"Gramerc-y," then said our king, "But well thee greeteth Edw-ard our king, And sent to thee his seal, And biddeth thee come to Nottingham, Both to meat and meal." He took out the broad tarpe, And soon he let him see; Robin coud his courtesy, And set him on his knee: "I love no man in all the world So well as I do my king, Welcome is my lord-es seal; And, monk, for thy tid-ing, Sir abbot, for thy tiding-es, To-day thou shalt dine with me, For the love of my king, Under my trystell tree."
Forth he led our comely king, Full fair by the hand, Many a deer there was slain, And full fast dightand. Robin took a full great horn, And loud he gan blow; Seven score of wight young men, Came ready on a row, All they kneel-ed on their knee, Full fair before Rob-in. The king said himself unto, And swore by saint Austin, "Here is a wonder seemly sight, Me thinketh, by Goddes pine; His men are more at his bidd-ing, Than my men be at mine!"
Full hastily was their dinner i-dight, And thereto gan they gon, They served our king with all their might, Both Robin and Little John. Anon before our king was set The fatt-e venison, The good white bread, the good red wine, And thereto the fine ale brown. "Mak-e good cheer," said Rob-in, "Abb-ot, for charit-y; And for this ilk-e tiding-e, Bless-ed mote thou be. Now shalt thou see what life we lead, Or thou henn-es wend, Then thou may inform our king, When ye together lend."
Up they stert all in haste, Their bows were smartly bent, Our king was never so sore agast, He weened to have be shent. Two yard-es there were up set, Thereto gan they gang; But fifty pace, our king said, The mark-es were too long. On every side a rose garl-and, They shot under the line. "Whoso faileth of the rose garland," said Robin, "His tackle he shall tine, And yield it to his master, Be it never so fine,-- For no man will I spare, So drinke I ale or wine,-- And bear a buffet on his head I-wys right all bare."
And all that fell in Robin's lot, He smote them wonder sair. Twi-es Robin shot about, And ever he cleaved the wand, And so did good Gilb-ert, With the lily white hand; Little John and good Scath-elock, For nothing would they spare, When they failed of the garl-and, Robin smote them fall sair. At the last shot that Robin shot, For all his friends fair, Yet he failed of the garl-and, Three fingers and mair.
Then bespak-e good Gilb-ert, And thus he gan say, "Master," he said, "your tackle is lost, Stand forth and take your pay." "If it be so," said Rob-in, "That may no better be: Sir abbot, I deliver thee mine arrow, I pray thee, sir, serve thou me."
"It falleth not for mine order," said our king; "Robin, by thy leave, For to smite no good yeom-an, For doubt I should him grieve."
"Smite on boldly!" said Rob-in, "I give thee larg-e leave."