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THE MEETING OF ROBIN HOOD AND LITTLE JOHN
 WHEN Robin first came to live in
Sherwood Forest he was rather sad, for
could not at once forget all he had
lost. But he was not long lonely. When
it became known that he had gone to live
in the Green Wood, other poor men,
who had been driven out of their homes
by the Normans, joined him. They
soon formed a band and were known as the
Robin was no longer Robin of Huntingdon,
but Robin of Sherwood Forest. Very
soon people shortened Sherwood into
Hood, though some say he was called Hood
from the green hoods he and his men
wore. How he came to have his name does
not matter much. People almost forgot
that he was really an earl, and he
had become known, not only all over
 England, but in many far countries, as
Robin Hood was captain of the band of
Merry Men. Next to him came Little
John. He was called Little John because
he was so tall, just as Midge the
miller's son was called Much because he
was so small.
Robin loved Little John best of all his
friends. Little John loved Robin
better than any one else in all the
world. Yet the first time they met they
fought and knocked each other about
"How they came acquainted, I'll tell you in brief,
If you will but listen a while;
For this very jest, among all the rest,
I think it may cause you to smile."
It happened on a bright, sunshiny day in
early spring. All through the
winter Robin and his men had had a very
dull time. Nearly all their fun and
adventures happened with people
travelling through the forest. As there
were no trains, people had to travel on
horseback. In winter the roads were
 bad, and the weather so cold and wet,
that most people stayed at home. So
it was rather a quiet time for Robin and
his men. They lived in great caves
during the winter, and spent their time
making stores of bows and arrows,
and mending their boots and clothes.
This bright, sunshiny morning Robin felt
dull and restless, so he took his
bow and arrows, and started off through
the forest in search of adventure.
He wandered on for some time without
meeting any one. Presently he came to
a river. It was wide and deep, swollen
by the winter rains. It was crossed by
a very slender, shaky bridge, so narrow,
that if two people tried to pass
each other on it, one would certainly
fall into the water.
Robin began to cross the bridge, before
he noticed that a great, tall man,
the very tallest man he had ever seen,
was crossing too from the other side.
"Go back and wait till I have come
over," he called out as soon as he
noticed the stranger.
 The stranger laughed, and called out in
reply, "I have as good a right to
the bridge as you. You can go back till
I get across."
This made Robin very angry. He was so
accustomed to being obeyed that he
was very much astonished too. Between
anger and astonishment he hardly knew
what he did.
He drew an arrow from his quiver and
fitting it to his bow, called out
again, "If you don't go back I'll
"If you do, I'll beat you till you are
black and blue," replied the stranger.
"Quoth bold Robin Hood, Thou dost prate like an ass,
For, were I to bend my bow,
I could send a dart quite through thy proud heart,
Before thou couldst strike a blow."
"If I talk like an ass you talk like a
coward," replied the stranger. "Do
you call it fair to stand with your bow
and arrow ready to shoot at me when
I have only a
 stick to defend myself with? I tell
you, you are a coward. You are afraid
of the beating I would give you."
Robin was not a coward, and he was not
afraid. So he threw his bow and arrows
on the bank behind him.
"You are a big, boastful bully," he
said. "Just wait there until I get a
stick. I hope I may give you as good a
beating as you deserve."
The stranger laughed. "I won't run
away; don't be afraid," he said.
Robin Hood stepped to a thicket of trees
and cut himself a good, thick oak
stick. While he was doing this, he
looked at the stranger, and saw that he
was not only taller but much stronger
However that did not frighten Robin in
the least. He was rather glad of it
indeed. The stranger had said he was a
coward. He meant to prove to him
that he was not.
Back he came with a fine big stick in
his hand and a smile on his face. The
idea of a real good fight had made his
bad temper fly away, for, like King
Richard, Robin Hood was rather fond of a
 "We will fight on the bridge," said he,
"and whoever first falls into the
river has lost the battle."
"All right," said the stranger.
"Whatever you like. I'm not afraid."
Then they fell to, with right good will.
It was very difficult to fight standing
on such a narrow bridge. They kept
swaying backwards and forwards trying to
keep their balance. With every
stroke the bridge bent and trembled
beneath them as if it would break. All
the same they managed to give each other
some tremendous blows. First Robin
gave the stranger such a bang that his
very bones seemed to ring.
Bang! smash! their blows fell fast and thick as if they had been threshing corn
"Ah, ha!" said he, "I'll give you as
good as I get," and crack he went at
Bang, smash, crack, bang, they went at
each other. Their blows fell fast
and thick as if they had been threshing
"The stranger gave Robin a knock on the crown,
Which caused the blood to appear,
Then Robin enraged, more fiercely engaged,
And followed with blows more severe.
So thick and fast did he lay it on him,
With a passionate fury and ire,
At every stroke he made him to smoke,
As if he had been all on fire."
When Robin's blows came so fast and
furious, the stranger felt he could not
stand it much longer. Gathering all his
strength, with one mighty blow he
sent Robin backwards, right into the
river. Head over heels he went, and
disappeared under the water.
The stranger very nearly fell in after
him. He was so astonished at Robin's
sudden disappearance that he could not
think for a minute or two where he
had vanished to. He knelt down on the
bridge, and stared into the water.
"Hallo, my good man," he called.
"Hallo, where are you?"
He thought he had drowned Robin, and he
had not meant to do that. All the
same he could not help laughing. Robin
had looked so funny as he tumbled
into the water.
