No archer ever lived that could speed a gray goose shaft with such skill and cunning as his, nor were there ever such yeomen as the sevenscore merry men that roamed with him through the greenwood shades.
Sweet was the greenwood as he walked along its paths, and bright the green and rustling leaves, amid which the little birds sang with might and main: and blithely Robin whistled as he trudged along, thinking of Maid Marian and her bright eyes, for at such times a youth's thoughts are wont to turn pleasantly upon the lass that he loves the best.
Then, before the others could gather their wits about them, Robin Hood was gone into the depths of the greenwood. Some started after him, but not with much heart, for each feared to suffer the death of his fellow; so presently they all came and lifted the dead man up and bore him away to Nottingham Town.
Meanwhile Robin Hood ran through the greenwood. Gone was all the joy and brightness from everything, for his heart was sick within him, and it was borne in upon his soul that he had slain a man.
The hind led her fawn from the covert of high fern to the more open walks of the greenwood, and no huntsman was there to watch or intercept the stately hart, as he paced at the head of the antler'd herd.
We who walk the greenwood do many a wild deed, and the Lady Rowena's deliverance may be received as an atonement.''
They had scarce departed, ere a sudden procession moved from under the greenwood branches, swept slowly round the silvan amphitheatre, and took the same direction with Rowena and her followers.
``Gramercy for the gift, bold yeoman,'' said the Knight; ``and better help than thine and thy rangers would I never seek, were it at my utmost need.'' And then in his turn he winded the call till all the greenwood rang.
Nor were poets and romancers from over sea--in their seeming simple paper covers, but with, oh, such complicated and subtle insides!--absent from the court which Nicolete held here in the greenwood
. Never was such a nest of singing-birds.
"Well I know that your good mother would have had me make a clerk of you; but well I see that the greenwood is where you will pass your days.
Forward he ran through the forest, before the band could gather their scattered wits--still forward into the great greenwood. The swaying trees seemed to open their arms to the wanderer, and to welcome him home.
They swore all this with solemn oaths, while they feasted about the ruddy blaze, under the greenwood tree.