Thus then holp him good Rob-in, The knight of all his care. God, that sitteth in heaven high, Grant us well to fare.
Now hath the knight his leave i-take, And went him on his way; Robin Hood and his merry men Dwelled still full many a day. Lithe and listen, gentle men, And hearken what I shall say, How the proud sheriff of Nottingham Did cry a full fair play; That all the best archers of the north Should come upon a day, And they that shoot all of the best The game shall bear away.
'He that shooteth all of the best Furthest fair and law, At a pair of fynly butts, Under the green wood shaw, A right good arrow he shall have, The shaft of silver white, The head and the feathers of rich red gold, In England is none like.'
This then heard good Rob-in, Under his trystell tree: "Make you ready, ye wight young men, That shooting will I see. Busk you, my merr-y young men, Ye shall go with me; And I will wete the sheriff's faith, True an if he be."
When they had their bows i-bent, Their tackles feathered free, Seven score of wight young men Stood by Robin's knee. When they came to Nottingham, The butts were fair and long, Many was the bold arch-er That shooted with bow-es strong.
"There shall but six shoot with me, The other shall keep my head, And stand with good bow-es bent That I be not deceived."
The fourth outlaw his bow gan bend, And that was Robin Hood, And that beheld the proud sher-iff, All by the butt he stood. Thri-es Robin shot about, And alway he cleft the wand, And so did good Gilbert, With the whit-e hand. Little John and good Scathelock Were archers good and free; Little Much and good Reynold, The worst would they not be. When they had shot about, These archers fair and good, Evermore was the best, For sooth, Robin Hood. Him was delivered the good arr-ow, For best worthy was he; He took the gift so courteysly To green wood wold-e he.
They cri-ed out on Robin Hood, And great horns gan they blow. "Wo worth thee! treason!" said Rob-in, "Full evil thou art to know! And woe be thou, thou proud sher-iff, Thus gladding thy guest, Otherwise thou behot-e me In yonder wild for-est; But had I thee in green wood, Under my trystell tree, Thou shouldest leave me a better wed Than thy true lewt-e."