"Nay," said Rob, "but you are a good fellow by this token, and if I win not, I hope you may keep the prize from yon strutters." And he nodded scornfully to the three other archers who were surrounded by their admirers, and were being made much of by retainers of the Sheriff, the Bishop, and the Earl.
"Blinder's" quick eye followed those of Rob. "A fair maid, that," he said smilingly, "and one more worthy the golden arrow than the Sheriff's haughty miss."
Rob looked at him swiftly, and saw naught but kindliness in his glance.
A loud uproar broke forth when it alighted, just without the center and grazing the shaft sent by Rob. The stranger made a gesture of surprise when his own eyes announced the result to him, but saw his error.
Now crown the lady of your choice." And turning suddenly he was lost in the crowd, before Rob could utter what it was upon his lips to say, that he would shoot again with him.
And now the herald summoned Rob to the Sheriff's box to receive the prize.
"I am called Rob the Stroller, my Lord Sheriff," said the archer.
"Well, Rob the Stroller, with a little attention to your skin and clothes you would not be so bad a man," said the Sheriff.
"Rob the Stroller has ever been a free man, my Lord, and desires no service."
"Rob the Stroller," said he, "here is the golden arrow which has been offered to the best of archers this day.
At this point the herald nudged Rob and half inclined his head toward the Sheriff's daughter, who sat with a thin smile upon her lips.
"My thanks to you, Rob in the Hood," replied she with a roguish twinkle in her eye; and she placed the gleaming arrow in her hair, while the people shouted, "The Queen!
But Rob had already turned swiftly, lost himself in the throng, and headed straight for the town gate.
"Tis Rob!" they cried; "welcome to Sherwood Forest, Rob!" And all the men came and greeted him; for they had heard his story.
Will turned to Rob. "What news bring you from Nottingham town?" asked he.