The Merry Bard (An exercise in finding your voice)
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle is one of my most beloved stories. Not only for the social and cultural ramifications (and of course, the swashbuckling adventure) but also because I admire Pyle's voice and writing style. I wrote this in 1992, in the voice of Pyle, in an effort to find my own voice, as a writer.
The Merry Bard
The summer sun, undaunted by the trees, shone through. The sun warmed Sherwood Forest to a high degree and brought out the odors of every tree in its reach. Robin Hood and his seven score of merry men talked gayly in the warmth about the adventures which had befallen them that very summer. Robin recalled the bard that had stopped at the Blue Boar Inn just outside Sherwood Forest.
"He was a right lusty chap if memory serves me, " quoth Robin merrily.
"Aye, quite a jubilant fellow also," Little John said twirling his cap on his cudgel.
"Methinks the life of a bard would be grand. What dosts thou say John?" quoth Robin.
"Perhaps," John said shrugging his shoulders, "but if thou likest it so much, perchance thou ought to try it for a day? Methinks it would be a right good adventure."
At this all seven score men roared in laughter imagining their master dressed as a bard.
"Aye, true. It would be a jolly adventure," exclaimed Robin with his finger to his chin.
"Methinks I will give it a good show," Robin quoted patrolling his mind, trying to imagine himself in a bard's outfit. "Will Stutely, bringeth me a bard's garments so I may disguise myself.
"Aye, master," Will exclaimed and disappeared through the trees.
The merry yeomen tried on outfits till Robin found one to his liking. The disguise was all scarlet save the hat, for it was black as night.
"My cousin, Will Scarlet, should like thy outfit," Robin said as his merry men accompanied him out of the forest laughing towards Will.
"Well, this is a right good dilemma I have got meself into," Robin exclaimed as he and Little John came to a fork in the road. "Which way leadest thou into adventure?"
"Towards Canterbury methinks."
"So be it then," Robin quoted and whistled merrily down the road with Little John beside him in beggar's clothes.
A mile passed by as Robin and Little John came upon a friar who was taking his cart to London.
"This man looks quite wealthy Robin. Perchance we should make off with his gold."
"Aye," Robin said walking toward the cart casually. "Halloa, good friend! Which way dost thou go?"
"To the east my friendly bard, to christen the King's nephew. Would thou like to come along? I'm sure the good King Richard would likest to hear you sing."
"Nay, my good friar, but I thankest thee for thy offer," Robin said to the friar as Little John nudged him in the side.
"My beggar friend here is in dire need of food. Will thou givest him some money so he might buy him a good serving?"
"Why surely my good man," the friar said gleaming with proud service and then turned to get some of his gold, "but I'm wondering, cannot the man speak for himself?"
Little John took this as an insult and began to say something when Robin stepped between him and the friar. "He is mute my good friar."
At this Little John looked scornfully at Robin and then played his part.
"I am truly sorry," the friar replied solemnly. "Here, take this bag of gold for his benefit."
"A right good man thou be. Methinks he would thank thee, if he could speak," Robin quoted as Little John kissed the friar's hand with feigned reverence.
At this the friar continued on his journey to London and he waved merrily towards the two men he left behind.
"Methinks if come upon that friar again, I shall ask him to join the band, for he is a right jolly fellow indeed," Robin said walking back down the road towards Canterbury.
"Indeed," John said looking at the silver and gold in his hands that appeared to be over a hundred pounds, "but I am wondering, my master, why not take the whole lot of gold?"
"For shame, John Little!" Robin said turning abruptly, "Aye, we taketh from the rich but I will never taketh one farthing from a man so generous and kind."
At that Robin turned and leaned towards Canterbury whistling, for he was not a man to stay angry long. Little John learned a lesson from Robin that day.
"You make a right good Bard, Robin," and they both laughed merrily as they traveled onward.