Then the butchers saw that they must meet craft with craft; and they said to him, "Come, brother butcher, if you would sell meat with us, you must e'en join our guild and stand by the rules of our trade."
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."
At last the dinner was ready to be served and the Sheriff bade Robin say grace, so Robin stood up and said, "Now Heaven bless us all and eke good meat and good sack within this house, and may all butchers be and remain as honest men as I am."
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.
"Red it was," said the butcher, in his good-humoured husky treble-- "and a Durham it was."
"Well; yes--she might," said the butcher, slowly, considering that he was giving a decided affirmative.
The farrier looked fierce, and the mild butcher's conversational spirit was roused a little.
"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.
Yet still, ever after that sorrowful day, Whenever the Butcher
was by, The Beaver kept looking the opposite way, And appeared unaccountably shy.
Peeping through the same crevice of the curtain where, only a little while before, the urchin of elephantine appetite had peeped, the butcher
beheld the inner door, not closed, as the child had seen it, but ajar, and almost wide open.