THE LONG HIGHWAY stretched straight on, gray and dusty in the sun. On either side were dikes full of water bordered by osiers, and far away in the distance stood the towers of Emmet Priory with tall poplar trees around.
Along the causeway rode a knight with a score of stout men- at-arms behind him. The Knight was clad in a plain, long robe of gray serge, gathered in at the waist with a broad leathern belt, from which hung a long dagger and a stout sword. But though he was so plainly dressed himself, the horse he rode was a noble barb, and its trappings were rich with silk and silver bells.
So thus the band journeyed along the causeway between the dikes, till at last they reached the great gate of Emmet Priory. There the Knight called to one of his men and bade him knock at the porter's lodge with the heft of his sword.
The porter was drowsing on his bench within the lodge, but at the knock he roused himself and, opening the wicket, came hobbling forth and greeted the Knight, while a tame starling that hung in a wicker cage within piped out, "_In coelo quies! In coelo quies!_" such being the words that the poor old lame porter had taught him to speak.
"Where is thy prior?" asked the Knight of the old porter.
"He is at meat, good knight, and he looketh for thy coming," quoth the porter, "for, if I mistake not, thou art Sir Richard of the Lea."
"I am Sir Richard of the Lea; then I will go seek him forthwith," said the Knight.
"But shall I not send thy horse to stable?" said the porter. "By Our Lady, it is the noblest nag, and the best harnessed, that e'er I saw in all my life before." And he stroked the horse's flank with his palm.
"Nay," quoth Sir Richard, "the stables of this place are not for me, so make way, I prythee." So saying, he pushed forward, and, the gates being opened, he entered the stony courtyard of the Priory, his men behind him. In they came with rattle of steel and clashing of swords, and ring of horses' feet on cobblestones, whereat a flock of pigeons that strutted in the sun flew with flapping wings to the high eaves of the round towers.
While the Knight was riding along the causeway to Emmet, a merry feast was toward in the refectory there. The afternoon sun streamed in through the great arched windows and lay in broad squares of light upon the stone floor and across the board covered with a snowy linen cloth, whereon was spread a princely feast. At the head of the table sat Prior Vincent of Emmet all clad in soft robes of fine cloth and silk; on his head was a black velvet cap picked out with gold, and around his neck hung a heavy chain of gold, with a great locket pendant therefrom. Beside him, on the arm of his great chair, roosted his favorite falcon, for the Prior was fond of the gentle craft of hawking. On his right hand sat the Sheriff of Nottingham in rich robes of purple all trimmed about with fur, and on his left a famous doctor of law in dark and sober garb. Below these sat the high cellarer of Emmet, and others chief among the brethren.
Jest and laughter passed around, and all was as merry as merry could be. The wizened face of the man of law was twisted into a wrinkled smile, for in his pouch were fourscore golden angels that the Prior had paid him in fee for the case betwixt him and Sir Richard of the Lea. The learned doctor had been paid beforehand, for he had not overmuch trust in the holy Vincent of Emmet.
Quoth the Sheriff of Nottingham, "But art thou sure, Sir Prior, that thou hast the lands so safe?"
"Ay, marry," said Prior Vincent, smacking his lips after a deep draught of wine, "I have kept a close watch upon him, albeit he was unawares of the same, and I know right well that he hath no money to pay me withal."
"Ay, true," said the man of law in a dry, husky voice, "his land is surely forfeit if he cometh not to pay; but, Sir Prior, thou must get a release beneath his sign manual, or else thou canst not hope to hold the land without trouble from him."
"Yea," said the Prior, "so thou hast told me ere now, but I know that this knight is so poor that he will gladly sign away his lands for two hundred pounds of hard money.
Then up spake the high cellarer, "Methinks it is a shame to so drive a misfortunate knight to the ditch. I think it sorrow that the noblest estate in Derbyshire should so pass away from him for a paltry five hundred pounds. Truly, I--"
"How now," broke in the Prior in a quivering voice, his eyes glistening and his cheeks red with anger, "dost thou prate to my very beard, sirrah? By Saint Hubert, thou hadst best save thy breath to cool thy pottage, else it may scald thy mouth."
"Nay," said the man of law smoothly, "I dare swear this same knight will never come to settlement this day, but will prove recreant. Nevertheless, we will seek some means to gain his lands from him, so never fear."
