When Phoebus had melted the sickles of ice,
And likewise the mountains of snow,
Bold Robin Hood he would ramble to see,
To frolic abroad with his bow.
He left all his merry men waiting behind,
Whilst through the green valleys he passed;
There did he behold a forester bold,
Who cried out, "Friend, whither so fast?"
"I'm going," quoth Robin, "to kill a fat buck,
For me and my merry men all;
Besides, e'er I go, I'll have a fat doe,
Or else it shall cost me a fall."
"You'd best have a care," said the forester then,
"For these are his majesty's deer;
Before you shall shoot the thing I'll dispute,
For I am head-forester here."
"These thirteen long summers," quoth Robin, "I'm sure,
My arrows I here have let fly,
Where freely I range; methinks it is strange,
You should have more power than I."
"This forest," quoth Robin, "I think is my own,
And so are the nimble deer, too;
Therefore I declare, and solemnly swear,
I won't be affronted by you."
The forester he had a long quarter-staff,
Likewise a broad sword by his side;
Without more ado, he presently drew,
Declaring the truth should be tried.
Bold Robin Hood had a sword of the best,
Thus, e'er he would take any wrong,
His courage was flush, he'd venture a brush,
And thus they fell to it
The very first blow that the forester gave,
He made his broad weapon cry twang;
'Twas over the head, he fell down for dead,
O, that was a terrible bang!
But Robin he soon did recover himself,
And bravely fell to it again;
The very next stroke their weapons were broke,
Yet never a man there was slain.
At quarter-staff then they resolved to play,
Because they would have t'other bout;
And brave Robin Hood right valiantly stood,
Unwilling he was to give out.
Bold Robin he gave him very hard blows,
The other returned them as fast;
At every stroke their jackets did smoke,
Three hours the combat did last.
At length in a rage the bold forester grew,
And cudgeled bold Robin so sore
That he could not stand, so shaking his hand,
He said, "Let us freely give o'er."
"Thou art a brave fellow, I needs must confess
I never knew any so good;
Thou'rt fitting to be a yeoman for me,
And range in the merry green wood.
"I'll give thee this ring as a token of love,
For bravely thou'st acted thy part;
That man that can fight, in him I delight,
And love him with all my whole heart."
Then Robin Hood setting his horn to his mouth,
A blast he merrily blows;
His yeomen did hear and straight did appear,
A hundred with trusty long bows.
Now Little John came at the head of them all,
Clothed in a rich mantle of green;
And likewise the rest were gloriously drest,
A right gallant sight to be seen.
"Lo, these are my yeomen," said Robin Hood,
"And thou shalt be one of the train;
A mantle and bow, a quiver also,
I give them whom I entertain."
The forester willingly entered the list,
They were such a beautiful sight;
Then with a long bow they shot a fat doe,
And made a rich supper that night.
What singing and dancing was in the green wood,
For joy of another new mate!
With mirth and delight they spent the long night,
And lived at a plentiful rate.
Then Robin Hood gave him a mantle of green,
Broad arrows and a very long bow;
This done, the next day, so gallant and gay,
He marched them all in a row.
Quoth he, "My brave yeomen, be true to your trust,
And then we may range the woods wide";
They all did declare and solemnly swear,
They'd conquer, or die by his side.