Ballads Of Robin Hood
Robin Hood and the Pedlars (Child Ballad 137)
WILL you heare a tale of Robin Hood,
Will Scarlett, and Little John?
Now listen awhile, it will make you smile,
As before it hath many done.
They were archers three, of hie degree,
As good as ever drewe bowe;
Their arrowes were long and their armes were strong,
As most had cause to knowe.
But one sommers day, as they toke their way
Through the forrest of greene Sherwood,
To kill the kings deare, you shall presently heare
What befell these archers good.
They were ware on the roade of three peddlers with loade,
For each had his packe,
Full of all wares for countrie faires,
Trusst up upon his backe.
A good oke staffe, a yard and a halfe,
Each one had in his hande;
And they were all bound to Nottingham towne,
As you shall understand.
‘Yonder I see bolde peddlers three,’
Said Robin to Scarlett and John;
‘We’le search their packes upon their backes
Before that they be gone.
‘Holla, good fellowes!’ quod Robin Hood,
‘Whither is it ye doe goe?
Now stay and rest, for that is the best,
‘Tis well ye should doe soe.’
‘Noe rest we neede, on our roade we speede,
Till to Nottingham we get:’
‘Thou tellst a lewde lye,’ said Robin, ‘For I
Can see that ye swinke and swet.’
The peddlers three crosst over the lee,
They did not list to fight:
‘I charge you tarrie,’ quod Robin, ‘For marry,
This is my owne land by right.
‘This is my manner and this is my parke,
I would have ye for to knowe;
Ye are bolde outlawes, I see by cause
Ye are so prest to goe.’
The peddlers three turned round to see
Who it might be they herd;
Then agen went on as they list to be gone,
And never answered word.
Then toke Robin Hood an arrow so good,
Which he did never lacke,
And drew his bowe, and the swift arrowe
Went through the last peddlers packe.
Ffor him it was well on the packe it fell,
Or his life had found an ende;
And it pierst the skin of his backe within,
Though the packe did stand his frend.
Then downe they flung their packes eche one,
And stayde till Robin came:
Quod Robin, I saide ye had better stayde;
Good sooth, ye were to blame.
‘And who art thou? by S. Crispin, I vowe
I’le quickly cracke thy head!’
Cried Robin, Come on, all three, or one;
It is not so soone done as said.
My name, by the roode, is Robin Hood,
And this is Scarlett and John;
It is three to three, ye may plainelie see,
Soe now, brave fellowes, laye on.
The first peddlars blowe brake Robins bowe
That he had in his hand;
And Scarlett and John, they eche had one
That they unneath could stand.
‘Now holde your handes,’ cride Robin Hood,
‘For ye have got oken staves;
But tarie till wee can get but three,
And a fig for all your braves.’
Of the peddlers the first, his name Kit o Thirske,
Said, We are all content;
Soe eche tooke a stake for his weapon, to make
The peddlers to repent.
Soe to it they fell, and their blowes did ring well
Uppon the others backes;
And gave the peddlers cause to wish
They had not cast their packes.
Yet the peddlers three of their blowes were so free
That Robin began for to rue;
And Scarlett and John had such loade laide on
It made the sunne looke blue.
At last Kits oke caught Robin a stroke
That made his head to sound;
He staggerd, and reelde, till he fell on the fielde,
And the trees with him went round.
Now holde your handes,’ cride Little John,
And soe did Scarlett eke;
‘Our maister is slaine, I tell you plaine,
He never more will speake.’
‘Now, heaven forefend he come to that ende,’
Said Kit, ‘I love him well;
But lett him learne to be wise in turne,
And not with pore peddlers mell.
‘In my packe, God wot, I a balsame have got
That soone his hurts will heale;’
And into Robin Hoods gaping mouth
He presentlie powrde some deale.
‘Now fare you well, tis best not to tell
How ye three peddlers met;
Or if ye doe, prithee tell alsoe
How they made ye swinke and swett.’
Poore Robin in sound they left on the ground,
And hied them to Nottingham,
While Scarlett and John Robin tended on,
Till at length his senses came.
Noe sooner, in haste, did Robin Hood taste
The balsame he had tane,
Than he gan to spewe, and up he threwe
The balsame all againe.
And scarlett and John, who were looking on
Their maister as he did lie,
Had their faces besmeard, both eies and beard,
Therewith most piteously.
Thus ended that fray; soe beware alwaye
How ye doe challenge foes;
Looke well aboute they are not to stoute,
Or you may have worst of the blowes.