After that they did not watch me so closely, and I found a chance to escape. I traveled seven days, living upon coconuts, which served me for food and drink. On the eighth day I met some people gathering pepper, and I told them my story. They treated me with great kindness and took me with them when they sailed home.
On arriving in their own country they presented me to their King, who commanded his people to take care of me, and soon I was looked upon as a native rather than a stranger. I was not, however, satisfied to remain away from my own home and planned to escape and return to Baghdad.
One day I saw a ship approaching the place where I was. I called to the crew, and they quickly sent a boat and took me on board. We stopped at several islands and collected great stores of costly goods. After we had finished our traffic, we put to sea again and at last arrived at Baghdad. I gave large sums to the poor and enjoyed myself with my friends in feasts and amusements.
Here Sindbad made a present of one hundred sequins to Hindbad, whom he requested to return the next day to dine with him and hear the story of his fifth voyage.
THE FIFTH VOYAGE OF SINDBAD THE SAILOR
The story of the fifth day was as follows:
All the misfortunes I had undergone could not cure me of my desire to make new voyages. I therefore had a ship built and, taking with me several merchants, I started on my fifth voyage.
We touched at a desert island, where we found a roc's egg. We could see that the young bird had begun to break the shell with his beak. The merchants who were with me broke the shell with hatchets and killed the young roc. Scarcely had they done this when the parent birds flew down with a frightful noise. We hurried to the ship and set sail as speedily as possible. But the great birds followed us, each carrying a rock between its claws. When they came directly over our ship, they let the rocks fall, and the ship was crushed and most of the passengers killed. I caught hold of a piece of the wreck and swam to an island. Here I found fruit and streams of fresh, pure water. After resting and eating some of the fruit, I determined to find out who lived upon the island.
I had not walked far, when I saw an old man sitting on the bank of a stream. He made signs to me to carry him over the brook, and as he seemed very weak, I took him upon my back and carried him across. When we reached the other side, the old man threw his legs around my neck and squeezed my throat until I fainted. But he kept his seat and kicked me to make me stand up. He made me carry him all that day, and at night lay down with me, still holding fast to my neck.
This continued for some time, and I grew weaker every day. One day, feeling sure that I could not escape, he began to laugh and sing and move around on my back. This was my opportunity, and, using all my strength, I threw him to the ground, where he lay motionless.
Feeling very thankful at my escape, I went down to the beach and saw a ship at anchor there. The crew were very much surprised when I told my adventure. "You are the first," they said, "who ever escaped from the old man of the sea after falling into his power."
We soon put out to sea and after a few days arrived at a great city. One of the merchants invited me to go with him and others to gather coconuts. The trunks of the coconut trees were lofty and very smooth, and I saw many apes among the branches. It was not possible to climb the trees, but the merchants, by throwing stones, provoked the apes to throw the coconuts at us, and by this trick we collected enough coconuts to load our ship.
We then set sail and touched at other islands, where I exchanged my coconuts for pepper and wood of aloes. I also hired divers, who brought me up pearls that were very large and perfect. When I returned to Baghdad, I made vast sums from my pepper, precious woods, and pearls. I gave the tenth of my gains to charity, as I had done on my return from other voyages.
Sindbad here ordered one hundred sequins to be given to Hindbad and requested him to dine with him the next day to hear the account of his next voyage.
THE SIXTH VOYAGE OF SINDBAD THE SAILOR
When dinner was finished on the sixth day, Sindbad spoke as follows:
After a year's rest I prepared for a sixth voyage, notwithstanding the entreaties of my friends, who did all in their power to keep me at home. I traveled through several provinces of Persia and the Indies, and then embarked on a long voyage, in the course of which the ship was carried by a rapid current to the foot of a high mountain, where she struck and went to pieces.
We managed to save most of our provisions and our goods, but it was impossible to climb the mountain or to escape by the sea. We were obliged to remain upon the strip of shore between the mountain and the sea. At last our provisions were exhausted, and my companions died, one after the other. Then I determined to try once more to find a way of escape.
A river ran from the sea into a dark cavern under an archway of rock. I said to myself, "If I make a raft and float with the current, it will doubtless carry me to some inhabited country." I made a very solid raft and loaded it with bales of rich goods from the wreck, and rubies, emeralds, and other precious stones which covered the mountain.
As soon as I entered the cavern, I found myself in darkness and I floated on, I knew not where. I must have fallen asleep, for when I opened my eyes I was on the bank of a river, and a great many people were around me. They spoke to me, but I did not understand their language. I was so full of joy at my escape from death that I said aloud in Arabic, "Close thine eyes, and while thou art asleep, Heaven will change thy evil fortune into good fortune."
One of the men, who understood Arabic, said, "Brother, we are inhabitants of this country and water our fields from this river. We saw your raft, and one of us swam out and brought it here. Pray tell us your history." After they had given me food, I told them my story, and then they took me to their King. I told the King my adventures; and when my raft was brought in, I showed him my rich goods and precious stones. I saw that my jewels pleased him, and I said, "Sire, I am at your Majesty's service, and all that I have is yours." He answered, with a smile, "Sindbad, I will take nothing from you; far from lessening your wealth, I mean to increase it."
I prayed the King to allow me to return to my own country, and he granted me permission in the most honorable manner. He gave me a rich present and a letter for the Commander of the Faithful, our sovereign, saying to me, "I pray you, give this present and this letter to the Caliph Harun-al-Rashid."
The letter was written on the skin of a certain animal of great value, very scarce, and of a yellowish color. The characters of this letter were of azure, and the contents as follows:
"The King of the Indies, before whom march one hundred elephants, who lives in a palace that shines with one hundred thousand rubies, and who has in his treasury twenty thousand crowns enriched with diamonds, to Caliph Harun-al-Rashid "Though the present we send you be small, receive it, however, as a brother and a friend, in consideration of the hearty friendship which we bear for you, and of which we are willing to give you proof. We send you this letter as from one brother to another. Farewell."
The present consisted of one single ruby made into a cup, about half a foot high and an inch thick, filled with round pearls large and beautiful; the skin of a serpent, whose scales were as bright as an ordinary piece of gold, and had the power to preserve from sickness those who lay upon it; quantities of the best wood of aloes and camphor; and, lastly, a wonderful robe covered with jewels of great beauty.
The ship set sail, and after a successful voyage we landed at Bussorah, and from there I went to the city of Baghdad, where the first thing I did was to go to the palace of the Caliph.
Taking the King's letter, I presented myself at the gate of the Commander of the Faithful and was conducted to the throne of the Caliph. I presented the letter and gift. When he had finished reading, he asked me if that ruler were really as rich as he represented himself in his letter.
I said, "Commander of the Faithful, I can assure your Majesty he does not stretch the truth. I bear him witness. Nothing is more worthy of admiration than the splendor of his palace. When the King appears in public, he has a throne fixed on the back of an elephant, and rides betwixt two ranks of his ministers and favorites, and other people of his court. Before him, upon the same elephant, an officer carries a golden lance in his hand, and behind him there is another who strands with a rod of gold, on the top of which is an emerald half a foot long and an inch thick. "He is attended by one thousand men, clad in cloth of gold, and mounted on elephants richly decked. The officer who is before him cries from time to time, in a loud voice, 'Behold the great monarch, the powerful Sultan of the Indies, the monarch greater than Solomon and the powerful Maharaja. After he has pronounced these words, the officer behind the throne cries in his turn, 'This monarch, so great and so powerful, must die, must die, must die.' And the officer before replies, 'Praise be to Him alone who liveth forever and ever.'"
The Caliph was much pleased with my account, and sent me home with a rich present.
Here Sindbad commanded another hundred sequins to be paid to Hindbad, and begged his return on the morrow to hear of his last voyage.
THE LAST VOYAGE OF SINDBAD THE SAILOR
On the seventh day, after dinner, Sindbad told the story of his last voyage:
On my return home from my sixth voyage, I had entirely given up all thoughts of again going to sea; for, not only did my age now require rest, but I was resolved to run no more such risks as I had encountered, so that I thought of nothing but to pass the rest of my days in peace.
One day, however, an officer of the Caliph inquired for me. "The Caliph," said he, "has sent me to tell you that he must speak with you." I followed the officer to the palace, where, being presented to the Caliph, I saluted him, throwing myself at his feet.
"Sindbad," said he to me, "I stand in need of your service; you must carry my answer and present to the King of the Indies."
This command of the Caliph was to me like a clap of thunder. "Commander of the Faithful," I replied, "I am ready to do whatever your Majesty shall think fit to command; but I beg you most humbly to consider what I have undergone. I have also made a vow never to leave Baghdad."
The Caliph insisted, and I finally told him that I was willing to obey. He was pleased, and gave me one thousand sequins for the expenses of my journey.
I prepared for my departure in a few days. As soon as the Caliph's letter and present were delivered to me, I went to Bussorah, where I embarked, and had a safe voyage. Having arrived at the capital of the Indies, I was shown to the palace with much pomp, when I prostrated myself on the ground before the King.
"Sindbad," said the King, "you are welcome; I have many times thought of you; I bless the day on which I see you once more." I thanked him for his kindness, and delivered the gifts from my master.
