344 THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD
' He was my master,' said Little John,
' That you have brought to bale, ' Never shall you come at the King
' For to tell him that tale.'
At these words the monk uttered loud cries, but Little John took no heed of him, and smote off his head, as Much had already smitten off that of the page, lest he should carry the news of what had happened back to the Sheriff. After this they buried the bodies, and, taking the letters, carried them themselves to the King.
When they arrived at the Palace, in the presence of the King, Little John fell on his knees and held the letter out. ' God save you, my liege lord,' he said; and the King unfolded the letters and read them.
'There never was yeoman in Merry England I longed so sore to see,' he said. ' But where is the monk that should have brought these letters ?'
' He died by the way,' answered little John; and the King asked no more questions.
Twenty pounds each he ordered his treasurer to give to Much and to Little John, and made them yeomen of the crown. After which he handed his own seal to Little John and ordered him to bear it to the Sheriff, and bid him without delay bring Robin Hood unhurt into his presence.
Little John did as the King bade him, and the Sheriff, at sight of the seal, gave him and Much welcome, and set a feast before them, at which John led him to drink heavily. Soon he fell asleep, and then the two outlaws stole softly to the prison. Here John ran the porter through the body for trying to stop his entrance, and, taking the keys, hunted through the cells until he had found Robin. Thrusting a sword into his hand Little John whispered to his master to follow him, and they crept along till they reached the lowest part of the city wall, from which they jumped and were safe and free.
' Now, farewell,' said Little John, ' I have done you a