How Little John Joined Robin Hood by
Bertha E. Bush
This is the story of how Robin gained his right hand
man and dearest friend, Little John. Little John was
one of the tallest and strongest youths that ever walked
through a forest. When Robin Hood first saw him, he
was walking in the edge of the forest and came to a
narrow bridge across a stream. The bridge was so
narrow that but one could go across it at once, and it
chanced that Robin Hood stepped upon it from one side
just as Little John stepped on the other end.
"Go back, and let the better man cross before you,"
called Robin Hood, not because he cared a bit but rather
with a mirthful wish to see what the tall youth would do.
"Stand back yourself. I am the better man,"
cried the stranger.
"Let us fight for it," said Robin Hood, who loved
a good bout more than his dinner.
"With all my heart," answered the stranger.
Then Robin cut him a stick of oak to serve as a
quarter-staff, for he would have held it a shame to use
his bow and arrows when the other had no such
weapon, and they met as joyously as two boys wrestling
"The one who can knock the other into the water is
the better man," said Robin. Then the fight with the
staves began. What a fight it was! They struck
again and again, but so skilful was each one in warding
off blows that neither could knock the other down.
Many hard blows each one took, until there were sore
bones and bumps, and black and blue spots in plenty,
but neither thought of stopping for that. A whole
hour they fought there on the bridge, and neither
could get the better of the other, then another hour.
At last Robin gave the stranger a terrible whack that
made him stagger, but the stranger returned with a
crack on the crown that made the blood flow. Robin
whacked back at him savagely, but the stranger avoided
the blow and gave one to Robin that tumbled him
fairly into the water.
He lay there looking up and laughing, for Robin
Hood never bore any malice.
"You have a right sturdy hand with the cudgel.
Never have I been beaten before," he laughed. He
splashed ashore and seized the stranger's hand.
"I like you well," he said. "Now watch, and I
will show you something."
He put his horn to his lips and blew, and up came
two score of Robin Hood's followers, all clothed in
Lincoln green, and bearing bows and arrows and
"How is this, master?" said the foremost. "You
are all bruised and wet to the skin."
"Yon sturdy fellow has given me a drubbing and
tumbled me into the water," he said.
"Then he shall get a ducking and a drubbing himself,"
said Will Stutely, starting forth angrily, followed
by half a dozen, all eager to carry out his threat.
But Robin Hood ordered him back.
"No," he said, "it was a fair fight, and he won. I
would not have you hurt him for anything. But he is
a right brave and lusty youth and I would fain have
him in our band. Will you join yourself to my men?"
he asked of the wondering stranger. "I am Robin
Hood, and my band is the finest in all England."
Hardly a man in the country but would have trembled
at the name. But John Little, the strange youth, was
afraid of no man.
"If there is any man among you who can shoot a
better shaft than I, I will," he said.
"Well, I will try," said Robin. He sent Will
Stutely to set up a piece of white bark four fingers in
breadth on an oak eighty yards away.
"Now choose any of our bows and arrows to shoot
with," he said.
The stranger chose the very stoutest bow. Then he
aimed his arrow carefully and sent it down the path
and it struck the very center of the mark. All Robin
Hood's followers caught their breaths in amaze.
"That is a fine shot indeed," said Robin Hood heartily.
"No one could better it; but perhaps I may mar it."
Then he shot an arrow; and so true and swift it
sped that it struck the stranger's arrow and splintered
it into pieces. And all who saw it cried out that there
never was such shooting before.
"Now, will you not come into my band?" said Robin
Hood with a smile.
"With all my heart," answered the stranger; and
from that minute he loved Robin as his dearest friend.
"What is your name?" said Will Stutely, taking
out a tablet as though he would enroll it.
"John Little," answered the stranger youth.
"I like not the name," said merry Will. "This
fellow is too small to be called John Little. Let us
christen him over, Little John."
And so they had a christening and great sport; and
from that day Little John was Robin's right hand man
and second in command over the band. True and
faithfully did he serve Robin for many years and loved
him better with every year.