The Caliph's present was a complete suit of cloth of gold, fifty robes of rich stuff, a hundred of white cloth, the finest of Cairo, Suez, and Alexandria; a vessel of agate, more broad than deep, an inch thick, and half a foot long, the bottom of which was carved to represent a man with one knee on the ground, who held a bow and arrow, ready to discharge at a lion. He sent him also a rich tablet, which, according to tradition, had belonged to the great Solomon.
The King of the Indies was highly gratified at the Caliph's mark of friendship. A little time after this I asked leave to depart, and with much difficulty obtained it. The King, when he dismissed me, made me a very splendid present. I embarked for Baghdad, but had not the good fortune to arrive there so speedily as I had hoped. Three or four days after my departure we were attacked by pirates, who seized upon our ship, because it was not a vessel of war. Some of the crew fought back, which cost them their lives. But myself and the rest, who were not so rash, the pirates saved, and carried into a distant island, where they sold us.
I fell into the hands of a rich merchant, who, as soon as he bought me, took me to his house, treated me well, and clad me handsomely as a slave. Some days after, he asked me if I understood any trade. I answered that I was no mechanic, but a merchant, and that the pirates who sold me had robbed me of all I had.
"Tell me," he said, "can you shoot with a bow?" I answered that the bow was one of my exercises in my youth.
Then my master told me to climb into a tree and shoot at the elephants as they passed and let him know as soon as I killed one, in order that he might get the tusks. I hid as he told me, and as I was successful the first day, he sent me day after day, for two months.
One morning the elephants surrounded my tree, and the largest pulled up the tree with his trunk and threw it on the ground. Then, picking me up, he laid me on his back and carried me to a hill almost covered with the bones and tusks of elephants. I knew that this must be the burial place of the elephants and they had brought me here to show me that I could get vast quantities of ivory without killing any more elephants.
I went back to the city and told my master all that had happened. He was overjoyed at my escape from death and the riches which I had obtained for him. As a reward for my services he set me free and promised to send me home as soon as the trade winds brought the ships for ivory.
A ship arrived at last, and my master loaded one half of it with ivory for me. When we reached a port on the mainland, I landed my ivory and set out for home with a caravan of merchants. I was a long time on the journey, but was happy in thinking that I had nothing to fear from the sea or from pirates. At last I arrived at Baghdad, and the Caliph loaded me with honors and rich presents.
Sindbad here finished the story of his seventh and last voyage. Then addressing himself to Hindbad, he said, "Well, friend, did you ever hear of any person who had suffered as much as I have?"
Hindbad kissed Sindbad's hand and said, "Sir, my afflictions are not to be compared with yours. You not only deserve a quiet life, but are worthy of all the riches you possess. May you live happily for a long time."
Sindbad ordered him to be paid another hundred sequins and told him to give up carrying burdens and to eat henceforth at his table, for he wished him to remember that he would always have a friend in Sindbad the Sailor.
NOTES AND QUESTIONS
Discussion. 1. Why did Sindbad tell the story of his voyages? 2. What was the effect of these stories upon Hindbad? 3. If Hindbad had desired to become as rich as Sindbad, what should he have done, and what price would he have paid? 4. Why did Sindbad give money to his guest at the end of each story? 5. Did he do other good deeds with his money? 6. In each of these three long stories, of Aladdin, Ali Baba, and Sindbad the Sailor, what do you learn about the duty of men who have by chance or by their own hard work succeeded in acquiring riches? 7. How many voyages did Sindbad make to satisfy his love of adventure? 8. Which voyage was undertaken to please someone else? 9. Mention some things that Sindbad sold at great profit. 10. Where are these articles most used or valued? 11. Why was it so difficult to travel by water at the time Sindbad lived? 12. What do we learn about Sindbad's character from the story of his voyages? 13. What do we learn about Sindbad's character from his treatment of Hindbad? 14. What parts of the story show that people in Sindbad's time knew very little about geography? 15. Which of Sindbad's seven voyages is the most interesting to you? 16. What have you learned of Eastern customs from this story? 17. Earlier you were told why we read adventure stories of this kind; show why you think the Arabian Nights stories have the two values mentioned. 18. Class readings: Select passages to be read aloud. 19. Outline for testing silent reading. Tell in your own words the story of each of the voyages of Sindbad, using the topic headings given in the book. If possible, try to tell these stories to some child who cannot read them. 20. The Arabian Nights by Wiggin and Smith was illustrated by the famous American artist, Maxfield Parrish; you will enjoy looking at these pictures. 21. Find in the Glossary the meaning of: mansion; grave; humor; ointment; sandalwood; repentance; turban; shipping; traffic; azure. 22. Pronounce: Caliph; Harun-al-Rashid; savory; repast; becalmed; Maharaja; rarities; aloes; sequin; roc; desert; Arabic; sovereign; tradition.
Phrases for Study
attend his pleasure, Commander of the Faithful, bountiful traveler, trade winds.
THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD
THE HOME OF ROBIN IN SHERWOOD FOREST
Many hundreds of years ago, when the Plantagenets were kings, England was so covered with woods that a squirrel was said to be able to hop from tree to tree from the Severn to the Humber.
It must have been very different-looking from the country we travel through now; but still there were roads that ran from north to south and from east to west, for the use of those who wished to leave their homes, and at certain times of the year these roads were thronged with people. Pilgrims going to some holy shrine passed along, merchants taking their wares to Court, Abbots and Bishops ambling by on palfreys to bear their part in the King's Council, and, more frequently still, a solitary Knight, seeking adventures.
Besides the broad roads there were small tracks and little green paths, and these led to clumps of low huts, where dwelt the peasants, charcoal-burners, and plowmen, while here and there some larger clearing than usual told that the house of a yeoman was near.
Now and then as you passed through the forest you might ride by a splendid abbey, and catch a glimpse of monks in long black or white gowns, fishing in the streams and rivers that abound in this part of England, or casting nets in the fish ponds which were in the midst of the abbey gardens. Or you might chance to see a castle with round turrets and high battlements, circled by strong walls, and protected by a moat full of water.
This was the sort of England into which the famous Robin Hood was born. We know very little about him, who he was, or where he lived, except that for some reason he had offended the King, who had declared him an outlaw, so that any man might kill him and never pay a penalty for it.
But, outlaw or not, the poor people loved him and looked on him as their friend, and many a stout fellow came to join him, and led a merry life in the greenwood, with moss and fern for bed, and for meat the King's deer, which it was death to slay.
Peasants of all sorts, tillers of the land, yeomen, and, as some say, Knights, went on their ways freely, for of them Robin took no toll; but rich men with moneybags well filled trembled as they drew near to Sherwood Forest—who was to know whether behind every tree there did not lurk Robin Hood or some of his men?
THE COMING OF LITTLE JOHN
One day Robin was walking alone in the wood, and reached a river which was spanned by a very narrow bridge, over which one man only could pass. In the middle stood a stranger, and Robin bade him go back and let him go over. "I am no man of yours," was all the answer Robin got, and in anger he drew his bow and fitted an arrow to it.
"Would you shoot a man who has no arms but a staff?" asked the stranger in scorn; and with shame Robin laid down his bow, and unbuckled an oaken stick at his side. "We will fight till one of us falls into the water," he said; and fight they did, till the stranger planted a blow so well that Robin rolled over into the river.
"You are a brave soul," said he, when he had waded to land; and he blew a blast with his horn which brought fifty good fellows, clad in green, to the little bridge. "Have you fallen into the river, that your clothes are wet?" asked one; and Robin made answer, "No, but this stranger, fighting on the bridge, got the better of me and tumbled me into the stream."
At this the foresters seized the stranger and would have ducked him, had not their leader bade them stop and begged the stranger to stay with them and make one of themselves. "Here is my hand," replied the stranger, "and my heart with it. My name, if you would know it, is John Little."
"That must be altered," cried Will Scarlett; "we will call a feast, and henceforth, because he is full seven feet tall and round the waist at least an ell, he shall be called Little John."
And thus it was done; but at the feast Little John, who always liked to know exactly what work he had to do, put some questions to Robin Hood. "Before I join hands with you, tell me first what sort of life this is you lead. How am I to know whose goods I shall take, and whose I shall leave? Whom shall I beat, and whom shall I refrain from beating?"
And Robin answered: "Look that you harm not any tiller of the ground, nor any yeoman of the greenwood—no, nor any knight or squire, unless you have heard him ill spoken of. But if rich men with moneybags come your way, see that you spoil THEM, and mark that you always hold in your mind the High Sheriff of Nottingham."
This being settled, Robin Hood declared Little John to be second in command to himself among the brotherhood of the forest, and the new outlaw never forgot to hold in his mind the High Sheriff of Nottingham, who was the bitterest enemy the foresters had.
Robin Hood, however, had no liking for a company of idle men about him, so he at once sent off Little John and Will Scarlett to the great road known as Wafting Street with orders to hide among the trees and wait till some adventure might come to them. If they took captive Earl or Baron, Abbot or Knight, he was to be brought unharmed back to Robin Hood.