"I'm here," called Robin, from far down
the river. "I'm all right. I'm
just swimming with the tide."
 The current was very strong and had
carried him down the river a good way.
He was, however, gradually making for
the bank. Soon he caught hold of the
overhanging branches of a tree and
pulled himself out. The stranger came
running to help him too.
"You are not an easy man to beat or to
drown either," he said with a laugh,
as he helped Robin on to dry land again.
"Well," said Robin, laughing too, "I must
own that you are a brave man and a
good fighter. It was a fair fight, and
you have won the battle. I don't
want to quarrel with you any more. Will
you shake hands and be friends with
"With all my heart," said the stranger.
"It is a long time since I have met
any one who could use a stick as you
So they shook hands like the best of
friends, and quite forgot that a few
minutes before they had been banging and
battering each other as hard as
Then Robin put his bugle horn to his
mouth, and blew a loud, loud blast.
"The echoes of which through the valleys did ring,
At which his stout bowmen appeared,
And clothèd in green, most gay to be seen,
So up to their master they steered."
When the stranger saw all these fine
men, dressed in green, and carrying
bows and arrows, come running to Robin
he was very much astonished. "O
master dear, what has happened?" cried
Will Stutely, the leader, as he ran
up. "You have a great cut in your
forehead, and you are soaked through and
through," he added, laying his hand on
"It is nothing," laughed Robin. "This
young fellow and I have been having a
fight. He cracked my crown and then
tumbled me into the river."
When they heard that, Robin's men were
very angry. "If he has tumbled our
master into the river, we will tumble
him in," said they. "We will see how
he likes that," and they seized him, and
would have dragged him to the water
to drown him, but Robin
 called out, "Stop, stop, it was a fair
fight. He is a brave man, and we are
very good friends now."
Then turning to the stranger, Robin
bowed politely to him, saying, "I beg you
to forgive my men. They will not harm
you now they know that you are my
friend, for I am Robin Hood."
The stranger was very much astonished
when he heard that he had actually
been fighting with bold Robin Hood, of
whom he had heard so many tales.
"If you will come and live with me and
my Merry Men," went on Robin, "I will
give you a suit of Lincoln green. I
will teach you how to use bow and
arrows as well as you use your good
"I should like nothing better," replied
the stranger. "My name is John
Little, and I promise to serve you
"John Little!" said Will Stutely
laughing. "John Little! what a name for
man that height! John Little! why he
is seven feet tall if he is an inch!"
Will laughed and laughed, till the tears
 ran down his face. He thought it was
such a funny name for so big a man.
Robin laughed because Will laughed.
Then John Little laughed because Robin
laughed. Soon they were all laughing as
hard as they could. The wind
carried the sound of it away, till the
folk in the villages round about
said, "Hark, how Robin Hood and his
Merry Men do laugh."
"Well," said Robin at last, "I have
heard it said, 'Laugh and grow fat,' but
if we don't get some dinner soon I think
we will all grow very lean. Come
along, my little John, I'm sure you must
be hungry too."
"Little John," said Will Stutely,
"that's the very name for him. We must
christen him again, and I will be his
Back to their forest home they all went,
laughing and talking as merrily as
possible, taking John Little along with
them. Dinner was waiting for them
when they arrived. The head cook was
looking anxiously through the trees
saying, "I do wish Master Robin would
come, or the roast venison will
 be too much cooked and the rabbits will
be stewed to rags."
Just at that moment they appeared. The
cook was struck dumb at the sight of
the giant, stalking along beside Robin.
"Where has master gotten that
Maypole?" he said, laughing to himself,
as he ran away to dish the dinner.
They had a very merry dinner. Robin
found that John was not only a good
fighter but that he had a wise head and
a witty tongue. He was more and
more delighted with his new companion.
But Will and the others had not
forgotten that he was to be christened
again. Seven of them came behind him,
and in spite of all his kicking and
struggling wrapped him up in a long,
green cloak, pretending he was a baby.
It was a very noisy christening. The
men all shouted and laughed. John
Little laughed and screamed in turn, and
kicked and struggled all the time.
"Hush, baby, hush," they said. But the
seven foot baby wouldn't hush.
 Then Will stepped up beside him and
began to speak.
"This infant was called John Little, quoth he,
Which name shall be changed anon,
The words we'll transpose, so wherever he goes,
His name shall be called Little John."
They had some buckets of water ready.
These they poured over poor Little
John till he was as wet as Robin had
been after he fell into the river.
The men roared with laughter. Little
John looked so funny as he rolled
about on the grass, trying to get out of
his long, wet, green robe. He
looked just like a huge green
Robin laughed as much as any one. At
last he said, "Now, Will, don't you
think that is enough?"
"Not a bit," said Will. "You wouldn't
let us duck him in the river when we
had him there so we have brought the
river to him."
At last all the buckets were empty, and
the christening was over. Then all
 stood round in a ring and gave three
cheers for Little John, Robin's new
"Then Robin he took the sweet pretty babe,
And clothed him from top to toe
In garments of green, most gay to be seen,
And gave him a curious long bow."
After that they sang, danced, and played
the whole afternoon. Then
when the sun sank and the long, cool
shadows fell across the grass they all
said "good night" and went off into
their caves to sleep.
From that day Little John always lived
with Robin. They became very, very
great friends and Little John was next
to Robin in command of the men.
"And so ever after as long as he lived,
Although he was proper and tall,
Yet, nevertheless, the truth to express,
Still Little John they did him call."