But even as the doctor spoke, there came a sudden clatter of horses' hoofs and a jingle of iron mail in the courtyard below. Then up spake the Prior and called upon one of the brethren that sat below the salt, and bade him look out of the window and see who was below, albeit he knew right well it could be none but Sir Richard.
So the brother arose and went and looked, and he said, "I see below a score of stout men- at-arms and a knight just dismounting from his horse. He is dressed in long robes of gray which, methinks, are of poor seeming; but the horse he rideth upon hath the richest coursing that ever I saw. The Knight dismounts and they come this way, and are even now below in the great hall."
"Lo, see ye there now," quoth Prior Vincent. "Here ye have a knight with so lean a purse as scarce to buy him a crust of bread to munch, yet he keeps a band of retainers and puts rich trappings upon his horse's hide, while his own back goeth bare. Is it not well that such men should be brought low?"
"But art thou sure," said the little doctor tremulously, "that this knight will do us no harm? Such as he are fierce when crossed, and he hath a band of naughty men at his heels. Mayhap thou hadst better give an extension of his debt." Thus he spake, for he was afraid Sir Richard might do him a harm.
"Thou needst not fear," said the Prior, looking down at the little man beside him. "This knight is gentle and would as soon think of harming an old woman as thee."
As the Prior finished, a door at the lower end of the refectory swung open, and in came Sir Richard, with folded hands and head bowed upon his breast. Thus humbly he walked slowly up the hall, while his men- at-arms stood about the door. When he had come to where the Prior sat, he knelt upon one knee. "Save and keep thee, Sir Prior," said he, "I am come to keep my day."
Then the first word that the Prior said to him was "Hast thou brought my money?"
"Alas! I have not so much as one penny upon my body," said the Knight; whereat the Prior's eyes sparkled.
"Now, thou art a shrewd debtor, I wot," said he. Then, "Sir Sheriff, I drink to thee."
But still the Knight kneeled upon the hard stones, so the Prior turned to him again. "What wouldst thou have?" quoth he sharply.
At these words, a slow red mounted into the Knight's cheeks; but still he knelt. "I would crave thy mercy," said he. "As thou hopest for Heaven's mercy, show mercy to me. Strip me not of my lands and so reduce a true knight to poverty."
"Thy day is broken and thy lands forfeit," said the man of law, plucking up his spirits at the Knight's humble speech.
Quoth Sir Richard, "Thou man of law, wilt thou not befriend me in mine hour of need?"
"Nay," said the other, "I hold with this holy Prior, who hath paid me my fees in hard gold, so that I am bounder to him."
"Wilt thou not be my friend, Sir Sheriff?" said Sir Richard.
"Nay, 'fore Heaven," quoth the Sheriff of Nottingham, "this is no business of mine, yet I will do what I may," and he nudged the Prior beneath the cloth with his knee. "Wilt thou not ease him of some of his debts, Sir Prior?"
At this the Prior smiled grimly. "Pay me three hundred pounds, Sir Richard," said he, "and I will give thee quittance of thy debt."
"Thou knowest, Sir Prior, that it is as easy for me to pay four hundred pounds as three hundred," said Sir Richard. "But wilt thou not give me another twelvemonth to pay my debt?"
"Not another day," said the Prior sternly.
"And is this all thou wilt do for me?" asked the Knight.
"Now, out upon thee, false knight!" cried the Prior, bursting forth in anger. "Either pay thy debt as I have said, or release thy land and get thee gone from out my hall."
Then Sir Richard arose to his feet. "Thou false, lying priest!" said he in so stern a voice that the man of law shrunk affrighted, "I am no false knight, as thou knowest full well, but have even held my place in the press and the tourney. Hast thou so little courtesy that thou wouldst see a true knight kneel for all this time, or see him come into thy hall and never offer him meat or drink?"
Then quoth the man of law in a trembling voice, "This is surely an ill way to talk of matters appertaining to business; let us be mild in speech. What wilt thou pay this knight, Sir Prior, to give thee release of his land?"
"I would have given him two hundred pounds," quoth the Prior, "but since he hath spoken so vilely to my teeth, not one groat over one hundred pounds will he get."