But all along Wafting Street the road was bare; white and hard it lay in the sun, without the tiniest cloud of dust to show that a rich company might be coming; east and west the land lay still.
LITTLE JOHN'S FIRST ADVENTURE
At length, just where a side path turned into the broad highway, there rode a Knight, and a sorrier man than he never sat a horse on a summer day. One foot only was in the stirrup; the other hung carelessly by his side. His head was bowed, the reins dropped loose, and his horse went on as he would. At so sad a sight the hearts of the outlaws were filled with pity, and Little John fell on his knees and bade the Knight welcome in the name of his master. "Who is your master?" asked the Knight.
"Robin Hood," answered Little John.
"I have heard much good of him," replied the Knight, "and will go with you gladly."
Then they all set off together, tears running down the Knight's cheeks as he rode. But he said nothing; neither was anything said to him. And in this wise they came to Robin Hood.
"Welcome, Sir Knight," cried he, "and thrice welcome, for I waited to break my fast till you or some other had come to me." "God save you, good Robin," answered the Knight; and after they had washed themselves in the stream, they sat down to dine off bread and wine, with flesh of the King's deer, and swans and pheasants. "Such a dinner have I not had for three weeks and more," said the Knight.
"And if I ever come again this way, good Robin, I will give you as fine a dinner as you have given me."
"I thank you," replied Robin; "my dinner is always welcome; still, I am none so greedy but I can wait for it. But before you go, pay me, I pray you, for the food which you have had. It was never the custom for a yeoman to pay for a Knight."
"My bag is empty," said the Knight, "save for ten shillings only."
"Go, Little John, and look in his wallet," said Robin, "and, Sir Knight, if in truth you have no more, not one penny will I take; nay, I will give you all that you shall need."
So Little John spread out the Knight's mantle, and opened the bag, and therein lay ten shillings and naught besides.
"What tidings, Little John?" cried his master.
"Sir, the Knight speaks truly," said Little John.
"Then fill a cup of the best wine and tell me Sir Knight, whether it is your own ill doings which have brought you to this sorry pass."
"For a hundred years my fathers have dwelt in the forest," answered the Knight, "and four hundred pounds might they spend yearly. But within two years misfortune has befallen me, and my wife and children also."
"How did this evil come to pass?" asked Robin.
"Through my own folly," answered the Knight, "and because of the great love I bore my son, who would never be guided of my counsel, and slew, ere he was twenty years old, a Knight of Lancaster and his squire. For their deaths I had to pay a large sum, which I could not raise without giving my lands in pledge to a rich man at York. If I cannot give him the money by a certain day, they will be lost to me forever."
"What is the sum?" asked Robin. "Tell me truly."
"It is four hundred pounds," said the Knight.
"And what will you do if you lose your lands?" asked Robin again.
"Hie myself over the sea," said the Knight, "and bid farewell to my friends and country. There is no better way open to me."
As he spoke, tears fell from his eyes, and he turned to depart.
"Good day, my friend," he said to Robin; "I cannot pay you what I should—" But Robin held him fast. "Where are your friends?" asked he.
"Sir, they have all forsaken me, since I became poor, and they turn away their heads if we meet upon the road, though when I was rich they were ever in my castle."
When Little John and Will Scarlett and the rest heard this, they wept for very shame and fury, and Robin bade them fill a cup of the best wine and give it to the Knight.
"Have you no one who would stay surety for you?" said he.
"None," answered the Knight; "there is no one who will stay surety for me."
"You speak well," said Robin, "and you, Little John, go to my treasure chest, and bring me thence four hundred pounds. And be sure you count it truly."
So Little John went, and Will Scarlett, and they brought back the money.
"Sir," said Little John, when Robin had counted it and found it no more and no less, "look at his clothes, how thin they are! You have stores of garments, green and scarlet, in your coffers—no merchant in England can boast the like. I will measure some out with my bow." And thus he did.
"Master," spoke Little John again, "there is still something else. You must give him a horse, that he may go as beseems his quality to York."
"Take the gray horse," said Robin, "and put a new saddle on it, and take likewise a good palfrey and a pair of boots, with gilt Spurs on them. And as it would be a shame for a Knight to ride by himself on this errand, I will lend you Little John as squire—perchance he may stand you in yeoman's stead."
"When shall we meet again?" asked the Knight.
"This day twelve months," said Robin, "under the greenwood tree."
THE KNIGHT WINS BACK HIS LANDS
Then the Knight rode on his way, with Little John behind him, and as he went he thought of Robin Hood and his men, and blessed them for the goodness they had shown toward him.
"Tomorrow," he said to Little John, "I must be in the city of York, for if I am so much as a day late, my lands are lost forever; and though I were to bring the money, I should not be allowed to redeem them."
Now the man who had lent the money, as well as the Knight, had been counting the days, and the next day he said to his friends, "This day year there came a Knight and borrowed of me four hundred pounds, giving his lands as surety. If he come not to pay his debt before midnight, they will be mine forever."
"It is full early yet," said one; "he may still be coming."
"He is far beyond the sea and suffers from hunger and cold," said the rich man. "How is he to get here?"
"It were a shame," said another, "for you to take his lands. And you do him much wrong if you drive such a hard bargain."
"He is dead or hanged," said a third, "and you will have his lands."
So they went to the High Justiciar, whose duty it would be to declare the Knight's lands forfeited if he did not pay the money.
"If he come not this day," cried the rich man, rubbing his hands, "the lands will be mine."
"He will not come," said the Justiciar, but he knew not that the Knight was already at the outer gate, and Little John with him.
"Welcome, Sir Knight," said the porter. "The horse that you ride is the noblest that ever I saw. Let me lead it and the steed of your companion to the stable, that they may have food and rest."
"They shall not pass these gates," answered the Knight sternly, and he entered the hall alone.
"I have come back, my lord," he said, kneeling down before the rich man, who had just returned from court. "Have you brought my money?"
"I have come to pray you to give me more time," said the Knight.
"The day was fixed and cannot be gainsaid," answered the Justiciar, who was sitting at meat with others in the hall.
The Knight begged the Justiciar to be his friend and help him, but he refused.
"Give me one more chance to get the money and free my lands," prayed the Knight. "I will serve you day and night till I have four hundred pounds to redeem them." But the rich man only vowed that the money must be paid that day or the lands be forfeited.
Then the Knight stood up straight and tall.
"You are not courteous," he said, "to make a Knight kneel so long. But it is well to prove one's friends against the hour of need."
Then he looked the rich man full in the face, and the man felt uneasy and hated the Knight more than ever. "Out of my hall, false Knight," he cried, pretending to a courage he did not feel.
But the Knight answered him, "Never was I false, and that I have shown in jousts and in tourneys."
"Give him two hundred pounds more," said the Justiciar to the rich man, "and keep the lands yourself."
"No," cried the Knight, "not if you offered me a thousand pounds would I do it. No one here shall be heir of mine." Then he strode up to a table and emptied out four hundred pounds. "Take your gold which you lent to me a year agone," he said. "Had you but received me civilly, I would have paid you something more."
Then he passed out of the hall singing merrily and rode back to his house, where his wife met him at the gate.
He went forth full merrily singing, As men have told in tale; His lady met him at the gate, At home in Wierysdale.
"Welcome, my lord," said his lady; "Sir, lost is all your good." "Be merry, dame," said the Knight, "And pray for Robin Hood."
Then he told how Robin Hood had befriended him, and how he had redeemed his lands, and finished his tale by praising the outlaw. "But for his kindness," he said, "we had been beggars."
After this the Knight dwelt at home, looking after his lands and saving his money carefully, till the four hundred pounds lay ready for Robin Hood. Then he bought a hundred bows and a hundred arrows, and every arrow was an ell long, and had a head of silver and peacock's feathers. And clothing himself in white and red, and with a hundred men in his train, he set off to Sherwood Forest.
On the way he passed an open space near a bridge where there was a wrestling, and the Knight stopped and looked, for he himself had taken many a prize in that sport. Here the prizes were such as to fill any man with envy: a fine horse, saddled and bridled, a great white bull, a pair of gloves, and a ring of bright, red gold.
There was not a yeoman present who did not hope to win one of them. But when the wrestling was over, the yeoman who had beaten them all was a man who kept apart from his fellows and was said to think much of himself.
Therefore the men grudged him his skill, and set upon him with blows, and would have killed him had not the Knight, for love of Robin Hood, taken pity on him, while his followers fought with the crowd, and would not suffer them to touch the prizes a better man had won.
When the wrestling was finished, the Knight rode on, and there under the greenwood tree, in the place appointed, he found Robin and his merry men waiting for him, according to the tryst that they had fixed last year.
"God save thee, Robin Hood, And all this company." "Welcome be thou, gentle Knight, And right welcome to me.
"Hast thou thy land again?" said Robin; "Truth then tell thou me." "Yea, 'fore God," said the Knight, "And for it thank I God and thee.
"Have here four hundred pounds, The which you lent to me; And here are also twenty marks For your courtesie."
But Robin would not take the money. A miracle had happened, he said, and it had been paid to him, and shame would it be for him to take it twice over.
