336 THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD
he did not like his bargain, and made up his mind to do the Sheriff, who was hated of the outlaws, all the mischief he could.
His chance came on a Wednesday when the Sheriff always went hunting and Little John lay in bed till noon, when he grew hungry. Then he got up, and told the steward that he wanted some dinner. The steward answered he should have nothing till the Sheriff came home, so Little John grumbled and left him, and sought out the butler. Here he was no more successful than before; the butler just went to the buttery door and locked it, and told Little John that he would have to make himself happy till his lord returned.
Rude words mattered nothing to Little John, who was not accustomed to be baulked by trifles, so he gave a mighty kick which burst open the door, and then ate and drank as much as he would, and when he had finished all there was in the buttery, he went down into the kitchen.
Now the Sheriff's cook was a strong man and a bold one, and had no mind to let another man play the king in his kitchen; so he gave Little John three smart blows, which were returned heartily. ' Thou art a brave man and hardy,' said Little John, ' and a good fighter withal. I have a sword, take you another, and let us see which is the better man of us twain.'
The cook did as he was bid, and for two hours they fought, neither of them harming the other. 'Fellow,' said Little John at last, ' you are one of the best swordsmen that I ever saw — and if you could shoot as well with the bow I would take you back to the merry greenwood, and Robin Hood would give you twenty marks a year and two changes of clothing.'
' Put up your sword,' said the cook, l and I will go with you. But first we will have some food in my kitchen, and carry off a little of the gold that is in the Sheriff's treasure house.'