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.
It’s the last chapter of the part that was left out of my copy of this book. That means we’re almost to the end of reading this book as we only have the final chapter and epilogue (according to my book) left to go. Last time we saw the Sheriff, despite having met Little John in person, not recognize that “Reynold Greenleaf” is someone he might have met before. So he decided to hire the man as one of his crew and put him up in his own house. Little John agreed, because we’ve long since established that poor decision making is a requirement to join the merry men of Sherwood Forest. So let’s see how poorly this ends, shall we?
III: How Little John lived at the Sheriff’s House
Six months have passed and apparently Little Reynold has been enjoying living in a house with easy access to food, but soon finds he misses life in the forest. Took him six months, sure, but he did so. As he considers returning to Sherwood he gets into a fight with the Steward, who I guess doesn’t like when the Sheriff has a new pal, and tries to coax the cook into beating him up since Little John is a bit better at the whole fighting thing. This is why Reynold is there in the first place after all. But the desire to eat and party wins out and Reynold and the cook just feast instead. Food solves everything when you’re Little John. And then they fight anyway because, again, Little John. Apparently delaying the inevitable is also something he likes to do.
At some point during the fight Little John asks the question of why they’re fighting and the cook doesn’t know. So pointless fight is pointless. Instead John invites him to join the merry men because as we’ve long since established fighting one of the title characters to a draw, if not outright beating their head in, is basically all it takes. Easy resume system that is. However, John took the Sheriff’s silverware with him and Robin isn’t happy about that. They’re thieves but not common thieves, plus they’ve already had their affairs with the Sheriff, so he tells him to give it back. Instead John leads the Sheriff alone right to Robin and finally the Sheriff recognizes Reynold Greenleaf and Little John. He isn’t happy about being tricked and even less happy about seeing his forced meal served with his own plates and cups. Seeing this Robin simply gives him back his stuff, because he only steals from those who do ill and the Sheriff’s ill deeds thus far are paid in full. So he leaves without a word to the hunting party he was traveling with. Thus ends the chapter.
When I came into this lost part of my copy of this book I wondered why they did so and I still have to ask it. These three chapters have been rather important. It established Robin’s force outdoor inn, Robin’s rules as to whom gets robbed when, and is actually important in establishing how the Sherwood crew in general and Robin Hood specifically operate. He robs not so much from the rich, as we’ve seen him help those with at least decent wealth, but against those who do harm to others. The Sheriff had done them wrong with his planning to kill Will Stutley for crimes not worthy of death. He was also hoping to cheat the butcher, not realizing it was Robin, and paid for that. Robin considered the debt filled and while he wasn’t above getting his goat he only punished him for what Robin saw as wrong doing. The same holds true for the “religious” leaders he came across later that acted un-Christianlike in how they obtained their goods, the Emmet of Priory probably being the best example of that. This section, and this chapter specifically though the previous chapters are important to follow that theme, sets up how our heroes (for the most part) operate and it’s absence from the New York school giveaway version I feel is a mistake. Whether it was done for space or some other reason it was wrong to omit this section as it’s rather important as the true second part of the story.
Next time we begin the final part of the book and see how this legend ends, comparing it to the legend as we know it today. We’ve already seen many changes since the 1880s, but what else got messes up in the retelling?
Next Time: Robin Hood And Guy Of Gisborne