Then he noticed for the first time the bows and arrows which the Knight had brought, and asked what they were. "A poor present to you," answered the Knight; and Robin, who would not be outdone, sent Little John once more to his treasury, and bade him bring forth four hundred pounds, which were given to the Knight.
After that they parted, in much love; and Robin prayed the Knight if he were in any strait to let him know at the greenwood tree, and while there was any gold there he should have it.
HOW LITTLE JOHN BECAME THE SHERIFF'S SERVANT
Meanwhile the High Sheriff of Nottingham proclaimed a great shooting-match in a broad open space, and Little John was minded to try his skill with the rest. He rode through the forest, whistling gaily to himself, for well he knew that not one of Robin Hood's men could send an arrow as straight as he, and he felt little fear of anyone else.
When he reached the trysting place, he found a large company assembled, the Sheriff with them, and the rules of the match were read out: where they were to stand, how far the mark was to be, and that three tries should be given to every man.
Some of the shooters shot near the mark; some of them even touched it; but none but Little John split the slender wand of willow with every arrow that flew from his bow.
At this sight the Sheriff of Nottingham swore that Little John was the best archer that ever he had seen, and asked him who he was and where he was born, and vowed that if he would enter his service he would give twenty marks a year to so good a bowman.
Little John, who did not wish to confess that he was one of Robin Hood's men and an outlaw, said his name was Reynold Greenleaf, and that he was in the service of a Knight, whose leave he must get before he became the servant of any man.
This was given heartily by the Knight whose lands had been saved by the kindness of Robin Hood, and Little John bound himself to the Sheriff for the space of twelve months, and was given a good white horse to ride on whenever he went abroad. But for all that, he did not like his bargain, and made up his mind to do the Sheriff, who was hated of the outlaws, all the mischief he could.
His chance came on a Wednesday, when the Sheriff always went hunting, and Little John lay in bed till noon, or till he grew hungry. Then he got up and told the steward that he wanted some dinner. The steward answered that he should have nothing till the Sheriff came home; so Little John grumbled and left him, and sought out the butler.
Here he was no more successful than before; the butler just went to the buttery door and locked it, and told Little John that he would have to make himself happy till his lord returned.
Rude words mattered nothing to Little John, who was not, accustomed to be balked by trifles; so he gave a mighty kick, which burst open the door, and then ate and drank as much as he would, and when he had finished all there was in the buttery, he went down into the kitchen.
Now the Sheriff's cook was a strong man and a bold one, and had no mind to let another man play the king in his kitchen; so he gave Little John three smart blows, which were returned heartily. "Thou art a brave man and hardy," said Little John, "and a good fighter withal. I have a sword; take you another, and let us see which is the better man of us twain."
The cook did as he was bid, and for two hours they fought, neither of them harming the other. "Fellow," said Little John at last, "you are one of the best swordsmen that I ever saw—and if you could shoot as well with the bow, I would take you back to the merry greenwood, and Robin Hood would give you twenty marks a year and two changes of clothing."
"Put up your sword," said the cook, "and I will go with you. But first we will have some food in my kitchen, and carry off a little of the gold and silver that is in the Sheriff's treasure house."
They ate and drank till they wanted no more, and they broke the locks of the treasure house, and took of the silver as much as they could carry, and of the gold, three hundred pounds and more, and departed unseen by anyone to Robin in the forest.
"Welcome! welcome!" cried Robin, when he saw them; "a welcome, too, to the fair yeoman you bring with you. What tidings from Nottingham, Little John?"
"The proud Sheriff greets you, and sends you by my hand his cook and his silver vessels, and three hundred pounds and three also."
Robin shook his head, for he knew better than to believe Little John's tale. "It was never by his good will that you brought such treasure to me," he answered; and Little John, fearing that he might be ordered to take it back again, slipped away into the forest to carry out a plan that had just come into his head.
He ran straight on for five miles, till he came up with the Sheriff, who was still hunting, and flung himself on his knees before him.
"Reynold Greenleaf," cried the Sheriff, "what are you doing here, and where have you been?"
"I have been in the forest, where I saw a fair hart of a green color, and seven score deer feeding hard by."
"That sight would I see too," said the Sheriff.
"Then follow me," answered Little John, and he ran back the way he came, the Sheriff following on horseback, till they turned a corner of the forest, and found themselves in Robin Hood's presence. "Sir, here is the master hart," said Little John.
Still stood the proud Sheriff; A sorry man was he. "Woe be to you, Reynold Greenleaf; Thou hast betrayed me!"
"It was not my fault," answered Little John, "but the fault of your servants, master; for they would not give me my dinner." So he went away to see to the supper.
It was spread under the greenwood tree, and they sat down to it, hungry men all. But when the Sheriff saw himself served from his own dishes, his appetite went from him.
"Take heart, man," said Robin Hood, "and think not we will poison you. For charity's sake, and for the love of Little John, your life shall be granted you. Only for twelve months you shall dwell with me, and learn what it is to be an outlaw."
To the Sheriff this punishment was worse to bear than the loss of gold, or silver dishes, and earnestly he begged Robin Hood to set him free, vowing he would prove himself the best friend that ever the foresters had.
Neither Robin nor any of his men believed him; but he swore that he would never seek to do them harm, and that if he found any of them in evil plight he would deliver them out of it. With that Robin let him go.
HOW ROBIN MET FRIAR TUCK
In many ways life in the forest was dull in the winter, and often the days passed slowly; but in summer, when the leaves were green, and flowers and ferns covered all the woodland, Robin Hood and his men would come out of their warm resting places, like the rabbits and the squirrels, and would play, too. Races they ran to stretch their legs, or leaping matches were arranged, or they would shoot at a mark. Anything was pleasant when the grass was soft once more under their feet.
"Who of you can kill a hart five hundred paces off?" So said Robin to his men one bright May morning; and they went into the wood and tried their skill, and in the end it was Little John who brought down the hart, to the great joy of Robin Hood.
"I would ride my horse a hundred miles to find one who could match with thee," he said to Little John; and Will Scarlett, who was perhaps rather jealous of this mighty deed, answered, with a laugh, "There lives a friar in Fountains Abbey who would beat both him and you."
Now Robin Hood did not like to be told that any man could shoot better than himself or his foresters; so he swore lustily that he would neither eat nor drink till he had seen that friar. Leaving his men where they were, he put on a coat of mail and a steel cap, took his shield and sword, slung his bow over his shoulder, and filled his quiver with arrows. Thus armed, he set forth to Fountains Dale.
By the side of the river a friar was walking, armed like Robin, but without a bow. At this sight Robin jumped from his horse, which he tied to a thorn, and called to the friar to carry him over the water, or it would cost him his life.
The friar said nothing, but hoisted Robin on his broad back and marched into the river. Not a word was spoken till they reached the other side, when Robin leaped, lightly down, and was going on his way. Then the friar stopped him. "Not so fast, my fine fellow," said he. "It is my turn now, and you shall take me across the river, or woe will betide you."
So Robin carried him, and when they had reached the side from which they had started, he set down the friar and jumped for the second time on his back, and bade him take him whence he had come. The friar strode into the stream with his burden, but as soon as they got to the middle he bent his head, and Robin fell into the water. "Now you can sink or swim, as you like," said the friar, as he stood and laughed.
Robin Hood swam to a bush of golden broom, and pulled himself out of the water; and while the friar was scrambling out, Robin fitted an arrow to his bow and let fly at him. But the friar quickly held up his shield, and the arrow fell harmless.
"Shoot on, my fine fellow; shoot on all day if you like," shouted the friar; and Robin shot till his arrows were gone, but always missed his mark. Then they took their swords, and at four of the afternoon they were still fighting.
By this time Robin's strength was wearing, and he felt he could not fight much more. "A boon, a boon!" cried he. "Let me but blow three blasts on my horn, and I will thank you on my bended knees for it."
The friar told him to blow as many blasts as he liked, and in an instant the forest echoed with his horn; it was but a few minutes before half a hundred yeomen were racing over the lea. The friar stared when he saw them; then, turning to Robin, he begged of him a boon also; and leave being granted, he gave three whistles, which were followed by the noise of a great crashing through the trees, as fifty great dogs bounded toward him.
"Here's a dog for each of your men," said the friar, "and I myself for you"; but the dogs did not listen to his words, for two of them rushed at Robin and tore his mantle of Lincoln green from off his back. His men were kept busy defending themselves, for every arrow shot at a dog was caught and held in the creature's mouth.
Robin's men were not used to fight with dogs, and felt they were getting beaten. At last Little John bade the friar call off his dogs, and as he did not do so, he let fly some arrows, which this time left half a dozen dead on the ground.
"Hold, hold, my good fellow," said the friar, "till your master and I can come to a bargain"; and when the bargain was made, this was how it ran: that the friar was to forswear Fountains Abbey and join Robin Hood, and that he should be paid a golden noble every Sunday throughout the year, besides a change of clothes on each holy day.
This Friar had kept Fountains Dale Seven long years or more; There was neither Knight, nor Lord, nor Earl Could make him yield before.
