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A Jest Of Robin Hood

Lyth and lystyn, gentilmen,
All that nowe be here;
Of Litell Johnn, that was the knighes man,
Goode myrth ye shall here.

It was upon a mery day
That yonge men wolde go shete;
Lytell Johnn fet his bowe anone,
And sayde he wolde them mete.

Thre tymes Litell Johnn shet aboute,
And alwey he slet the wande;
The proud sherif of Notingham
By the marks can stande.

The sherif swore a full greate othe:
'By hym that dyede on a tre,
This man is the best arschére
That ever yet sawe I me.

'Say me nowe, wight yonge man,
What is nowe thy name?
In what countre were thou borne,
And where is thy wonynge wane?'

'In Holdernes, sir, I was borne,
I-wys al of my dame;
Men cal me Reynolde Grenlef
Whan I am at home.'

'Sey me, Reynolde Grenelefe,
Wolde thou dwell with me?
And every yere I woll the gyve
Twenty marke to thy fee.'

'I have a maister,' sayde Litell Johnn,
'A curteys knight is he;
May ye lev gete of hym,
The better may it be.'

The sherif gate Litell John
Twelve moneths of the knight;
Therfore he gave him right anone
A gode hors and a wight.

Nowe is Litell John the sherifs man,
God lende vs well to spede!
But alwey thought Lytell John
To quyte hym wele his mede.

'Nowe so God me help,' sayde Litell John,
'And by my true leutye,
I shall be the worst servaunt to hym
That ever yet had he.'

It fell upon a Wednesday
The sherif on huntynge was gone,
And Litel John lay in his bed,
And was foriete at home.

Therfore he was fastinge
Til it was past the none;
'Gode sir stuarde, I pray to the,
Gyve me my dynere,' saide Litell John.

'It is longe for Grenlefe
Fastinge thus for to be;
Therfor I pray the, sir stuarde,
Mi dyner gif me.'

'Shalt thou never ete ne drynke,' saide the stuarde,
'Tyll my lorde be come to towne:'
'I make myn avowe to God,' saide Litell John,
'I had lever to crake thy crowne.'

The boteler was full uncurteys,
There he stode on flore;
He start to the botery
And shet fast the dore.

Lytell Johnn gave the boteler suche a tap
His backe went nere in two;
Though he lived an hundred ier,
The wors shuld he go.

He sporned the dore with his fote;
It went open wel and fyne;
And there he made large lyveray,
Bothe of ale and of wyne.

'Sith ye wol nat dyne,' sayde Litell John,
'I shall gyve you to drinke;
And though ye lyve an hundred wynter,
On Lytel Johnn ye shall thinke.'

Litell John ete, and Litel John drank,
The whil that he wolde;
The sherife had in his kechyn a coke,
A stoute man and a bolde.

'I make myn avowe to God,' saide the coke,
'Thou arte a shrewde hynde
In ani hous for to dwel,
For to aske thus to dyne.'

And there he lent Litell John
God strokis thre;
'I make myn avowe to God,' sayde Lytell John,
'These strokis lyked well me.

'Thou arte a bolde man and hardy,
And so thinketh me;
And or I pas fro this place
Assayed better shalt thou be.'

Lytell Johnn drew a ful gode sworde,
The coke toke another in hande;
They thought no thynge for to fle,
But stifly for to stande.

There they faught sore togedere
Two myl way and well more;
Myght neyther other harme done,
The mountnaunce of an owre.

'I make myn avowe to God,' sayde Litell Johnn,
'And by my true lewté,
Thou art one of the best sworde-men
That ever yit sawe I me.

'Cowdest thou shote as well in a bowe,
To gren wode thou shuldest with me,
And two times in the yere thy clothinge
Chaunged shuld be;

'And every yere of Robyn Hode
Twenty merke to thy fe:'
'Put up thy swerde,' saide the coke,
'And felowes woll we be.'

Thanne he fet to Lytell Johnn
The nowmbles of a do,
Gode brede, and full gode wyne,
They ete and drank theretoo.

And when they had dronkyn well,
Theyre trouths togeder they plight
That they wolde be with Robyn
That ylk same nyght.

They dyd them to the tresoure-hows,
As fast as they myght gone;
The lokks, that were of full gode stele,
They brake them everichone.

They toke away the silver vessell,
And all that thei might get;
Pecis, masars, ne sponis,
Wolde thei not forget.

Also they toke the gode pens,
Thre hundred pounde and more,
And did them streyte to Robyn Hode,
Under the gren wode hore.

'God the save, my dere mayster,
And Criste the save and se!'
And thanne sayde Robyn to Litel Johnn,
Welcome myght thou b
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

4:01 min read

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