THE STORY OF IWBIJSf HOOD 339
HOW ROBIN MET FRIAR TUCK
In many ways life in the forest was dull in the winter, and often the days passed slowly ; but in summer, when the leaves grew green, and flowers and ferns covered all the woodland, Robin Hood and his men would come out of their warm resting places, like the rabbits and the squirrels, and would play too. Races they ran, to stretch their legs, or leaping matches were arranged, or they would shoot at a mark. Anything was pleasant, when the grass was soft once more under their feet.
' Who can kill a hart of grace five hundred paces off ?'
So said Robin to his men in the bright May time; and they went into the wood and tried their skill, and in the end it was Little John who brought down the ' hart of grace,' to the great joy of Robin Hood. 'I would ride my horse a hundred miles to find one who could match with thee,' he said to Little John, and Will Scarlett, who was perhaps rather jealous of this mighty deed, answered with a laugh, 'There lives a friar in Fountains Abbey who would beat both him and you.'
Now Robin Hood did not like to be told that any man could shoot better than himself or his foresters, so he swore lustily that he would neither eat nor drink till he had seen that friar. Leaving his men where they were, he put on a coat of mail and a steel cap, took his shield and sword, slung his bow over his shoulder, and filled his quiver with arrows. Thus armed, he set forth to Fountains Dale.
By the side of the river a friar was walking, armed