The Sheriff was already come with great pomp into the banqueting room, when Robin Hood and three or four butchers entered, and he greeted them all with great condescension; and presently the whole of a large company was seated at a table groaning beneath the good cheer of the feast.
Now the Sheriff bade Robin sit by his right hand, at the head of the board; for one or two butchers had whispered to the official, "That fellow is a right mad blade, who yet made us much sport to-day.
By this time, you must know, the feast had progressed far, and the butchers were deep in their cups.
The butcher he answered jolly Robin, "No matter where I do dwell, For a butcher am I, and to Nottingham Am I going, my flesh to sell.
Back at a bend in the road he heard a rumbling and a lumbering, when up drove a stout butcher, whistling gaily, and driving a mare that sped slowly enough because of the weight of meat with which the cart was loaded.
A good morrow to you," returned the butcher, civilly enough.
At this the Sheriff looked grave and all the guild of butchers too, so that none laughed but Robin, only some winked slyly at each other.
Then the Sheriff laughed again, but not as though he liked the jest, while the butchers said, one to another, "Before Heaven, never have we seen such a mad rollicking blade.
Thus the bargain was closed, but many of the butchers talked among themselves of the Sheriff, saying that it was but a scurvy trick to beguile a poor spendthrift youth in this way.
There, as he rambled along the sunlit road, he met a lusty young butcher driving a fine mare and riding in a stout new cart, all hung about with meat.
Ay, that am I," quoth the jolly Butcher, "and why should I not be so?
I go to the market at Nottingham Town to sell my beef and my mutton," answered the Butcher.
Well; yes--she might," said the butcher, slowly, considering that he was giving a decided affirmative.
I tell no lies," said the butcher, with the same mild huskiness as before, "and I contradick none--not if a man was to swear himself black: he's no meat o' mine, nor none o' my bargains.
But the butcher, having music in his soul, had listened with a divided desire for Tookey's defeat and for the preservation of the peace.