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| Home | Reading Room The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
by Howard Pyle

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You who so plod amid serious things that you feel it 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 folks 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.

Here is a stout, lusty fellow with a quick temper, yet none so ill

for all that, who goes by the name of Henry II. Here is a fair,

gentle lady before whom all the others bow and call her

Queen Eleanor. Here is a fat rogue of a fellow, dressed up in rich

robes of a clerical kind, that all the good folk call my Lord Bishop

of Hereford. Here is a certain fellow with a sour temper and a grim look--

the worshipful, the Sheriff of Nottingham. And here, above all,

is a great, tall, merry fellow that roams the greenwood and joins

in homely sports, and sits beside the Sheriff at merry feast, which same

beareth the name of the proudest of the Plantagenets--Richard of

the Lion's Heart. Beside these are a whole host of knights,

priests, nobles, burghers, yeomen, pages, ladies, lasses, landlords,

beggars, peddlers, and what not, all living the merriest of merry lives,

and all bound by nothing but a few odd strands of certain old ballads

(snipped and clipped and tied together again in a score of knots)

which draw these jocund fellows here and there, singing as they go.

Here you will find a hundred dull, sober, jogging places, all tricked out with

flowers and what not, till no one would know them in their fanciful dress.

And here is a country bearing a well-known name, wherein no chill mists

press upon our spirits, and no rain falls but what rolls off our backs

like April showers off the backs of sleek drakes; where flowers bloom

forever and birds are always singing; where every fellow hath a merry catch

as he travels the roads, and ale and beer and wine (such as muddle no wits)

flow like water in a brook.

This country is not Fairyland. What is it? 'Tis the land of Fancy, and is

of that pleasant kind that, when you tire of it--whisk!--you clap the leaves

of this book together and 'tis gone, and you are ready for everyday life,

with no harm done.

And now I lift the curtain that hangs between here and

No-man's-land. Will you come with me, sweet Reader? I thank you.

Give me your hand.



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