The Forester heard his parting thrust with an oath.
The Head Forester gave one cry, then fell face downward and lay still.
And the crowds thronging the streets upon that busy Fair day often paused to read the notice and talk together about the death of the Head Forester.
These forests were guarded by the King's Foresters, the chief of whom, in each wood, was no mean man but equal in authority to the Sheriff in his walled town, or even to my lord Bishop in his abbey.
The best fellows are to have places with the King's Foresters, and the one who shoots straightest of all will win for prize a olden arrow--a useless bauble enough, but just the thing for your lady love, eh, Rob my boy?
And a place among the Foresters is what I have long desired.
For, as he went his way through Sherwood, whistling a blithe tune, he came suddenly upon a group of Foresters, making merry beneath the spreading branches of an oak-tree.
A murmur of amazement swept through the Foresters, and then a growl of rage.
cried he, "for I had started to that self-same Fair, and all the Foresters, and all the Sheriff's men in Christendom shall not stand between me and the center of their target
So Rob fell to planning how he could disguise himself to go to Nottingham town; for he knew that the Foresters had even then set a price on his head in the market-place.
But what with wrestling bouts and bouts with quarter-staves, and wandering minstrels, there came up so many other things to talk about, that the reward was forgotten for the nonce, and only the Foresters and Sheriff's men watched the gates with diligence, the Sheriff indeed spurring them to effort by offers of largess.
The winner was to receive the golden arrow, and a place with the King's Foresters.
Some had shot deer in hungry wintertime, when they could get no other food, and had been seen in the act by the foresters
, but had escaped, thus saving their ears; some had been turned out of their inheritance, that their farms might be added to the King's lands in Sherwood Forest; some had been despoiled by a great baron or a rich abbot or a powerful esquire-- all, for one cause or another, had come to Sherwood to escape wrong and oppression.