Howard Pyle: The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

16. Little John Turns Barefoot Friar (continued)

"Truly, it was the same," said Little John, laughing also. "Methinks that was a goodly song that the strolling friar sang. Friar Tuck, thou hast a quick ear for a tune, dost thou not remember it?"

"I did have the catch of it one time," said Tuck. "Let me see," and he touched his forefinger to his forehead in thought, humming to himself, and stopping ever and anon to fit what he had got to what he searched for in his mind. At last he found it all and clearing his throat, sang merrily:

 "In the blossoming hedge the robin cock sings,
      For the sun it is merry and bright,
  And he joyfully hops and he flutters his wings,
      For his heart is all full of delight.
           For the May bloometh fair,
           And there's little of care,
  And plenty to eat in the Maytime rare.
           When the flowers all die,
           Then off he will fly,
           To keep himself warm
           In some jolly old barn
  Where the snow and the wind neither chill him nor harm.
 "And such is the life of the strolling friar,
      With aplenty to eat and to drink;
  For the goodwife will keep him a seat by the fire,
      And the pretty girls smile at his wink.
           Then he lustily trolls
           As he onward strolls,
  A rollicking song for the saving of souls.
           When the wind doth blow,
           With the coming of snow,
           There's a place by the fire
           For the fatherly friar,
  And a crab in the bowl for his heart's desire."

Thus Friar Tuck sang in a rich and mellow voice, rolling his head from side to side in time with the music, and when he had done, all clapped their hands and shouted with laughter, for the song fitted him well.

"In very sooth," quoth Little John, "it is a goodly song, and, were I not a yeoman of Sherwood Forest, I had rather be a strolling friar than aught else in the world."

"Yea, it is a goodly song," said Robin Hood, "but methought those two burly beggars told the merrier tales and led the merrier life. Dost thou not remember what that great black-bearded fellow told of his begging at the fair in York?"

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