One day, Robin Hood and twoscore of his band of merry men were roaming the forest in search of some of the king’s fat deer to serve to their guest that night.
Quoth Robin, “There is naught but leaves and squirrels today in Sherwood, the king’s rangers must be afoot.” At this all his men laughed and then Little John spake saying, “Nay, good master. I would fain that the deer have sense, and have fled to the far reaches of the forest when they heard us stumbling and cracking through all the bracken.” At this too the men laughed, till the forest rang with it.
Then spake Will Scarlet and said he, “Let us split our party into ten groups, and scour the forest `til the king’s deer we find.” This was agreed upon by every man and within the hour there stood in the merry greenwood glade a heap of deer no less than a score in the midst of the men who, under the direction of Will Stutely, butchered them and roasted the meat, and not a moment too soon, for lo and behold, at that very moment there came through the underbrush the rest of the merry men and with them who but the Undersheriff of Nottingham! Robin Hood stood, as did the rest of the band and they welcomed the man and bade him sit upon the seat `neath the greenwood tree. Then they brought barrels of ale and wine, and taking out jugs and cups, they served it to all, and then they feasted, and after, ne`er has all of merry England seen such shooting and quaterstaff matches as these fellows played that day to amuse the undersheriff. And after, when all were tired and resting on the grass, Robin quoth:
“Now, Undersheriff, mayhap ye knoweth that all that come here to feast with us ne`er go without paying for their feast.”
“Aye,” replied he, “and I tell ye that all I have is a single farthing that my pretty lass gave me this morning to buy her a garland of flowers with. Now my good sirs, if thou wilst let me go, I shall be on my way and get her that garland, if thou dost not take my farthing.”
“Aye, marry,” quoth merry Robin, “thou shalt go thy way, and without hindrance or fear of assault. Farewell!”
And thus they enertained the undersheriff, and when he got back to the Guild hall, the Sheriff was wild with rage that his undersheriff had stayed so long, but when he told the story, the Sheriff was rather amused, yet all the more determined to catch Robin Hood and his band once and for all, and he left the young man to give his lass the flowers he had promised her.
As the undersheriff was going to his love’s house, she in turn, was wondering what had become of him, that had kept him so late. Then, as she looked out the window for the thouandths time, she saw him walking up the street with the prettiest garland she had ever seen in his hand. Quoth she to herself, “What is it that makes him walk so dreamily and thoughtfuly, that he does not look to the window where I am now, which he does everyday? Ah! He looks now, but there is naught but wonder and troubles on his face! Whatever could he have run into that would make him look that way?” And so thinking, she immediately ran from the window seat where she had been sitting for near an hour, and hastened to the doorway, where she saw undersheriff enter.
Quoth she, “What has ever happened to you, my lord? Your face is naught but worry and thoughtfulness!” And he replied,
“Today, dear lass, something has happened to me that I have ne`er even in my farthest dreams could have hoped would happen!”
“What, oh, what is it? Oh tell me dearest, lest I fall to pieces with excitement!”
“Today,” he replied slowly, as if tasting every word on his tongue before he said it, “I have met Robin Hood! He invited me to feast with him ere I went my way, and I did so, but when I was done, and he asked for the payment of the feast, as he does of every man that comes to feast with him, and when I told him I had naught but a farthing to spend on a garland that my dear lass had asked me for that very morning, he let me go, and I left the forest with two of his men as escorts, and on the way they picked the most fragrant and beautiful flowers I have ever seen. When we got to the edge of the forest spake the taller one, ‘Now, pretty lads, take these flowers to the garland stall and tell the garland maker to make you a string of these.’ And then they left me, I went to the garland stall, and did what they told me, and this is the product!” he finished proudly, and with a smile, held up the garland, and she, whose name was Miriam, breathed a happy little gasp, and taking it, placed it round her fair neck, and it so magnified her beauty that the undersheriff gasped himself, she was so lovely! Her little feet were shod in slippers of fine silk, and her dress was the color of the dawn, with a tinge of golden. Her golden hair, as silky and long as the rare clacign bird, gave her the aspect of a goddess. Her sparkling sapphire eyes matched beatifully with the woodland flowers hung ’round her neck, and her little mouth was so perfectly porportioned that is seemed she was sculpted, a living statue more than a person.
And to this day, Miriam and the undersheriff, whose name was Patrick, lived happily forever in a little cottage in a small glen in the middle of the forest, and everyday they were supplied with fresh meat and flowers by the merry, outlawed band of Robin Hood.