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
It’s time for the last of our second trio of stories. Thus far in this set we’ve seen the recruiting of Arthur A Bland and Will Scarlett, the latter responsible for the sore bones of Robin while the former gave a good beating to Little John. Now everyone decided to forget about having new clothes and run off into the forest. I swear there’s a slashfic in there somewhere but…who am I kidding, I’m sure it already exists. I tend to avoid such things but I know the internet. Anyway, in this story we have one more recruit to gain. Will anyone else get a-whoppin’ before we’re done?
Chapter III: Midge, The Miller’s Son
I thought Midge was a girl’s name? Then again I only saw it in that one Nightwing story and I think a recurring Archie character so what do I know?
This book likes to make me say “I didn’t see this coming”. We start with our quartet having a meal and singing ballads. We aren’t told what Will’s song was (either Pyle didn’t know it, made up this whole scene, or it wasn’t in the legends he was adapting) but Arthur tells the tale of another Arthur, King Of The Britain. It’s an odd one but makes for a good parable. A rather ugly woman is cursed, told that only a willing kiss three times from a Christian knight will reverse it. Not sure how that works but Arthur’s ties to Christianity were added later to his own legends. (Speaking of legends that have been altered a ton over the centuries, not unlike what we’ve seen of Robin Hood and his men.) Arthur is happily married but every other knight seems to be unwilling to kiss the bearded lady and not all of them were available either. Then Sir Keith steps up, and agrees to do so. Sure enough the curse is broken and he ends up with a beautiful and quite wealthy bride. It’s fittingly called “The Wooing Of Sir Keith” and according to this book used to be pretty well known. This is the first I’ve heard of it though.
They push Little John into singing something, and then Robin interrupts it when the miller shows up carrying a sack of grain and a quarterstaff. Knowing he’s a good man, Robin wants to give him a decent meal…after first pretending they’re going to rob him, like an impromptu surprise party. Nobody has a problem with this oddly, but to me it sounds like a very stupid plan that will just get them hurt again. I swear this man learns nothing from past encounters, even ones that happened not even an hour ago. Our hero, folks.
And guess what happens. The miller tricks Robin, blinds the whole group with grain, and proceeds to quarterstaff the stuffing out of them, not believing he’s Robin Hood because Robin would never rob an honest craftsman. Pretend to and get his butt kicked because a man who carries a quarterstaff and a large sack of grain around is probably not the guy to pretend to steal from, yes. The beating is so bad that Robin has to break out the horn and summon help from the rest of his crew. It would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic. Again, our hero. Still, the man turns out to be the miller’s son of the title, and Robin convinces him to join the group. I’m sure dad will be thrilled to lose his strong-backed son so he can become an outlaw, even one supposedly fighting for the people. Look at all the wonderful things he did in this second set of stories. Allowed his right-hand man to get a beating as punishment for taking too long. Took his own beating after immediately accusing a man of being an evil rich man based solely on his smelling a flower and wearing nice clothes, who by the way turned out to be his nephew who then gave Robin a good beating, and pretended to rob a man to drag him to an impromptu surprise party only for the man to defend himself and smack all four of them around like a pinata collection. And all before supper. Truly there is nothing better than joining such wonderful, brave heroes.
Hollywood really did change a lot about this guy, didn’t he?
I kid but the story was overall enjoyable and fun. I rather liked it. Next time we begin a new trio of tales as we prepare for the debut of Allan A Dale, mentioned in passing back in chapter 1 of part second, and see what changes are in store. Also, Robin’s getting another beating because as we’ve established the man learn no lessons whatsoever.
Next Time: Part Third chapter I