A PAUSE IN THE GREEN WOOD
They rode to the end of the dark valley, and emerged in a
place of surpassing beauty, with fair fields and meadows, and
green woods. The road led thru one of these woods, and as they
rode along, weary from the fight, they heard a stir in a treetop.
A slender figure swung to the branch of a tree
overlooking the road. It stood on the branch, arms akimbo, and
smiled at them.
"Welcome, travelers! Welcome to the Greenwood!" (16)
It was a man, of uncertain age, dressed in green, with a
cap bearing a red feather, and a bow and quiver of arrows across
He lightly dropped to the ground, and strode to them.
"This is my country, and I give thee welcome! Come, and
dine with me this eve! Thou shalt not pay the usual reckoning,
but shall feast upon the fallow deer and enjoy the hospitality of
myself and my merry men! Come! And fear not!"
He led them to a clearing within the forest, where there
were many men and ladies, all feasting at long tables under the
trees. A minstrel dressed in red sang for the company, and a
short, fat friar gave them his blessings.
There were bouts with quarterstaves, and archery
shootings, and much gladness and revelry.
This gladness was not, apparently, shared by one guest at
the table. He sat there, dressed only in his shirt, and ate of
the fare most grudgingly indeed.
Pilgrim asked their host, "What of yonder fellow? All
others here are dressed in finery, while he wears only his shirt,
and seems not to be happy with the company."
Their host smiled a merry smile indeed, and said, "That
is our local Sheriff, a most depressing fellow, and he has paid
his reckoning for this night's entertainment at my poor inn....I
have been merciful to him, and left him a shirt to hide his
The feast wound down at last, and one member of the band,
a giant of a man, brought forth a sorry nag, that was old and
broken down, and the Sheriff was placed upon it, face to tail,
his ankles tied under the horse's belly, and his wrists tied
"Well, Sheriff, dids't thou enjoy thine entertainment?"
The green clad yeoman looked up at the miserable wretch, and
"That I did -not,- and I will provide thee with more
amusing entertainment indeed, and a hempen halter about thy neck,
should'st thou show thy face in -my- town, miserable bandit!" The
Sheriff snarled at his tormentor.
"I think not!" laughed the yeoman, "But that thou
should'st not travel the Greenwood without a weapon, I give thee
this!" And he tucked a wooden spoon into the bonds around the
Sheriff's wrists, with a grin. (18)
The Sheriff turned black with anger, and the yeoman
slapped the horse on the rump, and it galloped off thru the
forest, with its passenger screaming curses at the company as he
bounced uncomfortably on his steed's bony spine.
All present joined in the general laughter, and then
retired for the night.
In the morning, the travelers awoke to find themselves
recovered of their wounds and alone, save for a single arrow
lying upon the grass, that pointed them to the road.