THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD 325
THE COMING OF LITTLE JOHN
One day Eobin was walking alone in the wood, and reached a river which was spanned by a very narrow bridge, over which one man only could pass. In the midst stood a stranger, and Robin bade him go back and let him go over. ' I am no man of yours,' was all the answer Robin got, and in anger he drew his bow and fitted an arrow to it. ' Would you shoot a man who has no arms but a staff ? ' asked the stranger in scorn ; and with shame Robin laid down his bow, and unbuckled an oaken stick at his side. ' We will fight till one of us falls into the water,' he said; and fight they did, till the stranger planted a blow so well that Robin rolled over into the river. ' You are a brave soul,' said he, when he had waded to land, and he blew a blast with his horn which brought fifty good fellows, clad in green, to the little bridge. ' Have you fallen into the river that your clothes are wet ? ' asked one; and Robin made answer, ' No, but this stranger, fighting on the bridge, got the better of me, and tumbled me into the stream.'
At this the foresters seized the stranger, and would have ducked him had not their leader bade them stop, and begged the stranger to stay with them and make one of themselves. ' Here is my hand,' replied the stranger, ' and my heart with it. My name, if you would know it, is John Little.'
'That must be altered,' cried Will Scarlett; 'we will call a feast, and henceforth, because he is full seven feet tall and round the waist at least an ell, he shall be called Little John.'