Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
Remember, the book is in public domain. Download or read the ebook online legally and for free at Project Gutenberg, Google Books or the Internet Archive among other sites, or check out the audiobook from LibriVox. You can also use a print copy. In either case my copy may not match up with yours chapter-wise. Follow along with the very-long subtitle. For this chapter:
Recounting Three Merry Adventures That Befell Robin Hood and Certain Others, by Which He Gained Sore Bones and Three Good Merry Men All In One Day
Well, we already saw one new Merry Man last time, but only Little John ended up smacked around. We have two new men and one sore Robin to go but the day’s just getting started. Apparently we’re going to meet this book’s version of Will Scarlet. I haven’t seen every take on Robin Hood that’s ever been made. I’m not that big an enthusiast. However, I have seen Will Scarlet be everything from a Robin Hood fanboy barely out of ye old high school to the former leader of the band who isn’t happy about being deposed by Robin and basically becoming his Starscream. Since this one came out when Robin’s legend was still relatively new and only slightly toned downed for younger readers I wonder what his backstory will be in this one?
II: Robin Hood And Will Scarlet
Continuing from where we left off, Robin, Little John, and new recruit #1 Arthur A Bland are heading to where John was supposed to be going and stop for a drink at a nearby fountain. Then they lie down in the grass and enjoy the day…stopping from their trip to Alcaster. At this rate John will get there just in time for winter. It’s there that our trio catch sight of Mr. Scarlet and this one is different.
Young Mr. Scarlet, or rather Will Gamwell, is a bit of dandy. They call him “gay” but that didn’t mean what it means today. Still, with such altered context that we have now the exchange between our group takes on the occasional different meaning. Those of you reading along, tell me I’m wrong. I could also easily turn this into modern social commentary given Robin’s immediate judgement of him versus his comrades. Robin thinks he’s the kind of guy who would jump at his own shadow the way he’s smelling flowers but John and Arthur pay attention to the details and suspect he might be a strong fighter. Because of his flamboyant wear (for the time period anyway) Robin assumes that he must be getting his money off the backs of the people but John and Arthur aren’t ready to jump to conclusions just because of what he’s wearing. Robin’s kind of a dope sometimes, if you haven’t noticed by now. I’m weighing odds that Little John and Arthur are right on this. Let me read further.
So Robin stops Will and asks to see his change purse (this is the pre-paper era of currency) and Will tells him quite nicely no. As I’m reading this exchange and knowing stories as I do either Will is in over his head and too dumb to realize it, or the one I’m betting will happen will come to pass and Will is just playing the dandy to get into a fight. Arthur noted that the way he holds his hand near his sword he’s prepared for combat. Will also claims to not have a change purse, but Robin is convinced that if the man has too much money on him he’s surely rich and surely evil just for being rich. Apparently Robin Hood will tell you how much money you’re allowed to have, but what happens if Will just came from buying these clothes, that sword, or both and his purse would be empty anyway because he only bought enough for that and maybe a quick meal? Again. Robin Hood. Dope.
I was sure I called it right when Will had to replace his sword with a quarterstaff to match Robin’s and pulled a sapling out by the roots to make a makeshift staff. Even Little John and Arthur were shocked at that. Sure enough, Robin gets his head handed to him on a gold platter, because silver just isn’t enough for the embarrassment he gets. I admit at this point I was rooting for Will. Then we learn this is Robin’s nephew, which is keeping with some versions of Will Scarlet Hollywood has given us, although some versions are not kinfolk. He’s here because he accidentally killed a man in anger (must run in the family) and his family sent him to hide with his uncle. It seems like an interesting enough story that I wonder why this name has been slapped on so many different kinds of characters?
If you haven’t followed along thus far then go to one of those links above because if you need a good laugh today watch how Little John uses Robin’s embarrassment to basically talk him into accepting his story about why he spent the night at the Blue Boar so he doesn’t tell the others about how Scarlet thrashed him. Tis a sad thing we have never seen this chapter adapted because it was a great story. However the day is not over yet for this section. Next time we’re supposed to see the third addition of a member to the party, but we got our sore-boned Robin Hood.
Next Time: The Merry Adventure With Midge, The Miller’s Son