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:
When I first began this book I did warn you that my copy and how it’s laid out may differ from the version you have or the various public domain links in the intro. That’s very much the case here. Calling this “part four” is not completely accurate. I believe my copy is missing a part or two, and because I’m using a two volume set distributed in pocket-sized books for New York students in the 1940s what I have is actually volume 2 part 1 chapter 1. However, for the sake of easier to follow titling I’m going to continue the part numbering properly so while for me this is Volume 2 part 1 for this article series we are at…
It is told how Robin Hood met a sorrowful knight and brought him to Sherwood. Also how the Bishop of Hereford was more generous that he desired to be. Likewise telling how Sir Richard of The Len paid his bets in due season, both to the Prior Of Emmet and to Robin Hood.
Unless this is an earlier Sir Richard…well, he still isn’t King Richard The Lionhearted and we know that the king during this story was old Hank while Prince John is but a cute little baby. The only thing he’s taking is extra formula. Is Sir Richard our sorrowful knight? How much of the story was just ruined? Well, let’s get into this week’s tale and learn for ourselves.
I: Robin Hood Aideth A Sorrowful Knight
For some reason this chapter starts with Howard Pyle going on about the autumn, as our story transitions from the springtime of volume 1 (as my collection makes it) to volume 2, which might have been just the right point for the New York school system to divide the book, between Spring and Fall. Robin and Little John each go out to get more
suckers dinner guests to dine with them. The narrator again plays like a character as he admits they can’t follow both so we’ll let John go his own way while Robin takes Allan A Dale, Will Scarlet, Midge, and newly named Will Scathelock (how many Wills are there in the Sherwood crew because that must be getting confusing by now) while Little John doesn’t get the named character. Friar Tuck begins the cooking, but what happened to Will #1, David, and Arthur? Poor Stutley got replaced by a new Will.
Indeed Sir Richard is our sorrowful knight. When Robin first sees him he first sees $ in his eyes until he actually goes to talk to him. Still, first thought looking at a depressed knight is “money” so Robin’s not off the hook here. We learn that Richard’s son accidentally killed a man in a joust when his opponent’s spear shattered and a piece of shrapnel used his eye as a gateway to his brain, which is oddly darker than any story so far. And we’ve had drunken attempted murder, angry accidental murder, and a father tried to wed his young daughter to a dude probably my age. Hollywood seriously needs to go back and look at this book because King’s English aside this is right up their alley without all the re-imagined stuff. Though I would be surprised if they dropped the exaggerated archery contest and the arrow smashing another arrow. That’s not correct but it has become part of Robin’s lore thanks to Hollywood. Meanwhile, Richard’s son is currently fighting in the Crusades, so even though Robin Hood isn’t the Crusade solder Robin Of Locksley here (and I believe this came from later interpretations of the legend and not Hollywood first) the war is still part of this tale. Just not Robin’s tale.
Anyway, the dead knight had friends who decided to be a bunch of jerks to the kid and basically got him in trouble. Sir Richard had to go poor to get his son out of jail (Merry Ol’ England justice is not impressing me as this book tells it) and now owes a huge debt the the Priory Of Emmett. (A priory is a type of monastery run by a Prior or Priortess.) Robin agrees to help, and gets some luck…depending on how you look at it…because Little John has found a sucker with actual money, a Bishop. Long story short Robin robs Peter to pay Paul but at least the Bishop got to have a lot of fun. He’s also bearing a grudge against Robin, and I can’t say I blame him. Yes, Robin is careful which Peter he takes from but he still takes stuff he had no right to. For all his apologizing that his jests are not appreciated by the Bishop, for the good time he shows the Bishop and his traveling companions, and for not taking money from those who need it or from the church’s operating expenses, he still robs the guy and forces him to stay behind while Sir Richard takes some of this as a loan (he doesn’t want to just accept it as a gift and promises to pay them back) and I have to wonder what chivalry says about that? As it is the Bishop was forced to attend this feast and Sir Richard was actually told there is usually a fee to stay at Casa de Sherwood.
I have mixed feelings about this one. Sure, Robin Hood helps out Sir Richard and he was unjustly screwed over as was his son, but Robin’s solution is not exactly to be praised either. His goal is fine but it’s his methodology that causes his hero status to come into question here. Next time according to the narrator we will follow Sir Richard paying his debt. Since Pyle is only giving us two chapters this part I wonder how much of it is devoted to just that. Prepare to see a lot of counting just the same.
Next time: How Sir Richard Of The Lea Paid His Debts To Emmet Priory
You know, that could be a name. “My name’s Emmet. Emmet Priory. Pleased to meet you.”