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Introduction

In his preface to "The merry adventures of Robin Hood," Howard Pyle sounds this warning: "You who so plod amid serious things that you feel it a shame to give yourself up even for a few short moments to mirth and joyousness in the land of Fancy; you who think that life hath nought to do with innocent laughter that can harm no one; these pages are not for you. Clap to the leaves and go no farther than this, for I tell you plainly that if you go farther you will be scandalized by seeing good, sober folk of real history so frisk and caper in gay colors and motley that you would not know them but for the names tagged to them.”

For genuine, rollicking fun, no tales can excel the merry adventures of this "Prince of outlaws" whose deeds were sung by the balladers and minstrels of old. And for genuine noble qualities, few heroes satisfy the ideals of courage, strength, skill, honesty, generosity, humanity as does this hero, so dear to the common people.

Folk of real history do appear in these stories and the setting gives a true picture of the times in which such jolly outlaws as Robin Hood and his men made their home in the greenwood. But Robin Hood himself is one of those heroes who, by very reason of the absence of authentic history regarding their existence, gained glory from generation to generation. Untrammeled by printed history, the imagination of the folk had free play in setting forth their favorite. His acts shone brighter each time they were sung.

It may be objected that Robin Hood was an outlaw and a robber. Yes, but more honest, more loyal, more courteous was he than many who sat in high places. He defied tyranny and scorned hypocrisy, and took his own jovial way of punishing greed and dishonesty when they crossed his pathway, but he was always ready to help the poor and those in distress,

whether of low or high degree. And the life in the greenwood was not without law and order. The king himself might have envied Robin the loyalty and obedience of his men. Outlawed because of unjust and cruel laws, yet Robin Hood and his men were true to their king, and true to their own laws and to the code of honor which they set up for themselves.

These tales in their more serious events call upon you to take a stand for justice. They invite you out into the pure sunlight, to let the fresh breeze blow freely through your hair, to witness joyous adventures on bright country byways and to rest and play in the cool shade of the forest.

References

The source books are arranged with the original or old versions standing first, followed by other sources in the approximate order of their literary value or usefulness. An exception is made in the references under "Stories from Other Old Ballads" and "Ballads to Read Aloud," where there is no essential difference in the versions recommended for children.

Ritson's "Robin Hood" and "Ancient songs and ballads," "English and Scottish popular ballads," Percy's "Reliques of ancient English poetry" and Allingham's "Ballad book" contain the ballads in their old form. Two or more of these sources are sometimes referred to under one ballad, but only one will be necessary for the story-teller's use, although the different versions of the old form and the notes accompanying them will be of interest and will aid in understanding the background and spirit of the ballads and influence their presentation.

Cycle of Stories from the Ballads

of Robin Hood

Story I.

How Robin of Locksley Became Robin Hood the Outlaw

Of the king's hunting ground and the penalties for shooting the king's deer. How Robin starteth out for the sheriff's shooting match but meeteth the foresters, who taunt him of his youth till he maketh a wager and doth kill one of the king's deer at more than threescore rods distance. Of his escape from the foresters and how the happy days of his youth in Locksley are ended and he is an outlaw and taketh refuge in Sherwood forest.

Sources for the story-teller

English and Scottish popular ballads, p.330–332.
Pyle. Merry adventures of Robin Hood, p.1-5.
Morris. Historical tales; English, p.121-125.

Sources for children

Story

Pyle. Merry adventures of Robin Hood, p.1-5.

Pyle. Some merry adventures of Robin Hood, p.1-8.
Rhead. Bold Robin Hood and his outlaw band, p.1-31.

Ballad

Long. Old English ballads, p.13-16.

It is suggested that stories 1 and 2 be told together.

Story 2. Of the Merry Adventure which Gained Robin Hood

his Good Right-hand Man, Little John

How Robin Hood goeth abroad for to seek adventure and encountereth a tall stranger on the bridge. How the tall stranger doth tumble Robin into the stream but afterward joineth his band and is christened "Little John."

Sources for the story-teller

Ritson. Robin Hood, v.2, p.290–297.

English and Scottish popular ballads, p.302–305.
Pyle. Merry adventures of Robin Hood, p.5-10.

Sources for children

Story

Pyle. Merry adventures of Robin Hood, p.5-10.

Pyle. Some merry adventures of Robin Hood, p.8-15.

Rhead. Bold Robin Hood and his outlaw band, p.32-40.

Tappan. Robin Hood, his book, p.31-38.

Lang. Book of romance, p.325-326.

Ballad

Moore. Pictorial book of ballads, v.1, p.156–160.

From Ritson's "Robin Hood."

Haaren. Ballads and tales, p.7-15.

Long. Old English ballads, p.17–25.

Story 3. How Robin Hood Went to the Shooting Match at

Nottingham Town and Won the Golden Arrow

The Sheriff of Nottingham, thinking to entrap Robin Hood, doth proclaim a shooting match. Robin and his merry men do outwit the sheriff and Robin winneth the prize and hangeth it upon the greenwood tree, where all may have joy of it.

Sources for the story-teller

Ritson. Robin Hood, v.1, p.50-63; v.2, p.323-329.
English and Scottish popular ballads, p.358–360.
Moore. Pictorial book of ballads, v.2, p.183–186.
From Ritson's "Robin Hood."

Pyle. Merry adventures of Robin Hood, p.25-33.

Sources for children

Story

Pyle. Merry adventures of Robin Hood, p.25-33.

Pyle. Some merry adventures of Robin Hood, p.16–26.

Rhead. Bold Robin Hood and his outlaw band, p.52-60.

Tappan. Robin Hood, his book, p.75-89.

MacLeod. Book of ballad stories, p.209–215.

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