Key words£ºoutlaw£¬Robin Hood£¬bridge 
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Genre£ºlegend Topic£ºRobin Hood Words:700
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"We will fight till one of us falls into the water,"
he said; and fight they did.
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Robin Hood and Little John
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Author£ºH. W. Mabie Source£ºwww.bookrags.com  
Date£º2008-8-9 Editor£ºEdmund



(Robin Hood duels Little John
)

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BECAUSE of the hardness towards the English people of William the Conqueror, and of William's successors to several generations, many an Englishman exiled himself from town and passed his life in the greenwood. These men were called "outlaws." First they went forth out of love for the ancient liberties of England. Then in their living in the forest, they put themselves without the law by their ways of gaining their livelihood. Of such men none were more renowned than Robin Hood and his company.

We do not know anything about Robin Hood, who he was, or where he lived, or what evil deed he had done. Any man might kill him and never pay penalty for it. But, outlaw or not, the poor people loved him and looked on him as their friend, and many a stout fellow came to join him, and led a merry life in the greenwood, with moss and fern for bed, and for meat the King's deer, which it was death to slay. Tillers of the land, yeomen, and some say knights, went on their ways freely, for of them Robin took no toll; but lordly churchmen with money-bags well filled, or proud bishops with their richly dressed followers, trembled as they drew near to Sherwood Forest¡ªwho was to know whether behind every tree there did not lurk Robin Hood or one of his men?

One day Robin was walking alone in the wood, and reached a river spanned by a very narrow bridge, over which one man only could pass. In the midst stood a stranger, and Robin bade him go back and let him go over. "I am no man of yours," was all the answer Robin got, and in anger he drew his bow and fitted an arrow to it, "Would you shoot a man who has no arms but a staff?" asked the stranger in scorn; and with shame Robin laid down his bow, and unbuckled an oaken stick at his side. "We will fight till one of us falls into the water," he said; and fight they did, till the stranger planted a blow so well that Robin rolled over into the river. "You are a brave soul," said he, when he had waded to land, and he blew a blast with his horn which brought fifty good fellows, clad in green, to the little bridge. "Have you fallen into the river that your clothes are wet?" asked one; and Robin made answer, "No, but this stranger, fighting on the bridge, got the better of me, and tumbled me into the stream."

At this the foresters seized the stranger, and would have ducked him had not their leader bade them stop, and begged the stranger to stay with them and make one of themselves. "Here is my hand," replied the stranger, "and my heart with it. My name, if you would know it, is John Little."

"That must be altered," cried Will Scarlett; "we will call a feast, and henceforth, because he is full seven feet tall and round the waist at least an ell, he shall be called Little John."

And thus it was done; but at the feast Little John, who always liked to know exactly what work he had to do, put some questions to Robin Hood. "Before I join hands with you, tell me first what sort of life is this you lead? How am I to know whose goods I shall take, and whose I shall leave? Whom I shall beat, and whom I shall refrain from beating?"

And Robin answered: "Look that you harm not any tiller of the ground, nor any yeoman of the greenwood¡ªno knight, no squire, unless you have heard him ill spoken of. But if bishops or archbishops come your way, see that you spoil them, and mark that you always hold in your mind the High Sheriff of Nottingham."

This being settled, Robin Hood declared Little John to be second in command to himself among the brotherhood of the forest, and the new outlaw never forgot to "hold in his mind" the High Sheriff of Nottingham, who was the bitterest enemy the foresters had.

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