Come, all you brave gallants, and listen awhile,
With hey down, down, an a down,
That are in the bowers within;
For of Robin Hood, that archer good,
A song I intend for to sing.
Upon a time it chanced so,
Bold Robin in forrest did 'spy
A jolly butcher, with a bonny fine mare,
With his flesh to the market did hye.
'Good morrow, good fellow,' said jolly Robin,
'What food hast ? tell unto me;
Thy trade to me tell, and where thou dost dwell,
For I like well thy company.'
The butcher he answer'd jolly Robin,
'No matter where I dwell;
For a butcher I am, and to Nottingham
I am going, my flesh to sell.'
'What's price of thy flesh?' said jolly Robin,
'Come, tell it soon unto me;
And the price of thy mare, be she never so dear,
For a butcher fain would I be.'
'The price of my flesh,' the butcher repli'd,
'I soon will tell unto thee;
With my bonny mare, and they are not too dear,
Four mark thou must give unto me.'
'Four mark I will give thee,' saith jolly Robin,
'Four mark it shall be thy fee;
The mony come count, and let me mount,
For a butcher I fain would be.'
Now Robin he is to Nottingham gone,
His butchers trade to begin;
With good intent to the sheriff he went,
And there he took up his inn.
When other butchers did open their meat,
Bold Robin he then begun;
But how for to sell he knew not well,
For a butcher he was but young.
When other butchers no meat could sell,
Robin got both gold and fee;
For he sold more meat for one peny
Then others could do for three.
But when he sold his meat so fast,
No butcher by him could thrive;
For he sold more meat for one peny
Than others could do for five.
Which made the butchers of Nottingham
To study as they did stand,
Saying, 'Surely he 'is' some prodigal,
That hath sold his fathers land.'
The butchers stepped to jolly Robin,
Acquainted with him for to be;
'Come, brother,' one said, 'we be all of one trade,
Come, will you go dine with me?'
'Accurst of his heart,' said jolly Robin,
'That a butcher doth deny;
I will go with you, my brethren true,
As fast as I can hie.'
But when to the sheriffs house they came,
To dinner they hied apace,
And Robin Hood he the man must be
Before them all to say grace.
'Pray God bless us all,' said jolly Robin,
'And our meat within this place;
A cup of sack so good will nourish our blood,
And so do I end my grace.'
'Come fill us more wine,' said jolly Robin,
'Let us be merry while we do stay;
For wine and good cheer, be it never so dear,
I vow I the reck'ning will pay.
'Come, 'brothers,' be merry,' said jolly Robin,
'Let us drink, and never give ore;
For the shot I will pay, ere I go my way,
If it cost me five pounds and more.'
'This is a mad blade,' the butchers then said;
Saies the sheriff, 'He is some prodigal,
That some land has sold for silver and gold,
And now he doth mean to spend all.
'Hast thou any horn beasts,' the sheriff repli'd,
'Good fellow, to sell unto me?'
'Yes, that I have, good master sheriff,
I have hundreds two or three;
'And a hundred aker of good free land,
If you please it to see:
And Ile make you as good assurance of it,
As ever my father made me.'
The sheriff he saddled his good palfrey,
And, with three hundred pound in gold,
Away he went with bold Robin Hood,
His horned beasts to behold.
Away then the sheriff and Robin did ride,
To the forrest of merry Sherwood;
Then the sheriff did say, 'God bless us this day
From a man they call Robin Hood!'
But when a little farther they came,
Bold Robin he chanced to spy
A hundred head of good red deer,
Come tripping the sheriff full nigh.
'How like you my horn'd beasts, good master sheriff?
They be fat and fair for to see;'
'I tell thee, good fellow, I would I were gone,
For I like not thy company.'
Then Robin set his horn to his mouth,
And blew but blasts three;
Then quickly anon there came Little John,
And all his company.
'What is your will, master?' then said Little John,
'Good master come tell unto me;'
'I have brought hither the sheriff of Nottingham
This day to dine with thee.'
'He is welcome to me,' then said Little John,
'I hope he will honestly pay;
I know he has gold, if it be but well told,
Will serve us to drink a whole day.'
Then Robin took his mantle from his back,
And laid it upon the ground:
And out of the sheriffs portmantle
He told three hundred pound.
Then Robin he brought him thorow the wood,
And set him on his dapple gray;
'O have me commanded to your wife at home;'
So Robin went laughing away.