"Hadst thou offered me a thousand pounds, false prior," said the Knight, "thou wouldst not have got an inch of my land." Then turning to where his men- at-arms stood near the door, he called, "Come hither," and beckoned with his finger; whereupon the tallest of them all came forward and handed him a long leathern bag. Sir Richard took the bag and shot from it upon the table a glittering stream of golden money. "Bear in mind, Sir Prior," said he, "that thou hast promised me quittance for three hundred pounds. Not one farthing above that shalt thou get." So saying, he counted out three hundred pounds and pushed it toward the Prior.
But now the Prior's hands dropped at his sides and the Prior's head hung upon his shoulder, for not only had he lost all hopes of the land, but he had forgiven the Knight one hundred pounds of his debt and had needlessly paid the man of law fourscore angels. To him he turned, and quoth he, "Give me back my money that thou hast."
"Nay," cried the other shrilly, "it is but my fee that thou didst pay me, and thou gettest it not back again." And he hugged his gown about him.
"Now, Sir Prior," quoth Sir Richard, "I have held my day and paid all the dues demanded of me; so, as there is no more betwixt us, I leave this vile place straightway." So saying, he turned upon his heel and strode away.
All this time the Sheriff had been staring with wide- open eyes and mouth agape at the tall man- at-arms, who stood as though carved out of stone. At last he gasped out, "Reynold Greenleaf!"
At this, the tall man- at-arms, who was no other than Little John, turned, grinning, to the Sheriff. "I give thee good den, fair gossip," quoth he. "I would say, sweet Sheriff, that I have heard all thy pretty talk this day, and it shall be duly told unto Robin Hood. So, farewell for the nonce, till we meet again in Sherwood Forest." Then he, also, turned and followed Sir Richard down the hall, leaving the Sheriff, all pale and amazed, shrunk together upon his chair.
A merry feast it was to which Sir Richard came, but a sorry lot he left behind him, and little hunger had they for the princely food spread before them. Only the learned doctor was happy, for he had his fee.
Now a twelvemonth and a day passed since Prior Vincent of Emmet sat at feast, and once more the mellow fall of another year had come. But the year had brought great change, I wot, to the lands of Sir Richard of the Lea; for, where before shaggy wild grasses grew upon the meadow lands, now all stretch away in golden stubble, betokening that a rich and plentiful crop had been gathered therefrom. A year had made a great change in the castle, also, for, where were empty moats and the crumbling of neglect, all was now orderly and well kept.
Bright shone the sun on battlement and tower, and in the blue air overhead a Hock of clattering jackdaws flew around the gilded weather vane and spire. Then, in the brightness of the morning, the drawbridge fell across the moat with a rattle and clank of chains, the gate of the castle swung slowly open, and a goodly array of steel- clad men- at-arms, with a knight all clothed in chain mail, as white as frost on brier and thorn of a winter morning, came flashing out from the castle courtyard. In his hand the Knight held a great spear, from the point of which fluttered a blood- red pennant as broad as the palm of one's hand. So this troop came forth from the castle, and in the midst of them walked three pack horses laden with parcels of divers shapes and kinds.
Thus rode forth good Sir Richard of the Lea to pay his debt to Robin Hood this bright and merry morn. Along the highway they wended their way, with measured tramp of feet and rattle and jingle of sword and harness. Onward they marched till they came nigh to Denby, where, from the top of a hill, they saw, over beyond the town, many gay flags and streamers floating in the bright air. Then Sir Richard turned to the man- at-arms nearest to him. "What is toward yonder at Denby today?" quoth he.
"Please Your Worship," answered the man- at-arms, "a merry fair is held there today, and a great wrestling match, to which many folk have come, for a prize hath been offered of a pipe of red wine, a fair golden ring, and a pair of gloves, all of which go to the best wrestler."
"Now, by my faith," quoth Sir Richard, who loved good manly sports right well, "this will be a goodly thing to see. Methinks we have to stay a little while on our journey, and see this merry sport." So he turned his horse's head aside toward Denby and the fair, and thither he and his men made their way.
There they found a great hubbub of merriment. Flags and streamers were floating, tumblers were tumbling on the green, bagpipes were playing, and lads and lasses were dancing to the music. But the crowd were gathered most of all around a ring where the wrestling was going forward, and thither Sir Richard and his men turned their steps.
Now when the judges of the wrestling saw Sir Richard coming and knew who he was, the chief of them came down from the bench where he and the others sat, and went to the Knight and took him by the hand, beseeching him to come and sit with them and judge the sport. So Sir Richard got down from his horse and went with the others to the bench raised beside the ring.
