The Sheriff of Nottingham was at his wits end. That merry knave, Robin Hood, had not been brought to justice. Prince John (who had declared himself king in King Richard’s absence) was getting more and more eager to get Robin Hood out of his way too. You see, Robin and his merry men set the people of England against the false king. Prince John, of course, did not like this. One day, he called the Sheriff to come to London-town to have a meeting with him. The sheriff eagerly prepared to leave immediately, which he did. It was a sight to see. The cowardly sheriff, knowing that he would have to go through Sherwood Forest to get to London-Town brought all of the retainers in Nottingham. They all amounted to about 80-armed men all decked out in their best attire. As for Robin Hood, two of his men had been in Nottingham when the word came that Prince John summoned the Sheriff, and he was to be traveling to London-Town with all the armed men in Nottingham. They straightway returned to Sherwood and brought the news to Robin.
As soon as Robin heard what was to take place, he brought his horn to his lips and blew three loud, clear, sweet notes. At this, his men all gathered ’round him, some coming out of the forest, some from different paths leading into the clearing. He stood up and began giving instructions. “Six men will come with me, to meet that knave of a sheriff, and the rest of you will cut off his retainers and wagons. Will Scarlet, Little John, Friar Tuck, Allan A Dale, David of Doncaster, and Midge the Miller’s son will come with me, and Will Stutely, you will lead the rest.” Ten men were also set out in the forest to keep an eye on the roads to see when the Sheriff arrived.
All this was done, so Robin’s men waited. The next morning, bright and early, Will Stutely and Robin Hood were woken, and told that the men stationed in the forest had caught sight of the sheriff and his procession. Robin blew his horn, and all the men were up in a heartbeat, gathering around him. He reminded them of their orders and they all went off to do them. Robin and his six men ran and hid in the bushes on the side of the road. Will Stutley and his men (there was about 75 of them) did the same, hiding along in the bushes every few yards for half of a mile or so. When the Sheriff’s caravan got to where Will and his men were, all of the men stuck their quarterstaffs out in the horse’s way, and tripped them. Then all of the men rushed out into the road and pulled the Sheriff’s retainers off their horses. This would not normally have worked, but all of the retainers were paying attention to the Sheriff, who was riding in front. Robin had stepped out, and grabbed the bridle of the sheriff’s horse. It was a sight to see. More than 80 men all being pulled off their horses, and their swords being grabbed and thrown into the bushes. Robin Hood and his six men grabbed the bridles of the Sheriff’s horse, and started leading them into Sherwood. The Sheriff started yelling at his retainers telling them to come and capture Robin Hood. When he looked backwards, where they were supposed to be, he saw a scene of utter chaos. Seventy men in Lincoln green were pulling his retainers off their horses while they were kicking and trying to get to their swords.
Soon, Robin’s men had gotten control and disarmed all of the sheriff’s retainers. Robin yelled for them to stay there, and he led the Sheriff and a few of his men into the forest, and into him and his men’s camp. Then he said, “My dear sheriff, I have a deal to make with you. You pick two of your best Yeomen, and my man Little John and I will have a little competition with them. Whoever can split a twig the width of my thumb from 70 paces away with a grey goose shaft, I will give a good stout ewe bow, with gold engraving, and 12 good arrows to match.” The Sheriff decided that he would make another part of the deal too. “If you and your little john beat my men, then I will come and join your band of merry men, with all of these retainers with me. But, if I win, you will become my page, for life.” Robin thought for a while, and then decided that it would be worth it. “My answer is yes, sheriff!” The targets were set up, and the sheriff picked his men. The first was the popular young Sir Eldred of the Moor, and the second was old Sir Alfred of Yorkton. They were both very well-known archers in England. It was decided that Sir Eldred would go first, then Little John, then Sir Alfred, and then finally, Robin Hood. Each man would have two shots at the two targets, and whichever team split the stick, would be the winner.
Up Sir Eldred stepped, brought up his bow, fitted one of his arrows, and aimed. Wizzz, the arrow shot from the bow, and flew toward the stick. The young man’s arrow missed the mark by a barley straw’s width. He fitted his second arrow, and this time, the arrow nicked the stick. It was not split though, so Little John took his turn. Both of Little John’s arrows hit the stick, and stuck in it, but neither went all the way through, to split it. Sir Alfred was up next. The Sheriff was sitting on the edge of his seat, as was Robin, because both of their futures were at stake. Now, Sir Alfred stepped up with is bow. He aimed his first arrow, and let fly. This one would have went straight through the stick, but a little gust of wind caught it and blew it off of course, and it landed on the ground a ways away. The second arrow, however, hit the stick straight in the middle and went all the way. It didn’t split the stick all the way though! Robin Hood let out a sigh of relief, and stepped up to the mark. He let his first arrow go, and it flew straight and true, straight to the stick. The same thing happened with his arrow though. It went all the way through, but didn’t split the stick all the way. He drew a deep breath, and aimed his second arrow. It flew whizzing toward the stick. Pffttts! It went straight through, and split the stick all the way! A great shout came out of the throats of all of Robin Hood’s merry men. The sheriff of Nottingham couldn’t believe it. He was absolutely sure that his men could shoot better than Robin Hood and Little John. He was now Robin’s man, along with all of the retainers that he had brought with him. Since he wasn’t a sheriff anymore, he took the name of Richard of Nottingham instead. He actually learned to like the life of Robin and his band, carefree, and adventurous. Robin even helped teach him not to be so cowardly.
Thus concludes my tale of how the Sheriff of Nottingham became an outlaw.