Saturday, July 12, 2008

Will Scarlet's Song

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The people craned and stretched, for in the middle of the guard was a cart. Tied to the cart, with a noose already around his neck, rode Will Scarlet wearing only a shirt and a crown of oak leaves, the mark of a traitor to the crown.

He looked at the crowd, searching each face. Although some pitied him and some looked at him sorrowfully, he didn't see the faces he sought. His heart sank like a plummet of lead, but he refused to show this.

Instead, he sang. If he was to die this day, he would teach all of Nottingham a new song. They would sing it long after they had forgotten him and it would set the Sheriff's teeth on edge each time heard it. Head held high, he sent his voice ringing over the crowd.
“The sheriff of fair Nottingham
doth tax his good folk full sore
But Robin Hood has tweaked his nose
Fie on Phillip the Fumbler!

He sets the men about the gate.
He sets them at his door.
Still he cannot catch the rogue,
Fie on Phillip the Fumbler!

He spends too much time in the stable there
Along beside the hostler
Lucky for him, the mare does not talk
Fie on Phillip the Fumbler!

He taxes folk upon their bread
He taxes them their beer
But Robin Hood will steal it back
Fie on Phillip the Fumbler!”

By the second verse, the more daring rascals were singing along with the chorus. When he finished the first time, he began again. Half the young men, already merry on beer, took it up.

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