But now he became one of the most famous members of Robin Hood's men under the name of Friar Tuck.
HOW ROBIN HOOD AND LITTLE JOHN FELL OUT
One Whitsunday morning, when the sun was shining and the birds singing, Robin Hood called to Little John to come with him into Nottingham to church. As was their custom, they took their bows, and on the way Little John proposed that they should shoot a match, with a penny for a wager.
Robin, who held that he shot better than any Other man living, laughed in scorn, and told Little John that he should have three tries to his master's one, which John without more ado accepted.
But Robin soon repented both of his offer and his scorn, for Little John speedily won five shillings, whereat Robin became angry and smote Little John with his hand. Little John was not the man to bear being treated so, and he told Robin roundly that he would never more own him for master, and straightway turned back into the wood.
At this, Robin was ashamed of what he had done, but his pride would not suffer him to say so; and he continued his way to Nottingham, and entered the Church of St. Mary, not without secret fears, for the Sheriff of the town was ever his enemy. However, there he was, and there he meant to stay.
He knelt down in the sight of all the people; but none knew him save one man only, and he stole out of church and ran to the Sheriff and bade him come quickly and take his foe.
The Sheriff was not slow to do what he was bidden, and, calling his men to follow him, he marched to the church. The noise they made in entering caused Robin to look round. "Alas, alas," he said to himself, "now miss I Little John."
But he drew his two-handed sword and laid about him in such wise that twelve of the Sheriff's men lay dead before him. Then Robin found himself face to face with the Sheriff, and gave him a fierce blow; but his sword broke on the Sheriff's head, and he had shot away all his arrows. So the men closed round him and bound his arms.
Ill news travels fast, and not many hours had passed before the foresters heard that their master was in prison. They wept and moaned and wrung their hands, and seemed to have gone suddenly mad, till Little John bade them pluck up their hearts and help him deal with the Sheriff.
The next morning Little John hid himself and waited with a comrade till he saw a messenger riding along the road, carrying letters from the Sheriff to the King, telling him of the capture of Robin Hood.
"Whence come you?" asked Little John, going up to the messenger, "and can you give us tidings of an outlaw named Robin Hood, who was taken prisoner yesterday?"
"You may thank me that he is taken," said the rider, "for I laid hands on him."
"I thank you so much that I and my friend will bear you company," said Little John, "for in this forest are many wild men who own Robin Hood for leader, and you ride along this road at the peril of your life."
They went on together, talking the while, when suddenly Little John seized the horse by the head and pulled down the rider.
"He was my master," said Little John, "That you have brought to bale; Never shall you come at the King For to tell him that tale."
Then taking the letters, Little John carried them to the King.
When they arrived at the palace in the presence of the King, Little John and his companion fell on their knees and held out the letters. "God save you, my liege lord," they said, and the King unfolded the letters and read them.
Then he handed his own seal to Little John and ordered him to bear it to the Sheriff and bid him without delay bring Robin Hood unhurt into his presence. "There never was yeoman in Merry England that I longed so sore to see," he said.
The King also ordered his treasurer to give the messengers twenty pounds each, and made them yeomen of the crown.
Little John took the King's seal to the Sheriff, who made him and his companion welcome because they came from the King. He set a feast for them, and after he had eaten he fell asleep. Then the two outlaws stole softly to the prison. They overpowered the guard and, taking the keys, hunted through the cells until they found Robin Hood. Little John whispered to his master to follow him, and they crept along till they reached the lowest part of the city wall, from which they jumped and were safe and free.
"Now, farewell," said Little John; "I have done you a good turn for an ill." "Not so," answered Robin Hood; "I make you master of my men and me." But Little John would hear nothing of it. "I only wish to be your comrade, and thus it shall be," he replied.
"Little John has beguiled us both," said the King, when he heard of the adventure.
HOW THE KING VISITED ROBIN HOOD
Now the King had no mind that Robin Hood should do as he willed, and called his Knights to follow him to Nottingham, where they would lay plans how best to take captive the outlaw. Here they heard sad tales of Robin's misdoings, and how of the many herds of wild deer that had roamed the forest, in some places scarce one deer remained. This was the work of Robin Hood and his merry men, on whom the King swore vengeance with a great oath.
"I would I had this Robin Hood in my hands," cried he, "and an end should soon be put to his doings." So spake the King; but an old Knight, full of days and wisdom, answered him and warned him that the task of taking Robin Hood would be a sore one, and best let alone. The King, who had seen the vanity of his hot words the moment that he had uttered them, listened to the old man and resolved to bide his time until perchance some day Robin should fall into his power.
All this time, and for six weeks later that he dwelt in Nottingham, the King could hear nothing of Robin, who seemed to have vanished into the earth with his merry men, though one by one the deer were vanishing, too. At last one day a forester came to the King and told him that if he would see Robin he must come with him and take five of his best Knights. The King eagerly sprang up to do his bidding, and the six men, clad in monks' clothes, mounted their palfreys and rode merrily along, the King wearing an Abbot's broad hat over his crown, and singing as he passed through the greenwood. Suddenly at the turn of a path Robin and his archers appeared before them.
"By your leave, Sir Abbot," said Robin, seizing the King's bridle, "you will stay a while with us. Know that we are yeomen, who live upon the King's deer, and other food have we none. Now you have abbeys and churches, and gold in plenty; therefore give us some of it, in the name of holy charity."
"I have no more than forty pounds with me," answered the King, "but sorry I am it is not a hundred, for you should have it all."
So Robin took the forty pounds, and gave half to his men, and then told the King he might go on his way. "I thank you," said the King, "but I would have you know that our liege lord has bid me bear you his seal and pray you to come to Nottingham."
At this message Robin bent his knee.
"I love no man in all the world So well as I do my King,"
he cried, "and Sir Abbot, for thy tidings, which fill my heart with joy, today thou shalt dine with me, for love of my King."
Then he led the King into an open place, and Robin took a horn and blew it loud, and at its blast seven score of young men came speedily to do his will.
"They are quicker to do his bidding than my men are to do mine," said the King to himself.
Speedily the foresters set out the dinner, roasts of venison and loaves of white bread, and Robin and Little John served the King. "Make good cheer," said Robin, "Abbot, for charity, and then you shall see what sort of life we lead, so that you may tell our King."
When he had finished eating, the archers took their bows and hung rose-garlands up with a string, and every man was to shoot through the garland. If he failed, he should have a buffet on the head from Robin.
Good bowmen as they were, few managed to stand the test. Little John and Will Scarlett and Much all shot wide of the mark, and at length no one was left in but Robin himself and Gilbert of the Wide Hand. Then Robin fired his last bolt, and it fell three fingers from the garland. "Master," said Gilbert, "you have lost; stand forth and take your punishment, as was agreed."
"I will take it," answered Robin, "but, Sir Abbot, I pray you that I may suffer it at your hands."
The King hesitated. "It does not become me," he said, "to smite such a stout yeoman"; but Robin bade him smite on and spare him not; so he turned up his sleeve, and gave Robin such a lusty buffet on the head that he lost his feet and rolled upon the ground.
"There is pith in your arm," said Robin. "Come, shoot a main with me." And the King took up a bow, and in so doing his hat fell back, and Robin saw his face.
"My lord the King of England, now I know you well," cried he; and he fell on his knees, and all the outlaws with him. "Mercy I ask, my lord the King, for all my brave foresters and me."
"Mercy I grant," then said the King; "and therefore I came hither, to bid you and your men leave the greenwood and dwell in my Court with me."
"So shall it be," answered Robin; "I and my men will come to your Court, and see how your service liketh us."
ROBIN AT COURT
"Have you any green cloth," asked the King, "that you could sell to me?" and Robin brought out thirty yards and more, and clad the King and his men in coats of Lincoln green. "Now we will all ride to Nottingham," said he, and they went merrily, shooting by the way.
The people of Nottingham saw them coming and trembled as they watched the dark mass of Lincoln green drawing near over the fields. "I fear lest our King be slain," whispered one to another; "and if Robin Hood gets into the town, there is not one of us whose life is safe"; and every man, woman, and child made ready to flee.
The King laughed out when he saw their fright, and called them back. Right glad were they to hear his voice, and they feasted and made merry. A few days later the King returned to London, and Robin dwelt in his Court for twelve months. By that time he had spent a hundred pounds, for he gave largely to the Knights and squires he met, and great renown he had for his open-handedness. But his men, who had been born under the shadow of the forest, could not live amid streets and houses. One by one they slipped away, till only Little John and Will Scarlett were left. Then Robin himself grew homesick, and at the sight of some young men shooting he thought upon the time when he was accounted the best archer in all England, and went straightway to the King and begged for leave to go on a pilgrimage.
"I may not say you nay," answered the King; "seven nights you may be gone and no more." And Robin thanked him, and that evening set out for the greenwood. It was early morning when he reached it at last, and listened thirstily to the notes of singing birds, great and small.
"It seems long since I was here," he said to himself; "it would give me great joy if I could bring down a deer once more"; and he shot a great hart, and blew his horn, and all the outlaws of the forest came flocking round him. "Welcome," they said, "our dear master, back to the greenwood tree"; and they threw off their caps and fell on their knees before him in delight at his return.
