328 THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD
for I waited to break my fast till you or some other had come to me.'
' God save you, good Robin,' answered the Knight, and after they had washed themselves in the stream they sat down to dine off bread and wine, with flesh of the King's deer, and swans and pheasants. ' Such a dinner have I not had for three weeks and more,' said the Knight. ' And if I ever come again this way, good Robin, I will give you as fine a dinner as you have given me.'
'I thank you,' replied Robin, 'my dinner is always welcome ; still, I am none so greedy but I can wait for it. But before you go, pay me, I pray you, for the food which you have had. It was never the custom for a yeoman to pay for a Knight.'
' My bag is empty,' said the Knight, ' save for ten shillings only.'
' Go, Little John, and look in his wallet,' said Robin, ' and, Sir Knight, if in truth you have no more, not one penny will I take, nay, I will give you all that you shall need.'
So Little John spread out the Knight's mantle, and opened the bag, and therein lay ten shillings and naught besides.
' What tidings, Little John ? ' cried his master.
'Sir, the Knight speaks truly,' said Little John.
'Then fill a cup of the best wine and tell me, Sir Knight, whether it is your own ill doings which have brought you to this sorry pass.'
' For an hundred years my fathers have dwelt in the forest,' answered the Knight, ' and four hundred pounds might they spend yearly. But within two years misfortune has befallen me, and my wife and children also.'
' How did this evil come to pass ?' asked Robin.
' Through my own folly,' answered the Knight, ' and because of my great love I bore my son, who would never be guided of my counsel, and slew, ere he was twenty years old, a Knight of Lancaster and his Squire. For theiv