.'
'If you two met I'm sure you would soon discover who is the better. But I pray you, good fellow, let's amuse ourselves with a game. Let's have a test of skill as we walk through the woods. Perhaps we'll chance upon Robin Hood when we least expect it.'
To make targets they cut long, thin branches from the summer shrubs growing under the briars, added garlands of twigs and planted them 100 yards away. 'You first, good fellow,' begged the yeoman.
'No, in faith,' insisted Robin. 'You must be the leader.'
To save further argument Robin led and his first shot missed the target by less than an inch. The yeoman, good though he was, came nowhere near it and though his second shot fell inside the garland, Robin shot better and split the wand in two.
'God bless your heart,' praised the yeoman, 'your shooting is good. If your heart was as good as your hands, you would be better than Robin Hood. Tell me your name, good fellow.'
'No, in faith, not till you have told me yours.'
'I dwell by dale and down and have done many a deadly turn. Call me by my right name and you call me Guy of Gisborne.'
'My dwelling is in the wood and I set nothing by you. My name is Robin Hood of Barnsdale - the fellow you have long sought.'
A fine sight it must have been to see these yeomen going at it with gleaming bright blades - as long as neither one of them was your kith or kin. For two hours on that summer day they fought, neither giving way till Robin stumbled on a root and Guy, nimbly moving in, struck Robin on his left side. 'Oh dear Lady, mother and maid; it was never my destiny to die before my day,' Robin shouted and leapt to his feet.
Knocking his opponent's sword out of his hand (pictured top right), Robin killed Sir Guy with a swift upward stroke. 'You have been a traitor all your life and now it must end,' Robin said. 'Lie there, good Sir Guy and spare me your curses. If you have had the worst strokes of my hand then you shall have the better cloth.'
Robin took off his cloth of green, threw it over Guy's body and dressed himself in Guy's own horsehide - top to toe: 'I'll also take your bow and arrows, and your little horn. Now back to Barnsdale to see how my men are faring.'
When Robin returned to Barnsdale, he found he had to rescue Little John from the Sheriff.
Grand Sale of Horses
Outside Butt-Dyke, Nottingham
Every Saturday except Feast Days
Finest Display of Horses in the Midlands
Advice on buying a horse from a local expert - Sir Robert of Huckenal:
'A horse will only move well if it is made well - a good horse is never ugly. Its neck ought to be a graceful ascending curve, long but not frail, and its ears must be the highest point of its body.
The head ought to be well set, not too high not too low, for the horse must look where it is going. The withers should be long and the back straight. The hindquarters supplying the driving power must be muscular and the movement of the legs must be straight.
But you have to look further than the physical. For a horse to be agile and sure-footed it must have a good temperament, ears being the best indicator. Upright, lively ears show lots of energy, trust and generosity. Too much flapping of the ears means it is easily provoked to anger. Upright ears that barely move can mean that the horse is lazy or stubborn.
Often though the ears tell you very little so watch out for a calm horse that is sometimes stubborn or wilful. And don't forget the eyes; if they are small and distrustful the horse could be lazy. Always remember bold, strong horses are easy to manage while shy, skittish are not. As for size - if you are big you will need a big horse; as for colour - whatever you fancy.'
|Tales of Robin Hood