Ballads Of Robin Hood
Robin Hood Rescuing Will Stutly (Child Ballad 141)
WHEN Robin Hood in the green-wood livd,
Derry derry down
Vnder the green-wood tree,
Tidings there came to him with speed,
Tidings for certainty,
Hey down derry derry down
That Will Stutly surprized was,
And eke in prison lay;
Three varlets that the sheriff had hired
Did likely him betray.
I, and to-morrow hanged must be,
To-morrow as soon as it is day;
But before they could this victory get,
Two of them did Stutly slay.
When Robin Hood he heard this news,
Lord! he was grieved sore,
I, and unto his merry men said,
Who altogether swore,
That Will Stutly should rescued be,
And be brought safe again;
Or elde should many a gallant wight
For his sake there be slain.
He cloathed himself in scarlet then,
His men were all in green;
A finer show, throughout the world,
In no place could be seen.
Good lord! it was a gallant sight
To see them all on a row;
With every man a good broad sword,
And eke a good yew bow.
Forth of the green wood are they gone,
Yea, all couragiously,
Resolving to bring Stutly home,
Or every man to die.
And when they came the castle neer,
Whereas Will Stutly lay,
‘I hold it good,’ saith Robin Hood,
‘Wee here in ambush stay,
‘And send one forth some news to hear,
To yonder palmer fair,
That stands under the castle-wall;
Some news he may declare.’
With that steps forth a brave young man,
Which was of courage bold;
Thus hee did say to the old man:
I pray thee, palmer old,
Tell me, if that thou rightly ken,
When must Will Stutly die,
Who is one of bold Robins men,
And here doth prisoner lie?
‘Alack, alass,’ the palmer said,
‘And for ever wo is me!
Will Stutly hanged must be this day,
On yonder gallows-tree.
‘O had his noble master known,
Hee would some succour send;
A few of his bold yeomandree
Full soon would fetch him hence.’
‘I, that is true,’ the young man said;
‘I, that is true,’ said hee;
‘Or, if they were neer to this place,
They soon would set him free.
‘But fare thou well, thou good old man,
Farewell, and thanks to thee;
If Stutly hanged be this day,
Revengd his death will be.’
He was no sooner from the palmer gone,
But the gates was opened wide,
And out of the castle Will Stutly came,
Guarded on every side.
When hee was forth from the castle come,
And saw no help was nigh,
Thus he did say unto the sheriff,
Thus he said gallantly:
Now seeing that I needs must die,
Grant me one boon, says he;
For my noble master nere had man
That yet was hangd on the tree.
Give me a sword all in my hand,
And let mee be unbound,
And with thee and thy men I’le fight,
Vntill I lie dead on the ground.
But his desire he would not grant,
His wishes were in vain;
For the sheriff had sworn he hanged should be,
And not by the sword be slain.
‘Do but unbind my hands,’ he saies,
‘I will no weapons crave,
And if I hanged be this day,
Damnation let me have.’
‘O no, O no,’ the sheriff he said,
‘Thou shalt on the gallows die,
I, and so shall thy master too,
If ever in me it lie.’
‘O dastard coward!’ Stutly cries,
‘Thou faint-heart pesant slave!
If ever my master do thee meet,
Thou shalt thy paiment have.
‘My noble master thee doth scorn,
And all thy cowardly crew;
Such silly imps unable are
Bold Robin to subdue.’
But when he was to the gallows come,
And ready to bid adiew,
Out of a bush leaps Little John,
And steps Will Stutly to.
‘I pray thee, Will, before thou die,
Of thy dear friends take leave;
I needs must borrow him a while,
How say you, master sheriff?’
‘Now, as I live,’ the sheriff he said,
‘That varlet will I know;
Some sturdy rebell is that same,
Therefore let him not go.’
With that Little John so hastily
Away cut Stutly’s bands,
And from one of the sheriff his men,
A sword twicht from his hands.
‘Here, Will, here, take thou this same,
Thou canst it better sway;
And here defend thy self a while,
For aid will come straight way.’
And there they turnd them back to back,
In the middle of them that day,
Till Robin Hood approached neer,
With many an archer gay.
With that an arrow by them flew,
I wist from Robin Hood;
‘Make haste, make haste,’ the sheriff he said,
‘Make haste, for it is good.’
The sheriff is gone; his doughty men
Thought it no boot to stay,
But, as their master had them taught,
They run full fast away.
‘O stay, O stay,’ Will Stutly said,
‘Take leave ere you depart;
You nere will catch bold Robin Hood
Vnless you dare him meet.’
‘O ill betide you,’ quoth Robin Hood,
‘That you so soon are gone;
My sword may in the scabbord rest,
For here our work is done.’
‘I little thought when I came here,
When I came to this place,
For to have met with Little John,
Or seen my masters face.’
Thus Stutly was at liberty set,
And safe brought from his foe;
‘O thanks, O thanks to my master,
Since here it was not so.’
‘And once again, my fellows,
We shall in the green woods meet,
Where we will make our bow-strings twang,
Musick for us most sweet.’