THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD 351
ROBIN AT COURT
'Have you any green cloth,' asked the King, ' that you could sell to me ?' and Robin brought out thirty yards and more, and clad the King and his men in coats of Lincoln green. 'Now we will all ride to Nottingham,' said he, and they went merrily, shooting by the way.
The people of Nottingham saw them coming, and trembled as they watched the dark mass of Lincoln green drawing near over the fields. ' I fear lest our King be slain,' whispered one to another, 'and if Robin Hood gets into the town there is not one of us whose life is safe'; and every man, woman, and child made ready to fly.
The King laughed out when he saw their fright, and called them back. Right glad were they to hear his voice, and they feasted and made merry. A few days later the King returned to London, and Robin dwelt in his Court for twelve months. By that time he had spent a hundred pounds, for he gave largely to the Knights and Squires he met, and great renown he had for his open-handedness.
But his men, who had been born under the shadow of the forest, could not live amid streets and houses. One by one they slipped away, till only Little John and Will Scarlett were left. Then Robin himself grew home-sick, and at the sight of some young men shooting thought upon the time when he was accounted the best archer in all England, and went straightway to the King and begged for leave to go on a pilgrimage to Bernisdale.
' I may not say you nay,' answered the King, ' seven nights you may be gone and no more.' And Robin thanked him, and that evening set out for the greenwood.