Robin Hood

Week 9: Medieval Heroes - Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images

The Bold Pedlar and Robin Hood (Ballad 132)

Reading time: (3 minutes)

Here both Robin Hood and Little John do battle with someone they meet by chance along the way - in this case, the man is a peddlar... but his true identity is revealed only at the end!

There chanced to be a Pedlar bold,
A Pedlar bold there chanced to be;
He put his pack all on his back,
And so merrily trudged over the lea.

By chance he met two troublesome men,
Two troublesome men they chanced to be,
The one of them was bold Robin Hood,
And the other was little John so free.

'O Pedlar, Pedlar, what is in thy pack?
Come speedily and tell to me.'
'I've several suits of the gay green silks,
And silken bowstrings by two or three.'

'If you have several suits of the gay green silk,
And silken bowstrings two or three
Then, by my body,'cries little John,
'One half of your pack shall belong to me.'

'O nay, O nay,' said the pedlar bold,
'O nay, O nay, that can never be
For there's never a man from fair Nottingham,
Can take one half my pack from me.'

Then the Pedlar he pulled off his pack,
And put it a little below his knee,
Saying, 'If you do move me one perch from this,
My pack and all shall gang with thee.'

Then little John he drew his sword,
The Pedlar by his pack did stand,
They fought until they both did sweat,
Till he cried, 'Pedlar, pray hold your hand.'

Then Robin Hood he was standing by,
And he did laugh most heartily,
Saying, 'I could find a man of smaller scale,
Could thrash the Pedlar and also thee.'

'Go you try, master,' says little John,
'Go you try, master, most speedily,
For by my body,' says little John,
'I am sure this night you will know me.'

Then Robin Hood he drew his sword,
And the pedlar by his pack did stand;
They fought till the blood in streams did flow,
Till he cried, 'Pedlar, pray hold your hand.

O Pedlar, Pedlar, what is thy name?
Come speedily and tell to me.'
'Come, my name I ne'er will tell,
Till both your names you have told to me.'

'The one of us is bold Robin Hood,
And the other is little John so free.'
'Now,' says the Pedlar,' it lays to my good will,
Whether my name I choose to tell to thee.

I am Gamble Gold of the gay green woods,
And I travelled far beyond the sea,
For killing a man in my father's land,
And from my country was forced to flee.'

'If you are Gamble Gold of the gay green woods,
And travelled far beyond the sea,
You are my mother's own sister's son,
What nearer cousins can we be?'

They sheathed their swords, with friendly words,
So merrily they did agree,
They went to a tavern and there they dined,
And cracked bottles most merrily.

Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • what did Robin Hood and Little John want to steal from the pedlar?
  • what happened with John fought the pedlar? what happened when Robin fought him?
  • who did the pedlar turn out to be in the end? why did they decide to make peace and go drinking together?

Source: Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898). Weblink.

Modern Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:52 PM