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:
The Actual Part Second
In which ShadowWing Tronix fixes a mistake made by the New York Public School in 1948…I mean…In which shall be told how Robin Hood turned butcher, and how he revenged himself on The Sheriff Of Nottingham. Also of the famous adventures that befell Little John at the Nottingham Archery Match, and how he entered the Sheriff’s service.
For those of you just joining us, the section I thought was part second was actually part third, and the misnumbering follows along. The copy of Howard Pyle’s book I’ve been using is a two volume pocket-sized printing of The Merry Adventures Of Robin Hood and they left a whole three chapters out of it. Had I not been double checking the public domain postings above I would have totally missed that. So now we shall go back in time to make sure the entire book is properly reviewed. Why were these three chapters left out of this printing? Was there not enough space and they felt the stories here weren’t worth worrying about? Is there something objectionable in them that they opted to leave out on purpose? Did someone goof?
It’s not like Robin here is the virtuous soul Hollywood has made him out to be. We first met him killing a drunk man in self-defense and feeling bad about it. The Sheriff may be a jerk (frankly only four people in this book aren’t among the cast) but he has good reason to snag Robin Hood since the man was his nephew, even if Robin should plead self-defense. Yes, most of the religious figures we’ve seen here act more like the Pharisees than Jesus Christ but only one person in this book was karma-driven to be robbed because of his own actions. Robin was even willing to attack a guy and declare him evil just because he had nice clothes and a relaxed attitude despite his men’s objections…and he both knocked Robin on his butt (which seems to be the usual qualification to join the band) and turned out to be his own nephew. Robin is the hero mostly by default. So why did he become a butcher and what does it have to do with the Sheriff? We’ve already seen him become a beggar because he was bored. Well, let’s travel back in time a bit after Will Stutley’s rescue and before Robin recruited head first and find out.
I: Robin Hood Turns Butcher
Note that I am using the Internet Archive version linked to in the intro for this repair job.
Already I question why this chapter was dropped because it first introduces Robin’s dirty trick with the feast. “Come eat a huge feast with us. We won’t take most of your money and send you home broke, no sir, don’t even think such a thing.” We also see for the first time what the men have been doing in the forest. A year has past since part first and Will’s rescue from hanging, and Robin apparently holds a grudge. By now we really shouldn’t be surprised. Robin by the end of the book I believe would so why not Robin early on?
So one day Robin goes to take a walk because that always ends well and meets a butcher, preparing for his wedding and bringing meat to market. Since he’s a fair man and from Robin’s home of Locksley Town (this is where Hollywood gets “Robin Of Locksley”, not his manor but his hometown) and pays him two marks over what the meat is worth to also borrow his horse and cart, deciding he’ll be the butcher today. That will help with the wedding…then again I don’t know the marks to dollars exchange rate and I don’t think England uses marks anymore so I could be wrong. The man seemed happy enough to take the deal.
So Robin takes the meat to the market and draws a crowd with his singing and usual merriment. His price structure is…unique, given that a bony lass’s kiss earns a freebie and the other prices are set based on whether or not he likes you’re standing in the world. This confuses the other butchers there but they shrug it off (I guess he didn’t hurt their business too much or they’re setting him up) and they invite him to join them for a meal at the Sheriff’s. Robin agrees because clarity of thought has never been his strong suit.
Apparently the Sheriff couldn’t recognize him in his butcher’s outfit…which makes the archery costume look less impressive. And some of you complain about Clark Kent’s glasses? The Sheriff himself invites Robin to sit near him (with hopes of lightening the “butcher’s” wallet in favor of his own lest we forget the Sheriff is not the good guy here) and Robin takes the opportunity to mess with and embarrass the Sheriff, so I guess this is his revenge, to make him look like a fool. In his guise he tricks the Sheriff into going with him to collect even more cattle, but it’s a trick and the Sheriff finds himself one of Robin’s dinner guests. And we all know how that ends. Considering the men’s history with him, especially Will Stutley he ends up paying the fee rather than his life. I’m kind of surprised the Sheriff didn’t push back even harder, especially given his status in the more modern tellings of Robin Hood’s legend.
So there we are again. Robin Of Locksley simply means he comes from the town of Locksley and it’s not his stolen lands as you hear these days, another piece of the lore twisted over time. Granted it may not just be Hollywood’s fault. We still haven’t seen hide nor hair of Maid Marian, the archery contest didn’t go as we’ve heard, and Robin isn’t much of a hero. Come next time the story shifts to the adventures of Little John. Maybe here we’ll find out why these three chapters are missing?
Next time: Little John goes to the Fair in Nottingham Town