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 How Allan A Dale Was Brought to Robin Hood, Who Promised to Help Him in Trouble. Also How Robin Sought the Curtal Friar of Fountain Abbey With That Aim in View. Likewise, How Robin Hood Brought Two True Lovers Together Who Would Else Have Been Made Unhappy All Their Lives
In the previous chapter we saw how Wills Stutley and Scarlet came upon Allan, whom Robin agreed to help reunite him with his lady love before she’s forced to wed an older knight, Sir Cradle Of Robber…I mean Sir Steven. However, considering Robin’s lifestyle all the higher-up practitioners of faith are not going to help him out. Hope lies with a friar Will Scarlet knows. Can they convince him to perform the ceremony behind the father-in-law’s back?
ch II: Robin Hood Seeth The Curtal Friar
Okay, I had to look this one up because it’s been bugging me. “A friar who served as an attendant at the gate of a monastery court. As a curtal dog was not privileged to hunt or course, so a curtal friar virtually meant a worldly-minded one.” Funny enough, it quotes this book. It’s interesting how many terms of the day and supposedly famous tales of yore in this book is usually credited to this book alone. Not being British I wonder if this is the only famous work to bring these terms and tales to the US or if Pyle is just messing with those of us a few centuries later.
First paragraph and there’s stuff to discuss. Robin is taking all of our previously named Merry Men (save Will Stutley, who will be here in charge of the unnamed men while the others are gone) to Fountain Abbey to meet with the friar. What interest me is how Robin dresses for the occasion: chain mail, a helmet, and carrying a sword with dragons and winged women on it (I don’t know if they’re supposed to be angels or harpies or something). We have seen him carry a sword although this is the first time it’s been described but it’s also the first time he’s worn a helmet and chain mail in one of these stories, and given Part Second you’d think he would wear them more often. 🙂
They eventually arrive near where the abbey is, but they have to cross a mild stream to go across. You’d think there would be a bridge somewhere. Robin of course decides to go alone despite Will Scarlet knowing the friar, which Little John speaks up against in a way you’d think someone would have told Captain Kirk to at some point. “You’re in charge and more important, why not let one of us go instead of leaving us on our duffs?” The perk of being in charge I guess.
And Will might have been the right man to send, because Robin comes upon a friar talking to himself and having a feast. Robin tries to get his help in finding the Curtal Friar, shenanigans happens because this is Robin and he hasn’t met a man he hasn’t fought against yet in this story save the one who fought Little John…I’m starting to think this is how Robin recruits his band. They either fight him to a standstill like the friar, or knock him senseless like Little John and Will Scarlet have. The best part of the fight is when Robin calls in his quartet and Tuck calls in his dogs, a fight that would have ended with arrows and dog bites had Scarlet not calmed the dogs down, because this is the same friar they came for. This leads into probably the oldest rendition of the classic “why didn’t you say so/you didn’t ask” exchange I’ve ever seen. And yes, this is Friar Tuck, so you can imagine he’ll probably be joining the party. He had the obligatory Robin Hood fight after all.
Interestingly, Friar Tuck is usually depicted as someone who spends all his time eating, can’t and doesn’t really fight unless there’s a gag the writer thought up, and outside of a ring of hair on the top of his head and the usual eyebrows and eyelashes has little hair on his head. Our Friar Tuck here is the opposite. He fought Robin to a standstill, has facial hair including a full beard (the rest of the follicle attributes remain), and while we see him engage in a feast he’s apparently built like Little John more than the usual fat friar depiction. It’s amazing how little Hollywood has gotten right about the legend of Robin Hood, with the exception of Little John, if this book is any indication of the the actual legend. And it’s Hollywood’s version that has come out in every depiction at least since Errol Flynn swung from a tree like Tarzan in green. I kind of half to play this now.
I highly suspect this will continue throughout this book, and that’s what I’m finding the most fascinating. The book itself has also been enjoyable. So come back next week and don’t forget your wedding presents. Unless Allan A Dale is wrong about his lady love’s…love.
Next Time: Robin Hood Compasseth The Marriage Of Two True Lovers