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.
This one is only two chapters long, at least in my collection. So I’ve only one more chapter to go. For those who missed our previous installment, Robin came upon a knight named Sir Richard whose son accidentally killed a man and the man’s friends decided to make things worse. Richard had to put himself in debt to get his son free and now the boy is fighting in the Crusades, but Richard is worried about leaving his wife with nothing if he has to join him. While Robin’s method of getting him the money is up for debate, Sir Richard can now pay the debt, which is where our story resumes.
II: How Sir Richard Paid His Debts To The Emmet Priory
Although you’d think a place run by monks and nuns would be a bit more forgiving, but given Sir Richard’s insistence on settling debts it could just be on him. That or I have the wrong definition of “priory”.
Here’s is where my knowledge of the time period and location are lacking in following what’s going on. We have a “doctor of the law” hoping to get Sir Richard’s land (assuming the doctor of the law and the man of the law are not the same man, or maybe “man of the law” refers to the Sheriff of Nottingham, who is also in attendance) and I don’t know what that means. Apparently he has some deal going with the Prior, Vincent, regarding gaining Sir Richard’s land. The Sheriff knows there’s some chicanery going on but stays out of it, his idea of being neutral I guess. Sir Richard arrives and claims not to have the money as a test…which the Prior fails because as a man of God (although given his trappings he doesn’t sound like any monk I know of) he shows the knight no mercy and then accuses him of being a “false knight”. Richard calls him out on this and ends up settling his debt, the doctor still gaining his fee for whatever it is he did. Either way, Sir Richard wins and Prior Vincent is made to look like the chump he is. Maybe I do have the wrong definition of “priory” because he seems more like the Pharisees than someone supposedly doing Jesus’ work.
We then jump ahead a year as Sir Richard has reclaimed his fortune and then some. His lands are now in good shape and his castle standing proud. So he goes to pay his debt to Robin Hood but they stop for a brief time to attend a fair near their path home. (I guess Sir Richard didn’t hear from Little John how that can come back to bite you.) It’s there that he rescues a stranger he recognizes from an angry crowd when the stranger wins a wrestling match (not pro wrestling, something closer to college or Olympic style wrestling–these are tales from the 15th century as interpreted by a writer in the 19th remember) who turns out to be David of Doncaster…a revelation that calms the attackers either because he’s a champion elsewhere (they did have championship belts in this form of wrestling apparently), tied to Robin Hood, or because Sir Richard comes bearing booze. My coins are #3.
While I would have liked to have seen this be considered payment enough for the debt, and Robin does try to tell Sir Richard he needn’t bother, the knight still insists on paying his debt with huge interest. It’s nice to see the knights of this book being so noble, including the knight from our last story who learned his betrothed was in love with someone else and stepped aside without being asked to. Too bad the monk wasn’t so pure of heart. I think he needs to reread his own Bible. What I liked most about this chapter though is that it’s the rare tale that wasn’t told from Robin’s perspective. We see a few moments in a chapter told from the POV of one of the Merry Men but it usually swings back to Robin Hood. In this one even when Robin and crew enter the story the focus character is still Sir Richard as he settles with the jerk Prior, rescues David, and meets up with Robin again. It’s a nice change of pace although I wouldn’t want every story to do this. I would like to see one where we see Robin through the eyes of others but who knows if that will happen? (Remember, no spoilers for later chapters until we get there.)
Next time we begin an entire new part where from the title of our next chapter it looks like Robin’s hitting hard times. Not sure how that happened, but it’s an bi-annual event for Tony Stark so who knows?
Next time: Robin Hood Turns Beggar