COME listen a while, you gentlemen all,
With a hey down down a down down
That are in this bower within,
For a story of gallant bold Robin Hood
I purpose now to begin.
'What time of the day?' quoth Robin Hood then;
Quoth Little John, 'Tis in the prime;
'Why then we will to the green wood gang,
For we have no vittles to dine.'
As Robin Hood walkt the forrest along-+--+-
It was in the mid of the day-+--+-
There was he met of a deft young man
As ever walkt on the way.
His doublet it was of silk, he said,
His stockings like scarlet shone,
And he walkt on along the way,
To Robin Hood then unknown.
A herd of deer was in the bend,
All feeding before his face:
'Now the best of ye I'le have to my dinner,
And that in a little space.'
Now the stranger he made no mickle adoe,
But he bends and a right good bow,
And the best buck in the herd he slew,
Forty good yards him full froe.
'Well shot, well shot,' quoth Robin Hood then,
'That shot it was shot in time;
And if thou wilt accept of the place,
Thou shalt be a bold yeoman of mine.'
'Go play the chiven,' the stranger said,
'Make haste and quickly go;
Or with my fist, be sure of this,
I'le give thee buffets store.'
'Thou hadst not best buffet me,' quoth Robin Hood,
'For though I seem forlorn,
Yet I can have those that will take my part,
If I but blow my horn.'
'Thou wast not best wind thy horn,' the stranger said,
'Beest thou never so much in hast,
For I can draw out a good broad sword,
And quickly cut the blast.'
Then Robin Hood bent a very good bow,
To shoot, and that he would fain;
The stranger he bent a very good bow,
To shoot at bold Robin again.
'O hold thy hand, hold thy hand,' quoth Robin Hood,
'To shoot it would be in vain;
For if we should shoot the one at the other,
The one of us may be slain.
'But let's take our swords and our broad bucklers,
And gang under yonder tree:'
'As I hope to be sav'd,' the stranger said,
'One foot I will not flee.'
Then Robin Hood lent the stranger a blow
Most scar'd him out of his wit;
'Thou never felt blow,' the stranger he said,
'That shall be better quit.'
The stranger he drew out a good broad sword,
And hit Robin on the crown,
That from every haire of bold Robins head
The blood ran trickling down.
'God a mercy, good fellow!' quoth Robin Hood then,
'And for this thou hast done;
Tell me, good fellow, what thou art,
Tell me where thou doest woon.'
The stranger then answered bold Robin Hood,
I'le tell thee where I did dwell;
In Maxfield was I bred and born,
My name is Young Gamwell.
For killing of my own fathers steward,
I am forc'd to this English wood,
And for to seek an vncle of mine;
Some call him Robin Hood.
'But art thou a cousin of Robin Hoods then?
The sooner we should have done:'
'As I hope to be sav'd,' the stranger then said,
'I am his own sisters son.'
But, Lord! what kissing and courting was there,
When these two cousins did greet!
And they went all that summers day,
And Little John did meet.
But when they met with Little John,
He there unto [him] did say,
O master, where have you been,
You have tarried so long away?
'I met with a stranger,' quoth Robin Hood then,
'Full sore he hath beaten me:'
'Then I'le have a bout with him,' quoth Little John,
'And try if he can beat me.'
[no], oh no,' quoth Robin Hood then,
'Little John, it may [not] be so;
For he's my own dear sisters son,
And cousins I have no mo.
'But he shall be a bold yeoman of mine,
My chief man next to thee;
And I Robin Hood, and thou Little John,
And Scarlet he shall be:
'And wee'l be three of the bravest outlaws
That is in the North Country.'
If you will have any more of bold Robin Hood,
In his second part it will be.