Allen A Dale and Friar Tuck by Bertha
This is the story of a merry friar and how he came
to belong to Robin Hood's band. But it begins with
the story of a sad youth with a harp in his hand, who
could sing as sweetly as a thrush but who thought that
he would never sing again for his heart was breaking.
Robin Hood and his men found him in the forest, lying
prone on the ground and sobbing as if he would weep
his eyes out.
"Get up! Get up!" shouted Will Stutely, poking
him with his foot. "I do hate to see a tall young fellow
snivelling like a girl of fourteen over a dead bird."
But Robin Hood bade the others stand back, and
touched the boy kindly.
"You are in trouble," he said. "Do not mind what
these fellows say. They are rough, but their hearts
are kind. Come with me and tell me what is wrong."
"Everything is wrong," said Allen-a-Dale miserably,
and it was true that things were going very badly with
him. For his true love and promised bride had been
forced to give him up and promise her hand to a rich
old knight who won her father's favor by means of his
"She will marry the old knight if her father bids
her," cried Allen-a-Dale, "for she thinks it right to
be an obedient daughter; but I know it will break her
heart and she will die."
"Now this thing shall not be," cried Little John,
starting forward. "Master, can we not prevent such
"We will see," answered Robin Hood.
"But she is to be married in two days."
"Then we will go to the church and see that she is
married to you instead of the old knight. But we will
need to find a priest who will marry you."
"Then I know the very priest," said Will Scarlet.
"It is jolly Friar Tuck who lives in Fountain Dale."
"Then let us go and get him at once. We have no
time to lose," said Robin Hood; and out they started
without delay. Little John, Will Scarlet, young David
of Doncaster, and Arthur-a-Bland went with him.
They wore their best clothes.
"For," said Robin Hood, "we must look brave when
we go to a wedding."
After they had walked a whole morning, they came
to the bend in the river beyond which Friar Tuck
dwelt. But his cell was across the river and to get to
it they would have to wade through.
"Well," said Robin Hood, "had I known I would
have to wade the river I would not have put on my
Then he left his men, bidding them listen if his
bugle should sound, and went on alone. As soon as
he was out of sight of them, he thought he heard
voices. There seemed to be two men talking on the
river bank below, but the voices were wondrously
alike. Robin Hood slipped to the edge and looked
With his broad back against a willow tree, sat a
stout, brawny fellow in the robe of a friar, but no
other man was by. He held a great pie in his lap,
made of tender, juicy meats, compounded with young
onions and other toothsome vegetables, which he
munched at sturdily. As he ate he talked, and, listening
to him, Robin Hood almost died of laughing. For
the merry friar was pretending to be two people. He
would offer a piece of the pasty first to his right hand
and then to his left, with much politeness, and go
through the same actions with a bottle of drink that
he had. Robin looked and listened till the pie was all
gone and the bottle empty. Then the monk began to
urge his imaginary companion to sing.
"Now, sweet lad," he said to himself, "canst thou
not tune me a song?" And then he answered himself
"La, I know not. I am but in ill voice this day.
Prythee, ask me not: dost thou not hear how I croak
like a frog?"
Then he spoke again as the first one.
"Nay, nay, thy voice is as sweet as any bullfinch.
Come sing, prythee. I would rather hear thee sing
than eat a fair feast."
And so it went on till he began singing and that
was as two persons, too. The song he sang was a duet
between a youth and a maid, and he sung the maiden's
part very high and squeaky and the youth's very deep
and gruff. It was the funniest thing you can imagine,
and when the last chorus was reached Robin Hood could
hold in no more but joined in with the singing lustily.
Then the friar leaped forth, crying, "What spy have
we here?" and from beneath his monk's robe he drew
forth a sword as heavy and stout as any that Robin
Hood's band carried.
"Put up thy sword, friend," called Robin. "Folks
that have sung together should not fight." And then
he leaped down beside the friar.
"Do you know the country round about, good and
holy man?" he asked.
"Yes, somewhat," answered the friar cautiously.
"And do you know a spot called Fountain Dale, and
a certain monk who is called the Curtal Friar of Fountain
"Is it across the river?" asked Robin Hood.
"Yes," answered the monk.
"Do you know whether this friar is now on the
other side of the river or on this side?" asked Robin.
"That," answered the friar very deliberately, "is
something you will have to find out for yourself."
This angered Robin, and indeed it was not at all
"Well," he said, "if I must cross the river, I must
ask you to carry me across, for you can see that my
clothes are such as the water would injure."
At first the friar was angry at the request, but soon
a different thought seemed to come to him and he
"Well," he said, "if the holy St. Christopher
carried pilgrims across the river, perhaps I ought to do
so also. Give me your sword that it may not get wet,
and I will carry you."
So he tucked his own sword and Robin's under his
arm, bent his back for Robin to get on it, and waded
across the water. He put Robin down very gently on
the other bank, but he did not give him back his sword.