Naught that the King could say would tempt Robin Hood back again, and he dwelt in the greenwood for two and twenty years after he had run away from Court. And he was ever a faithful friend, kind to the poor, and gentle to all women.
NOTES AND QUESTIONS
Historical Note. When William the Conqueror became King of England he destroyed many villages and towns to make royal forests in which he might enjoy his favorite sport of hunting. The most famous of the hunting grounds was in Hampshire and was called the New Forest. Hundreds of poor people were driven from their homes and left shelterless that this hunting park might be made. In order to keep up these hunting grounds, William and the Kings who followed him made very severe laws for the protection of the deer. The temptation to shoot these deer must have been very strong, especially to men living near the forest, for the English at that time excelled all other nations in the use of the long bow. In consequence of this, many men killed the King's deer, and fled to the woods to escape punishment. There they formed into bands and, knowing the forests so well, were safe from the King's officers. Among these outlaws were many brave and skillful archers, but none was ever more famous than the hero of this story, Robin Hood.
Discussion. 1. Why was Robin Hood obliged to live in the forest? 2. How did he win the friendship of Little John? 3. What did Robin Hood tell him about the Sheriff of Nottingham? 4. Describe the appearance of the Knight whom Little John met in the forest. 5. What foods were prepared for the dinner which Robin Hood invited the Knight? 6. How had these provisions been obtained? 7. What story did the Knight tell to Robin Hood? 8. How did Robin Hood help him? 9. Where do you think the treasure chest was kept? 10. From whom had this treasure been taken? 11. How did the Knight show his gratitude after he regained his lands? 12. Why did the Sheriff of Nottingham want Little John in his service? 13. What thought was constantly in Little John's mind? 14. How did he accomplish his purpose? 15. What explanation did he give to Robin Hood for what he brought from the Sheriff's house? 16. How did he induce the Sheriff to follow him to the place where Robin Hood was? 17. What punishment did Robin Hood decide upon for the Sheriff? Why did he not carry it out? 18. How was Robin Hood captured by the Sheriff? 19. What reason do you think the King had for wanting to see Robin Hood? 20. What did he determine to do after Robin Hood's escape? 21. Find words in which Robin Hood expressed his love for his King. 22. What offer did the King make to Robin Hood and his men? Why did the King make them such an offer? 23. Why did Robin dislike living at Court? 24. How long did Robin Hood live in the greenwood after he left the Court? 25. Under what conditions do you think life in the forest would be pleasant? 26. What were these men obliged to give up when they went into the forest to live? 27. What did they gain by living in the forest? 28. When did Robin Hood show himself generous? 29. When did Robin show himself merciful? 30. What do you think of Little John's treatment of the Sheriff of Nottingham after he had lived in his house? 31. When did Little John show himself a loyal friend? 32. When did he show himself hard and cruel? 33. What things mentioned in this story show that the manners and life of the people in England at this time were rough? 34. What qualities were most admired in men at the time of Robin Hood? 35. What was the reason for this? 36. Make a list showing the good qualities of Robin Hood, such as his courtesy, his justice, his sense of fair play. Mention the incidents that illustrate each characteristic. 37. Show that this story has the two values mentioned in the last paragraph of page 146. 38. Why did Robin dislike the Sheriff? 39. Find, from the story, ways in which poor or unfortunate men were oppressed by the laws in those days. 40. Did the laws seem made to give equal justice to all, or unfair advantages to the rich and powerful? 41. How do you think Robin felt about these matters? 42. How did he try to take the side of the poor men who were thus unfairly dealt with by the government? 43. Tell the story of Friar Tuck. 44. Why did the King take such an interest in Robin? Do you think the King was glad to get away from the Court? Why? 45. What did he say about the way in which Robin was obeyed by his followers? 46. What does the Forward Look tell you about the source of this story? 47. Class readings: Little John's first adventure, omitting all but the dialogue, (3 pupils); Robin and his archers with the King; Robin at the King's Court. 48. Outline for testing silent reading. Tell the story of Robin Hood, using these topics: (a) the home of Robin in Sherwood Forest; (b) the coming of Little John; (c) Little John's first adventure, (d) the Knight's recovery of his lands; (e) Little John as the Sheriff's servant; (f) Robin's meeting with Friar Tuck; (g) the disagreement between Robin and Little John; (h) the King's visit to Robin Hood; (i) Robin at Court. 49. You will enjoy seeing the pictures in the edition of Robin Hood illustrated by N. C. Wyeth. 50. Find in the Glossary the meaning of: abbey; battlements ell; coffers; tourneys; hart; broom; boon; noble. 51. Pronounce: Plantagenets; palfreys; peasants; yeoman; toll; pheasants; naught; hie; surety; Justiciar; gainsaid; jousts; heir; tryst; steward; balked; lea; ado; liege; beguiled; buffet.
Phrases for Study
King's Council, stout fellow, took no toll, break my fast, sorry pass, guided of my counsel, stay surety, beseems his quality, stand you in yeoman's stead, redeem them, was minded to try, without more ado, in such wise, brought to bale, shoot a main, service liketh us.
GULLIVER SAILS FOR THE SOUTH SEA AND IS SHIPWRECKED
My name is Lemuel Gulliver, and my home is in Nottinghamshire. I went to college at Cambridge, where I studied hard, for I knew my father was not rich enough to keep me when I should become a man, and that I must be able to earn my own living.
I decided to be a doctor, but as I had always longed to travel, I learned to be a good sailor as well. When I had succeeded in becoming both doctor and sailor, I married, and with my wife's consent I became surgeon upon a ship and made many voyages. One of these voyages was with Captain Prichard, master of a vessel called the Antelope, bound for the South Sea. We set sail from Bristol and started upon our journey very fairly, until there came a violent storm that drove our ship near an island called Van Diemen's Land. The Antelope was driven against a rock, which wrecked and split the vessel in half.
Six of the sailors and myself let down one of the small boats, and, getting into it, rowed away from the ruined vessel and the dangerous rock. We rowed until we were so tired we could no longer hold the oars; then we were obliged to allow our boat to go as the waves carried it.
Suddenly there came another violent gust of wind from the north, and our small boat was at once overturned. I do not know what became of my unfortunate companions, but I fear all must have been drowned. I was a good swimmer, and I swam for my life. I went the best way I could, pushed forward by wind and tide. Sometimes I let my legs drop to see if my feet touched the bottom, and when I was almost overcome and fainting, I found to my great joy that I was out of the deep water and able to walk.
By this time the storm was over. I walked about a mile, until I reached the shore, and when I stood upon land I could not see a sign of any houses or people. I felt very weak and tired; so I lay down upon the grass, which was very short and soft; and soon fell into a sound sleep.
I must have slept all that night, for when I awoke, it was bright daylight. I tried to rise, but found I was not able even to move. I had been lying upon my back, and I found my arms and legs were strongly fastened on each side to the ground; and that my hair, which was long and thick, was also tied to the ground. I felt several slender threads over my body. Fastened in this way, I could only look upwards, and, as the sun came out and shone in my eyes, this was very uncomfortable. I heard a queer noise about me, but could see nothing except the sky.
In a little while I felt something alive moving on my left leg; this thing came gently forward over my breast and almost up to my chin. Bending my eyes downward as much as I could, I saw a tiny human creature, not more than six inches high, with a tiny bow and arrow in his hands. While I gazed in astonishment, forty more of the same kind followed the first. I called out so loud in my amazement that they all ran back in a fright, and I felt them leaping from my sides to the ground. However, they soon returned, and one of them came up so far as to get a full sight of my face. As he looked at me, he held up his hands and cried out in a shrill but distinct voice, "Hekinah degul!" Of course I did not understand what this meant, but from the tone in which it was said I thought it must express admiration for me.
All this time I lay in great uneasiness. At length I struggled to get loose, and managed to break the strings and pull up the pegs that fastened my left arm to the ground. Then with a violent tug that caused me much pain I broke the strings that tied down my hair on the left side, and was then able to turn my head a trifle.
The little people all ran off before I could seize them, and there was a great deal of shouting in very shrill voices. Then in about an instant I felt quite a hundred arrows shot on my left hand, which pricked me like so many needles. Besides this, another hundred were shot into the air and fell all over my body, and some upon my face.
When this shower of arrows was over, I lay groaning with the pain and covering my face with my free hand. I had only just done so in time, for immediately another and larger shower fell upon me, and some of the little people tried to stick their spears into my sides; but luckily I had a leather waistcoat on, which the tiny spears could not pierce.
After this, I thought I had better lie still and remain very quiet till night came. Then I hoped this odd army would leave me and I should be able to set myself free. I was not at all afraid of any number of such small people, once I had the use of my limbs.
GULLIVER IS VISITED BY THE EMPEROR
When they saw I was quiet, they stopped shooting arrows; and, as I was almost starving, I tried to show them I wanted food by putting my finger to my mouth, and looking beseechingly at them, praying them to give me something to eat.
