Robin Hood and the Tinker (Ballad 127)
Reading time: (5 minutes)
In summer time, when leaves grow green,
Down a down a down
And birds sing on every tree,
Hey down a down a down.
Robin Hood went to Nottingham,
Down a down a down
As fast as hee could dree.
Hey down a down a down.
And as hee came to Nottingham
A Tinker he did meet,
And seeing him a lusty blade,
He did him kindly greet.
"Where dost thou live?" quoth Robin Hood,
"I pray thee now mee tell;
Sad news I hear there is abroad,
I fear all is not well."
"What is that news?" the Tinker said;
"Tell mee without delay;
I am a tinker by my trade,
And do live at Banbura."
"As for the news," quoth Robin Hood,
"It is but as I hear;
Two tinkers they were set ith' stocks,
For drinking ale and bear."
"If that be all," the Tinker said,
"As I may say to you,
Your news it is not worth a fart,
Since that they all bee true.
"For drinking of good ale and bear,
You wil lose your part."
"No, by my faith," quoth Robin Hood,
"I love it with all my heart.
"What news abroad?" quoth Robin Hood;
"Tell mee what thou dost hear;
Being thou goest from town to town,
Some news thou need not fear."
"All the news," the Tinker said,
"I hear, it is for good;
It is to seek a bold outlaw,
Which they call Robin Hood.
"I have a warrant from the king,
To take him where I can;
If you can tell me where hee is,
I will make you a man.
"The king will give a hundred pound
That hee could but him see;
And if wee can but now him get,
It will serve you and mee."
"Let see that warrant," said Robin Hood
"I'le see if it bee right;
And I will do the best I can
For to take him this night."
"That will I not," the Tinker said;
"None with it I will trust;
And where hee is if you'l not tell,
Take him by force I must."
But Robin Hood perceiving well
How then the game would go,
"If you will go to Nottingham,
Wee shall find him I know."
The Tinker had a crab-tree staff,
Which was both good and strong;
Robin hee had a good strong blade,
So they went both along.
when they came to Nottingham,
There they both tooke one inn;
And they calld for ale and wine,
To drink it was no sin.
But ale and wine they drank so fast
That the Tinker hee forgot,
What thing he was about to do;
It fell so to his lot
while the Tinker fell asleep,
Hee made then haste away,
And left the Tinker in the lurch,
For the great shot to pay.
But when the Tinker wakened,
And saw that he was gone,
He calld then even for his host,
And thus hee made his moan.
"I had a warrant from the king,
Which might have done me good,
That is to take a bold outlaw,
Some call him Robin Hood.
"But now my warrant and mony's gone,
Nothing I have to pay;
And he that promised to be my friend,
He is gone and fled away."
"That friend you tell on," said the host,
"They call him Robin Hood;
And when that first hee met with you,
He ment you little good."
"Had I known it had been hee,
When that I had him here,
Th' one of us should have tri'd our strength
Which should have paid full dear.
"In the mean time I must away;
No longer here I'le bide;
But I will go and seek him out,
What ever do me betide.
"But one thing I would gladly know,
What here I have to pay;"
"Ten shillings just," then said the host;
"I'le pay without delay.
"Or elce take here my working-bag,
And my good hammer too;
And if that I light but on the knave,
I will then soon pay you."
"The onely way," then said the host,
"And not to stand in fear,
Is to seek him among the parks,
Killing of the kings deer."
The Tinker hee then went with speed,
And made then no delay,
Till he had found then Robin Hood,
That they might have a fray.
last hee spy'd him in a park,
Hunting then of the deer;
"What knave is that," quoth Robin Hood,
"That doth come mee so near?"
"No knave, no knave," the Tinker said,
"And that you soon shall know;
Whether of us hath done most wrong,
My crab-tree staff shall show."
Then Robin drew his gallant blade,
Made then of trusty steel;
But the Tinker laid on him fast
That he made Robin reel.
Then Robins anger did arise;
He fought full manfully,
Until hee made the Tinker
Almost then fit to fly.
With that they had a bout again,
They ply'd their weapons fast;
The Tinker threshed his bones so sore
He made him yeeld at last.
"A boon, a boon," Robin hee cryes,
If thou wilt grant it mee;"
"Before I do it," the Tinker said,
"I'le hang thee on this tree."
But the Tinker looking him about,
Robin his horn did blow;
Then came unto him Little John,
And William Scadlock too.
"What is the matter," quoth Little John,
"You sit in th' highway side?"
"Here is a Tinker that stands by,
That hath paid well my hide."
"That Tinker," then said Little John,
"Fain that blade I would see,
And I would try what I could do,
If hee'l do as much for mee."
But Robin hee then wished them both
They should the quarrel cease,
"That henceforth wee may bee as one,
And ever live in peace.
"And for the jovial Tinker's part,
A hundred pound I'le give,
In th' year to maintain him on,
As long as he doth live.
"In manhood hee is a mettle man,
And a mettle man by trade;
I never thought that any man
Should have made me so fraid.
"And if hee will bee one of us,
Wee will take all one fare,
And whatsoever wee do get,
He shall have his full share."
So the Tinker was content
With them to go along,
And with them a part to take,
And so I end my song.
Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:
Source: Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898). Weblink.
Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology.
Laura Gibbs, Ph.D.
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