"Thanks, good father," said Robin. "Give me my
sword, and I will away."
"Nay, good youth," answered the friar, pointing
the sword at Robin. "You see, I got wet crossing the
river. It is necessary for me to cross again, but I fear
if I got wet once more I might get a crick in my back
that would hinder my prayers. I pray thee, carry me
He had the sword, and there was nothing for Robin
to do but to obey. So he carried the friar back, and it
was harder than for the friar to carry him. But while
they were in the stream he managed to loosen Friar
Tuck's sword belt so that when they got to land he
snatched it off. Now Robin Hood had the two swords.
"Now carry me across again," he said.
It is a long story; but the end of it is that Friar
Tuck carried Robin Hood half way across the river,
and there dumped him into the water "to cool off,"
as he said. Then Robin fought with him; but, though
they fought together with might and main for hours,
neither could overcome the other. And so they ceased
to fight and became friends; and Friar Tuck willingly
consented to go with him and perform the marriage
between Allen-a-Dale and his fair Ellen, no matter
what a pother it raised.
So now Robin Hood and a score of his merry men
set out to the wedding which was to be held in Emmet
Church. Robin Hood was dressed as a strolling minstrel,
and across his shoulders he had slung a harp.
Leaving the most of his followers in hiding a little
distance from the church, he went in boldly.
It was to be a very grand wedding, and the Bishop
of Hereford himself was to perform the ceremony. He
came with a long train of followers, and as he entered
he saw Robin with his harp beside the door.
"Now, who are you?" he asked, well pleased, for
everybody loved to see a minstrel.
"I am a harper from the north country," answered
Robin Hood. "I can play such music as never another
in all England can do. For there is magic in my harping,
and if I play at this wedding, it will insure that
the fair bride shall love the man she marries with her
whole heart all her life long."
"Marry then, let him play," said Sir Stephen, the
old bridegroom. He knew that it was her father's will
instead of her own wish that made the fair Ellen marry
him. But he did not know that she loved another, for
her father had concealed it from him.
And now the bride's father brought in the bride,
and she was the most beautiful maiden they had ever
seen. But she was pale and wan and she drooped on
her father's arm like a broken lily.
"How is this?" cried Robin Hood. "A bride should
be like a blushing rose. Maiden, is it of your own
free will that you wed with this knight?"
"No, no," sobbed fair Ellen. "I wish to wed no
one but my own true love, Allen-a-Dale the minstrel."
"Then Allen-a-Dale ye shall wed," cried Robin
Hood, and set his bugle to his lips and blew. The followers
who had entered the church and Friar Tuck
came running down the aisles and gathered around
him. Then came a scene of confusion. The bishop of
Hereford, the prior of Emmet and all his train commanded
the people to seize Robin Hood, but they would
not do it. The old knight who was the bridegroom
sought to draw his sword, but he wore no sword on his
"At them and slay them," he cried to his men-at-arms.
But just at that minute there came running up
at double quick the rest of Robin Hood's men, with
swords drawn and bows and arrows hanging at their
"I will depart," said the bridegroom to the bride's
father. "I would not marry your daughter now for all
the kingdom of England."
He spoke angrily, for he felt that he had been
cheated, not knowing that the maiden loved some one
else. The prior of Emmet, calling his train, also departed
in high displeasure, and the bishop of Hereford
would have gone too, but Robin bade him stay.
"Now," he said, "we will have a wedding, and fair
Ellen shall marry Allen-a-Dale."
"Ye cannot." The prior of Emmet turned back to
say this. "You have no priest to marry them."
"Am I not a priest?" bellowed Friar Tuck, so
fiercely that the prior shook in his pointed shoes and
made haste to get away.
"But the banns have not been published," said the
"I will publish them," roared Friar Tuck; and the
old song says that he cried them three times, the number
required by law, and then, lest that should not be
enough, he cried them six times more.
"But I cannot be married without my father's blessing,"
sobbed Ellen, for she was ever an obedient
"There, there, don't cry," said Robin Hood gently.
"I will get your father's blessing." Then he called
to Will Stutely.
"Give me the two bags of gold I bade you bring."
He strode up to Ellen's father with a bag of gold in
"Here are two hundred golden angels," he said.
"If you give your daughter your blessing on this her
wedding day, I will give you these as her dower. If
you give her not the blessing, she shall be married
just the same, but not a cracked farthing shalt thou
The father looked at the gold and then at Robin
Hood. He knew the knight was gone and would not
"Well," he said, but not happily, "I will give her
So the wedding went on; and after it was over they
went to Sherwood Forest and held the merriest feast
that ever was held in that merry place. And Allen-a-Dale
and his bride lived happy all the rest of their
lives, and he sang such beautiful songs that his fame
went all over England. As for Friar Tuck, he liked
Robin Hood and his band so much that he never went
back to Fountain Dale but became one of Robin Hood's