If you've ever seen one of the many TV shows and movies about the Robin Hood legend, then you'll know what kind of man he is: a brave, dashing outlaw in bright green tights who lives in a forest and robs from the rich to give to the poor. As...
If you've ever seen one of the many TV shows and movies about the Robin Hood legend, then you'll know what kind of man he is: a brave, dashing outlaw in bright green tights who lives in a forest and robs from the rich to give to the poor. As well as all those thousands of miles of celluloid, Robin Hood's heroic exploits have also been immortalized in numerous folk ballads. The ballad, with its simple rhymes and rhythms, its catchy refrains, is the perfect vehicle for the telling of a popular folk story.
"Robin Hood Rescuing Three Squires No.140, Version B" details one of Robin's most heroic exploits: the rescuing of three squires from the evil clutches of the Sheriff of Nottingham. Robin is shocked to discover that these men have been condemned to die for the seemingly trivial crime of slaying the king's deer. Outraged, Robin heads off to Nottingham to save the three squires from the gallows.
On the way there, he comes across an old man in rags. He gives the man twenty pieces of gold in exchange for his clothes. This will give Robin a cunning disguise which will allow him to avoid the unwanted attention of the Sheriff's men. When he sees the Sheriff riding through the streets of Nottingham as proud as a peacock, Robin pretends to be an old beggar. The Sheriff is taken in by Robin's act, and agrees to give him the less than princely sum of thirteen pence for his troubles, a hangman's fee, no less.
But Robin's not having any of it; he proceeds to give the Sheriff a lecture about how he'll never be a hangman as long as he lives. He tells the bewildered Sheriff that he has a bag for malt, a bag for beef, a bag for barley and corn, and a bag for his little horn. (That's quite a lot of bags). He tells the Sheriff to his face that he wishes he could blow his eyes out with the horn. But instead, Robin has to make do with summoning 150 of his men, who suddenly appear out of nowhere after their leader gives his little horn a good, hard blast.
With the able assistance of his merry men, Robin is able to free the three squires from the gallows before hanging the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham. So much for "I was neer a hangman in all my life / Nor yet intends to trade."