Soon several ladders were put against my sides. Upon these about a hundred of the people mounted and walked toward my mouth, carrying baskets full of meat. This meat was in the same shape as shoulders, legs, and loins of mutton, but smaller than the wings of a lark. It was all well dressed and cooked, and I ate two or three joints at a mouthful and took three loaves at a time, which were no bigger than bullets. The little people gave the food to me as fast as they could, and showed much wonder at the greatness of my appetite.
I must confess I was tempted to pick up those who were running over my body and throw them to the ground. But remembering the shower of arrows and the food they had given me, I felt I was bound in honor not to do them harm. I could not help thinking these tiny creatures were plucky and brave, that they should dare to walk over such a giant as I must seem to them, although one of my hands was free to seize upon them.
After a time there came before me no less a personage than his Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of these odd little people. His Majesty mounted my right leg and advanced forward to my face, followed by a dozen of his courtiers.
As he stood looking at my face, he spoke for about ten minutes without any sign of anger, but very gravely and sternly, and often pointing in front of him, toward, as I afterwards found, the capital city.
To this city the people agreed I was to be carried, and it lay about half a mile off. I made signs to the Emperor that I wanted to be freed from the cords that bound me to the earth, and allowed to rise. But although he understood me well enough, his Majesty shook his head and showed me I must be carried as a prisoner. However, he made other signs that told me I should have meat and drink, and was not to be ill-treated. After this the Emperor and his train got off my body and went away.
Soon after, I felt a great number of people at my left side; and they loosened the cords that held me, and so let me turn a little upon my right and get more ease in my uncomfortable position.
Then they put some sweet-smelling ointment upon my face and hands, which soon removed the smart of the arrows. Being thus refreshed, I again fell into a deep sleep, which lasted some hours.
These little people were very clever at making all kinds of machines and engines for carrying heavy weights. They built their ships and men-of-war, which were about the length of a large dining-table, in the woods where the timber grew, and then carried them to the sea upon the machines they made.
They now set to work to prepare the greatest engine they had, which was a frame of wood, raised three inches from the ground, and about as long as one of our bedsteads and nearly as wide across. Five hundred carpenters and engineers got this machine into readiness to carry me to the city. There was loud shouting, as it was brought up to my side; and then came the chief difficulty, which was how to lift me on to it.
Eighty poles were driven into the ground, each pole about as tall as an ordinary ruler. Then the workmen bound my neck, hands, body, and legs in bandages, and to these bandages they fixed hooks with the strongest cords fastened to them. Nine hundred of the strongest men then drew up these cords by pulleys attached to the poles, and thus in about three hours I was raised and slung upon the machine, and there tied fast. Fifteen hundred of the Emperor's largest horses, each about four inches and a half high, were used to draw me on the machine, to the city.
When at last we arrived at the city gates, the Emperor and all his court came out to meet us. At the place where we stopped there stood a very old temple, which was the largest in the whole kingdom. The people no longer used it to worship in, and it had been emptied of all its furniture and ornaments. It was in this building the Emperor decided I should live. The great gate was about four feet high and two feet wide, and I could easily creep through it. Upon each side of the gate was a small window, just six inches from the ground. To one of these windows the Emperor's smith fixed ninety-one chains, like those we use as watch chains in England, and these chains were locked to my left leg by thirty-six padlocks. Just in front of the temple there was a turret five feet high, and the Emperor and his principal nobles got upon the top of this turret to be able to look at me as I lay.
So many people crowded from the city to see me, and all mounted upon my body by the help of ladders, that at last the Emperor gave an order that no one else must do so, on penalty of death. For this I was very glad, as I was becoming quite worn out.
When the workmen found it was impossible for me to break my chains and get free, they cut all the strings that bound me, and I rose up feeling very strange and sad.
The astonishment of the people at seeing me rise was truly great. The chains that held my left leg were two yards long, and that allowed me to walk backwards and forwards, and also to creep into the temple and lie down.
GULLIVER IS KEPT A PRISONER AT THE CAPITAL
When I found myself on my feet, I looked about at the surrounding country. It seemed like one big garden, and the fields, which were about the size of an ordinary room, appeared like so many beds of flowers. Then there were the little patches of trees, which made the woods of this tiny country, and the tallest tree among them was not much higher than an Englishman. The little city itself looked like the painted scene in a theater.
As I was extremely tired, I did not stay long to look, but crept into my house and shut the door after me. When I had rested, I came out again and stepped backward and forward as far as my chains allowed. Then the Emperor began to ride up to me; but upon seeing me, the horse took fright and nearly threw its rider, which was no wonder, as the poor animal must have thought I was a moving mountain. The prince was an excellent horseman and kept his seat well, while his attendants ran to assist him. Then his Majesty got off his horse and walked up to me and seemed to look at me with great admiration, but did not come near enough for me to touch him. He ordered his cooks to bring me more food and drink, and they brought me the food put into carriages upon wheels, which they pushed forward until I could reach them. I very soon emptied the carriages.
The Empress and the young princes, with many other nobles and ladies, all came and gathered round the Emperor and watched me while I ate. His Majesty was taller than any of the others; that is to say, he stood about the breadth of my nail above the heads of his people. He was handsome and well made and had an air of great dignity. I heard that he had reigned seven years, and had been victorious, and that he was much respected.
His dress was very plain, except that he had on his head a light helmet made of gold and adorned with jewels and with a plume upon it. He now held his drawn sword in his hand, to defend himself if I should happen to break loose. This sword was about three inches long, and the hilt and case of it were gold, enriched with diamonds.
After about two hours the court went away, and I was left with a guard of soldiers to keep the people from crowding round me. This guard was necessary, for one of the men had the impudence to shoot an arrow at me as I sat upon the ground, and it nearly hit my eye. Then the soldiers ordered the man to be seized and bound and given into my hands to punish. I took him up and made a face as if I were going to eat him. The poor little fellow screamed terribly, and even the soldiers looked very much alarmed when I took out my penknife.
However, I soon put an end to their fears, for I cut the strings that bound my captive and set him gently upon the ground and let him run away. I saw that all the soldiers and people were delighted at this mark of my mercy and gentleness; and I afterwards heard they told the Emperor about it, and he was very pleased with me.
When night came, I crept into my shelter again and lay upon the ground to sleep. The next day the Emperor gave orders for a bed to be made for me. The workmen brought six hundred beds to my house in carriages, and sewed them all together to make one large enough for me to lie upon. They did the same with sheets and blankets, and at the end of two weeks' labor my bed was ready for me.
As the news of my arrival spread over the kingdom, it brought numbers of people to see me. The villages were almost emptied, and those men and women who should have been at work came to the city to gaze at me. At last the Emperor gave orders that all who had seen me once were to go to their homes immediately, and not come near me again without his Majesty's permission.
The Emperor and his court met together to talk over what could be done with me, which seemed a very difficult question. They were afraid I might break my chains and do them harm; then they were afraid that I would eat so much that it would cause a famine in the land and there would be no food left for them. Luckily for me, his Majesty remembered the kind way I had treated the man who shot the arrow at me, and because of my good behavior he allowed me to live. Orders were given for each of the villages round the city to send in every morning six cows and forty sheep for my meals, and also bread and wine, for all of which the Emperor paid.
I was also given six hundred little men as my servants, and these built their tents upon each side of my door. Then three hundred tailors set to work to make me a suit of clothes like those worn in that country, and six of the most learned men taught me to speak the language. Lastly, the Emperor's horses and those of the nobles and soldiers were ridden and exercised before me, until they became quite used to seeing me and would trot quietly past.
GULLIVER IS GIVEN HIS LIBERTY
My quiet and good behavior so pleased the Emperor and his court that I began to hope he would soon give me my liberty. I did all I could to make the people like me and lose their fear of me. I would lie down and let five or six of them dance upon my hand, and at last the boys and girls even dared to come and play at hide-and-seek in my hair.
There was one general, named Skyresh, who was my enemy. I had not given him any cause to dislike me, but he did, and it was he who tried to persuade the Emperor not to give me my liberty. However, I implored his Majesty so often to set me free that at last he promised to do so, but he first made me swear to certain conditions which were to be read to me. These conditions were as follows:
"His Majesty, the mighty Emperor of Lilliput, proposes to the Man-Mountain the following articles, which he must swear to perform:
"First. The Man-Mountain shall not depart from our country without our permission.
"Second. He shall not enter our chief city without our express consent.
"Third. He shall walk only along the principal roads, and not over our meadows and fields of corn.
"Fourth. As he walks he must take the greatest care not to trample upon any of our subjects, or their horses and carriages, and he must not take any into his hands without their consent.
"Fifth. If we desire to send a message anywhere, very quickly, the Man-Mountain shall be obliged to carry the messenger and his horse in his pocket and return with them safe to our court.
"Sixth. He must promise not to join the army of our enemies in the island of Blefuscu, and he must do his utmost to destroy their fleet of ships, which is now preparing to attack us.
"Seventh. The Man-Mountain shall always be ready to help our workmen in lifting heavy weights.
"Eighth. He must walk all round our island and then tell us how many steps round it measures.
"Lastly. The Man-Mountain shall have a daily allowance of food sufficient for 1724 of our subjects.
