So they sang together, for the stout Friar did not seem to have heard Robin's laughter, neither did he seem to know that the yeoman had joined in with the song, but, with eyes half closed, looking straight before him and wagging his round head from side to side in time to the music, he kept on bravely to the end, he and Robin finishing up with a mighty roar that might have been heard a mile.
"Truly," said the Friar in a glum voice, "thou dost ask thyself freely where thou art not bidden.
The stout Friar watched Robin anxiously the while, and when he was done took the pottle quickly.
"Then perchance thou knowest also of a certain one who goeth by the name of the Curtal Friar of Fountain Abbey."
"Well then, good fellow, holy father, or whatever thou art," quoth Robin, "I would know whether this same Friar is to be found upon this side of the river or the other."
"That," quoth the Friar, "is a practical question upon which the cunning rules appertaining to logic touch not.
"Hey, friar!" he sang out, "carry me over the water, or else I cannot answer for your safety."
'Tis our duty in life to help each other, and your keen shaft shows me that you are a man worthy of some attention." So the friar knight got him up gravely, though his eyes twinkled with a cunning light, and laid aside his beloved pie and his cloak and his sword and his buckler, and waded across the stream with waddling dignity.
Courteously enough was this said; but so suddenly had the friar drawn his sword that Robin had no time to unsling his bow from his back, whither he had placed it to avoid getting it wet, or to unfasten his scabbard.
"Agreed," said Robin; and the friar thereupon stripped himself; and Robin bent his stout back and took him up even as he had promised.
But the fat friar hung on and dug his heels into his steed's ribs in as gallant manner as if he were riding in a tournament; while as for poor Robin the sweat ran down him in torrents and he gasped like the winded horse he was.
No sooner had he set the friar down than he seized his own sword.
He's expected at noon, and no wight till he comes May profane the great chair, or the porridge of plums For the best of the cheer, and the seat by the fire, Is the undenied right of the Barefooted Friar.
He's expected at night, and the pasty's made hot, They broach the brown ale, and they fill the black pot, And the goodwife would wish the goodman in the mire, Ere he lack'd a soft pillow, the Barefooted Friar.
Long flourish the sandal, the cord, and the cope, The dread of the devil and trust of the Pope; For to gather life's roses, unscathed by the briar, Is granted alone to the Barefooted Friar.