Now there had been great doings that morning, for a certain yeoman named Egbert, who came from Stoke over in Staffordshire, had thrown with ease all those that came against him; but a man of Denby, well known through all the countryside as William of the Scar, had been biding his time with the Stoke man; so, when Egbert had thrown everyone else, stout William leaped into the ring. Then a tough bout followed, and at last he threw Egbert heavily, whereat there was a great shouting and shaking of hands, for all the Denby men were proud of their wrestler.
When Sir Richard came, he found stout William, puffed up by the shouts of his friends, walking up and down the ring, daring anyone to come and try a throw with him. "Come one, come all!" quoth he. "Here stand I, William of the Scar, against any man. If there is none in Derbyshire to come against me, come all who will, from Nottingham, Stafford, or York, and if I do not make them one and all root the ground with their noses like swine in the forests, call me no more brave William the wrestler."
At this all laughed; but above all the laughter a loud voice was heard to cry out, "Sin' thou talkest so big, here cometh one from Nottinghamshire to try a fall with thee, fellow"; and straightway a tall youth with a tough quarterstaff in his hand came pushing his way through the crowd and at last leaped lightly over the rope into the ring. He was not as heavy as stout William, but he was taller and broader in the shoulders, and all his joints were well knit. Sir Richard looked upon him keenly, then, turning to one of the judges, he said, "Knowest thou who this youth is? Methinks I have seen him before."
"Nay," said the judge, "he is a stranger to me."
Meantime, without a word, the young man, laying aside his quarterstaff, began to take off his jerkin and body clothing until he presently stood with naked arms and body; and a comely sight he was when so bared to the view, for his muscles were cut round and smooth and sharp like swift- running water.
And now each man spat upon his hands and, clapping them upon his knees, squatted down, watching the other keenly, so as to take the vantage of him in the grip. Then like a flash they leaped together, and a great shout went up, for William had gotten the better hold of the two. For a short time they strained and struggled and writhed, and then stout William gave his most cunning trip and throw, but the stranger met it with greater skill than his, and so the trip came to nought. Then, of a sudden, with a twist and a wrench, the stranger loosed himself, and he of the scar found himself locked in a pair of arms that fairly made his ribs crack. So, with heavy, hot breathing, they stood for a while straining, their bodies all glistening with sweat, and great drops of sweat trickling down their faces. But the stranger's hug was so close that at last stout William's muscles softened under his grip, and he gave a sob. Then the youth put forth all his strength and gave a sudden trip with his heel and a cast over his right hip, and down stout William went, with a sickening thud, and lay as though he would never move hand nor foot again.
But now no shout went up for the stranger, but an angry murmur was heard among the crowd, so easily had he won the match. Then one of the judges, a kinsman to William of the Scar, rose with trembling lip and baleful look. Quoth he, "If thou hath slain that man it will go ill with thee, let me tell thee, fellow." But the stranger answered boldly, "He took his chance with me as I took mine with him. No law can touch me to harm me, even if I slew him, so that it was fairly done in the wrestling ring."
"That we shall see," said the judge, scowling upon the youth, while once more an angry murmur ran around the crowd; for, as I have said, the men of Denby were proud of stout William of the Scar.
Then up spoke Sir Richard gently. "Nay," said he, "the youth is right; if the other dieth, he dieth in the wrestling ring, where he took his chance, and was cast fairly enow."
But in the meantime three men had come forward and lifted stout William from the ground and found that he was not dead, though badly shaken by his heavy fall. Then the chief judge rose and said, "Young man, the prize is duly thine. Here is the red- gold ring, and here the gloves, and yonder stands the pipe of wine to do with whatsoever thou dost list."
At this, the youth, who had donned his clothes and taken up his staff again, bowed without a word, then, taking the gloves and the ring, and thrusting the one into his girdle and slipping the other upon his thumb, he turned and, leaping lightly over the ropes again, made his way through the crowd, and was gone.
"Now, I wonder who yon youth may be," said the judge, turning to Sir Richard, "he seemeth like a stout Saxon from his red cheeks and fair hair. This William of ours is a stout man, too, and never have I seen him cast in the ring before, albeit he hath not yet striven with such great wrestlers as Thomas of Cornwall, Diccon of York, and young David of Doncaster. Hath he not a firm foot in the ring, thinkest thou, Sir Richard?"