"All of these conditions he must take a solemn oath to keep. Then he shall be allowed his liberty."
I swore to keep these promises, and my chains were at once unlocked and I was at full liberty. I expressed my gratitude by casting myself at the Emperor's feet, but he graciously commanded me to rise, telling me he hoped I would prove a useful servant and deserve all the favors he had conferred upon me.
One morning, about a fortnight after I had obtained my liberty, the principal noble who managed the Emperor's private affairs, and whose name was Reldresal, came to my house, attended by only one servant. He asked to speak to me privately, and I readily consented, as he had always shown me much kindness. I offered to lie down so that he could speak into my ear, but he chose to let me hold him in my hand during our conversation.
He told me that the island of Lilliput was threatened with invasion by an army from the island of Blefuscu, which was the next island, and one almost as large and powerful as Lilliput itself. These two islands and their Emperors had for some time been engaged in a most obstinate war.
Reldresal told me that his Majesty had just heard that the Blefuscudians had got together a large fleet of warships and were preparing to invade Lilliput. His Majesty said he placed great trust in my power to help them in this trouble, and had commanded his officer to lay the case before me.
I told Reldresal to present my humble duty to the Emperor and tell him I thought it would hardly be fair for me, as I was a foreigner, to interfere between the two islands. But I said I was quite ready, even at the risk of my life, to defend his Majesty's state and person against all invaders.
The island of Blefuscu was separated from Lilliput by a channel eight hundred yards wide. I had not yet seen it, but after hearing that the Emperor of Blefuscu had a fleet of ships upon the water, I kept from going near the coast, as I did not want to be noticed by the enemy. The Blefuscudians did not know of my presence in Lilliput. I told his Majesty, the Emperor of Lilliput, that I had a plan by which I could seize all the enemy's ships.
GULLIVER CAPTURES THE BLEFUSCUDIAN FLEET
I had asked the most clever seamen upon the island how deep the channel was, and they told me that in the middle it was about six feet deep, and at the sides it was only four feet. I then walked toward the coast and lay down behind a hillock; here I took out my telescope and looked at the enemy's fleet. It consisted of fifty men-of-war and a great number of smaller vessels. I hurried back to my house and gave orders for a quantity of the strongest rope and bars of iron. The Emperor said all my orders were to be carried out. The rope that was brought me was only as thick as our packing thread, and the iron bars were the length and size of a knitting-needle. I twisted three lengths of the rope together to make it stronger, and three of the iron bars in the same way. I turned up the ends of the bars to form a hook. I fixed fifty hooks to as many pieces of rope, and then I took them all down to the coast.
Here I took off my shoes and stockings and coat, and walked into the sea. I waded until I came to the middle of the channel, and, the water being deep there, I was obliged to swim about thirty yards. After this I waded again, and in less than half an hour I arrived at the fleet of the enemy. The Blefuscudians were so frightened when they saw me that they leaped out of their ships and swam to shore.
I then took my hooks and ropes and fastened a hook to the end of each vessel. Then I tied all the ropes together. While I was doing this, the enemy discharged several thousand arrows at me from the shore, and many of the arrows stuck in my face and hands. This hurt me very much, and prevented my working quickly. My worst fear was for my eyes, which would certainly have been put out by arrows had I not thought of my spectacles. These I fastened as strongly as I could upon my nose, and, thus protected, I went boldly on, while the arrows struck my glasses without even cracking them.
When I had fastened all my hooks, I took the knot of ropes in my hands and began to pull. But I could not move a single ship, for they were all held fast by their anchors. Therefore I let go the cord, and, taking my knife from my pocket, I cut the cables that held the anchors, at the same time receiving about two hundred arrows from the enemy, in my face and hands. After this, I once more grasped the ropes, and, with the greatest ease, I pulled fifty of their largest vessels after me. The Blefuscudians were confounded with astonishment. They had seen me cut the cables, but thought I only meant to let the ships run adrift; but when they saw me walking off with almost all of the fleet, they set up a tremendous scream of grief and despair.
When I had got out of danger, I stopped to pick out the arrows that were stuck in my hands and face, and I rubbed on some of the ointment the Lilliputians had given me. Then I took off my spectacles and waded on with my cargo. As the tide was then fallen, I did not need to swim through the middle, but was able to walk right into the royal port of Lilliput.
The Emperor and all his court stood upon the shore, watching for my return. They saw the ships coming over the water, in the form of a great half-moon, and soon I was able to make the Emperor hear my voice. Holding up my rope, I cried aloud, "Long live the most glorious Emperor of Lilliput!"
His Majesty received me with great joy and honor, and made me a lord of the island upon the spot.
The Emperor then wished me to try to bring all the rest of the enemy's ships to Lilliput. And he talked of taking the whole island of Blefuscu, and reigning over it himself. I did not think this at all fair, but very selfish and greedy of his Majesty. I tried to tell him so as politely as I could, and said I could not help to bring a free and brave people into slavery. My bold speech made the Emperor very angry indeed, and he never forgave me. But most of his best nobles thought the same as I did, although they dared not say so openly.
From this time his Majesty and some of his court began to bear me ill-will, which nearly ended in my death. I considered this very mean of the Emperor, after my helping him as I did; but like many other people, he became ungrateful when he found he could not get all he wanted. About three weeks after this the Emperor of Blefuscu sent messengers with humble offers to make peace; to this the Lilliputians agreed, upon certain terms.
The messengers consisted of six nobles with a train of five hundred men. They were all very grandly and magnificently dressed. After they had spoken to our Emperor, they expressed a wish to come to visit me. It seems they were told I had been their friend when the Emperor asked me to help him take Blefuscu, and they came to thank me for my justice and generosity. They invited me to visit their island, where I should receive every kindness and hospitality. I thanked their lordships very much, and said I should be pleased to come and pay my respects to the Emperor of Blefuscu before I returned to my own country.
So the next time I saw our Emperor I begged his permission to go to Blefuscu, which he was gracious enough to grant me, although in a very cold manner. I afterwards heard that my request displeased him, and he did not like my making friends of the Blefuscudians.
THE INHABITANTS OF LILLIPUT—THEIR LAWS AND CUSTOMS
I am now going to say a few words about the Lilliputians and their laws and customs.
These little people are generally about six inches high, their horses and oxen between four and five inches, their sheep an inch and a half, and their geese about the size of a sparrow. One day I watched a cook pulling the feathers off a lark, which was no bigger than a fly.
Some of their laws are very unlike our English ones, but they are very just all the same. If a man accuses another of any crime, and it is proved that he has told a lie and the man is innocent, then the accuser is severely punished, and the innocent man is rewarded for all the injustice and pain he has suffered. This keeps people from being so ready to tell tales about others.
Then deceit and cunning are considered greater crimes than stealing in Lilliput, for the people say that a man can take means to protect his goods and money, but he cannot prevent another man's deceiving him. And so, if any man makes a promise of importance to another and then breaks it, he is severely punished. Also, if he has any money belonging to another and has promised to take care of it, and then loses it through carelessness or spends any upon himself, he is guilty of a crime. Another law is that not only the guilty should be punished, but that the innocent shall be rewarded. So that whoever shall behave himself well and keep the laws of his country for a whole year, shall receive a sum of money and a favor from the Emperor.
When the Emperor has some special favor to confer, or position to offer, he does not choose the most clever or learned man to give it to, but picks out the one who has been the best behaved and who is the bravest and truest among his subjects.
Ingratitude among the Lilliputians is considered a capital crime, and anyone who returns evil for good is judged not fit to live.
I am sorry to say that the Emperor and his people did not keep these good laws as they should have done, for if they had, his Majesty would never have treated me so badly after I had done my best to help him.
In Lilliput there are large public schools to which parents are bound to send their children. Here they are educated and fitted for some position in life, for no one is allowed to be idle.
All the children are brought up very well indeed, and taught to be honorable, courageous, and truthful men and women.
The nurses are forbidden to tell the children foolish or frightening stories, and if they are found to do so, they are soundly whipped and sent to a most lonely part of the country.
And now I will give a further account of my own way of living among these strange little people.
I had made myself a table and chair, as large as I could get out of the biggest tree in the royal park. Two hundred sewing women were employed to make my shirts and the linen for my bed and table. They got the strongest and coarsest linen the island could produce, and even then they were obliged to sew several folds together to make it strong enough for my use. The sewing women took my measure as I lay upon the ground, one standing at my neck and another at my leg, with a strong cord that each held, one at one end and one at the other.
One clever woman fitted me for a shirt by simply taking the width of my right thumb, for she said that twice round the thumb is once round the wrist, and twice round the wrist is once round the neck, and twice round the neck is once round the waist. By this means she was able to fit me exactly.
The three hundred tailors who were employed to make my clothes had another way of measuring me. I knelt down, and they raised a ladder from the ground to my neck; upon this ladder one man mounted, and let fall a cord from my collar to the floor, which was the length for my coat. My waist and arms I measured myself. As the largest piece of cloth made in the island was only about the size of a yard of wide ribbon, my clothes looked like a patchwork quilt; only, the cloth was all of the same color.