"For Freedom of Sherwood Forest"
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, The Wish Express, "King, King! Double King!", etc.
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, November 9, 1919.
Gayly the birds sang in the greenwood, but not so gayly as Robin himself. His heart beat stoutly under his green doublet and he patted his bow and quiver of arrows affectionately.
A pretty shot was Robin, son of Fitzooth, ranger of the king's forest - let robbers come if they dare!
Ah! those were merry days in old England and Robin's mind was full of his visit to his uncle at Gamewell Hall; of the tourneys and joustings and brave sights he would see at the Nottingham Fair.
Little did Robin dream that he would replace Will o' th' Green as ruler of Sherwood; little did Robin of Locksley dream of Robin o' th' Hood - generous, gallant outlawed Robin! No, Robin of Locksley was a proper youth going properly to the Nottingham Fair.
The giant trees cast deep shadows across the road, arched overhead till the sky itself was shut out, and noon brought them to the darkest spot of all. And - here it happened.
The shrill blast of a hunting horn rang suddenly through the greenwood. A dozen robbers sprang out of the shadows, seized the men at arms, and jerked hold of the horses' heads.
"Toll! Toll! All must pay toll who pass through Sherwood!" cried the chief - no less than Will himself.
Robin brandished his small dagger and struggled manfully with the outlaw nearest him.
"Shame to hold up a woman! Loose your hold there, villain!" he called angrily. But what could one slim youth do among such numbers. Dame Fitzooth was on the point of turning her purse over to the outlaw, when an idea came to Robin.
"Wait!" he called imperiously. "I'll shoot with you, Will, for the freedom of the forest, and if I lose you shall take all we have and hold me hostage till my mother rides to Gamewell. Then will she return with 200 crowns more!"
The outlaw slapped his thigh and laughed loudly.
"Agreed!" he roared, for Robin's spirit pleased him. "Point out your mark, lad!"
Straight toward a tall birch sped Robin's bright arrow, lodging in the trunk, but Will's feather-tipped shaft, singing behind it, stuck fairly in the center of the tree.
"Will o' th' Green has first round," called the hermit. "Shoot again, masters, and --"
Out of the forest dash a whole company of the king's foresters. Over is the strange contest; gone in a breath Will o' th' Green and his merry men, melted like shadows into the dim greenwood.
"I'll shoot with you again, Will, for the freedom of Sherwood!" called Robin lustily, half sorry to be thus rescued from the valiant outlaw.
And he did, but then that is another story.
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, November 30, 1919.
Now this is the rest of the story: Robin arrived at his uncle's castle, and after seeing all the grand rooms he ran out in the great gardens, and asking Warrenton, one of his uncle's retainers, for a bow and arrow he fell to practicing away for his dear life. The old man was astounded at Robin's skill, and as he was a famous archer he showed Robin much that helped to better his aim.
Robin had come to his uncle's so that he might go to the Nottingham Fair, which was a great treat for a forester's son. There were tournaments and joustings, fortune telling and shows of every sort to delight the heart of a high-spirited youth.
At the suggestion of Warrenton, Robin decided to try for the golden arrow, to be awarded to the best marksman.
And there among the archers on the day of the contest who should be found but Will o' th' Green himself, disguised from all but Robin's bright eyes. It was Will's fancy to win the golden arrow, break it into small pieces and return it to the sheriff - a very proper way to show his scorn and defiance, thought Will.
But matters turned out quite differently, for it was Robin's bright shaft that won the victory, and, Will, disappointed as he was, must still admire the spirit of this intrepid youngster.
They had recognized each other immediately, but being true sportsmen said nothing and no one in the gay holiday crowd knew that Will o' th' Green - dreaded outlaw of Sherwood - was competing for the prize. Nor did they know that young Robin of Locksley soon would be known to them as Robin Hood, the merriest robber and the kindest in old England. Neither did Robin know it himself.
To think he had beaten Will in an open trial! He received the few words, in an undertone, granting him freedom of the forest of Sherwood with a thrill of pride, and presented the fine golden arrow to Mistress Marion Fitzwalter whose blue eyes had set Robin's heart in a flutter, and who was to share many adventures of the man Robin Hood.
Indeed, it was Maid Marion who gave Robin his name, and on that very day, as Robin rode through the woods to the fair, an outlaw had shot at him, his arrow piercing Robin's long cape and wounding him slightly. With his sword Robin cut his cape off short, and in its new form he drew many a laugh from the rough crowd.
But Mistress Fitzwalter found it vastly becoming, and in accepting her golden arrow said prettily:
"Thank you Robin o' th' Hood; I'll take the dart and wear it in memory of Locksley and this day!"
It was the happiest day Robin was to have for many a long year. Do you know the story of how he became an outlaw and the merry adventures he had in the old forest of Sherwood? Well, some day I must tell you of them.
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 18, 1919.
The Forgetful Poet's Riddles
Last week's flower answers were ivy, poppy, tulip, pansy, larkspur, marigold, foxglove, phlox, daisy, orchid - and that is all period.
He wants to know this week whether a birdhouse has wings. Ho! Ho! Isn't he ridiculous? And -
What kind of sack does the Sand Man carry?
What is dactylology? (I think you'll find this in the dictionary.)
Something that little girls play with and part of a fish will give a marine creature.
And one blows,
And one was worn
By queens - and those
Of fashion long ago,
End in a word that's
A word that's small
And rhymes with pale;
Now you can guess it
(Can you not?)
[Answers next time.]
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