"Ay, truly, and yet this youth threw him fairly, and with wondrous ease. I much wonder who he can be." Thus said Sir Richard in a thoughtful voice.
For a time the Knight stood talking to those about him, but at last he arose and made ready to depart, so he called his men about him and, tightening the girths of his saddle, he mounted his horse once more.
Meanwhile the young stranger had made his way through the crowd, but, as he passed, he heard all around him such words muttered as "Look at the cockerel!" "Behold how he plumeth himself!" "I dare swear he cast good William unfairly!" "Yea, truly, saw ye not birdlime upon his hands?" "It would be well to cut his cock's comb!" To all this the stranger paid no heed, but strode proudly about as though he heard it not. So he walked slowly across the green to where the booth stood wherein was dancing, and standing at the door he looked in on the sport. As he stood thus, a stone struck his arm of a sudden with a sharp jar, and, turning, he saw that an angry crowd of men had followed him from the wrestling ring. Then, when they saw him turn so, a great hooting and yelling arose from all, so that the folk came running out from the dancing booth to see what was to do. At last a tall, broad- shouldered, burly blacksmith strode forward from the crowd swinging a mighty blackthorn club in his hand.
"Wouldst thou come here to our fair town of Denby, thou Jack in the Box, to overcome a good honest lad with vile, juggling tricks?" growled he in a deep voice like the bellow of an angry bull. "Take that, then!" And of a sudden he struck a blow at the youth that might have felled an ox. But the other turned the blow deftly aside, and gave back another so terrible that the Denby man went down with a groan, as though he had been smitten by lightning. When they saw their leader fall, the crowd gave another angry shout; but the stranger placed his back against the tent near which he stood, swinging his terrible staff, and so fell had been the blow that he struck the stout smith that none dared to come within the measure of his cudgel, so the press crowded back, like a pack of dogs from a bear at bay. But now some coward hand from behind threw a sharp jagged stone that smote the stranger on the crown, so that he staggered back, and the red blood gushed from the cut and ran down his face and over his jerkin. Then, seeing him dazed with this vile blow, the crowd rushed upon him, so that they overbore him and he fell beneath their feet.
Now it might have gone ill with the youth, even to the losing of his young life, had not Sir Richard come to this fair; for of a sudden, shouts were heard, and steel flashed in the air, and blows were given with the flat of swords, while through the midst of the crowd Sir Richard of the Lea came spurring on his white horse. Then the crowd, seeing the steel- clad knight and the armed men, melted away like snow on the warm hearth, leaving the young man all bloody and dusty upon the ground.
Finding himself free, the youth arose and, wiping the blood from his face, looked up. Quoth he, "Sir Richard of the Lea, mayhap thou hast saved my life this day."
"Who art thou that knowest Sir Richard of the Lea so well?" quoth the Knight. "Methinks I have seen thy face before, young man."
"Yea, thou hast," said the youth, "for men call me David of Doncaster."
"Ha!" said Sir Richard, "I wonder that I knew thee not, David; but thy beard hath grown longer, and thou thyself art more set in manhood since this day twelvemonth. Come hither into the tent, David, and wash the blood from thy face. And thou, Ralph, bring him straightway a clean jerkin. Now I am
sorry for thee, yet I am right glad that I have had a chance to pay a part of my debt of kindness to thy good master Robin Hood, for it might have gone ill with thee had I not come, young man."
So saying, the Knight led David into the tent, and there the youth washed the blood from his face and put on the clean jerkin.
In the meantime a whisper had gone around from those that stood nearest that this was none other than the great David of Doncaster, the best wrestler in all the mid- country, who only last spring had cast stout Adam o' Lincoln in the ring at Selby, in Yorkshire, and now held the mid- country champion belt, Thus it happened that when young David came forth from the tent along with Sir Richard, the blood all washed from his face, and his soiled jerkin changed for a clean one, no sounds of anger were heard, but all pressed forward to see the young man, feeling proud that one of the great wrestlers of England should have entered the ring at Denby fair. For thus fickle is a mass of men.
Then Sir Richard called aloud, "Friends, this is David of Doncaster; so think it no shame that your Denby man was cast by such a wrestler. He beareth you no ill will for what hath passed, but let it be a warning to you how ye treat strangers henceforth. Had ye slain him it would have been an ill day for you, for Robin Hood would have harried your town as the kestrel harries the dovecote. I have bought the pipe of wine from him, and now I give it freely to you to drink as ye list. But never hereafterward fall upon a man for being a stout yeoman."
