Robin Hood and the Tanner
No: 126; variant: 126A
- IN Nottingham there lives a jolly tanner,
With a hey down down a down down
His name is Arthur a Bland;
There is nere a squire in Nottinghamshire
Dare bid bold Arthur stand.
- With a long pike-staff upon his shoulder,
So well he can clear his way;
By two and by three he makes them to flee,
For he hath no list to stay.
- And as he went forth, in a summer’s morning,
Into the forrest of merry Sherwood,
To view the red deer, that range here and there,
There met he with bold Robin Hood.
- As soon as bold Robin Hood did him espy,
He thought some sport he would make;
Therefore out of hand he bid him to stand,
And thus to him he spake:
- Why, what art thou, thou bold fellow,
That ranges so boldly here?
In sooth, to be brief, thou lookst like a thief,
That comes to steal our king’s deer.
- For I am a keeper in this forrest;
The king puts me in trust
To look to his deer, that range here and there,
Therefore stay thee I must.
- ‘If thou beest a keeper in this forrest,
And hast such a great command,
Yet thou must have more partakers in store,
Before thou make me to stand.’
- ‘Nay, I have no more partakers in store,
Or any that I do need;
But I have a staff of another oke graff,
I know it will do the deed.’
- ‘For thy sword and thy bow I care not a straw,
Nor all thine arrows to boot;
If I get a knop upon thy bare scop,
Thou canst as well shite as shoote.’
- ‘Speak cleanly, good fellow,’ said jolly Robin,
‘And give better terms to me;
Else I’le thee correct for thy neglect,
And make thee more mannerly.’
- ‘Marry gep with a wenion!’ quoth Arthur a Bland,
‘Art thou such a goodly man?
I care not a fig for thy looking so big;
Mend thou thyself where thou can.’
- Then Robin Hood he unbuckled his belt,
He laid down his bow so long;
He took up a staff of another oke graff,
That was both stiff and strong.
- ‘I’le yield to thy weapon,’ said jolly Robin,
‘Since thou wilt not yield to mine;
For I have a staff of another oke graff,
Not half a foot longer then thine.
- ‘But let me measure,’ said jolly Robin,
‘Before we begin our fray;
For I’le not have mine to be longer then thine,
For that will be called foul play.’
- ‘I pass not for length,’ bold Arthur reply’d,
‘My staff is of oke so free;
Eight foot and a half, it will knock down a calf,
And I hope it will knock down thee.’
- Then Robin Hood could no longer forbear;
He gave him such a knock,
Quickly and soon the blood came down,
Before it was ten a clock.
- Then Arthur he soon recovered himself,
And gave him such a knock on the crown,
That on every hair of bold Robin Hoods head,
The blood came trickling down.
- Then Robin Hood raged like a wild bore,
As soon as he saw his own blood;
Then Bland was in hast, he laid on so fast,
As though he had been staking of wood.
- And about, and about, and about they went,
Like two wild bores in a chase;
Striving to aim each other to maim,
Leg, arm, or any other place.
- And knock for knock they lustily dealt,
Which held for two hours and more;
That all the wood rang at every bang,
They ply’d their work so sore.
- ‘Hold thy hand, hold thy hand,’ said Robin Hood,
‘And let our quarrel fall;
For here we may thresh our bones into mesh,
And get no coyn at all.
- ‘And in the forrest of merry Sherwood
Hereafter thou shalt be free:’
‘God-a-mercy for naught, my freedom I bought,
I may thank my good staff, and not thee.’
- ‘What tradesman art thou?’ said jolly Robin,
‘Good felow, I prethee me show:
And also me tell in what place thou dost dwel,
For both these fain would I know.’
- ‘I am a tanner,’ bold Arthur reply’d,
‘In Nottingham long have I wrought;
And if thou’lt come there, I vow and do swear
I will tan thy hide for naught.’
- ‘God a mercy, good fellow,’ said jolly Robin,
‘Since thou art so kind to me;
And if thou wilt tan my hide for naught,
I will do as much for thee.
- ‘But if thou’lt forsake thy tanners trade,
And live in green wood with me,
My name’s Robin Hood, I swear by the rood
I will give thee both gold and fee.’
- ‘If thou be Robin Hood,’ bold Arthur reply’d,
‘As I think well thou art,
Then here’s my hand, my name’s Arthur a Bland,
We two will never depart.
- ‘But tell me, O tell me, where is Little John?
Of him fain would I hear;
For we are alide by the mothers side,
And he is my kinsman near.’
- Than Robin Hood blew on the beaugle horn,
He blew full lowd and shrill,
But quickly anon appeard Little John,
Come tripping down a green hill.
- ‘O what is the matter?’ then said Little John,
‘Master, I pray you tell;
Why do you stand with your staff in your hand?
I fear all is not well.’
- ‘O man, I do stand, and he makes me to stand,
The tanner that stands thee beside;
He is a bonny blade, and master of his trade,
For soundly he hath tand my hide.’
- ‘He is to be commended,’ then said Little John,
‘If such a feat he can do;
If he be so stout, we will have a bout,
And he shall tan my hide too.’
- ‘Hold thy hand, hold thy hand,’ said Robin Hood,
‘For as I do understand,
He’s a yeoman good, and of thine own blood,
For his name is Arthur a Bland.’
- Then Little John threw his staff away,
As far as he could it fling,
And ran out of hand to Arthur a Bland,
And about his neck did cling.
- With loving respect, there was no neglect,
They were neither nice nor coy,
Each other did face, with a lovely grace,
And both did weep for joy.
- Then Robin Hood took them both by the hand,
And danc’d round about the oke tree;
‘For three merry men, and three merry men,
And three merry men we be.
- ‘And ever hereafter, as long as I live,
We three will be all one;
The wood shall ring, and the old wife sing,
Of Robin Hood, Arthur, and John.’