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To stop and seize two strong monks with fifty armed men at their back seemed a daring task for three outlaws: it was ventured on without hesitation :
My brethren twain, said Little John,
We are no more but three;
Full wroth will our master be.
Make all yon press to stand;
Is closed in my hand.
Stand, churl monks," said the outlaws; “how dared you be so long in coming, when our master is not only angry, but fasting ?”- '--" Who is your master ?" inquired the astonished monks. “ Robin Hood," answered Little John. “I never heard good of him,” exclaimed the monk;
" he is a strong thief.” He spoke his mind in an ill time for himself: one called him a false monk; another, it was Much, shot him dead with an arrow, and, slaying or dispersing the whole armed retinue of the travellers, the three outlaws seized the surviving monk and the sumpter-horses, and took them all to their master below the trystingtree. Robin welcomed his dismayed guest, caused him to wash, and sitting down with him to dinner, and passing the wine, inquired who he was and whence he came. I am a monk, sir, as you see,” was the reply, " and the cellarer of St Mary's Abbey.” Robin bethought him on this of the knight and his security :
I have great marvel, then Robin Hood said,
And all this livelong day,
She hath sent me not my pay.
Ye have no need, I say,
For he is of her abbaye.
That is well said, John,” answered Robin Hood. Monk, you must know that our Lady stands security for four hundred pounds; the hour of payment is come; hast thou the money?" The monk swore roundly that he now heard of this for the first time, and that he had
only twenty marks about him for travelling expenses.
- We shall see that,” said the outlaw: "I marvel that our Ladye should send her messenger so ill provided : go thou, Little John, and examine, and report truly".
Little John spread his mantle down,
He had done the same before ;
Eight hundred pounds and more.
And went to his master in haste;
Our Ladye hath doubled your cost.
Monk, what said I to thee?
That ever yet found I me.
I have sought all England thorowe,
Half so secure a borrowe.
Little John enjoyed this scene of profit and humour, and stood ready to fill the monk's cup when Robin ordered wine. Monk, you are the best of monks,” said the outlaw; “ when you return to your abbey, greet our Lady well, and say she shall ever find me a friend; and for thyself, hark, in thine ear: a piece of silver and a dinner worthy of an abbot shall always be thine when you ride this way.”_" To invite a man to dinner that you may beat and bind and rob him," replied the monk, “ looks little like courtesy.”- “ It is our usual way, monk,” answered Robin dryly; we leave little behind.”
As the monk departed, the knight made his appearance, but Robin refused the four hundred pounds. “ You were late in coming," he said. “ and our Lady, who was your security, sent and paid it double.” The knight looked strangely on the outlaw, and answered, “ Had I not stayed to help a poor yeoman who was suffering wrong, I had kept my time.”—“ For that good deed, Sir Knight," said Robin Hood, " I hold you fully excused; and more, you will ever find me a friend'
Come now forth, Little John,
And go to my treasury,
And bring me there four hundred pound,
The monk over told it me.
Thou gentle knight and true,
And gilt thy spurs all new :
Come to Robin Hood,
The whiles I have any good.
Which I lent to thee,
By the counsel of me.
The knight all of his care.
Grant us well to fare.
271.-THE WAR IN LA VENDÉE.
JEFFREY. A TRACT of about 150 miles square, at the mouth and on the southern bank of the Loire, comprehends the scene of those deplorable hostilities. The most inland part of the district, and that in which the insurrection first broke out, is called Le Bocage, and seems to have been almost as singular in its physical conformation as in the state and condition of its population. A series of detached eminences, of no great elevation, rose over the whole face of the country, with little rills trickling in the hollows and occasional cliffs by their sides. The whole space was divided into small inclosures, each surrounded with tall wild hedges, and rows of pollard trees; so that, though there were few large woods, the whole region had a sylvan and impenetrable ap
pearance. The ground was mostly in pasturage; and the landscape had, for the most part, an aspect of wild verdure, except that in the autumn some patches of yellow corn appeared here and there athwart the green inclosures. Only two great roads traversed this sequestered region, running nearly parallel, at a distance of more than seventy miles from each other." In the intermediate space, there was nothing but a labyrinth of wild and devious paths, crossing each other at the extremity of almost every field-often serving, at the same time, as channels for the winter torrents, and winding so capriciously among the innumerable hillocks, and beneath the meeting hedgerows, that the natives themselves were always in danger of losing their way when they went a league or two from their own habitations. The country, though rather thickly peopled, contained, as may be supposed, few large towns; and the inhabitants, devoted almost entirely to rural occupations, enjoyed a great deal of leisure. The noblesse or gentry of the country were very generally resident on their estates; where they lived in a style of simplicity and homeliness which had long disappeared from every other part of the kingdom. No grand parks, fine gardens, or ornamental villas; but spacious clumsy châteaus, surrounded with farm offices and cottages for the labourers. Their manners and way of life, too, partook of the same primitive rusticity. There was great cordiality, and even much familiarity, in the intercourse of the seigneurs with their dependants. They were followed by large trains of them in their hunting expeditions, which occupied a great part of their time. Every man had his fowling-piece, and was a marksman of fame or pretensions. They were posted in various quarters, to intercept or drive back the game, and were thus trained, by anticipation, to that sort of discipline and concert in which their whole art of war was afterwards found to consist. Nor was their intimacy confined to their sports. The peasants resorted familiarly to their landlords for advice, both legal and medical; and they repaid the visits in their daily rambles, and entered with interest into all the details of their agricultural operations. They came to the weddings of their children, drank with their guests, and made little presents to the young people. On Sunday and holidays, all the retainers of the family assembled at the château, and danced in the barn or the courtyard, according to the season. The ladies of the house joined in the festivity, and that without any airs of condescension or of mockery;
for, in their own life, there was little splendour or laxurious refinement. They travelled on horseback, or in heavy carriages drawn by oxen; and had little other amusement than in the care of their dependants, and the familiar intercourse of neighbours among whom there was no rivalry or principle of ostentation.
From all this, there resulted, as Madame de L. assures us, a certain innocence and kindliness of character, joined with great hardihood and gaiety—which reminds us of Henry IV. and his Bearnois--and carries with it, perhaps on account of that association, an idea of some thing more chivalrous and romantic—more honest and unsophisticated, than any thing we now expect to meet with in this modern world of artifice and derision. There was great purity of morals accordingly, Madame de L. informs us, and general cheerfulness and content throughout the whole district ;-crimes were never heard of, and lawsuits almost unknown. Though not very well educated, the population was exceedingly devout ;-though theirs was a kind of superstitious and traditional devotion, it must be owned, rather than an enlightened or rational faith. They had the greatest veneration for crucifixes and images of their saints, and had no idea of any duty more imperious than that of attending on all the offices of religion. They were singularly attached also to their curés; who were almost all born and bred in the country, spoke their patois, and shared in all their pastimes and occupations. Where a hunting-match was to take place, the clergyman announced it from the pulpit after prayers—and then took his fowling-piece, and accompanied his congregation to the thicket. was on behalf of these curés, in fact, that the first disturbances were excited.
The decree of the Convention, displacing all priests who did not take the oaths imposed by that assembly, occasioned the removal of several of those beloved and conscientious pastors; and various tumults were excited by attempts to establish their successors by authority. Some lives were lost in these tumults; but their most important effect was in diffusing an opinion of the severity of the new government, and familiarizing the people with the idea of resisting it by force. The order of the Convention for a forced levy of 300,000 men, and the preparations to carry it into effect, gave rise to the first serious insurrrection-and while the dread of punishment for the acts of violence already committed deterred the insurgents from submitting,