NOT MORE than two months had passed and gone since these stirring adventures befell Robin Hood and Little John, when all Nottinghamshire was a mighty stir and tumult, for King Richard of the Lion's Heart was making a royal progress through merry England, and everyone expected him to come to Nottingham Town in his journeying.
As he rode along he bowed to the right hand and the left, and a mighty roar of voices followed him as he passed; for this was King Richard.
Then, above all the tumult and the shouting a great voice was heard roaring, "Heaven, its saints bless thee, our gracious King Richard! and likewise Our Lady of the Fountain, bless thee!" Then King Richard, looking toward the spot whence the sound came, saw a tall, burly, strapping priest standing in front of all the crowd with his legs wide apart as he backed against those behind.
At the head of the table, upon a throne all hung with cloth of gold, sat King Richard with the Sheriff of Nottingham beside him.
"By the hilt of my sword," said stout King Richard, "this is as bold and merry a knave as ever I heard tell of.
"Now out upon thee!" quoth King Richard. "Thou art a bold and naughty fellow and a lawless one withal, as I have often heard tell.
"That shall I have without delay, as well as this upstart knight's estates; for King Richard is lately returned, I hear, from the Holy Land."
This time he did not seek out Prince John, but asked audience with King Richard of the Lion Heart himself.
"In sooth," cried King Richard, springing up, "I must see this bold fellow for myself!
Such were the words which burst from the train, expectants all of them of similar grants at the expense of King Richard's followers and favourites, if indeed they had not as yet received such.
``he that hits that rod at five-score yards, I call him an archer fit to bear both bow and quiver before a king, an it were the stout King Richard himself.''
``Pardon me, noble Prince,'' said Locksley; ``but I have vowed, that if ever I take service, it should be with your royal brother King Richard. These twenty nobles I leave to Hubert, who has this day drawn as brave a bow as his grandsire did at Hastings.