At this all shouted amain; but in truth they thought more of the wine than of the Knight's words. Then Sir Richard, with David beside him and his men- at-arms around, turned about and left the fair.
But in after days, when the men that saw that wrestling bout were bent with age, they would shake their heads when they heard of any stalwart game, and say, "Ay, ay; but thou shouldst have seen the great David of Doncaster cast stout William of the Scar at Denby fair."
Robin Hood stood in the merry greenwood with Little John and most of his stout yeomen around him, awaiting Sir Richard's coming. At last a glint of steel was seen through the brown forest leaves, and forth from the covert into the open rode Sir Richard at the head of his men. He came straight forward to Robin Hood and leaping from off his horse, clasped the yeoman in his arms.
"Why, how now," said Robin, after a time, holding Sir Richard off and looking at him from top to toe, "methinks thou art a gayer bird than when I saw thee last."
"Yes, thanks to thee, Robin," said the Knight, laying his hand upon the yeoman's shoulder. "But for thee I would have been wandering in misery in a far country by this time. But I have kept my word, Robin, and have brought back the money that thou didst lend me, and which I have doubled four times over again, and so become rich once more. Along with this money I have brought a little gift to thee and thy brave men from my dear lady and myself." Then, turning to his men, he called aloud, "Bring forth the pack horses."
But Robin stopped him. "Nay, Sir Richard," said he, "think it not bold of me to cross thy bidding, but we of Sherwood do no business till after we have eaten and drunk." Whereupon, taking Sir Richard by the hand, he led him to the seat beneath the greenwood tree, while others of the chief men of the band came and seated themselves around. Then quoth Robin, "How cometh it that I saw young David of Doncaster with thee and thy men, Sir Knight?"
Then straightway the Knight told all about his stay at Denby and of the happening at the fair, and how it was like to go hard with young David; so he told his tale, and quoth he, "It was this, good Robin, that kept me so late on the way, otherwise I would have been here an hour agone."
Then, when he had done speaking, Robin stretched out his hand and grasped the Knight's palm. Quoth he in a trembling voice, "I owe thee a debt I can never hope to repay, Sir Richard, for let me tell thee, I would rather lose my right hand than have such ill befall young David of Doncaster as seemed like to come upon him at Denby."
So they talked until after a while one came forward to say that the feast was spread; whereupon all arose and went thereto. When at last it was done, the Knight called upon his men to bring the pack horses forward, which they did according to his bidding. Then one of the men brought the Knight a strongbox, which he opened and took from it a bag and counted out five hundred pounds, the sum he had gotten from Robin.
"Sir Richard," quoth Robin, "thou wilt pleasure us all if thou wilt keep that money as a gift from us of Sherwood. Is it not so, my lads?"
Then all shouted "Ay" with a mighty voice.
"I thank you all deeply," said the Knight earnestly, "but think it not ill of me if I cannot take it. Gladly have I borrowed it from you, but it may not be that I can take it as a gift."
Then Robin Hood said no more but gave the money to Little John to put away in the treasury, for he had shrewdness enough to know that nought breeds ill will and heart bitterness like gifts forced upon one that cannot choose but take them.
Then Sir Richard had the packs laid upon the ground and opened, whereupon a great shout went up that made the forest ring again, for lo, there were tenscore bows of finest Spanish yew, all burnished till they shone again, and each bow inlaid with fanciful figures in silver, yet not inlaid so as to mar their strength. Beside these were tenscore quivers of leather embroidered with golden thread, and in each quiver were a score of shafts with burnished heads that shone like silver; each shaft was feathered with peacock's plumes, innocked with silver.
Sir Richard gave to each yeoman a bow and a quiver of arrows, but to Robin he gave a stout bow inlaid with the cunningest workmanship in gold, while each arrow in his quiver was innocked with gold.
Then all shouted again for joy of the fair gift, and all swore among themselves that they would die if need be for Sir Richard and his lady.
At last the time came when Sir Richard must go, whereupon Robin Hood called his band around him, and each man of the yeomen took a torch in his hand to light the way through the woodlands. So they came to the edge of Sherwood, and there the Knight kissed Robin upon the cheeks and left him and was gone.
Thus Robin Hood helped a noble knight out of his dire misfortunes, that else would have smothered the happiness from his life.