Allen A Dale and Friar Tuck by Bertha E. Bush

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 money.

"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 a wrong?"

"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 best clothes."

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 over.

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 bashfully.

"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 Abbey?"

"Yes, somewhat."

"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 civil.

"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 laughed.

"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 back."

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 wedding day.

"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 backs.

"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 bride's father.

"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 daughter.

"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 each hand.

"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 have."

The father looked at the gold and then at Robin Hood. He knew the knight was gone and would not come back.

"Well," he said, but not happily, "I will give her my blessing."

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 merry men.