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:
In Which It Is Told How Queen Eleanor Sent For Robin Hood To Come To The Court At Famous London Town And How Robin Came At Her Bidding. Likewise It Is Told How King Henry Chased Robin Through The Land, Yet Caught Him Not
In the previous chapter we saw Queen Eleanor pull Robin, Little John, and Will Scarlet as ringers in her bet with her husband, King Henry (Hank to his friends and I’m not even kidding), over an archer contest. Allan comes along for moral support. Robin and John won and for some reason Will didn’t. Two out of three isn’t bad, unless you’re the one losing the bet, so Hank isn’t happy. Throw in the fact that are trio are outlaws her highness won a grace period for with trickery, and they better get out of London Town before the grace period ends and they become permanent residents of the dungeon.
Chapter 2: The Chase Of Robin Hood
Revenge is not a Christian thing so it pains me to see the Bishop so ready to push for it or desire his own. Yes, Robin robbed him and forced him to have a good time (and he did have a good time) but apparently forgiveness and not wanting the King to renege on a promise, or be on the foul end of his wife were not as important as revenge (and I wouldn’t be surprised if Henry slept alone that night–and given what I just checked out about her on Wikipedia it wouldn’t be the last time–the marriage did not go well according to history) so he talked the King into going after him anyway. Lucky the guy they sent went to the queen first, not for Robin’s benefit but the King’s honor. I’ll leave that determination to history.
Meanwhile the quartet stops at an inn because we’ve established that Robin is not the brightest candle in the candelabra. (That’s ye olden speak for the classic saying in the post-Thomas Edison era of life.) Even Will suggest this might not be the time but doesn’t put up much of a fight, while John thinks with two things…and both show up here. Food and drink end up as #2 since his #1 is one of the waitresses. As for Allan, he doesn’t say anything and I forgot he was here until later in the chapter. Somehow page Richard shows up here because maybe he knows how dumb Robin really is and warns them that the Bishop is personally coming to arrest them or keep them out of Sherwood so the three are running for the hills…something they should have already been doing but when you’re hanging with the 13th Century’s top party animal you need to expect to be seeing the po-po eventually.
So Robin goes off in one direction and the other in another. I guess Robin assumes he’s primary target meanwhile the others will scatter later and they’ll all meet up back at home. Again Robin shows his intelligence (or lack thereof) when his comrades keep on the move until they reach Sherwood while Robin is easily convinced he’s in the clear and stops to relax. Sure enough the Bishop of Hereford and the Sheriff Of Nottingham join their forces and surround the forest and Robin nearly takes an arrow to the ear. Then our hero tricks a man of less intelligence (because that is possible since Robin is clever when the plot demands it and a dunce when also demanded) into swapping clothes and the King’s men take him instead of Robin. He’s so out of it he actually starts to believe he is Robin Hood. Robin got lucky finding someone dumber than he is and with food and drink to share. I’m pretty sure luck is the only reason this book doesn’t end with Robin on the gallows.
Thus Robin ends up playing a few more games of musical disguises and ends up getting help from Sir Richard, who convinces him to go back to London and seek Eleanor’s help. She agrees to help him and after some angry words that, if this book were again to follow someone other than Robin I imagine the narrator would be apologizing for not dictating the conversation, especially in a version given out to high schools in the 1940s. So Robin gets his safe journey home and two warnings: don’t be so bold again and to be more honest. Will Robin learn these lessons?
We’re actually going to have to wait on that. If you’ve been following through the links above you may have notice that the numbering has been a bit off for a while. That’s because these two volumes left a part out, possibly for a balanced chapter count or something. All four books I own from my dad’s time in New York schools are about the same length so I bet this happens again when I tackle the last two books in the future for Chapter By Chapter. So next time I need to go back in time to see another three part story before heading into the finale of this book. Consider it a “lost part”.
Next time: Robin Becomes A Butcher
For the record this is the actual part second according to an alternate version online. My numbering is a mess now. Thanks, New York Public Schools!