350 THE STORY OF-ROBIN HOOD
man was to shoot through the garland. If he failed, he should have a buffet on the head from Robin.
Good bowmen as they were, few managed to stand the test. Little John and Will Scarlett, and Much, all shot wide of the mark, and at length no one was left in but Robin himself and Gilbert of the White Hand. Then Robin fired his last bolt, and it fell three fingers from the garland. ' Master,' said Gilbert, ' you have lost, stand forth and take your punishment.'
' I will take it,' answered Robin, ' but, Sir Abbot, I pray you that I may suffer it at your hands.'
The King hesitated. ' It did not become him,' he said, 'to smite such a stout yeoman,' but Robin bade him smite on; so he turned up his sleeve, and gave Robin such a buffet on the head that he rolled upon the ground.
' There is pith in your arm,' said Robin. l Come, shoot a-main with me.' And the King took up a bow, and in so doing his hat fell back and Robin saw his face.
' My lord the King of England, now I know you well,' cried he, and he fell on his knees and all the outlaws with him. ' Mercy I ask, my lord the King, for my men and me.'
' Mercy I grant,' then said the King, ' and therefore I came hither, to bid you and your men leave the greenwood and dwell in my Court with me.'
' So shall it be,' answered Robin, ' I and my men will come to your Court, and see how your service liketh us.'